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that time, as high as she could go I was at peace with the world before, and this finish'd the treaty with myself
Now, was I a King of France, cried I— what a moment for an orphan to have begg'd his father's portmanteau of me!
HAD scarce uttered the 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 aught 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-button'd it up-set myself a little more upon my center, and advanced up gravely to him: there was something, I 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 scatter'd 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 temper'd 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 seem'd 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 commonplace ideas of fat contented ignorance looking downwards upon the earth-it look'd forwards; but look'd, as if it look'd 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, I had reverenced it.
The rest of his outline may be given in a few strokes; one might put it into the hands of any one to design, for 'twas neither elegant or 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 attitude of Entreaty; and as it now stands presented to my imagination, it gain'd 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 journey'd 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 orderand 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 bewitch'd not to have been struck with it—
-A better reason was, I had predetermined
not to give him a single sous.
IS 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 the sleeve of his tunic-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 dietare no great matters; and the true point of pity is, as they can be earn'd 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 chearfully should it have been open'd to you, for the
ransom of the unfortunate-The monk made me a bow-but of all others, resumed I, 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 tunic, 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 other 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 moment pass'd across his cheek, but could not tarry-Nature seemed to have done with her resentments in him; he shewed none—but letting his staff fall within his arm, he press'd both his hands with resignation upon his breast, and retired.