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troisieme fois; regarda son homme, et pour la troisieme fois se retourna vers le theatre. Tant que dura la comedie, Ragotin lui cria de meme force qu'il assit, et la Baguenodiere le regarda toujours d'un meme flegme, capable de faire enrager tout le genre humain."*
For the mean and disgusting turn which this story receives in the Roman Comique, Sterne has substituted a rich and beautiful chain of incidents which takes the strongest hold on our feelings. He has in no instance of his imitations shewed a truer taste: the character of Scarron's manner, indeed, is that it always disappoints expectation.
That Sterne frequently had in view the Tale of a Tub, in composing Tristram Shandy, cannot be doubted : Swift's Dissertation on Ears probably contributed towards Sterne's digressions on Noses, which shall be consider. ed hereafter. I do not know that it has been observed, that in this pleasant and acute
* Roman Comique, tom, ii, chap. xvii.
satire, Swift has formed his manner very much upon that of John EaChard. The štyle of Swift is much superior in correctness of taste, but the turn of pleasantry is very similar, and has little in common with other writers. Eachard was a writer of great celebrity in Swift's early days, when he composed his Tale of a Tub, a work produced in the vigour of his fancy, and the first heat of his literary attainments.
I shall not presume to determine whether Sterne made any use of a whimsical book, apparently published about the year 1748,
, (for it has no date) under the title of, An Essay towards the Theory of the Intelligible World, by Gabriel John. It is a pretty close copy
of the Tale of a Tub in manner; some appearances of imitation may, therefore, be supposed to result from the common reference of both writers to Swift. If Sterne can be supposed to have taken any thing from this book, it must be the hint of his marbled pages. The author of Gabriel John has covered almost the whole of his 163d page
with dashes, thus
and he observes in a corner; The author
very derstands, that a good sizeable hiatus discovers a very great genius, there being no wit in the world more ideal, and consequently more refined, than what is displayed in those elaborate pages, that have ne'er a syllable written on them. The only subject of doubt respecting the charge of imitation in this case is, that Sterne may be allowed to have possessed sufficient genius to extend one of Swift's. hiatus over a whole leaf, without the aid of our anonymous writer,
The essay in question was professedly composed to satirize Norris's Theory of the Ideal World; but Hobbes (whose reveries still retained the much injured name of philosophy), Bentley, and Wotton, the objects of Swift's satire, were made equal victims of our author's ridicule. The book contains several poems which have no apparent connection with the general design, excepting some parodies of Dr. Bentley's peculiar system of emendation. It must be
owned, that the author had warned the reader, with uncommon candour, in the titlepage, that he should introduce other strange thing's, not insufferably clever, nor furiously to the purpose; the worst that can be said of him therefore, is, that he has kept his word.
6 Why,” says our poet, 5 may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole ?” These masters of ridicule may be tracked to a state of similar degradation, through the works of estimable writers, to miserable farces, and at length to the jest-books, where the dregs of different authors are so effectually intermingled, that the brightest wit is confounded with the vilest absurdity.
Other writers imitated by Sterne-Burton
Bacon -- Blaunt — Montaigne -- Bishop Hall.
was no friend to gravity, for which he had very good reasons; it was a quality which excited his disgust, even in authors who lived in times that exacted an appearance of it. Like the manager in the Farce,* he sometimes 66 took the best part of their tragedy to put it into his own comedy.” Previous to the Reformation, great latitude in manners was assumed by the clergy. Bandello, who published three
* The Critic,