Laurence Sterne,-Letters from Yorick to Eliza

 


CONTENT


LETTERS

 

-1-----

[48]

I Wish to God, Eliza, it was possible
to postpone the voyage to India for
another year, for I am firmly persuad-
ed within my own breast, that thy hus-
band could never limit thee with re-
gard to time ---

I fear that Mr. B. has exaggerated
matters, --- I like not his countenance,
it is absolutely killing thee --- should
evil befall thee, what will he not have
to answer for --- I know not the being
that will be deserving of so much pity,
or that I shall hate more; he will be
an outcast alien; in which case I will
be a father to thy children my good

                     girl,



[49]

girl, therefore take no thought about
them --- But, Eliza, if thou art so very
ill, still put off all thoughts of return-
ing to India this year --- write to your
husband -- tell him the truth of your
case --- if he is the generous humane
man you describe him to be, he cannot
but applaud your conduct --- I am cre-
dibly informed, that his repugnance to
your living in England arises only
from the dread which has enter'd his
brain, that thou mayest run him in
debt, beyond thy appointments, and
that he must discharge them ---

That such a creature should be sa-
crificed, for the paltry consideration
a few hundreds, is too, too hard!

                     Oh!



[50]

Oh! my child, that I could with
propriety indemnify him for every
charge, even to the last mite, that thou
hast been of to him! With joy would
I give him my whole subsistence, nay, sequester my livings, and trust the
treasures heaven has furnish'd my
head with, for a future subsistence ---

You owe much, I allow, to your
husband; you owe something to ap-
pearances, and the opinion of the
world ; but, trust me, my dear, you
owe much likewise to yourself --- Return
therefore from Deal if you continue
ill: I will prescribe for you gratis.
You are not the first woman by many,
I have done so for with success ---

                     I will



[51]

I will send for my wife and daugh-
ter, and they shall carry you in pursuit
of health to Montpelier, the wells of
Bancer's, the Spaw, or whither thou
wilt; thou shalt direct them, and
make parties of pleasure in what
corner of the world fancy points out
to you.

We shall fish upon the banks of
Arno, and lose ourselves in the sweet
labyrinths of its vallies, and then thou
should'st warble to us, as I have once
or twice heard thee "I'm lost. I'm
lost," but we should find thee again,
my Eliza ---

             E2             Of



[52]

Of a similar nature to this, was
your physician's prescription "ease,
gentle exercise, the pure southern air
of France or milder Naples, with the
society of friendly, gentle beings" ---

Sensible man, he certainly enter'd
into your feelings, he knew the falla-
cy of medicine to a creature, whose
illness has arisen from the affliction of
her mind --- Time only, my dear, I fear
you must trust to, and have your reli-
ance on; may it give you the health
so enthusiastic a votary to the charm-
ing goddess deserves ---

I honour you, Eliza, for keeping
secret some things, which if explain'd

                     had



[53]

had been a panegyric on yourself ---
There is a dignity in venerable affliction
which will not allow it to appeal to the
world for pity or redress --- Well have
you supported that character, my ami-
able philosophic friend! And, indeed,
I begin to think you have as many
virtues, as my uncle Toby's widow ---

I don't mean to insinuate, hussey,
that my opinion is no better founded
than his was of Mrs. Wadman; nor
do I conceive it possible for any Trim
to convince me it is equally fallacious;
I am sure while I have my reason it is
not ---

             E3              Talking



[54]

Talking of widows --- pray, Eliza, if
ever you are such, do not think of
giving yourself to some wealthy nabob,
because I design to marry you my-
self --- My wife cannot live long-- she
has sold all the provinces in France al-
ready, and I know not the woman I
should like so well for her substitute,
as yourself --- 'Tis true, I am ninety
five in constitution, and you but
twenty-five; rather too great a dispa-
rity this! but what I want in youth,
I will make up in wit and good hu-
mour --- Not Swift so lov'd his Stella,
Scarron his Maintenon, or Waller his
Sacharissa, as I will love and sing thee,
my wife elect --- all those names, emi-

                     nent



[55]

nent as they were, shall give place to
thine, Eliza.

Tell me in answer to this, that you
approve and honour the proposal; and
that you would (like the Spectator's
mistress) have more joy in putting on
an old man's slipper, than associat-
ing with the gay, the voluptuous, and
the young --- Adieu, my Simplicia ---


Yours

TRISTRAM.


E4 My


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