Laurence Sterne,-Letters from Yorick to Eliza

 


CONTENT


LETTERS

 

P  R  E  F  A  C  E

-1-----

THE soul and infamous traffic, between dishonest book-
sellers and profligate scribblers,
which has subsisted for more than
a century, has justly brought post-
humous publications under suspi-
cion, in England, France, and
more especially in Holland: minis-
ters os state in every European
court, great generals, royal mis-
tresses, authors of established repu-
tation, in a word, all such as have

           a 4             had



[ii]

had the misfortuneto advance
themselves to eminence, have been
obliged to leave behind them par-
cels of letters, and other memoirs,
of the most secret and important
transactions of their times, in
which every fact, betond the infor-
mation of news-paper or cofee-
house chat is so faithfully misrepre-
sented, every character delineated
with such punctual deviation from
the thruth, and casuse and effects
which have no possible relation,
are with such amazing effrontery
obtruded upon public, that
it is no wonder if men of sense, who

                     read



[iii]

read for instruction as well as en-
tertainment, generally condemn
them in the lump, never, or very
rarely, affording them the honour
of a perusal - The publisher of these
letters, however, has not the small-
est apprehension that nay part of
this well grounded censure can fall
to his share ; he deals not in sur-
prising events to astonish the rea-
der, nor in characters (one ex-
cepted) which have figured on the
great theatre of the world; he
purposely waves all proofs which
might be drawn concerning their
authenticity, from the character of

                     the





[iv]

the gentleman who had the peru-
sal of the originals, and, with Eliza's
permission, faithfully copied them
at Bombay in the East Indies; from
the testimony of many respectable
families in this city, who knew and
loved Eliza, caressed and admired
Mr. Sterne, and were well ac-
Quainted with the tender friendship
Between them, from many curi-
anedoctes in the letters themselves,
any one of which were fully siffi-
cient to authenticate them, and
submits his reputation to the taste
and discernment of the commonest
reader, who must, in one view, per-

                    ceive




[v]

ceive that these letters are genuine,
beyond any possibility of doubt ----
As the public is unquestionably en-
titled to every kind of information
concerning the characters contained
in these letters, which consists with
the duties of humanity and a good
citizen, that is, a minute acquaint-
ance with those of whom honour-
able mention is made, or the pub-
lisher is furnished with authorities
to vindicate from Mr. Sterne's cn-
sures, which, as a man of warm
temper and lively imagination, he
was perhaps sometimes hurried into
without due reflection, he per-

                    suades





[vi]

suades himself that non paraty con-
cerned will or can be offered with
this publication, especially if it is
considered, that without be cold and unin-
tesesting; that by publishing their
merits he cannot be understood to
intend them any injury, and with-
out it would himself fail in his
duty to the public --- Eliza, the
lady to whom these letters are ad-
dressed, is Mrs Elizabeth Draper,
wife of Daniel Draper, Esq. Coun-
sellor at Bombay, and at present
chief of the English factory at Su-
rat, a gentleman very highly re-

                    spected




[vii]

spected in that quarter of the globe
--- She is by birth an East Indian;
but the circumstance of being born
in the country not proving suffi-
cient to defend her delicate frame
against the heats of that burning
climnate, she came to England for
the recovery of her health, ehen
by accident she became acquainted
with Mr. Sterne. He immedi-
ately discovered in her a mind so
congenial with his own, so enligh-
tened, so refined, and so tender,
that their mutual attraction presnt-
ly joined them in the closest union
that purity could possibly admit of;

                     he




[viii]

he loved her as his friend, and prid-
ed in her as his pupil; all her con-
cerns became presently his; her
health, her circumstances, her re-
putation, her children were his;
his fortune, his time, his country
were at her disposal, so far as the
sacrifice of all or any of these
might in his opinion contribute to
her real happiness. If it is asked
whether the glowing heat of Mr.
Sterne's affection never transported
him to a flight beyond the limits of
pure platonism, the publisher will
not take upon him absolutely to de-
ny it; but this he thinks so far from

                    leaving




[ix]

leaving any stain upon that gentle-
man's memory, that it perhaps in-
cludes his fairest encomium, since
to cherish the seeds of piety and
chastity in a eart which the pas-
ssions are interested to sorrupt, must
be allowed to be the noblest effort
of a soul, fraught and sortified with
the justest sentiments of Religion
and Virtue --- Mr. and Mrs. James,
so frequently and honourably men-
tioned in these letters, are the wor-
thy heads of an opulent family in
this city; their character is too
well established to need the aid of
the publisher in securing the esti-

                     mation




[x]

mation they so well deserve and
universally posses, yet he cannot
restrain one observation; that to
have been respected and beloved by
Mr. Sterne and Mrs. Draper is no
Inconsiderable testimony of their
merit, and such as it cannot be dis-
peading to them to see published to
the world---Miss Light, now Mrs.
Stratton, is on all accounts a very
Amiable young lady - She was acci-
Dentally a passenger in the same
Ship with Eliza, and infantly en-
Gaged her friendship and esteem,
but being mentioned in one of Mrs.
Draper's letters to Mr. Sterne, in

                    somewhat




[xi]

somewhat of a comparative manner
with herself, his partiality for her,
as she modestly expressed it, took
the alarm, and betrayed him into
some espressions, the coarsness of
which cannot be excused Mrs.
Draper declares, that this lady was
Entirely unknown to him, and in-
Finitely superior to his idead of her:
she has been lately married to
George Stratton, Esq. Counsellor at
Madrass --- The manner in which
Mr. Sterne's acquaintance with
the celebrated Lord Bathurst, the
friend and companion of Addison,
Swift, Popo, Steele, and all the finest
wits of the last age, commenced,

            b             cannot





[xii]

cannot fail to attract the attention
of the curious reader: here that
great man is social and unreserved,
unshackled with that fedulity in
supporting a feigned character which
exposes most of his rank to the
contempt of wise men, and the ri-
dicule of their valets de chambre;
here he appears the same as in his
hours of sensitivity and happiness
with Swift and Addison, superior
to forms and ceremonies, and, in
his eighty-fifth year, abounding in
wit, vivacity and humanity: me-
thinks the pleasure of such a gen-
thelman's acquaintance resembles
that converging with superior

                    beings;





[xiii]

beings; but it is not fit to dwell
longer on this pleading topic, least
it should anticipate the reader's
pleasure in perusing the letter itself:
one remark however it suggests,
which may be useful to old men
in general, to wit, that it appears,
by his lordship's example, the sour
contracted spirit observable in old
age, is not specifically an effect of
years, altho' they are commonly
pleaded in it's excuse. Old men
would therefore do well to correct
this odius quality in themselves;
or, if that must not be, to invent a
better apology for it - It is very
much to be lamented, that Eliza's

            b2             modesty





[xiv]

modestly was invincible to all
publisher's endavours to obtain her
answers to these letters: her wit,
penetration and judgement, her hap-
piness in the epistolary stile, so rap-
turously commende by Mr. Sterne,
could not fail to furnish a rich en-
tertainment for the public. The
publisher could not help telling her,
that he wished to God she really
was possessed of that vanity with
which seh was charged; to which
she replied, that she was so far from
acquitting herself to vanity, that
she suspected that to be the cause
why she could not prevail on her-
self to submit her letters to the

                    public





[xv]

public eye; for altho' Mr. Sterne
was partial to every thing of her's
she could not hope that the world
would be so too: with this answer
he was oblig'd to be contented; yet
cannot reflect without deep con-
cern,that this elegant accomplish-
ment, so peculiarly adapted to the
refined and delicate understaindings
of ladies, should be so rare
that we can boast of only one lady
Wortley Montague among us, and
that Eliza in particular could not be
prevailed on to follow the example
of that admired Lady --- The reader
will remark, that these letters have
various signatures, sometimes he

                    signs





[xvi]

signs Sterne, sometimes Yorick,
and to one or two signs her
Bramin; altho' it is pretty gene-
Rally known who the Bramins are,
yet least any body should be at a
loss, it may not amiss to observe,
that the principal cast or tribe a-
mong the idolatrous Indians are the
Bramins, and out of the chief class
of this cast come the priests, so fa-
mous for their authorities, and the
shocking torments, and frequently
death, they coluntarily expose them-
selves to, on a religious account:
now, as Mr. Sterne was a clergy-
man, and Eliza an Indian birth,
it was customary with her to call

                    him




[xvii]

him her Bramin, which he accord-
ingly, in his pleasant moods, uses
as a signature -- It remains only, to
take some little notice of the fa-
mily marked with asterisks, on
whom Mr. Sterne has thought pro-
per to shed the bitterest gall of his
pen; it is however evident, even
from some passages in the letters
themselves, that Mrs. Draper could
not be easily prevailed on to see this
family in the same odious light in
which they appeared to her, perhaps
over zealous, friend. He, in that heat,
or I may say, hurry on his affection,
might have accepted suspicious cir-
cumstances as real evidences of

                    guilt,





[xviii]

guilt, or listened too unguardedly
to the insinuations of their enemies:
be that it may, as the publisher
is not furnished with sufficient au-
thorities to exculpate them, he
chuses to drope the ungrateful sub-
ject, heartly wishing, that this
family mau not only be innocent of
the shocking treachery with which
they are charged, but may be able
to make their innocence appear
clearly to the world, otherwise that
no person may be industrious enough
to discover and make known their

                    name.





next section