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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTON, LEwex
TIL DEN FOUNDATION

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:"agenerosity which overpowered Sterne. She recovered : and so they were married, and grew heartily tired of each other before many years were over. “Nescio quicl 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 'tis not the worst."-STERNE's Letters: 20th January, 1764.

the same gushing source.* It was in December, 1767, that the Rev. Laurence Sterne, the famous Shandean, the 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

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* 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, sa 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 le poursuivit partout, et qui voulait être de tout. Ces dispositions dans cette bonne dame lui ont fait passer d'asscz 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 wecks smitten with the tenderest passion that ever tender wight underwent. I wish, dear cousin, thou could'st conceive (perhaps thou canst without my wishing it) how deliciously I cantered away with it the first month, two up, two down, always upon my hanches, 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 may’st 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 wise had most of the patience 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, where 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

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