Home  »  The World’s Wit and Humor  »  Smelfungus

The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Laurence Sterne (1713–1768)


THE LEARNED Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on. But he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he pass’d by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote an account of them, but ’twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings.

I met Smelfungus in the grand portico of the Pantheon. He was just coming out of it. “’Tis nothing but a huge cockpit,” said he. “I wish you had said nothing worse of the Venus of Medici,” replied I, for in passing through Florence, I had heard he had fallen foul upon the goddess, and used her worse than a common wench, without the least provocation in nature.

I popp’d upon Smelfungus again at Turin, in his return home; and a sad tale of sorrowful adventures he had to tell; “wherein he spoke of moving accidents by flood and field, and of the cannibals which each other eat—the Anthropophagi.” He had been flay’d alive, and bedevil’d, and used worse than St. Bartholomew, at every stage he had come at.

“I’ll tell it,” cried Smelfungus, “to the world.”

“You had better tell it,” said I, “to your physician.”