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STERNE AND GOLDSMITH.
OGER STERNE, Sterne's father, was the second son of a
numerous race, descendants of Richard Sterne, Archbishop of York, in the reign of James II. ; and children of Simon Sterne and Mary Jaques, his wife, heiress of Elvington, near York.* Roger was a lieutenant in Handyside's regiment, and engaged in Flanders in Queen Anne's wars. He married the daughter of a noted sutler"N.B., he was in debt to him," his son writes, pursuing the paternal biography—and marched through the world with this companion; she following the regiment and bringing many children to poor Roger Sterne. The captain was an irascible but kind and simple little man, Sterne says, and informs us that his sire was run through the body at Gibraltar, by a brother officer, in a duel which arose out of a dispute about a goose. Roger never entirely recovered from the effects of this rencontre, but died presently at Jamaica, whither he had followed the drum.
Laurence, his second child, was born at Clonmel, in Ireland, in 1713, and travelled, for the first ten years of his life, on his father's. march, from barrack to transport, from Ireland to England.t
One relative of his mother's took her and her family under shelter for ten months at Mullingar : another collateral descendant of the Archbishop's housed them for a year at his castle near Carrickfergus.
* He came of a Suffolk family-one of whom settled in Nottinghamshire. The famous “starling” was actually the family crest.
† “ It was in this parish (of Animo, in Wicklow), during our stay, that I had that wonderful escape in falling through a mill-race, whilst the mill was going, and of being taken up unhurt; the story is incredible, but known for truth in all that part of Ireland, where hundreds of the common people flocked to see me.”STERNE.
Larry Sterne was put to school at Halifax in England, finally was adopted by his kinsman of Elvington, and parted company with his father, the Captain, who marched on his path of life till he met the fatal goose, which closed his career. The most picturesque and delightful parts of Laurence Sterne's writings, we owe to his recollections of the military life. Trim's montero cap, and Le Fevre's sword, and dear Uncle Toby's roquelaure, are doubtless reminiscences of the boy, who had lived with the followers of William and Marlborough, and had beat time with his little feet to the fifes of Ramillies in Dublin barrack-yard, or played with the torn flags and halberds of Malplaquet on the parade-ground at Clonmel.
Laurence remained at Halifax school till he was eighteen years old. His wit and cleverness appear to have acquired the respect of his master here ; for when the usher whipped Laurence for writing his name on the newly whitewashed school-room ceiling, the pedagogue in chief rebuked the understrapper, and said that the name should never be effaced, for Sterne was a boy of genius, and would come to preferment.
His cousin, the Squire of Elvington, sent Sterne to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he remained five years, and taking orders, got, through his uncle's interest, the living of Sutton and the prebendary of York. Through his wife's connections, he got the living of Stillington. He married her in 1741 ; having ardently courted the young lady for some years previously. It was not until the
young lady fancied herself dying, that she made Sterne acquainted with the extent of her liking for him. One evening when he was sitting with her, with an almost broken heart to see her so ill (the Rev. Mr. Sterne's heart was a good deal broken in the course of his life), she said-“My dear Laurey, I never can be yours, for I verily believe I have not long to live; but I have left you every shilling of my fortune :"a generosity which overpowered Sterne. She recovered : and so they were married, and grew heartily tired of each other before many years were over. “Nescio quid est materia cum me,” Sterne writes to one of his friends (in dog-Latin, and very sad dog
Latin too); "sed sum fatigatus et ægrotus de meâ uxore plus quam unquam :" which means, I am sorry to say, “I don't know what is the matter with me: but I am more tired and sick of my wise than ever."
This to be sure was five-and-twenty years after Laurey had been overcome by her generosity and she by Laurey's love. Then he wrote to her of the delights of marriage, saying, “We will be as merry and as innocent as our first parents in Paradise, before the arch fiend entered that indescribable scene. The kindest affections will have room to expand in our retirement: let the human tempest and hurricane rage at a distance, the desolation is beyond the horizon of peace. My L. has seen a polyanthus blow in December ?-Some friendly wall has sheltered it from the biting wind. No planetary influence shall reach us, but that which presides and cherishes the sweetest flowers. The gloomy family of care and distrust shall be banished from our dwelling, guarded by thy kind and tutelar deity. We will sing our choral songs of gratitude and rejoice to the end of our pilgrimage. Adieu, my L. Return to one who languishes for thy society !-As I take up my pen, my poor pulse quickens, my pale face glows, and tears are trickling down on my paper as I trace the word L."
And it is about this woman, with whom he finds no fault but that she bores him, that our philanthropist writes, “Sum fatigatus et ægrotus "--Sum mortaliter in amore with somebody else! That fine flower of love, that polyanthus over which Sterne snivelled so many tears, could not last for a quarter of a century !
Or rather it could not be expected that a gentleman with such a fountain at command should keep it to arroser one homely old lady, when a score of younger and prettier people might be refreshed from
“My wife returns to Toulouse, and proposes to pass the summer at Bignaères. I, on the contrary, go and visit my wife, the church, in Yorkshire. We all live the longer, at least the happier, for having things our own way; this is my conjugal maxim. I own-'tis not the best of maxims, but I maintain 'uis not the worst."-STERNE's Letters: 20th January, 1764.