Laurence Sterne. (1713–1768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
|—THEY order, said I, this matter better in France.—
| —You have been in France? said my gentleman, turning quick upon me with the most civil triumph in the world.—Strange! quoth I, debating the matter with myself, that one and twenty miles’ sailing, for ’t is absolutely no further from Dover to Calais, should give a man these rights.—I’ll look into them: so giving up the argument—I went straight to my lodgings, put up half a dozen shirts and a black pair of silk breeches—“the coat I have on,” said I, looking at the sleeve, “will do”—took a place in the Dover stage; and the packet sailing at nine the next morning—by three I had got sat down to my dinner upon a fricasseed chicken, so incontestably in France, that had I died that night of an indigestion, the whole world could not have suspended the effects of the droits d’aubaine 1 —my shirts, and black pair of silk breeches—portmanteau and all must have gone to the King of France—even the little picture which I have so long worn, and so often have told thee, Eliza, I would carry with me into my grave, would have been torn from my neck.—Ungenerous!—to seize upon the wreck of an unwary passenger, whom your subjects had beckon’d to their coast.—By heaven! SIRE, it is not well done; and much does it grieve me, ’t is the monarch of a people so civilized and courteous, and so renowned for sentiment and fine feelings, that I have to reason with—
| But I have scarce set foot in your dominions.—
|Note 1. All the effects of strangers (Swiss and Scotch excepted) dying in France, are seized by virtue of this law, though the heir be upon the spot—the profit of these contingencies being farmed, there is no redress. [back]