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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 the same
gushing source. * It was in December, 1767, that the Rev. Lawrence Sterne, the famous Shandean, the
* In a collection of "Seven Letters by Sterne and his friends,” (printed for private circulation), in 1844, is a letter of M. Tollot, who was in France with Sterne and his family in 1764. Here is a paragraph:
“Nous arrivâmes le lendemain à Montpellier, où nous trouvâmes notre ami Mr.Sterne, så femme, sa fille, Mr. Huet et quelques autres Anglaises; j'eus, je vous l'avoue, beaucoup de plaisir en revoyant le bon et agréable Tristram.
Il avait été assez longtemps à Toulouse, où il se serait amusé sans sa femme, qui se poursuivit partout, et qui voulait être de tout. Ces dispositions dans cette bonne dame, lui ont fait passer d'assez mauvais momens; il supporte tous ces désagrémens avec une patience d'ange."
About four months after this very characteristic letter, Sterne wrote to the same gentleman to whom Tollot had written; and from his letter we may extract a companion paragraph:
“All which being premised, I have been for eight weeks smitten with the tenderest passion that ever tender wight underwent. I wish, dear cousin, thou couldst conceive (perhaps thou canst without my wishing it) how deliciously I canter'd away with it the first month, two up, two down, always upon my hânches along the streets from my hotel to hers, at first once then twice, then three times a day, till at length I was within an ace of setting up my hobby-horse in her stable for good and all. I might as well, considering how the enemies of the Lord have blasphemed thereupon. The last three weeks we were every hour upon the doleful ditty of parting and thou mayest conceive, dear cousin, how it altered my gait and air for I went and came like
any louden'd carl, and did nothing but jouer des sentimens with her from sun-rising even to the setting of the same; and now she is gone to the south of France; and to finish the comédie, I fell ill, and broke a vessel in my lungs, and half bled to death. Voilà mon histoire!”
Whether husband or wife had most of the “patience
charming Yorick, the delight of the fashionable world, the delicious divine, for whose sermons the whole polite world was subscribing, * the occupier of Rabelais's easy chair, only fresh stuffed and more elegant than when in possession of the cynical old curate of Meudon **
d'ange” may be uncertain; but there can be no doubt which needed it most!
* "Tristram Shandy' is still a greater object of admiration, the man as well as the book; one is invited to dinner, when he dines, a fortnight before. As to the volumes yet published, there is much good fun in them, and humour sometimes hit and sometimes missed. Have you read his Sermons,' with his own comick figure, from a painting by Reynolds, at the head of them? They are in the style I think most proper for the pulpit, and show a strong imagination and a sensible heart; but you see him often tottering on the verge of laughter, and ready to throw his periwig in the face of the audience." - Gray's Letters, June 22nd, 1760.
“It having been observed that there was little hospitality in London - Johnson: "Nay, Sir, any man who has a name, or who has the power of pleasing, will be very generally invited in London. The man, Sterne, I have been told, has had engagements for three months. Goldsmith: “And a very dull fellow. Johnson: “Why, no, Sir.'” — BoswELL'S Life of Johnson.
“Her (Miss Monckton's) vivacity enchanted the sage, and they used to talk together with all imaginable ease. A singular instance happened one evening, when she insisted that some of Sterne's writings were very pathetic. Johnson bluntly denied it. 'I am sure,' said she, they have affected me.' Why,' said Johnson, smiling, and rolling himself about-'that is, because, dearest, you're a dunce. When she some time afterwards mentioned this to him, he said with equal truth and politeness, 'Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not have said it.' Ibid.
** A passage or two from Sterne's “Sermons” may not be without interest here. Is not the following, levelled against
the more than rival of the Dean of St. Patrick's, wrote the above quoted respectable letter to his friend
the cruelties of the Church of Rome, stamped with the autograph of the author of the “Sentimental Journey?”.
To be convinced of this, go with me for a moment into the prisons of the Inquisition behold religion with mercy and justice chained down under her feet, there, sitting ghastly upon a black tribunal, propped up with racks, and instruments of torment. — Hark! what a piteous groan!See the melancholy wretch who uttered it, just brought forth to undergo the anguish of a mock-trial, and endure the utmost pain that a studied system of religious cruelty has been able to invent. Behold this helpless victim delivered up to his tormentors. His body so wasted with sorrow and long confinement, you'll see every nerve and muscle as it suffers. — Observe the last movement of that horrid engine.
What convulsions it has thrown him into! Consider the nature of the posture in which he now lies stretched. — What exquisite torture he endures by it. 'T is all nature can bear.
Good God! see how it keeps his weary soul hanging upon his trembling lips, willing to take its leave, but not suffered to depart. Behold the unhappy wretch led back to his cell, – draggd out of it again to meet the flames -- and the insults in his last agonies, which this principle — this principle, that there can be religion without morality has prepared for
Sermon 27th. The next extract is preached on a text to be found in Judges xix. ver. 1, 2, 3, concerning a “certain Levite:”
"Such a one the Levite wanted to share his solitude and fill up that uncomfortable blank in the heart in such a situation; for, notwithstanding all we meet with in books, in many of which, no doubt, there are a good many handsome things said upon the secrets of retirement, &c. ... yet still, 'it is not good for man to be alone:' nor can all which the coldhearted pedant stuns our ears with upon the subject, ever give one answer of satisfaction to the mind; in the midst of the loudest vauntings of philosophy, nature will have her yearnings for society and friendship; a good heart wants some object to be kind to and the best parts of our blood,
in London; and it was in April of the same year, that he was pouring out his fond heart to Mrs. Elizabeth Draper, wife of “Daniel Draper, Esq., Counsellor of Bombay, and, in 1775, chief of the factory of Surata gentleman very much respected in that quarter of the globe."
“I got thy letter last night, Eliza,” Sterne writes, on my return from Lord Bathurst's, where I dined
(the letter has this merit in it that it contains a pleasant reminiscence of better men than Sterne, and introduces us to a portrait of a kind old gentleman)--I got thy letter last night, Eliza, on my return from Lord Bathurst's; and where I was heard — as I talked of thee an hour without intermission with so much pleasure and attention, that the good old Lord toasted your health three different times; and now he is in his 85th year, says he hopes to live long enough to be introduced as a friend to my fair Indian disciple, and to see her eclipse all other Nabobesses as much in
and the purest of our spirits, suffer most under the destitution.
“Let the torpid monk seek Heaven comfortless and alone. God speed him! For my own part, I fear I should never so find the way; let me be wise and religious, but let me be Man; wherever thy Providence places me, or whatever be the road I take to Thee, give me some companion in my journey, be it only to remark to, 'How our shadows lengthen as our sun goes down;' to whom I may say, 'How fresh is the face of Nature! how sweet the flowers of the field! how delicious are these fruits !'" Sermon 18th.
The first of these passages gives us another drawing of the famous “Captive." The second shows that the same reflection was suggested to the Rev. Lawrence, by a text in Judges, as by the fille-de-chamber.
Sterne's Sermons were published as those of “Mr. Yorick."