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HO' I hate salutations and greetings in the marketplace, yet when we got into the middle of this, I stopp'd to take my last look and last farewell of Maria. Maria, tho' not tall, was nevertheless of the first order of fine forms-affliction had touch'd her looks with something that was scarce earthly-still she was feminine-and so much was there about her of all that the heart wishes, or the eye looks for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza's out of mine, she should not only eat of my bread and drink of my own cup, but Maria should lay in my bosom, and be unto me as a daughter.
Adieu, poor luckless maiden!-Imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journeyeth on his way, now pours into thy wounds-the being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up forever.
HERE was nothing from which I had painted out for myself so joyous a riot of the affections, as in this
journey in the vintage, through this part of France; but pressing through this gate of sorrow to it, my sufferings have totally unfitted me: in every scene of festivity I saw Maria in the background of the piece, sitting pensive under her poplar; and I had got almost to Lyons before I was able to cast a shade across her.
-Dear sensibility! source inexhausted of all that's precious in our joys, or costly in our sorrows! thou chainest thy martyr down upon his bed of straw-and 't is thou who lift'st him up to HEAVEN eternal fountain of our feelings!— 't is here I trace thee-and this is thy divinity which stirs within me-not that in some sad and sickening moments, "my soul shrinks back upon herself, and startles at destruction"-mere pomp of words!-but that I feel some generous joys and generous cares beyond myself-all comes from thee, great-great SENSORIUM of the world! which vibrates, if a hair of our heads but falls upon the ground, in the remotest desert of thy creation.-Touch'd with thee, Eugenius draws my curtain when I languish-hears my tale of symptoms, and blames the weather for the disorder of his nerves. Thou giv'st a portion of it sometimes to the roughest peasant who traverses the bleakest mountains—he finds the lacerated lamb of another's flock.-This moment I beheld him leaning with his head against his crook, with piteous inclination looking down upon it.-Oh! had I come one moment sooner!—it bleeds to death-his gentle heart bleeds with it
Peace to thee, generous swain!-I see thou walkest off with anguish-but thy joys shall balance it—for happy is thy cottage-and happy is the sharer of it-and happy are the lambs which sport about you.
SHOE coming loose from the fore foot of the thillhorse, at the beginning of the ascent of mount Tau
rira, the postilion dismounted, twisted the shoe off, and put it in his pocket; as the ascent was of five or six miles, and that horse our main dependence, I made a point of having the shoe fasten'd on again, as well as we could; but the postilion had thrown away the nails, and the hammer in the chaise-box being of no great use without them, I submitted to go on.
He had not mounted half a mile higher, when coming to a flinty piece of road, the poor devil lost a second shoe, and from off his other fore foot. I then got out of the chaise in good earnest; and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal to do I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it. The look of the house, and of everything about it, as we drew nearer, soon reconciled me to the disaster.-It was a little farm-house, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corn-and close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasant's house-and on the other side was a little wood, which furnish'd wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the houseso I left the postilion to manage his point as he could—and for mine, I walk'd directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old gray-headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons-in-law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them.
They were all sitting down together to their lentil soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flagon of wine at each end of it, promised joy thro' the stages of the repast-'t was a feast of love.
The old man rose up to meet me, and with a respectful cordiality would have me sit down at the table; my heart
was sat down the moment I enter'd the room; so I sat down at once like a son of the family; and to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon; and as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mix'd with thanks that I had not seem'd to doubt it.
Was it this; or tell me, Nature, what else it was which made this morsel so sweet-and to what magic I owe it, that the draught I took of their flagon was so delicious with it, that they remain upon my palate to this hour?
If the supper was to my taste-the grace which follow'd it was much more so.
HEN supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his knife-to bid
them prepare for the dance: the moment the signal was given, the women and girls ran all together into a back apartment to tie up their hair-and the young men to the door to wash their faces, and change their sabots; and in three minutes every soul was ready upon a little esplanade before the house to begin.-The old man and his wife came out last, and placing me betwixt them, sat down upon a sofa of turf by the door.
The old man had some fifty years ago been no mean performer upon the vielle—and, at the age he was then of, touch'd it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune-then intermitted-and join'd her old man again as their children and grandchildren danced before them.
It was not till the middle of the second dance, when from some pauses in the movement wherein they all seem'd to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity. In a word, I thought I beheld Religion mixing in the dance-but as I had never seen her so engaged, I should have look'd upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon the dance ended, said that this was their constant way; and that all his life long he had made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay—
-Or a learned prelate either, said I.