Laurence Sterne,-Letters from Yorick to Eliza

 


CONTENT


LETTERS

 

-1-----

[25]

My Dearest ELIZA!

I began a new joumal this moming:
you shall see it, for if I live not
till your retum to England, I will
leave it you as a legacy: tis a sorrow-
ful page, but I will write cheerful
ones, and cou1d I write letters to thee,
they should.be cheerful ones too, but
few (I fear) will reach thee --- however,
depend upon receiving something of
the kind by every post, till thou wavest
thy hand, and bidst me write no more.
--- Tell me how you are; and what sort
of fortitude heaven inspires you with.
How are your accommodations my dear?

                     ---is



[26]

--- is all right? --- scribble away, any
thing, and every thing, to me. Depend
upon seeing me at Deal with the
James's, should you be detain'd there
by contrary winds. Indeed, Eliza, I
should with pleasure fly to you, could
I be the means of rendering you any
service, or doing you kindness ---- "Gracious and merciful GOD, con-
sider the anguish of a poor girl,
strengthen and preserve her, in all
the shocks her frame must be expos'd
to, she is now without a protector but
thee; save her from all accidents
of a dangerous element, and give her
comfort at the last" ---

                     My



[27]

My prayer, Eliza. I hope, is heard,
for the sky seems to smile upon me as
I look up to it ---

I am just return'd from our dear Mrs.
James's, where I have been talking
of thee for three hours --- She has got
your picture. and likes it: but Mariot
and some other judges agree, that
mine is the better, and expressive of
a sweeter character; but what is that
to the original? yet I acknowledge
that her's a picture for the world, and mine
is calculated only to please a very sin-
cere friend, or sentimental philoso-
phe ---

                     In



[28]

In the one, you are dressed in smiles,
and with all the advantages of silks,
pearls, and ermine; in the other, sim-
ple as a vestal, appearing the good
girl nature made you; which to me
conveys an idea of more unaffected
sweetness, than Mrs. Dr--p--r, ha-
bited for conquest in a birth day suit,
with her countenance animated and
"dimples visible" --- If I remember right, Eliza, you
endeavour'd to collect every charm of
your person into your face with more
than common care, the day you sat
for Mrs. James, your colour, too
brighten'd, and your eyes shone with
more than usual brilliancy ---

                     I then



[29]

I then requested you to come sim-
ple and unadorn'd when you sat for
me, knowing (as I see with unpreju-
dic'd eyes) that you cou'd receive no
addition from the silkworm's aid, or
jeweller's polish ---

Let me now tell you a truth, which
I believe I have utter'd before --- when I first
saw you, I beheld you as an object
of compassion, and as a very plain wo-
man ---

The mode of your dress (the fashion-
able) disfigur'd you --- but nothing
now cou'd render you such, but the
being sollicitous to make yourself ad-
mir'd as a handsome one ---

                     You



[30]

You are not handsome, Eliza ---
nor is your's a face that will please the
tenth part of your beholders ---

But you are something more; for I
scruple not to tell you, I never saw
so intelligent, so animated, so good a
countenance; nor was there, nor
will there be, that man of sense, ten-
derness, and feeling in your company
three hours, that was not, or will not be,
your admirer and friend in consequence
of it, i.e. if you assume or assumed
no character foreign to your own, but
appear'd the artless being nature de-
sign'd you for --- a something in your
voice and eyes, you possess in a degree

                     more



[31]

more persuasive than any woman I
ever saw, read, or heard of:

But it is that bewitching sort of
nameless excellence, that men of nice
sensibility alone can be touch'd with ---

Was your husband in England, I
wou'd freely give him 500l. (if money
cou'd purchase the acquisition) to let
you only sit by me two hours in the
day, while I wrote my sentimental
journey --- I am sure the work wou'd
sell so much the better for it, that I
should be reimburs'd the sum more
than seven times told ---

                     I would



[32]

I would not give nine pence for the
picture of you, the Newnham's
have got executed; it is the resem-
blance of a concerted, made-up co-
quette --- your eyes, and the shape of
your face (the latter the most perfect
oval I ever saw) which are perfections
that must strike the most indifferent
judge, because they are equal to any
of God's works in a similar way, and
finer than any! I beheld in all my tra-
vels, are manifestly inspir'd by the af-
fected leer of the one, and strange ap-
pearance of the other, owing to the
attitude of the head, which is a proof
of the artist's, or your friend's false
taste ---

                     The



[33]

The * * *'s verify the character I
once gave, of teazing, or sticking
like pitch or bird lime

Sent a card that they wou'd wait on
Mrs. * * * on Friday.

She sent back she was engag'd;

Then to meet at Ranelagh to-night;
she answer'd she did not go ---

She says if she allows the least foot-
ing, she never shall get rid of the
acquaintance, which she is resolv'd to
drop at once --

           D            She




[34]

She knows them; she knows they
are not her friends or yours, and the
first use they wou'd make of being
with her, would be to sacrifice you
to her (if they could) a second
time ---

Let her not, then, let her not, my
dear, be a greater friend to thee
than thou art to thyself; she begs I
will reiterate my request to you, that
you will not write to them --- 't will
give her, and thy Bramin, inex-
pressible pain --- be assurd, all this is
not without reason on her side. I have
my reasons too, the first of which is,
that I should grieve to excess, if

                     Eliza



[35]

Eliza wanted that fortitude her Yo-
rick has built so high upon ---

I said I wou'd never more would mention
--- the name to thee, and had I not
receiv'd it as a kind of charge from
a dear woman that loves you, I should
not have broke my word ---

I will write again to-morrow to thee,
thou best, and most endearing of
girls: A peaceful night to thee; my
spirit will be with thee tho' every
watch of it --- Adieu.

           D2            My


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