NEW MAN OF FEELING.
by WILLIAM GODWIN.
VOLUME THE FIRST
"NOTHING further of material importance occurred, till I arrived at Fontainebleau. It is difficult to express the rapture I felt at entering this celebrated scene. Fontainebleau had been to the kings of France, what Versailles has become since. It had been particularly honoured by the residence of Henry IV; and Louis XIII, his successor, was born here. But, independently of this, here was a royal palace belonging to my intended patron,--the first I had ever seen. Having refreshed myself, and rested a short time, I found my way into the gardens, and viewed with enthusiasm the immenseness of the edifice. The fountains from which the place derives its name, the large and deep forests which on every side met my eye in the distance, all struck me with an idea of unbounded magnificence.
"'I wish the king was here!' exclaimed I. Presently, however, I thought again, 'Do I wish it? I must think a great deal of what I have to do, and what I have to say, before I meet him. No, I am not sorry I have a little further to go!' The idea of a king at a distance, is very different from what we feel when we come near him. The imagination never fences him round with so many obstacles, and enchanted circles, within which unhallowed feet may scarcely tread, as the reality presents. The very dinner which is set before him (to instance in a trite circumstance) no untutored fancy ever paints. We shape to ourselves what we have not seen, after the fashion of what we are accustomed to; and experience does not fail to surprise us with the immeasurable distance which refinement and art have placed between man and man. It would be an amusing picture, to set me on my wooden stool with my little dinner in an earthen pan, as I ate it at the silk-mill, beside even a petit souper of the King of France. I own that I felt certain qualms about my heart when I thought of my adventure, and looked round upon the splendours of Fontainebleau.
"As I was wandering about, full of these reflections, a grave-looking man came up and accosted me. He said, he saw I was a stranger, and offered to point out to me the curiosities of the place. It is singular, but I was struck with a certain resemblance between him and the man who had undertaken to be my tutor in the press-yard of Dijon. I was, however, now in a very different temper from that which inspired me then. Then I was under the pressure of a very dangerous embarrassment, and had determined to find my safety in the most inflexible reserve. Now my heart was open, and my spirits light; beside which, I was anxious for communication, and had a hundred enquiries which I wished to have resolved.
"I therefore willingly entered into conversation with this stranger. I asked him whether the King of France ever now came to Fontainebleau; I enquired of him concerning the structure and site of the palace of Versailles, how the King was attended, and where and in what manner he spent the different hours of the day. My communicative friend seemed to be well informed in all these particulars, and his intelligence was copious and interesting. In the mean time he observed me closely, and drew more sound and perfect conclusions respecting me and my fortunes than I was aware. At length he told me that he was going to set out the next morning for Versailles, and offered to become my guide. I willingly accepted his kind proposal.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME
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