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to Italy for the recovery 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 everything 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 kinder 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 himself 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,
1761. Vols. III. and IV. of Tristram Shandy. 1762. Vols. V. and VI. of Tristram Shandy. 1765. Vols. VII. and VIII. of Tristram Shandy. 1766. Vols. III., IV., V., and VI. of Sermons.
1767. Vol. IX. of Tristram Shandy.
1768. The Sentimental Journey.
The remainder of his works were published after his death.
* From this passage, it appears that the present account of Mr. Sterne's Life and Family was written about six months only before his death.
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, 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
The Reverend LAURENCE STERNE, A.M.
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.
* It is scarcely necessary to observe that this date is erroneous.
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.
When settled in Yorkshire, Sterne had 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 assistance, 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. Indeed, to require a man to pardon an insult on account of the wit which accompanies the infliction, although it is what jesters often seem to expect, is
desiring him to admire the painted feathers which wing the dart by which he is wounded. The tumult was therefore loud on all sides; but amid shouts of applause and cries of censure, the notoriety of Tristram spread still wider and wider, and the fame of Sterne rose in proportion. The author therefore triumphed, and bid the critics defiance. "I shall be attacked and pelted," he says, in one of his letters, "either from cellar or garret, write what I will; and besides, must expect to have a party against me of many hundreds, who either do not, or will not, laugh-'tis enough that I divide the world-at least I will rest contented with it." On another occasion he says, "If my enemies knew that, by this rage of abuse and ill-will, they were effectually serving the interests both of myself and works, they would be more quiet; but it has been the fate of my betters, who have found that the way to fame is like the way to heaven, through much tribulation; and till I shall have the honour to be as much maltreated as Rabelais and Swift were, I must continue humble, for I have not filled up the measure of half their persecutions."
The author went to London to enjoy his fame, and met with all that attention which the public gives to men of notoriety. He boasts of being engaged fourteen dinners deep, and received this hospitality as a tribute; while his contemporaries saw the festivity in a very different light. "Any man who has a name, or who has the power of pleasing," said Johnson, "will be very generally invited in London. The man Sterne, I am told, has had engagements for three months.”