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was, in his temper, somewhat rapid and hasty, but of a kindly sweet disposition, void of all design ; and so innocent in his own intentions, that he suspected no one; so that you might have cheated him ten times in a day, if nine had not been sufficient for your purpose. My poor father died in March, 1731. I remained at Halifax till about the latter end of that year, and cannot omit mentioning this anecdote of myself and schoolmaster :—He had the ceiling of the school-room new white-washed; the ladder remained there. I, one unlucky day, mounted it, and wrote with a brush, in large capital letters, LAU. STERNE, for which the usher severely whipped me. My master was very much hurt at this, and said, before me, that never should that name bę effaced, for I was a boy of genius, and he was sure I should come to preferment. This expression made me forget the stripes I had received. In the year thirty-two* my cousin sent me to the university, where I staid some time. 'Twas there that I commenced a friendship with Mr H , which has been lasting on both sides. I then came to York, and my uncle got me the living of Sutton ; and at York I became acquainted with your mother, and courted her for two years :-she owned she liked me, but thought herself not rich enough, or me too poor, to be joined together. She went to her sister's in S ; and I wrote to her often. I believe then she was partly determined to have me, but would not say so. At her return she fell into a consumption ;-and one evening that I was sitting by her, with an almost broken heart to see her so ill, 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.' Upon that she shewed me her will. This generosity overpowered me. It pleased God that she recovered, and I married her in the year 1741. My uncle* and myself were then upon very good terms; for he soon got me the Prebendary of York ;—but he quarrelled with me afterwards, because I would not write paragraphs in the newspapers ;—though he was a party-man, I was not, and detested such dirty work, thinking it beneath me. From that period he became my bitterest enemy.t By my wife's means I got the living of Stillington ; a friend of hers in the south had promised her, that, if she married a clergyman in Yorkshire, when the living became vacant, he would make her a compliment of it. I remained near twenty years at Sutton, doing duty at both places. I had then very good health. Books, painting, I fiddling, and shooting, were my amusements. As to the Squire of the parish, I cannot say we were upon a very friendly footing; but at Stillington, the family of the C- s shewed us every kindness : 'twas most truly agreeable to be within a mile and a half of an amiable family, who were ever cordial friends. In the year 1760, I took a house at York for your mother and yourself, and went up to London to publishg my two first volumes of Shandy. || In that year Lord Falconbridge presented me with the curacy of Coxwould ; a sweet retirement in comparison of Sutton. In sixty-two I went to France before the peace was concluded; and you both followed me. I left you both in France, and in two years after, I went to Italy for the recovery
* He was admitted of Jesus' College, in the University of Cambridge, 6th July, 1733, under the tuition of Mr Cannon.
Matriculated 29th March, 1735.
* Jaques Sterne, LL.D. He was Prebendary of Durham, Canon Residentiary, Precentor and Prebendary of York, Rector of Rise, and Rector of Hornsey cum Riston, both in the East Riding of the county of York. He died June 9th, 1759.
+ It hath, however, been insinuated, that he for some time wrote a periodical electioneering paper at York, in defence of the Whig interest.--Monthly Review, vol. LIII, p. 344.
# A specimen of Mr Sterne's abilities in the art of designing, may be seen in Mr Wodhul's Poems, 8vo. 1772.
$ The first edition was printed in the preceding year at York. | The following is the order in which Mr Sterne's publications appeared :
1747. The Case of Elijah and the Widow of Zerephath considered. A Charity Sermon preached on Good Friday, April 17, 1747, for the support of two charity schools in York.
of my health ; and, when I called upon you, I tried to engage your mother to return to England with me :* she and yourself are at length come, and I have had the inexpressible joy of seeing my girl every thing I wished for.
“ I have set down these particulars relating to my family and self for my Lydia, in case hereafter she might have a curiosity, or a kind. er motive, to know them."
To these notices, the following brief account of his death has been added by another writer :
As Mr Sterne, in the foregoing narrative, hath brought down the account of bimself until within a few months of his death, it remains only to mention, that he left York about the end of the year 1767, and came to London, in order to publish The Sentimental Journey, which he had written during the preceding summer at his favourite living of Coxwould. His health had been for some time declining; but he continued to visit his friends, and retained his usual flow of spirits. In February 1768, he began to perceive the approaches of death; and with the concern of a good man, and the solicitude of an affectionate parent, devoted his attention to the future welfare of his daughter. His letters, at this period, reflect so much credit on his character, that it is to be lamented some others in the collection were permitted to see the light. After a short struggle with his disorder,
1750. The Abuses of Conscience. Set forth in a sermon preached in the cathedral church of St Peter, York, at the Summer Assizes, before the Hon. Mr Baron Clive, and the Hon. Mr Baron Smythe, on Sunday, July 29, 1750.
1759. Vol. 1 and 2 of Tristram Shandy..
* From this passage, it appears that the present account of Mr Sterne's Life and Family were written about six months only before his death.
his debilitated and worn-out frame submitted to fate on the 18th day of March 1768, at his lodgings in Bond-street. He was buried at the new burying-ground belonging to the parish of St George, Hanover-square, on the 22d of the same month, in the most private manner; and hath since been indebted to strangers for a monument very unworthy of his memory; on which the following lines are inscribed :
Near to this Place
Lies the Body of
Aged 53 Years.
To these Memoirs we can only add a few circumstances. The Archbishop of York, referred to as great-grandfather of the author, was Dr Richard Sterne, who died in June 1683. The family came from Suffolk to Nottinghamshire, and are described by Guillam as bearing Or a cheveron, between three crosses flory sable. The crest is that Starling proper, which the pen of Yorick has rendered immortal.
Sterne was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, and took the degree of Master of Arts there in 1740. His protector and patron, in the outset of life, was his uncle Jaques Sterne, D.D., who was Prebendary of Durham, Canon Residentiary, Precentor, and Prebendary of York, with other good preferments. Dr Sterne was a keen Whig, and zealous supporter of the Hanoverian succession. The politics of the times being particularly violent, he was engaged in many controversies, particularly with Dr Richard Burton, (the original of Dr Slop) whom he had arrested upon a charge of high treason, during the affair of 1745. Laurence Sterne, in the Memoir which precedes these notices, represents himself as having quarrelled with his uncle, because he would not assist him with his pen in controversies of this description.
* It is scarcely necessary to observe, that this date is erroneous.
When settled in Yorkshire, Sterne has represented his time as much engaged with books, fiddling, and painting. The former seem to have been in a great measure supplied by the library of Skelton Castle, the abode of his intimate friend and relation, John Hall Stevenson, author of the witty and indecent collection, entitled Crazy Tales, where there is a very humorous description of his ancient residence, under the name of Crazy Castle. This library had the same cast of antiquity which belonged to the Castle itself, and doubtless contained much of that rubbish of ancient literature, in which the labour and ingenuity of Sterne contrived to find a mine. Until 1759, Sterne had only printed two Sermons ; but in that year he surprised the world, by publishing the two first volumes of Tristram Shandy. Sterne states himself, in a letter to a friend, as being “ tired of employing his brains for other people's advantage-a foolish sacrifice I have made for some years to an ungrateful person." This passage probably alludes to his quarrel with his uncle; and as he mentions having taken a small house in York for the education of his daughter, it is probable that he looked to his pen for some assist ance, though, in a letter to a nameless doctor, who had accused him of writing in order to have nummum in loculo, he declares he wrote not to be fed, but to be famous. Tristram, however, procured the author both fame and profit. The brilliant genius, which mingled with so much real or affected eccentricity,--the gaping astonishment of the readers who could not conceive the drift or object of the publication, with the ingenuity of those who attempted to discover the meaning of passages which really had none, gave the book a most extraordinary degree of eclat. But the applause of the public was not unmingled with censure. Sterne was not on good terms with his professional brethren: he had too much wit, and too little forbearance in the use of it ; too much vivacity, and too little respect for his cloth and character, to maintain the formalities, not to say the decencies, of the clerical station ; and he had, in the full career of his humour, assigned to some of his grave compeers ridiculous epithets and characters, which they did not resent the less, that they were certainly witty, and probably applicable.