Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
-1-----

[110]

MONTRIUL

WHEN all is ready, and every
article is disputed and paid
for in the inn, unless you are a little
sour'd by the adventure, there is al-
ways a matter to compound at the
door, before you can get into your
chaise, and that is with the sons and
daughters of poverty, who surround
you. Let no man say, "let them
"go to the devil"---'tis a cruel jour-
ney to send a few miserables, and
they have had sufferings enow with-
out it: I always think it better to
take a few sous out in my hand; and
I would counsel every gentle travel-

               ler

[111]

ler to do so likewise; he need not be
so exact in setting down his motives
for giving them---They will be re-
gister'd elsewhere.

For my own part, there is no man
gives so little as I do; for few, that I
know, have so little to give: but as
this was the first publick act of my
charity in France, I took the more
notice of it.

A well-a-way! said I, I have but
eight sous in the word, showing them
in my hand, and there are eight poor
men and eight poor women for 'em.

A poor tatter'd soul, without a shirt
on, instantly withdrew his claim, by

               retiring

[112]

retiring two steps out of the circle,
and making a disqualifying bow on
his part. Had the whole parterre
cried out, Place aux dames, with one
voice, it would not have conveyed
the sentiment of a deference for the
sex with half the effect.

Just heaven! for what wise reasons
hast thou ordered it, that beggary and
urbanity, which are a t such variance
in other countries, should find a way
to be at unity in this?

---I insisted upon presenting him
with a single sous, merely for his po-
litesse
.

                  A

[113]

A poor little dwarfish brisk fellow,
who stood over against me in the
circle, putting something first under
his arm, which had once been a hat,
took his snuff-box out of his pocket,
and generously offer'd a pinch on
both sides of him: it was a gift of
consequence, and modestly declined
---The poor little fellow press'd it
upon them with a nod of welcomeness
---Prenez-en--- prenez, said he, look-
ing another way; so they each took
a pinch---Pity thy box should ever
want one, said I to myself; so I put
a couple of sous into it---taking a
small pinch out of his box, to en-
hance their value, as I did it.--- He
felt the weight of the second obliga-
tion more than of the first---'twas

VOL. I.          I         doing

[114]

doing him an honour---the other was
only doing him a charity---and he
made me a bow down to the ground
for it.

---Here! said I to an old soldier
with one hand, who had been cam-
paign'd and worn out to death in the
service---here's a couple of sous for
thee. Vive le Roi! said the old sol-
dier.

I had then but three sous left: so
I gave one, simply pour l'amour de
Dieu
,
which was the footing on which
it was begg'd--- The poor woman had
a dislocated hip; so it could not be
well, upon any other motive.

    2                         Mon

[115]

Mon cher et très charitable Mon-
sieur
---
There's no opposing this, said I.

My Lord Anglois---the very sound
was worth the money---so I gave my
last sous for it
.
But in the eagerness
of giving, I had overlooked pauvre
honteaux
,
who had no one to ask a sous
for him, and who, I believed, would
have perish'd ere he could have ask'd
one for himself: he stood by the
chaise, a little without the circle, and
wiped a tear from a face which I
thought had seen better days--- Good
God! said I--- and I have not one
single sous left to give him--- But you
have a thousand! cried all the powers
of nature, stirring within me---so I
gave him---no matter what---I am

I 2        ashamed

[116]

ashamed to say how much, now--- and
was ashamed to think, how little,
then: so if the reader can form any
conjecture of my disposition, as these
two fixed points are given him, he
may judge within a livre or two what
was the precise sum.

I could afford nothing for the rest,
but Dieu vous bénisse---Et le bon Dieu
vous bénisse encore
---said the old sol-
dier, the dwarf, &c. The pauvre
honteaux
could say nothing---he pull'd
out a little handkerchief, and wiped
his face as he turned away--- and I
thought he thank'd me more than
them all.

                   


next section