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The works of Mr. Sterne, after contending with the prejudices of some and the ignorance of others, have at length obtained that general approbation which they are entitled to by their various, original, and intrinsic merits. No writer of the present times can lay claim to so many unborrowed excellences. In none have wit, humour, fancy, pathos, and unbounded knowledge of mankind, and a correct and elegant style, been so happily united. These properties, which render him the delight of every reader of taste, have surmounted all opposition, -even Envy, Prudery, and Hypocrisy are silent.
Time, which allots to each author his due portion of fame, and admits a free discussion of his beauties and faults, without favour and without partiality, hath done ample justice to the superior genius of Mr. Sterne. It hath fixed his reputation as one of the first writers in the English language on the firmest basis, and advanced him to the rank of a classic. As such, it becomes a debt of gratitude to collect his scattered performances into a complete edition, with those embellishments usually bestowed on our most distinguished authors.
This hath been attempted in the present edition, which comprehends all the Works of Mr. Sterne, either made public in his lifetime or since his death. They are printed from the best and most correct copies, with no other alterations than what became necessary from the correction of literal errors; and the Letters are arranged according to their several dates, as far as they can be discovered. Those which are confessedly spurious are rejected ; and, that no credit may be given to such as are of doubtful authority, it will be proper to observe that those numbered 129, 130, 131, have not the proofs of authenticity which the others possess. They cannot, however, be pronounced forgeries with so much confidence as some? which are discarded from the present edition may be, and therefore are retained in it.
That no part of the genuine works of Mr. Sterne might be omitted, his own account of himself and family is inserted, without variation. But as this appears to have been a hasty composition, intended only for the information of his daughter, a small number of facts and dates, by way of notes, are added to it. These, it is presumed, will not be considered as improper additions.
It would be trespassing on the reader's patience to detain him any longer from the pleasure which these volumes will afford, by bespeaking his favour either for the author or his works : the former is out of the reach of censure or praise; and the reputation of che latter is too well established to be either supported or shook by panegyric or criticism. To the taste, therefore, the feeling, the good sense, and the candour of the public the present collection of Mr. Sterne's works may be submitted, without the least apprehension that the perusal of any part of them will be followed by consequences unfavourable to the interests of society. The oftener they are read, the stronger will a sense of universal benevolence be impressed on the mind; and the attentive reader will subscribe to the character of the author given by a comic writer, who declares he held him to be a moralist in the noblest sense : he plays indeed with the fancy, and sometimes, perhaps, too wantonly; but while he thus designedly masks his main attack, he comes at once upon the heart; refines, amends it, softens it; beats down each selfish barrier from about it, and opens every sluice of pity and benevolence.'
See the Preface to a work published in 1779, intituled Letters supp sed to have been uitten by Yorick lo Eliza.
EXTRACT FROM THE PENNY MAGAZINE,
NOVEMBER 17, 1802.
As a writer, Sterne is undoubtedly entitled to a high rank in his peculiar line. Attempts have been made to trace the peculiarities of his style to preceding writers; and Dr. Ferriar, in particular, has certainly convicted him of having borrowed many thoughts, and even the groundwork of some pretty long passages, from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy and other old English works. Arbuthnot's famous Martinus Scriblerus has also been pointed out as the prototype of Tristram Shandy. Of all his predecessors, however, Rabelais is undoubtedly the writer who has the best right to be regarded as having been directly imitated by Sterne. We do not allude to particular passages, in which the one may be proved to have been a copier of the other, so much as to general resemblance of style and manner. There is in both the same nervous and idiomatic style, the same whimsicality of thought and allusion, the same intermixture of the most sagacious and profound remarks with the wildest absurdity, as well as the same wit and humour. In both, too, there is the same indelicacy,-only far more frequent and reckless in Rabelais, whose satire is also animated in many places by a much more bitter spirit. But in this or any other parallel which may be drawn to the disadvantage of Sterne's originality, it ought never to be forgotten that his highest attribute remains still all his own-his exquisite pathos. Of this there is nothing whatever either in Burton, or Arbuthnot, or Rabelais, or any other with whom he has been compared. None of these writers could have produced the stories of the Dead Ass, of Lefevre, of the Monk, or of Maria. Nay, none of them, we may venture to affirm, could have drawn or imagined anything so full of the eccentric and the ludicrous, and yet so mild, so attractive, and, with all its singularity, so true to nature, as the delineation either of my Uncle Toby or of Corporal Trim ; though perhaps Cervantes might.
Speaking of Sterne's physiognomy, Lavater says: 'In this face you discover the arch, satirical Sterne, the shrewd and exquisite observer, more limited in his object, but on that very account more profound ;-you discover him, I say, in the eyes, in the space which separates them, in the nose and the mouth, of this figure.'
MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE AND FAMILY
THE LATE REV. LAURENCE STERNE,
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.
OGER STERNE' (grandson to Archbishop with many other brave officers, broke, and sent
Sterne), Lieutenant in Handaside's regi- adrift into the wide world, with a wife and two ment, was married to Agnes Hebert, widow of children, the elder of which was Mary. She a Captain of a good family. Her family name was born at Lisle, in French Flanders, July 10, was (I believe) Nuttle ;—though, upon recollec- 1712, new style. This child was the most untion, that was the name of her father-in-law, fortunate : she married one Wemans, in Dublin, who was a noted sutler in Flanders, in Queen-who used her most unmercifully; spent his Anne's wars, where my father married his substance, became a bankrupt, and left my poor wife's daughter (N.B. he was in debt to him), sister to shift for herself; which she was able which was on September 25, 1711, old style. to do but for a few months, for she went to a This Nuttle had a son by my grandmother,- friend's house in the country, and died of a a fine person of a man, but a graceless whelp!- | broken heart. She was a most beautiful woman, what became of him I know not. The family of a fine figure, and deserved a better fate. (if any left) live now at Clonmel, in the south The regiment in which my father served being of Ireland ; at which town I was born, Novem- broke, he left Ireland as soon as I was able to ber 24, 1713, a few days after my mother arrived be carried, with the rest of his family, and from Dunkirk.-My birth-day was ominous to came to the family - seat at Elvington, near my poor father, who was, the day of our arrival, York, where his mother lived. She
1 Mr. Sterne was descended from a family of that name in Suffolk, one of which settled in Nottinghamshire. The following genealogy is extracted from Thoresby's Ducatus Leodinensis, p. 215:
SIMON STERNE, of Mansfield.
The arms of the family, says Guillam, in his Book of Heraldry, p. 77, are, Or, a chevron between three crosses flory, sable. The crest, on a wreath of his colours, a starling proper.
Trifling circumstances are worthy of notice when connected with distinguished characters. The arms of Mr. Sterne's family are no otherwise important than on account of the crest having afforded a bint for one of the finest stories in The Sentimental Journey.
daughter to Sir Roger Jaques, and an heiress. common people flocked to see me.
Hence we There we sojourned for about ten months, when followed the regiment to Dublin, where we lay the regiment was established, and our house in the barracks a year. In this year (one thouhold decamped with bag and baggage for Dublin. sand seven hundred and twenty-one) I learnt to Within a month of our arrival, my father left write, etc. The regiment ordered in twenty. us, being ordered to Exeter; where, in a sad two to Carrickfergus, in the north of Ireland. winter, my mother and her two children fol. We all decamped, but got no farther than lowed him, travelling from Liverpool, by land, Drogheda ;-thence ordered to Mullingar, forty to Plymouth.-(Melancholy description of this miles west, where, by Providence, we stumbled journey, not necessary to be transmitted here.) upon a kind relation, a collateral descendant --In twelve months we were all sent back to from Archbishop Sterne, who took us all to his Dublin. My mother, with threc of us (for she castle, and kindly entertained us for a year, and lay-in at Plymouth of a boy, Joram), took ship sent us to the regiment at Carrickfergus, loaded at Bristol for Ireland, and had a narrow escape with kindnesses, etc. A most rueful and tedious from being cast away, by a leak springing up in journey had we all (in Darch) to Carrickfergus, the vessel. At length, after many perils and where we arrived in six or seven days. Little struggles, we got to Dublin. There my father Devijeher here died; he was three years old : took a large house, furnished it, and in a year he had been left behind at nurse at a farmand a half's time spent a great deal of money. house near Wicklow, but was fetched to us by In the year one thousand seven hundred and my father the summer after :-another child nineteen, all unhinged again ; the regiment was sent to fill his place, Susan. This babe too ordered, with many others, to the Isle of Wight, left us behind in this weary journey. The in order to embark for Spain in the Vigo ex- autumn of that year, or the spring afterwards pedition. We accompanied the regiment, and (I forget which), my father got leave of his were driven into Milford Haven, but landed at colonel to fix me at school,-which he did Bristol; thence, by land, to Plymouth again, near Halifax, with an able master; with whom and to the Isle of Wight ;-where, I remember, I stayed some time, till, by God's care of me, we stayed encamped some time before the em- my cousin Sterne, of Elvington, became a father barkation of the troops (in this expedition, from to me, and sent me to the University, etc. etc. Bristol to Hampshire, we lost poor Joram, - To pursue the thread of our story, my father's pretty boy, four years old, of the small-pox) : regiment was, the year after, ordered to Lonmy mother, sister, and myself, remained at the donderry, where another sister was brought Isle of Wight during the Vigo expedition, and forth, Catherine, still living; but most ununtil the regiment had got back to Wicklow, in lappily estranged from me by my uncle's Ireland; whence my father sent for us.-We wickedness and her own folly. From this had poor Joram's loss supplied, during our stay station the regiment was sent to defend Gibin the Isle of Wight, by the birth of a girl, raltar, at the siege, where my father was run Anne, born September the twenty-third, one through the body by Captain Phillips in a duel thousand seven hundred and nineteen.- This (the quarrel began about a goose !); with much pretty blossom fell, at the age of three years, difficulty he survived, though with an impaired in the barracks of Dublin :-she was, as I well constitution, which was not able to withstand remember, of a fine delicato frame, not made to the hardships it was put to; for he was sent last long, -as were most of my father's babes. to Jamaica, where he soon fell by the country We embarked for Dublin, and had all been cast fever, which took away his senses first, and away by a most violent storm; but through the made a child of him; and then, in a month or intercessions of my mother, the captain was pre- two, walking about continually without comFailed upon to turn back into Wales, where we plaining, till the moment he sat down in an stayed a month, and at length got into Dublin, arm-chair, and breathed his last, which was at and travelled by land to Wicklow; where my Port Antonio, on the north of the island. My father had for some weeks given us over for father was a little smart man, active to the lost.-We lived in the barracks at Wicklow last degree in all exercises, most patient of one year (one thousand seven hundred and fatigue and disappointments, of which it pleased twenty), when Devijcher (so called after Colonel God to give him full measure.
in his Devijeher) was born; thence we decamped to temper, somewhat rapid and hasty, but of a stay half a year with Mr. Fetherston, a clergy- | kindly, sweet disposition, void of all design; man, about seven miles from Wicklow; who, and so innocent in his own intentions that he being a relation of my mother’s, invited us to suspected no one ; so that you might have his parsonage at Animo. It was in this parish, cheated hiin ten times in a day, if nine had during our stay, that I had that wonderful not been sufficient for your purpose. My poor escape in falling through a mill-race whilst the father died in March 1731. I remained at mill was going, and of being taken up unhurt: Halifax till about the latter end of that year, the story is incredible, but known for truth in and cannot omit mentioning this anecdote of all that part of Ireland, where hundreds of the myself and schoolmaster :-He had the ceiling
of the schoolroom new white-washed; the ried a clergyman in Yorkshire, when the living ladder remained there : I one unlucky day became vacant, he would make her a complimounted it, and wrote with a brush, in large ment of it. I remained near twenty years at capital letters, LAU. STERNE, for which the Sutton, doing duty at both places. I had then usher severely whipped me. My master was very good health. Books, painting, fiddling, very much hurt at this, and said, before me, and shooting, were my amusements. As to the that never should that name be effaced, for I Squire of the parish, I cannot say we were upon was a boy of genius, and he was sure that I a very friendly footing, but at Stillington the should come to preferment.--This expression family of the C- -s showed us every kindness : ' made me forget the stripes I had received. - In 'twas most truly agreeable to be within a mile the year thirty-two' my cousin sent me to the and a half of an amiable family, who were ever university, where I stayed some time. 'Twas cordial friends. In the year 1760, I took a there that I commenced a friendship with Mr. house at York for your mother and yourself, H—which has been lasting on both sides. and went up to London to publish: my two I then came to York, and my uncle got me first volumes of Shandy. In that year Lord the living of Sutton; and at York I became Falconbridge presented me with the curacy of acquainted with your mother, and courted her Coxwould; a sweet retirement in comparison
for two years :-she owned she liked me; but of Sutton. In sixty-two I went to France, I thought herself not rich enough, or me too poor, before the peace was concluded ; and you both
to be joined together. She went to her sister's followed me. I left you both in France, and, in S; and I wrote to her often.--I believe in two years after, I went to Italy for the then she was partly determined to have me, recovery of my health; and, when I called but would not say so.-At her return she fell upon you, I tried to engage your mother to into a consumption; and one evening that I return to England with me :: she and yourself was sitting by her, with an almost broken heart are at length come, and I have had the inexto see her so ill, she said, 'My dear Laurey, I pressible joy of seeing my girl everything I never can be yours, for I verily believe I have wished her. not long to live ! 'but I have left you every I have set down these particulars relating to any shilling of my fortune.'-Upon that she showed family and self for my Lydia, in case hereafter me her will. - This generosity overpowered me. she might hare a curiosity, or a kinder motire, to --It pleased God that she recovered, and I mar- know them. ried her in the year 1741. ? My uncle and myself were then upon very good terms; for he soon got me the Prebendary of York ;-but he As Mr. Sterne, in the foregoing narrative, quarrelled with me afterwards, because I hath brought down the account of himself would not write paragraphs in the news- until within a few months of his death, it papers. Though he was a party man, I was remains only to mention that he left York not, and detested such dirty work, thinking about the end of the year 1767, and came to it beneath me. From that period he became London, in order to publish The Sentimental my bitterest enemy.3-By my wife's means, I Journey, which he had written during the got the living of Stillington: a friend of hers preceding summer at his favourite living of in the south had promised her that, if she mar
Coxwould. His health had been for some
1 He was admitted of Jesus College, in the University 1747. The Case of Elijah and the Widow of Zerepliath of Cambridge, 6th July 1733, under the tuition of Mr. considered. A Churity Seimon preached on Good Cannon.
Friday, April 17, 1747, for the support of two charity Matriculated 29th March 1785.
schools in York. Admitted to the degree of B.A. in January 1736.
1750. The Abuses of Conscience. Set forth in a Admitted M.A. at the commencernent of 1740.
Sermon preached in the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, 2 Jaques Sterne, LL.D. He was Prebendary of York, at the summer assizes, before the Hon. Mr. Baron Durham, Canon Residentiary, Precentor and Pre- Clive and the Hon. Mr. Baron Smythe, on Sunday, bendary of York, Rector of Rise, and Rector of Hornsey | July 29, 1750. cum Riston, both in the East Riding of the county of 1759. Vol 1 and 2 of Tristram Shandy. York. He died June 9th, 1759.
1760. Vol. 1 and 2 of Sermons. 3 It hath, however, been insinuated that he for some 1761. Vol. 3 and 4 of Tristram Shandy. time wrote a periodical electioneering paper at York, 1762. Vol. 5 and 6 of Tristram Shandy. in defence of the Whig interest.-lonthly Review, vol. 1765. Vol. 7 and 8 of Tristran Shandy. $3, p. 344.
1766. Vol. 3, 4, 5, and 6 of Sermons. * A specimen of Mr. Sterne's abilities in the art of 1767. Vol. 9 of Tristram Shandy. designing may be seen in Mr. Wodhul's pucins, 8vo, 1768. The Sentimental Journey. 1772.
The remainder of his works were published after his > The first edition was printed in the preceding year death. at York
? From this passage it appears that the present account 6 The following is the order in which Mr. Sterne's of Mr. Sterne's Life and Fumily was written about six publicatious appeared :
months only before his death.