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London : VIZETELLY and Co. Printers and Engravers,

135 Fleet Street.


In offering to the public STERNE's inimitable master-piece, “ THE SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY," under a form superior to any hitherto adopted, it has been deemed advisable, in order to render it still more worthy of attention, to prefix a short account of its justly celebrated author, with a few particulars respecting its characters, which, it is hoped, will not fail to be acceptable to the reader.

LAURENCE STERNE was born at Clonmel, in the south of Ireland, on the 24th of November, 1713. His father was a lieutenant in the regiment of Handiside. The arms of the

was family (which were rather ancient) are described by Guillam, in his “Book of Heraldry," as, “Or, a chevron between three crosses flory, sable. The crest, on a wreath of his colours, a starling proper.” The latter deserves notice as having furnished a subject for one of the finest stories in this work. Two events, recorded by Sterne himself in his memoirs, signalised his childhood. When about seven years of

age, he fell through a mill-race while the mill was at work, and so miraculous was his escape from death considered, that hundreds of the common people flocked to see him. On another occasion, while at school at Halifax, the ceiling of the school-room having been newly white-washed, the ladder was left against the wall; our hero saw it, mounted, and wrote in large capital letters “ LAU. STERNE," for which he was severely chastised by the usher. His master was, however, much affected, and exclaimed, “ Never shall that name be effaced; that boy is a genius, and sure of preferment.” He was not mistaken. In 1732, one of his cousins sent him to the University of Cambridge, where about the commencement of 1740) he obtained the degree of M.A. His uncle, Jaques Sterne, prebendary of Durham and York, procured for him the living of Sutton. They were at that time on excellent terms, but quarrelled shortly after, on Sterne's refusing to write paragraphs for the newspapers. From that period, his uncle, who was a staunch Whig, strongly attached to his opinions, and desirous of imposing them on all who were in any way dependant on him, became his bitterest enemy. In 1741, Sterne married, and through his wife's means obtained the living of Stillingston; for nearly twenty years he did duty at both places, still continuing his residence at Sutton, in the enjoyment of perfect health, and devoting his leisure to study, music, painting, and hunting. Previously to the year 1760, he had only published two very ordinary sermons, but at that period he went to London, where the appearance of the first and second volumes of " Tristram Shandy" soon assigned him an honourable rank in the republic of letters. (It was then Lord Falcon


bridge presented him with the curacy of Coxwould.) This work was received with enthusiasm by the public; but not so by the clergy, who anathematised the author. Shortly after, he published two volumes of sermons, under the ridiculous name of Yorick, the same which he had placed at the head of his novel, and which was no other than that of the jester, introduced by Shakspere in his “Hamlet." This inconsistency drew

upon him fresh censures from the clergy, to which he replied only by publishing four more volumes of “ Tristram Shandy.” These were as successful as the preceding ones had been, but the seventh and eighth were but coolly received: the fashion was past and could not be revived. In 1762, Sterne set out for France, in the hope of re-establishing his health, which had been impaired much less by labour than by pleasure. He there left his wife and daughter, who had followed him, and continued his journey to Italy; but finding his health rapidly declining, he returned to York, and thence to London, about the end of 1767, when he published the last volume of “ Tristram Shandy," and the first part of “ The Sentimental Journey," which he had written during the preceding summer, at his favourite residence of Coxwould.* Beginning now 'to feel sensibly the approach of death, he, with all the solicitude of a tender parent, devoted his whole attention to the future happiness of his daughter; and the letters which he wrote at this period reflect so much honour on his heart and character, that it is to be regretted some

* The remainder was published after his death.

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