Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[198]

THE ROSE.

PARIS.

IT was now my turn to ask the
old French officer, "What was
the matter?" for a cry of "Haussez
"les mains, Monsieur l'Abbé
,"
re-
echoed from a dozen different parts
of the parterre, was as unintelligible
to me, as my apostrophe to the
monk had been to him.

He told me, it was some poor
Abbe in one of the upper loges,
who he supposed had got planted
perdu behind a couple of grissets in

2                  order

[199]

order to see the opera, and that the
parterre espying him, were insisting
upon his holding up both his hands
during the representation.---And can
it be supposed, said I, that an ec-
clesiastick would pick the Grisset's
pockets? The old French officer
smiled, and whispering in my ear,
opened a door of knowledge which I
had no idea of---

Good God! said I, turning pale
with astonishment---is it possible, that
a people so smit with sentiment should
at the same time be so unclean and
so unlike themselves---Quelle gros-
sierte!
added I.

              The

[200]

The French officer told me it was
an illiberal sarcasm at the church,
which had begun in the theatre about
the time the Tartuffe was given in it,
by Molière---but, like other remains
of Gothic manners, was declining---
Every nation, continued he, have
their refinements and grossiertes in
which they take the lead, and lose it
of one another by turns--- that he had
been in most countries, but never in
one where he found not some deli-
cacies, which others seemed to want.
Le POUR et le CONTRE se trouvent en
chaque nation
; there is a balance, said
he, of good and bad every where;
and nothing but the knowing it is so
can emancipate one half of the world

              from

[201]

from the prepossession which it holds
against the other---that the advan-
tage of travel, as it regarded the savoir vivre, was by seeing a great deal
both of men and manners; it taught
us mutual toleration; and mutual
toleration, concluded he, making
me a bow, taught us mutual love.

The old French officer delivered
this with an air of such candour and
good sense, as coincided with my first
favourable impressions of his charac-
ter---I thought I loved the man; but
I fear I mistook the object---'twas
my own way of thinking--- the dif-
ference was, I could not have ex-
pressed it half so well.

              It

[202]

It is alike troublesome to both the
rider and his beast--- if the latter goes
pricking up his ears, and starting all
the way at every object which he
never saw before---I have as little
torment of this kind as any creature
alive; and yet I honestly confess, that
many a thing gave me pain, and that
I blush'd at many a word the first
month---which I found inconsequent
and perfectly innocent the second.

Madame de Rambouliet, after an
acquaintance of about six weeks with
her, had done me the honour to take
me in her coach about two leagues
out of town.---Of all women, Ma-
dame de Rambouliet is the most cor-
rect; and I never wish to see one of

              more

[203]

more virtues and purity of heart---In
our return back, Madame de Ram-
bouiliet desired me to pull the cord
---I ask'd her if she wanted any thing
---Rien que pisser, said Madame de
Rambouliet.

Grieve not, gentle traveller, to let
Madame de Rambouliet p--- ss on---
And, ye fair mystic nymphs! go each
one pluck your rose, and scatter them
in your path--- for Madame de Ram-
bouliet did no more---I handed Ma-
dame de Rambouliet out of the
coach; and had I been the priest of
the chaste CASTALIA, I could not
have served at her fountain with a
more respectful decorum.

END OF VOL. 1


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