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S I R,

THE very extraordinary genuis and first-rate wit of the late Mr Sterne have rendered his name and his works so famous, and his imitators have been so numerous, that I apprehend any information concerning him «r his writings will be acceptable. The following letter was written to a friend of mine by one of his acquaintance, in answer to some queries proposed by the former, concerning Mr Sterne. It relates to the first two vols. enly of his Life of Tristram Shandy, as the other was not published at that time. Thegentlemandidnot then chuse to put his name to it, and my friend not having taken any memorandum of it, docs not recollect who his correspondent was.

You may, however, Sir, be assured that the letter is genuine, and that the facts mentioned in it are to be depended on. Your's, &c.

April 10. 1788. C.

April 15. 1760.

INDEED, my dear Sir, your letter was quite a surprise to me. I had heard that Mr Shandy had engaged the attention of the gay part of the world ; but when a gentleman of your active and useful turn can find time for so many inquiries about him, I fee it is not only by the idle and the gay, that he is read and admired, but by the busy and the serious: nay, common fame fays, but common fame is a great liar, that it is not only a Duke and an Earl, and a new-made Bishop, who are contending for the honour of being godfather to his dear child Tristram, but that men and women too, of all ranks and denominations, are caressing the father, and providing Havering for the bantling.

In answer to your inquiries, I have fat down to write a longer letter than Usual, to tell you all I know about him and the design es las bock. 1 think

it was some time in June lait tha he shewed me his papers, more than would make four such volumes as thole two he has published, and we fat up a' whole night together reading them. I thought I discovered a vein of humour which must take with readers of tille, but I took the liberty to point out some gross allusions which I .apprehended would be a matter of just offence, and especially when coming from a clergyman, as they would betray forgetfulness of his character. He observed, that an attention to his character would damp his fire, and check the flow of his humour'; and that if he went on and hoped to be read, he mat not look at his band or his cassock. I told him, that an over attention to his char; cter might perhaps have that effect; but that there was no occasion for him to think all the time he was writing his book, that he was writing sermons ; was no difficult matter to avoid the dirtiness of Swift on the one hand, and the looseness of Rabelais on the other ; and that if he (hired in the middle course, he might not only make it a very entertaining, but a very instructive and useful book ; and on that plan I said all I could to encourage him to come out with a volume or two in the Winter.

At this time he was haunted with doubts and fears of its not taking. He did not, however, think fit to follow my advice ; yet when the two volumes came out, I wrote a paper or two by way of recommending them, and particularly pointed to Yorick, Trim leading the sermon, and such parts as I was most pleased with myself.»

If any apology can be made for his gross allusions and djuble enX?ndra, it is, that his design is to take in ill ranks and professions, and to laugh them out of their absurdities. • If yon should ask him, why he begins his here nine months before he was born *


Litter concerning Sterne's Tristram Shandy.

his answer would be, That he might parts of it I think there is a
exhibit some character inimitably ridi-
culous, without going out of his way,
and which he could not introduce
with propriety, had he begun them
later. But as he intends to produce
him somewhere in th_- 3d or 4th vo-
lume, we will hope, if he does not
keep him too long in the nursery, his
future scenes will be kss offensive.
Old women indeed there are of both
sexes whom even Uncle Toby can
neither entertain nor instruct, and yet
we all have hubby horses of our
own. The misfortune is, we -ire not
content to ride them quietly ourlelves,
but are forcing every body that comes
in our get up behind. Is not
intolerance the worst part of Popery?
"What pity it is, that many a zealous
Protestant should be a staunch Papist
without knowing it!

The design, as I have said, is to trtke in all ranks and professions. A system of education is to he exhibited, and thoroughly discussed ; for forming his future hero, I have recommended a private tutor, and nameed no less a person than the great and learned Dr W :Polemical Divines are to come in for a stap. An allegory has been run up on the writers on the book of Job. The Docter is the Devil who smote him from

head to foot, and G y P ts

and Ch——ow his miserable comforters. A groupe of mighty champions literature is

36*. striking likeness, but I do not know so muen of to be able to fay how far it is kept up. The, gentlemen in or about York will not allow of any likeness at all in the best parts of it; whe-. ther his jokes and his jibes may not be felt by any of his neighbours, and make them unwilling to acknowledge a likeness, would be hard to fay; certain, however, it is, that he has never, aj far as I can find, been very acceptable to the grave and serious. It is pro« babie too he might give offence to a very numerous party, when he was a Curate, and just setting out; for he told me, that he wrote a weekly paper in support of the Whigs dming the long canvas for the great contested e», lection of this county, and that he owed his preferment to that paper—so acceptable was it to the then Archbishop.

From that time, he says, he has hard'y written any thing till about two years ago j when a squabble breaking out at York, about opening a patent and putting in a new life, he sided with the Dean and his friends, and tried to throw the laugh on the other party, by writing the History of an old Watchcoat; but the affair being compromised, he was desired not to publish it. About 500 copies were prin ted off, and all committed to the flames, but three or four, he said, one of which I read, and having some litliterature is convened at Shandy- tie knowledge of his Dramatis Pcrhall. Uncle Toby and "the Corpo- forut, was highly entertained by seeing ral are thorns in-the private tutor's them in the light he had put them.

side, and operate upon him as they did on Dr Slop at reading the sermon. All this for poor Job's fake, whilst an Irish Bishop, a quondam acquaintance os Sterne's, who has written on the fame subject, and loves dearly to be in a croud, is to come uninvited and introduce himself.

So much for the book, now sot the man. I have reason to think that he meant to sketch out hisowncharacter In that of Yorick, and indeed in some

Vol. Vii.'no. 41.

This was a real disappointment to
him, he felt it, and it was to this dis-
appointment that the world is indebt-
ed for Tristram Shandy, For till he
had finished his Watchcoat, he fays,
he hardly knew that he could write at
all, much less with humour, so as to
make his reader laugh. But it is my
own opinion, that he is yet a stranger
to his own genius, or at least that he
mistakes his forte. He is ambitious
of appearing in his fool's coat, but he ■

3Æ • •■"

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ii more himself, and his powers are which was, that every sentence os it much stronger, I think, in describing had heen conceived and written one1 r the tender passions, as in Yqrick, the greatest heaviness of heart, arising

Uncle Tobyr and the Fly, and in making up the quarrel between old Mr Shandy and Uncle "Poby.

lean fay nothing'to the report you have heard about Mrs Sterne ; the few tim£s I have seen her she was all fife; and spirits., too much so, I thought, He told me, in a letter last Christmas,

from some hints the poor creature h;d

dropped of her apprehensions,; and

that in her illness he had sound in ha


""Jan. i/t, Le dernier de ma vie, keiat /"

Thus, my dear Sir, I have been «s particular as I well can, and have given

that his wife had lost her fenses by a you as ample an account both of tbe stroke of the palsy; that the sight of man and the design of his book as you

the mother in that condition had thrown his poor child into a fever; and that in the midst of these afflictions, it was a strange incident that his ludicrous book should be printed off; but there was a stranger still behind,

can reasonable expect from a person, who, bating a few letters, has not conversed more than three or four days with this very eccentric genuis.

Your's, Sec.

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Since the Letter from Mr Hume to Sir John Pringls was printed, (vid. p. 340.) the following has appeared in a London Paper, in which the' fame Letter was inserjed- As tve haye been enabled to vouch for the authenticity of the former, it becomes of some importance to have the facts contained in it either confirmed or confuted. It would therefore be very obliging, if any persot, ■well acquainted with the private history of the last of the Stuart race, would favour us wish any remarks on it, and particularly with an impartial account of the circumstances attending his embarkation for Scotland. There may have been some foundation for the anecdote of Helvetius; though the fact may turn out neither so humiliating to the dignity of a Prince, nor so derogatory jp the personal character of the subject of these Letters.

S I R,

HAVING lately read in your paper a supposed letter from David Hume,'Esq; to Sir JphQ Pringle, containing a most malicious calumny oft the memory of the late unfortunate Charles Stuart (commonly called the Pretender) I could not help reflecting on the singular fate of that unhappy prince, anrl of most of his family, who were not only doomed' while alive to see} the iion hand of adversity, but whose ashes with unrelenting severity have been raked up from the grave by the envenomed claw of faction: The authors of such illiberal falsehoods probably have in view to flatter the living py traducing the dead; but they are Jirtle acquainted with the generosity

and candor of the present pofJeslbr of of the British throne, who imagine that he can be pleased with detraction, or that, even if true, it could afford him any satisfaction to be told, that the unhappy man, whose ancestorsiud forfeited the crown of these realms by their vices and follies, had been a wretch destitute of every virtue; and that the grandson of the brave Sobinki, and immediate descendant of the gallant Henery IV. had been a dastardly coward. That he was born with superior talents or abilities, there is no great reason to suppose; that he was a man of strong passions, and a violent temper, is pretty generally allowed j and that for many years he bad

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'iron himself up entirely to his bottle, is universally known. But that he was deficient in personal courage, or in spirit, is contradicted by every past of his conduct, and every action of his life. That he was tied, and carried on board a lhip to set but on his expedition to Scotland, is a story equally destitute of probability as of truth. What is mentioned of Helvetius is equally false. The elder Helvetius was dead before the time mentioned *, and his son . was then too young to have had a house in Paris. Besides, can it be credited that Charles, who had so many tried and attached friends

there; mould trust his safety, and give!
his confidence to a young man whom!
he knew only ? I could point
out other inconsistencies equally glar-
ing in the letter in question 3 but these
are .sufficient to convince any reason-
able mind, that the whole is a base
forgery—false, not only as to the sub-
ject, but likewise to the supposed au-
thor, who had too great a regard to
truth arid justice, to have given -biith)
to so malevolent a fabrication |. Ami-'
cut Plato, aniieus Socrates, fed nuijor
arnica VERiTASi

London, Maj II,

An P-jfaj on Comic Painting f:

VARIOUS have been the opi- and properties or qualities of all the nions respecting the cause of objects be incompatible; that is, let laughter; I mean that species arising every person ana thing represented^

from the contemplation os some lud; Cious idea or object presented to the mental or corporal, eye. Mr Hobbs attributed it to a supposed consciousness of superiority in the laughter to

be employed in that office Or business, for which by age, size; profesliony construction, or some other accident, they are totally unfit; And if the persons! ridiculed are also guilty of any trifling

the obwct laughed at. Hutchison seems breach of morality or propriety; the

to think that it is occasioned by a contrast or opposition of dignity and meanness ; and Dr Beattiesays, '* that quality in things, which makes them provoke that pleasant eriiotion of sentiment, whereof laughter is {he exter

effect will be the more complete, and will stand the test of criticism. I say trifling, for great crimes excite indignation, and tend to make us groan ra<ther than laugh. Thus a cowardly soldier, i deaf musician, a bandy-leg

rial sigh, is an uncommon mixture of ged dancing-master; a corpulent ot

relation and contrariety, exhibited or gouty running footmanj an antiquated

supposed to be united in the same as- fop of coquet, a methodist in a bro

semblage. And again, (adds he) if it thel, a drunken justice making a riot*

be asked whether such a mixture will or a tailor on a managed horse; are all

always provoke laughter? my answer ludicrous objects > and if the methodist

is, It will always, or for the most part, has his pocket picked, or is stripped*

excite the risible emotion ; unless when the justice is drawn with a broken head,

tht perception of it is attended with and the tailor appears just falling off in*

form emotion of greater authority." to the kennel; we consider it as a kind

This system clearly points out a very of poetical justice, or due punishment j

simple though general rule, applicable sot their acting out of their proper

to all compositions of the ludicrous spheres: though in representing these

kind in painting—^a rule comprized in kinds of accident, care should be taken.

these few words : Let the employments to (hew, that the sufferers are not great'

. 3Al 1;

• Thi* is a mistake. He ctied in T755. Ed. 4 See Note p. 340,

% Ft or* a new pamphlet, entitled, Rules far drawing Curicttursi.

j 7$ tyfy Comic Painting,

ly hurt, otherwise it ceases to become

ludicrous; as few persons will At a broken arm, or a fractured scull; this is an oversight of which the managers of our theatres are sometimes guilty in their pantomimical representations; where, among the tricks put upon the doctor and Pierrot by Har

the principles of which dictate abstinence and mortification I In that admirable corr.ic print, the Enraged Musician, the humour lies so ely in the incompatible situution of the ion of Apollo, whose ear, trained to melodious and harmonic founds, is thereby rendered extremely unlit to b:„r

lequin, I have seen such a bloody head the tintamarre, or confusion of diseor

given to the clown, by a supposed kick dam noises with which the pointer hi;

of the statue of a hotse, that re iy of so ludicrously and ingeniously suuound

the spectators, particularly those os the ed him.

fair sex, have expressed great horror at the sight. ■

Of all the different anists who have attempted this style of painting, Hogarth and Coypel seem to hare been the most successful; the works of the first stand unrivalled for invention, expression, and diversity of characters.

The picture of Grown Genikmeo learning to Dance, painted by Collet, was well conceived; and tho' infinitely short of Hopai th's execution, had i very pleasing effect, both on the canv.j and on the stage, where it was introduced into a pantomime. In this piece every person was by form, or age,

The ludicrous performances of Coypel toiaily unfit for the part he was actinj. are confined to the history of Don In addition to the rule here menQuixote. Most of the Dutch painters tioned, there are other inferior conGin this walk of painting, have mistaken derations not unworthy the notice of in indecency, nastiness, and brutality, for artist; contrast alone will sometimes *it and hamour. produce a ludicrous effect, although On examining divers of Hogarth's nothing ridiculous exists separately i/ Resigns, we find he strongly adopted either of the subjects 5 for, the principle here laid down. For ex- suppose tuo men both well rrti^j, or.s ample, let us consider the Prison Scene very tall* and the other extrenfeiy ihoi!, in the Rake's Progress. How incom- were to walk down a street together, patible is it for a man who possesses 1 will answer for it, they would oof wings, and the art of flying, to be de- escape the jokes of t!>e mobility, altho* tained within the walls of a goal ! and alone either of them might have passed

equally contradictory is the idea of one suffering imprisonment for the non-paytoient of hi*, own debts, who has the secret of discharging those of the nation!

In the fonr tifnes of the day, what

unnoticed. Another kind of laughable contrail", is that vulgarly styled t If omaw and i:tr Ij'^fbai.d, this i s a lirg: masculine woman, and a small effeminate man s but the ridicule here chiefly arises from the incompatible; the

can be more truly consonant with these man seeming more likely to receive: principles, than the some near Ifling- protection from the woman, than to be ton, where in the sultry heat of Sum- able to afford it to her.

mer, a number of fat citizens arc crouded together in a small room* by the side of a dusty road, smoaking their pipes* in order to enjoy the refresti

Anachronisms have likewise a very laughable effect. King Solomon in alt his glory delineated in a tie or brg-wig, laced cravate, long ruffles, abd a M

nient of country air? In the gate of dressed suit, will always can/e a smife;

Calais, how finely does the fat friar's person and enthusiastic admiration of lie huge sirloin, mark that sensuality so insompatible with his profeuwn;

as would also the Siege of Jerusalem, wherein the Emperor Thus, and his aids-dc-camps, should be represented in the fore-grouad, dressed in gre«:

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