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of English can hurry to Paris, and || rather uncomfortable, because Mapublish their travels, printed on the dame de L*** has not fetched me finest paper, without devoting a sin- || in her brother's post-chaise; at Paris gle page to their witty and philoso- ---But there my reveries were soon phic precursor, the admirable Sterne. | dispelled by the bustle of the world; While the authoress of“ Canterbury and Sterne and his monk and LaTales," as soon as she only approach || fleur and Madame de L*** were ed the Kentish coast, could not drive totally forgotten amid the busy scenes Calais from her thoughts, nor help || into which Paris ushered me. conjuring up the shades of Yorick After I had been some time in that and the poor Franciscan monk; while metropolis, I received one evening a fair foreigner (Johanna Schopen- an invitation to the Rue de St. Pierre. hauer) directed her attention at Ca- |-Rue de St. Pierre?-Why that is lais almost exclusively to the inn the very same street in which Sterne's where Yorick put up, hundreds of Madame R*** resided! The hand his countrymen stand on the same of genius can transform the most spot where Yorick once stood, and miserable spot into fairy-land. We follow the footsteps of the highly || survey with feelings of more .progifted traveller, without thinking, in found respect the mud hut which their impatience to reach the capital, the pencil of a Claude portrays that they are treading classic ground. upon canvas, or the pen of a Scott It was Sterne who gave me my first describes, than the marble palace of notions of Frenchmen and France; an undistinguished Cræsus. Sterne it was he who first excited in me a ) was always one of my favourite audesire to make myself acquainted | thors, not for his sentiment, for with with the scenes and characters, over him this is of somewhat equivocal which his descriptions, the truth and character; but for his wit, his pafidelity of which none but an idiot || thos, his philosophy, his extraordican call in question, have thrown so nary talent of observation, and his completely the charm of fiction. masterly delineation of character. No
At length I was fortunate enough wonder then that the Rue de St. to find myself at Calais. And was I Pierre, which is the worst, the meanreally standing before the door of est, the nastiest street in Paris, beMonsieur Dessin's house? Monsieur came to me all at once the most atDessin then had really existed, and tractive corner in that attractive city. was not a mere invention of Yorick's? It appears as if for a century past Was it here that Yorick saw his no alteration or improvement has monk in conversation with the lady? | been made in this street; and though Was this the scene of his adventure it is out of fashion-a fate to which with her? Did the little debonnaire streets are liable as well as ribbons, captain dance down this very street? caps, and bonnets-still it contains Similar questions were occurring to two or three good houses, inhabited me throughout the whole journey. by people of some consequence. One At Montreuil I was haunted by La- of them was occupied shortly before fleur;'at Nainpont I expected to see the Revolution by Mademoiselle D--, a dead ass lying as an indispensable then the most celebrated beauty in object in the road; at Amiens I felt | France, and might formerly have
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been the house of Sterne's Madame | ing Monsieur Dessin. But-to rede R***.--Why not? From the ex- turn to Calais, where the reader, if quisite account of every circumstance, || he pleases, may accompany me in however trivial, I have no doubt that my short pilgrimage. Madame de R*** was a real per Calais is upon the whole considerson, though at this distance of time | ably altered since Sterne's first visit we can have no hope to discover to that town in 1762. The inhabitwho she was; and I am equally con- ants and travellers cannot be othervinced, that every initial in the “Sen- wise than pleased at this; but the timental Journey” refers to a real | spirit of innovation is a destroying character whom the author met with; || angel for the antiquary and the liteand that every circumstance which rary pilgrim. What care I if the har. he states was founded on fact. Ma- bour of Calais has been rendered more dame de R.'s porte-cochère stood so convenient than it was, when I find palpably before me, that I should that this to me so uninteresting alternot have been more thoroughly sa- ation was attended with the detisfied of the accuracy of my conjec-struction of Hogarth's gates? To be ture, if I had seen the chamber-maid sure, there are still two gates; but come from the Quai de Conti, with one of them has been so bunglingly the “ Egaremens du Caur et de repaired, and the other so disgust('Esprit" under her arm, and knockingly beautified, that it is impossible at the door.
to discover a vestige of their original After all, this was but a conjec- | appearance. So much by the way. ture. But his residence? the scene After I had dined, I begged to of his interesting Dimanche? &c. speak with mine host. “ Monsieur On that point there can be no doubt. Dessin," said I to him, “I have come He describes his residence as the all the way from Paris hither, for the Hótel de Modène, but without fur- sole purpose of making some inquinishing any farther clue. Now there ries relative to Sterne. You have are in Paris as many hotels bearing probably heard of him.”—“ Heard the same name as there are King's of him!” he exclaimed with veheArms Taverns and Queen's Heads in | mence, grabbling at his fur cap; addLondon. Besides, what alterations | ing with a slight obeisance and a have taken place during the past look of infinite self-complacency, sixty years in Paris, which may have “ Sir, I have the honour to be the rendered all research fruitless! I had grandson of the great man whom the already made one mistake in regard famous Monsieur Sterne d'Yorick to the Opéra comique, where, to my made so célèbre by his admirable great satisfaction, I fancied that I had Voyage Sentimental.' "-" Then I found a resemblance to the " long presume, Monsieur Dessin, you will dark passage” which was the scene not refuse me the information I deof the “ Riddle," till I discovered | sire."_“You could not have applithat my Opéra comique was not the ed, sir, to any one better qualified same as his, which had been many to furnish it." -I asked if the hotel years ago destroyed. This disap- || had been in the possession of his fapointment rendered me cautious; I || mily ever since the time of Monsieur began even to raise doubts respect-Sterne d'Yorick." I am obliged, alas! - to answer no! The great Des- room in which he sat meditating on sin left it to his son, who after some the milk of human kindness—where time disposed of it to a M. Quillacq. the poor monk found him, and soliMais ça n'était plus la même chose cited a trifle for his convent—which ça n'était plus un Dessin! I perceiv trifle he refused him--the same room? ed that the honour of the family was As, however, it was then occupied most intimately connected with this by a French officer, and he was just house, and resolved to unite it again at that moment at his toilet, I emwith the name, as soon as a favoura- i ployed the time, till he should have ble opportunity should offer, and | finished, in looking for the spot where me voila!!"
the Franciscan held his conversation Dessin's hotel has but few vesti- with the lady: but this must have ges of antiquity to boast; the mis- taken place in a corner next to the chievous spirit of improvement has garden on the left. As to the Cabeen at work here, and it is now puchin convent, that shared the fate one of the most stylish inns in France, of other religious houses, and was or rather in Europe. But where is destroyed during the Revolution: the celebrated Remise? It has been the only part of it still left is the long demolished. Where once stood chapel, in which Dessin keeps his the Remise-Sterne's Remise is not carriages. I went in alone: there was what at present bears that name, the something peculiarly striking in the latter being a recent purchase of the appearance of the incongruity of this Jandlord--there are now baths. Des place to the purpose to which it is sin, according to his grandson's ac- applied. The spot where the high count, was a man of good natural altar stood may yet be recognised. understanding, but not much atten- But now to the room! Monsieur tion had been paid to his education. Dessin politely conducted me into He was habile in his business, en- the garden. “ The room, sir,” said terprising and persevering: no won-he,“ is No. 31: as Monsieur Sterne der then that his house, which was d’Yorick was a studious man, my at first small and inconvenient, gra- grandfather selected this room exdually grew to be four times as large pressly for him, that he might be under his active management. I quite retired and undisturbed: you trembled as I listened to this report there hear nothing but the birds." of his rising prosperity; for at every On the outside of the door is painted step that it advanced some relic of in large letters LA CHAMBRE DE my favourite was threatened with STERNE. As the officer had just destruction. Monsieur Dessin di- quitted the room and his toilet, its vined my apprehensions. “Ne craigappearance was not exactly calcunez rien, monsieur," said he; “ no lated to increase the warmth of romaterial alterations have taken place mantic admiration : but a portrait of since Monsieur Sterne's visit. I will Sterne-afine impression of the large shew you the room which he occu- || engraving after Sir Joshua Reynolds pied."" The same room?"— This -placed in a good light, called forth was indeed worth the trouble of such images which speedily removed the a journey, and a compensation for unpoetic impression which the state all other disappointments. The same of the place had produced. I saw
Yorick dining on a fricasseed fowl, || mortar existence from the year 1770; and a bottle of Burgundy; I saw and Monsieur Sterne d’Yorick, as him kicking his portmanteau from you are pleased to call him, was lyhim; I saw Father Lorenzo entering ing quietly in his grave in 1768." the same door; I saw- Heaven " Sacristi ! c'est bien mal-à-propos! knows how much more I should have But, sir, do not suppose that I meant seen had not an unlucky scruple to deceive you! I am not capable of come across my mind. I can't some- such an action. I merely repeated how help hesitating, doubting, and what I had heard of others—the diving to the bottom of things. scoundrel of a waiter, on whose ve“ Pray, Monsieur Dessin,” said I, racity I relied !” I assured Monsieur “is this room in the same state as | Dessin that I was far from laying any when Sterne occupied it?"-" Pre- blame on him .......... “ Monsieur, ne cisely the same, sir.”_" But don't | me croyez pas charlatan! Je ne le take it amiss, Monsieur Dessin: what | suis pas, je vous le jure. You have proofs have you that this was Yo-decided that Sterne could not have rick's room?"_" Common report; | inhabited this room; to convince you the waiter who attended Monsieur that I have no interest in keeping up Sterne d'Yorick died only two or the long-existing error, you may exthree years ago.”—“ He must have amine my house, and any room you been very old," I remarked dubious- choose shall in future be Sterne's ly,—. C'est égal, monsieur !" As, room." I deferred this business till however, Monsieur Dessin observed a more favourable opportunity, and that it was not quite égal, he said the selection has not yet been made. that he could adduce a proof of the Calais is often described as a mean accuracy of his statement, which must unpleasant town: neither is it any dissipate all my doubts. He added, better if we merely regard the mass that the date of the year in which of houses. To the coxcombs dying the building was erected was engrav- with impatience to get to Paris, or to ed just under the window. · As the those who, after satiating themselves whole edifice was overgrown by a with the pleasures of that capital, very large vine, he was obliged to cast looks of equal impatience tocall a man with a ladder to clear the wards the chalky cliffs of the land spot where the important date was of roast beef-Calais will never apburied. “Ah! ah! nous voilà !" pear any other. The town, nevercried Monsieur Dessin triumphantly. theless, recalls to mind names and I looked, and sure enough there stood events which render it highly rein large figures--1770.
markable to every one who is not toThis was an unlucky discovery. tally ignorant; and to the English My host, who expected no other it ought to be peculiarly interesting. than the unconditional surrender of But—this is beside my present pur: all my doubts, and the humble ac- | pose: the clock too strikes, and the knowledgment of his veracity, soon diligence to Montreuil is just startperceived that he was out in his reck- ing. My business here is with Sterne oning. “ Eh bien, monsieur !"- only; and therefore it will not be out " Eh bien, Monsieur Dessin! this of place to remark, that the most part of your hotel dates its brick and careless observer, who is led by accident into French society, cannot || ness of this room; for the house has but be astonished at the wonderful | been built nearly thirty years, and fidelity of Sterne's sketches of the has been an inn more than half that French character. Living subjects time." I wished the man a very are every where to be found to his good evening, took my portmanteau portraits. How true this is I felt at under my arm, and away I trudged. the moment of my departure. Op I will not conduct the reader into posite to me in the diligence was all the pot-houses of Montreuil, but seated a tall, portly Frenchman, a proceed with him directly to the colonel, as I afterwards learned, of Hôtel de la Cour de France, which one of the regiments of the king's I declare to be that where Yorick guards. We had scarcely reached and Lafleur were accommodated. the end of the street down which Every thing speaks in its favour; its Sterne's little inquisitive captain danc appearance is a letter of recommened along, before I had been asked dation. It stands at the extremity the following questions, all which I of the town, near a meadow, where answered in the negative: “Monsieur the inhabitants have from time im. is no doubt just come from England ? | memorial assembled on holidays, and -You are not a Frenchman?-Ofwhere the merry Lafleur was percourse then a native of the Nether- haps dancing with the fair damsels lands? --Shall we have the pleasure of the place when Yorick arrived. of your company to Paris ?- What An ancient image of the Blessed could have induced you to make any | Virgin is seen in a niche over one of stay at such a place as Calais ? Ah! the windows. The exterior of the I have it! monsieur belongs to the house is not inviting to travellers embassy? - Military perhaps ? - A spoiled by indulgence: to me, howmerchant?—C'est singulier!" ever, it appeared more respectable
We stopped before the Hôtel de than the most magnificent hotel in l'Europe at Montreuil. Full of the France; and the result of my inquiobject of my journey, I immediately | ries proved that the first impression commenced my inquiries. I need | had not deceived me. scarcely remind the reader, that here Here too I was shewn " the very Sterne engaged Lafleur in his ser- / same room," and the eternal portrait vice. I soon heard that I was not is not wanting, and the waiter has only in the same house, but also in his phrases ready like the others the very same room which Sterne but all this has no weight with me. had occupied. I had seen “ the very On the other hand, it is the oldest same room” at Calais, and had learn- inn in the town; it was the only one ed to mistrust the phrase. The in Yorick's time, and it has ever since portrait indeed hung there--the rest belonged to the family of Varennes. was a tale. “This is evidently a Perhaps one or other of my readers modern room," said I.-" Demande may, in passing through the place, pardon, monsieur.!" — the French-think it worth while to visit the unman's usual preliminary to a contra-doubted theatre of the Tant pis diction." Demande pardon!" an- | pour Mademoiselle Jeanneton! (the swered my guide. « There cannot daughter of old Varennes, the land. be the least doubt of the genuine-lord), and the first appearance of