Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy





La Fleur had left me something to amuse myself with for the day more than I had bargain'd for, or could have entered either into his head or mine.

   He had brought the little print of butter upon a currant-leaf; and as the morning was warm, he had begg'd a sheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant-leaf and his hand—As that was plate sufficient, I bad him lay it upon the table as it was;

       3              and


and as I resolved to stay within all day, I ordered him to call upon the traieur, to bespeak my dinner, and leave me to breakfast by myself.

   When I had finished the butter, I threw the currant-leaf out of the window, and was going to do the same by the waste paper— but stopping to read a line first, and that drawing me on to a second and third—I thought it better worth; so I shut the window, and drawing a chair up to it, I sat down to read it.

   It was in the old French of Rabelais's time, and for aught I know might have been wrote by him—it was moreover in a Gothic letter, and that

VOL. II.        K               so


so faded and gone off by damps and length of time, it cost me infinite trouble to make any thing of it—I threw it down; and then wrote a letter to Eugenius—then I took it up again and embroiled my patience with it afresh—and then to cure that, I wrote a letter to Eliza—Still it kept hold of me; and the difficulty of understanding it increased but the desire.

   I got my dinner; and after I had enlightened my mind with a bottle of Burgundy, I at it again—and after two or three hours poring upon it, with almost as deep attention as ever Gruter or Jacob Spon did upon a nonsensical inscription, I thought I



made sense of it; but to make sure of it, the best way, I imagined, was to turn it into English, and see how it would look then—so I went on leisurely as a trifling man does, sometimes writing a sentence— then taking a turn or two—and then looking how the world went out of the window; so that it was nine o'clock at night before I had done it—I then began to read it as follows.

       K 2               THE

next section