The Monk's horn snuff-box (uncaptioned) for "The Snuff Box. Calais" — detail of the humble snuff-box that Yorick acquires from Friar Lorenzo. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, first published in 1768. Wood-engraving, 4.5 cm high by 9 cm wide, bottom of p. 27. In the 1841 edition, the illustrator, C. P. Nicholls, complements the picture of Yorick and the Monk exchanging snuff-boxes with this 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

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 first illustrator of the scene, Stothard, minimizes the object of exchange in Yorick, the Lady, and the Monk("The Snuff-box") (1792), so that one must study the original text to discover what Stothard and the other illustrators think is significant about the English traveller's exchanging his expensive tortoise-shell snuff-box for the Franciscan's humble horn container, for this scene marks the turning point in Yorick's determining to become a better traveller — less callous, more sensitive, kinder, and more sentimental.

Other Scenes involving the Franciscan and Yorick (1792, 1841 and 1857)

Left: The portrait of Sterne's Monk in the 1841 edition, illustrated by Jacque and Fussell, Father Lorenzo. Centre: The original version of this scene, in which Stothard focuses on the characters rather than the snuff-boxes: illustrators' wood-engraving of the snuff-box echange, Yorick, the Lady, and the Monk (1792). Right: Johannot's 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. 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