The Remise Door — headpiece for "The Remise Door, Calais," in Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, first published in 1768. Wood-engraving, 4.5 cm high by 8.9 cm wide, top of p. 25. Johannot casually strews broken pieces of carriages in front of the hotel's carriage-house doorway.[Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated

Knowledge and improvements are to be got by sailing and posting for that purpose; but whether useful knowledge and real improvements is all a lottery; — and even where the adventurer is successful, the acquired stock must be used with caution and sobriety, to turn to any profit: — but, as the chances run prodigiously the other way, both as to the acquisition and application, I am of opinion that a man would act as wisely, if he could prevail upon himself to live contented without foreign knowledge or foreign improvements, especially if he lives in a country that has no absolute want of either — and indeed, much grief of heart has it oft and many a time cost me, when I have observed how many a foul step the inquisitive traveller has measured to see sights and look into discoveries; all which, as Sancho Panza said to Don Quixote, they might have seen dry-shod at home. It is an age so full of light, that there is scarce a country or corner in Europe whose beams are not crossed and interchanged with others. ["Preface. In the Désobligeant," pp. 16-17]


Although at his point, Yorick has the qualities of an ideallistic picaresque hero, he lacks the street-wise companion of Cervantes's Don Quixote, a deficit that Sterne will shortly address by introducing La Fleur. The illustrator, however, sees to have been interested in the implications of Sterne's describing Don Quixote and Sancho as having encountered difficulties on the Don's quest ("they might have seen dry-shod at home"), as he depicts in the illustration immediately prior to this of the remise Don Quixote and his mount, Rosinante, on the ground, while Sancho and his ass safely observe the scene from a distance, and Sancho remarks that, in essence, travelling is a pointless activity. However, as Katherine Turner points out, “In fact, Sancho says this to his wife, not to his master: ‘if God would permit me to eat my bread, dry-shod at home, without dragging me over clifts and cross-paths . . . my joy would be more firm and perfect; whereas, that which I feel at present, is mingled with the melancholy thoughts of leaving thee, my duck’” (Don Quixote, II, i. 5. 450). [p. 67n2]


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.

Turner, Katherine. "Notes." Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768). Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2010.

Last modified 14 September 2018