A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Author: Laurence Sterne


We get forwards in the world, not so much by doing services, as receiving them; you take a withering twig, and put it in the ground; and then you water it, because you have planted it.

Monsieur le Count de B-, merely because he had done me one kindness in the affair of my passport, would go on and do me another, the few days he was at Paris, in making me known to a few people of rank; and they were to present me to others, and so on.

I had got master of my SECRET just in time to turn these honours to some little account; otherwise, as is commonly the case, I should have dined or supp’d a single time or two round, and then, by TRANSLATING French looks and attitudes into plain English, I should presently have seen, that I had hold of the couvert (3) of some more entertaining guest; and in course should have resigned all my places one after another, merely upon the principle that I could not keep them. - As it was, things did not go much amiss.

I had the honour of being introduced to the old Marquis de B-: in days of yore he had signalized himself by some small feats of chivalry in the Cour d’Amour, and had dress’d himself out to the idea of tilts and tournaments ever since. - The Marquis de B- wish’d to have it thought the affair was somewhere else than in his brain. "He could like to take a trip to England," and asked much of the English ladies. - Stay where you are, I beseech you, Monsieur le Marquis, said I. - Les Messieurs Anglois can scarce get a kind look from them as it is. - The Marquis invited me to supper.

Monsieur P-, the farmer-general, was just as inquisitive about our taxes. They were very considerable, he heard. - If we knew but how to collect them, said I, making him a low bow.

I could never have been invited to Mons. P-’s concerts upon any other terms.

I had been misrepresented to Madame de Q- as an esprit. - Madame de Q- was an esprit herself: she burnt with impatience to see me, and hear me talk. I had not taken my seat, before I saw she did not care a sous whether I had any wit or no; - I was let in, to be convinced she had. I call heaven to witness I never once opened the door of my lips.

Madame de V- vow’d to every creature she met - "She had never had a more improving conversation with a man in her life."

There are three epochas in the empire of a French woman. - She is coquette, - then deist, -then devote: the empire during these is never lost, - she only changes her subjects when thirty-five years and more have unpeopled her dominion of the slaves of love, she repeoples it with slaves of infidelity, - and then with the slaves of the church.

Madame de V- was vibrating betwixt the first of those epochas: the colour of the rose was fading fast away; - she ought to have been a deist five years before the time I had the honour to pay my first visit.

She placed me upon the same sofa with her, for the sake of disputing the point of religion more closely. - In short Madame de V- told me she believed nothing. - I told Madame de V- it might be her principle, but I was sure it could not be her interest to level the outworks, without which I could not conceive how such a citadel as hers could be defended; - that there was not a more dangerous thing in the world than for a beauty to be a deist; - that it was a debt I owed my creed not to conceal it from her; - that I had not been five minutes sat upon the sofa beside her, but I had begun to form designs; - and what is it, but the sentiments of religion, and the persuasion they had excited in her breast, which could have check’d them as they rose up?

We are not adamant, said I, taking hold of her hand; - and there is need of all restraints, till age in her own time steals in and lays them on us. - But my dear lady, said I, kissing her hand, - ’tis too - too soon.

I declare I had the credit all over Paris of unperverting Madame de V-. - She affirmed to Monsieur D- and the Abbe M-, that in one half hour I had said more for revealed religion, than all their Encyclopaedia had said against it. - I was listed directly into Madame de V-’s coterie; - and she put off the epocha of deism for two years.

I remember it was in this coterie, in the middle of a discourse, in which I was showing the necessity of a FIRST cause, when the young Count de Faineant took me by the hand to the farthest corner of the room, to tell me my solitaire was pinn’d too straight about my neck. - It should be plus badinant, said the Count, looking down upon his own; - but a word, Monsieur Yorick, TO THE WISE -

And FROM THE WISE, Monsieur le Count, replied I, making him a bow, - IS ENOUGH.

The Count de Faineant embraced me with more ardour than ever I was embraced by mortal man.

For three weeks together I was of every man’s opinion I met. - Pardi! ce Monsieur Yorick a autant d’esprit que nous autres. - Il raisonne bien, said another. - C’est un bon enfant, said a third. - And at this price I could have eaten and drank and been merry all the days of my life at Paris; but ’twas a dishonest reckoning; - I grew ashamed of it. - It was the gain of a slave; - every sentiment of honour revolted against it; - the higher I got, the more was I forced upon my beggarly system; - the better the coterie, - the more children of Art; - I languish’d for those of Nature: and one night, after a most vile prostitution of myself to half a dozen different people, I grew sick, - went to bed; - order’d La Fleur to get me horses in the morning to set out for Italy.


Related Resources

Laurence Sterne

Download Options

Title: A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Laurence Sterne, "Paris.," A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, trans. Martin, Theodore in A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1920), Original Sources, accessed September 20, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1GRLVVL9G4I1MMF.

MLA: Sterne, Laurence. "Paris." A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, translted by Martin, Theodore, in A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1920, Original Sources. 20 Sep. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1GRLVVL9G4I1MMF.

Harvard: Sterne, L, 'Paris.' in A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, trans. . cited in 1920, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. Original Sources, retrieved 20 September 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1GRLVVL9G4I1MMF.