Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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THE PASSPORT.

VERSAILLES.

I FOUND no difficulty in get-
ting admittance to Monsieur Le
Count de B****. The set of Shake-
spears was laid upon the table; and he was tumbling them over. I
walk'd up close to the table, and
giving first such a look at the books
as to make him conceive I knew
what they were—I told him I had
come without any one to present me,
knowing I should meet with a friend
in his apartment, who, I trusted, would
do it for me—it is my countryman

                     the

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the great Shakespeare, said I, point-
ing to his works—et ayez la bontè,
mon cher ami,
apostrophizing his
spirit, added I, de me faire cet hon-
neur-la.

   The Count smil'd at the singu-
larity of the introduction ; and see-
ing I look'd a little pale and sickly,
insisted upon my taking an arm-chair:
so I sat down ; and to save him con-
jectures upon a visit so out of all
rule, I told him simply of the inci-
dent in the bookseller's shop, and how that had impell'd me rather
to go to him with the story of a little
embarrassment I was under, than to
any other man in France—And what

                     is

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is your embarrassment? let me hear it, said the Count. So I told him the story just as I have told it the reader.—

   —And the master of my hotel,
said I, as I concluded it, will needs
have it, Monsieur le Count, that I
should be sent to the Bastile—but I
have no apprehensions, continued I—
for in falling into the hands of the
most polish'd people in the world,
and being conscious I was a true man,
and not come to spy the nakedness of
the land, I scarce thought I laid at
their mercy.—It does not suit the gal-
lantry of the French, Monsieur le
Count, said I, to shew it against in-
valids.

                    An

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   An animated blush came into the
Count de B****'s cheeks as I
spoke this— Ne craignez rien—Don't
fear, said he—Indeed I don't, replied I
again— besides, continued I a little
sportingly —I have come laughing all
the way from London to Paris, and
I do not think Monsieur le Duc de
Choiseul is such an enemy to mirth,
as to send me back crying for my
pains.

   —My application to you, Mon-
sieur le Count de B**** (mak-
ing him a low bow) is to desire he
will not.

   The Count heard me with great
good nature, or I had not said half

                    as

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as much—and once or twice said—
C'est bien dit. So I rested my cause
there — and determined to say no more about it.

   The Count led the discourse : we
talk'd of indifferent things ; — of books
and politiks, and men—and then of
women—God bless them all! said I,
after much discourse about them—
there is not a man upon earth who
loves them as much as I do : after
all the foibles I have seen, and all the
satires I have read against them, still
I love them ; being firmly persuaded
that a man, who has not a sort of an
affection for the whole sex, is incapa-
ble of ever loving a single one as he
ought.

                    Heh

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   Heh bien ! Monsieur l'Anglois, said the Count, gaily — You are not
come to spy the nakedness of the
land — I believe — ni encore,
I dare say, that of our women—But
permit me to conjecture—if, par hasard, they fell into your way—that the prospect would not affect you.

   I have something within me which cannot bear the shock of the least indecent insinuation: in the sportability of chit-chat I have often endeavoured to conquer it, and with infinite pain have hazarded a thousand things to a dozen of the sex together—the least of which I could not venture to a single one to gain heaven.

     VOL. II.       F         Excuse

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   Excuse me, Monsieur le Count,
said I—as for the nakedness of your
land, if I saw it, I should cast my
eyes over it with tears in them—and
for that of your women (blushing at
the idea he had excited in me) I am
so evangelical in this, and have such
a fellow-feeling for whatever is weak
about them, that I would cover it
with a garment, if I knew how to
throw it on—But I could wish, con-
tinued I, to spy the nakedness of
their hearts, and through the different
disguises of customs, climates, and
religion, find out what is good in
them to fashion my own by—and
therefore am I come.

                    It

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   It is for this reason, Monsieur le
Compte, continued I, that I have
not seen the Palais royal—nor the Luxembourg— nor the Façade of
the Louvre—nor have attempted to
sell the catalogues we have of pic-
tures, statues, and churches—I con-
ceive every fair being as a temple,
and would rather enter in, and see the
original drawings, and loose sketches
hung up in it, than the transfigura-
tion of Raphael itself.

   The thirst of this, continued I,
as impatient as that which inflames
the breast of the connoisseur, has
led me from my own home into
France—and from France will lead
me through Italy—'tis a quiet journey

            F 2              of

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of the heart in pursuit of NATURE, and those affections which arise out of
her, which make us love each other
—and the world, better than we do.

   The Count said a great many civil
things to me upon the occasion ; and
added, very politely, how much he
stood obliged to Shakespear for
making me known to him—but,
a-propos,
said he—Shakespear is full
of great things— He forgot a small
punctilio of announcing your name
— it puts you under a necessity of
doing it yourself.

                     THE


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