Yorick, The Monk and the Lady (uncaptioned) for "The Snuff Box. Calais" — set in the alleyway near the Remise or carriage-house for the Calais hotel at which Yorick has been bargaining with Monsieur Dessein, the proprietor. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, first published in 1768. Wood-engraving, 7 cm high by 8.3 cm wide, top of p. 26. In the 1841 edition, the illustrators employ an image of the snuff-box itself to signal the importance of the incident in Yorick's moral development. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: The Snuff-box Exchange

. . . the monk rubbed his horn box upon the sleeve of his tunic; and as soon as it had acquired a little air of brightness by the friction, he made me a low bow, and said 'twas too late to say whether it was the weakness or goodness of our tempers which involved us in this contest, but be it as he would, he begged we might exchange boxes. In saying this, he presented his to me with one hand, as he took mine from me in the other, and having kissed it, with a stream of good nature in his eyes he put it into his bosom, and took his leave.

I guard this box, as I would the instrumental parts of my religion, to help my mind on to something better: in truth, I seldom go abroad without it; and oft and many a time have I called up by it the courteous spirit of its owner to regulate my own, in the justlings of the world: they had found full employment for his, as I learnt from his story, till about the forty-fifth year of his age, when upon some military services ill requited, and meeting at the same time with a disappointment in the tenderest of passions, he abandoned the sword and the sex together, and took sanctuary not so much in his convent as in himself. ["The Snuff-Box. Calais," pp. 27-28]


Pre-Victorian illustrators such as Archer (1794) and Thomas Stothard (1792) clearly felt that the sentimental interaction between the Franciscan friar, Father Lorenzo, and Mr. Yorick, should be a subject for illustration, the standard scene bearing such titles as The Snuff-box and Yorick and the Monk Exchanging Snuff Boxes. The scene involving the exchange of the English traveller's expensive tortoise-shell snuff-box for the Franciscan's humble horn container marks the turning point in Yorick's determining to become a better traveller — less callous, more sensitive, kinder, and more sentimental.

Pertinent Scenes from the 1792, 1841 and 1857 Editions

Left: Stothard's original interpretation of thew scene in which Yorick and the Monk exchange snuff-boxes as tokens of amity, compensating for Yorick's brusque behaviour earlier: Yorick, the Lady, and the Monk (1792). Centre: Jacque and Fussell's small-scale wood-engraving of Yorick visiting the grave of the good monk or Franciscan friar, Yorick at the grave of Father Lorenzo, Calais (1841). Right: Johannot's depiction of the meeting of the Monk, the Lady, and Yorick, misentitled Sterne and The Monk. — The Snuff-Box (1857).


Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr. Yorick. Illustrated by Thomas Stothard. London: J. Good, No. 159, New Bond Street; and E. and S. Harding, No. 102, Pall Mall, 1792.

Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Illustrated with one hundred engravings on wood, by Bastin and G. Nichols, from original designs by Jacque and Fussell. London: Joseph Thomas, 1841.

Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. With 100 illustrations by Tony Johannot. London: Willoughby, 1857.

Last modified 30 September 2018