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MONSIEUR Dessein came back to let us out of the chaise, and acquaint the lady that Count de L-, her brother, was just arrived at the hotel. Though I had infinite good-will for the lady, I cannot say that I rejoiced in
heart at the event, and could not help telling her so; — for it is fatal to a proposal, Madam, said I, that I was going to make to you.
You need not tell me what the proposal was, said she, laying her hand upon both mine, as she interrupted me, – a man, my good Sir, has seldom an offer of kindness to make to a woman but she has a presentiment of it some moments before.
Nature arms her with it, said I, for immediate preservation.
But I think, said she, looking in my face, I had no evil to apprehend; and, to deal frankly with you, had determined to accept it. If I had (she stopped a moment) - I believe your good-will would have drawn a story from me which would have made pity the only dangerous thing in the journey.
In saying this, she suffered me to kiss her hand twice; and, with a look of sensibility mixed with concern, she got out of the chaise, and bid adieu.
IN THE STREET.
I NEVER finished a twelve-guinea bargain so expeditiously in my life. My time seemed heavy upon the loss of the lady; and, knowing every moment of it would be as two, till I put myself into motion, I ordered post-horses directly, and walked towards the hotel.
Lord! said I, hearing the town-clock strike four, and recollecting that I had been little more than a single hour in Calais, -
What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in every thing, and who, having eyes to see what time and chance are perpetually holding out to him as he journeyeth on his way, misses nothing he can fairly lay his hands on! If this won't turn out something,
another will; no matter, 'tis an essay upon human nature; — I get my labour for my pains, — 'tis enough; — the pleasure of the experiment has kept my senses and the best part of my blood awake, and laid the gross to sleep.
I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and cry, 'Tis all barren; and so it is: and so is all the world to him who will not cultivate the fruits it offers. I declare, said I, clapping my hands cheerily together, that was I in a desert, I would find out wherewith in it to call forth my affections: if I could not do better, I would fasten them upon some sweet myrtle, or seek some melancholy cypress to connect myself to; I would court their shade, and greet them kindly for their protection; - I would cut my name upon them, and swear they were the loveliest trees throughout the desert; if their leaves withered, I would teach myself to mourn;
and when they rejoiced, I would rejoice along with them.
The learned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome
and so on:
but he set out with the spleen and jaundice; and every object he pass'd by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote an account of them; but 'twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings.
I met Smelfungus in the grand portico of the Pantheon: he was just coming out of it. — 'Tis nothing but a huge cock-pit,* said he .... I wish you had said nothing worse of the Venus of Medicis, replied I; for in passing through Florence, I had heard he had fallen foul upon the goddess, and used her worse than a common strumpet, without the least provocation in nature.
I popp'd upon Smelfungus again at Turin, in his return home; and a sad tale of sorrowful adventures he had to tell, “wherein he spoke of moving accidents by flood and field, and of the cannibals who each other eat: the Anthropophagi.” He had been flay'd alive, and bedevill'd, and used worse than St. Bartholomew, at every stage he had come at ....
I'll tell it, cried Smelfungus, to the world. You had better tell it, said I, to your physician.
Mundungus, with an immense fortune, made the whole tour; going on from Rome to Naples from Naples to Venice, from Venice to Vienna, — to Dresden, to Berlin, without one generous connection or pleasurable anecdote to tell of; but he had travellid straight on, looking neither to his right hand nor his left, lest Love or Pity should seduce him out of his road.
Peace be to them, if it is to be found; but Heaven itself, was it possible to get there with such tempers, would want objects to give it; — every gentle spirit would come flying upon the wings of Love to hail their arrival. — Nothing would the souls of Smelfungus and Mundungus hear of but fresh anthems of joy, fresh raptures of love, and fresh congratulations of their common felicity. – I heartily pity them: they have brought up no faculties for this work: and was the happiest mansion in Heaven to be allotted to Smelfungus and Mundungus, they would be so far from being happy that the souls of Smelfungus and Mundungus would do penance there to all eternity!
* Vide S-'s Travels.
I HAD once lost my portmanteau from behind my chaise, and twice got out in the rain, and one of the times up to the knees in dirt, to help the postillion to tie it on, without being able to find out what was wanting. Nor was it till I got to Montriul, upon the landlord's asking me if I wanted not a servant, that it occurred to me that that was the very thing. A servant! that I do, most sadly, quoth I.
Because, Monsieur, said the landlord, there is a clever young fellow, who would be very proud of the honour to serve an Englishman. ... But why an English one more than any other?.. They are so generous, said the landlord..... I'll be shot if this is not a livre out of my pocket, quoth I to myself, this very night. ... But they have wherewithal to be so, Monsieur, added he. Set down one livre more for that,
It was but last night, said the landlord, qu'un my Lord Anglois presentait un ecu à la fille de chambre..... Tant pis, pour Mademoiselle Janatone, said I.
Now Janatone being the landlord's daughter, and the landlord supposing I was young in French, took the liberty to inform me I should not have said tant pis; but tant mieux. Tant mieux, toujours, Monsieur, said he, when there is anything to be got; tant pis, when there is nothing. . It comes to the same thing, said I. Pardonnez moi, said the landlord.
I cannot take a fitter opportunity to observe, once for all, that tant pis and tant mieux, being two of the great hinges in French conversation, a stranger would do well to set himself right in the use of them, before he gets to Paris.
A prompt French Marquis, at our Ambassador's table, demanded of Mr.
Hif he was H — the poet? - No, said Mr. H, mildly.... Tant pis, replied the Marquis.
It is H the historian, said another. . Tant mieux, said the Marquis. — And Mr. H —, who is a man of an excellent heart, returned thanks for both.
When the landlord had set me right in this matter, he called in La Fleur, which was the name of the young man he had spoken of, — saying only first, that, as for his talents, he would presume to say nothing Monsieur was the best judge what would suit him; but for the fidelity of La Fleur, he would stand responsible in all he was worth.
The landlord delivered this in a manner which instantly set my mind to the business I was upon; and La Fleur, who stood waiting without, in that breathless expectation which every son of Nature of us have felt in our turns, came in.