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In the quarrel mentioned before, which happened on Fielding's last voyage to Lisbon, and when the
gentleman informed me, intended to lay it before the Privy Council.
“Though this visit cost me a severe cold, I, notwithstanding, set myself down to work, and in about four days sent the
Duke as regular a plan as I could form, with all the reasons and arguments I could bring to support it, drawn out on several sheets of paper; and soon received a message from the Duke, by Mr. Carrington, acquainting me that my plan was highly approved of, and that all the terms of it would be complied with.
“The principal and most material of these terms was the. immediately depositing 600 l. in my hands; at which small charge I undertook to demolish the then reigning gangs, and to put the civil policy into such order, that no such gangs should ever be able for the future, to form themselves into bodies, or at least to remain any time formidable to the public.
“I had delayed my Bath journey for some time, contrary to the repeated
advice of my physical acquaintances, and the ardent desire of my warmest friends, though my distemper was now turned to a deep jaundice; in which case the Bathwaters are generally reputed to be almost infallible. But I had the most eager desire to demolish this gang of villains and cut-throats.
“After some weeks the money was paid at the Treasury, and within a few days, after 2001. of it had come to my hands, the whole gang of cut-throats was entirely dispersed." Further on, he says,
“I will confess that my private affairs at the beginning of the winter had but a gloomy aspect; for I had not plundered the public or the poor of those sums, which men who are always ready to plunder both as much as they can, have been pleased to suspect me of taking; on the contrary, by composing, instead of inflaming, the quarrels of porters and beggars (which I blush when I say hath not been universally practised), and by refusing to take a shilling from a man who
stout captain of the ship fell down on his knees and asked the sick man's pardon “I did not suffer,” Fielding says, in his hearty, manly way, his eyes lighting up as it were with their old fire “I did not suffer a brave man and an old man to remain a moment in that posture, but immediately forgave him.” Indeed, I think, with his noble spirit and unconquerable generosity, Fielding reminds one of those brave men of whom one reads in stories of English shipwrecks and disasters of the officer on the African shore, when disease has destroyed the crew, and he himself is seized by fever, who throws the lead with a deathstricken hand, takes the soundings, carries the ship out of the river or off the dangerous coast, and dies in the manly endeavour of the wounded captain, when the vessel founders, who never loses his heart, who eyes the danger steadily, and has a cheery word for all, until the inevitable fate overwhelms him, and the gallant ship goes down. Such a brave and gentle heart, such an intrepid and courageous spirit, I love to recognise in the manly, the English Harry Fielding.
most undoubtedly would not have had another left, I had reduced an income of about 5001. a year of the dirtiest money upon earth, to little more than 3001., a considerable portion of which remained with my clerk.”
LECTURE THE SIXTH.
STERNE AND GOLDSMITH.
ROGER 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 Handiside's regiments, and engaged in Flanders, in Queen Anne's wars. He married the daughter of a noted suttler, "N.B., he was in debt to him," his son writes, pursuing the paternal biography, and marched through the world with this companion, following the regiment and bringing many children to poor Roger Sterne. The captain was an irascible but kind and simple little man, Sterne
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.
Lawrence, his second child, was borne at Clonmel, in Ireland, in 1713, and travelled for the first ten
* He came of a Suffolk family one of whom settled in Nottinghamshire. The famous starling" was actually the family crest.
years of his life, on his father's march, from barrack to transport, from Ireland to England. *
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 Carriekfergus. 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 Lawrence 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.
Lawrence 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 Lawrence for writing his name on the newly white-washed school-room ceiling, the pedagogue in chief rebuked the under-strapper, and said
* "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 afi that part of Ireland, where hundreds of the common people flocked to see me.” — STERNE.
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 connexions, 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 wife than ever.”*
*“My wife returns to Toulouse, and proposes to pass the summer at Bignaères - 1, 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 't is not the best of maxims, but I maintain 't is not the worst.”. STERNE's Letters, 20th January, 1764.