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A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume 2   By: (1719-1792)

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Dublin Printed by J. Williams, (No. 21.) Skinner Row.







I am very certain that a man may travel twice through Spain, and half through France, before he sees a woman of so much beauty, elegance, and breeding, as the mistress of the house I lodge in near this city. I was directed to the house, and recommended to the lady, as a lodger; but both were so fine, and superior in all respects to any thing I had seen out of Paris, that I began to suspect I had been imposed upon. The lady who received me appeared to be (it was candle light) about eighteen, a tall, elegant figure, a beautiful face, and an address inferior to none: I concluded she was the daughter, till she informed me, that Mons. Saigny , her husband, was gone to Avignon . What added, perhaps, to this lady's beauty in my eyes, or rather ears, was her misfortune, she could not speak louder than a gentle whisper. After seeing her sumptuous apartments, I told her I would not ask what her price was, but tell her what I could afford only to give; and observed, that as it was winter, and the snow upon the ground, perhaps she had better take my price than have none. She instantly took me by the hand and said, she had so much respect for the English nation, that my price was her's; and with a still softer whisper, and close to my ear, said, I might come in as soon as I pleased " Quand vous voudrez, Monsieur ," said she. We accordingly took possession of the finest apartments, and the best beds I ever lay on. The next day, I saw a genteel stripling about the house, in a white suit of cloaths, dressed en militaire , and began to suspect the virtue of my fair hostess, not perceiving for some hours that it was my hostess herself; in the afternoon she made us a visit in this horrid dress, (for horrid she appeared in my eyes) her cloaths were white, with red cuffs and scarlet lappels ; and she held in her straddling lap a large black muff, as big as a porridge pot. By this visit she lost all that respect her superlative beauty had so justly entitled her to, and I determined she should visit me no more in man's apparel. When I went into the town I mentioned this circumstance, and there I learnt, that the real wife of Mons. Saigny had parted from him, and that the lady, my hostess, was his mistress. The next day, however, the master arrived; and after being full and finely dressed, he made me a visit, and proffers of every attention in his power: he told me he had injured his fortune, and that he was not rich; but that he had served in the army, and was a gentleman: he had been bred a protestant, but had just embraced the true faith, in order to qualify himself for an employment about the court of the Pope's Legate at Avignon . After many expressions of regard, he asked me to dine with him the next day; but I observed that as he was not rich, and as I paid but a small rent in proportion to his noble apartments, I begged to be excused; but he pressed it so much, that I was obliged to give him some other reasons , which did not prove very pleasing ones, to the lady below. This fine lady, however, continued to sell us wood, wine, vinegar, sallad, milk, and, in short, every thing we wanted, at a very unreasonable price. At length, my servant, who by agreement made my soup in their kitchen, said something rude to my landlord, who complained to me, and seemed satisfied with the reprimand I had given the man; but upon a repetition of his rudeness, Mons. Saigny so far forgot himself as to speak equally rude to me: this occasioned some warm words, and so much ungovernable passion in him, that I was obliged to tell him I must fetch down my pistols; this he construed into a direct challenge, and therefore retired to his apartments, wrote a card, and sent it to me while I was walking before the door with a priest, his friend and visitor, and in sight of the little female captain his second , and all the servants of the house; on this card was wrote, " Sir, I accept your proposition ;" and before I could even read it, he followed his man, who brought it in the true stile of a butler, rather than a butcher, with a white napkin under his arm... Continue reading book >>

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