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THE MONK. CALAIS. I had scarce uttered these words, when a poor monk of the order of St. Francis came into the room to beg something for his convent.
No man cares to have his virtues the sport of contingencies -- or one man may be generous, as another man is puissant sed non quo ad hanc - or be it as it may
for there is no regular reasoning upon the ebbs and flows of our humours; they may depend upon the same causes, for ought i know, which influence the tides themselves 'twould oft be no discredit to us to suppose it was so; I'm sure, at least for myself, that in many a case I should be more highly satisfied to have it said by the world, “I had had an affair with the moon, in which there was neither sin nor shame, » than have it pass altogether as my own act and deed, wherein there was so much of both
But be this as it may. The moment I cast my eyes upon him, I was predetermined not to give him a single sous; and accordingly I put my purse into my pocket buttoned it up - set myself a little more upon my centre, and advanced
up gravely to him: there was something, 1 fear, forbidding in my look. I have his figure this moment before my eyes, and think there was that in it which deserved better.
The monk, as I judged from the break in his tonsure, a few scattered white hairs upon his temples, being all that remained of it, might be about seventy
but from his eyes, and that sort of fire which was in them, which 'seemed more tempered by courtesy than years, could be no more than sixty. Truth might lie between. He was certainly sixty-five; and the general air of his countenance, notwithstanding something seemed to have been planting wrinkles in it before their time, agreed to the account.
It was one of those heads which Guido has often painted --- mild, pale --- penetrating, free from all common - place ideas of fat contented ignorance looking downwards upon the earth - it looked forwards; but looked, as if it looked at
something beyond this world. How one of his order came by it, Heaven above, who let it fall upon a monk's shoulders, best knows: but it would have suited a Bramin, and had I met it upon the plains of Indostan, 1 had reverenced it.
The rest of his outline may be given in a few strokes; one night put it into the hands of any one to design, for it was neither elegant nor otherwise, but as character and expression made it so: it was a thin spare form, something above the common size, if it lost not the distinction by a bend forward in the figure but it was the atti. tude of entreaty; and as it now stands presented to my imagination, it gained more than it lost by it.
When he had entered the room three paces, he stood still; and laying his left hand upon his breast (a slender white staff with which he journeyed being in his right) – when I had got close up to him, he introduced himself with the little story of the wants of his convent, and the poverty of his order – and did it with so simple a grace -- and such an air of deprecation was there in the whole cast of his look and figure I was bewitched not to have been struck with it.
A better reason was, I had predetermined not to give him a single sous.
THE MONK, CALAIS.
'Tis very true, said I, replying to a cast upwards with his eyes, with which he had concluded his address 'tis very true, and heaven be their resource who have no other but the charity of the world, the stock of which, I fear, is no way sufficient for the many great claims which are hourly made upon it.
As I pronounced the words great claims, he gave a slight glance with his eye downwards upon ihe sleeve of his tunick - I felt the full force of the appeal I acknowledge it, said I a coarse habit, and that but once in three years, with meagre diet - are no great matters; and the true point of pity is, as they can be earned in the
world with so little industry, that your order should wish to procure them by pressing upon a fund which is the property of the lame, the blind, the aged, and the infirm the captive who lies down counting over and over again the days of his afflictions, languishes also for his share of it; and had you been of the order of Mercy, instead of the order of St. Francis, poor as I am, continued I, pointing at my portmanteau, full cheerfully should it have been opened to you for the ransom of the unfortunate. - The monk made me a bow.
But of all others, resumed 1, the unfortunate of our own country, surely, have the first rights; and I have left thousands in distress upon our own shore.
The monk gave a cordial wave with his head - as much as to say, No doubt, there is misery enough in every corner of the world, as well as within our convent.
But we distinguish, said I, laying my hand upon the sleeve of his tunick, in return for his appeal we distinguish, my good father, betwixt those who wish only to eat the bread of their own labour
and those who eat the bread of ofther people's, and have no other plan in life, but to get through it in sloth and ignorance, for the love of God.
The poor Franciscan made no reply: a hectic of a moinent passed across his cheek, but could not tarry. Nature seemed to have done with her resentments in him; he shewed none - but let. ting his staff fall within his arm, he pressed both his hands with resignation upon his breast, and retired.
THE MONK, CALAIS. My heart smote me the moment he shut the door.'– Pshaw! said 1, with an air of carelessness, three several times - but it would not do; every ungracious syllable I had uttered crowded back into my imagination: I reflected I had no right over the poor Franciscan, but to deny him; and that the punishment of that was enongh to the disappointed, without the addition of unkind language. - I considered his grey heirs - his courteous figure seemed to re-enter, and gently ask me what injury he had done me? - and why I could use him thus? - I would have given twenty livres for an advocate - I have behaved very ill, said I within myself; but I have only just set out upon my travels, and shall learn better manners as I get along. THE DESOBLIGEANT.- CALAIS.
When a man is discontented with himself, it has one advantage, however, that it puts him into an excellent frame of mind for making a bargain. Now there being no travelling through France and Italy without a chaise and Nature generally prompting us to the thing we are fittest for, 1 walked out into the coach - yard to buy or hire something of that kind to my purpose: an old Desobligeant *) in the furthest corner of the court, hit my fancy at first sight, so I instantly got into it, and finding it in tolerable harmony with my feelings, I ordered the waiter to call Monsieur Dessein, the master of the hotel but Monsieur Dessein being gone to vespers, and not caring to face the Franciscan, whom I saw on the opposite side of the court, in conference with a lady just arrived at the inn I drew the taffeta curtain betwixt us : and being determined to write my journey, I took out my pen and ink, and wrote the preface to it in the Desobligeant.
PRE FACE. IN THE DESOBLIGEANT. It must have been observed by many a peripatetic philosopher, that Nature has set up by her own unquestionable authority certain boundaries and fences to circumscribe the discontent of man: she has effected her purpose in the quietest and easiest manner, by laying him under almost insuperable obligations to work out his ease, and to sustain his suffering at home. It is there only tbat she has provided him with the most suitable objects to partake of his happiness, and bear a part of that burden which, in all countries and ages, has ever been too heavy for one pair of shoulders, 'Tis true, we are endued with an imperfect power of spreading our happiness sometimes beyond her limits: bnt 'tis so ordered, that from the want of languages, connections, and dependencies, and from the difference in educations, customs, and habits, we lie under so many impe diments in communicating our sensations out of our own sphere as often amount to a total impossibility.
*) A Chaise, so called in France, from its boldling but
It will always follow from hence, that the balance of sentimental commerce is always against the expatriated adventurer: he must buy what he has little occasion for at their own price his conversation will seldom be taken in exchange for theirs without a large discount - and this, by-the-bye, eternally driving him into the hands of more equitable brokers for such conversation as he can find, it requires no great spirit of divi. nation to guess at his party.
This brings me to my point, and naturally leads me (if the see-saw of this Desobligeant will but let me get on) into the efficient as well as the final causes of travelling.
Your idle people that leave their native country, and go abroad for some reason or reasons which may be derived from one of these general causes.
Infirmity of body,
Inevitable necessity. The two first include all those who travel by land or by water, labouring with pride, curiosity, vanity, or spleen, subdivided and combined in infinitum.
The third class includes the whole army of peregrine martyrs; more especially those travellers who set out upon their travels with the benefit of the clergy, either as delinquents travelling under the direction of governors recommended by the magistrate - or young gentlemen transported by the cruelty of parents and guardians, and travel.