Happy people! that once a-week at least are sure to lay down all your cares together; and dance and sing, and sport away the weights of grievance, which bow down the spirit of other nations to the earth.

The Fragment


La Fleur had left me something to amuse myself with for the day more than I had bargain’d for, or could have enter’d either into his head or mine.

He had brought the little print of butter upon a currant leaf; and as the morning was warm, and he had begg’d a sheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant leaf and his hand—As that was plate sufficient, I bade him lay it upon the table as it was, and as I resolved to stay within all day, I order’d him to call upon the traiteur to bespeak my dinner, and leave me to breakfast by myself.

When I had finish’d the butter, I threw the currant leaf out of the window, and was going to do the same by the waste paper—but stopping to read a line first, and that drawing me on to a second and third—I thought it better worth; so I shut the window, and drawing a chair up to it, I sat down to read it.

It was the old French of Rabelais’s time, and for ought I know might have been wrote by him—it was moreover in a Gothic letter, and that so faded and gone off by damps and length of time, it cost me infinite trouble to make any thing of it—I threw it down; and then wrote a letter to Eugenius—then I took it up again, and embroiled my patience with it afresh—and then to cure that, I wrote a letter to Eliza——Still it kept hold of me; and the difficulty of understanding it increased but the desire.

I got my dinner; and after I had enlightened my mind with a bottle of Burgundy, I at it again—and after two or three hours poring upon it, with almost as deep attention as ever Gruter or Jacob Spon1 did upon a nonsensical inscription, I thought I made sense of it; but to make sure of it, the best way, I imagined, was to turn it into English, and see how it would look then—so I went on leisurely, as a trifling man does, sometimes writing a sentence—then taking a turn or two—and then looking how the world went, out of the window; so that it was nine o’clock at night before I had done it—I then begun and read it as follows:

The Fragment


——Now as the notary’s wife disputed the point with the notary with too much heat—I wish, said the notary (throwing down the parchment) that there was another notary here only to set down and attest all this——

—And what would you do then, Monsieur? said she, rising hastily up—the notary’s wife was a little fume of a woman, and the notary thought it well to avoid a hurricane by a mild reply—I would go, answer’d he, to bed.——You may go to the devil, answer’d the notary’s wife.

Now there happening to be but one bed in the house, the other two rooms being unfurnished, as is the custom at Paris, and the notary not caring to lie in the same bed with a woman who had but that moment sent him pell-mell to the devil, went forth with his hat, and cane, and short cloak, the night being very windy, and walk’d out ill at ease towards the Pont Neuf.

Of all the bridges which ever were built, the whole world who have pass’d over the Pont Neuf must own, that it is the noblest—the finest—the grandest—the lightest—the longest—the broadest that ever conjoin’d land and land together upon the face of the terraqueous globe——

By this, it seems, as if the author of the fragment had not been a Frenchman.

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