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which abstracted his observation from the surrounding objects. Whether these feelings were more or less than precisely pertained to leaving his country, Charles did not attempt to investigate, for he was neither at an age, nor of a character, very carefully to examine the emotions of his heart; and though acute and sensible, he generally could with ease penetrate into the motives of others; his disposition was too quick and ardent to fit him for the most difficult undertaking in natyre—the study of his own mind.
In general, there was nothing so annoying to him as unfilled time; and perhaps anxiety for incident, and impatience of the dull monotony of ordinary life, amounted with him to a disease. Positive pain was to him preferable to the want of some excitement, and not having yet learnt to value the blessing of peace, he sought for every thing, whether ridiculous or serious, that might produce to him some change of sensations. But all these ideas seemed
laid asleep till his arrival at Calais, when a scene so different from what he had ever beheld before, recalled him at once to his usual character.
Certainly our sensations are strange the first time we set our foot on a foreign soil : it is at that moment that we most feel how much England is an island—how separate it is in every circumstance from the rest of the world: manners, politics, religion, language, character, in all as much insulated as it is in geographical situation.
Landed on the quay, Charles, with his companion, Mr. Wilmot, were immediately surrounded by a thousand emissaries from the hotels of the town, each with surprising shrillness and volubility recommending their particular house, and forcing its pretensions upon the notice of the half-stunned travellers. Mr. Wilmot, however, immediately settled the matter by naming the hotel they went to, and having been conducted to that well-known place where every stranger is subjected to
examination on first entering France, Charles did not feel at all inclined to admit the general politeness of the French nation, on the first specimens of their behaviour which he saw dispensed at the custom-house.
Arrived, however, at Dessein's, furnished with an elegant suit of apartments, served with a dinner which, however much it might defy investigation, was at least excellent to the taste, and exhilarated by champagne of the finest vintage, Charles began to think France a much more tolerable place than he had at first conceived, and was willing to allow that custom-house officers did not in general furnish the fairest sample of a nation's politeness.
There is certainly something about Sterne's writings, however little truth there may be in them, and however distorted that truth may be, that fixes them not only upon your attention, but upon your memory, and not only pleases you at the time, but returns with a sensation
of pleasure every time you meet some object on which he has touched ; and, how, ever dull and heavy Charles might find Calais, he could scarcely help at every step recurring in his own mind to Yorick, and the Monk, and monsieur Dessein, and thinking how strangely the same every thing still remained when the sentimentalist, and those he had commemorated, had alike long sunk to silence and the dust.
The day after their arrival was devoted by Charles and Mr. Wilmot to visiting the principal objects of curiosity in Calais. This takes up no great time, and before the middle of the day they had arrived at the church, which had been reserved for the last: it was built by the English when they had possession of the town.“ How fond we are,” said Charles, turning to Mr. Wilmot, with a smile,“ of having something on the Continent to fight for! What Calais was, Hanover now is to Great Britain--a bone on which she lays her paw, like a surly dog; and though she
can get nothing off it herself, still holds it fast, while all the other dogs around will fly upon her for it when they dare.”
“ True,” replied Mr. Wilmot; “ but in time of war, which was almost constantly the case, Calais offered the means of annoying your enemy, and dividing his forces, which, to a warlike nation, was more necessary than defending yourselves; and as to Hanover, to give up your sovereign's hereditary dominions, would not only lessen you in the eyes of all neighbouring nations, but surely degrade you in your own. I am no politician,” he added, with a smile, “ but I think with sir Roger de Coverly, that there is much to be said on both sides. Suppose we now go through the gates, one of which is rather a fine specimen of that kind of architecture.”
Charles readily agreed to this proposal, and after having seen the gates, Mr. Wilmot led the way over the fields to the left. When they had gone some way—“Mr.