Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[39]

THE ADDRESS.

VERSAILLES.

I SHOULD not like to have my
enemy take a view of my mind,
when I am going to ask protection
of any man : for which reason I generally endeavour to protect myself;
but this going to Monsieur le Duc
de C**** was an act of compul-
sion—had it been an act of choice,
I should have done it, I suppose, like
other people.

    How many mean plans of dirty address, as I went along, did my

    D 4     servile

[56]

servile heart form ! I deserved the
Bastile for every one of them.

    Then nothing would serve me,
when I got within sight of Versailles,
but putting words and sentences toge-
ther, and conceiving attitudes and
tones to wreath myself into Monsieur
le Duc du C****'s good graces—
This will do — said I — Just as
well, retorted I again, as a coat
carried up to him by an adventurous
taylor, without taking his measure—
Fool ! continued I—see Monsieur Le
Duc's face first— observe what cha-
racter is written in it ; —take notice in
what posture he stands to hear you
—mark the turns and expressions of

                  his

[41]

his body and limbs—And for the tone
—the first sound which comes from
his lips will give it you ; and from
all these together you'll compound
an address at once upon the spot,
which cannot disgust the Duke— the
ingredients are his own, and most
likely to go down.

    Well! said I, I wish it well over—
Coward again ! as if man to man was
not equal, throughout the whole sur-
face of the globe ; and if in the field
—why not face to face in the cabinet
too? And trust me, Yorick, when-
ever it is not so, man is false to him-
self ; and betrays his own succours
ten times where nature does it once.

                        Go

[42]

Go to the Duc de C**** with the
Bastile in thy looks— My life for it,
thou wilt be sent back to Paris in half
an hour with an escort.

    I believe so, said I—Then I'll go
to the Duke, by heaven ! with all the
gaiety and debonairness in the world.—

    —And there you are wrong again, replied I— A heart at ease, Yorick,
flies into no extremes— 'tis ever on
its center.—Well ! well ! cried I, as
the coachman turn'd in at the gates
—I find I shall do very well : and by
the time he had wheel'd round the
court, and brought me up to the
door, I found myself so much the
better for my own lecture, that I

                                        neither

[43]

neither ascended the steps lie a
victim to justice, who was to part
with life upon the topmost,—nor
did I mount them with a skip and a
couple of strides, as when I
fly up, Eliza ! to thee, to meet it.

    As I entered the door of the saloon,
I was met by a person who possibly
might be the maitre d'hotel, but had
more the air of one of the under
secretaries, who told me the Duc de
C**** was busy,—I am utterly ig-
norant, said I, of the forms of ob-
taining an audience, being an absolute stranger, and what is worse in the pre-
sent conjuncture of affairs, being an
Englishman too.—He replied, that
did not increase the difficulty.— I made

                                   him

[44]

him a slight bow, and told him, I
had something of importance to say
to Monsieur le Duc. The secretary
look'd towards the stairs, as if he
was about to leave me to carry up
this account to some one—But I
must not mislead you, said I— for
what I have to say is of no manner
of importance to Monsieur le Duc
de C****—but of great import-
ance to myself. C'est une autre affaire,
replied he—Not at all, said I,
to a man of gallantry.—But pray,
good sir, continued I, when can a
stranger hope to have accesse? In not
less than two hours, said he, looking
at his watch. The number of equi-
pages in the court-yard seem'd to
justify the calculation, that I could

                                   have

[45]

have no nearer a prospect—and as
walking backwards and forwards in
the saloon, without a soul to commune
with, was for the time being as bad as
being in the Bastile itself, I instantly
went back to my remise, and bid the
coachman to drive me to the cordon bleu, which was the nearest hotel.

    I think there is a fatality in it—I seldom go to the place I set out for.

 


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