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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter15)

2006-08-22 18:35

  Chapter 15

  —But it is an indubitable verity, continued I, addressing myself to the commissary, changing only the form of my asseveration—that I owe the king of France nothing but my good will; for he is a very honest man, and I wish him all health and pastime in the world—

  Pardonnez moi—replied the commissary, you are indebted to him six livres four sous, for the next post from hence to St. Fons, in your route to Avignon—which being a post royal, you pay double for the horses and postillion—otherwise ‘twould have amounted to no more than three livres two sous—

  —But I don‘t go by land; said I.

  —You may if you please; replied the commissary—

  Your most obedient servant—said I, making him a low bow—

  The commissary, with all the sincerity of grave good breeding—made me one, as low again.—I never was more disconcerted with a bow in my life.

  —The devil take the serious character of these people! quoth I—(aside) they understand no more of Irony than this—

  The comparison was standing close by with his panniers—but something seal‘d up my lips—I could not pronounce the name—

  Sir, said I, collecting myself—it is not my intention to take post—

  —But you may—said he, persisting in his first reply—you may take post if you chuse—

  —And I may take salt to my pickled herring, said I, if I chuse—

  —But I do not chuse—

  —But you must pay for it, whether you do or no.

  Aye! for the salt; said I (I know)—

  —And for the post too; added he. Defend me! cried I—

  I travel by water—I am going down the Rhone this very afternoon—my baggage is in the boat—and I have actually paid nine livres for my passage—

  C‘est tout egal—’tis all one; said he.

  Bon Dieu! what, pay for the way I go! and for the way I do not go!

  —C‘est tout egal; replied the commissary—

  —The devil it is! said I—but I will go to ten thousand Bastiles first—

  O England! England! thou land of liberty, and climate of good sense, thou tenderest of mothers—and gentlest of nurses, cried I, kneeling upon one knee, as I was beginning my apostrophe.

  When the director of Madam Le Blanc‘s conscience coming in at that instant, and seeing a person in black, with a face as pale as ashes, at his devotions—looking still paler by the contrast and distress of his drapery- -ask’d, if I stood in want of the aids of the church—

  I go by Water—said I—and here‘s another will be for making me pay for going by Oil.

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