Yorick's bidding farewell to Paris — tailpiece for the final scene in "Paris" in Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, first published in 1768. Artists: Bastin and G. Nichols, from original designs by Jacque and Fussell. Wood-engraving, 4.3 cm high by 8.6 cm wide, bottom half of p. 157. In the 1841 edition, the illustrators have invented this image of a Yorick's saying farewell to recently-made friends in the Paris street as La Fleur, acting as postillion, awaits his master's signal for departure. The open door of the carriage beckons him to take up the remainder of his Grand Tour into Italy, although in fact by the end of the second volume Yorick only gets as far as an inn in the mountainous Bourbonnois region of France. This incident immediately proceeds the sequence of events in the provinces where Yorick encounters the melancholy-mad shepherdess mentioned to him by his friend Tristram Shandy. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated

For three weeks together I was of every man’s opinion I met. "Pardi! ce Monsieur Yorick a autant d’esprit que nous autres." "Il raisonne bien", said another. C’est un bon enfant, said a third. And at this price I could have eaten and drank and been merry all the days of my life at Paris; but ’twas a dishonest reckoning; I grew ashamed of it. It was the gain of a slave; every sentiment of honour revolted against it; the higher I got, the more was I forced upon my beggarly system; the better the coterie, the more children of Art: I languished for those of Nature; and one night, after a most vile prostitution of myself to half a dozen different people, I grew sick; went to bed; order’d La Fleur to get me horses in the morning to set out for Italy. ["Paris," p. 157]


In fact, Sterne does not describe Yorick's departure from Paris the next morning, but propels him forward on his journey through the Bourbonnois the next day. Thus, the illustrators have provided readers of the 1841 volume with a transitional scene that takes Yorick away from the fashionable salons of the capital, where no one is authentic and false sentimentality abounds. Immediately in the next chapter, the illustrators provide a headpiece for "Maria. Moulines" in which the sentimental English traveller associates with those capable of genuine emotion, the French peasantry (albeit, somewhat idealized in the Maria sequence and subsequent scenes of humble family life in The Supper and The Grace.


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.

Last modified 17 September 2018