Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[29]

THE CAPTIVE.

PARIS.

THE bird in his cage pursued
me into my room ; I sat down
close to my table, and leaning my
head upon my hand, I begun to
figure to myself the miseries of con-
finement. I was in a right frame
for it, and so I gave full scope to my
imagination.

       I was going to begin with the
millions of my fellow creatures, born
to no inheritance but slavery ; but
finding, however affecting the pic-
ture was, that I could not bring it

                     near

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near me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me—

       —I took a single captive, and hav-
ing first shut him up in his dungeon,
I then look'd through the twilight of
his grated door to take his picture.

       I beheld his body half wasted away with long expectation and confine-
ment, and felt what kind of sickness of
the heart it was which arises from hope
deferr'd. Upon looking nearer I saw
him pale and feverish: in thirty years
the western breeze had not once fann'd
his blood—he had seen no sun, no
moon, in all that time—nor had the

                     voice

 

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voice of friend or kinsman breathed
through his lattice:—his children—

       —But here my heart began to bleed
—and I was forced to go on with
another part of the portrait.

     He was sitting upon the ground
upon a little straw, in the furthest
corner of his dungeon, which was
alternately his chair and bed : a little
calendar of small sticks were laid at the
head, notch'd all over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there—
he had one of these little sticks in his
hand, and with a rusty nail he was
etching another day of misery to add
to the heap. As I darkened the little
light he had, he lifted up a hopeless

                     eye

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eye towards the door, then cast it
down—shook his head, and went on
with his work of affliction. I heard
his chains upon his legs, as he turn'd
his body to lay his little stick upon the
bundle.— He gave a deep sigh—I saw
the iron enter into his soul—I burst
into tears—I could not sustain the
picture of confinement which my
fancy had drawn—I started up from
my chair, and called La Fleur, I bid
him bespeak me a remise, and have
it ready at the door of the hotel by
nine in the morning.

—I'll go directly, said I, myself to Monsieur le Duc de Choiseul.


                     La

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     La Fleur would have put me to
bed ; but not willing he should see
any thing upon my cheek which
would cost the honest fellow a heart
ache—I told him I would go to bed
by myself— and bid him go do the
same.

 Vol. II.         D         THE


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