A Fellow of Infinite Jest

A Fellow of Infinite Jest

A Fellow of Infinite Jest

A Fellow of Infinite Jest


IN THE London newspapers dated March 22, 1768, appeared the following brief announcement:

Died at his lodgings in Bond Street, the Rev. Mr. Sterne. Alas poor Yorick! I knew him well; a fellow of infinite jest, most excellent fancy, &c.

Wit, humor, genius, hadst thou, all agree;

One grain of wisdom had been worth the three!

So in death all London eulogized and damned Sterne in the character in which it had known him during the last eight years of his life--the character of Yorick, the king's jester. Fashionable London had been his court. The homes of the wealthy and the noble were opened to him, and on his annual visits to the city his engagement book was filled with dinners and receptions for weeks in advance. In an age when the ability to turn a good quip-- preferably a risqué one--was considered a high mark of character, London welcomed Sterne as the playboy cleric, the naughty wit whose epigrams might be repeated for weeks over dinner tables and in fashionable salons. Like the king's fool in cap and bells, whose name he took, Sterne jested for his supper, paid with brilliant quips for his welcome into London society.

His fame as a wit spread through England and the Con-

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