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Exeter, July, 1765. SIR, The inclosed was quite an Impromptu of Yorick's after he had been thoroughly soused. He drew it up in a few moments without stopping his pen. I should be glad to see it in your intended collection of Mr. Sterne's memoirs, &c. If you should have a copy of it, you will be able to rectify a misapplication of a term that Mr. Sterne could never be guilty of, as one great excellence of his writing lies in the most happy choice of metaphors and allusions such as showed his philosophic judgment, at the same time that they display his wit and genius but it is not for me to comment on, or correct, so great an original. I should have sent this fragment as soon as I saw Mrs. Medalle's advertisement, had I not been at a distance from my papers. I expect much entertainment from this posthumous work of a man to whom no one is more in. debted for amusement and instruction than, Your humble servant,
No - not one farthing would I give for such a coat in wet weather, or dry. - If the sun shines, you are sure of being melted, because it closes so tight about one if it rains, it is no more a defence than a cobweb very sieve, o'my consciencel that lets through every drop, and, like many other things that are put on only for a cover, mortifies you with disappointment, and makes you curse the impostor, when it is too late to avail one's self of the discovery. Had I been wise, I should have examined the claim the coat had to the title of “defender of the body" - before I had
trusted my body in it – I should have held it up to the light, like other suspicious matters, to have seen how much it was likely to admit of that which I wanted to keep out – whether it was no more than such a frail Aimsy, contexture of flesh and blood, as I am fated to carry about with me through every tract of this dirty world, could have comfortably and safely dispensed with in so short a journey – taking into my account the chance of spreading trees thick hedges o'erhanging the road with twenty other coverts that a man may trust his head under — if he is not violently pushed on by that d-d stimulus -you know where that will not let a man sit still in one place for half a minute together - but, like a young mettlesome tit, is eternally on the fret, and is for pushing on still further
or if the poor scared devil is not hunted tantivy by a hue and cry with gyves and a halter dangling before his eyes - now in either case he has not a minute to throw away in standing still, but, like King Lear, must brave “the peltings of a pitiless storm," and give Heaven leave to "rumble its bellyful,
spit fire - or spout rain" as spitefully as it pleaseth, without finding the inclination or the resolution to slacken his pace,
lest something should be lost that might have been gained, or more gotten than he well knows how to get rid of. - Now, had I acted with as much pru. dence as some other good folk8-I could name many of them who bave been made b-ps within my remembrance, for having been hooded and muffled up in a larger quantity of this dark drab of mental manufacture than ever fell to my share - and absolutely for nothing else as will be seen when they are undressed another day - Had I but as much as might have been taken out of their cloth, without lessening much of the size, or injuring the least the shape, or contracting aught of the doublings and foldings, or confining to a less circumference the superb sweep of any one cloak that any one b-perer wrapt himself up in I should never have given this coat a place upon my shoulders. I should have seen by the light, at one glance, how little it would keep out of rain by bow little it would keep in of dark. ne88. - This a coat for a rainy day? do, pray! madam, hold it up to that window - did you ever see such an illustrious coat since the day you could distinguish between a coat and a pair of breeches ? - My lady did not understand derivatives, and so could not see quite through my splendid pun. Pope Sixtus would have blinded her with the same “dark. ness of excessive light." What a flood of it breaks in through this rent! what an irradiation beams through that! what twinklings what sparklings as you wave it before your eyes in the broad face of the sun! Make a fan out of it for the ladies to look at their gallants with at church - It has not served me for one purpose - it will serve them for two
This is coarse stuff - of worse manufacture than the cloth - put it to its proper use, for I love when things sort and join well - make a philtre * of it while there is a drop to be extracted I know but one thing in the world that will draw, drain, or suck like it - and that is - neither wool nor flax - make make any thing of it but a vile, hypocritical coat for
for I never can say, sub Jove, (whatever Juno might) that "it is a pleasure to be wet."
* This allusion is improper. A philtre originally signifies a love-potion as it is used as a noun from the verb philirate, it must signify a strainer, not a sucker - cloth is sometimes ased for the purpose of draining by means of its poros, or capillary tubes, but its action is contrary to philtration. His meaning is obvious enough ; but as he drow up this fragment without stopping his pen, as I was informed, it is no wonder be erred in the application of some of his terms.