Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
4. The Monk. Calais
T IS very true, said I, replying to a cast upwards with his eyes, with which he had concluded his addresst is very trueand heaven be their resource who have no other but the charity of the world, the stock of which, I fear, is no way sufficient for the many great claims which are hourly made upon it.
As I pronounced the words great claims, he gave a slight glance with his eye downwards upon the sleeve of his tunic.I felt the full force of the appeal.I acknowledge it, said Ia coarse habit, and that but once in three years, with meager dietare no great matters; and the true point of pity is, as they can be earnd in the world with so little industry, that your order should wish to procure them by pressing upon a fund which is the property of the lame, the blind, the aged, and the infirmthe captive who lies down counting over and over again the days of his afflictions, languishes also for his share of it; and had you been of the order of mercy, instead of the order of St. Francis, poor as I am, continued I, pointing at my portmanteau, full cheerfully should it have been opend to you, for the ransom of the unfortunateThe monk made me a bow.But of all others, resumd I, the unfortunate of our own country, surely, have the first rights; and I have left thousands in distress upon our own shore.The monk gave a cordial wave with his headas much as to say, No doubt, there is misery enough in every corner of the world, as well as within our convent.But we distinguish, said I, laying my hand upon the sleeve of his tunic, in return for his appealwe distinguish, my good father! betwixt those who wish only to eat the bread of their own laborand those who eat the bread of other peoples, and have no other plan in life but to get through it in sloth and ignorance, for the love of God.
The poor Franciscan made no reply: a hectic of a moment passd across his cheek, but could not tarryNature seemed to have done with her resentments in him; he showed nonebut letting his staff fall within his arm, he pressd both his hands with resignation upon his breast, and retired.