Home  »  A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy  »  The Passport. Versailles

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

The Passport. Versailles

AS the Passport was directed to all lieutenant-governors, governors, and commandants of cities, generals of armies, justiciaries, and all officers of justice, to let Mr. Yorick the king’s jester, and his baggage, travel quietly along—I own the triumph of obtaining the Passport was not a little tarnish’d by the figure I cut in it.—But there is nothing unmixt in this world, and some of the gravest of our divines have carried it so far as to affirm, that enjoyment itself was attended even with a sigh—and that the greatest they knew of terminated in a general way, in little better than a convulsion.

I remembered the grave and learned Bevoriskius, in his commentary upon the generations from Adam, very naturally breaks off in the middle of a note to give an account to the world of a couple of sparrows upon the out-edge of his window, which had incommoded him all the time he wrote, and at last had entirely taken him off from his genealogy.

—’T is strange! writes Bevoriskius, but the facts are certain, for I have had the curiosity to mark them down one by one with my pen—but the cock-sparrow, during the little time that I could have finished the other half this note, has actually interrupted me with the reiteration of his caresses three and twenty times and a half.

How merciful, adds Bevoriskius, is heaven to his creatures!

Ill-fated Yorick! that the gravest of thy brethren should be able to write that to the world, which stains thy face with crimson, to copy in even thy study.

But this is nothing to my travels.—So I twice—twice beg pardon for it.