Versailles 1

The Starling

Road to Versailles

I got into my remise the hour I proposed: La Fleur got up behind, and I bid the coachman make the best of his way to Versailles.

As there was nothing in this road, or rather nothing which I look for in travelling, I cannot fill up the blank better than with a short history of this self-same bird, which became the subject of the last chapter.

Whilst the honourable Mr.**** was waiting for a wind at Dover, it had been caught upon the cliffs, before it could well fly, by an English lad who was his groom; who not caring to destroy it, had taken it in his breast into the packet—and by course of feeding it, and taking it once under his protection, in a day or two grew fond of it, and got it safe along with him to Paris.

At Paris the lad had laid out a livre in a little cage for the starling, and as he had little to do better the five months his master stay’d there, he taught it in his mother’s tongue the four simple words—(and no more)—to which I own’d myself so much its debtor.

Upon his master’s going on for Italy—the lad had given it to the master of the hôtel—But his little song for liberty, being in an unknown language at Paris, the bird had little or no store set by him—so La Fleur bought both him and his cage for me for a bottle of Burgundy.

In my return from Italy I brought him with me to the country in whose language he had learned his notes—and telling the story of him to Lord A—Lord A begg’d the bird of me—in a week Lord A gave him to Lord B—Lord B made a present of him to Lord C—and Lord C’s gentleman sold him to Lord D’s for a shilling—Lord D gave him to Lord E—and so on—half round the alphabet—From that rank he pass’d into the lower house, and pass’d the hands of as many commoners—But as all these wanted to get in—and my bird wanted to get out—he had almost as little store set by him in London as in Paris.

It is impossible but many of my readers must have heard of him; and if any by mere chance have never seen him—I beg leave to inform them, that that bird was my bird—or some vile copy set up to represent him.

I have nothing further to add upon him, but that from that time to this, I have borne this poor starling as the crest to my arms—Thus:

—And let the heralds officers twist his neck about, if they dare.

The Address


I should not like to have my enemy take a view of my mind when I am going to ask protection of any man; for which reason I generally endeavour to protect myself: but this going to Monsieur Le Duc de C***** was an act of compulsion—had it been an act of choice, I should have done it, I suppose, like other people.

How many mean plans of dirty address, as I went along, did my servile heart form! I deserved the Bastile for every one of them.

Then nothing would serve me, when I got within sight of Versailles, but putting words and sentences together, and conceiving attitudes and tones to wreath myself into Monsieur Le Duc de C*****’s good graces—This will do, said I—Just as well, retorted I again, as a coat carried up to him by an adventurous tailor, without taking his measure—Fool! continued I—see Monsieur Le Duc’s face first—observe what character is written in it—take notice in what posture he stands to hear you—mark the turns and expressions

  By PanEris using Melati.

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