Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[69]

THE PASSPORT.

VERSAILLES.

THERE is not a more per-
plexing affair in life to me,
than to set about telling any one who
I am—for there is scarce anybody I
cannot give a better account of than
myself ; and I have often wish'd I
could do it in a single word—and
have an end of it. It was the only
time and occasion in my life I could
accomplish this to any purpose—for
Shakespear lying upon the table, and
recollection I was in his books, I
took up Hamlet, and turning imme-
diately to the grave-diggers scene in

               the

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the fifth act, I lay'd my finger upon YORICK, and advancing the book to
the Count, with my finger all the
way over the name—Me! Voici!
said I.

    Now whether the idea of poor
Yorick's skull was put out of the
Count's mind by the reality of my
own, or by what magic he could
drop a period of seven or eight hun-
dred years, makes nothing in this
account— 'tis certain the French con-
ceive better than they combine—I wonder at nothing in tis world, and
the less at this ; inasmuch as one of
the first of our own church, for whose
candour and paternal sentiments I
have the highest veneration, fell

                     into

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into the same mistake in the very
same case,—" He could not bear, he
" said, to look into the sermons wrote
" by the king of Denmark's jester."
—Good my lord ! said I— but there
are two Yorick's. The Yorick your
lordship thinks of has been dead
and buried eight hundred years ago ;
he flourish'd in Horwendillus's court—
the other Yorick is myself, who have flourish'd, my lord, in no court—He
shook his head— Good God ! said I,
you might as well confound Alex-
ander the Great with Alexander the Copper-smith, my lord—'Twas all
one, he replied—

—If Alexander king of Macedon could have translated your lordship,

          F4           said

[72]

said I — I'm sure your Lordship
would not have said so.

    The poor Count de B**** fell
but into the same error

     — Et, Monsieur, est-il Yorick ? cried the Count.—Je le suis, said I.
Vous?—Moi—moi qui ai l'honneur de vous parler, Monsieur le Comte
Mon Dieu!
said he, embracing me—
Vous etes Yorick!

    The Count instantly put the Shake-
speare into his pocket, and left me alone in his room.

                     THE


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