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he has been surprised into a short nap at sermon, upon recovering out of it, he stands up and looks about him, and if he sees anybody else nodding, either wakes them himself, or sends his servants to them. Several other of the old knight's particularities break out upon these occasions. Sometimes he will be lengthening out a verse in the singing Psalms, half a minute after the rest of the congregation have done with it; sometimes, when he is pleased with the matter of his devotion, he pronounces Amen three or four times in the same prayer; and sometimes stands up when everybody else is upon their knees, to count the congregation, or see if any of his tenants are missing.
I was yesterday very much surprised to hear my old friend, in the midst of the service, calling out to one John Matthews to mind what he was about, and not disturb the congregation. This John Matthews, it seems, is remarkable for being an idle fellow, and at that time was kicking his heels for his diversion. This authority of the knight, though exerted in that odd manner which accompanies him in all the circumstances of life, has a very good effect upon the parish, who are not polite enough to see anything ridiculous in his behaviour; besides that, the general good sense and worthiness of his character make his friends observe these little singularities as foils that rather set off than blemish his good qualities.
As soon as the sermon is finished, nobody presumes to stir till Sir Roger is gone out of the church. The knight walks down from his seat in the chancel between a double row of his tenants, that stand bowing to him on each side; and every now and then inquiries how such a one's wife, or mother, or son, or father do, whom he does not see at church; which is understood as a secret reprimand to the person that is absent.
The chaplain has often told me that, upon a catechising day, when Sir Roger has been pleased with a boy
that answers well, he has ordered a Bible to be given to him next day for his encouragement, and sometimes accompanies it with a flitch of bacon to his mother. Sir Roger has likewise added five pounds a-year to the clerk's place; and, that he may encourage
young fellows to make themselves perfect in the church service, has promised, upon the death of the present incumbent, who is very old, to bestow it according to merit.
The fair understanding between Sir Roger and his chaplain, and their mutual concurrence in doing good, is the more remarkable, because the very next village is famous for the differences and contentions that arise between the parson and the squire, who live in a perpetual state of war. The parson is always preaching at the squire, and the squire, to be revenged on the parson, never comes to church. The squire has made all his tenants atheists and tithe-stealers, while the parson instructs them every Sunday in the dignity of his order, and insinuates to them, in almost every sermon, that he is a better man than his patron. In short, matters are come to such an extremity, that the squire has not said his prayers, either in public or private, this half-year ; and the parson threatens him, if he does not mend his manners, to pray for him in the face of the whole congregation.
Feuds of this nature, though too frequent in the country, are very fatal to the ordinary people, who are so used to be dazzled with riches, that they pay as much deference to the understanding of a man of an estate as of a man of learning; and are very hardly brought to regard any truth, how important soever it may be, that is preached to them, when they know there are several men of five hundred a-year who do not believe it.
PART I. [LAURENCE STERNE, divine and humourist, was born 24th Nov
ember, 1713, published “Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,"1759-67; "Sentimental Journey through France and Italy,” 1768 ; died 18th March, 1768. Our extract is from
the “Sentimental Journey."] They were the sweetest notes I ever heard; and I instantly let down the fore-glass to hear them more distinctly. “Tis Maria," said the postilion, observing I was listening. “Poor Maria,” continued he (leaning his body on one side to let me see her, for he was in a line betwixt us), “is sitting upon a bank playing her vespers upon her pipe, with her little goat beside her.” The
young fellow uttered this with an accent and a look so perfectly in tune to a feeling heart, that I instantly made a vow, I would give him a four-andtwenty sous piece, when I got to Moulines.
“And who is poor Maria ?” said I.
“ The love and pity of all the villages around us,” said the postilion ; “it is but three years ago, that the sun did not shine upon so fair, so quick-witted, and so amiable a maid ; and better fate did Maria deserve than to have her banns forbid, by the intrigues of the curate of the parish who published them.”
He was going on, when Maria, who made a short pause, put the pipe to her mouth and began the air again—they were the same notes; yet were ten times sweeter: “It is the evening service to the Virgin,” said the young man,
“ but who has taught her to play it, or how she came by her pipe, no one knows; we think that Heaven has assisted her in both ; for ever since she has been unsettled in her mind, it seems her only consolation; she has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service upon it almost night and day.”
The postilion delivered this with so much discretion and natural eloquence, that I could not help deciphering something in his face above his condition, and
should have sifted out his bistory, had not poor
Maria's taken such full possession of me.
We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was sitting : she was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but two tresses, drawn up into a silk net, with a few olive leaves twisted a little fantastically on one side-she was beautiful; and if ever I felt the full force of an honest heart-ache, it was the moment I saw her.
“God help her! poor damsel ! above a hundred masses,” said the postilion, “have been said in the several parish churches and convents around for her, but without effect; we have still hopes, as she is sensible for short intervals, that the Virgin at last will restore her to herself; but her parents, who know her best, are hopeless upon that score, and think her senses are lost for ever."
As the postilion spoke this, Maria made a cadence so melancholy, so tender and querulous, that I sprung out of the chaise to help her, and found myself sitting betwixt her and her goat before I relapsed from my enthusiasm.
Maria looked wistfully for some time at me, and then at her goat, and then at me, and then at her goat again, and so on, alternately.
“Well, Maria,” said I softly, “what resemblance do
you find ?"
I do entreat the candid reader to believe me, that it was from the humblest conviction of what a beast man is, that I asked the question ; and that I would not have let fall an unseasonable pleasantry in the venerable presence of Misery, to be entitled to all the wit that Rabelais ever scattered.
Adieu, Maria ! adieu, poor hapless damsel ! some time, but not now, I may hear thy sorrows from thy own lips. But I was deceived; for that moment she took her pipe and told me such a tale of woe with it, that I rose up, and with broken and irregular steps walked softly to my chaise.
When we had got within half a league of Moulines, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, I discovered poor Maria sitting under a poplar-she was sitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her hand-a small brook ran at the foot of the tree.
I bade the postilion go on with the chaise to Moulines, and La Fleur to bespeak my supper, and that I would walk after him.
She was dressed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a silk net.
She had superadded likewise to her jacket, a pale-green ribband which fell across her shoulder to the waist; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle ; as I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the string—"Thou shalt not leave me, Sylvio,” said she. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered them the tears trickled down her cheeks.
I sat down close by her; and Maria let me wipe them away, as they fell, with my
handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own—and then in hers—and then in mine—and then I wiped hers again—and as I did it, I felt such undescribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be accounted for from
combinations of matter and motion.
I am positive I have a soul ; nor can all the books with which materialists have pestered the world ever convince me of the contrary.
When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if she remembered a pale thin person of a man who had sat down betwixt her and her goat about two years