To W. C. Esq.

I Am safe arrived at my bower—and I trust that you have no longer any doubt about coming to embower it with me. Having, for six months together, been running at the ring of pleasure, you will find that repose here which, all young [Page 2] as you are, you ought to want. We will be witty, or classical, or sentimental, as it shall please you best. My milk-maids shall weave you garlands; and every day after coffee I will take you to pay a visit to my nuns. Do not, however, indulge your fancy beyond measure, but rather let me indulge mine, or, at least, let me give you the history of it, and the fair sisterhood who dwell in one of it's visionary corners. Now, what is all this about? you'll say—have a few moments patience, and I will tell you.

You must know then, that, on passing out of my back door, I very soon gain a path, which, after conducting me through several verdant meadows and shady thick­ets, brings me, in about twenty minutes, to the ruins of a monastery, where, in [Page 3] times long past, a certain number of clois­tered females had devoted their—lives—I scarce know what I was going to write—to religious solitude.—This saunter of mine, when I take it, I call paying a visit to my nuns.

It is an awful spot—a rivulet flows by it, and a lofty bank, covered with wood, that rises abruptly on the opposite side, gives a gloom to the whole, and for­bids the thoughts, if they were ever so disposed, from wandering away from the place. Solitary sanctity never found a nook more appropriated to her nature!—It is a place for an antiquary to sojourn in for a month—and examine with all the spirit of rusty research. But I am no antiquary, as you well know—and, therefore, I come [Page 4] here upon a different and a better errand—that is—to examine myself.

So I lean, lackadaysically, over a gate, and look at the passing stream—and for­give the spleen, the gout, and the envy of a malicious world. And, after having ta­ken a stroll beneath mouldering arches, I summon the sisterhood together, and take the fairest among them, and sit down with her on a stone beneath a bunch of al­ders—and do—what? you'll say—why I ex­amine her gentle heart, and see how it is attuned; I then guess at her wishes, and play with the cross that hangs at her bo­som—in short—I make love to her.

Fie, for shame! Tristram—that is not as it ought to be:—Now I declare, on the contrary, that it is exactly what it [Page 5] ought to be; for, though philosophers may say, among the many other foolish things philosophers have said, that a man who is in love is not in his right senses—I do as­sert, in opposition to all their saws and see-saws, that he is never in his right sen­ses, or I would rather say his right senti­ments, but when he is pursuing some Dulcinea or other. If that should be the case with you at this moment, I will for­give your staying from me; but if this let­ter should find you at the instant when your last flame is blown out, and before a new one is lighted up, and you should not take post and come to me and my nuns, I will abuse you in their name and my own, to the end of the chapter—though I believe, after all, at the end of the chapter, I should feel myself

affectionately your's, L. STERNE.


AND so you have been at the seats of the learned.—If I could have guessed at such an intention, I would have contrived that something in an epistolary shape should have met you there, with half a dozen lines recommending you to the care of the Master of Jesus.—He was my tutor when I was at College, and a very good kind of man. He used to let me have my way, when I was under his direction, and that shewed his sense, for I was born to [Page 7] travel out of the common road, and to get aside from the highway path, and he had sense enough to see it, and not to trouble me with trammels. I was neither made to be a thill-horse, nor a fore-horse; in short I was not made to go in a team, but to am­ble along as I liked; and so that I do not kick, or splash, or run over any one, who in the name of common sense has a right to interrupt me?—Let the good folks laugh if they will, and much good may it do them. Indeed, I am persuaded, and I think I could prove, nay, and I would do it, if I were writing a book instead of a letter, the truth of what I once told a very great statesman, orator, politician, and as much more as you please—that every time a man smiles—much more so—when he laughs—it adds something to the fragment of life.

[Page 8] But the staying five days at Cambridge does not come within the immediate reach of my crazy comprehension, and you might have employed your time much, much better, in urging your mettlesome tits to wards Coxwould.

I may suppose that you have been pick­ing a hole in the skirts of Gibb's cum­brous architecture, or measuring the façade of Trinity College Library, or peering about the gothic perfections of King's College Chapel, or, which was doing a better thing, sipping tea and talking sentiment­ally with the Miss Cookes, or disturbing Mr. Gray with one of your enthusiastic visits—I say disturbing him, for with all your own agreeableness, and all your ad­miration of him, he would rather have your room than your company. But mark [Page 9] me, I do not say this to his glory, but to his shame. For I would be content with any room, so I had your company.

But tell me, I beseech you, what you did with S— all this time. The look­ing at the heavy walls of muzzing Colle­ges, and gazing at the mouldy pictures of their founders, is not altogether in his way; nor did he wander where I have whilom wandered, on Cam's all verdant banks with willows crowned, and call the muse: Alas, he'd rather call a waiter—and how such a milksop as you could tra­vel—I mean be suffered to travel, two leagues in the same chaise with him, I know not—but from that admirable and kind pliability of spirit which you possess when­ever you please, but which you do not al­ways please to possess. I do not mean [Page 10] that a man should wear a court dress when he is going to a puppet-show; but, on the other hand, to keep the best suit of em­broidery for those only whom he loves, though there is something noble in it, will never do. The world, my dear friend, will not let it do. For while there are such qualities in the human mind as ingratitude and duplicity, unlimited confidence and this patriotism of friendship, which I have heard you rave and rant about, is a very dangerous business.

I could preach a sermon on the subject—to say the truth, I am got as grave as if I were in my pulpit. Thus are the pro­jects of this life destroyed. When I took up my pen, my humour was gay, frisky, and fanciful—and now I am sliding into all the see-saw gravity of solemn councils. [Page 11] I want nothing but an ass to look over my pales and set up a braying to keep me in countenance.

Leave, leave your Lincolnshire seats, and come to my dale; S—, I know, is heartily tired of you. Besides I want a nurse, for I am not quite well, and have taken to milk-coffee. Remember me, however, to him kindly, and to yourself cordially, for

I am yours, most truly, L. STERNE.


AND so you sit in S—'s temple and drink tea, and converse classically:—now I should like to know what is the na­ture of this disorder which you call classi­cality;—if it consists in a rage to converse on ancient subjects in a modern manner; or on modern subjects in an antient one;—or are you both out of your senses, and do you fancy yourselves with Virgil and Horace at Sinuessa, or with Tully and At­ticus at Tusculum? Oh how it would de­light [Page 13] me to peep at you from behind a lau­rel bush, and see you surrounded with co­lumns and covered by a dome, quaffing the extract of a Chinese weed, and talking of men who boasted the inspiration of the Falernian grape!

What a couple of vapid, inert beings you must be!—I should really give you up for lost, if it were not for the confi­dence I have in the reinvigorating powers of my society, to which you must now have immediate recourse, if you wish for a restoration. Make haste then, my good friend, and seek the aid of your physician ere it be too late.

You know not the interest I take in your welfare. Have I not ordered all the li­nen to be taken out of the press, and re­washed [Page 14] before it was dirty, that you may have a clean table cloth every day, with a napkin into the bargain? And have I not ordered a kind of windmill, that makes my head ach again with its clatter, to be placed in my fine cherry-tree, that the fruit may be preserved from the birds, to furnish you a desert? And do you not know that you will have curds and cream for your supper? Think on these things, and let S— go to Lincoln sessions by himself, and talk classically with country justices. In the mean time we will philo­sophize and sentimentalize;—the last word is a bright invention of the moment in which it was written, for yours or Dr. Johnson's service,—and you shall sit in my study and take a peep into the world as into a show-box, and amuse yourself as I present the pictures of it to your imagi­nation. [Page 15] Thus will I teach you to laugh at its follies, to pity its errors, and despise its injustice;—and I will introduce you, among the rest, to some tender-hearted damsel, on whose cheeks some bitter af­fliction has placed a tear;—and having heard her story, you shall take a white handkerchief from your pocket to wipe the moisture from her eyes, and from your own:—and then you shall go to bed, not to the damsel, but with an heart conscious of those sentiments, and possessed of those feelings, which will give softness to your pillow, sweetness to your slumbers, and gladness to your waking moments.

You shall sit in my porch, and laugh at attic vestibules. I love the classics as well as any man ought to love them,—but a­mong all their fine sayings, their fine wri­tings, [Page 16] and their fine verses, their most en­thusiastic admirer would not be able to find me half a dozen stories that have any senti­ment in them,—and so much for that.

If you don't come soon, I shall set about another volume of Tristram without you. So God bless you, for

I am your's most truly, L. STERNE.

LETTER IV. To — —.

I AM grieved for your downfall, though it was only out of a park-chair—May it be the last you will receive in this world; though, while I write this wish, my heart heaves a deep sigh, and I believe it will not be read by you, my friend, without a similar accompaniment.

Alas! alas! my dear boy, you are born with talents to soar aloft with; but you have an heart, which, my apprehensions [Page 18] tell me, will keep you low.—I do not mean, you know I do not, any thing base or grovelling;—but, instead of winging your way above the storm, I am afraid that you will calmly submit to its rigours, and house yourself afterwards in some hum­ble shed, and there live contented, and chaunt away the time, and be lost to the world.

How the wind blows I know not; and I have not an inclination to walk to my window, where, perhaps, I might catch the course of a cloud and be satisfied,—but here I am up to my knees—I should rather say up to my heart, in a subject, which is ever accompanied with some af­flicting vaticination or other. I am not afraid of your doing any wrong but to yourself. A secret knowledge of some [Page 19] circumstances which you have never com­municated to me, have alarmed my affec­tion for you—not from any immediate harm they can produce, but from the con­viction they have forced upon me, con­cerning your disposition, and the nicer parts of your character. If you do not come soon to me, I shall take the wings of some fine morning and fly to you; but I should rather have you here; for I wish to have you alone; and if you will let me be a Mentor to you for one little month, I will be content—and you shall be a Men­tor to me the rest of the year; or, if you will, the rest of my days.

I long, most anxiously, my dear friend, to teach you—not to give an opiate to those sensibilities of your nature, which make me love you as I do; nor to check [Page 20] your glowing fancy, that gives such grace to polish'd youth; nor to yield the beve­rage of the fountain for the nectar of the cask; but to use the world no better, or to please you a very little better, than it de­serves.—But think not, I beseech you, that I would introduce my young Telemachus to such a foul and squint-eyed piece of pol­lution as Suspicion. Avaunt to such a base ungenerous passion! I would sooner car­ry you to Calypso at once, and give you at least a little pleasure for your pains. But there is a certain little spot to be found somewhere in the mid-way between trust­ing every body and trusting nobody; and so well am I acquainted with the longi­tudes, latitudes, and bearings of this world of ours, that I could put my finger upon it, and direct you at once to it; and I think I could give you so many good [Page 21] reasons why you should go there, that you would not hesitate to set off immediately, and I would accompany you thither, and serve as a Cicerone to you. I wish therefore much, very much, to talk with you about that and other serious matters.

As for your bodily infirmity, never mind it; you may come here by gentle stages, and without inconvenience; and I will be your surgeon, or your nurse; and warm your verjuice every evening, and bathe your sprain with it, and talk of these things. So tell me, I pray you, the day that I am to meet you at York. In the mean time, and always may a good Provi­dence protect you—It is the sincere wish of

Your affectionate, L. STERNE:

LETTER V. To W. C—. Esq.

THIS letter will meet you at Hew­it's, instead of myself; for I have taken some how or other, and I know not how, a very violent cold, and cannot come; and as I would receive you with my best looks, if possible, as well as my best welcome, I am nursing myself into some sort of res­toration against your arrival; though my cough torments me without mercy, and I am so hoarse at this moment, that I can scarce make myself heard across my table.

[Page 23] This phthisic of mine will sooner or la­ter, and, perhaps, sooner than either I or you, my friend, may think, bear me to my last asylum from a splenetic world. You will say, perhaps, that I am splenetic also in my turn by writing thus gravely;—but as I well know this vile cough is the engine which that scare-crow death em­ploys to shatter my poor frame, and bring it to his dominion, how can I be merry or satisfied?—It is true, I love laughing and merry-making, and all that, as well as any soul upon earth; nevertheless, I cannot think of piping and taboring it out of the world, like the figures in Holbein's dance. Besides I have been so used to my own way, that I don't like to be put out of it, by being made to cough so villainously as I do, more than half my time. It is most inurbane in him,—by Heaven, it is cow­ardly [Page 24] in the rascal, to rob me of those spi­rits, with which I have so often defeated him.

And this is not all,—for I have forty volumes more to write; nay, and have absolutely promised the world to do it; and I have my engagements to you as well as to the world—and to myself as well as to you both; and how shall I keep my word as an author and a gentleman, and what is of more consequence than either—as a friend,—if I cannot shake off this piece of anatomy: Besides, no one can do these things for me but myself; the business is beyond all power of attorney; for if I were to leave fifty executors to my last will and testament, and if they were to be joined by a regiment of administrators and as­signs, [Page 25] they could not take up their pens and do as I would do.

But what a wayward fancy mine is!—and with what a seducing pen am I writing—for I am got leagues without number from the idea which danced before me, when I first began this letter. And here I am wrong again:—for what great distance can there be between the grave of my grand­father and my own; and it was to his tomb that I wished to conduct you!

I know full well, that all sprained your ancle may be, it will be wholly im­possible for you to pass through York, without popping your head into its cathe­dral, and indulging your mind with a few of those reflections which such a building is calculated to inspire. Now, when you [Page 26] are there, tell a verger to conduct you to the tomb of Archbishop Sterne. He is the same whose picture you saw at Cam­bridge, and which you were pleased to say, bore so strong a resemblance to me. In the marble whole length figure which dig­nifies the monument, you will find the likeness still stronger: and if I drop in this corner of the world, I should like to be deposited in that corner of the church, and sleep out my last sleep beside my pious ancestor.

He was an excellent prelate and an ho­nest man:—I have not half his virtues, if report speaks true of us both, which, for his sake, I hope it does—and for my own, I hope it does not. Though, to use an expression which dropped from the lips and at the table of a brother Arch-prelate [Page 27] of his, and one of his successors, "My ideas are sometimes rather too disorderly for a man in orders." In his Grace's Concio ad clerum, I do not find myself a very princi­pal figure, but in his private hours, he is always most cordial to me.

The day after to-morrow, I shall hope to embrace you at my gate; till then, my dear friend, may God bless you—and al­ways.

Your's, most affectionately, L. STERNE.

LETTER VI. To — —.

I SHALL forgive the tardiness of your passage hither, if it be true, as a still small voice of a York gossip has informed me, that you repose, with your infirm limb, on a sofa, in Mrs. —'s withdrawing room, and have your coffee and tea handed you by her two daughters, and one of them has charms enough for the three Graces—and that they play on their harpsichord, and, with voices stolen from heaven, sing duets to you, while you, stretched on da­mask, [Page 29] command, as it were, that little world of beauty and good sense which sur­rounds you.

You cannot, my good friend, have known the charming people, with whom you are so happy, more than eight and forty hours at most. Now I make this observation, merely to have the pleasure of making another, which is, that you have learned the art, and a very comfort­able one it is, of setting yourself at ease with worthy spirits, when you have the good fortune to meet them. Indeed, I may claim the credit of having taught you the maxim, that life is too short to be long in forming the tender and happy connections of it. 'Tis a miserable waste of time, as well as a very base business, to be looking at each other, as an usurer looks at a secu­rity, [Page 30] to find a flaw in it. No:—if you meet a heart worth being admitted into, and you really feel yourself worthy of ad­mission, the matter is arranged in five hours, as well as five years.

Hail, ye gentle sympathies, that can ap­proach two amiable hearts to each other, and chase every discordant idea from an union that nature has designed by the same happy colouring of character that she has given them!—But lucus a non lucendo—I have re­ceived a kind of dish dash sort of letter from Garrick—out of which all my che­mistry cannot extract a sympathetic atom. I am glad, however, to have an opportu­nity of writing a short answer to him, that I may address a long postscript to his cara sposa.

[Page 31] I love Garrick on the stage, better than any thing in the world, except Mrs. Garrick off it; and if there is any one heart in the world I should like to get a corner of—it would be hers. But I am too great a sin­ner to do more than approach the portal of so much excellence—there to bend one knee at least, and ejaculate at a distance from the altar.

I have often thought on what this spirit of idolatry, which is continually bearing me to the feet of some fair image or other, will do with me twenty years hence; and whether, after having had, during my younger days, a damsel to smooth my pil­low—I should find one, in my age, to put on my slipper. However, I need not trou­ble myself or you about these conjectures; [Page 32] for I well know there is not life in me to make the experiment.

This instant brings me a letter from your kind hostess, who is determined not to let you go till I come to fetch you.—To­morrow, by noon, therefore, I shall em­brace you, and her—and—the damsels.

I am, most cordially yours, L. STERNE.

LETTTER VII. To — —, Esq.

THOUGH I hope and trust you be­lieve that I am not only disposed to laugh with those who laugh, but to weep with those who weep;—yet it is most true, my dear friend, that I could not but smile as I read the account you sent me of your distress and disappointment; and when I gave your letter to Hall, for you see I am at Crazy Castle, he laughed the tears into his eyes.

[Page 34] Now you must not suppose, nor can you imagine, that either of us trifled with your sufferings, for you know I love you, and Hall says you are a lad of promise; but we were merry at the amiable simplicity of your nature, in wondering that there is ever any villainy in a villainous world; and at the idea, how little a time you were destined to possess that delicious—for I will call it with all its scrapes and duperies, a delicious sentiment. You have just open­ed the volume of life, and startle to find a blot in the first page; alas! alas! as you proceed, you will find whole pages so blot­ted and blurred, that you will scarce be able to distinguish the characters. 'Tis a sorry business I must confess, to plant suspicion in a breast that has never known it, and to check the glow of hope which animates the beginning of the journey, by pointing out [Page 35] the interruptions and dangers that will be necessarily encountered in the course of it: But this is the duty of friendship, and arises from the nature of our existence and the state of the world. If, however, after all, you can acquire an useful experience, and be taught to put yourself on your guard, at the expence of a few score gui­neas, you have made a good bargain:—so be content, and no more of your com­plainings.

But you will tell me, perhaps, that it is not the matter of the loss, but the manner of it, that you consider as a misfortune: The being treated so ill, and with so much ingratitude, is the business that afflicts you. Hall, who is still laughing, bids me tell you for your comfort, that he who dupes must be a rascal; and he who is duped [Page 36] may be an honest man; but he is a cynic, and administers his dose in his own way. Now, was I to console you in mine, I should tell you, that gratitude is not so common a virtue in the world as it ought to be, for all our sakes: but ingratitude, my dear friend, is not an offspring of the present moment; it seems to have existed from the beginning, and will continue to disgrace the world when we have long been in the valley of Jehosaphat:—nay, you must have read—indeed I know that I have written a sermon upon the subject—that of the lepers who were healed, but one return­ed to give thanks for his restoration. I do not, however, tell you these things that you may find consolation in the miserable habits of mankind, but that you may not suppose yourself worse used than the rest of the world, which is very common with [Page 37] young men like yourself, who feel at every pore, and have not yet had that collision with untoward circumstances which a­wakens caution, or begets patience.

And so much for you and your miseries, which I doubt not will have been dissipated by the bewitching smiles of some fair dam­sel or other, before my grave see-saw let­ter shall reach you. Let me know, I beg of you, your plan of operations for the winter, if you have one. You may, I think—though you may think otherwise—fly from the joys and damps of this unge­nial climate, and winter serenely with me in Languedoc; your company would do me good, and mine would do you no harm:—at least I think so; and we shall return to London time enough to peep in at Ra­nelagh, and look at the birth-day. In [Page 38] short, write to me upon the subject, and direct to me here, for here I am to be dur­ing this shooting month of September; so God bless you, and give you patience if you want it.

I remain, Yours, most cordially, L. STERNE.


SO Burton * really told you with a grave face, and an apparent mortification, that I had ridiculed my Irish friends at Bath for an hour together, and had made a large company merry at Lady Lepel's table during an whole afternoon at their expence. By Heaven's 'tis false as misre­presentation can make it. It is not in my nature, I trust, to be so ungrateful, as I should be, if absent or present, I were to [Page 40] be ungracious to them. That I should make Burton look grave, whose counte­nance is formed to mark the smiles of an amiable and an honest heart, is not within my chapter of possibilities:—I am sure it is not in that of my intentions to say any thing that is inurbane of such a man as he is:—for, in my life, did I never commu­nicate with a gentleman of qualities more winning, and dispositions more generous. He invited me to his house with kindness, and he gave me a truly graceful welcome; for it was with all his heart. He is as much formed to make society pleasant as any one I ever saw; and I wish he were as rich as Croesus, that he might do all the good an unbounded generosity would lead him to do. I never passed more pleasant hours in my life than with him and his fair [Page] countrywomen; and foul befall the man who should let drop a word in dispraise of him or them!—And there is the charming widow Moor, where, if I had not a piece of legal meadow of my own, I should re­joice to batten the rest of my days;—and the gentle elegant Gore, with her fine form and Grecian face, and whose lot I trust it will be to make some man happy, who knows the value of a tender heart:—Nor shall I forget another widow, the interest­ing Mrs. Vesey, with her vocal, and fifty other accomplishments.—I abuse them!—it must not be told,—for it is false,—and it should not be believed, for it is unna­tural.—It is true I did talk of them, for an hour together, but no sarcasm or un­lucky sallies mingled with my speech:—Yes, I did talk of them as they would [Page 42] wish to be talked of,—with smiles on my countenance, praise on my tongue, hila­rity in my heart, and the goblet in my hand.—Besides, I am myself of their own country:—My father was a considerable time on duty with his regiment in Ireland; and my mother gave me to the world when she was there, on duty with him. I beg of you, therefore, to make all these good people believe that I have been at least misunderstood, for it is impossible that Lady Barrymore could mean to misrepresent me.

Read Burton this letter if you have an opportunity, and assure him of my most cordial esteem and respect for him and all his social excellencies: and whisper some­thing kind and gentle for me, as you well [Page 43] know how, to my fair countrywomen; and let not an unmerited prejudice or displea­sure against me remain any longer in their tender bosoms.—When you get into dis­grace of any kind, be assured that I will do as much for you.

I am here as idle as ease of heart can make me:—I shall wait for you till the be­ginning of next month; when, if you do not come, I shall proceed to while away the rest of the summer at Crazy Castle and Scarborough. In the beginning, the very beginning of October, I mean to arrive in Bond-street with my Sermons; and when I have arranged their publication, then—hey go mad for Italy—whither you would do well to accompany me.—In the mean time, however, I hope, and wish to see [Page 44] you here; it will after all, be much better than playing the Strephon with phthisical nymphs at the Bristol Fountain. But do as you may—

I am, Most sincerely your's, L. STERNE.

LETTER IX. To — —.

I DID not answer your letter as you desired me, for at the moment I receiv­ed it, I really thought all my projects, for some time to come, were burned to a cinder; or, which is the better expression of the two, had evaporated in smoke;—for, not half an hour before an affrighted messenger, on a breathless horse, had arrived to ac­quaint me, that the parsonage house at—was on fire, when he came away, and burning like a bundle of faggots; and [Page 46] while I was preparing to set off to see my house, after it was burned down, your let­ter arrived to console me on my way; for it gave me every assurance that, if I were left without an hole to put my head into, or a rag to cover my—body, you would give me a comfortable room in your house, and a clean shirt into the bargain.

In short, by the carelessness of my cu­rate, or his wife, or some one within his gates, I am an house out of pocket—I say, literally, out of pocket; for I must re­build it at my own costs and charges, or the church of York, who originally gave it me, will do those things, which in good sense ought not to be done; but which the wise-acres who compose it, will tell me they have a right to do. My loss will be upwards of two hundred pounds, with [Page 47] some books, &c. &c.—so that you may now lay aside all your apprehensions about what I shall do with the wealth that my sermons have brought, and are to bring to me.—I told you then that some devilish ac­cident or other would provide me with the ends of getting rid of the means; and I had a cross accident in my head at the time, which I did not communicate to you; but it is not that which has fallen out, nor any thing like it;—though this may fall out too, for aught I know, and then the fee simple of my sermons will be gone for ever.

Now these sermons of mine, were most of them written in the very house that is burned down, and all of them preached, I fear again and again, in the very church to which it belonged; and they now an­swer [Page 48] a purpose I never dreamed or thought of; but so it is in this world, and thus are things hinged and hung together—or rather unhinged or unhung; for I have my doubts at present, whether we shall see the dying gladiator next winter. The matter, however, that concerns me most in the business, is the strange unaccountable conduct of my poor unfortunate curate, not in setting fire to the house, for I do not accuse him of it, God knows, nor any one else; but in setting off the moment after it happened, and flying like Paul to Tarsus, through fear of a prosecution from me.

That the man should have formed such an idea of me, as to suppose me capable, if I did not sooth his sorrows, of adding another to their number, wounded me sore­ly. [Page 49] For, amidst all my errors and sollies, I do not believe there is any thing, in the colour or complexion of any part of my life, that would justify the shadow of such an apprehension.—Besides he deprived me of all the comfort I made out to myself from the misfortune; which was, as it pleased Heaven to deprive him of one house, to take him and his wife, and his little one, into another—I mean into that where I lived myself. And he who now reads my heart, and will one day judge me for the secrets of it—he well knows that it did not grow cold within me, on account of the accident, till I was in­formed that this silly man was a fugitive, from the fear of my wrath.

The family of the C—s were kind to me beyond measure, as they have al­ways [Page 50] have been. They are a sort of people that you would like extremely; and before the summer is past, I hope to present you to them. Though, if I recollect aright, you know the charming damsel of the house already; and the rest of it, though not so young or so fair, are as amiable as she is.—As I cannot leave you in possession of a better subject for your reflection, &c. I shall say adieu, and God bless you.—In a few days you shall hear again from

Your affectionate and faithful L. STERNE.

I write this from York—where you may write to me.

LETTER X. To — —, Esq.

I HAVE received, my dear friend, your kind answer to my letter. And you must know that it was just such an one, as I wished to receive from you:—Nay, it was just such an one as I expected you would write to me. I should have been disap­pointed if it had been in any other sorm or shape of friendship. But understand me, if you please; I should have been disappointed for your sake, and not for my own: for though I am charmed that you should have made me those unreserv­ed offers of friendship, which are so gra­cious [Page 52] in you, I am almost as much pleased that my Exchequer is in that slate of suffi­ciency as not to require them.

I have made my bargain for rebuilding my parsonage, and settled all arrange­ments with all parties concerned, in a manner more to my satisfaction than I could have expected. I was rather in haste to settle this account, that there might be no risque of leaving my wife and Lydia a dilapidation for their fortune: for I have no reason to believe that the *** of *** would be more kind to them when friendless and unprotected, than they had been to the husband of the one, and the father of the other, who, when he was a poor Curate, had pride enough to despise their Reverences, and wit enough to make [Page 53] others laugh at them. But may God for­give them, as I do!—Amen.

I wrote to Hall an account of my dis­aster;—and his answer bid me find out a conceit on the occasion, and comfort my­self with it. Tully, the Orator, the Po­litician, the Philosopher, the Moralist, the Consul, &c. &c. &c. adopted as he candidly tells us every one, who reads his works, this mode of consolation, when he lost his daughter; and, if we may be­lieve him, with success. Now this same Tully, you must know, was like my fa­ther; I mean Mr. Shandy, of Shandy Hall, who was as well pleased with a misfortune that gave him an opportunity of display­ing his eloquence, as with a blessing that obliged him to hold his tongue. Both these great men were fond of conceits I mean their own; so I will tell you a story [Page 54] of a Conceit, not of Cicero's nor my Fa­ther's, but of the Lord of Crazy.

You must know then, that this same friend of mine, and, I may add, of your's also, in a moment of lazy pride, took it into his head that he would have a town chariot, to save his feet by day, and to carry him to Ranelagh in the evening. For this purpose, after consulting a coach-maker, he had allotted one hundred and forty pounds; and he wrote me word of it. On my arrival in town, about three months after this communication, I found a card of invitation from Lord Spencer to dine with him on the following Sunday; and I had no sooner read it, than Hall's fine crane-neck'd chariot came bounce as it were, upon my recollection; so I sallied forth to ask him how he did, and to bor­row [Page 55] his carriage, that I might pay my vi­sit in pomp as well as Pontificalibus. I found him at home, made a friendly en­quiry or two, and told him of the little arrangement I had formed; when he re­plied with one of his Cynical smiles, that his mortification was in the extreme, for that his chariot was gone post to Scotland. I stared, and he laughed,—not at me, but at his own conceit; and you shall have it, such as it is:

I must inform you then, that at the moment when the coach-maker, was re­ceiving his last instructions, he himself re­ceived a letter; which letter acquainted him that his son, who was quartered at Edinburgh, had got into a terrible riot there; to get out of the consequences of which, demanded almost the precise sum [Page 56] that had been destined for the chariot. So that the hundred and forty pounds, which had been set a part to build a chariot in London, were employed to repair broken windows, broken, lamps and broken heads, in Edinburgh; and Hall comforted himself with the conceit that his chariot was gone post to Scotland. So much for comforts and conceits;—and happy is it for us when we can, by any means, conceit ourselves into comfort. I could say more upon this matter, but my paper is almost filled; and I have only space to express a wish, that your life may never want any of these petty helps to make it as happy as, if I greatly mistake not, it must be honourable—Let me see you soon; and, in the mean time, and at all times, may God be with you.

Your's most affectionately, L. STERNE.

LETTER XI. To — —, Esq.

YOU are not singular in your opin­ion about my wonderful capacity for poetry.—Beauclerk, and Lock, and I think Langton, have said what you have said on the subject, and founded their opinion, as you have done, on the srag­ment of an Introduction to the Ode to Ju­lia, in Tristram Shandy. The unity of the episode would have been wounded, if I had added another line; and if I had ad­ded a dozen, my character as a poetical [Page 58] genius, which, by the bye, I never had, would have been lost for ever—or rather would never have been suspected.

Hall had also similar ideas on this very matter, and, on the strength of his opin­ion, ventured once to giveme an unfinished poem of his own, and bade me go on with it—and so I did, heltering and skeltering at a most terrible rate;—In short, I added some sixty or fourscore lines to the busi­ness, which he called doggrel, and which I think he called rightly; however, he chose to let them stand, to use his own phrase, as a curiosity; so into the press they went, and helped to compose the worst squib our crazy friend ever let off. I do not, however, mention these things to lessen the merit of your opinion, by point­ing out its similarity to that of others. [Page 59] You need not be ashamed to think with such men, if even they should be wrong, which, on this particular subject, I most solemnly believe you all to be. Cum his er­rare is something—and all that—

I once, it is true, wrote an epitaph, which I liked myself, but the person, at whose request I did it, sacrificed it to one of his own, which he liked better, but which I did not—so my lines were thrown aside, and his own nerveless rhime was en­graved on a marble, which deserved a bet­ter inscription; for it covered the dust of one, whose gentle nature, and amiable qualities, merited more than common praise, or common-place eulogium. How­ever, I shed a tear over the sepulchre, which, if the dead could have known it, would have been more acceptable than the [Page 60] most splendid diction that ever glared on monumental alabaster.

I also wrote a kind of Shandean, sing­song, dramatic piece of rhyme for Mr. Beard—and he sung it at Ranelagh, as well as on his own stage, for the benefit of some one or other. He asked for some­thing of the kind, and I knew not how to refuse him; for, a year before, he had in a very respectful manner, and without any previous acquaintance, presented me with the freedom of Covent-Garden Theatre. The act was gracious; and I liked it the better, because the monarch of Drury-Lane had known me for some years, and besides had, for some time, occupied a front seat in my page, before he offered me the freedom—not of Drury Lane house, but of Drury-Lane pit. I told [Page 61] him, on the occasion, that he acted great things and did little ones:—so he stam­mered and looked foolish, and performed, at length, with a bad grace, what his ri­val manager was so kind as to do with the best grace in the world—But no more of that—he is so complete on the stage, that I ought not to mention his patch-work off it.

However, to return to my subject—if I can; for digression is interwoven with my nature; and to get to my point, or find my way back to it, when I have wandered aside, as other men do, is not in the line of my faculties.—But though I may not be a poet, the clerk of my pa­rish is—not absolutely in my conceit—but, which is better, in that of his neigh­bours; and, which is the best of all—in his own. His muse is a professional one, [Page 62] for she only inspires him to indite hymns; and it is appropriate, for she leads him to such subjects as are suitable to his spiritual office, and which, like those of his bre­thren Stera [...]ld and Hopkins, may be said or sung in churches. In short, there had been a terrible disease among the cattle, and our parish had suffered greatly, so that this parochial bard thought it a pro­per subject for a spiritual song, which he accordingly composed, and gave it out on the Sunday following, to the praise and glory of God, as an hymn of his own composing. Not only the murrain itself, but the sufferers by the calamity, were vociferated through the aisles in all the pomp and devotion of rustic psalmody. The last stanza, which is the only one I recollect, rather unhinged my devotion, but it seemed to rivet that of the congre­gation, [Page 63] and therefore I had no right to complain. I leave it with you as a bonne bouche, and wish you a good night.

Here's Jemmy How has lost a cow,
And so has Johnny Bland;
Therefore we'll put our trust in God,
And not in any other man.
Yours, L. S.

LETTER XII. To — —, Esq.

I SENT you, my dear friend, as you request it, the Epitaph which I men­tioned in my last epistle to you. I write it from recollection; and, though it may not contain the precise expression, it will certainly possess the sentiment of the ori­ginal composition—and that is of the most consequence. I remember well it came from the heart, for I most sincerely loved the amiable person, whose virtues deserved a better inscription, and, accord­ing [Page 65] to a very common course of things, found a worse. But here it is—

Columns and labour'd urns but vainly show,
An idle scene of fabricated woe:—
The sweet companion and the friend sincere
Need no mechanic arts to force the tear.
In heartfelt numbers, never meant to shine,
'Twill flow eternal o'er an hearse like thine,
'Twill flow while gentle goodness has one friend,
Or kindred tempers have a tear to lend.

Hall liked it, I remember—and Hall always knows what ought to be liked, and, in certain humours, will be candid upon these sentimental subjects, and ac­knowledge that he feels them. He is an excellent scholar and a good critic: but his judgment has more severity than it ought to have, and his taste less delicacy than it should possess. He has, also, great hu­manity, but, somehow or other, there is [Page 66] so often such a mixture of sarcasm in it, that there are many who will not believe he has a single scruple of it in his compo­sition.—Nay, I am acquainted with sever­al, who cannot be persuaded but that he is a very insensible, hard-hearted man, which I, who have known him long, and known him well, assure you he is not.—He may not always possess the grace of charity, but he feels the reality of it, and continu­ally performs benevolent actions, though not always, I must confess, in a benevo­lent manner. And here is the grief of the business. He will do a kindness with a sneer, or a joke, or a smile; when, per­haps, a tear, or a grave countenance, at least, would better become him. But this is his way; it is the language of his character; and, though one might wish it to be otherwise, yet I cannot tell what [Page 67] right any of us have to pass a severe sent­ence upon it, for no other reason in the world, but because our own failings are of a different complexion. And so much for all that.

I am preparing to prance it for a week or ten days at Scarborough. If you pass your autumn at Mulgrave-Hall, take that place in your way, and I will accompany you on your visit, and then to Crazy Castle, and so home: and then to London—and then God knows where—but it shall be where it pleases him: this is clerically said, however, and it would be well for the best of us, if it were thought and considered as often as it was said. But so it is, that the lips and the heart, which ought never to be asunder, are sometimes wandering at different corners of the earth. Mine how­ever [Page 68] are in the closest conjunction, when I offer you my most affectionate regard. So good night, and may the visions of a good spirit attend you.

Most truly your's L. STERNE:

LETTTER XIII. To — —, Esq.

I SHALL not reply, my dear friend, to all the kind things you think and say of me.—I trust, indeed, that I deserve some of them; and I am well pleased to find that you think I deserve them all.—But however that may be, I desire you to cherish those benevolent sentiments which you have so warmly expressed in the paper before me, both for your own sake, and that of the person who is the subject of them.

[Page 70] Your commands, in general, should be obeyed without reflection—but in this par­ticular instance, a rare gleam of prudence has shot across me, and, I beg leave to reflect for a few moments on the subject—and were I to take wisdom upon me, and reflect for a few days—the result, I am sure, would be, that I should not obey your commands at all.

The giving advice, my good friend, is the most thankless generosity in the world—because in the first place, it costs you nothing; and, in the next, it is just such a thing as the person to whom you present it will think that he does not want. This, you see, is my way of reasoning; but I believe, from my heart, that it will apply too well to the subject between us.

[Page 71] There are such things in the world as wrong heads and right hearts—and wrong hearts and right heads.—Now, for my­self, and speaking under the influence of my own particular feelings, I would ra­ther be of the right heart family, with all their blunders, errors and confusions; but if I want a business to be done, or a plan to be executed, give me the right head:—if there is a right heart into the bargain, so much the better: but it is upon the former that I must rely—and whether the latter be right or wrong, is not a matter of absolute consideration. This is not, my dear friend, quite ortho­dox, according to your system, but as you proceed, every day will tend to encrease the propinquity of this opinion to your own.

[Page 72] Now, I am rather disposed to think, without leaning to the uncharitable side of the question, that poor—is of the Wrong-head family.—I know his heart—and I am sure his present scrape arises from the good dispositions of it. Nevertheless, though I think myself a dab at giving good counsel in such cases as his, I cannot bring myself to prescribe on the occasion—It is impossible to do it, with­out informing him of the nature of his dis­ease, which is neither more nor less than absolute wrong-headedness; and, were I to do it, he would exhibit another symp­tom of his disorder, by throwing my pre­scription out of the window, and perhaps threatening the same mischief to the phy­sician himself.

If you have influence sufficient to in­duce him to apply to me, I will most [Page 73] readily exert my best for him; and I can then do the bitter business, and give the the unpalatable dose with a good grace. Here then we will, if you please, let the matter rest for the present.

I write in haste, and on my pillow, that you may, as soon as possible, be acquaint­ed with my sentiments in a matter wherein you have a greater dependence upon me than I fear the event will justify.—So good morning, and God bless you.—

I received a letter, yesterday, from poor dear Lydia.—It is an amiable mad­cap—and God bless her also.—Once more adieu.

Yours, &c. L. STERNE.


YOU refine too much, my dear friend,—you do indeed.—Your rea­soning is ingenious, and produces a neat, pretty, plausible train of argument, that would make a figure in a company of fe­male philosophers; but if committed to paper, would be pardonable only when written on the fan of some pedantic Dulcinea. You run into divisions, when a simple modulation would answer better; that is, would produce more pleasing effects both in yourself, and the sentimental spirit whom you might wish to please.

[Page 75] Opinion, my dear fellow, somehow or other, rules all mankind; and not like a kind master, or, which would be more congenial, a gentle mistress, but like a tyrant, whose wish is power, and whose gratification is servility.—Opinion leads us by the ears, the eyes,—and, I had al­most said, by the nose. It warps our un­understandings, confounds our judgments, dissipates experience and turns our passions to its purpose. In short, it becomes the governess of our lives, and usurps the place of reason, which it has kicked out of office.—This is among the strange truths which cannot be explained but by that mortifying description which time will display to your experience hereafter, with ten times the credit that would accom­pany any present endeavours of mine to the same purpose.

[Page 76] If you would know more of the matter and can bring yourself to risque the opin­ion, which, by the bye, I do not advise you to do, ask A— why he submits, with such a placid subservience, to the little wench who lives with him? You know—and all his friends know—that he has but half, nay not half the enjoyments of life, through the fear of her vengeance, whatever it may be. He has fortune, understanding, and courage:—he loves society, and adds greatly to the pleasures of it,—and yet, how often does he leave it half-enjoyed! Nay, to come more home to the business, how often has he left our pleasant classical meetings, before they have arisen to their usual glow, in or­der to humour this little piece of disgrace, whom he has not the resolution to send back to the banks of the Wye, where the fifty [Page 77] pounds a year he might give her, would make her queen of the village!—We pit­ty poor A—, we argue with him, we wonder at him—do we not?—But in this we deceive ourselves,—for the wisest and best of us are governed by some little dirty drab of an opinion, whose governance is equally disgraceful, and may be much more injurious—as it will, perhaps, give a colour to the whole current of our lives. A mistress, with all her arts and fascina­tions, may, in time, be got rid of; but opinion, once rooted, becomes a part of ourselves—it lives and dies with us.

It must be acknowledged, that I have been rather sermonic this fine morning, but you know how and where to apply what has been written, and I leave the whole to your practice, if you think pro­per; [Page 78] and if you do not—but what have I to do with ifs?—It is an exceptious mo­nosyllable, and I fling it from me.

B— is here, and tells me that he left you continually driving between London and Richmond—What beauty of the Hill has enchanted you there? Or what swan of the silver Thames are you dying for?—I take it very ill of you that you never favour me with a single communication concerning your Dorothies or your Delias: I protest most seriously that I will never write to you again, till you give me an history of your chains; and who it is has bound you at present on the river's bank—tell me who the Naiad is.

Mr. F—, the Apostolic F—, as Lady — calls him, in his way to —, [Page 79] hinted to me something serious. He talked of a marriage,—to which I replied, God forbid!—But do not, I pray, be angry with my exclamation; for it was neither a thoughtless, or a peevish one, but an im­pulse of that sincere regard which you more than deserve from me.—With your dispositions, and in your situation, I hardly think there is a woman in the king­dom who would be an happy match for you: and if you think proper to ask me, I will, hereafter, tell you why:—at pre­sent I shall content myself with telling you that

I am, most cordially your's, L. STERNE.


I MEAN my dear friend, that this epistle should meet you, and greet you, a day or two at least before you leave town; and I wish it, from that spirit of miserable self-interest, which you know governs and directs me in all I do.—But, lest you should not like this reason, I will give you another, and which may be ncarer the truth; at least I hope so.

I want very much to know whether [Page 81] B— has arranged the matter with Foley the banker, at Paris, about Mrs. Sterne's remittance, as I ordered him. You must know that I suspect he has been dilatory, not from dishonesty, for I believe him to be as honest a poor creature as was ever vam­ped into the form he wears: but, perhaps, his exchequer might not be in a convenient state to answer my orders; and if so, I only beg to be informed of the truth; which, as he does not answer my letters, he appears to be afraid to tell.

I have received a letter from Toulouse which does not comfort my spirits; and I have reason to apprehend from thence, that there is some neglect at the fountain head of my treasury, which I must beg you to enquire into; and, if you see oc­casion, to correct, in order that the little [Page 82] rill of ways and means may not be inter­rupted between London and Languedoc—that is, between me and Mrs. Sterne, and my poor dear Lydia.

They write me word that they have drawn upon Foley, as I desired, who tells them he has no effects to answer the bill; but that, if they are in distress, he will accommodate them for my sake. This is very handsome dealing, and I am rather proud of it;—but, in the mean time, there is an uncertainty which is very unpleasant—I mean to the poor women, who are at such a distance, that a great deal of anxious suspence must be suffered before the mistake can be rectified.

Besides,—, these things breed words, and questions, as well as suspicions, and all [Page 83] that.—My dear Lydia contents herself with a gentle complaint or so; but her mother does not hesitate to discharge a volume of reproaches. Now the truth is, that I de­serve neither the one nor the other,—and had managed the matter for the supply of their wants, and the ridding myself of all future anxiety in the business, in as plain a manner as my hand-writing and spirit of calculation could make it.—However, it has abated the ardour of my Knight Er­rantry for the present, and thrown more than a sickly thought or two on my ima­gination.

I am prodigal of words, my dear friend, in a matter wherein a mere hint is all that would be necessary for you to exert your­self. So do me the honour to see that it is absolutely done without a moment's delay; [Page 84] and if B— should hesitate the tythe of an instant,—do that for me, my friend, which I would do for you on a similar oc­casion.—So God bless you.—My heart will not suffer me to offer you an apology, because I know it will be ungracious to your's.—Once more farewell!

Most cordially your's, L. STERNE.

LETTER XVI To — —, Esq.

I HAVE received the Letter which you informed me I should receive from Doctor L—, and return you both my best thanks for it.—He is certainly a man of Learning and an excellent Critic, and would do well to employ his leisure hours on Virgil; or rather, if I understand him well, on Horace; and he would give us such a Commentary on both those Authors as we have not, and perhaps, may never have, if he does not set about it.

[Page 86] But Tristram Shandy, my friend, was made and formed to baffle all criticism:—and I will venture to rest the book on this ground,—that it is either above the power or beneath the attention of any critic or hypercritic whatsoever.—I did not fash­ion it according to any rule.—I left my fancy, or my Genius, or my feelings,—call it what you may,—to its own free course, without a single intruding reflecti­on, that there ever had been such a man as Aristotle in the world.

When I mounted my Hobby Horse, I never thought, or pretended to think, where I was going, or whether I should return home to dinner or supper, the next day, or the next week:—I let him take his own course; and amble, or curvet, or trot, or go a sober, sorrowful Lackadaysical pace [Page 87] as it pleased him best.—It was all one to me, for my temper was ever in unison with his manner of coursing it,—be it what it might. I never pricked him with a spur, or struck him with a whip; but let the rein lay loosely on his neck, and he was wont to take his way without doing injury to any one.

Some would laugh at us as we passed along,—and some seemed to pity us—and now and then a melancholy tender hearted passenger would look at us and heave a sigh.—Thus have we travelled together—but my poor Rosinante did not, like Bala­am's Ass, stand still if he saw an Angel in the way, but directly pushed up to her;—and if it were but a damsel, sitting by a fountain, who would let me take a refresh­ing draught from her cup, she was, surely an Angel to me.

[Page 88] The grand Error of Life is, that we look too far:—We scale the Heavens,—we dig down to the centre of the Earth, for Systems,—and we forget ourselves.—Truth lies before us; it is in the high way path; and the Ploughman treads on it with his clouted Shoon.

Nature defies the rule and the Line;—Art raises its structures, and forms its works on their aid:—but Nature has her own Laws, which Art cannot always com­prehend, and Criticism can never reach.

Doctor L— acknowledges, how­ever, that my Sermon on Conscience is a most admirable composition; but is of opinion that it is degraded by being made a part of Tristram Shandy—Now, if you please; be so good as to note my answer:—If this [Page 89] sermon is so excellent, and I myself believe it to be so,—because Judge Burnet, who was a man of taste and erudition, as well as Law, desired me to print it;—I say, if it be a good Sermon, it ought to be read; and since it appeared in the pages of Trist­ram Shandy, it has been read by thousands; whereas the fact is, that when it was pub­lished by itself, it was read by no one.

I have answered Doctor L— with all the respect which his amiable Character and admirable Talents deserve; but I have told him, at the same time, that my book was not written to be tried by any known Laws of Scholastic Criticism; and that if I thought any thing I might hereafter write would be within their reach, I would throw the Manuscript that is now before me into the fire, and never dip my pen into [Page 90] my Ink-stand again, but for the purpose of assuring some uncritical, and uncriticising friend, like yourself, of my sincere and cordial regard.—At this moment I make that offering to you,—So God be with you.

L. S.

I begin to peep out of my hermitage a little; for Lord and Lady Fauconberg are come down, and bring with them, as usual, a large store of amiable, easy, and hospitable virtues.—I wish you were here to partake of, and add to them.

LETTER XVII. To — — Esq.

YOU have hit my fancy most won­derfully, in the account you have given me of Lady —; the Juno cha­racter not only prevails, but absolutely predominates. The Minerva qualities are all secondary,—and as to any Cyprian dis­positions, I know nothing about them.

She certainly possesses a very good understanding, and is not without attain­ments; but both the one and the other [Page 92] derive all their consequence from her man­ners.—She has somewhat of an imperious disposition, which would be either silent­ly despised by some, or violently opposed by others, if she did not give a grace to it that annihilates any unpleasant sensation that might attempt to rise in the breast of a by-stander, or which is better, by­sitter: but this is not all, for it calls forth also, that kind of respectful submission, which does not lessen us in our own opini­on for having practised it.

I never, in my life, felt the merit of exterior decoration so much as in my con­versations and communications with this Lady; and I really do not know any po­sition, in the present school of fashion, where a young man might learn so much as in her drawing room, or without mean­ing [Page 93] any mischievous equivoque, her dress­ing room.—It is really no common satis­faction to me to reflect that my young friend is an Eléve of such an instructress.

There is a time and circumstance of life, and that period and circumstance are now yours, when nothing but the easy, society, and little tender friendships of an accomplished woman are wanting to ren­der a character complete:—and without saying a word more than I think on the business,—I cannot but express my satis­faction that you are in such hands as will probably produce the very effects which so sincere a friend as myself can wish and desire.

It has ever been a maxim with me, since I knew any thing of the world, that [Page 94] we are all of us as much in want of a Schoolmistress at the finish, as we do at the commencement of our education. And as you are so fortunate as to have Lady — to teach you the Horn-book of high life, you will bid fair to spell it and put it to­gether, so as to become the charm of all society:—and you will lose, what I so much wish you to lose, the attention to one, and the neglect of the many; which though there may be something amiable in the principle, is not adapted to the general intercourse of life.

Lady M— F— might forward busi­ness, and Lady C— I am sure is ready to do it—so that in such a soil, in such a season, and with such cultivations, what has not partial friendship a right to expect. And now what can I do better than leave you [Page 95] in such good and excellent company, and desire you, in return to present my respect­ful compliments to them all,—and to receive yourself the most cordial regard of

your very sincere and affectionate L. STERNE.


I UNDERSTAND, from Mr. Phipps, * that you are absolutely engaged to pass the Summer, or rather the Autumn, with him at Mulgrave-Hall; so that I now consider a previous visit to me as a matter on which I may depend, and to which believe me, I look with real satisfaction. We will while away a month or six weeks at my vicarage in a manner which, I trust, will not be unpleasing or unprofitable to you.

[Page 97] However, in saying this, or rather writ­ing it, I address myself to the excellence of your heart, which I cannot enough ad­mire, and that cultivated understanding of which I have the greatest hopes.—I know the pleasures you will quit, and the socie­ties you must sacrifice, to come and pass any part of the Summer with me; but, at the same time, I do not doubt of your visit,—and that a Shande an Tête á Tête has its charms for you

I remember a circumstance, which I shall never think of without the utmost pride in my own heart, and the most sincere affection for yours;—but, besides that it flattered me in the highest degree, it proved that you possessed a source of sentiment which, whatever may befall you in life, must preserve you in honour and happiness:—with [Page 98] such a delicious quality, misfortune will never be able to bear you down; nor will folly, passion, or even vice, though they may for a time obscure or lessen the excellence of your character, possess the power of destroying it.—I allude to a little delicate touch of sentiment that escaped you last winter,—which though I have mentioned it with every possible eulogium to others, again and again, I have never before hint­ed it even to you; the moment, however, is now come, when my spirit urges me to speak of it; and I do it with those dispo­sitions which are congenial to the subject, and, I trust, natural to myself.

You cannot absolutely have forgotten an evening visit which you paid me last January, in Bond Street, when I was ill in bed;—nor ought it to escape your occasi­onal [Page 99] reflection that you sat by my bed-side the whole night, performing every act of the most friendly and pious attention.—I then thought that the scare-crow death was at my heels;—nay, I thought the villain had got me by the throat,—and I told you as much.—However, it pleased Heaven, that I should not be snatched from the world at that moment; though I spoke my own honest opinion when I va­ticinated my destiny by expressing little hopes of getting to the winter's end—I believe, my dear friend, said I, that I shall soon be off.—I hope not, you replied, with a squeeze of my hand and a sigh of your heart, which went to the very bottom of mine:—but,—you were pleased to add lest that should be the case, I hope you will do me the favour to let me be always with you, that I may have every atom of [Page 100] advantage and comfort your society may afford me, while Heaven permits it to last.—

I spoke no reply, for I could not,—but my heart made one then, and will continue to do so,—till it is become a clod of the Valley.

Hence it is, that I do not doubt but you will quit the ring of pleasure without re­gret, to come and sit with me beneath my Honey-Suckle, which is now flaunting like a Ranelagh beauty, and accompany me in paying my nuns their pensive evening visit.—We can go to vespers with them, and return home to our curds and cream with more delicious sentiments than all the pleasures of the world, and the [Page 101] beauties thereof, in their vainest moments, can truly afford.

I am busy about another couple of vo­lumes to amuse, and, as I hope, to instruct a gouty and a splenetic world;—in which, I solemnly declare, I have no Ambition to remain, but for the love I bear to such friends as you; and, perhaps, the vanity, which I am vain enough not to call an idle one, of adding a few more leaves to the wreath which I have been able to weave for my own little glory.

Come, then, and let me read the pages to you as they fall from my pen; and be a Mentor to Tristram, as you have been to Yorick.—At all events,—I am sure you cannot come to York without coming to me; and I shall triumph completely over [Page 102] Lady Lepel, &c. if I draw you for a month from the bright centre to which you are so naturally attracted. So God bless you,—and believe me, with all sincerity, to be

Most affectionately your's, L. STERNE.


I SAW the charming Mrs. Vesey but for a moment, and she contrived with her voice and her thousand other graces to dis—order me; and what she will have to answer for on the occasion, I shall not employ my casuistry to determine;—nor shall I ask my good friend the Archbishop, from whose house, and amidst whose kind­ness and hospitality I address this to you.

I envy, however, your saunter together round an empty Ranelagh, though I should [Page 104] have liked it the better, because it was empty, and would give the imagination and every delicious feeling, opportunity to make one forget there was another being in the room—but ourselves.

You will, I am sure, more than under­stand me when I mention that sense of fe­male perfection,—I mean, however, when the female is sitting or walking beside you,—which so possesses the mind that the whole Globe seems to be occupied by none but two.—When your hearts, in perfect unison, or, I should rather say, harmony with each other, produce the same chords,—and blossom with the same flowers of thought and sentiment.

These hours,—which virtuous, tender minds have the power of separating from [Page 105] the melancholy seasons of life,—make ample amends for the weight of cares and disappointments, which the happiest of us are doomed to bear.—They cast the brightest sunshine on the dreary land­scape,—and form a kind of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.

With such a companion, is not the primrose bank and the cottage, which humble virtue has raised on its side, supe­rior to all that splendour and wealth has formed in the palaces of monarchs—The scented heath is then the Perfumed Araby, and, though the Nightingale should refuse to lodge among the branches of the poor solitary tree that overshadows us,—if my fair minstrel did but pour forth the melting strain, I would not look to the musick of the spheres for ravishment.

[Page 106] There is something, my dear friend, most wonderfully pleasant in the idea of getting away from the world;—and though I have ever found it a great comfort, yet I have been more vain of the business, when I have done it in the midst of the world.—But this aberration from the crowd, while you are surrounded and pressed by it, is only to be accomplished by the magic of female perfection.—Friendship, with all its powers,—mere friendship, can­not do it.—A more refined sentiment must employ its influence to wrap the heart in this delicious oblivion.—It is too pleasing to last long,—for envious, sleepless care is ever on the watch to awake us from the bewitching trance.

You, my friend, possess something of the reality of it: and I, while I enjoy your [Page 107] happiness, apply to fancy for the purpose of creating a copy of it.—So I sit my­self down upon the turf, and place a lovely fair one by my side,—as lovely, if possible, as Mrs. V—, and having plucked a sprig of blossoms from the May­bush, I place it in her bosom, and then address some tender tale to her heart,—and if she weeps at my story, I take the white handkerchief she holds in her hand and wipe the tears from off her cheek: and then I dry my own with it:—and thus the delightful vision gives wing to a lazy hour, calms my spirits, and composes me for my pillow.

To wish that care may never plant a thorn upon yours, would be an idle em­ployment of votive regard;—but that you may preserve the virtue which will blunt [Page 108] their points, and continue to possess the feelings which will, sometimes, pluck them away, is a wish not unworthy of that friendship, with which

I am, your most affectionate, L. STERNE.

P.S. Lydia writes me word she has got a lover.—Poor dear Girl!—

LETTER XX. To — —.

DO not imagine, my dear Boy—and do not suffer, I beseech you any pedantic, cold-hearted fellow to per­suade you—that sensibility is an evil. You may take my word on this subject, as you have been pleased to do on many others—that sensibility is one of the first blessings of life—as well as the brightest ornament of the human character.

You do not explain matters to me, which, by the bye, is not fair; but I sup­pose, [Page 110] from the tenor of your letter, which is now beside me, that you have been made a dupe of by some artful person—who, I am disposed to think, is some cunning bag­gage—and that, under the impressions of this game that has been played you, your vanity is alarmed, and your understanding piqued; and then, you lay all this dire grievance, in a very pettish manner, let me tell you, at the door of your sensibili­ty. And, which is worse than all the rest, you write to me as if you really believed yourself to be in earnest, in all the see-saw observations you have written to me on the subject.

Be assured, my dear friend, if I thought the sentiments of your last letter were not the sentiments of a sickly moment—if I could be made to believe, for an instant, [Page 111] that they proceeded from you, in a sober, reflecting condition of your mind—I should give you over as incurable, and banish all my hopes of your rising into that proud honour, and brilliant reputation, which, I trust, you will one day possess.

I was almost going to write—and where­fore should I not—that there is an amiable kind of cullibility, which is as superior to the slow precaution of worldly wisdom, as the sound of Abel's Viol di Gamba, to the bray­ing of an ass on the other side of my pa­ling.

If I should, at any time, hear a man pique himself upon never having been a dupe—I should grievously suspect that such an one will, some time or other, give [Page 112] cause to be thought, at best, a mean-spi­rited, dirty rascal.

You may think this a strange doctrine—but, be that as it may—I am not ashamed to adopt it.—What would you say of any character, who had neither humanity, ge­nerosity, nor confidence?—Why you would say—I know you would—such a man‘Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils—’ And yet imposition—dupery—deception—call it by what name you will—attends up­on these virtues like their shadow. For virtue, my dear friend, like every other possession in this world, though it is the most valuable of all—is of a mixed nature; and the very inconveniences of it, if they deserve that name, form the basis on which its importance and natural excellence is established.

[Page 113] Sensibility is oftentimes betrayed into a foolish thing;—but its folly is amiable, and some one or other is the better for it. I am not for its excesses—or a blind sub­mission to its impulse, which produces them;—yet, some how or other, I should be strongly disposed to hug the being, who would take the rag off his back—to place it on the shivering wretch who had nought to cover him.

Discretion is a cold quality—but I have no objection to the possessing as much of it—as will direct your finer feelings to their proper objects;—but here let its of­fice finish; if it proceeds a step further there may be mischief;—it may cool that currrent which is the life-blood of all vir­tue, and will, I trust, warm your heart, till it is become a clod of the valley.

[Page 114] Sensibility is the source of those delicious feelings which give a brighter colour to our joys, and turn our tears to rapture.—Though it may, now and then, lead us into a serape, as we pass through life—you may be assured, my dear friend, it will get us out of them all, at the end of it;—and that is a matter which wiser men than myself will tell you is well worth thinking about.

So leaving you to your contemplations—and wishing them, and every thing you do, an happy issue—I remain, with great truth,

your affectionate, L. STERNE.


So, my dear friend, you are pleased to be very angry with the Reviewers;—so am not I.—but as your displeasure proceeds from your regard for me,—I thank you, as I ought to do,—again and again.

I really do not know to whom I am personally indebted for so much obliging illiberality.—Nor can I tell whether it is the society at large, or a splenetic Indivi­dual, to whom I am to acknowledge my obligation.—I have never enquired who it [Page 116] is or who they are:—and if I knew him or them,—what would it signify?—and where­fore should I give their names immortali­ty in my writings, which they will never find in their own.—Let the Asses bray as they like;—I shall treat their wor­ships as they deserve, in my own way and manner,—and in a way and manner that they will like less than any other.

There is a certain race of people, who are ever aiming to treat their betters in some scurvy way or other—but it has ever been a practice with me, not to mind a little dirt thrown upon my coat,—so that I keep my lining unrumpled.—And so much for that envy, ignorance and ill-na­ture, for which, what I have written, is far too much.

[Page 117] I am rejoiced, however, for twenty good reasons, which I will tell you hereafter, that London lies in your way between Ox­forshire and Suffolk, and one of them I will tell you now—which is, that you can be of very great service to me; so I would desire you to prepare yourself to do me a kindness; if I did not know that you are always in such a state of preparation.

The town is so empty, that though I have been in it, full four and twenty hours, I have seen only three people I know—Foote on the stage—Sir Charles Davers at St. James's Coffee-house, and Williams, who was an hasty bird of passage, on his flight to Brigthelmstone, where I am told he is making love in right earnest, to a very fine woman, and with all the suc­cess his friends can wish him. Our races at York were every thing we could de­sire [Page 118] them to be in the ball-room, and every thing we did not desire them to be on the ground. The rain said nay, with a ven­geance, to the sports of the course, for all the water-spouts of the heavens seemed to be let loose upon it. However in the amuse­ments under cover, we were all as merry as heart could wish. I had promised a cer­tain person that you should be there, and was obliged to parry a score or two of re­proaches on your account.

But though I forgot to tell it you before, I am by no means well, and if I do not get away from this climate before winter sets in, I shall never see another spring in this world; and it is to forward my journey to the South, that I request you to make haste to me from the West.

[Page 119] Alas, alas, my friend! I begin to feel that I lose strength in these annual strug­gles and encounters with that miserable scare-crow, who knows as well as I do, that, do what I can he will finally get the better of me, and all of us. Indeed, he has already beat the vizard from my hel­met, and the point of my spear is not as it was wont to be. But while it pleases hea­ven to grant me life, it will, I trust, grant me spirits to bear up against the sawey cir­cumstances of it, and preserve to my last separating sigh, that sensibility to whatever is kind and gracious, which, when once it possesses the heart, makes, I trust, ample amends for a large portion of human er­ror.

You may, indeed, believe, that while I am sensible of any thing, I shall be sensible [Page 120] of your friendship; and I have every reason to think, that should my term be drawing nigh to its period, you will continue to love me while I live, and when I am no more, to cherish the memory of

Your ever faithful and affectionate L. STERNE.


IF you wish to have the representation of my spare, meagre-form—which, by the bye, is not worth the canvas it must be painted on—you shall be most welcome to it; and I am happy in the reflection, that when my bones shall be laid low, there may be any resemblance of me, which may re­call my image to your friendly and sympa­thizing recollection.

[Page 122] But you must mention the business to Reynolds yourself; for I will tell you why I cannot. He has already painted a very excellent portrait of me, which, when I went to pay him for, he desired me to ac­cept, as a tribute, to use his own elegant and flattering expression, that his heart wished to pay to my genius. That man's way of thinking and manners, are at least equal to his pencil.

You see therefore the delicacy of my situation, as well as the necessity, if the genius of Reynolds is to be employed in the business, of your taking it entirely up­on yourself. Or if your friendly impati­ence which you express with so much kindness, will let you wait till we make our tour to Bath, your favorite Gainsho­rough may do the deed.

[Page 123] Or why not your little friend Cosway, who is rising fast into fame and fortune. But be it as you please, and arrange it ac­cording to your own fancy.

At all events, I shall treat myself when I get to Rome with my own busto, if Nollikens does not make a demand for it that may be inconsistent with my Exche­quer. The statuary decorations of my grandfather the Archbishop's monument, in the Cathedral at York, which you admire so much, have given birth, I believe, to this whim of mine; and this piece of mar­ble, which my vanity—for let it be vanity if you please—destines for myself, may be placed by the hand of friendship, and by yours perhaps, near my grave—and so much for that.

[Page 124] But I was born for digressions, and I, therefore, tell you at once, not rashly, or prematurely, but with all due sobriety and reflection, that Lord — is of a low, base, pimping nature. If he had been nothing but a fool, I should have said—Have mer­cy upon him: but he has just understand­ing sufficient to make him answerable for what he does, and not sufficient to perceive the superiority of what is great over what is little.—If ever that man rises into a good or a noble action, I would be bound to be considered as a retailer of scandal, and an ill-natured man, as long as I live, and as long as my memory lives; but no more of him I beseech you—and the hour tells me to write no more of any thing, for I must hasten where I ought to have been half an [Page 125] hour ago—so God bless you, and believe me, where ever I am, to be

Most cordially yours, L. STERNE


THE story, my dear friend, which you heard related, with such an air of autho­rity, is like many other true stories, abso­lutely false. Mr. Hume and I never had a dispute—I mean a serious, angry or petulant dispute, in our lives:—indeed I should be most exceedingly surprized to hear that Da­vid ever had an unpleasant contention with any man;—and if I should be made to be­lieve that such an event had happened, no­thing [Page 127] would persuade me that his oppo­nent was not in the wrong: for, in my life, did I never meet with a being of a more placid and gentle nature; and it is this a­miable turn of his character, that has giv­en more consequence and force to his scep­ticism, than all the arguments of his so­phistry.—You may depend on this as a truth.

We had, I remember well, a little plea­sant sparring at Lord Hertford's table at Paris; but there was nothing in it that did not bear the marks of good-will and urba­nity on both sides.—I had preached that very day at the Ambassador's Chapel, and David was disposed to make a little merry with the Parson; and, in return, the Par­son was equally disposed to make a little [Page 128] mirth with the Infidel; we laughed at one another, and the company laughed with us both—and, whatever your informer might pretend, he certainly was not one of that company.

As for his other history, that I preached an offensive sermon at the Ambassador's Chapel—it is equally founded in truth; for Lord Hertford did me the honour to thank me for it again and again. The text, I will own, was an unlucky one, and that was all your informer could have heard to have justified his report.—If he fell asleep immediately after I repeated it—I will forgive him.

The fact was as follows:

[Page 129] Lord Hertford had just taken and fur­nished a magnificent Hotel; and as every thing, and any thing gives the fashion of the moment at Paris, it had been the fash­ion for every one to go to see the English Ambassador's new hotel.—It occupied the curiosity, formed the amusement, and gave a subject of conversation to the polite cir­cles of Paris, for a fortnight at least.

Now it fell to my lot, that is to say, I was requested to preach, the first day ser­vice was performed in the chapel of this new hotel.—The message was brought me when I was playing a sober game of Whist with the Thornhills, and whether it was that I was called rather abruptly from my after­noon's amusement to prepare myself for this business, for it was to be on the next day; [Page 130] or from what other cause I do not pretend to determine, but that unlucky kind of fit seized me, which you know I can never re­sist, and a very unlucky text did come into my head,—and you will say so when you read it. "And Hezekiah said unto the Prophet, I have shewn them my vessels of gold, and my vessels of silver, and my wives and my concubines, and my boxes of ointment, and whatever I have in my house, have I shewn unto them: and the Prophet said unto Hezekiah, thou hast done very foolishly."

Now, as the text is a part of Holy writ, that could not give offence; though wick­ed wits are sometimes disposed to ill-treat [Page 131] it with their own scurvy misrepresenta­tions.—And as to the discourse itself, no­thing could be more innocent, and David Hume favoured it with his grace and ap­probation.

But here I am got, I know not how, writing about myself for whole pages toge­ther—whereas the only part of my letters that can justify my being an egotist, is, when I assure any gentle spirit, or faith­ful friend, as I now do you, that I am her, or his, or your

Most affectionate, humble servant. L. STERNE.


BELIEVE me, my dear friend, I have no great faith in Doctors. Some eminent ones of the faculty assured me, ma­ny years ago, that if I continued to do as I was then doing, I should not live three months. Now the fact is, that I have been doing exactly what they told me I ought not to do, for thirteen years together—and here I am, as thin, it is true, but as sau­cy [Page 133] as ever; and it will not be my fault, if I do not continue to give them the lie for another period of equal duration.

It is Lord Bacon, I think, who observes,—at least be it who it may that made the observation, it is not unworthy the great man whose name I have just written—That Physicians are old women, who sit by your bed-side till they kill you, or Nature cures you.

There is an uncertainty in the business that often baffles experience, and renders genius abortive—Tho' I mean not, believe me, to be severe on a science which is some­times made the means of doing good. Nay, the science itself considered, naturally and physically, is the eye of all the rest. But [Page 134] I do not always hold my peace when I re­flect on those self-conceited, upstart pro­fessors of it, who fly and bounce, and give themselves airs, if you do not read the directions upon the label of a phial, which contains the matter of their prescriptions, with as much reverence, as if it had been penned by St. Luke himself.

Goddess of Health—let me drink thy healing and sustaining beverage at the pure fountain which flows at thy command! Give me to breathe the balmy air, and to feel the enlivening sun—and so I will!—for if I do not see you in fifteen days, I will, on the sixteenth, step quickly into the Do­ver coach, and proceed without you to the banks of the Rhone, where you may fol­low me if you please—and if you do not, [Page 135] the difference between us will be—that while you are passing your Christmas-day in fencing against fogs, by warm cloaths and large fires, I shall be sitting on the grass, courting no warmth but the all­cheering one which proceeds from the grand luminary of nature.

So think on these things I beseech you—and let me know about it, for I will not remain gasping another month in Lon­don, even for your sake,—or for your com­pany, which,—I might add, would be for my own sake.

In the mean time, and at all times, may God bless you.

I am, most cordially your's, L. STERNE.


I AM always getting into a scrape, not from a carelesness of offending, as some good-humoured people have suspect­ed, for I do not wish to give offence, but from the want of being understood.—Pope has well expressed the hardship of being forced

—to trudge
Without a second and without a judge.

[Page 137] I think the quotation is correct.—Indeed, a man may proceed well enough without a second. Genius is oftentimes so far from wanting such an assistant, that it is fre­quently clogged by it;—but to be without a judge is a mortification which comes home with much severity to the bosoms of those who feel, or fancy, which is pretty near the same thing, that judgment—I mean impartial, adequate judgment, would be their reward.

To be eternally misunderstood, and which naturally follows, to be eternally misrepresented by ignorance, is far, far worse than to be slandered by malice.—Calumny is more than oftentimes, for it is almost always the sacrifice which vice pays to virtue, and folly offers up to wis­dom.—A wise man while he pities the ef­forts [Page 138] of slander, will feel a kind of conse­quence from the exertion of them;—like the philosopher who is said to have raised a monument to his own fame, with the stones, which the malignity of his compe­titors had thrown at him.

The divorce between virtue and repu­tation is too common to be wondered at—though it is too unjust not to be la­mented: but that being a circumstance which connects itself with something like the general order of Providence, we are able to console ourselves under it, by hope and resignation. But in the little, and comparatively speaking, the petty bu­siness of human fame—the mind may be justified in kicking at the perversions to which its honest and best endeavours are so continually subject.

[Page 139] I do most sincerly assure you, that I have seldom been so proud of myself and the little display of my talents,—whatever they may be—as I was in the very cir­cumstance which has given so much un­easiness. I intended no severity—I was all complacency and good humour—my spirits were in unison with every generous and gracious thought,—and, so far was I from possessing the idea of giving offence—and to a Lady — that there never was a moment of my life, perhaps, when I was so disposed to buckle on my armour, and mount my Rosinante, to go and fight the cause of injured or captive beauty.—But instead of all this, here am I considered as the very monster whom I myself was ready to combat and to destroy.

[Page 140] You will, therefore, be so good as to communicate these thoughts, in as much better a manner as you please, to Mrs. H—, and assure her, that she has only done what so many have done before her—that is, she has misconceived, or, as that word may produce a misconception—she has misunderstood me.

So far I am most willing to travel in the high-way of apology; and, if she is disposed to smile, I will receive her re­turning favour, with all due acknow­ledgments; but if she should think it clever, or witty, or consequential, to con­tinue to be offended—I will not fail to remember her in a postscript to my chap­ter on the right and wrong end of a wo­man; [Page 141] which, though my uncle Toby, from a certain combination of circum­stances could never be made to under­stand, I will explain to the world in such a manner, that they who run may read.

I am not, however, unintelligible to all. There are some spirits who want no key either to my speech or my wri­tings; and they—I mean the spirits—are of the first order. This is some comfort, and that comfort increases both in its weight and measure, on the re­flection that you are one of them.

But my paper and postman's bell both warn me to do—what I ought to have done at least a page ago— [Page 142] and that is to write adieu; so adieu, and God bless you.

I am, most cordially yours, L. STERNE.


WERE I a Minister of State—instead of being a country-parson;—or rather, though I do not know that it is the better thing of the two,—were I king of a country, not like Sancho-Pancha, without a will of my own, but with all the rights, privileges and immunities be­longing to such a situation, I would not suffer a man of genius to be pulled to pie­ces, or pulled down, or even whistled at, by any man who had not some sort of ge­nius [Page 144] of his own.—That is to say, I would not suffer blockheads of any denomination to shew their heads in my territories.

What—will you say—is there no saving clause for the ignorant and the unlettered?—No spot set apart for those on whom science has not beamed; or the current of whose genius poverty has frozen?—My dear friend, you do not quite understand me,—and I beg of you not to suppose—that all men are blockheads who are not lear­ned—and that no man who is learned can be a blockhead.

My definitions are not borrowed from the common room of a College, or the dull muzzing pericranium of a word­mongering dictionary maker, but from [Page 145] the book of Nature, the volume of the world, and the pandects of experience. There I find a blockhead to be a man, (for I am not at present in a humour to involve the poor women in the definition) who thinks he has what, in fact, he has not—and who does not know how to make a right use of that which he has.

It is the mode of applying means to ends that marks the character of superior un­derstanding.—The poor scare-crow of a beast that Yorick rode so long and to the last, being once set in the right road, will sooner get to the end of his journey, than the fleetest race-horse of Newmarket, who has taken an opposite direction.

Wisdom very often cannot read or write, and Folly will often quote you passages [Page 146] from all the dead, and half the living lan­guages. I beg therefore, you will not sorm a bad,—that is to say a false idea of this kingdom of mine—for whenever I get it, you may be sure of being well appointed, and living at your ease, as every one must do there, who lives to his honour.—But to the point.

To the point, did I say?—Alas! there is so much zig-zag in my destiny, that it is impossible for me to keep going on strait through one poor letter—and that to a friend; but so it is—for here is a visitor ar­rived to whom I cannot say nay—and who obliges me to write adieu, a page or two, or three, perhaps, before I intended to do it. I must therefore fold up my paper as it is—and shall only add, God bless you— [Page 147] which, however, is the constant and sin­cerest wish of

your affectionate, L. STERNE.



I recommend it to you,—not, perhaps, above all things, but very assuredly above most things,—to stick to your own understanding a little more than you do; for, believe me, an ounce of it will an­swer your purpose better than a pound weight of other people's. There is a cer­tain timidity which renders early life ami­able, [Page 149] as a matter of speculation; but is very inconvenient indeed, not to say dan­gerous, according to the present humour of the world, in matters of practice.

There is a manly confidence, which, as it springs from a consciousness of possessing certain excellent qualities and valuable at­tainments, we cannot have too early; and there is no more impropriety in offering manifestations of it to the world, than the putting on your helmet in the day of bat­tle. We want it as a protection—I say as a protection, from the insults and inju­ries of others; for, in your particular cir­cumstances, I consider it merely as a defen­sive quality—to prevent you from being run down, or run over, by the first ignorant blockhead or insolent coxcomb, who per­ceives [Page 150] your modesty to be a restraint on your spirit.

But this by the way.—The application of it is left to your own discernment and good sense, of which I shall not write what I think, and what some others think, whose testimony will wear well.

I am so much better pleased since I set my foot on the Continent, that it would do you good to see—and more good still to hear me; for I have recovered my voice in this genial climate; and so far am I now from finding a difficulty to make myself heard across the table, that I am almost fit to preach in a cathedral.

Here they are all hey—go—mad.—The vintage has been abundant, and is now at [Page 151] the close. Every eye beams delight, and every voice is attuned to joy.—Though I am running away as fast as I can well go, and am withal so pressed by the rascal, death! that I ought not in prudence to take time to look behind me; yet cannot I resist the temptation of getting out of my chaise, and sitting for a whole evening on a bank, to see those happy people dance away the la­bours of the day: and thus they contrive, for two or three hours at least out of the four and twenty, to forget, God bless 'em, that there are such things as labour and care in the world.

This innocent oblivion of sorrow is one of the happiest arts of life; and philoso­phy, in all its storehouse of human reme­dies, has nothing like unto it. Indeed, I [Page 152] am persuaded that mirth—a sober, well re­gulated mirth—is perfectly acceptable to the kind Being that made us;—and that a man may laugh and sing, and dance too—and, after all, go to Heaven.

I never could—and I never can—nay, I positively never will, believe that we were sent into this world to go sorrowing through it. On the contrary, every object around me—the rural dance, and the rustic min­strelsy, that I behold and hear from my win­dow, tell me that man is framed for joy. Nor shall any crack-brained Carthusian Monk,—or all the Carthusian Monks in the world,—persuade me to the contra­ry.

Swist says, vive la bagatelle. I say, vive la joie; which I am sure is no bagatelle; but, [Page 153] as I take it, a very serious thing, and the first of human possessions.

May your treasury, my dear friend, continue to have good store in it—and, like the widow's cruse, may it fail not!

At Lyons I expect to find some tidings of you, and from thence I will dispatch some further tidings of myself.—So in the mean time, and at all times, may God bless you.—Believe me,

I shall ever remain most truly And affectionately your's, L. STERNE.


I have travelled hither most deliciously—though I have made my journey in a désoblégeant, and of course, alone. But when the heart is at rest, and the mind is in harmony with itself, and every subordinate feeling is well attuned, not an object of­fers itself to the attention but may be made to produce pleasure—Besides, such is the character of this happy people, that you [Page 155] see a smile on every countenance, and hear the notes of joy from every tongue.—There is an old woman, at this moment, playing on the viol before my window, and a groupe of young people are dancing to it, with more appearance, and, I believe, more reality of pleasure, than all your brilliant assemblies at Almack's can boast.

I love my country as well as any of her children—and I know the solid, characte­ristic virtues of its people;—but they do not play the game of happiness with that attention or success which is practised and obtained here.—I shall not enter into the physical or moral difference between the two nations—but I cannot, however, help observing that, while the French possess [Page 156] a gaity of heart, that always weakens and sometimes baffles sorrow, the English still answer the description of the old French­man, and really continue to divert them­selves moult tristement.

Nay, how often have I seen at a York Assembly, two young people dance down thirty couple, with as grave countenances as if they did it for hire, and were, after all, not sure of being paid: and here have I beheld the sun-burnt sons and daughters of labor rise from their scanty meal with not a pulse in their hearts that did not beat to pleasure;—and, with the brightest looks of satisfaction, make their wooden shoes re­sponsive to the sound of a broken-winded hautboy.

[Page 157] All the world shall never persuade me there is not a Providence, and a gracious one too, which governs it. With every blessing under the sun we look grave, and reason ourselves into dissatissaction; while here—with scarce any blessing but the Sun—on est content de son ètat.

But the kind Being who made us all, gives to each the portion of happiness, according to his wise and good pleasure; for no one—and nothing is beneath his all­providential care;—he even tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.

By such reflections, and under such in­fluences, I am perverted from my pur­pose; for when I drew my chair to the ta­ble, [Page 158] and dipped my pen into the inkhorn, I breathed nothing but complaint, and it was my sole design to tell you so—for I have sent—a la poste restante again and again, and there is no letter from you. But though I am impatience itself to continue my journey towards the Alps, and cannot possibly indulge my curious spirit till I hear from you, yet such is the effect of my sym­pathetic nature, that I have caught all the ease and good humour of the people about me, and seem to be sitting here, in my black coat and yellow slippers, as contented as if I had not another step to take; and, God knows, I have a pretty circuit to make, my friend, before I may embrace you again.

It is not, as you well know, my practice to icratch out any thing I write, or I would [Page 159] erase the last dozen lines; as, the very mo­ment I had concluded them, your letter and two others arrived, and brought me every thing I could wish.—I would really linger, if I thought you would overtake me. At all events, we shall meet at Rome—at Rome—and I shall now take the wings of to-morrow morning to forward my pro­gress thither.

I sincerely hope this paper may be thrown away upon you,—that is, I wish you may be come away before it has made its passage to England.—At all events, my dear boy, we shall meet at Rome. So till then—fare thee well:—there and every where—I shall be,

Your most faithful and affectionate Ls L. STERNE.


I HAVE a great mind to have done with joking, laughing and merry-making, for the rest of my days, with either man, woman, or child; and set up for a grave, formal, see-saw character; and dispense stu­pid wisdom, as I have hitherto been said to have done sensible nonsense, to my coun­try-men and country-women.

To tell you the truth—I began this let­ter yesterday morning, and was interrupt­ed [Page 161] in getting to the end of it, by half a do­zen idle people, who called upon me to lounge and to laugh; though one of them forced me home with him to dine with his sister, whom I found to be a being of a su­perior order, and who has absolutely made the something like a resolution with which I began this letter, not worth the feather of the quill with which it was written.

She is, in good faith, charming beyond my powers of description; and we had such an evening, as made the cup of tea she gave me more delicious than nectar.

By the bye, she wishes very much to be­come acquainted with you—not, believe me, from any representations or biography of mine, but from the warm encomiums she [Page 162] has received of you from others, and those, as she says, of the first order. After all this, however, you may be sure that my testimony was not wanting.—So that, when you will give an opportunity, I shall have the honour of presenting you to kiss her hand, and add another devout worshipper at the temple of such transcendant merit.

I am really of opinion that, if there is a woman in the world formed to do you good, and to make you love her into the bar­gain—which, I believe, is the only way of doing you any good—this is the pre-emi­nent and bewitching character.—Indeed, were you to command my seeble powers to deliniate the lovely being whose affections would well repay thee for all the heart-achs and disquieting apprehensions that may and will afflict thee in thy passage through life, [Page 163] it would be this fair and excellent creature. My Knight Errant spirit has already told her that she is a Dulcinea to me—but I would most willingly take off my armour and break my spear, and resign her as an Angel to you.

I need not say any thing, I trust, of my affection for you; and I have, just now, some singular ideas on your subject, which kept me awake last night, when I ought to have been found asleep—but I shall reserve them for the communication of my fire­side, or your's, as it may be; and I wish, as devoutly as ever I wished any thing in my life, that my fire was to brighten before you this very evening.

In the name of fortune,—for want of a better at the moment,—what business have [Page 164] you to be fifty leagues from the capital, at a time when I stand so much in need of you, for your own sake.

I hear you exclaim—whom is all this about?—And I see you half determined to throw my letter into the fire, because you cannot find her name in it. This is all, my good friend, as it ought to be—for you may be assured that I never intended to write her name on this sheet of paper. I have told you of the divinity, and you will find the rest inscribed on the altar.

I was never more serious in my life; so let the wheels of your chariot roll as rapidly as post-horses can make them, towards this town; where if you come not soon, I shall be gone; and then I know not what may become of all my pre­sent [Page 165] good intentions towards you;—future ones, it is true, I shall have in plenty—for, at all events, in all circumstances, and every where,

I am, Most cordially, and affectionately your's, L. STERNE.


THESE may be piping times to you, my dear friend, and I rejoice at it—but they are not dancing ones to me.

You will perceive, by the manner in which this letter is written, that if I dance—Holbein's piper must be the fidler.

Since I wrote to you last, I have burst another vessel of my lungs, and lost blood [Page 167] enough to pull down a very strong man: what it has done then with my meagre form, clad as it is with infirmities, may be better imagined than described.—Indeed, it is with difficulty and some intervals of re­pose that I can trail on my pen; and, if it were not for the anxious forwardness of my spirits; which aids me for a few minutes by their precious Mechanism, I should not be able to thank you at all:—I know I cannot thank you as I ought, for your four letters which have remained so long unanswered, and particularly for the last of them.

I really thought, my good friend, that I should have seen you no more. The grim scare-crow seemed to have taken post at the foot of my bed, and I had not strength to laugh him off as I had hitherto done:—so I bowed my head in patience, without the [Page 168] least expectation of moving it again from my pillow.

But somehow or other he has, I believe, changed his purpose for the present—and we shall, I trust, embrace once again. I can only add, that, while I live, I shall be

Most affectionately your's, L. STERNE.


I Felt the full force of an honest heart-ach on reading your last letter.—The story it contains may be placed among the most affecting relations of human calamity, and the happiest efforts of human benevolence. I happened to have it in my pocket yester­day morning when I breakfasted with Mrs. M—; and, for want of something so good of my own, I read the whole of your letter to her,—but this is not all; for, what [Page 170] is more to the purpose, (that is, to the purpose of your honour) she desired to read it herself, and then she entreated me not to delay the earliest opportunity to present you to her breakfast-table, and the mistress of it to you. I told her of the aukward dis­tance of an hundred miles, at least, that lay between us; but I promised and vowed,—for I was obliged to do both,—that the mo­ment I could lay hold of your arm, I would lead you to her vestibule.—I really begin to think I shall get some credit by you.

Love, I most readily acknowledge, is subject to violent paroxysms, as well as slow fevers; but there is so much pleasure at­tendant upon the passion in general, and so many amiable sympathies are connected with it; nay,—it is sometimes so suddenly, and oftentimes so easily cured, that I can­not, [Page 171] for the life of me, pity its disasters with the same tone of commiseration, which accompanies my consolatory visits to other less oftensible sources of distress.—In the last sad separation of friends, hope com­forts us with the prospect of an eternal re­union, and religion encourages the belief of it:—but, in the melancholy history which you relate, I behold what has always ap­peared to me, to be the most affecting sight in the gloomy region of human misfortune: I mean the pale countenance of one who has seen better days, and sinks under the despair of seeing them return. The mind that is bowed down by unmerited calamity, and knows not from what point of the com­pass to expect any good, is in a state, over which the Angel of pity sheds all his show­ers—Unable to dig, and to beg ashamed[Page 172] what a description!—what an object for relief;—and how great the rapture to re­lieve it!

I do not, my dear boy,—indeed I do not—envy your feelings, for I trust that I share them; but if it were possible for me to envy you any thing that does you so much honour, and makes me love you, if possi­ble, so much better than I did before—it is the little fabric of comfort and happiness which you have erected in the depths of misery. The whole may occupy, perhaps, but little space in this world—but, like the mustard seed, it will grow up and rear its head towards that Heaven, to which the Spi­rit that planted it will finally conduct you.

Robinson called upon me yesterday, to take me to dinner in Berkeley-square;[Page 173] and, while I was arranging my drapery, I gave him your letter to read. He felt it as he ought, and not only desired me to say, every handsome thing on his part to you, but he said a great many handsome things of you himself, during dinner and after it, and drank your health. Nay, as his wine warmed him, he talked loud, and threat­ened to drink water—like you—the rest of his days.

But while I am relating so many fine things to flatter your vanity, let me, I be­seech you, mention something to flatter my own;—and this is neither more or less than a very elegant silver standish, with a motto engraved upon it, which has been sent me by Lord Spencer. This mark of that Nobleman's good disposition towards [Page 174] me, was displayed in a manner, which en­hanced the value of the gift, and heighten­ed my sense of the obligation. I could not thank him for it as I ought; but I wrote my acknowledgements as well as I could, and promised his Lordship that, as it was a piece of plate the Shandy family would value the most, it should certainly be the last they will part with.

I had another little business to com­municate to you, but the postman's bell warns me to write adieu—so God bless you, and preserve you, as you are;—and this wish, by the bye, is saying no small matter in your favour; but it is addressed for, and to you, with the same truth that guides my pen in assuring you, that I am, most sincerely and cordially, your faithful friend,



THERE is a certain pliability of the affections, my dear friend, which, with all its inconveniences,—and I will ac­knowledge a thousand,—forms a wonder­ful charm in the human character.—To become a dupe to others, who are almost always worse, and, very often, more ig­norant than yourself, is not only mortify­ing to one's pride, but frequently destruc­tive to one's fortune. Nevertheless, there [Page 176] is something, in the very face, and, which is worse, in the mind, of suspicion, of such a detestable complexion and character, that I could never bear it; and whenever I have observed mistrust in the heart, I would never rap at the door of it, even to pay, if I could help it, a morning visit, much less to take my lodging there.

Niger est, hune tu Romane caveto.

This sort of cullibility most certainly lays you open to the designs of knaves and rascals; and they are, alas! to be found in the hedges and highway sides, and will come in without the trouble of sending for them.—The happy mean between mad good­nature and mean self-love, is of difficult attainment; though Mr. Pope says,— [Page 177] that Lord Bathurst possessed it in an emi­nent degree,—and I believe it. Indeed, it is for my honour that I should believe it, as I have received much kindness, and many generous attentions from that venerable, and excellent nobleman:—as I never pos­sessed this happy quality myself, I can only recommend it to you, without offering any instructions on a duty, of which I cannot offer myself as an example.—This is not altogether clerical,—I mean as clergy­men do,—but no matter.

B— is exactly one of these harm­less, inoffensive people, who never frets or fumes, but bears all his losses with a most Christian patience, and settles the ac­count in this manner,—that he had rather lose any thing than that benevolence of dis­position, [Page 178] which forms the happiness of his life. But how will all this end?—for you know, as I know, that when once you have won his good opinion, you may im­pose upon him ten times a day,—if nine did not suit your purpose. The real friends of virtue, of honour, and what is best in the human character, should form a phalanx round such a man, and preserve him from the harpy plottings of sharpers and vil­lains.

But there is another species of cullibility that I never can be brought to pity, which arises from the continual aim to make culls of others. It is not that gentle, confiden­tial, unsuspicious spirit, which I have al­ready hinted to you, but an overweening, wicked, insidious disposition, which, by [Page 179] being continually engaged in the miserable business of deceiving others, either outwits itself, or is outwitted by the very objects of its own fallacious intentions.

There is not, believe me, a more straight way to the being a dupe yourself, than the resting your hopes or pleasure in making dupes of others.

Cunning is not an honourable qualifi­cation; it is a kind of left-handed wisdom, which even fools can sometimes practise, and villains always make the foundation of their designs:—But, alas! how often does it betray its votaries to their dishonour, if not to their destruction.

Though an occasional stratagem may be sometimes innocent, I am ever disposed [Page 180] to suspect the cause where it must be em­ployed; for, after all, you will, I am sure, agree with me, that where artifice is not to be condemned as a crime, the necessity, which demands it, must be considered as a misfor­tune.

I have been led to write thus Socratically from the tenor of your letter; though, if my paper would allow me, I would take a frisk, and vary the scene; but I have only room to add, that I dined in Brook-street last Sunday, where many gracious things were said of you, not only by the old folks, but, which is better, by the young virgins. I went afterwards, not much to my credit, to Argyle Buildings, but there were no virgins there. So may God forgive me, [Page 181] and bless you,—now, and at all times.—Amen.

I remain, Most truly and cordially, Your's L. STERNE.


AMONG your Whimsicalities, my dear friend, for you have them as well as Tristram,—there is not one of them which possesses a more amiable tendency, than that gentle spirit of modern Romance which, hadst thou lived in days of Yore, would have made thee the veriest Knight Errant, that ever brandished a spear, or wore a vizard.

[Page 183] The very same spirit that has led thee from hence to the Bristol Fountain, for no other earthly purpose, but to let a Phthysi­cal maiden lean upon thine arm, and receive the healing waters from thine hand, would, in a former age, have urged thee to tra­verse forests and fight with monsters, for the sake of some Dulcinea whom thou hadst never seen; or perhaps have made a red­cross-Knight of thee, and carried thee over lands and seas to Palestine.

For to tell thee the truth, enthusiasm, is in the very soul of thee:—if thou wert born to live in some other planet, I might encourage all its glowing, high-coloured vulgarities;—but in this miserable, back­biting, cheating, pimping world of ours, it will not do,—indeed, indeed it will not.—And full well do I know, nor does this [Page 184] vaticination escape me without a sigh, that it will lead thee into a thousand scrapes,—and some of them may be such, as thou wilt not easily get out of;—and should the fortunes of thine house be shaken by any of them,—with all thy pleasant enjoyments;—what then? you may say; nay I think I hear you say so,—why thy friends will then lose thée.

For if foul fortune should take thy state­ly palfrey, with all its gay and gilded trap­pings from beneath thee; or if, while thou art sleeping by moon-light beneath a tree,—it should escape from thee, and find another master;—or if the miserable Ban­ditti of the world should plunder thee,—I know full well that we should see thee no more;—for thou wouldst then find out some [Page 185] distant cell, and become an Hermit; and endeavour to persuade thyself, not to re­gret the separation from those friends, who will ever regret their separation from thee.

This enthusiastic spirit, is in itself a good spirit;—but there is no spirit whatever,—no, not a termagant spirit, that requires a more active restraint, or a more discreet re­gulation.

And so we will go next spring, if you please, to the fountain of Vauclusa, and think of Petrarch, and, which is better, apostrophise his Laura.—By that time, I have reason to think my wife will be there, who, by the bye, is not Laura;—but my poor dear Lydia will be with her, and she is more than a Laura to her fond father.

[Page 186] Answer me on these things, and may God bless you.—

I remain, With the most cordial truth, Your affectionate L. STERNE.


THERE is a certain kind of offence which a man may,—nay, which he ought to forgive:—But such is the jealous honour of the world, that there is a sort of injury, commonly called an affront, which, if it proceeds from a certain line of cha­racter, must be revenged.—But let me en­treat thee to remember that hardness of heart is not worth thine anger, and would [Page 188] disgrace thy vengeance.—To turn upon a man who possesses it, would not, like Saint Paul, be kicking against the pricks,—but, which is far worse, against a flint.—Thou didst right, therefore my dear boy,—in letting the matter pass as thou hast done.

As far as my observation has reached, and the circle of it is by no means, a nar­row one—an hard heart is always a coward­ly heart.—Generosity and courage are as­sociate virtues; and the character which possesses the former, must, in the nature of mental arrangements, be adorned with the latter.

If I perceive a man to be capable of do­ing a mean action,—if I see him imperious and tyrannical; if he takes advantage of [Page 189] the weak to oppress, or of the poor to grind, or of the downcast to insult,—or is continually on the hunt after excuses not to do what he ought,—I determine such a man, though he may have fought fifty du­els, to be a coward.—It is by no means a proof that a man is brave because he does not refuse to fight;—for we all know that cowards have fought, nay,—that cowards have conquered,—but a coward never per­formed a generous or a noble action:—and thou hast my authority to say,—and thou mightest find a worse, that a hard-hearted character never was a brave one. I say, thou mayst justly call such a man a coward,—and, if he should be spirited into a re­sentment of thy words—fear him not.—Tristram shall brighten his armour, and scour the rust from off his spear, and aid thee in the combat.

[Page 190] And now let me ask thee, my good friend, how it happens that thy fancy has of late taken to the Dormitory.—I thought the very names of Petrarch and Laura, and the enchanting scene of Vauclusa's fountain, which is such a classical spot to all tender minds, must have inspired thee with a flow of sentiment, that would have meandered through every page of thy last letter;—but instead of it, here have I been saluted with a string, of stiff, starched notions of ho­nour, and God knows what—that you could have found no where but in conver­sing with the young Lords in great peri­wigs,—and the old Ladies in bouncing fardingals,—who have so long inhabited—'s long, long Gallery.

However, when you are tired of such company, and stalking about upon a mat­ted [Page 191] floor, you may come here and contem­plate the Autumn leaf; and relax yourself with looking at me while I prepare another volume or two to lessen the spleen of a sple­netic world.—For with all its faults, I am willing to do it that good at least,—if it will let me;—and, if it will not,—I shall leave you to pity it. So fare thee well,—and God bless you.

I remain, Thine most affectionate, L. STERNE.


HERE am I now actually at my writ­ing table,—shall I divulge the se­cret?—in something between the fortieth and forty-fifth year of my life,—I shall leave your Ladyship, if you please, to ima­gine all the rest;—and, in this advancing state of my age, am I to address myself to all those charms which are composed by the happiest combination of youth and beauty.—

[Page 193] But if you should consider this as a pre­sumption, I will quit those beauties which belong only to early life, and make my ap­plication to qualities, which are of every period, and possess that lengthened charm, which makes one overlook the wrinkles of age, and turns the hoary hair into Auburn Tresses. That you will always possess the one as you now do the other, I have heard acknowledged wherever I have heard your name mentioned: nor do I remember that your praise was ever accompanied with the exception of a single but—from any of the many various forms and shapes, which en­vy plants in every corner to snarl at excel­lence.

But while your Ladyship, by a kind of miraculous power, can subdue envy with [Page 194] respect to yourself,—you many sometimes, without meaning it, encourage its attacks upon others.—For my part, nothing can be more certain than that I shall be envied with a vengeance, when it is known with what a gracious condescension you have indulged my request: but envy, on such an occasion, will add to my laurels instead of withering them:—it is like the scar of glory; and, I am as proud of the one, as the patriot hero has reason to be of the other.

To confine myself, however, to the pur­pose of this paper.

Permit me to thank your Ladyship most cordially, for permiting me to solicit the honour of your protection—as for attempt­ing [Page 195] to thank you for having granted it, that is not in my power; both my pen and my lips find it impossible to obey the impulse of my heart on the occasion.—Perhaps the time may come, when some of the Shandy family may possess a sufficient eloquence; to offer you that homage, which is very de­voutly felt, but cannot be adequately ex­pressed,—indeed it cannot, by

Your Ladyship's most faithful, and obedient humble servant, L. STERNE


THAT woman is a timid animal, I am most ready, my dear friend, to ac­knowledge,—but, like other timid animals, is more dangerous, in certain situations, than those who possess a greater degree of natural courage.—I would, therefore, coun­se thee for this, among a thousand other reasons, never to make a woman thine ene­my, if thou canst possibly help it.—Not that [Page 197] I suspect thee to be capible of an uncour­teous act, to any of the lovelier sex,—on the contrary, I think thee qualified, and disposed too, beyond most men I ever knew, to charm them, and do them good: and it is, perhaps, on that, as much as any other account, that I warn thee against giv­ing them offence.—For I have more than once observed, and mentioned with some concern, a propensity in thy character to collect thy warm affections in one particu­lar circle, and to be careless of, which, as it relates to women, is the same thing as to be ungracious to those, who are not inclu­ded in it.

There is something amiable,—nay, there may be something noble in the principle of such a conduct; but it is too refined for [Page 198] a world like our's; in which, short as life is, we may easily live long enough, to find the inconvenience and distress of it. He who attaches himself entirely to one object—or even to a few,—may, from ingrati­tude, caprice, or death, be soon left alone: and he will come with an ill-grace, when necessity compels him, to seek for kindness and society, where he formerly appeared to disdain both.

If a small cohort of friends could be cer­tain of continuing together, till they all sunk, into one common grave, your present theory might form not only a gallant, and a pleasant, but a practica­ble system; this, however, my dear fellow, cannot be, and, as for living alone when all our friends are gone, it is neither more, or less, than making life a living tomb, [Page 199] which, in my mind, is far,—far worse, than a dead one.

But to return to my subject.

Woman is a timid animal,—and, there­fore, I trust and am sure thy generous na­ture, laying aside every other consideration, will never do any thing designedly to dis­tress it.—Indeed, it does not appear to me, that there can be a possible situation, which will justify any kind of inattention to the sex, that may give them pain.—For be assured, and I will rest my experience of woman kind, of which I am not a little proud, on the opinion, that the passion for any individual of the sex, whatever her per­fections may be, which makes thee relax in thy gracious behaviour to the rest, will [Page 200] never promote thy real happiness:—it may afford thee a certain season, though I be­lieve a very short one, of tumultuous rap­ture, and then thou wilt awake from thy delirium, to all the grievances of a fretful spirit.

Women look at least for attentions;—they consider them as an inherent birth­right, given to their sex by the laws of po­lished society; and when they are deprived of them, they most certainly have a right to complain—and will be, one and all, disposed to practise that revenge, which is not, by any means, to be treated with con­tempt. It would be very unpleasant for me to hear in any female society, that my friend was a strange, eccentric, singular, unpleasant character;—and I rather think that he himself would not be pleased to find, [Page 201] that such a description was given, and be­lieved of him.—I do not mean to urge,—indeed, I well know you cannot suspect me of so gross an error,—that the same regard is to be equally dealt to all: this is far from being my system;—but I affirm on the other hand—that all are not to be disregarded for one; for it will seldom happen, that the affection of that one, will recompense thee for the enmity of all the rest.—Love one, if you please, and as much as you please—but, be gracious to all.

Affection may, surely, conduct thee through an avenue of women, to her who possesses thy heart, without tearing the flounces of any of their petticoats. The displaying courtesy to all whom you meet, will delay you very little in your way, to [Page 202] the arms of her whom you love—and, if I mistake not, will attune your sensibili­ties, to the higher enjoyment of the rap­tures you will find there.

We have all of us, enemies enough, my good friend, from the inevitable course of human events, without our encreasing the number by so strange, and unprofitable conduct, as that of neglecting any of the most trifling offices of familiar life.

Besides,—to come more home to thine heart,—let me observe to thee,—that cha­rity, and humanity, which, by the bye, are one, and the same thing, are said to be the foundation of those qualities, which form what is called a well-bred man.—If, therefore, you should, on any account, [Page 203] get into the habit of neglecting the latter,—you may stand more than a chance of its being said, that you do not possess the former, which, you know to be the bright­est jewel in the human character.—And this I am certain would wound thee in thy very soul.

—My dear boy, neglect not these, and other things, which, thou mayst call, lit­tle things;—for little things, believe me, are, oftentimes, of great importance, in the arrangements of life.

You have been frequently pleased to tell me, as a matter of praise, that, in my descriptions, I am natural to a nicety,—and, when I tell of picking up an hand­kerchief, or wiping a tear from the cheek [Page 204] of a distressed damsel, with a white one—or the sticking a pin into a pincushion,—and such things, I am far superior to any other writer.—Apply then, I beseech thee, this observation to thyself, and give me an opportunity of retorting the eulogi­um upon thee. This, is the sincere wish of thy friend.

So may God bless thee, and direct the best feelings of thy heart, to the best pur­poses of thy life.

I am, Your's, most affectionately, L. STERNE.

The postman's bell tells me I have not time to read what I have written; but I will trust to both our hearts, that there is nothing which either ought to be ashamed of.


WHEN all the croud, my fair lady, was hurried into the gardens, to hear the musick of squibs and crackers—and to see the air illuminated by rockets, and balloons,—I was flattered, exquisitely flattered, to find you contented to saunter lackadaysically with me, round an exhaust­ed Ranelagh, and give me your gentle, amiable, elegant sentiments, in a tone of voice, that was originally intended for a Cherub. How you got it I know not—nor is it my business to enquire; I am ever [Page 206] rejoiced to find, any emanation of the other world, in any corner of this, be it where it may;—but particularly, when it pro­ceeds through any female organ,—where the effect must be more powerful, because it is always most delicious.

Now after this little emanation of my spirit, which may not be quite so celestial as it ought, I trust you will not think me ungracious, in desiring you to excuse my promised duties, at your drawing-room this evening. The truth is,—my cough has seized me so violently by the throat, that, though I could hear you sing, I should not be able, to tell you the effects, of your music, upon my heart. Indeed,—I can scarce produce a whisper, loud enough, to make the servant bring my gruel.

[Page 207] I have now been so long acquainted with this crazy frame of mine, that I know all its tricks,—and, I foresee, that I have a week's indulgence, at least, to bestow upon it.—However, on Sunday next, I trust,—I may be-cassock myself, in my cloak, and be chaired to your warm cabinet, where, I hope to possess voice enough, to assure you, of the sincere esteem, and admiration, I feel for you,—whether I can tell you so, or no. Colds, and coughs, and catarrhs, may tie up the tongue, but the heart is above the little inconveniences, of its pri­son-house, and will one day escape from them all. 'Till that period, I shall beg leave to remain, with great truth,

Your most faithful, And obedient, humble servant, L. STERNE.


THE poor in spirit, and the poor in purse, with nine out of ten,—nay, with ninety-nine, in an hundred of the world, are so alike, that, by practising the virtues of the former, a man generally gets, all the credit, or rather discredit of the latter.

Here are very few, my friend, who have that nice insight into characters, as to be able to discern the various, but approach­ing shades, that distinguish them from [Page 209] each other—and, sorry am I to say it, but, there are still fewer, who have the humani­ty to make them employ their discernment, where it ought to be employed, in favour of the heart.

This moderation of temper, which is always associated to sterling merit, is made to win the love of the few, but is too apt, at the same time, to be not only the dupe, but the contempt of the many. He, who comes not forward with his pretensions, is either supposed to possess none,—or to be prevented by some awkward, or disgrace­ful circumstances, from offering them.—The ignorant, the upstart, and the assu­ming will, not be made to believe, that the humble can have merit.—As they themselves wear, the tinsel suit of tawdry qualifications, upon their backs, they look [Page 210] no further for the qualities of others—Which, by the bye, is natural enough.

The wicked, and the knavish, will not suppose, that a man on the score of con­science, or virtue, can be such an idiot, as to practise submission, and keep back brilliant talents from exercise, because he cannot enlist them in an honest cause;—or, that when he is employing them in an humble way,—it is not with some design of artifice, or from some motive that is base;—so that the modest, diffident, and Christian character, stands but little chance of what is called good fortune in the world.—Indeed, Christianly speaking, there is no great promise made to it, in this petty circle of time;—Such virtues, are to look, to more durable honours, when this world is faded away,—and it is their consolation [Page 211] and their delight, here, that such a reward awaits them. Alas,—without this hope, how could the good bear as they do, the thousand untoward circumstances, that are continually pressing upon them,—and, chasing away the smile from the cheeks, and placing tears in their stead.

But I am interrupted,—or I believe,—instead of a letter—you would have had a sermon; but it is Sunday evening,—and therefore with,—a God bless you,—I con­clude myself,

Your affectionate—L. STERNE.


I HAVE had, my friend, another at­tack, and though I am, in a great measure recovered, it has hinted to me one thing, at least, which is,—that if I am rash enough to risk the Winter in Lon­don, I shall never see another Spring.*

But be that as it may,—as my family is now in England, and as I have my senti­mental journey;—which, I think with you, will be the most popular of my works, to [Page 213] give to the world:—I know not how it will be possible for me, to run so counter to my interest, my affections, and my vanity—as to set my face southward before March,—and I think if I get to that period, I may bid the scare-crow, defiance, for another seven, or eight months,—and then I may leave him in the fogs, and go where, as he so often followed me in vain, he will not follow me again. And this idea cheers my spirit—not, believe me, that I am un­easy about death, as death;—but, that I think, for a dozen years to come—I could make a very tolerable, good use of life.

But be that as it pleases God.

Besides I have promised your,—and sure I may add, my charming friend, Mrs. V—,to pay her a visit in Ireland,—which,—I mean that you should do with me.

[Page 214] It is not that you introduced me to her acquaintance,—which is something; it is not her enchanting voice which, humanly speaking may be more,—nor that she has come herself, in the form of a pitying angel, and made my Tisan for me during my illness,—and played at picquet with me, in order to prevent my attempt to talk, as she was told it would do me harm;—which is most of all—that makes me love her so much as I do;—but it is a mind attuned to every virtue, and a nature of the first order,—beaming through a form of the first beauty. In my life did I never see any thing—so truely graceful as she is, nor had I an idea, 'till I saw her—that grace could be so perfect in all its parts, and so suited to all the higher ordinances of the first life, from the superintending impulse of the mind. For I will answer for it, that edu­cation, [Page 215] though called forth to the utmost exertions, has played a very subordinate part, in the composition of her character. All its best efforts are—as it were—in the back ground, or rather are lost in the ge­neral mass of those qualities, which predo­minate over all her accessory accomplish­ments.

In short if I had ever so great an incli­nation to cross the gulph, while such a wo­man beckoned me to stay,—I could not depart.

The world, however has absolutely kil­led me, and should such a report have reached you, I know full well, that it would have grieved you sorely,—and I wish you not to shed a tear for me in vain.—That you will drop more than one over [Page 216] thy friend Yorick, when he is dead, sooths him while he is yet alive;—but I trust that, though there may be something in my death, whenever it happens,—to distress you, there will, be something, also in the remembrance of me, to comfort you, when I am laid beneath the marble.

But why do I talk of marble,—I should say beneath the sod.

For cover my head with a turf, or a stone,
'Twill be all one—
'Twill be all one.

Till then, at least, I shall be, with great truth,

Your most affectionate, L. STERNE.

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