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Few eminent men have left to his bio- Our task is in some degree faciligrapher a task more difficult than tated, both by the faithful reflections Sterne. His life, character and writ- of himself, which Sterne bas, perhaps ings appear to be compounded of qua- unconsciously, left us in bis writings, lities extremely opposite, yet inex. and by the brief autobiographic sketch tricably blended ; so that it is as hard which he has written a few days before to view them together, as to separate his death, at the request of his daughter. them with sufficient precision and dis. This, so far as facts are concerned, tinctness ; nor can we with ease re- must, however, be our only guide to a duce a combination so eccentric and very late period of the writer's life. peculiar to the ordinary scale of human Sterne, we have no doubt, anticipated judgments. The opposite prejudices the immediate expansion of this meagre of dissentient classes of criticism, sur- summary, which is little more than a round us with jealous eye-the free- table of contents, into a full and dethinker in religion—the moral casuist tailed history-while there were yet - the single-minded Christian — de- living, those who could have filled up mand from us in turn a severity or the outline from their own knowledge an indulgence which require a more or inquiry-and while there survived dexterous and cautious hand than ours enough of public interest in his works to reconcile. There is, nevertheless, and name to render such an under. a rule, more safe, perhaps, than popular, taking not imprudent.* As it is, we which must serve us instead of much can do little more than regret the of this intricate wisdom—to speak the scantiness of our materials to execute truth in simplicity, without regard to a faithful sketch of this interesting and the prepossessions of opinion.

singular character. Yet it must be ad.

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Nothing so decidedly tends to throw an obscurity upon the memory of illustrious persone, as the narrow and selfish jealousy of children and surviving relations. If there should chance to exist any evidence of human infirmity_if genius has been accompanied by any of those aberrations and eccentricities, of which the history of literature is full—it is absurdly thought a sufficient reason for devoting to oblivion the name, which the anxious labour of a life was devoted to perpetuate in the memory of the living. To be remarked for singularities, or even for those moral defects which belong to human nature, may often hurt the living—in the memory of the dead they are as if they had not been. They are gone to their dread account. To the world they but survive in their intellectual monuments. With their follies we are only so far concerned as the features of a moral portraiture, wbich all men desire to leave—but which, if not a likeness, is nothing. They who would suppress the weaknesses and characteristic defects, are unconsciously annihilating all that genius seeks to perpetuate. The name becomes as the unrecording hieroglyphic -the volume a nameless tombstone.

Vol. VIII.

mitted, that if the more direct and pressions deeply coloured and inteordinary materials are insufficient, the resting in detail. During the first evidences which arise from circum- three years of his life, he was in rapid stances, style of composition, and the succession transferred, with the movecharacteristic traits of a strongly fea- ments of his father's regiment, from tured mind, offer a more than usual town to town— York, Dublin, Plyguidance to biographical conjecture. mouth, and Dublin again. In 1719, To this may be added, that this de- when in his sixth year, the regiment ficiency is also to a certain extent com- was embarked in the Vigo expedition ; pensated by the distinctness and au- the vessel in which he was, was driven thenticity of our information, in all that by “stress of wind" into Milfordhaven. regards the main facts of his life-our Having landed at Bristol, they removed outline is perfect-the colouring and to Plymouth, and from that to the Isle expression must be sought from the re- of Wight. Here his family remained flected lights and shadows of the until the return of the regiment, when Shandy family.

they again embarked for Dublin. A In this memoir of himself, which violent storm threw them on the Welsh may be found in the beginning of every coast, and a month passed before they edition of his writings, Sterne has were enabled to reach Dublin. From minutely detailed the particulars of his this, Sterne's family, as he charactegenealogy. From this, it will be here ristically tells us, “travelled by land" enough to mention, that his father was into the county of Wicklow, where grandson to Dr. Richard Sterne, Arch- they passed some time with the Rev. Mr. bishop of York, who died in 1683. Featherstone, at Animoe. “ In this His third son, Simon Sterne of Elving- place,” his memoir says, “ I had that ton, left six children, of whom Sterne's wonderful escape in falling through a father, Roger, was the second ; and millrace while the mill was going, and Dr. Jaques Sterne, Prebendary, of of being taken up unhurt. The story York, &c. afterwards mentioned in is incredible, but known for truth in all this memoir, the third.

that part of Ireland, where hundreds of * Roger Sterne,” says the narrative, the common people flocked to see me." grandson to Archbishop Sterne, lieu. Sir W. Scott, who visited that vicinity tenant in Handaside's regiment, was in 1825, tells us that “the mill where married to Agnes Hebert, widow of a Sterne encountered this remarkable captain of good family.” Of this mar- risk, has been only lately destroyed, riage, Lawrence was born in Clonmel, and his escape still lives in village Nov. 24, 1713. Immediately after this tradition.” his father's regiment was disbanded, on In 1722, the regiment was ordered which the family removed to Elving- to Carrickfergus, but the Sternes proton, near York, and remained until the ceeded no further than Mullingar, regiment was re-established, about ten where they happily met a relation, a months after, when they returned to collateral descendant from Archbishop Ireland. From this we find, as might Sterne, who received them with all be expected, froin the recollections of the warm hospitality of the time into so early an age, a brief and indistinct his castle—and having detained them summary of the fatigning and oppressive for a year, sent them, “ loaded with wanderings, distresses and calamnities kindnesses, &c.” to Carrickfergus. of some years of laborious and hasty In the course of these migrations, change from place to place as the our author briefly records the births regiment shifted its quarters. It is and deaths of a sister and two brothers. easier to imagine than describe the In the year 1722 or 1723, he is doubtconfused, though often vivid and im- ful which, his father obtained leave of pressive images of military life, as they absence, in order to place him at school must have been remembered from an in Halifax, where he remained “ until age when all is new to the sense, and by God's care of me, my cousin, Sterne understood by the fancy rather than of Elvington, became a father to me, the reason. The storm at sea, and the and sent me to the University.” rapid and various march, can scarcely The next occurrence of any imhave been the every-day incidents of portance in this brief summary, is the his childhood, without having left im- embarkation of the regiment in which

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his father served, to assist in the siege this influence he obtained for his of Gibraltar. Here an unhappy inci. nephew the living of Sutton. The dent took place, which eventually de- history of his marriage may best be prived Sterne of a father.

This, we

told by himselfshall give in his own words, with the

" At York I became acquainted with lighter anecdote which follows it too

your mother, and courted her for two closely to be disjoined.

years—she owned she liked me, but “ From this station the regiment was thought herself not rich enough, or me sent to defend Gibraltar, at the siege, too poor, to be joined together. She went where my father was run through the

to her sister's in S-m; and I wrote to body by Captain Phillips, in a duel (the her often. I believe then she was partly quarrel began about a goose !)--with much determined to have me, but would not difficulty he survived, though with an say so. At her return she fell into a impaired constitution, which was not able consumption; and one evening that I to withstand the hardships it was put to; was sitting by her, with an almost broken for he was sent to Jamaica, where he heart to see her so ill, she said, “ My dear soon fell by the country fever, which Laurey, I never can be yours, for I verily took away his senses first, and made a believe I have not long to live! but I child of him; and then, in a month or have left you every shilling of my fortwo, walking about continually without tune.' Upon that she showed me her complaining, till the moment he sat down will. This generosity overpowered me. in the arm-chair, and breathed his last, It pleased God that she recovered, and I which was at Port Antonio, on the north married her in the year 1741." of the island. My father was a little,

His uncle also at this time obtained smart man, active to the last degree in all for him a prebendary of York; but soon exercises, most patient of fatigue and dis- after quarrelled with him. Dr. Sterne appointments, of which it pleased God to give him full measure. He was, in his tem. the day; he was engaged much in

was deeply interested in the politics of per, somewhat rapid and hasty, but of a kindly sweet disposition, void of all design;

the concerns of the Whig party, and a and so innocent in his own intentions, that Zealous supporter of the Hanoverian he suspected no one; so that you might succession. There is some reason to have cheated him ten times in a day, if presume that his nephew, attached to nine had not been sufficient for your pur- him by gratitude, not less than blood, pose. My poor father died in March, was to some extent drawn into the 1731. 1' remained at Halifax till about sphere of his uncle's zealous political the latter end of that year, and cannot activity ; though we have his own assuromit mentioning this anecdote of myself ance that the coolness which alterand schoolmaster :—He had the ceiling wards arose between them, was caused of the school-room new whitewashed; by his refusal to assist his uncle in the ladder remained there. I, one un

this

warfare. The probability is, lucky day, mounted it, and wrote with a that the factious feelitigs, which but brush, in large capital letters, LAU. too often find no level too low for STERNE, for which the usher severely their fierce rancour, soon reached a whipped me. My master was very much point to which the proud and sensitive hurt at this, and said, before me, that spirit of Sterne could not stoop. His never should that name be effaced, for I

own assertion is, that he detested the was a boy of genius, and he was sure I dirty work of newspaper paragraphs ; should come to preferment.

This ex

yet there is, in the sketch of Dr. pression made me forget the stripes I bad Slop, some evidence of his having received."

carried to a length not quite justifiable, He was 15 years of age when sent his participation in the angry feelings to the University of Cambridge ; he of Dr. Sterne. This coarse and maligwas entered in Jesus' College, under nant, though clever caricature, of the the tuition of Mr. Cannon, Having fidelity of which we cannot pretend to graduated in 1736, he came to York, judge, is familiar to most of our readers. where his uncle resided. This uncle It was written with the vindictive purwas a prebendary of Durham, and also pose of retorting the resentment of Dr. of York, and possessed miny ecclesias- Burton, whom his uncle had arrested tical preferments, and had, of course, in 1745, on a charge of high treason. no small influence in the diocese. By Of this period of his life--the hap

piest, though least affected by that cultivation, ever, or at least mostly; whirl of constant excitement which indicative of fine nerve, delicate taste, characterizes his after career—there is quick sensibility, and a light and vari. little memorial ; yet this little has the able temper. Such a combination it is interest of being pregnant with the not hard to trace in the various, desulwriter's character. His account of tory, and vivacious page of Sterne. himself, from the year 1741 to 1760 is In 1747, he took a house in York briefly summed in his own words- for his wife and daughter, and went to By my wife's means I got the living

London to publish the two first volumes of Stillington; a friend of her's in the of Tristrain Shandy. Their success south had promised her, that, if she mar

was brilliant and instantaneous ; and ried a clergyman in Yorkshire, when the to this the faults of his style contributed living became vacant, he would make her little less thau its perfections. Numa compliment of it.”

bers will ever be found to applaud “I remained near twenty years at Sut- those who can address the passions ton, doing duty at both places. I had without offending against decorum; and then very good health. Books, painting, when the reputation for wit and fiddling, and shooting, were my amuse- humour is obiained many will join in ments. As to the squire of the parish, I the laugh, without perceiving the point, cannot say we were on a very friendly or discover wit where the sense is only footing; but at Stillington, the family of conceited or obscured. To this one of the C's showed us every kindness: the peculiar artifices of Sterne's writing 'twas most truly agreeable to be within affords the amplest scope, as it consists a mile and a half of an amiable family, very much in conveying indirectly, and who were ever cordial friends."

by remote allusion and insinuation, A specimen of Mr. Sterne's abi- that which may not be directly said lities in the art of designing, may without offence. Where so much is be seen in Mr. Wodhul's poems, thus left to the reader's quickness, 8vo. 1772. Of such specimens, the invention will be on the alert to find result of unprofessional industry, few meanings or improve them. That have probably deserved to survive which might revolt the taste is veiled, the brief wonder of the partial home and comes with softened effect through circle. Yet there cannot but be felt a the attractive mist of conjecture. natural curiosity to see how genius It is applauded in the surprise of unwhich is identified with one species of expected wit, and thus finds its way to result, may have succeeded in another; the passions before it can be appreneither can such a specimen be without hended by the more tardy vigilance of svine interest of a more distinct and the moral sense. The outcry was also rational kind, to those whose study it loud-but the world was, as usual, on is to trace in all its results, the identity the side of the laugh. Not to laugh of human character. Painting—of was to be exposed to the sneer of wit, which, as in the kindred science and the charge of dulness—to censure, of the poet, the main principle is Was branded as hypocrisy. Sterne to awaken fancy by the illusion of was defended on the just merits of his effects and associations, must have pos- beautiful sketches of human nature ; sessed a strong enchantment for a mind and with less truth, by a denial of the so sensibly alive to impressions, and so weighty reproach. A distinction more rich in graphic conceptious as Sterne's. nice than just was drawn between the But for the present, it is more mere violation of decorum, and the our purpose to look on the favorite direct corruption of the passions. A pursuits, for the strong light in which mistake so palpable, seems hardly to they shew the moral as well as the in- demand exposure—were it not that it tellectual temper, which must have is one of that peculiar class of mistakes concurred to produce the singular and which our nature is too willing tv comeccentric course of life and study mit. Human passions, and especially indicated by his writinys. The pur- those of the coarser kind, are by the buits which he represents as having conventions of society constrained to been his chief amusements, form å dwell in mystery, and to be tampered combination not very infrequent, but with under the mask and hood of dewhen carried beyond a very moderate corvus concealment. Ever on the alert,

to

an

the remotest hint is as a clue to the kindly tolerance for infirmities from inner shrine in the foul labyrinth. It which he was most exempt. is also their nature to be excited by In thus frankly censuring what canpartial concealment, and accidental not, with a due regard to truth, be dedisclosure—while broad indecency, in- fended, we cannot help feeling ourseparably associated with disgusting selves called upon to deprecate the images, has in some measure the op- charge of unseasonable rigor. posite effect. Neither is there more There is a feeling which loves to justness in the plea of the writer's in- guard and consecrate the laurel upon nocence of intention—“ Now, I take the monument of genius. No wanton heaven to witness, after all this hadi- aggression should be allowed to scatter nage, that my heart is innocent--the aspersion against the memory of those truth is, that my pen governs me—not who, in their generation, have contrime my pen.". It is to be feared, that buted to erect the volumed_pile of such simplicity is too inconsistent, their country's literature. But the either with the shrewd, sly, knowing limit to this is as sacred as the fame wit of Sterne, or bis evident knowledge of departed genius—it is the line of of the moral and animal springs of truth and justice.* Before the lying human nature ; and that in this respect honors are strewn where they can be the epithet of hypocrite—which he was of no avail, and the incense of flattery too free to misapply as a defensive wasted on the “dull, cold ear of death,” weapon_can too easily be retorted. there is a sad and stern duty to be disThese observations may serve to in- charged to the living. If there can troduce an anecdote mentioned by be any reasonable objection, in such Scott.

cases, to the exercise of that critical

candour which seldom spares those “Soon after Tristram had appeared, whom it can most wound, -it is where Sterne asked a Yorkshire lady of fortune the parent, the brother, or the widow and condition, whether she had read his survive, to be offended through the book ?

feelings most entitled to respect. In “« I have not, Mr. Sterne,' was the the present instance there is no such answer ; ' and to be plain with you, I consideration to restrain us from the am informed it is not proper for female bounden duty of affirming, that this perusal.' “My dear good lady,' replied the gifted but eccentric work cannot be

recommended to the young or the unauthor, do not be gulled by such stories ; the book is like your young heir there, corrupted: and that so far as we might (pointing to a child of three years old

, admit the moral influence which one,t

at least, of Sterne's biographers has atwhite tunics,) " he shows at times a good tributed to the virtuous simplicity of deal that is usually concealed, but it is all Uncle Toby—it is not yet enough in perfect innocence! This witty excuse

to redeem this work from the censure may be so far admitted; for it cannot be of having been written by a Christian said that the licentious humour of Tris- teacher. It is indeed the error of a tram Shandy is of the kind which applies class to attribute to moral maxims, and itself to the passions, or is calculated to the cultivation of sentimental virtue, corrupt society."

an influence to which it has no pre

tension. The error is accepted, beScott's comment, which we have cause it has the merit of offering an thought it just to add, is characteristic easy substitute for Christian faith. But of his proverbial benevolence, and his huinan passions are not to be silenced

* De mortuis nil nisi bonum. I declare I have considered the wisdom and foun. dation of it over and over again, as dispassionately and charitably as a good Christian can; and, after all, I can find nothing in it, or make more of it

, than a nonsensical lullaby of some nurse, put into Latin by some pedant, to be chanted by some hypocrite to the end of the world, for the consolation of departing lechers...... The ruling passion, and les egaremens du cæur, are the very things which distinguish and mark å man's character, in which I would as soon leave out a man's head as his hobby-horse. Sterne's Letters.

+ See Roscoe's Memoir.

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