Printing sermons is not usually our sort of lark, but that’s our current project for the Laurence Sterne Trust. Working on it reminds us of our enthusiasm for what Francis Meynell called “allusive typography”, the art of designing a book to recall, or allude to, another typographical era. This is not facsimile printing, the task of slavishly following someone else’s design, but something we think is more fun–using historic typographic conventions as inspiration for a current project. For the printed style of The Case of Hezekiah and the Messengers, one of Laurence Sterne’s last sermons, we’ve drawn on other 18th-century printed sermons, including this small volume of Sterne’s sermons which were published in 1766 under the name of Mr Yorick, Sterne’s clerical alter ego in Tristram Shandy. For this first separate edition of the sermon, we have kept the Caslon type of the original, the sometimes curious punctuation and Sterne’s emphatic dashes, but dispensed with the long s and the catchwords at the foot of each page. As well as this print version of the text, Hezekiah is going to be delivered at York Minster as part of Voice from the Pulpit in celebration of the Laurence Sterne Tercentenary, and is available with other sermons on a CD from Shandy Hall.
The sermon speaks directly to our times – As his monument in Coxwold churchyard reads in part:
Sterne was The Man, who with gigantic stride
Mowed down luxuriant follies far and wide.