Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[33]

THE STARLING.

ROAD TO VERSAILLES.

I GOT into my remise the hour I
proposed: La Fleur got up
behind, and I bid the coachman
make the best of his way to Ver-
sailles.

      As there was nothing in this road,
or rather nothing which I look for
in travelling, I cannot fill up the
blank better than with a short history
of this self-same bird, which became
the subject of the last chapter.

                            Whilst

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    Whilst the Honourable Mr.****
was waiting for a wind at Dover
it had been caught upon the cliffs be-
fore it could well fly, by an English
lad who was his groom ; who not
caring to destroy it, had taken it in
his breast into the packet—and by
course of feeding it, and taking it
once under his protection, in a day
or two grew fond of it, and got it
safe along with him to Paris.

    At Paris the lad had laid out a
livre in a little cage for the starling,
and as he had little to do better the
five months his master stay'd there, he
taught it in his mother's tongue the
four simple words—(and no more)—

     D2               to

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to which I own'd myself so much
it's debtor.

    Upon his master's going on for
Italy—the lad had given it to the
master of the hotel—But his little
song for liberty being in an unknown
language at Paris— the bird had little
or no store set by him—so La Fleur
bought both him and his cage for
me for a bottle of Burgundy.

    In my return from Italy I brought
him with me to the country in whose
language he had learn'd his notes—
and telling the story of him to Lord
A—, Lord A begg'd the bird of me—
in a week Lord A gave him to
Lord B—;Lord B made a present
of him to Lord C—; and Lord C's

                                            gentle-

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gentleman sold him to Lord D's for
a shilling—Lord D gave him to
Lord E—, and so on—half round the
alphabet—From that rank he pass'd
into the lower house, and pass'd the
hands of as many commoners—
But as all these wanted to get in—and
my bird wanted to get out—he had
almost as little store set by him in London as in Paris.

    It is impossible but many of my
readers must have heard of him; and
if any by mere chance have ever seen
him,—I beg leave to inform them,
that bird was my bird—or some
vile copy set up to represent him.

    I have nothing further to add upon
him, but that, from that time to this,

               D3                 i have

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I have borne this poor starling as the crest to my arms.— Thus :

      —And let the herald's officers
twist his neck about if they dare.

                    THE


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