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


I HAD once lost my portmanteau from behind my chaise, and twice got out in the rain, and one of the times up to the knees in dirt, to help the postilion to tie it on, without being able to find out what was wanting.—Nor was it till I got to Montriul, upon the landlord’s asking me if I wanted not a servant, that it occurred to me, that that was the very thing.    1
  A servant! That I do most sadly, quoth I.—Because, Monsieur, said the landlord, there is a clever young fellow, who would be very proud of the honor to serve an Englishman.—But why an English one, more than any other?—They are so generous, said the landlord.—I’ll be shot if this is not a livre out of my pocket, quoth I to myself, this very night.—But they have wherewithal to be so, Monsieur, added he.—Set down one livre more for that, quoth I.—It was but last night, said the landlord, qu’un my Lord Anglois presentoit un écu à la fille de chambre.—Tant pis, pour Mademoiselle Janatone, said I.    2
  Now Janatone being the landlord’s daughter, and the landlord supposing I was young in French, took the liberty to inform me, I should not have said tant pis— but, tant mieux. Tant mieux, toujours, Monsieur, said he, when there is anything to be got—tant pis, when there is nothing. It comes to the same thing, said I. Pardonnez moi, said the landlord.    3
  I cannot take a fitter opportunity to observe, once for all, that tant pis and tant mieux being two of the great hinges in French conversation, a stranger would do well to set himself right in the use of them, before he gets to Paris.    4
  A prompt French Marquis at our ambassador’s table demanded of Mr. H——, if he was H—— the poet? No, said H—— mildly.—Tant pis, replied the Marquis.    5
  It is H—— the historian, said another.—Tant mieux, said the Marquis. And Mr. H——, who is a man of an excellent heart, return’d thanks for both.    6
  When the landlord had set me right in this matter, he called in La Fleur, which was the name of the young man he had spoke of—saying only first, That as for his talents, he would presume to say nothing—Monsieur was the best judge what would suit him; but for the fidelity of La Fleur, he would stand responsible in all he was worth.    7
  The landlord deliver’d this in a manner which instantly set my mind to the business I was upon—and La Fleur, who stood waiting without, in that breathless expectation which every son of nature of us have felt in our turns, came in.    8