A Sentimental Journey Through France And Italy "God Tempers The Wind To The Shorn Lamb"

Laurence Sterne

"God Tempers The Wind To The Shorn Lamb"

Context: Finding the artificial society of Paris more than he can bear, Yorick (Sterne) sets out for Italy "in the hey-day of the vintage, when Nature is pouring her abundance into every one's lap, and every eye is lifted up." To describe it all would take up twenty volumes, he says. He must, however, interrupt to tell the story of the poor "disorder'd maid" Maria, whom Tristram Shandy had met in his earlier travels. Yorick goes to her home, only to learn that she is "wandering somewhere about the road." Taking up his journey again, Yorick shortly comes upon Maria, sitting among some bushes at the side of the road, weeping quietly to herself. Yorick inquires whether she remembers Tristram; she does indeed, recalling in particular that her goat had stolen his handkerchief. She recovered it, washed it, and still carries it with her. She tells Yorick that since her meeting with Tristram, she has been wandering the countryside far and wide. She tells him of her travels, closing with the observation about the Almighty's concern for the unfortunate:-

–She had since that, she told me, stray'd as far as Rome, and walk'd round St. Peter's once–and return'd back–that she found her way alone across the Apennines–had travell'd over all Lombardy without money,–and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes–how she had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell–but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.