Laurence Sterne. (1713–1768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
THERE was nothing from which I had painted out for myself so joyous a riot of the affections, as in this journey in the vintage, through this part of France; but pressing through this gate of sorrow to it, my sufferings have totally unfitted me: in every scene of festivity I saw Maria in the background of the piece, sitting pensive under her poplar; and I had got almost to Lyons before I was able to cast a shade across her.—
—Dear sensibility! source inexhausted of all that’s precious in our joys, or costly in our sorrows! thou chainest thy martyr down upon his bed of straw—and ’t is thou who lift’st him up to HEAVEN—eternal fountain of our feelings!—’t is here I trace thee—and this is thy divinity which stirs within me—not that in some sad and sickening moments, “my soul shrinks back upon herself, and startles at destruction”—mere pomp of words!—but that I feel some generous joys and generous cares beyond myself—all comes from thee, great—great SENSORIUM of the world! which vibrates, if a hair of our heads but falls upon the ground, in the remotest desert of thy creation.—Touch’d with thee, Eugenius draws my curtain when I languish—hears my tale of symptoms,. and blames the weather for the disorder of his nerves. Thou giv’st a portion of it sometimes to the roughest peasant who traverses the bleakest mountains—he finds the lacerated lamb of another’s flock.—This moment I beheld him leaning with his head against his crook, with piteous inclination looking down upon it.—Oh! had I come one moment sooner!—it bleeds to death—his gentle heart bleeds with it—
Peace to thee, generous swain!—I see thou walkest off with anguish—but thy joys shall balance it—for happy is thy cottage—and happy is the sharer of it—and happy are the lambs which sport about you.