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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 upset myself a little more upon my centre, 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 ton= sure, 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 com= mon-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, 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 it was 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 forwards in the figuré but it was the attitude 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 looks 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 MON K.
'Tis very true, said I, replying to a cast upwarde
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 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 meager 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 afflic tions, 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, re= sumed 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 cors dial 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 dis tinguish, 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 other people's, and have no other plan of life, but to get through it in sloth and ignorance, for the love of God.
The poor Franciscan made no reply: a hectick of a moment passed across his cheek, but could not tarry
nature seemed to have had done with her resent ments in him; he shewed none but letting his staff fall within his arm, he pressed both his hands with resignation upon his breast, and retired.
THE MON K.
My heart smote me the moment he shut the door.
Psha! said I, with an air of carelessness, three se veral times but it would not do; every ungracious syllable I had uttered, crowded back into my imagi= nation: I reflected I had no right over the poor Fran= ciscan, but to deny him; and that the punishment of that was enough to the disappointed, without the addition of unkind language I considered his grey
hair 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,
HEN 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, I walked out into the coach-yard, to buy or hire something of that kind to my purpose: an old désobligeante (1)in the furthest corner of the court, hit my fancy at first sight, so I instantly got into it, and finding it in to lerable good 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 désobligeante.
(1) A chaise so called in France, from its holding but one person.
IN THE DESOBLIGEANTE.
T must have been observed by many a peripatetick philosopher, that nature has set up by her own unquestionable authority certain boundaries and fences. to circumscribe the discontent of man: she has effect= ed her purpose in the quietest and easiest manner, by laying him under almost insuperable obligations to work out his ease, and to sustain his sufferings at home. It is there only that 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 some= times beyond her limits; but 'tis so ordered, that from the want of languages, connections, and dependencies, and from the difference in education, customs and habits, we lie under so many impediments in communicating our sensations out of our own sphere, as often amount to a total impossibility.
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 divination to guess at his party=
This brings me to my point; and naturally leads me (if the see-saw of this désobligeante will but let me