Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[169]

THE HUSBAND.

PARIS.

I HAD counted twenty pulsations,
and was going on fast towards
the fortieth, when her husband com-
ing unexpected from a back parlour
into the shop, put me a little out in
my reckoning.---'Twas no body but
her husband, she said---so I began a
fresh score---Monsieur is so good,
quoth she, as he pass'd by us, as to
give himself the trouble of feeling
my pulse--- The husband took off his
hat, and making me a bow, said, I
did him too much honour---and hav-

              ing

[170]

ing said that, he put on his hat and
walk'd out.

Good God! said I to myself, as
he went out---and can this man be
the husband of this woman?

Let it not torment the few who
know what must have been the
grounds of this exclamation, if I ex-
plain it to those who do not.

In London a shopkeeper and a
shopkeeper's wife seem to be one
bone and one flesh: in the several
endowments of mind and body, some-
times the one, sometimes the other
has it, so as in general to be upon a
par, and to tally with each other as
nearly as a man and wife need to do.

              In

[171]

In Paris, there are scarce two or-
ders of beings more different: for
the legislative and executive powers
of the shop not resting in the hus-
band, he seldom comes there---in
some dark and dismal room behind,
he sits commerceless in his thrum
night-cap, the same rough son of
Nature that Nature left him.

The genius of a people where no-
thing but the monarchy is salique,
having ceded this department, with
sundry others, totally to the women
---by a continual higgling with cus-
tomers of all ranks and sizes from
morning to night, like so many rough
pebbles shook long together in a

              bag,

[172]

bag, by amicable collisions, they
have worn down their asperities and
sharp angles, and not only become
round and smooth, but will receive,
some of them, a polish like a bril-
liant--- Monsieur le Mari is little bet-
ter than the stone under your foot---

---Surely---surely, man! it is not
good for thee to sit alone---thou wast
made for social intercourse and gentle
greetings, and this improvement of
our natures from it, I appeal to, as
my evidence.

---And how does it beat, Mon-
sieur? said she.---With all the be-
nignity, said I, looking quietly in

              her

[173]

her eyes, that I expected---She was
going to say something civil in re-
turn---but the lad came into the shop
with the gloves---A propos, said I; I
want a couple of pair myself.

          


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