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viously, in 1760, had supplemented the earliest section of his novel by a book of Sermons, written in the same style ; and in 1766 and 1769 he provided the public with further volumes of similar discourses. Meanwhile, in 1765, he had gonc abroad once more, returning in 1766, and the material of this journey was worked up into the two volumes of the Sentimental Journey. The ninth volume of Tristram Shandy completed the book in January, 1767, and, a little more than a year later, the Sentimental Journey appeared. The two small volumes were intended to be the beginning of another serial book; but, unfortunately, once again in London, social distractions and an animated flirtation with Mrs. Draper, the lady known in his Letters from Yorick (1775) as Eliza, exhausted the small capital of health which remained to Sterne. In March, 1768, he died in a Bond Street lodging-house. The servants who attended his deathbed plundered him of such trifles as he possessed ; and there is a story that his body was stolen after burial and dissected by an anatomical professor at Cambridge.

$ 14. The unparalleled eccentricity of Sternes style is one of the most curious things in English ; it brought him his reputation, and made his too exuberant sentimentalism an

Sterne's influence, not merely in England, but in Europe. It

style. is one of the most artificial styles imaginable ; its effect depends on parentheses and lacunæ and sudden suppressions ; it follows no known rules of English prose, but steps out confidently on a path of broken periods and isolated interjections. At the same time, while it never leads us to forget its author, but emphasises his personality very strongly, its imperfections and sins against grammar and logic are so perfected that it reads naturally and without effort, and every sentence at once conveys its meaning. In this respect its deficiencies are its real strength ; we can say of no other style with more tru that it is the man himself. Sterne deliberately set himself to the task of writing as no one else dared to write, and his audacity captured him an audience which he could have secured in no other way: Every sentence of his work, with its absence of construction, its sudden irrelevance, its confusion of all order, is a type and complete instance of his method of composition. Tristram Shandy is not, in any accepted sense of the word, a novel at all; it has no plot, nothing

Tristram even of the coherency of Smollett's hotch-potch of Shando

(). adventures. The hero never appears. Sometimes the story is told through his mouth; sometimes the task of this inconsequent rambling is transferred to Mr. Yorick, as Sterne called himself in all his books. Here and there we feel that we are launched upon a regular current of plot ; from time to time we are thrown back again into a chaos of digression. We never know how far Sterne is going to take us ; his episodes lead us nowhere. In the middle of a more or less consecutive story we are brought to a dead stop; we break off in the climax of a

the book : Sterne's

humour.

sentence into a fresh chapter ; we turn a page and see a row of asterisks, a diagram, or a black oblong of printer's ink. The consequence is that Sterne is never tedious ; his madness is so irrevocably his method that, to a reader with any sense of humour, it is never irritating. Moreover, in this prodigal

jumble of frivolity is enshrined a humour which, Humour.of with all its defects, is as true and delicate as any,

blending its grotesqueness with its pathos in that defects of

happy conjunction which so few have achieved.

Sterne could be a ribald buffoon; and the grave fault of Tristram Shandy—a fault which becomes obvious long before we really appreciate the book's virtues—is its simpering indecency. The coarseness of tone which distinguishes Fielding and Smollett is an utterly different thing. The indecency of Tristram Shandy is contained in sly allusions, in inferences read between the lines, in dashes and marks of interrogation, and is nothing less than wanton prurience. Sterne was much indebted to Rabelais, but his vice of writing is an infinitely more objectionable thing than Rabelais' boisterous animalism. The worst point about it is that it is closely allied to a capacity for pathos which, in its excess, becomes mere snivelling. But when his humour got the better of his indecency and sentimentalism he wrote in the spirit of Shakespeare. The whole Shandy household—“my father," with his crotchets and philosophy, Uncle Toby, with his love for military operations, his simplicity, his affectionate nature and his intense compassion for all misfortune, the faithful Corporal Trim, and every individual down to the “foolish fat scullion”

-are creatures of the finest comedy. As an inCharacter of Uncle Toby.

stance of real humour, of the union of the ludicrous

and pathetic, Uncle Toby is among the first masterpieces of character. For example, when Tristram's father was consoling himself for the death of his elder son, and was quoting, without context, the consolatory letter of Servius Sulpicius to Cicero, Uncle Toby thought him to be relating an experience of his own travels as a Turkey merchant. “And pray, brother,' quoth my uncle Toby, : . . 'what year of our Lord was this?' 'It was no year of our Lord,' replied my father. “That's impossible !' cried my uncle Toby. Simpleton!' said my father, “it was forty years before Christ was born.' My uncle Toby had but two things for it, either to suppose his brother to be the Wandering Jew, or that his misfortunes had disordered his brain. "May the Lord God of heaven and earth protect him and restore him!' said my uncle Toby, praying silently for my father, and with tears in his eyes. My father placed the tears to a proper account, and went on with his harangue with great spirit.”

This is not an isolated instance of the pure gold which, in Sterne's books, is to be found among much dross. Our pleasant familiarity with Uncle Toby, Widow Wadman, and the rest,

The “Sen

Sterne's

literature.

growing by a constant series of allusions rather than by any definite description--for they are introduced hastily and accidentally, and, in every case, are the subjects of apparently casual reference-is all the greater and more Sterne's lasting on account of the digressions and the shape of character. less pattern in which their portraits are framed. So far as Sterne himself is concerned, the most interesting digression in Tristram Shandy is the continental journey in the seventh volume, which is, in a measure, a forecast of the Sentimental Journey. Of this later work, famous as it is, there is not much to say. Sterne was essentially a creature timental of sentiment, and in these notes of travel we are Fourney" in the closest relation with his temperament. His (1768). sensitive spirit vibrated to the slightest incident, and magnified it to heroic proportions of pathos. Like Richardson, Sterne, in his character of a man of feeling, excited more sympathy in France than in England. The English taste, less fine and emotional, put much of his sentiment down to mawkish affectation ; and the popularity of the Sentimental Journey is due to its picturesque character rather than to its slightly morbid tone. Nevertheless, the emphasis which

Influence of Sterne laid on sentiment, while, in extreme cases, it produced tearful books like Henry Mackenzie's Man sentimen. of Feeling, brought a certain element of needed tality on humanity into English literature. The hard, brutal quality of Smollett's work, and the fact that Fielding's pathos is the merest minimum, are signs that something more gentle was necessary, and this Sterne supplied. His sentiment is not without religion of a kind; but Mr. Yorick's sermons afford very little pious consolation, and are simply Shandean pleasantries refined for the pulpit. Sterne possessed a great capacity for parading obscure and quaint erudition, and, through the mouths of Mr. Shandy, Tristram, and Mr.

plagiarisms. Yorick, there pass a great many allusions to forgotten authors, which, at the time, gave Sterne a great reputation for learning. But later ages, expert in the study of Burton and Rabelais, to say nothing of the old lawyers and canonists, have discovered that the vicar of Coxwold was a sad plagiarist, who drained these fountains of allusion without scruple. Nevertheless, he has not spoiled our appreciation of Rabelais or Burton, but, by his unprincipled borrowing, has given an additional originality of favour to his own book.

15. The prose fiction of OLIVER GOLDSMITH is not by any means his only claim to distinction. Johnson, in the Latin epitaph for his friend's monument in the Abbey, spoke of him as one “qui nullum fere scribendi genus non tetigit, nullum quod tetigit non ornavit” (1728-1774). -who left scarce any kind of writing untouched, his place in and touched none that he did not grace. Moreover, he belongs, by his friendships, to a somewhat later ENG, LIT.

2 H

Sterne's

OLIVER
GOLDSMITH

.

travels.

period in eighteenth-century literature than Fielding, Sterne, or Smollett. But the best place to be found for him is among the novelists. By virtue of The Vicar of Wakefield he is worthy to sit beside the greatest masters of English fiction ; while, in the admirable delicacy of his prose and his command of narrative style, he is the best follower of Steele and Addison,

using their free and graceful English for his charming His life.

fiction. He was born at Pallas in County Longford, where his father, a poor curate of English extraction, was struggling, with the aid of a miserable stipend, to bring up a large family. His early years were spent at Lissoy in Westmeath, about eight miles from his birthplace; and, in 1744, an uncle, Mr. Contarine, sent him to Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained a sizarship. However, his life at college was idle and disreputable ; he became notorious for his irregularities, and, although his extravagance was time after time forgiven him, was always out of pocket and in debt. He took his degree in 1749, and, without any fixed intention of embracing a profession, was a tutor for a short time in an Irish

family. In 1753 he made up his mind, after long Early

hesitation, to read medicine, and went for that

purpose to Edinburgh. However, his design did not hold firm very long, but, migrating to Leyden in 1754, he travelled all over the Continent. He boasted afterwards that he had taken a medical degree at some foreign universityeither Louvain or Padua--but his very superficial and inaccurate knowledge of medicine makes the assertion of very little value. It seems that he went through Europe like a beggar, tramping the highroads with a flute, or subsisting on the casual alms of a poor scholar. While wandering in Switzerland he sketched out the plan of The Traveller, the poem which afterwards was the beginning of his fame. In 1756 he found his way to

London, and, during the next eight years, his life Period of was a continual struggle with famine. His literary struggle in London.

apprenticeship was passed in a severe school, and he

began by reading proofs for Richardson's printing press. In 1757 the bookseller Griffiths, who owned The Monthly Review, engaged him to write articles for his magazine, and employed him in a number of small commissions -schoolbooks, tales for children, prefaces, indices, reviews of books, and contributions to various periodicals—in which he certainly found plenty of time to form and practise his admirable style. But literary work was only his partial occupation. If he was constant in anything, it was in his hack-work for the booksellers ; and this, even with the smallness of the wage, would have probably given him enough to live upon had it not been for his extreme improvidence. He was childishly generous, madly in love with pleasure and fine clothes, and fond of gambling. To make some money he served, now as a chemist's shopman, now as an usher in a boarding-school, the drudge of

introduction

his employer and the butt and laughing-stock of his pupils, now as a doctor in the lowest and most squalid parts of Londonamong “the beggars of Axe Lane,” as he himself expressed it. More than once, under the pressure of intolerable distress, he exchanged the bondage of the school for the severer drudgery of the corrector's table in the printing office, and more than once he was driven back again to the school. At one time, during this wretched period of his career, he failed to pass an examination for the post of hospital mate, when, in order to appear decently before the board at Surgeons' Hall, and having no money with which to get new clothes, he pawned a suit which Griffiths had lent him.

But although, to the end of his life, Goldsmith's expenditure was far in advance of his earnings, success came to him before long. His Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759), his first original essay, of original

Beginning, which was published anonymously, obtained him work and more work from the booksellers. In May, 1761,

to Johnson. he met Dr. Johnson for the first time, and from that day forward was under the wing of this excellent and dictatorial friend. Goldsmith continued to write anonymously for some time after this meeting. The masterly Citizen of the World (1762), in which he assumed the character of a Chinese traveller in England, was a reprint of letters originally published in Newbery's Public Ledger. In 1764, Publication however, The Traveller appeared under his own of The name, and, in 1765, he collected his occasional

essays

Traveller"

(1764). into a single volume. This was the opening of a period of comparative prosperity; he emerged from the slough of obscure drudgery and became a popular favourite. The public were agreed that, since the days of Pope, nothing harmonious or so original as The Traveller had been seen; and Goldsmith, with a future of uninterrupted success, might, but for his folly and improvidence, from which no amount of fortune could have saved him, have died a rich man. He came from obscure suburban lodgings into the town, and eventually settled down in extravagant chambers in the Period of Middle Temple. In 1766 appeared The Vicar of success. Wakefield, which Johnson had sold for him two years before ; and in January, 1768, Goldsmith came before the public as a comic dramatist with The Good-Natur'd Man. Although the production of the piece at Covent Garden was not altogether a failure, it was rather too robust a comedy for the sentimental taste of the time, and formed too strong a contrast to the admired and tearful False Delicacy of the popular author, Hugh Kelly, which had appeared the week before. Two years later, in 1770, Goldsmith followed up The Traveller with a companion poem, The Deserted Village, written in something of the same manner and with no less touching a perfection ; and, in 1773, he provided The Good-Naturd Man with a worthy

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