Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
48. The Passport. Versailles
THERE is not a more perplexing affair in life to me, than to set about telling any one who I amfor there is scarce anybody I cannot give a better account of than of myself; and I have often wishd I could do it in a single wordand have an end of it. It was the only time and occasion in my life I could accomplish this to any purposefor Shakspere lying upon the table, and recollecting I was in his books, I took up Hamlet, and turning immediately to the grave-diggers scene in the fifth act, I laid my finger upon YORICK, and advancing the book to the Count, with my finger all the way over the nameMe voici! said I.
Now whether the idea of poor Yoricks skull was put out of the Counts mind by the reality of my own, or by what magic he could drop a period of seven or eight hundred years, makes nothing in this accountt is certain the French conceive better than they combineI wonder at nothing in this world, and the less at this; inasmuch as one of the first of our own church, for whose candor and paternal sentiments I have the highest veneration, fell into the same mistake in the very same case.He could not bear, he said, to look into sermons wrote by the king of Denmarks jester.Good my lord! said Ibut there are two Yoricks. The Yorick your lordship thinks of has been dead and buried eight hundred years ago; he flourishd in Horwendilluss courtthe other Yorick is myself, who have flourishd, my lord, in no court.He shook his head.Good God! said I, you might as well confound Alexander the Great with Alexander the Coppersmith, my lordT was all one, he replied.
The poor Count de B fell but into the same errorEt, Monsieur, est il Yorick? cried the Count.Je le suis, said I.Vous?Moimoi qui ai lhonneur de vous parler, Monsieur le Comte.Mon Dieu! said he, embracing meVous êtes Yorick!