Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[133]

AMIENS.

THE words were scarce out of
my mouth, when the Count
de L***'s post-chaise, with his
sister in it, drove hastily by: she had
just time to make me a bow of re-
cognition---and of that particular
kind of it, which told me she had
not yet done with me. She was as
good as her look; for, before I had
quite finished my supper, her bro-
ther's servant came into the room
with a billet, in which she said, she
had taken the liberty to charge me
with a letter, which I was to present
myself to Madame R*** the first

K 3        morning

[134]

morning I had nothing to do at Paris.
There was only added, she was sorry,
but from what penchant she had not
considered, that she had been pre-
vented telling me her story---that she
still owed it me; and if my rout should
ever lay through Brussels, and I had
not by then forgot the name of Ma-
dame de L***---that Madame de
L*** would be glad to discharge
her obligation.

Then I will meet thee, said I, fair
spirit! at Brussels--- 'tis only retur-
ning from Italy through Germany to
Holland, by the route of Flanders,
home---'twill scarce be ten posts out
of my way; but were it ten thou-
sand! with what a moral delight will

               it

[135]

it crown my journey, in sharing in
the sickening incidents of a tale of
misery told to me by such a sufferer?
to see her weep! and though I can-
not dry up the fountain of her tears,
what an exquisite sensation is there
still left, in wiping them away from
off the cheeks of the first and fairest
of women, as I'm sitting with my
handkerchief in my hand in silence
the whole night besides her.

There was nothing wrong in the
sentiment; and yet I instantly re-
proached my heart with it in the bit-
terest and most reprobate of expres-
sions.

K 4          It

[136]

It had ever, as I told the reader,
been one of the singular blessings of
my life, to be almost every hour of
it miserably in love with some one;
and my last flame happening to be
blown out by a whiff of jealousy on
the sudden turn of a corner, I had
lighted it up afresh at the pure taper
of Eliza but about three months be-
fore--- swearing as I did it, that it
should last me through the whole
journey---Why should I dissemble the
matter? I had sworn to her eternal
fidelity---she had a right to my whole
heart---to divide my affections was
to lessen them--- to expose them, was
to risk them: where there is risk,
there may be loss:---and what wilt

               thou

[137]

thou have, Yorick! to answer to a
heart so full of trust and confidence
---so good, so gentle and unreproach-
ing?

I will not go to Brussels, replied I,
interrupting myself--- but my imagi-
nation went on---I recall'd her looks
at that crisis of our separation, when
neither of us had power to say Adieu!
I look'd at the picture she had tied
in a black ribband about my neck---
and blush'd as I look'd at it---I would
have given the world to have kiss'd it,
---but was ashamed---And shall this
tender flower, said I, pressing it be-
tween my hands---shall it be smitten
to its very root---and smitten, Yorick!

               by

[138]

by thee, who hast promised to shelter
it in thy breast?

Eternal fountain of happiness! said
I, kneeling down upon the ground---
be thou my witness---and every pure
spirit which tastes it, be my witness
also, That I would not travel to
Brussels, unless Eliza went along
with me, did the road lead me to-
wards heaven.

In transports of this kind, the
heart, in spite of the understanding,
will always say too much.

                     


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