Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

to the university, where I stayed 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 showed 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.† By my wife's

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.

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,* 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 showed 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 publish† 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 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.

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 IIon. Mr. Baron Clive, and the Hon. Mr. Baron Smythe, on Sunday, July 29, 1750.

1759. Vol. I. and II. of Tristram Shandy.

1760. Vol. I. and II. of Sermons.

[ocr errors]

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.
Died September 13th, 1768,*
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.

* 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

« ZurückWeiter »