« ZurückWeiter »
THE Works of Mr. Sterne, after contending with the prejudices of some, and the ignorance of others, have at length obtained that general approbation that they are entitled to by their various, original, and intrinsic merits. No writer of the present times can lay claim to so many unborrowed excellences. In none have wit, humour, fancy, pathos, and unbounded knowledge of mankind, and a correct and elegant style, been so happily united. These properties, which render him the delight of every reader of taste, have surmounted all opposition:-even Envy, Prudery, and Hypocrisy are silent.
Time, which allots to each author his due portion of fame, and admits a free discussion of his beauties and faults, without favour and without partiality, hath done ample justice to the superior genius of Mr. Sterne. It has fixed his reputation as one of the first writers in the
English language, on the firmest basis, and advanced him to the rank of a classic.
Sterne's own account of himself and family is inserted without variation. But as this autobiography appears to have been a hasty composition, intended only for the information of his daughter,—a small number of facts and dates, by way of notes, are added to it. These, it is presumed, will not be considered as improper additions.
It would be trespassing on the reader's patience, to detain him any longer from the pleasure which this volume will afford, by bespeaking his favour either for the author or his work: the former is out of the reach of censure or praise; and the reputation of the latter is too well established to be either supported or shook by panegyric or criticism. To the taste, therefore, the feeling, the good sense, and the candour of the public, the present edition of Mr. Sterne's "Sentimental Journey" may be submitted, without the least apprehension that the perusal of any part of it will be followed by consequences unfavourable to the interests of society. The oftener it is read, the stronger will a sense of universal benevolence
be impressed on the mind; and the attentive reader will subscribe to the character of the author given by a comic writer, who declares he held him to be "a moralist in the noblest sense; he plays indeed with the fancy, and sometimes, perhaps, too wantonly; but, while he thus designedly masks his main attack, he comes at once upon the heart; refines, amends it, softens it; beats down each selfish barrier from about it, and opens every sluice of pity and benevolence."