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some wealthy Nabob, because I design to marry you myself. My wife cannot live long, and I know not the woman I should like so well for her substitute as yourself. 'Tis true I am ninety-five in constitution, and you but twenty-five; but what I want in youth, I will make up in wit and good-humour. Not Swift so loved his Stella, Scarron his Maintenon, or Waller his Saccharissa. Tell me, in answer to this, that you approve and honour the proposal."
Approve and honour the proposal ! The coward was writing gay letters to his friends this while, with sneering allusions to this poor foolish Bramine. Her ship was not out of the Downs, and the charming Sterne was at the “Mount Coffee-house,” with a sheet of gilt-edged paper before him, offering that precious treasure his heart to Lady Pasking whether it gave her pleasure to see him unhappy? whether it added to her triumph that her eyes and lips had turned a man into a fool?-quoting the Lord's Prayer, with a horrible baseness of blasphemy, as a proof that he had desired not to be led into temptation, and swearing himself the most tender and sincere fool in the world. It was from his home at Coxwould that he wrote the Latin letter, which, I suppose, he was ashamed to put into English. I find in my copy of the Letters, that there is a note of I can't call it admiration, at Letter 112, which seems to announce that there was a No. 3 to whom the wretched worn-out old scamp was paying his addresses ; * and the year after, having come back to his lodgings in
* " To Mrs. H
* Coxwould, Nov. 15, 1767. “Now be a good dear woman, my H-, and execute those commissions well, and when I see you will give you a kiss—there's for you! But I have something else for you which I am fabricating at a great rate, and that is my * Sentimental Journey,' which shall make you cry as much as it has affected me, or I will give up the business of sentimental writing.
.“ I am yours, &c. &c.,
“T. SHANDY." “ TO THE EARL OF
“ Coxwould, Nov. 28, 1767. “MY LORD,—'Tis with the greatest pleasure I take my pen to thank your lordship for your letter of inquiry about Yorick: he was worn out, both his spirits
Bond Street, with his “Sentimental Journey” to launch upon the town, eager as ever for praise and pleasure-as vain, as wicked, as witty, as false as he had ever been-death at length seized the feeble wretch, and, on the 18th of March, 1768, that “bale of cadaverous goods," as he calls his body, was consigned to Pluto. * In his last letter there is one sign of grace—the real affection with which he entreats a friend to be a guardian to his daughter Lydia. All his letters to her are artless, kind, affectionate, and not sentimental; as a hundred pages in his writings are beautiful, and full, not of surprising humour merely, but of genuine love and kindness. A perilous trade, indeed, is that of a man who has to bring his tears and laughter, his recollections, his personal griefs and joys, his
and body, with the 'Sentimental Journey.' 'Tis true, then, an author must feel himself, or his reader will not; but I have torn my whole frame into pieces by my feelings : I believe the brain stands as much in need of recruiting as the body. Therefore I shall set out for town the twentieth of next month, after having recruited myself a week at York. I might indeed solace myself with my wife (who is come from France); but, in fact, I have long been a sentimental being, whatever your lordship may think to the contrary."
“In February, 1768, Laurence Sterne, his frame exhausted by long debilitating illness, expired at his lodgings in Bond Street, London. There was something in the manner of his death singularly resembling the particulars detailed by Mrs. Quickly as attending that of Falstaff, the compeer of Yorick for infinite jest, however unlike in other particulars. As he lay on his bed totally exhausted, he complained that his feet were cold, and requested the female attendant to chafe them. She did so, and it seemed to relieve him. He complained that the cold came up higher ; and whilst the assistant was in the act of chafing his ankles and legs, he expired without a groan. It was also remarkable that his death took place much in the manner which he himself had wished ; and that the last offices were rendered him, not in his own house, or by the hand of kindred affection, but in an inn, and by strangers.
“We are well acquainted with Sterne's features and personal appearance, to which he himself frequently alludes. He was tall and thin, with a hectic and consumptive appearance.”—Sir Walter Scott.
“It is known that Sterne died in hired lodgings, and I have been told that his attendants robbed him even of his gold sleeve-buttons while he was expiring." -Dr. FERRIAR.
“He died at No. 41 (now a cheesemonger's) on the west side of Old Bond Street."-Handbook of London,
private thoughts and feelings to market, to write them on paper, and sell them for money. Does he exaggerate his grief, so as to get his reader's pity for a false sensibility ? feign indignation, so as to establish a character for virtue? elaborate repartees, so that he may pass for a wit ? steal from other authors, and put down the theft to the credit side of his own reputation for ingenuity and learning ? feign originality ? affect benevolence or misanthropy ? appeal to the gallery gods with claptraps and vulgar baits to catch applause ?
How much of the paint and emphasis is necessary for the fair business of the stage, and how much of the rant and rouge is put on for the vanity of the actor. His audience trusts him : can he trust himself? How much was deliberate calculation and imposturehow much was false sensibility-and how much true feeling? Where did the lie begin, and did he know where ? and where did the truth end in the art and scheme of this man of genius, this actor, this quack? Some time since, I was in the company of a French actor, who began after dinner, and at his own request, to sing French songs of the sort called des chansons grivoises, and which he performed admirably, and to the dissatisfaction of most persons present. Having finished these, he commenced a sentimental ballad – it was so charmingly sung, that it touched all persons present, and especially the singer himself, whose voice trembled, whose eyes filled with emotion, and who was snivelling and weeping quite genuine tears by the time his own ditty was over. I suppose Sterne had this artistical sensibility ; he used to blubber perpetually in his study, and finding his tears infectious, and that they brought him a great popularity, he exercised the lucrative gift of weeping : he utilized it, and cried on every occasion. I own that I don't value or respect much the cheap dribble of those fountains. He fatigues me with his perpetual disquiet and his uneasy appeals to my risible or sentimental faculties. He is always looking in my face, watching his effect, uncertain whether I think him an impostor or not; posture-making, coaxing, and imploring me. “See what sensibility I have—own now that l'ın very clever-do cry now, you can't resist this.” The humour
of Swist and Rabelais, whom he pretended to succeed, poured from them as naturally as song does from a bird ; they lose no manly dignity with it, but laugh their hearty great laugh out of their broad chests as nature bade them. But this man—who can make you laugh, svho can make you cry too-never lets his reader alone, or will perniit his audience repose : when you are quiet, he fancies he must rouse you, and turns over head and heels, or sidles up and whispers a nasty story. The man is a great jester, not a great humourist. He goes to work systematically and of cold blood ; paints his face, puts on his ruff and motley clothes, and lays down his carpet and tumbles on it.
For instance, take the “Sentimental Journey," and see in the writer the deliberate propensity to make points and seek applause. He gets to “Dessein's Hotel,” he wants a carriage to travel to Paris, he goes to the inn-yard, and begins what the actors call “business” at
There is that little carriage (the désobligeante). “ Four months had elapsed since it had finished its career of Europe in the corner of Monsieur Dessein's coachyard, and having sallied out thence but a vamped-up business at first, though it had been twice taken to pieces on Mount Sennis, it had not profited much by its adventures, but by none so little as the standing so many months unpitied in the corner of Monsieur Dessein's coach-yard. Much, indeed, was not to be said for it-but something might-and when a few words will rescue misery out of her distress, I hate the man wiro can be a churl of them.”
Le tour est fait ! Paillasse has tumbled ! Paillasse has jumped over the désobligeante, cleared it, hood and all, and bows to the noble company. Does anybody believe that this is a real Sentiment ? that this luxury of generosity, this gallant rescue of Misery-out of an old cab, is genuine feeling? It is as genuine as the virtuous oratory of Joseph Surface when he begins, “The man who," &c. &c., and wishes to pass off for a saint with his credulous, good-humoured dupes.
Our friend purchases the carriage : after turning that notorious old monk to good account, and effecting (like a soft and goodnatured Paillasse as he was, and very free with his money when he had it,) an exchange of snuff-boxes with the old Franciscan, jogs out of Calais ; sets down in immense figures on the credit side of his account the sous he gives away to the Montreuil beggars; and, at Nampont, gets out of the chaise and whimpers over that famous dead donkey, for which any sentimentalist may cry who will. It is agreeably and skilfully done—that dead jackass : like M. de Soubise's cook on the campaign, Sterne dresses it, and serves it up quite tender and with a very piquante sauce. But tears, and fine feelings, and a white pocket-handkerchief, and a funeral sermon, and horses and feathers, and a procession of mutes, and a hearse with a dead donkey inside! Psha, mountebank! I'll not give thee one penny more for that trick, donkey and all !
This donkey had appeared once before with signal effect. 1765, three years before the publication of the “Sentimental Journey," the seventh and eighth volumes of " Tristram Shandy” were given to the world, and the famous Lyons donkey makes his entry in those volumes (pp. 315, 316) =
“'Twas by a poor ass, with a couple of large panniers at his back, who had just turned in to collect eleemosynary turnip-tops and cabbage-leaves, and stood dubious, with his two forefeet at the inside of the threshold, and with his two hinder feet towards the street, as not knowing very well whether he was to go in or no.
“Now 'tis an animal (be in what hurry I may) I cannot bear to strike: there is a patient endurance of suffering wrote so unaffectedly in his looks and carriage which pleads so mightily for him, that it always disarms me, and to that degree that I do not like to speak unkindly to him: on the contrary, meet him where I will, whether in town or country, in cart or under panniers, whether in liberty or bondage, I have ever something civil to say to him on my part ; and, as one word begets another (if he has as little to do as I), I generally fall into conversation with him ; and surely never is my imagination so busy as in framing responses from the etchings of his countenance ; and where those carry me not deep enough, in flying from my own