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volumes of tales, in which he often laid aside decorum, was a bishop; and perhaps some of Sterne's friends expected him to become one also, without considering the severity of conduct required in protestant prelates. His friend Hall has run the parallel to my hands.
Why may 'nt BANDELLO have a rap?
a droller fellow,
Sterne has contrived to give a ludicrious turn to those passages which he took from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, a book, once the favourite of the learned and the witty, and a source of surreptitious learning to many others besides our authorit ļ had often wondered at the pains bestowed by Sterne in ridiculing opinions not fashionable in his time, and had thought it singular, that he should produce the portrait of his sophist, Mr. Shandy, with all the stains and mouldiness of the last century about him. I am now convinced that most of the sin. gularities of that character were drawn from the perusal of Burton.
* Zachary's Tale. † See note II.
The strange title of Tristram Shandy, and the assumption of the name of Yorick, were probably suggested by a passage in Burton's preface, where he apologizes for styling himself Democritus junior, and for his title-page.
« If the title and inscription offend your gravity, were it a sufficient justification to accuse others, I could produce many sober treatises, even sermons themselves, whịch in their fronts carry more fantastical names. Howsoever it is a kind of policy in these days, to prefix a fantastical title to a book which is to be sold: for as larks come down to a day-net, many vain readers will tarry and stand gazing, like silly passengers, at an antic picture in a painter's shop, that will not look at a judicious piece.” The hint respecting sermons was not lost upon Sterne.
The Anatomy of Melancholy, though written on a regular plan, consists chiefly of quotations: the author has honestly termed it a cento. He collects, under every division, the opinions of a multitude of writers, without regard to chronological order, and has too often the modesty to decline the interposition of his own sentiments. Indeed the bulk of his materials generally overwhelms him. In the course of his folio, he has contrived to treat a great variety of topics, that seem very loosely connected with the general subject, and, like Bayle, when he starts a favourite train of quotations, he does not scruple to let the digression outrun the principal question. Thus from the doctrines of religion to military discipline, from inland navigation to the morality of dancingschools, every thing is discussed and determined.
In his introdụctory address to the reader,
where he indulges himself in an Utopian sketch of a perfect government (with due homage previously paid to the character of James 1.), we find the origin of Mr. Shandy's notions on this subject. The passages are too long to be transcribed.
The quaintness of many of his divisions seems to have given Sterne the hint of his ludicrous titles to several chapters; and the risible effect of Burton's grave endeavours to prove indisputable facts by weighty quotations, he has happily caught, and sometimes well burlesqued. The archness which Burton displays occasionally, and his indulgence of playful digressions from the most serious discussions, often give his style an air of familiar conversation, notwithstanding the laborious collections which supply his text. He was capable of writing excellent poetry, but he seems to have cultivated this talent too little. The English verses prefixed to his book, which possess beautiful imagery, and great sweetness of versification, have been frequently published. His Latin elegiac verses addressed to his book shew a very agreeable turn for raillery.
When the force of the subject opens his own vein of prose, we discover valuable sense and brilliant expression. Such is his account of the first feelings of melancholy persons, written, probably, from his own experience. “ Most pleasant it is, at first, to such as are melancholy given, to lie in bed whole days, and keep their chambers; to walk alone in some solitary grove, betwixt wood and water, by a brook side, to meditate upon some delightsome and pleasant subject, which shall affect them most; amabilis insania, and mentis gratissimus error: a most incomparable delight it is so to melancholize and build castles in the air, to go smiling to themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts, which they suppose, and strongly imagine they represent, or that they see acted or done.**** So delightsome these toys are at first, they could spend whole days and nights without sleep, even whole years alone in such contemplations and fan