Laurence Sterne. (1713–1768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.


I PERCEIVED that something darken’d the passage more than myself, as I stepp’d along it to my room; it was effectually Monsieur Dessein, the master of the hotel, who had just return’d from vespers, and, with his hat under his arm, was most complaisantly following me, to put me in mind of my wants. I had wrote myself pretty well out of conceit with the Desobligeant; and Monsieur Dessein speaking of it with a shrug, as if it would no way suit me, it immediately struck my fancy that it belong’d to some Innocent Traveler, who, on his return home, had left it to Monsieur Dessein’s honor to make the most of. Four months had elapsed since it had finish’d its career of Europe in the corner of Monsieur Dessein’s coach-yard; and having sallied out from thence but a vampt-up business at the first, though it had been twice taken to pieces on Mount Sennis, it had not profited much by its adventures—but by none so little as the standing so many months unpitied in the corner of Monsieur Dessein’s coachyard. Much indeed was not to be said for it—but something might—and when a few words will rescue misery out of her distress, I hate the man who can be a churl of them.

—Now was I the master of this hotel, said I, laying the point of my forefinger on Monsieur Dessein’s breast, I would inevitably make a point of getting rid of this unfortunate Desobligeant—it stands swinging reproaches at you every time you pass by it.—

Mon Dieu! said Monsieur Dessein—I have no interest—Except the interest, said I, which men of a certain turn of mind take, Monsieur Dessein, in their own sensations.—I’m persuaded, to a man who feels for others as well as for himself, every rainy night, disguise it as you will, must cast a damp upon your spirits.—You suffer, Monsieur Dessein, as much as the machine—

I have always observed, when there is as much sour as sweet in a compliment, that an Englishman is eternally at a loss within himself, whether to take it or let it alone: a Frenchman never is: Monsieur Dessein made me a bow.

C’est bien vrai, said he—But in this case I should only exchange one disquietude for another, and with loss; figure to yourself, my dear sir, that in giving you a chaise which would fall to pieces before you had got half-way to Paris—figure to yourself how much I should suffer, in giving an ill impression of myself to a man of honor, and lying at the mercy, as I must do, d’un homme d’esprit.

The dose was made up exactly after my own prescription; so I could not help taking it—and returning Monsieur Dessein his bow, without more casuistry we walk’d together towards his Remise, to take a view of his magazine of chaises.