My thoughts wandered back, naturally enough, to Galileo in the Cathedral at Pisa. It was the swinging of the suspended lamp in that edifice which set his mind working on the laws which govern the action of the pendulum. While he was meditating on this physical problem, the priest may have been holding forth on the dangers of meddling with matters settled by Holy Church, who stood ready to enforce her edicts by the logic of the rack and the fagot. An inference from the above remarks is that what one brings from a church depends very much on what he carries into it.
might be more hilarious and demonstrative in their mirth than I, a sober New Englander in the superfluous decade, might find myself equal to. But there was no uproarious jollity; on the contrary, it was a pleasant gathering of literary people and artists, who took their pleasure not sadly, but serenely, and I do not remember a single explosive guffaw.
I heard a curious statement which was illustrated in the person of one of the gentlemen we met at this table. It is that English sporting men are often deaf on one side, in consequence of the noise of the frequent discharge of their guns affecting the right ear. This is a very convenient infirmity for gentlemen who indulge in slightly aggressive remarks, but when they are hit back never seem to be conscious at all of the riposte,--the return thrust of the fencer.
"How much?" I said to the gar?on in his native tongue, or what I supposed to be that language. "Cinq sous," was his answer. By the laws of sentiment, I ought to have made the ignoble sum five francs, at least. But if I had done so, the waiter would undoubtedly have thought that I had just come from Charenton. Besides, why should I violate the simple habits and traditions of the place, where generation after generation of poor students and threadbare Bohemians had taken their morning coffee and pocketed their two lumps of sugar? It was with a feeling of virile sanity and Roman self-conquest that I paid my five sous, with the small additional fraction which I supposed the waiter to expect, and no more.