Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
I AM apt to be taken with all kinds of people at first sight; but never more so, than when a poor devil comes to offer his service to so poor a devil as myself; and as I know this weakness, I always suffer my judgment to draw back something on that very accountand this more or less, according to the mood I am in, and the caseand I may add the gender too of the person I am to govern.
When La Fleur enterd the room, after every discount I could make for my soul, the genuine look and air of the fellow determined the matter at once in his favor; so I hired him firstand then began to inquire what he could do: but I shall find out his talents, quoth I, as I want thembesides, a Frenchman can do everything.
Now poor La Fleur could do nothing in the world but beat a drum, and play a march or two upon the fife. I was determined to make his talents do: and cant say my weakness was ever so insulted by my wisdom, as in the attempt.
La Fleur had set out early in life, as gallantly as most Frenchmen do, with serving for a few years: at the end of which, having satisfied the sentiment, and found moreover, that the honor of beating a drum was likely to be its own reward, as it opend no further track of glory to himhe retird à ses terres, and lived comme il plaisoit à Dieuthat is to say, upon nothing.
And so, quoth Wisdom, you have hired a drummer to attend you in this tour of yours thro France and Italy! Psha! said I, and do not one half of our gentry go with a humdrum compagnon du voyage the same round, and have the piper and the devil and all to pay besides? When man can extricate himself with an équivoque in such an unequal matchhe is not ill off.But you can do something else, La Fleur? said I.O quoui!he could make spatterdashes, and play a little upon the fiddle.Bravo! said Wisdom.Why I play a bass myself, said Iwe shall do very well.You can shave, and dress a wig a little, La Fleur?He had all the dispositions in the world.It is enough for heaven! said I, interrupting himand ought to be enough for me.So supper coming in, and having a frisky English spaniel on one side of my chair, and a French valet, with as much hilarity in his countenance as ever nature painted in one, on the otherI was satisfied to my hearts content with my empire; and if monarchs knew what they would be at, they might be as satisfied as I was.