Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Some Interesting Sampler Characters Turn Up In An Illustration Of Tristram Shandy

There is so much that is diverting in Tristram Shandy that it is a wonder Laurence Sterne ever manages to complete his history. What is fascinating me at the moment is this illustration in the book, entitled High Life at Noon. The artist is anonymous. Here we can see a bit of domestic shenanigans - the husband is apparently checking the maid's heartbeat while the wife is receiving proposals on both hands. Look at the caged parrot which features on many continental samplers - the bird is cawing the game away, telling us Caesar and Pompey were both of them horned (cuckolded). In the foreground is a crowned monkey also known to us from samplers - aping a savant by reading a treatise on The Winding Up of the Clock and facing the monkey is our beloved squirrel as recorded on samplers for almost 400 years!

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