Obadiah gained the two crowns without dispute;—for he came in jingling, with all the instruments in the green baize bag we spoke of, flung across his body, just as Corporal Trim went out of the room.
It is now proper, I think, quoth Dr. Slop, (clearing up his looks) as we are in a condition to be of some service to Mrs. Shandy, to send up stairs to know how she goes on.
I have ordered, answered my father, the old midwife to come down to us upon the least difficulty;—for you must know, Dr. Slop, continued my father, with a perplexed kind of a smile upon his countenance, that by express treaty, solemnly ratified between me and my wife, you are no more than an auxiliary in this affair,—and not so much as that,—unless the lean old mother of a midwife above stairs cannot do without you.—Women have their particular fancies, and in points of this nature, continued my father, where they bear the whole burden, and suffer so much acute pain for the advantage of our families, and the good of the species,—they claim a right of deciding, en Souveraines, in whose hands, and in what fashion, they choose to undergo it.
They are in the right of it,—quoth my uncle Toby. But Sir, replied Dr. Slop, not taking notice of my uncle Toby's opinion, but turning to my father,—they had better govern in other points;—and a father of a family, who wishes its perpetuity, in my opinion, had better exchange this prerogative with them, and give up some other rights in lieu of it.—I know not, quoth my father, answering a letter too testily, to be quite dispassionate in what he said,—I know not, quoth he, what we have left to give up, in lieu of who shall bring our children into the world, unless that,—of who shall beget them.—One would almost give up any thing, replied Dr. Slop.—I beg your pardon,—answered my uncle Toby.—Sir, replied Dr. Slop, it would astonish you to know what improvements we have made of late years in all branches of obstetrical knowledge, but particularly in that one single point of the safe and expeditious extraction of the foetus,—which has received such lights, that, for my part (holding up his hand) I declare I wonder how the world has—I wish, quoth my uncle Toby, you had seen what prodigious armies we had in Flanders.
I have dropped the curtain over this scene for a minute,—to remind you of one thing,—and to inform you of another.
What I have to inform you, comes, I own, a little out of its due course;—for it should have been told a hundred and fifty pages ago, but that I foresaw then 'twould come in pat hereafter, and be of more advantage here than elsewhere.—Writers had need look before them, to keep up the spirit and connection of what they have in hand.
When these two things are done,—the curtain shall be drawn up again, and my uncle Toby, my father, and Dr. Slop, shall go on with their discourse, without any more interruption.
First, then, the matter which I have to remind you of, is this;—that from the specimens of singularity in my father's notions in the point of Christian-names, and that other previous point thereto,—you was led, I think, into an opinion,—(and I am sure I said as much) that my father was a gentleman altogether as odd and whimsical in fifty other opinions. In truth, there was not a stage in the life of man, from the very first act of his begetting,—down to the lean and slippered pantaloon in his second childishness, but he had some favourite notion to himself, springing out of it, as sceptical, and as far out of the high-way of thinking, as these two which have been explained.
—Mr. Shandy, my father, Sir, would see nothing in the light in which others placed it;—he placed things in his own light;—he would weigh nothing in common scales;—no, he was too refined a researcher to lie open to so gross an imposition.—To come at the exact weight of things in the scientific steel-yard, the fulcrum, he would say, should be almost invisible, to avoid all friction from popular tenets;—without this the minutiae of philosophy, which would always turn the balance, will have no weight at all. Knowledge, like matter, he would affirm, was divisible in infinitum;—that the grains and scruples were as much a part of it, as the gravitation of the whole world.—In a word, he would say, error was error,—no matter where it fell,—whether in a fraction,—or a pound,—'twas alike fatal to truth, and she was kept down at the bottom of her well, as inevitably by a mistake in the dust of a butterfly's wing,—as in the disk of the sun, the moon, and all the stars of heaven put together.
He would often lament that it was for want of considering this properly, and of applying it skilfully to civil matters, as well as to speculative truths, that so many things in this world were out of joint;—that the political arch was giving way;—and that the very foundations of our excellent constitution in church and state, were so sapped as estimators had reported.
You cry out, he would say, we are a ruined, undone people. Why? he would ask, making use of the sorites or syllogism of Zeno and Chrysippus, without knowing it belonged to them.—Why? why are we a ruined people?—Because we are corrupted.—Whence is it, dear Sir, that we are corrupted?—Because we are needy;—our poverty, and not our wills, consent.—And wherefore, he would add, are we needy?—From the neglect, he would answer, of our pence and our halfpence:—Our bank notes, Sir, our guineas,—nay our shillings take care of themselves.
'Tis the same, he would say, throughout the whole circle of the sciences;—the great, the established points of them, are not to be broke in upon.—The laws of nature will defend themselves;—but error—(he would add, looking earnestly at my mother)—error, Sir, creeps in thro' the minute holes and small crevices which human nature leaves unguarded.
This turn of thinking in my father, is what I had to remind you of:—The point you are to be informed of, and which I have reserved for this place, is as follows.
Amongst the many and excellent reasons, with which my father had urged my mother to accept of Dr. Slop's assistance preferably to that of the old woman,—there was one of a very singular nature; which, when he had done arguing the matter with her as a Christian, and came to argue it over again with her as a philosopher, he had put his whole strength to, depending indeed upon it as his sheet-anchor.—It failed him, tho' from no defect in the argument itself; but that, do what he could, he was not able for his soul to make her comprehend the drift of it.—Cursed luck!—said he to himself, one afternoon, as he walked out of the room, after he had been stating it for an hour and a half to her, to no manner of purpose;—cursed luck! said he, biting his lip as he shut the door,—for a man to be master of one of the finest chains of reasoning in nature,—and have a wife at the same time with such a head-piece, that he cannot hang up a single inference within side of it, to save his soul from destruction.
This argument, though it was entirely lost upon my mother,—had more weight with him, than all his other arguments joined together:—I will therefore endeavour to do it justice,—and set it forth with all the perspicuity I am master of.
My father set out upon the strength of these two following axioms:
First, That an ounce of a man's own wit, was worth a ton of other people's; and,
Secondly, (Which by the bye, was the ground-work of the first axiom,—tho' it comes last) That every man's wit must come from every man's own soul,—and no other body's.
Now, as it was plain to my father, that all souls were by nature equal,—and that the great difference between the most acute and the most obtuse understanding—was from no original sharpness or bluntness of one thinking substance above or below another,—but arose merely from the lucky or unlucky organization of the body, in that part where the soul principally took up her residence,—he had made it the subject of his enquiry to find out the identical place.
Now, from the best accounts he had been able to get of this matter, he was satisfied it could not be where Des Cartes had fixed it, upon the top of the pineal gland of the brain; which, as he philosophized, formed a cushion for her about the size of a marrow pea; tho' to speak the truth, as so many nerves did terminate all in that one place,—'twas no bad conjecture;—and my father had certainly fallen with that great philosopher plumb into the centre of the mistake, had it not been for my uncle Toby, who rescued him out of it, by a story he told him of a Walloon officer at the battle of Landen, who had one part of his brain shot away by a musket-ball,—and another part of it taken out after by a French surgeon; and after all, recovered, and did his duty very well without it.
If death, said my father, reasoning with himself, is nothing but the separation of the soul from the body;—and if it is true that people can walk about and do their business without brains,—then certes the soul does not inhabit there. Q.E.D.
As for that certain, very thin, subtle and very fragrant juice which Coglionissimo Borri, the great Milaneze physician affirms, in a letter to Bartholine, to have discovered in the cellulae of the occipital parts of the cerebellum, and which he likewise affirms to be the principal seat of the reasonable soul, (for, you must know, in these latter and more enlightened ages, there are two souls in every man living,—the one, according to the great Metheglingius, being called the Animus, the other, the Anima;)—as for the opinion, I say of Borri,—my father could never subscribe to it by any means; the very idea of so noble, so refined, so immaterial, and so exalted a being as the Anima, or even the Animus, taking up her residence, and sitting dabbling, like a tad-pole all day long, both summer and winter, in a puddle,—or in a liquid of any kind, how thick or thin soever, he would say, shocked his imagination; he would scarce give the doctrine a hearing.
What, therefore, seemed the least liable to objections of any, was that the chief sensorium, or head-quarters of the soul, and to which place all intelligences were referred, and from whence all her mandates were issued,—was in, or near, the cerebellum,—or rather somewhere about the medulla oblongata, wherein it was generally agreed by Dutch anatomists, that all the minute nerves from all the organs of the seven senses concentered, like streets and winding alleys, into a square.
So far there was nothing singular in my father's opinion,—he had the best of philosophers, of all ages and climates, to go along with him.—But here he took a road of his own, setting up another Shandean hypothesis upon these corner-stones they had laid for him;—and which said hypothesis equally stood its ground; whether the subtilty and fineness of the soul depended upon the temperature and clearness of the said liquor, or of the finer net-work and texture in the cerebellum itself; which opinion he favoured.
He maintained, that next to the due care to be taken in the act of propagation of each individual, which required all the thought in the world, as it laid the foundation of this incomprehensible contexture, in which wit, memory, fancy, eloquence, and what is usually meant by the name of good natural parts, do consist;—that next to this and his Christian-name, which were the two original and most efficacious causes of all;—that the third cause, or rather what logicians call the Causa sina qua non, and without which all that was done was of no manner of significance,—was the preservation of this delicate and fine-spun web, from the havock which was generally made in it by the violent compression and crush which the head was made to undergo, by the nonsensical method of bringing us into the world by that foremost.
—This requires explanation.
My father, who dipped into all kinds of books, upon looking into Lithopaedus Senonesis de Portu difficili, (The author is here twice mistaken; for Lithopaedus should be wrote thus, Lithopaedii Senonensis Icon. The second mistake is, that this Lithopaedus is not an author, but a drawing of a petrified child. The account of this, published by Athosius 1580, may be seen at the end of Cordaeus's works in Spachius. Mr. Tristram Shandy has been led into this error, either from seeing Lithopaedus's name of late in a catalogue of learned writers in Dr..., or by mistaking Lithopaedus for Trinecavellius,—from the too great similitude of the names.) published by Adrianus Smelvgot, had found out, that the lax and pliable state of a child's head in parturition, the bones of the cranium having no sutures at that time, was such,—that by force of the woman's efforts, which, in strong labour-pains, was equal, upon an average, to the weight of 470 pounds avoirdupois acting perpendicularly upon it;—it so happened, that in 49 instances out of 50, the said head was compressed and moulded into the shape of an oblong conical piece of dough, such as a pastry-cook generally rolls up in order to make a pye of.—Good God! cried my father, what havock and destruction must this make in the infinitely fine and tender texture of the cerebellum!—Or if there is such a juice as Borri pretends—is it not enough to make the clearest liquid in the world both seculent and mothery?
But how great was his apprehension, when he farther understood, that this force acting upon the very vertex of the head, not only injured the brain itself, or cerebrum,—but that it necessarily squeezed and propelled the cerebrum towards the cerebellum, which was the immediate seat of the understanding!—Angels and ministers of grace defend us! cried my father,—can any soul withstand this shock?—No wonder the intellectual web is so rent and tattered as we see it; and that so many of our best heads are no better than a puzzled skein of silk,—all perplexity,—all confusion within-side.
But when my father read on, and was let into the secret, that when a child was turned topsy-turvy, which was easy for an operator to do, and was extracted by the feet;—that instead of the cerebrum being propelled towards the cerebellum, the cerebellum, on the contrary, was propelled simply towards the cerebrum, where it could do no manner of hurt:—By heavens! cried he, the world is in conspiracy to drive out what little wit God has given us,—and the professors of the obstetric art are listed into the same conspiracy.—What is it to me which end of my son comes foremost into the world, provided all goes right after, and his cerebellum escapes uncrushed?
It is the nature of an hypothesis, when once a man has conceived it, that it assimilates every thing to itself, as proper nourishment; and, from the first moment of your begetting it, it generally grows the stronger by every thing you see, hear, read, or understand. This is of great use.
When my father was gone with this about a month, there was scarce a phaenomenon of stupidity or of genius, which he could not readily solve by it;—it accounted for the eldest son being the greatest blockhead in the family.—Poor devil, he would say,—he made way for the capacity of his younger brothers.—It unriddled the observations of drivellers and monstrous heads,—shewing a priori, it could not be otherwise,—unless... I don't know what. It wonderfully explained and accounted for the acumen of the Asiatic genius, and that sprightlier turn, and a more penetrating intuition of minds, in warmer climates; not from the loose and common-place solution of a clearer sky, and a more perpetual sunshine, &c.—which for aught he knew, might as well rarefy and dilute the faculties of the soul into nothing, by one extreme,—as they are condensed in colder climates by the other;—but he traced the affair up to its spring-head;—shewed that, in warmer climates, nature had laid a lighter tax upon the fairest parts of the creation;—their pleasures more;—the necessity of their pains less, insomuch that the pressure and resistance upon the vertex was so slight, that the whole organization of the cerebellum was preserved;—nay, he did not believe, in natural births, that so much as a single thread of the net-work was broke or displaced,—so that the soul might just act as she liked.
When my father had got so far,—what a blaze of light did the accounts of the Caesarian section, and of the towering geniuses who had come safe into the world by it, cast upon this hypothesis? Here you see, he would say, there was no injury done to the sensorium;—no pressure of the head against the pelvis;—no propulsion of the cerebrum towards the cerebellum, either by the os pubis on this side, or os coxygis on that;—and pray, what were the happy consequences? Why, Sir, your Julius Caesar, who gave the operation a name;—and your Hermes Trismegistus, who was born so before ever the operation had a name;—your Scipio Africanus; your Manlius Torquatus; our Edward the Sixth,—who, had he lived, would have done the same honour to the hypothesis:—These, and many more who figured high in the annals of fame,—all came side-way, Sir, into the world.
The incision of the abdomen and uterus ran for six weeks together in my father's head;—he had read, and was satisfied, that wounds in the epigastrium, and those in the matrix, were not mortal;—so that the belly of the mother might be opened extremely well to give a passage to the child.—He mentioned the thing one afternoon to my mother,—merely as a matter of fact; but seeing her turn as pale as ashes at the very mention of it, as much as the operation flattered his hopes,—he thought it as well to say no more of it,—contenting himself with admiring,—what he thought was to no purpose to propose.
This was my father Mr. Shandy's hypothesis; concerning which I have only to add, that my brother Bobby did as great honour to it (whatever he did to the family) as any one of the great heroes we spoke of: For happening not only to be christened, as I told you, but to be born too, when my father was at Epsom,—being moreover my mother's first child,—coming into the world with his head foremost,—and turning out afterwards a lad of wonderful slow parts,—my father spelt all these together into his opinion: and as he had failed at one end,—he was determined to try the other.
This was not to be expected from one of the sisterhood, who are not easily to be put out of their way,—and was therefore one of my father's great reasons in favour of a man of science, whom he could better deal with.
Of all men in the world, Dr. Slop was the fittest for my father's purpose;—for though this new-invented forceps was the armour he had proved, and what he maintained to be the safest instrument of deliverance, yet, it seems, he had scattered a word or two in his book, in favour of the very thing which ran in my father's fancy;—tho' not with a view to the soul's good in extracting by the feet, as was my father's system,—but for reasons merely obstetrical.
This will account for the coalition betwixt my father and Dr. Slop, in the ensuing discourse, which went a little hard against my uncle Toby.—In what manner a plain man, with nothing but common sense, could bear up against two such allies in science,—is hard to conceive.—You may conjecture upon it, if you please,—and whilst your imagination is in motion, you may encourage it to go on, and discover by what causes and effects in nature it could come to pass, that my uncle Toby got his modesty by the wound he received upon his groin.—You may raise a system to account for the loss of my nose by marriage-articles,—and shew the world how it could happen, that I should have the misfortune to be called Tristram, in opposition to my father's hypothesis, and the wish of the whole family, Godfathers and Godmothers not excepted.—These, with fifty other points left yet unravelled, you may endeavour to solve if you have time;—but I tell you beforehand it will be in vain, for not the sage Alquise, the magician in Don Belianis of Greece, nor the no less famous Urganda, the sorceress his wife, (were they alive) could pretend to come within a league of the truth.
The reader will be content to wait for a full explanation of these matters till the next year,—when a series of things will be laid open which he little expects.
—'I wish, Dr. Slop,' quoth my uncle Toby, (repeating his wish for Dr. Slop a second time, and with a degree of more zeal and earnestness in his manner of wishing, than he had wished at first (Vide.))—'I wish, Dr. Slop,' quoth my uncle Toby, 'you had seen what prodigious armies we had in Flanders.'
My uncle Toby's wish did Dr. Slop a disservice which his heart never intended any man,—Sir, it confounded him—and thereby putting his ideas first into confusion, and then to flight, he could not rally them again for the soul of him.
In all disputes,—male or female,—whether for honour, for profit, or for love,—it makes no difference in the case;—nothing is more dangerous, Madam, than a wish coming sideways in this unexpected manner upon a man: the safest way in general to take off the force of the wish, is for the party wish'd at, instantly to get upon his legs—and wish the wisher something in return, of pretty near the same value,—so balancing the account upon the spot, you stand as you were—nay sometimes gain the advantage of the attack by it.
This will be fully illustrated to the world in my chapter of wishes.—
Dr. Slop did not understand the nature of this defence;—he was puzzled with it, and it put an entire stop to the dispute for four minutes and a half;—five had been fatal to it:—my father saw the danger—the dispute was one of the most interesting disputes in the world, 'Whether the child of his prayers and endeavours should be born without a head or with one:'—he waited to the last moment, to allow Dr. Slop, in whose behalf the wish was made, his right of returning it; but perceiving, I say, that he was confounded, and continued looking with that perplexed vacuity of eye which puzzled souls generally stare with—first in my uncle Toby's face—then in his—then up—then down—then east—east and by east, and so on,—coasting it along by the plinth of the wainscot till he had got to the opposite point of the compass,—and that he had actually begun to count the brass nails upon the arm of his chair,—my father thought there was no time to be lost with my uncle Toby, so took up the discourse as follows.
Brother Toby, replied my father, taking his wig from off his head with his right hand, and with his left pulling out a striped India handkerchief from his right coat pocket, in order to rub his head, as he argued the point with my uncle Toby.—
—Now, in this I think my father was much to blame; and I will give you my reasons for it.
Matters of no more seeming consequence in themselves than, 'Whether my father should have taken off his wig with his right hand or with his left,'—have divided the greatest kingdoms, and made the crowns of the monarchs who governed them, to totter upon their heads.—But need I tell you, Sir, that the circumstances with which every thing in this world is begirt, give every thing in this world its size and shape!—and by tightening it, or relaxing it, this way or that, make the thing to be, what it is—great—little—good—bad—indifferent or not indifferent, just as the case happens?
As my father's India handkerchief was in his right coat pocket, he should by no means have suffered his right hand to have got engaged: on the contrary, instead of taking off his wig with it, as he did, he ought to have committed that entirely to the left; and then, when the natural exigency my father was under of rubbing his head, called out for his handkerchief, he would have had nothing in the world to have done, but to have put his right hand into his right coat pocket and taken it out;—which he might have done without any violence, or the least ungraceful twist in any one tendon or muscle of his whole body.
In this case, (unless, indeed, my father had been resolved to make a fool of himself by holding the wig stiff in his left hand—or by making some nonsensical angle or other at his elbow-joint, or armpit)—his whole attitude had been easy—natural—unforced: Reynolds himself, as great and gracefully as he paints, might have painted him as he sat.
Now as my father managed this matter,—consider what a devil of a figure my father made of himself.
In the latter end of Queen Anne's reign, and in the beginning of the reign of King George the first—'Coat pockets were cut very low down in the skirt.'—I need say no more—the father of mischief, had he been hammering at it a month, could not have contrived a worse fashion for one in my father's situation.
It was not an easy matter in any king's reign (unless you were as lean a subject as myself) to have forced your hand diagonally, quite across your whole body, so as to gain the bottom of your opposite coat pocket.—In the year one thousand seven hundred and eighteen, when this happened, it was extremely difficult; so that when my uncle Toby discovered the transverse zig-zaggery of my father's approaches towards it, it instantly brought into his mind those he had done duty in, before the gate of St. Nicolas;—the idea of which drew off his attention so intirely from the subject in debate, that he had got his right hand to the bell to ring up Trim to go and fetch his map of Namur, and his compasses and sector along with it, to measure the returning angles of the traverses of that attack,—but particularly of that one, where he received his wound upon his groin.
My father knit his brows, and as he knit them, all the blood in his body seemed to rush up into his face—my uncle Toby dismounted immediately.
—I did not apprehend your uncle Toby was o'horseback.—
A man's body and his mind, with the utmost reverence to both I speak it, are exactly like a jerkin, and a jerkin's lining;—rumple the one,—you rumple the other. There is one certain exception however in this case, and that is, when you are so fortunate a fellow, as to have had your jerkin made of gum-taffeta, and the body-lining to it of a sarcenet, or thin persian.
Zeno, Cleanthes, Diogenes Babylonius, Dionysius, Heracleotes, Antipater, Panaetius, and Possidonius amongst the Greeks;—Cato and Varro and Seneca amongst the Romans;—Pantenus and Clemens Alexandrinus and Montaigne amongst the Christians; and a score and a half of good, honest, unthinking Shandean people as ever lived, whose names I can't recollect,—all pretended that their jerkins were made after this fashion,—you might have rumpled and crumpled, and doubled and creased, and fretted and fridged the outside of them all to pieces;—in short, you might have played the very devil with them, and at the same time, not one of the insides of them would have been one button the worse, for all you had done to them.
I believe in my conscience that mine is made up somewhat after this sort:—for never poor jerkin has been tickled off at such a rate as it has been these last nine months together,—and yet I declare, the lining to it,—as far as I am a judge of the matter,—is not a three-penny piece the worse;—pell-mell, helter-skelter, ding-dong, cut and thrust, back stroke and fore stroke, side way and long-way, have they been trimming it for me:—had there been the least gumminess in my lining,—by heaven! it had all of it long ago been frayed and fretted to a thread.
—You Messrs. the Monthly Reviewers!—how could you cut and slash my jerkin as you did?—how did you know but you would cut my lining too?
Heartily and from my soul, to the protection of that Being who will injure none of us, do I recommend you and your affairs,—so God bless you;—only next month, if any one of you should gnash his teeth, and storm and rage at me, as some of you did last May (in which I remember the weather was very hot)—don't be exasperated, if I pass it by again with good temper,—(being determined as long as I live or write) which in my case means the same thing) never to give the honest gentleman a worse word or a worse wish than my uncle Toby gave the fly which buzz'd about his nose all dinner-time,—'Go,—go, poor devil,' quoth he,—'get thee gone,—why should I hurt thee! This world is surely wide enough to hold both thee and me.'
Any man, Madam, reasoning upwards, and observing the prodigious suffusion of blood in my father's countenance,—by means of which (as all the blood in his body seemed to rush into his face, as I told you) he must have reddened, pictorically and scientifically speaking, six whole tints and a half, if not a full octave above his natural colour:—any man, Madam, but my uncle Toby, who had observed this, together with the violent knitting of my father's brows, and the extravagant contortion of his body during the whole affair,—would have concluded my father in a rage; and taking that for granted,—had he been a lover of such kind of concord as arises from two such instruments being put in exact tune,—he would instantly have skrew'd up his, to the same pitch;—and then the devil and all had broke loose—the whole piece, Madam, must have been played off like the sixth of Avison Scarlatti—con furia,—like mad.—Grant me patience!—What has con furia,—con strepito,—or any other hurly burly whatever to do with harmony?
Any man, I say, Madam, but my uncle Toby, the benignity of whose heart interpreted every motion of the body in the kindest sense the motion would admit of, would have concluded my father angry, and blamed him too. My uncle Toby blamed nothing but the taylor who cut the pocket-hole;—so sitting still till my father had got his handkerchief out of it, and looking all the time up in his face with inexpressible good-will—my father, at length, went on as follows.
—Brother Toby, quoth my father, I do believe thee to be as honest a man, and with as good and as upright a heart as ever God created;—nor is it thy fault, if all the children which have been, may, can, shall, will, or ought to be begotten, come with their heads foremost into the world:—but believe me, dear Toby, the accidents which unavoidably way-lay them, not only in the article of our begetting 'em—though these, in my opinion, are well worth considering,—but the dangers and difficulties our children are beset with, after they are got forth into the world, are enow—little need is there to expose them to unnecessary ones in their passage to it.—Are these dangers, quoth my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon my father's knee, and looking up seriously in his face for an answer,—are these dangers greater now o'days, brother, than in times past? Brother Toby, answered my father, if a child was but fairly begot, and born alive, and healthy, and the mother did well after it,—our forefathers never looked farther.—My uncle Toby instantly withdrew his hand from off my father's knee, reclined his body gently back in his chair, raised his head till he could just see the cornice of the room, and then directing the buccinatory muscles along his cheeks, and the orbicular muscles around his lips to do their duty—he whistled Lillabullero.
Whilst my uncle Toby was whistling Lillabullero to my father,—Dr. Slop was stamping, and cursing and damning at Obadiah at a most dreadful rate,—it would have done your heart good, and cured you, Sir, for ever of the vile sin of swearing, to have heard him, I am determined therefore to relate the whole affair to you.
When Dr. Slop's maid delivered the green baize bag with her master's instruments in it, to Obadiah, she very sensibly exhorted him to put his head and one arm through the strings, and ride with it slung across his body: so undoing the bow-knot, to lengthen the strings for him, without any more ado, she helped him on with it. However, as this, in some measure, unguarded the mouth of the bag, lest any thing should bolt out in galloping back, at the speed Obadiah threatened, they consulted to take it off again: and in the great care and caution of their hearts, they had taken the two strings and tied them close (pursing up the mouth of the bag first) with half a dozen hard knots, each of which Obadiah, to make all safe, had twitched and drawn together with all the strength of his body.
This answered all that Obadiah and the maid intended; but was no remedy against some evils which neither he or she foresaw. The instruments, it seems, as tight as the bag was tied above, had so much room to play in it, towards the bottom (the shape of the bag being conical) that Obadiah could not make a trot of it, but with such a terrible jingle, what with the tire tete, forceps, and squirt, as would have been enough, had Hymen been taking a jaunt that way, to have frightened him out of the country; but when Obadiah accelerated his motion, and from a plain trot assayed to prick his coach-horse into a full gallop—by Heaven! Sir, the jingle was incredible.
As Obadiah had a wife and three children—the turpitude of fornication, and the many other political ill consequences of this jingling, never once entered his brain,—he had however his objection, which came home to himself, and weighed with him, as it has oft-times done with the greatest patriots.—'The poor fellow, Sir, was not able to hear himself whistle.'
As Obadiah loved wind-music preferably to all the instrumental music he carried with him,—he very considerately set his imagination to work, to contrive and to invent by what means he should put himself in a condition of enjoying it.
In all distresses (except musical) where small cords are wanted, nothing is so apt to enter a man's head as his hat-band:—the philosophy of this is so near the surface—I scorn to enter into it.
As Obadiah's was a mixed case—mark, Sirs,—I say, a mixed case; for it was obstetrical,—scrip-tical, squirtical, papistical—and as far as the coach-horse was concerned in it,—caballistical—and only partly musical;—Obadiah made no scruple of availing himself of the first expedient which offered; so taking hold of the bag and instruments, and griping them hard together with one hand, and with the finger and thumb of the other putting the end of the hat-band betwixt his teeth, and then slipping his hand down to the middle of it,—he tied and cross-tied them all fast together from one end to the other (as you would cord a trunk) with such a multiplicity of round-abouts and intricate cross turns, with a hard knot at every intersection or point where the strings met,—that Dr. Slop must have had three fifths of Job's patience at least to have unloosed them.—I think in my conscience, that had Nature been in one of her nimble moods, and in humour for such a contest—and she and Dr. Slop both fairly started together—there is no man living which had seen the bag with all that Obadiah had done to it,—and known likewise the great speed the Goddess can make when she thinks proper, who would have had the least doubt remaining in his mind—which of the two would have carried off the prize. My mother, Madam, had been delivered sooner than the green bag infallibly—at least by twenty knots.—Sport of small accidents, Tristram Shandy! that thou art, and ever will be! had that trial been for thee, and it was fifty to one but it had,—thy affairs had not been so depress'd—(at least by the depression of thy nose) as they have been; nor had the fortunes of thy house and the occasions of making them, which have so often presented themselves in the course of thy life, to thee, been so often, so vexatiously, so tamely, so irrecoverably abandoned—as thou hast been forced to leave them;—but 'tis over,—all but the account of 'em, which cannot be given to the curious till I am got out into the world.
End of the first volume.
Great wits jump: for the moment Dr. Slop cast his eyes upon his bag (which he had not done till the dispute with my uncle Toby about mid-wifery put him in mind of it)—the very same thought occurred.—'Tis God's mercy, quoth he (to himself) that Mrs. Shandy has had so bad a time of it,—else she might have been brought to bed seven times told, before one half of these knots could have got untied.—But here you must distinguish—the thought floated only in Dr. Slop's mind, without sail or ballast to it, as a simple proposition; millions of which, as your worship knows, are every day swimming quietly in the middle of the thin juice of a man's understanding, without being carried backwards or forwards, till some little gusts of passion or interest drive them to one side.
A sudden trampling in the room above, near my mother's bed, did the proposition the very service I am speaking of. By all that's unfortunate, quoth Dr. Slop, unless I make haste, the thing will actually befall me as it is.
In the case of knots,—by which, in the first place, I would not be understood to mean slip-knots—because in the course of my life and opinions—my opinions concerning them will come in more properly when I mention the catastrophe of my great uncle Mr. Hammond Shandy,—a little man,—but of high fancy:—he rushed into the duke of Monmouth's affair:—nor, secondly, in this place, do I mean that particular species of knots called bow-knots;—there is so little address, or skill, or patience required in the unloosing them, that they are below my giving any opinion at all about them.—But by the knots I am speaking of, may it please your reverences to believe, that I mean good, honest, devilish tight, hard knots, made bona fide, as Obadiah made his;—in which there is no quibbling provision made by the duplication and return of the two ends of the strings thro' the annulus or noose made by the second implication of them—to get them slipp'd and undone by.—I hope you apprehend me.
In the case of these knots then, and of the several obstructions, which, may it please your reverences, such knots cast in our way in getting through life—every hasty man can whip out his pen-knife and cut through them.—'Tis wrong. Believe me, Sirs, the most virtuous way, and which both reason and conscience dictate—is to take our teeth or our fingers to them.—Dr. Slop had lost his teeth—his favourite instrument, by extracting in a wrong direction, or by some misapplication of it, unfortunately slipping, he had formerly, in a hard labour, knock'd out three of the best of them with the handle of it:—he tried his fingers—alas; the nails of his fingers and thumbs were cut close.—The duce take it! I can make nothing of it either way, cried Dr. Slop.—The trampling over head near my mother's bed-side increased.—Pox take the fellow! I shall never get the knots untied as long as I live.—My mother gave a groan.—Lend me your penknife—I must e'en cut the knots at last—pugh!—psha!—Lord! I have cut my thumb quite across to the very bone—curse the fellow—if there was not another man-midwife within fifty miles—I am undone for this bout—I wish the scoundrel hang'd—I wish he was shot—I wish all the devils in hell had him for a blockhead—!
My father had a great respect for Obadiah, and could not bear to hear him disposed of in such a manner—he had moreover some little respect for himself—and could as ill bear with the indignity offered to himself in it.
Had Dr. Slop cut any part about him, but his thumb—my father had pass'd it by—his prudence had triumphed: as it was, he was determined to have his revenge.
Small curses, Dr. Slop, upon great occasions, quoth my father (condoling with him first upon the accident) are but so much waste of our strength and soul's health to no manner of purpose.—I own it, replied Dr. Slop.—They are like sparrow-shot, quoth my uncle Toby (suspending his whistling) fired against a bastion.—They serve, continued my father, to stir the humours—but carry off none of their acrimony:—for my own part, I seldom swear or curse at all—I hold it bad—but if I fall into it by surprize, I generally retain so much presence of mind (right, quoth my uncle Toby) as to make it answer my purpose—that is, I swear on till I find myself easy. A wife and a just man however would always endeavour to proportion the vent given to these humours, not only to the degree of them stirring within himself—but to the size and ill intent of the offence upon which they are to fall.—'Injuries come only from the heart,'—quoth my uncle Toby. For this reason, continued my father, with the most Cervantick gravity, I have the greatest veneration in the world for that gentleman, who, in distrust of his own discretion in this point, sat down and composed (that is at his leisure) fit forms of swearing suitable to all cases, from the lowest to the highest provocation which could possibly happen to him—which forms being well considered by him, and such moreover as he could stand to, he kept them ever by him on the chimney-piece, within his reach, ready for use.—I never apprehended, replied Dr. Slop, that such a thing was ever thought of—much less executed. I beg your pardon, answered my father; I was reading, though not using, one of them to my brother Toby this morning, whilst he pour'd out the tea—'tis here upon the shelf over my head;—but if I remember right, 'tis too violent for a cut of the thumb.—Not at all, quoth Dr. Slop—the devil take the fellow.—Then, answered my father, 'Tis much at your service, Dr. Slop—on condition you will read it aloud;—so rising up and reaching down a form of excommunication of the church of Rome, a copy of which, my father (who was curious in his collections) had procured out of the leger-book of the church of Rochester, writ by Ernulphus the bishop—with a most affected seriousness of look and voice, which might have cajoled Ernulphus himself—he put it into Dr. Slop's hands.—Dr. Slop wrapt his thumb up in the corner of his handkerchief, and with a wry face, though without any suspicion, read aloud, as follows—my uncle Toby whistling Lillabullero as loud as he could all the time.
(As the geniuneness of the consultation of the Sorbonne upon the question of baptism, was doubted by some, and denied by others—'twas thought proper to print the original of this excommunication; for the copy of which Mr. Shandy returns thanks to the chapter clerk of the dean and chapter of Rochester.)
'By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of the holy canons, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour.' I think there is no necessity, quoth Dr. Slop, dropping the paper down to his knee, and addressing himself to my father—as you have read it over, Sir, so lately, to read it aloud—and as Captain Shandy seems to have no great inclination to hear it—I may as well read it to myself. That's contrary to treaty, replied my father:—besides, there is something so whimsical, especially in the latter part of it, I should grieve to lose the pleasure of a second reading. Dr. Slop did not altogether like it,—but my uncle Toby offering at that instant to give over whistling, and read it himself to them;—Dr. Slop thought he might as well read it under the cover of my uncle Toby's whistling—as suffer my uncle Toby to read it alone;—so raising up the paper to his face, and holding it quite parallel to it, in order to hide his chagrin—he read it aloud as follows—my uncle Toby whistling Lillabullero, though not quite so loud as before.
'By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour, and of all the celestial virtues, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, cherubins and seraphins, and of all the holy patriarchs, prophets, and of all the apostles and evangelists, and of the holy innocents, who in the sight of the Holy Lamb, are found worthy to sing the new song of the holy martyrs and holy confessors, and of the holy virgins, and of all the saints together, with the holy and elect of God,—May he' (Obadiah) 'be damn'd' (for tying these knots)—'We excommunicate, and anathematize him, and from the thresholds of the holy church of God Almighty we sequester him, that he may be tormented, disposed, and delivered over with Dathan and Abiram, and with those who say unto the Lord God, Depart from us, we desire none of thy ways. And as fire is quenched with water, so let the light of him be put out for evermore, unless it shall repent him' (Obadiah, of the knots which he has tied) 'and make satisfaction' (for them) 'Amen.
'May the Father who created man, curse him.—May the Son who suffered for us curse him.—May the Holy Ghost, who was given to us in baptism, curse him' (Obadiah)—'May the holy cross which Christ, for our salvation triumphing over his enemies, ascended, curse him.
'May the holy and eternal Virgin Mary, mother of God, curse him.—May St. Michael, the advocate of holy souls, curse him.—May all the angels and archangels, principalities and powers, and all the heavenly armies, curse him.' (Our armies swore terribly in Flanders, cried my uncle Toby,—but nothing to this.—For my own part I could not have a heart to curse my dog so.)
'May St. John, the Praecursor, and St. John the Baptist, and St. Peter and St. Paul, and St. Andrew, and all other Christ's apostles, together curse him. And may the rest of his disciples and four evangelists, who by their preaching converted the universal world, and may the holy and wonderful company of martyrs and confessors who by their holy works are found pleasing to God Almighty, curse him' (Obadiah.)
'May the holy choir of the holy virgins, who for the honour of Christ have despised the things of the world, damn him—May all the saints, who from the beginning of the world to everlasting ages are found to be beloved of God, damn him—May the heavens and earth, and all the holy things remaining therein, damn him,' (Obadiah) 'or her,' (or whoever else had a hand in tying these knots.)
'May he (Obadiah) be damn'd wherever he be—whether in the house or the stables, the garden or the field, or the highway, or in the path, or in the wood, or in the water, or in the church.—May he be cursed in living, in dying.' (Here my uncle Toby, taking the advantage of a minim in the second bar of his tune, kept whistling one continued note to the end of the sentence.—Dr. Slop, with his division of curses moving under him, like a running bass all the way.) 'May he be cursed in eating and drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting, in pissing, in shitting, and in blood-letting!
'May he' (Obadiah) 'be cursed in all the faculties of his body!
'May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly!—May he be cursed in the hair of his head!—May he be cursed in his brains, and in his vertex,' (that is a sad curse, quoth my father) 'in his temples, in his forehead, in his ears, in his eye-brows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils, in his fore-teeth and grinders, in his lips, in his throat, in his shoulders, in his wrists, in his arms, in his hands, in his fingers!
'May he be damn'd in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart and purtenance, down to the very stomach!
'May he be cursed in his reins, and in his groin,' (God in heaven forbid! quoth my uncle Toby) 'in his thighs, in his genitals,' (my father shook his head) 'and in his hips, and in his knees, his legs, and feet, and toe-nails!
'May he be cursed in all the joints and articulations of the members, from the top of his head to the sole of his foot! May there be no soundness in him!
'May the son of the living God, with all the glory of his Majesty'—(Here my uncle Toby, throwing back his head, gave a monstrous, long, loud Whew—w—w—something betwixt the interjectional whistle of Hay-day! and the word itself.)—
—By the golden beard of Jupiter—and of Juno (if her majesty wore one) and by the beards of the rest of your heathen worships, which by the bye was no small number, since what with the beards of your celestial gods, and gods aerial and aquatick—to say nothing of the beards of town-gods and country-gods, or of the celestial goddesses your wives, or of the infernal goddesses your whores and concubines (that is in case they wore them)—all which beards, as Varro tells me, upon his word and honour, when mustered up together, made no less than thirty thousand effective beards upon the Pagan establishment;—every beard of which claimed the rights and privileges of being stroken and sworn by—by all these beards together then—I vow and protest, that of the two bad cassocks I am worth in the world, I would have given the better of them, as freely as ever Cid Hamet offered his—to have stood by, and heard my uncle Toby's accompanyment.
—'curse him!'—continued Dr. Slop,—'and may heaven, with all the powers which move therein, rise up against him, curse and damn him' (Obadiah) 'unless he repent and make satisfaction! Amen. So be it,—so be it. Amen.'
I declare, quoth my uncle Toby, my heart would not let me curse the devil himself with so much bitterness.—He is the father of curses, replied Dr. Slop.—So am not I, replied my uncle.—But he is cursed, and damn'd already, to all eternity, replied Dr. Slop.
I am sorry for it, quoth my uncle Toby.
Dr. Slop drew up his mouth, and was just beginning to return my uncle Toby the compliment of his Whu—u—u—or interjectional whistle—when the door hastily opening in the next chapter but one—put an end to the affair.
Now don't let us give ourselves a parcel of airs, and pretend that the oaths we make free with in this land of liberty of ours are our own; and because we have the spirit to swear them,—imagine that we have had the wit to invent them too.
I'll undertake this moment to prove it to any man in the world, except to a connoisseur:—though I declare I object only to a connoisseur in swearing,—as I would do to a connoisseur in painting, &c. &c. the whole set of 'em are so hung round and befetish'd with the bobs and trinkets of criticism,—or to drop my metaphor, which by the bye is a pity—for I have fetch'd it as far as from the coast of Guiney;—their heads, Sir, are stuck so full of rules and compasses, and have that eternal propensity to apply them upon all occasions, that a work of genius had better go to the devil at once, than stand to be prick'd and tortured to death by 'em.
—And how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night?—Oh, against all rule, my lord,—most ungrammatically! betwixt the substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, case, and gender, he made a breach thus,—stopping, as if the point wanted settling;—and betwixt the nominative case, which your lordship knows should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times three seconds and three fifths by a stop watch, my lord, each time.—Admirable grammarian!—But in suspending his voice—was the sense suspended likewise? Did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm?—Was the eye silent? Did you narrowly look?—I look'd only at the stop-watch, my lord.—Excellent observer!
And what of this new book the whole world makes such a rout about?—Oh! 'tis out of all plumb, my lord,—quite an irregular thing!—not one of the angles at the four corners was a right angle.—I had my rule and compasses, &c. my lord, in my pocket.—Excellent critick!
—And for the epick poem your lordship bid me look at—upon taking the length, breadth, height, and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an exact scale of Bossu's—'tis out, my lord, in every one of its dimensions.—Admirable connoisseur!
—And did you step in, to take a look at the grand picture in your way back?—'Tis a melancholy daub! my lord; not one principle of the pyramid in any one group!—and what a price!—for there is nothing of the colouring of Titian—the expression of Rubens—the grace of Raphael—the purity of Dominichino—the corregiescity of Corregio—the learning of Poussin—the airs of Guido—the taste of the Carrachis—or the grand contour of Angelo.—Grant me patience, just Heaven!—Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world—though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!
I would go fifty miles on foot, for I have not a horse worth riding on, to kiss the hand of that man whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his author's hands—be pleased he knows not why, and cares not wherefore.
Great Apollo! if thou art in a giving humour—give me—I ask no more, but one stroke of native humour, with a single spark of thy own fire along with it—and send Mercury, with the rules and compasses, if he can be spared, with my compliments to—no matter.
Now to any one else I will undertake to prove, that all the oaths and imprecations which we have been puffing off upon the world for these two hundred and fifty years last past as originals—except St. Paul's thumb—God's flesh and God's fish, which were oaths monarchical, and, considering who made them, not much amiss; and as kings oaths, 'tis not much matter whether they were fish or flesh;—else I say, there is not an oath, or at least a curse amongst them, which has not been copied over and over again out of Ernulphus a thousand times: but, like all other copies, how infinitely short of the force and spirit of the original!—it is thought to be no bad oath—and by itself passes very well—'G-d damn you.'—Set it beside Ernulphus's—'God almighty the Father damn you—God the Son damn you—God the Holy Ghost damn you'—you see 'tis nothing.—There is an orientality in his, we cannot rise up to: besides, he is more copious in his invention—possess'd more of the excellencies of a swearer—had such a thorough knowledge of the human frame, its membranes, nerves, ligaments, knittings of the joints, and articulations,—that when Ernulphus cursed—no part escaped him.—'Tis true there is something of a hardness in his manner—and, as in Michael Angelo, a want of grace—but then there is such a greatness of gusto!
My father, who generally look'd upon every thing in a light very different from all mankind, would, after all, never allow this to be an original.—He considered rather Ernulphus's anathema, as an institute of swearing, in which, as he suspected, upon the decline of swearing in some milder pontificate, Ernulphus, by order of the succeeding pope, had with great learning and diligence collected together all the laws of it;—for the same reason that Justinian, in the decline of the empire, had ordered his chancellor Tribonian to collect the Roman or civil laws all together into one code or digest—lest, through the rust of time—and the fatality of all things committed to oral tradition—they should be lost to the world for ever.
For this reason my father would oft-times affirm, there was not an oath from the great and tremendous oath of William the conqueror (By the splendour of God) down to the lowest oath of a scavenger (Damn your eyes) which was not to be found in Ernulphus.—In short, he would add—I defy a man to swear out of it.
The hypothesis is, like most of my father's, singular and ingenious too;—nor have I any objection to it, but that it overturns my own.
—Bless my soul!—my poor mistress is ready to faint—and her pains are gone—and the drops are done—and the bottle of julap is broke—and the nurse has cut her arm—(and I, my thumb, cried Dr. Slop,) and the child is where it was, continued Susannah,—and the midwife has fallen backwards upon the edge of the fender, and bruised her hip as black as your hat.—I'll look at it, quoth Dr Slop.—There is no need of that, replied Susannah,—you had better look at my mistress—but the midwife would gladly first give you an account how things are, so desires you would go up stairs and speak to her this moment.
Human nature is the same in all professions.
The midwife had just before been put over Dr. Slop's head—He had not digested it.—No, replied Dr. Slop, 'twould be full as proper if the midwife came down to me.—I like subordination, quoth my uncle Toby,—and but for it, after the reduction of Lisle, I know not what might have become of the garrison of Ghent, in the mutiny for bread, in the year Ten.—Nor, replied Dr. Slop, (parodying my uncle Toby's hobby-horsical reflection; though full as hobby-horsical himself)—do I know, Captain Shandy, what might have become of the garrison above stairs, in the mutiny and confusion I find all things are in at present, but for the subordination of fingers and thumbs to...—the application of which, Sir, under this accident of mine, comes in so a propos, that without it, the cut upon my thumb might have been felt by the Shandy family, as long as the Shandy family had a name.
It is a singular stroke of eloquence (at least it was so, when eloquence flourished at Athens and Rome, and would be so now, did orators wear mantles) not to mention the name of a thing, when you had the thing about you in petto, ready to produce, pop, in the place you want it. A scar, an axe, a sword, a pink'd doublet, a rusty helmet, a pound and a half of pot-ashes in an urn, or a three-halfpenny pickle pot—but above all, a tender infant royally accoutred.—Tho' if it was too young, and the oration as long as Tully's second Philippick—it must certainly have beshit the orator's mantle.—And then again, if too old,—it must have been unwieldly and incommodious to his action—so as to make him lose by his child almost as much as he could gain by it.—Otherwise, when a state orator has hit the precise age to a minute—hid his Bambino in his mantle so cunningly that no mortal could smell it—and produced it so critically, that no soul could say, it came in by head and shoulders—Oh Sirs! it has done wonders—It has open'd the sluices, and turn'd the brains, and shook the principles, and unhinged the politicks of half a nation.
These feats however are not to be done, except in those states and times, I say, where orators wore mantles—and pretty large ones too, my brethren, with some twenty or five-and-twenty yards of good purple, superfine, marketable cloth in them—with large flowing folds and doubles, and in a great style of design.—All which plainly shews, may it please your worships, that the decay of eloquence, and the little good service it does at present, both within and without doors, is owing to nothing else in the world, but short coats, and the disuse of trunk-hose.—We can conceal nothing under ours, Madam, worth shewing.
Dr. Slop was within an ace of being an exception to all this argumentation: for happening to have his green baize bag upon his knees, when he began to parody my uncle Toby—'twas as good as the best mantle in the world to him: for which purpose, when he foresaw the sentence would end in his new-invented forceps, he thrust his hand into the bag in order to have them ready to clap in, when your reverences took so much notice of the..., which had he managed—my uncle Toby had certainly been overthrown: the sentence and the argument in that case jumping closely in one point, so like the two lines which form the salient angle of a ravelin,—Dr. Slop would never have given them up;—and my uncle Toby would as soon have thought of flying, as taking them by force: but Dr. Slop fumbled so vilely in pulling them out, it took off the whole effect, and what was a ten times worse evil (for they seldom come alone in this life) in pulling out his forceps, his forceps unfortunately drew out the squirt along with it.
When a proposition can be taken in two senses—'tis a law in disputation, That the respondent may reply to which of the two he pleases, or finds most convenient for him.—This threw the advantage of the argument quite on my uncle Toby's side.—'Good God!' cried my uncle Toby, 'are children brought into the world with a squirt?'
—Upon my honour, Sir, you have tore every bit of skin quite off the back of both my hands with your forceps, cried my uncle Toby—and you have crush'd all my knuckles into the bargain with them to a jelly. 'Tis your own fault, said Dr. Slop—you should have clinch'd your two fists together into the form of a child's head as I told you, and sat firm.—I did so, answered my uncle Toby.—Then the points of my forceps have not been sufficiently arm'd, or the rivet wants closing—or else the cut on my thumb has made me a little aukward—or possibly—'Tis well, quoth my father, interrupting the detail of possibilities—that the experiment was not first made upon my child's head-piece.—It would not have been a cherry-stone the worse, answered Dr. Slop.—I maintain it, said my uncle Toby, it would have broke the cerebellum (unless indeed the skull had been as hard as a granado) and turn'd it all into a perfect posset.—Pshaw! replied Dr. Slop, a child's head is naturally as soft as the pap of an apple;—the sutures give way—and besides, I could have extracted by the feet after.—Not you, said she.—I rather wish you would begin that way, quoth my father.
Pray do, added my uncle Toby.
—And pray, good woman, after all, will you take upon you to say, it may not be the child's hip, as well as the child's head?—'Tis most certainly the head, replied the midwife. Because, continued Dr. Slop (turning to my father) as positive as these old ladies generally are—'tis a point very difficult to know—and yet of the greatest consequence to be known;—because, Sir, if the hip is mistaken for the head—there is a possibility (if it is a boy) that the forceps....
—What the possibility was, Dr. Slop whispered very low to my father, and then to my uncle Toby.—There is no such danger, continued he, with the head.—No, in truth quoth my father—but when your possibility has taken place at the hip—you may as well take off the head too.
—It is morally impossible the reader should understand this—'tis enough Dr. Slop understood it;—so taking the green baize bag in his hand, with the help of Obadiah's pumps, he tripp'd pretty nimbly, for a man of his size, across the room to the door—and from the door was shewn the way, by the good old midwife, to my mother's apartments.
It is two hours, and ten minutes—and no more—cried my father, looking at his watch, since Dr. Slop and Obadiah arrived—and I know not how it happens, Brother Toby—but to my imagination it seems almost an age.
—Here—pray, Sir, take hold of my cap—nay, take the bell along with it, and my pantoufles too.
Now, Sir, they are all at your service; and I freely make you a present of 'em, on condition you give me all your attention to this chapter.
Though my father said, 'he knew not how it happen'd,'—yet he knew very well how it happen'd;—and at the instant he spoke it, was pre-determined in his mind to give my uncle Toby a clear account of the matter by a metaphysical dissertation upon the subject of duration and its simple modes, in order to shew my uncle Toby by what mechanism and mensurations in the brain it came to pass, that the rapid succession of their ideas, and the eternal scampering of the discourse from one thing to another, since Dr. Slop had come into the room, had lengthened out so short a period to so inconceivable an extent.—'I know not how it happens—cried my father,—but it seems an age.'
—'Tis owing entirely, quoth my uncle Toby, to the succession of our ideas.
My father, who had an itch, in common with all philosophers, of reasoning upon every thing which happened, and accounting for it too—proposed infinite pleasure to himself in this, of the succession of ideas, and had not the least apprehension of having it snatch'd out of his hands by my uncle Toby, who (honest man!) generally took every thing as it happened;—and who, of all things in the world, troubled his brain the least with abstruse thinking;—the ideas of time and space—or how we came by those ideas—or of what stuff they were made—or whether they were born with us—or we picked them up afterwards as we went along—or whether we did it in frocks—or not till we had got into breeches—with a thousand other inquiries and disputes about Infinity Prescience, Liberty, Necessity, and so forth, upon whose desperate and unconquerable theories so many fine heads have been turned and cracked—never did my uncle Toby's the least injury at all; my father knew it—and was no less surprized than he was disappointed, with my uncle's fortuitous solution.
Do you understand the theory of that affair? replied my father.
Not I, quoth my uncle.
—But you have some ideas, said my father, of what you talk about?
No more than my horse, replied my uncle Toby.
Gracious heaven! cried my father, looking upwards, and clasping his two hands together—there is a worth in thy honest ignorance, brother Toby—'twere almost a pity to exchange it for a knowledge.—But I'll tell thee.—
To understand what time is aright, without which we never can comprehend infinity, insomuch as one is a portion of the other—we ought seriously to sit down and consider what idea it is we have of duration, so as to give a satisfactory account how we came by it.—What is that to any body? quoth my uncle Toby. (Vide Locke.) For if you will turn your eyes inwards upon your mind, continued my father, and observe attentively, you will perceive, brother, that whilst you and I are talking together, and thinking, and smoking our pipes, or whilst we receive successively ideas in our minds, we know that we do exist, and so we estimate the existence, or the continuation of the existence of ourselves, or any thing else, commensurate to the succession of any ideas in our minds, the duration of ourselves, or any such other thing co-existing with our thinking—and so according to that preconceived—You puzzle me to death, cried my uncle Toby.
—'Tis owing to this, replied my father, that in our computations of time, we are so used to minutes, hours, weeks, and months—and of clocks (I wish there was not a clock in the kingdom) to measure out their several portions to us, and to those who belong to us—that 'twill be well, if in time to come, the succession of our ideas be of any use or service to us at all.
Now, whether we observe it or no, continued my father, in every sound man's head, there is a regular succession of ideas of one sort or other, which follow each other in train just like—A train of artillery? said my uncle Toby—A train of a fiddle-stick!—quoth my father—which follow and succeed one another in our minds at certain distances, just like the images in the inside of a lanthorn turned round by the heat of a candle.—I declare, quoth my uncle Toby, mine are more like a smoke-jack,—Then, brother Toby, I have nothing more to say to you upon that subject, said my father.
—What a conjuncture was here lost!—My father in one of his best explanatory moods—in eager pursuit of a metaphysical point into the very regions, where clouds and thick darkness would soon have encompassed it about;—my uncle Toby in one of the finest dispositions for it in the world;—his head like a smoke-jack;—the funnel unswept, and the ideas whirling round and round about in it, all obfuscated and darkened over with fuliginous matter!—By the tomb-stone of Lucian—if it is in being—if not, why then by his ashes! by the ashes of my dear Rabelais, and dearer Cervantes!—my father and my uncle Toby's discourse upon Time and Eternity—was a discourse devoutly to be wished for! and the petulancy of my father's humour, in putting a stop to it as he did, was a robbery of the Ontologic Treasury of such a jewel, as no coalition of great occasions and great men are ever likely to restore to it again.
Tho' my father persisted in not going on with the discourse—yet he could not get my uncle Toby's smoke-jack out of his head—piqued as he was at first with it;—there was something in the comparison at the bottom, which hit his fancy; for which purpose, resting his elbow upon the table, and reclining the right side of his head upon the palm of his hand—but looking first stedfastly in the fire—he began to commune with himself, and philosophize about it: but his spirits being wore out with the fatigues of investigating new tracts, and the constant exertion of his faculties upon that variety of subjects which had taken their turn in the discourse—the idea of the smoke jack soon turned all his ideas upside down—so that he fell asleep almost before he knew what he was about.
As for my uncle Toby, his smoke-jack had not made a dozen revolutions, before he fell asleep also.—Peace be with them both!—Dr. Slop is engaged with the midwife and my mother above stairs.—Trim is busy in turning an old pair of jack-boots into a couple of mortars, to be employed in the siege of Messina next summer—and is this instant boring the touch-holes with the point of a hot poker.—All my heroes are off my hands;—'tis the first time I have had a moment to spare—and I'll make use of it, and write my preface.
The Author's Preface
No, I'll not say a word about it—here it is;—in publishing it—I have appealed to the world—and to the world I leave it;—it must speak for itself.
All I know of the matter is—when I sat down, my intent was to write a good book; and as far as the tenuity of my understanding would hold out—a wise, aye, and a discreet—taking care only, as I went along, to put into it all the wit and the judgment (be it more or less) which the great Author and Bestower of them had thought fit originally to give me—so that, as your worships see—'tis just as God pleases.
Now, Agalastes (speaking dispraisingly) sayeth, That there may be some wit in it, for aught he knows—but no judgment at all. And Triptolemus and Phutatorius agreeing thereto, ask, How is it possible there should? for that wit and judgment in this world never go together; inasmuch as they are two operations differing from each other as wide as east from west—So, says Locke—so are farting and hickuping, say I. But in answer to this, Didius the great church lawyer, in his code de fartendi et illustrandi fallaciis, doth maintain and make fully appear, That an illustration is no argument—nor do I maintain the wiping of a looking-glass clean to be a syllogism;—but you all, may it please your worships, see the better for it—so that the main good these things do is only to clarify the understanding, previous to the application of the argument itself, in order to free it from any little motes, or specks of opacular matter, which, if left swimming therein, might hinder a conception and spoil all.
Now, my dear anti-Shandeans, and thrice able criticks, and fellow-labourers (for to you I write this Preface)—and to you, most subtle statesmen and discreet doctors (do—pull off your beards) renowned for gravity and wisdom;—Monopolus, my politician—Didius, my counsel; Kysarcius, my friend;—Phutatorius, my guide;—Gastripheres, the preserver of my life; Somnolentius, the balm and repose of it—not forgetting all others, as well sleeping as waking, ecclesiastical as civil, whom for brevity, but out of no resentment to you, I lump all together.—Believe me, right worthy,
My most zealous wish and fervent prayer in your behalf, and in my own too, in case the thing is not done already for us—is, that the great gifts and endowments both of wit and judgment, with every thing which usually goes along with them—such as memory, fancy, genius, eloquence, quick parts, and what not, may this precious moment, without stint or measure, let or hindrance, be poured down warm as each of us could bear it—scum and sediment and all (for I would not have a drop lost) into the several receptacles, cells, cellules, domiciles, dormitories, refectories, and spare places of our brains—in such sort, that they might continue to be injected and tunn'd into, according to the true intent and meaning of my wish, until every vessel of them, both great and small, be so replenish'd, saturated, and filled up therewith, that no more, would it save a man's life, could possibly be got either in or out.
Bless us!—what noble work we should make!—how should I tickle it off!—and what spirits should I find myself in, to be writing away for such readers!—and you—just heaven!—with what raptures would you sit and read—but oh!—'tis too much—I am sick—I faint away deliciously at the thoughts of it—'tis more than nature can bear!—lay hold of me—I am giddy—I am stone blind—I'm dying—I am gone.—Help! Help! Help!—But hold—I grow something better again, for I am beginning to foresee, when this is over, that as we shall all of us continue to be great wits—we should never agree amongst ourselves, one day to an end:—there would be so much satire and sarcasm—scoffing and flouting, with raillying and reparteeing of it—thrusting and parrying in one corner or another—there would be nothing but mischief among us—Chaste stars! what biting and scratching, and what a racket and a clatter we should make, what with breaking of heads, rapping of knuckles, and hitting of sore places—there would be no such thing as living for us.
But then again, as we should all of us be men of great judgment, we should make up matters as fast as ever they went wrong; and though we should abominate each other ten times worse than so many devils or devilesses, we should nevertheless, my dear creatures, be all courtesy and kindness, milk and honey—'twould be a second land of promise—a paradise upon earth, if there was such a thing to be had—so that upon the whole we should have done well enough.
All I fret and fume at, and what most distresses my invention at present, is how to bring the point itself to bear; for as your worships well know, that of these heavenly emanations of wit and judgment, which I have so bountifully wished both for your worships and myself—there is but a certain quantum stored up for us all, for the use and behoof of the whole race of mankind; and such small modicums of 'em are only sent forth into this wide world, circulating here and there in one bye corner or another—and in such narrow streams, and at such prodigious intervals from each other, that one would wonder how it holds out, or could be sufficient for the wants and emergencies of so many great estates, and populous empires.
Indeed there is one thing to be considered, that in Nova Zembla, North Lapland, and in all those cold and dreary tracks of the globe, which lie more directly under the arctick and antartick circles, where the whole province of a man's concernments lies for near nine months together within the narrow compass of his cave—where the spirits are compressed almost to nothing—and where the passions of a man, with every thing which belongs to them, are as frigid as the zone itself—there the least quantity of judgment imaginable does the business—and of wit—there is a total and an absolute saving—for as not one spark is wanted—so not one spark is given. Angels and ministers of grace defend us! what a dismal thing would it have been to have governed a kingdom, to have fought a battle, or made a treaty, or run a match, or wrote a book, or got a child, or held a provincial chapter there, with so plentiful a lack of wit and judgment about us! For mercy's sake, let us think no more about it, but travel on as fast as we can southwards into Norway—crossing over Swedeland, if you please, through the small triangular province of Angermania to the lake of Bothmia; coasting along it through east and west Bothnia, down to Carelia, and so on, through all those states and provinces which border upon the far side of the Gulf of Finland, and the north-east of the Baltick, up to Petersbourg, and just stepping into Ingria;—then stretching over directly from thence through the north parts of the Russian empire—leaving Siberia a little upon the left hand, till we got into the very heart of Russian and Asiatick Tartary.
Now through this long tour which I have led you, you observe the good people are better off by far, than in the polar countries which we have just left:—for if you hold your hand over your eyes, and look very attentively, you may perceive some small glimmerings (as it were) of wit, with a comfortable provision of good plain houshold judgment, which, taking the quality and quantity of it together, they make a very good shift with—and had they more of either the one or the other, it would destroy the proper balance betwixt them, and I am satisfied moreover they would want occasions to put them to use.
Now, Sir, if I conduct you home again into this warmer and more luxuriant island, where you perceive the spring-tide of our blood and humours runs high—where we have more ambition, and pride, and envy, and lechery, and other whoreson passions upon our hands to govern and subject to reason—the height of our wit, and the depth of our judgment, you see, are exactly proportioned to the length and breadth of our necessities—and accordingly we have them sent down amongst us in such a flowing kind of decent and creditable plenty, that no one thinks he has any cause to complain.
It must however be confessed on this head, that, as our air blows hot and cold—wet and dry, ten times in a day, we have them in no regular and settled way;—so that sometimes for near half a century together, there shall be very little wit or judgment either to be seen or heard of amongst us:—the small channels of them shall seem quite dried up—then all of a sudden the sluices shall break out, and take a fit of running again like fury—you would think they would never stop:—and then it is, that in writing, and fighting, and twenty other gallant things, we drive all the world before us.
It is by these observations, and a wary reasoning by analogy in that kind of argumentative process, which Suidas calls dialectick induction—that I draw and set up this position as most true and veritable;
That of these two luminaries so much of their irradiations are suffered from time to time to shine down upon us, as he, whose infinite wisdom which dispenses every thing in exact weight and measure, knows will just serve to light us on our way in this night of our obscurity; so that your reverences and worships now find out, nor is it a moment longer in my power to conceal it from you, That the fervent wish in your behalf with which I set out, was no more than the first insinuating How d'ye of a caressing prefacer, stifling his reader, as a lover sometimes does a coy mistress, into silence. For alas! could this effusion of light have been as easily procured, as the exordium wished it—I tremble to think how many thousands for it, of benighted travellers (in the learned sciences at least) must have groped and blundered on in the dark, all the nights of their lives—running their heads against posts, and knocking out their brains without ever getting to their journies end;—some falling with their noses perpendicularly into sinks—others horizontally with their tails into kennels. Here one half of a learned profession tilting full but against the other half of it, and then tumbling and rolling one over the other in the dirt like hogs.—Here the brethren of another profession, who should have run in opposition to each other, flying on the contrary like a flock of wild geese, all in a row the same way.—What confusion!—what mistakes!—fiddlers and painters judging by their eyes and ears—admirable!—trusting to the passions excited—in an air sung, or a story painted to the heart—instead of measuring them by a quadrant.
In the fore-ground of this picture, a statesman turning the political wheel, like a brute, the wrong way round—against the stream of corruption—by Heaven!—instead of with it.
In this corner, a son of the divine Esculapius, writing a book against predestination; perhaps worse—feeling his patient's pulse, instead of his apothecary's—a brother of the Faculty in the back-ground upon his knees in tears—drawing the curtains of a mangled victim to beg his forgiveness;—offering a fee—instead of taking one.
In that spacious Hall, a coalition of the gown, from all the bars of it, driving a damn'd, dirty, vexatious cause before them, with all their might and main, the wrong way!—kicking it out of the great doors, instead of, in—and with such fury in their looks, and such a degree of inveteracy in their manner of kicking it, as if the laws had been originally made for the peace and preservation of mankind:—perhaps a more enormous mistake committed by them still—a litigated point fairly hung up;—for instance, Whether John o'Nokes his nose could stand in Tom o'Stiles his face, without a trespass, or not—rashly determined by them in five-and-twenty minutes, which, with the cautious pros and cons required in so intricate a proceeding, might have taken up as many months—and if carried on upon a military plan, as your honours know an Action should be, with all the stratagems practicable therein,—such as feints,—forced marches,—surprizes—ambuscades—mask-batteries, and a thousand other strokes of generalship, which consist in catching at all advantages on both sides—might reasonably have lasted them as many years, finding food and raiment all that term for a centumvirate of the profession.
As for the Clergy—No—if I say a word against them, I'll be shot.—I have no desire; and besides, if I had—I durst not for my soul touch upon the subject—with such weak nerves and spirits, and in the condition I am in at present, 'twould be as much as my life was worth, to deject and contrist myself with so bad and melancholy an account—and therefore 'tis safer to draw a curtain across, and hasten from it, as fast as I can, to the main and principal point I have undertaken to clear up—and that is, How it comes to pass, that your men of least wit are reported to be men of most judgment.—But mark—I say, reported to be—for it is no more, my dear Sirs, than a report, and which, like twenty others taken up every day upon trust, I maintain to be a vile and a malicious report into the bargain.
This by the help of the observation already premised, and I hope already weighed and perpended by your reverences and worships, I shall forthwith make appear.
I hate set dissertations—and above all things in the world, 'tis one of the silliest things in one of them, to darken your hypothesis by placing a number of tall, opake words, one before another, in a right line, betwixt your own and your reader's conception—when in all likelihood, if you had looked about, you might have seen something standing, or hanging up, which would have cleared the point at once—'for what hindrance, hurt, or harm doth the laudable desire of knowledge bring to any man, if even from a sot, a pot, a fool, a stool, a winter-mittain, a truckle for a pully, the lid of a goldsmith's crucible, an oil bottle, an old slipper, or a cane chair?'—I am this moment sitting upon one. Will you give me leave to illustrate this affair of wit and judgment, by the two knobs on the top of the back of it?—they are fastened on, you see, with two pegs stuck slightly into two gimlet-holes, and will place what I have to say in so clear a light, as to let you see through the drift and meaning of my whole preface, as plainly as if every point and particle of it was made up of sun-beams.
I enter now directly upon the point.
—Here stands wit—and there stands judgment, close beside it, just like the two knobs I'm speaking of, upon the back of this self-same chair on which I am sitting.
—You see, they are the highest and most ornamental parts of its frame—as wit and judgment are of ours—and like them too, indubitably both made and fitted to go together, in order, as we say in all such cases of duplicated embellishments—to answer one another.
Now for the sake of an experiment, and for the clearer illustrating this matter—let us for a moment take off one of these two curious ornaments (I care not which) from the point or pinnacle of the chair it now stands on—nay, don't laugh at it,—but did you ever see, in the whole course of your lives, such a ridiculous business as this has made of it?—Why, 'tis as miserable a sight as a sow with one ear; and there is just as much sense and symmetry in the one as in the other:—do—pray, get off your seats only to take a view of it,—Now would any man who valued his character a straw, have turned a piece of work out of his hand in such a condition?—nay, lay your hands upon your hearts, and answer this plain question, Whether this one single knob, which now stands here like a blockhead by itself, can serve any purpose upon earth, but to put one in mind of the want of the other?—and let me farther ask, in case the chair was your own, if you would not in your consciences think, rather than be as it is, that it would be ten times better without any knob at all?
Now these two knobs—or top ornaments of the mind of man, which crown the whole entablature—being, as I said, wit and judgment, which of all others, as I have proved it, are the most needful—the most priz'd—the most calamitous to be without, and consequently the hardest to come at—for all these reasons put together, there is not a mortal among us, so destitute of a love of good fame or feeding—or so ignorant of what will do him good therein—who does not wish and stedfastly resolve in his own mind, to be, or to be thought at least, master of the one or the other, and indeed of both of them, if the thing seems any way feasible, or likely to be brought to pass.
Now your graver gentry having little or no kind of chance in aiming at the one—unless they laid hold of the other,—pray what do you think would become of them?—Why, Sirs, in spite of all their gravities, they must e'en have been contented to have gone with their insides naked—this was not to be borne, but by an effort of philosophy not to be supposed in the case we are upon—so that no one could well have been angry with them, had they been satisfied with what little they could have snatched up and secreted under their cloaks and great perriwigs, had they not raised a hue and cry at the same time against the lawful owners.
I need not tell your worships, that this was done with so much cunning and artifice—that the great Locke, who was seldom outwitted by false sounds—was nevertheless bubbled here. The cry, it seems, was so deep and solemn a one, and what with the help of great wigs, grave faces, and other implements of deceit, was rendered so general a one against the poor wits in this matter, that the philosopher himself was deceived by it—it was his glory to free the world from the lumber of a thousand vulgar errors;—but this was not of the number; so that instead of sitting down coolly, as such a philosopher should have done, to have examined the matter of fact before he philosophised upon it—on the contrary he took the fact for granted, and so joined in with the cry, and halloo'd it as boisterously as the rest.
This has been made the Magna Charta of stupidity ever since—but your reverences plainly see, it has been obtained in such a manner, that the title to it is not worth a groat:—which by-the-bye is one of the many and vile impositions which gravity and grave folks have to answer for hereafter.
As for great wigs, upon which I may be thought to have spoken my mind too freely—I beg leave to qualify whatever has been unguardedly said to their dispraise or prejudice, by one general declaration—That I have no abhorrence whatever, nor do I detest and abjure either great wigs or long beards, any farther than when I see they are bespoke and let grow on purpose to carry on this self-same imposture—for any purpose—peace be with them!—> mark only—I write not for them.
Every day for at least ten years together did my father resolve to have it mended—'tis not mended yet;—no family but ours would have borne with it an hour—and what is most astonishing, there was not a subject in the world upon which my father was so eloquent, as upon that of door-hinges.—And yet at the same time, he was certainly one of the greatest bubbles to them, I think, that history can produce: his rhetorick and conduct were at perpetual handy-cuffs.—Never did the parlour-door open—but his philosophy or his principles fell a victim to it;—three drops of oil with a feather, and a smart stroke of a hammer, had saved his honour for ever.
—Inconsistent soul that man is!—languishing under wounds, which he has the power to heal!—his whole life a contradiction to his knowledge!—his reason, that precious gift of God to him—(instead of pouring in oil) serving but to sharpen his sensibilities—to multiply his pains, and render him more melancholy and uneasy under them!—Poor unhappy creature, that he should do so!—Are not the necessary causes of misery in this life enow, but he must add voluntary ones to his stock of sorrow;—struggle against evils which cannot be avoided, and submit to others, which a tenth part of the trouble they create him would remove from his heart for ever?
By all that is good and virtuous, if there are three drops of oil to be got, and a hammer to be found within ten miles of Shandy Hall—the parlour door hinge shall be mended this reign.
When Corporal Trim had brought his two mortars to bear, he was delighted with his handy-work above measure; and knowing what a pleasure it would be to his master to see them, he was not able to resist the desire he had of carrying them directly into his parlour.
Now next to the moral lesson I had in view in mentioning the affair of hinges, I had a speculative consideration arising out of it, and it is this.
Had the parlour door opened and turn'd upon its hinges, as a door should do—
Or for example, as cleverly as our government has been turning upon its hinges—(that is, in case things have all along gone well with your worship,—otherwise I give up my simile)—in this case, I say, there had been no danger either to master or man, in corporal Trim's peeping in: the moment he had beheld my father and my uncle Toby fast asleep—the respectfulness of his carriage was such, he would have retired as silent as death, and left them both in their arm-chairs, dreaming as happy as he had found them: but the thing was, morally speaking, so very impracticable, that for the many years in which this hinge was suffered to be out of order, and amongst the hourly grievances my father submitted to upon its account—this was one; that he never folded his arms to take his nap after dinner, but the thoughts of being unavoidably awakened by the first person who should open the door, was always uppermost in his imagination, and so incessantly stepp'd in betwixt him and the first balmy presage of his repose, as to rob him, as he often declared, of the whole sweets of it.
'When things move upon bad hinges, an' please your lordships, how can it be otherwise?'
Pray what's the matter? Who is there? cried my father, waking, the moment the door began to creak.—I wish the smith would give a peep at that confounded hinge.—'Tis nothing, an please your honour, said Trim, but two mortars I am bringing in.—They shan't make a clatter with them here, cried my father hastily.—If Dr. Slop has any drugs to pound, let him do it in the kitchen.—May it please your honour, cried Trim, they are two mortar-pieces for a siege next summer, which I have been making out of a pair of jack-boots, which Obadiah told me your honour had left off wearing.—By Heaven! cried my father, springing out of his chair, as he swore—I have not one appointment belonging to me, which I set so much store by as I do by these jack-boots—they were our great grandfather's brother Toby—they were hereditary. Then I fear, quoth my uncle Toby, Trim has cut off the entail.—I have only cut off the tops, an' please your honour, cried Trim—I hate perpetuities as much as any man alive, cried my father—but these jack-boots, continued he (smiling, though very angry at the same time) have been in the family, brother, ever since the civil wars;—Sir Roger Shandy wore them at the battle of Marston-Moor.—I declare I would not have taken ten pounds for them.—I'll pay you the money, brother Shandy, quoth my uncle Toby, looking at the two mortars with infinite pleasure, and putting his hand into his breeches pocket as he viewed them—I'll pay you the ten pounds this moment with all my heart and soul.—
Brother Toby, replied my father, altering his tone, you care not what money you dissipate and throw away, provided, continued he, 'tis but upon a Siege.—Have I not one hundred and twenty pounds a year, besides my half pay? cried my uncle Toby.—What is that—replied my father hastily—to ten pounds for a pair of jack-boots?—twelve guineas for your pontoons?—half as much for your Dutch draw-bridge?—to say nothing of the train of little brass artillery you bespoke last week, with twenty other preparations for the siege of Messina: believe me, dear brother Toby, continued my father, taking him kindly by the hand—these military operations of yours are above your strength;—you mean well brother—but they carry you into greater expences than you were first aware of;—and take my word, dear Toby, they will in the end quite ruin your fortune, and make a beggar of you.—What signifies it if they do, brother, replied my uncle Toby, so long as we know 'tis for the good of the nation?—
My father could not help smiling for his soul—his anger at the worst was never more than a spark;—and the zeal and simplicity of Trim—and the generous (though hobby-horsical) gallantry of my uncle Toby, brought him into perfect good humour with them in an instant.
Generous souls!—God prosper you both, and your mortar-pieces too! quoth my father to himself.
All is quiet and hush, cried my father, at least above stairs—I hear not one foot stirring.—Prithee Trim, who's in the kitchen? There is no one soul in the kitchen, answered Trim, making a low bow as he spoke, except Dr. Slop.—Confusion! cried my father (getting upon his legs a second time)—not one single thing has gone right this day! had I faith in astrology, brother, (which, by the bye, my father had) I would have sworn some retrograde planet was hanging over this unfortunate house of mine, and turning every individual thing in it out of its place.—Why, I thought Dr. Slop had been above stairs with my wife, and so said you.—What can the fellow be puzzling about in the kitchen!—He is busy, an' please your honour, replied Trim, in making a bridge.—'Tis very obliging in him, quoth my uncle Toby:—pray, give my humble service to Dr. Slop, Trim, and tell him I thank him heartily.
You must know, my uncle Toby mistook the bridge—as widely as my father mistook the mortars:—but to understand how my uncle Toby could mistake the bridge—I fear I must give you an exact account of the road which led to it;—or to drop my metaphor (for there is nothing more dishonest in an historian than the use of one)—in order to conceive the probability of this error in my uncle Toby aright, I must give you some account of an adventure of Trim's, though much against my will, I say much against my will, only because the story, in one sense, is certainly out of its place here; for by right it should come in, either amongst the anecdotes of my uncle Toby's amours with widow Wadman, in which corporal Trim was no mean actor—or else in the middle of his and my uncle Toby's campaigns on the bowling-green—for it will do very well in either place;—but then if I reserve it for either of those parts of my story—I ruin the story I'm upon;—and if I tell it here—I anticipate matters, and ruin it there.
—What would your worship have me to do in this case?
—Tell it, Mr. Shandy, by all means.—You are a fool, Tristram, if you do.
O ye powers! (for powers ye are, and great ones too)—which enable mortal man to tell a story worth the hearing—that kindly shew him, where he is to begin it—and where he is to end it—what he is to put into it—and what he is to leave out—how much of it he is to cast into a shade—and whereabouts he is to throw his light!—Ye, who preside over this vast empire of biographical freebooters, and see how many scrapes and plunges your subjects hourly fall into;—will you do one thing?
I beg and beseech you (in case you will do nothing better for us) that wherever in any part of your dominions it so falls out, that three several roads meet in one point, as they have done just here—that at least you set up a guide-post in the centre of them, in mere charity, to direct an uncertain devil which of the three he is to take.
Tho' the shock my uncle Toby received the year after the demolition of Dunkirk, in his affair with widow Wadman, had fixed him in a resolution never more to think of the sex—or of aught which belonged to it;—yet corporal Trim had made no such bargain with himself. Indeed in my uncle Toby's case there was a strange and unaccountable concurrence of circumstances, which insensibly drew him in, to lay siege to that fair and strong citadel.—In Trim's case there was a concurrence of nothing in the world, but of him and Bridget in the kitchen;—though in truth, the love and veneration he bore his master was such, and so fond was he of imitating him in all he did, that had my uncle Toby employed his time and genius in tagging of points—I am persuaded the honest corporal would have laid down his arms, and followed his example with pleasure. When therefore my uncle Toby sat down before the mistress—corporal Trim incontinently took ground before the maid.
Now, my dear friend Garrick, whom I have so much cause to esteem and honour—(why, or wherefore, 'tis no matter)—can it escape your penetration—I defy it—that so many play-wrights, and opificers of chit-chat have ever since been working upon Trim's and my uncle Toby's pattern.—I care not what Aristotle, or Pacuvius, or Bossu, or Ricaboni say—(though I never read one of them)—there is not a greater difference between a single-horse chair and madam Pompadour's vis-a-vis; than betwixt a single amour, and an amour thus nobly doubled, and going upon all four, prancing throughout a grand drama—Sir, a simple, single, silly affair of that kind—is quite lost in five acts—but that is neither here nor there.
After a series of attacks and repulses in a course of nine months on my uncle Toby's quarter, a most minute account of every particular of which shall be given in its proper place, my uncle Toby, honest man! found it necessary to draw off his forces and raise the siege somewhat indignantly.
Corporal Trim, as I said, had made no such bargain either with himself—or with any one else—the fidelity however of his heart not suffering him to go into a house which his master had forsaken with disgust—he contented himself with turning his part of the siege into a blockade;—that is, he kept others off;—for though he never after went to the house, yet he never met Bridget in the village, but he would either nod or wink, or smile, or look kindly at her—or (as circumstances directed) he would shake her by the hand—or ask her lovingly how she did—or would give her a ribbon—and now-and-then, though never but when it could be done with decorum, would give Bridget a...—
Precisely in this situation, did these things stand for five years; that is from the demolition of Dunkirk in the year 13, to the latter end of my uncle Toby's campaign in the year 18, which was about six or seven weeks before the time I'm speaking of.—When Trim, as his custom was, after he had put my uncle Toby to bed, going down one moon-shiny night to see that every thing was right at his fortifications—in the lane separated from the bowling-green with flowering shrubs and holly—he espied his Bridget.
As the corporal thought there was nothing in the world so well worth shewing as the glorious works which he and my uncle Toby had made, Trim courteously and gallantly took her by the hand, and led her in: this was not done so privately, but that the foul-mouth'd trumpet of Fame carried it from ear to ear, till at length it reach'd my father's, with this untoward circumstance along with it, that my uncle Toby's curious draw-bridge, constructed and painted after the Dutch fashion, and which went quite across the ditch—was broke down, and somehow or other crushed all to pieces that very night.
My father, as you have observed, had no great esteem for my uncle Toby's hobby-horse; he thought it the most ridiculous horse that ever gentleman mounted; and indeed unless my uncle Toby vexed him about it, could never think of it once, without smiling at it—so that it could never get lame or happen any mischance, but it tickled my father's imagination beyond measure; but this being an accident much more to his humour than any one which had yet befall'n it, it proved an inexhaustible fund of entertainment to him—Well—but dear Toby! my father would say, do tell me seriously how this affair of the bridge happened.—How can you teaze me so much about it? my uncle Toby would reply—I have told it you twenty times, word for word as Trim told it me.—Prithee, how was it then, corporal? my father would cry, turning to Trim.—It was a mere misfortune, an' please your honour;—I was shewing Mrs. Bridget our fortifications, and in going too near the edge of the fosse, I unfortunately slipp'd in—Very well, Trim! my father would cry—(smiling mysteriously, and giving a nod—but without interrupting him)—and being link'd fast, an' please your honour, arm in arm with Mrs. Bridget, I dragg'd her after me, by means of which she fell backwards soss against the bridge—and Trim's foot (my uncle Toby would cry, taking the story out of his mouth) getting into the cuvette, he tumbled full against the bridge too.—It was a thousand to one, my uncle Toby would add, that the poor fellow did not break his leg.—Ay truly, my father would say—a limb is soon broke, brother Toby, in such encounters.—And so, an' please your honour, the bridge, which your honour knows was a very slight one, was broke down betwixt us, and splintered all to pieces.
At other times, but especially when my uncle Toby was so unfortunate as to say a syllable about cannons, bombs, or petards—my father would exhaust all the stores of his eloquence (which indeed were very great) in a panegyric upon the Battering-Rams of the ancients—the Vinea which Alexander made use of at the siege of Troy.—He would tell my uncle Toby of the Catapultae of the Syrians, which threw such monstrous stones so many hundred feet, and shook the strongest bulwarks from their very foundation:—he would go on and describe the wonderful mechanism of the Ballista which Marcellinus makes so much rout about!—the terrible effects of the Pyraboli, which cast fire;—the danger of the Terebra and Scorpio, which cast javelins.—But what are these, would he say, to the destructive machinery of corporal Trim?—Believe me, brother Toby, no bridge, or bastion, or sally-port, that ever was constructed in this world, can hold out against such artillery.
My uncle Toby would never attempt any defence against the force of this ridicule, but that of redoubling the vehemence of smoaking his pipe; in doing which, he raised so dense a vapour one night after supper, that it set my father, who was a little phthisical, into a suffocating fit of violent coughing: my uncle Toby leap'd up without feeling the pain upon his groin—and, with infinite pity, stood beside his brother's chair, tapping his back with one hand, and holding his head with the other, and from time to time wiping his eyes with a clean cambrick handkerchief, which he pulled out of his pocket.—The affectionate and endearing manner in which my uncle Toby did these little offices—cut my father thro' his reins, for the pain he had just been giving him.—May my brains be knock'd out with a battering-ram or a catapulta, I care not which, quoth my father to himself—if ever I insult this worthy soul more!
The draw-bridge being held irreparable, Trim was ordered directly to set about another—but not upon the same model: for cardinal Alberoni's intrigues at that time being discovered, and my uncle Toby rightly foreseeing that a flame would inevitably break out betwixt Spain and the Empire, and that the operations of the ensuing campaign must in all likelihood be either in Naples or Sicily—he determined upon an Italian bridge—(my uncle Toby, by-the-bye, was not far out of his conjectures)—but my father, who was infinitely the better politician, and took the lead as far of my uncle Toby in the cabinet, as my uncle Toby took it of him in the field—convinced him, that if the king of Spain and the Emperor went together by the ears, England and France and Holland must, by force of their pre-engagements, all enter the lists too;—and if so, he would say, the combatants, brother Toby, as sure as we are alive, will fall to it again, pell-mell, upon the old prize-fighting stage of Flanders;—then what will you do with your Italian bridge?
—We will go on with it then upon the old model, cried my uncle Toby.
When corporal Trim had about half finished it in that style—my uncle Toby found out a capital defect in it, which he had never thoroughly considered before. It turned, it seems, upon hinges at both ends of it, opening in the middle, one half of which turning to one side of the fosse, and the other to the other; the advantage of which was this, that by dividing the weight of the bridge into two equal portions, it impowered my uncle Toby to raise it up or let it down with the end of his crutch, and with one hand, which, as his garrison was weak, was as much as he could well spare—but the disadvantages of such a construction were insurmountable;—for by this means, he would say, I leave one half of my bridge in my enemy's possession—and pray of what use is the other?
The natural remedy for this was, no doubt, to have his bridge fast only at one end with hinges, so that the whole might be lifted up together, and stand bolt upright—but that was rejected for the reason given above.
For a whole week after he was determined in his mind to have one of that particular construction which is made to draw back horizontally, to hinder a passage; and to thrust forwards again to gain a passage—of which sorts your worship might have seen three famous ones at Spires before its destruction—and one now at Brisac, if I mistake not;—but my father advising my uncle Toby, with great earnestness, to have nothing more to do with thrusting bridges—and my uncle foreseeing moreover that it would but perpetuate the memory of the Corporal's misfortune—he changed his mind for that of the marquis d'Hopital's invention, which the younger Bernouilli has so well and learnedly described, as your worships may see—Act. Erud. Lips. an. 1695—to these a lead weight is an eternal balance, and keeps watch as well as a couple of centinels, inasmuch as the construction of them was a curve line approximating to a cycloid—if not a cycloid itself.
My uncle Toby understood the nature of a parabola as well as any man in England—but was not quite such a master of the cycloid;—he talked however about it every day—the bridge went not forwards.—We'll ask somebody about it, cried my uncle Toby to Trim.
When Trim came in and told my father, that Dr. Slop was in the kitchen, and busy in making a bridge—my uncle Toby—the affair of the jack-boots having just then raised a train of military ideas in his brain—took it instantly for granted that Dr. Slop was making a model of the marquis d'Hopital's bridge.—'tis very obliging in him, quoth my uncle Toby;—pray give my humble service to Dr. Slop, Trim, and tell him I thank him heartily.
Had my uncle Toby's head been a Savoyard's box, and my father peeping in all the time at one end of it—it could not have given him a more distinct conception of the operations of my uncle Toby's imagination, than what he had; so, notwithstanding the catapulta and battering-ram, and his bitter imprecation about them, he was just beginning to triumph—
When Trim's answer, in an instant, tore the laurel from his brows, and twisted it to pieces.
—This unfortunate draw-bridge of yours, quoth my father—God bless your honour, cried Trim, 'tis a bridge for master's nose.—In bringing him into the world with his vile instruments, he has crushed his nose, Susannah says, as flat as a pancake to his face, and he is making a false bridge with a piece of cotton and a thin piece of whalebone out of Susannah's stays, to raise it up.
—Lead me, brother Toby, cried my father, to my room this instant.
From the first moment I sat down to write my life for the amusement of the world, and my opinions for its instruction, has a cloud insensibly been gathering over my father.—A tide of little evils and distresses has been setting in against him.—Not one thing, as he observed himself, has gone right: and now is the storm thicken'd and going to break, and pour down full upon his head.
I enter upon this part of my story in the most pensive and melancholy frame of mind that ever sympathetic breast was touched with.—My nerves relax as I tell it.—Every line I write, I feel an abatement of the quickness of my pulse, and of that careless alacrity with it, which every day of my life prompts me to say and write a thousand things I should not—And this moment that I last dipp'd my pen into my ink, I could not help taking notice what a cautious air of sad composure and solemnity there appear'd in my manner of doing it.—Lord! how different from the rash jerks and hair-brain'd squirts thou art wont, Tristram, to transact it with in other humours—dropping thy pen—spurting thy ink about thy table and thy books—as if thy pen and thy ink, thy books and furniture cost thee nothing!
—I won't go about to argue the point with you—'tis so—and I am persuaded of it, madam, as much as can be, 'That both man and woman bear pain or sorrow (and, for aught I know, pleasure too) best in a horizontal position.'
The moment my father got up into his chamber, he threw himself prostrate across his bed in the wildest disorder imaginable, but at the same time in the most lamentable attitude of a man borne down with sorrows, that ever the eye of pity dropp'd a tear for.—The palm of his right hand, as he fell upon the bed, receiving his forehead, and covering the greatest part of both his eyes, gently sunk down with his head (his elbow giving way backwards) till his nose touch'd the quilt;—his left arm hung insensible over the side of the bed, his knuckles reclining upon the handle of the chamber-pot, which peep'd out beyond the valance—his right leg (his left being drawn up towards his body) hung half over the side of the bed, the edge of it pressing upon his shin bone—He felt it not. A fix'd, inflexible sorrow took possession of every line of his face.—He sigh'd once—heaved his breast often—but uttered not a word.
An old set-stitch'd chair, valanced and fringed around with party coloured worsted bobs, stood at the bed's head, opposite to the side where my father's head reclined.—My uncle Toby sat him down in it.
Before an affliction is digested—consolation ever comes too soon;—and after it is digested—it comes too late: so that you see, madam, there is but a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to take aim at:—my uncle Toby was always either on this side, or on that of it, and would often say, he believed in his heart he could as soon hit the longitude; for this reason, when he sat down in the chair, he drew the curtain a little forwards, and having a tear at every one's service—he pull'd out a cambrick handkerchief—gave a low sigh—but held his peace.
—'All is not gain that is got into the purse.'—So that notwithstanding my father had the happiness of reading the oddest books in the universe, and had moreover, in himself, the oddest way of thinking that ever man in it was bless'd with, yet it had this drawback upon him after all—that it laid him open to some of the oddest and most whimsical distresses; of which this particular one, which he sunk under at present, is as strong an example as can be given.
No doubt, the breaking down of the bridge of a child's nose, by the edge of a pair of forceps—however scientifically applied—would vex any man in the world, who was at so much pains in begetting a child, as my father was—yet it will not account for the extravagance of his affliction, nor will it justify the un-christian manner he abandoned and surrendered himself up to.
To explain this, I must leave him upon the bed for half an hour—and my uncle Toby in his old fringed chair sitting beside him.
—I think it a very unreasonable demand—cried my great-grandfather, twisting up the paper, and throwing it upon the table.—By this account, madam, you have but two thousand pounds fortune, and not a shilling more—and you insist upon having three hundred pounds a year jointure for it.—
—'Because,' replied my great-grandmother, 'you have little or no nose, Sir.'—
Now before I venture to make use of the word Nose a second time—to avoid all confusion in what will be said upon it, in this interesting part of my story, it may not be amiss to explain my own meaning, and define, with all possible exactness and precision, what I would willingly be understood to mean by the term: being of opinion, that 'tis owing to the negligence and perverseness of writers in despising this precaution, and to nothing else—that all the polemical writings in divinity are not as clear and demonstrative as those upon a Will o' the Wisp, or any other sound part of philosophy, and natural pursuit; in order to which, what have you to do, before you set out, unless you intend to go puzzling on to the day of judgment—but to give the world a good definition, and stand to it, of the main word you have most occasion for—changing it, Sir, as you would a guinea, into small coin?—which done—let the father of confusion puzzle you, if he can; or put a different idea either into your head, or your reader's head, if he knows how.
In books of strict morality and close reasoning, such as I am engaged in—the neglect is inexcusable; and Heaven is witness, how the world has revenged itself upon me for leaving so many openings to equivocal strictures—and for depending so much as I have done, all along, upon the cleanliness of my readers imaginations.
—Here are two senses, cried Eugenius, as we walk'd along, pointing with the fore finger of his right hand to the word Crevice, in the one hundred and seventy-eighth page of the first volume of this book of books,—here are two senses—quoth he.—And here are two roads, replied I, turning short upon him—a dirty and a clean one—which shall we take?—The clean, by all means, replied Eugenius. Eugenius, said I, stepping before him, and laying my hand upon his breast—to define—is to distrust.—Thus I triumph'd over Eugenius; but I triumph'd over him as I always do, like a fool.—'Tis my comfort, however, I am not an obstinate one: therefore
I define a nose as follows—intreating only beforehand, and beseeching my readers, both male and female, of what age, complexion, and condition soever, for the love of God and their own souls, to guard against the temptations and suggestions of the devil, and suffer him by no art or wile to put any other ideas into their minds, than what I put into my definition—For by the word Nose, throughout all this long chapter of noses, and in every other part of my work, where the word Nose occurs—I declare, by that word I mean a nose, and nothing more, or less.
—'Because,' quoth my great grandmother, repeating the words again—'you have little or no nose, Sir.'—
S'death! cried my great-grandfather, clapping his hand upon his nose,—'tis not so small as that comes to;—'tis a full inch longer than my father's.—Now, my great-grandfather's nose was for all the world like unto the noses of all the men, women, and children, whom Pantagruel found dwelling upon the island of Ennasin.—By the way, if you would know the strange way of getting a-kin amongst so flat-nosed a people—you must read the book;—find it out yourself, you never can.—
—'Twas shaped, Sir, like an ace of clubs.
—'Tis a full inch, continued my grandfather, pressing up the ridge of his nose with his finger and thumb; and repeating his assertion—'tis a full inch longer, madam, than my father's—You must mean your uncle's, replied my great-grandmother.
—My great-grandfather was convinced.—He untwisted the paper, and signed the article.
—What an unconscionable jointure, my dear, do we pay out of this small estate of ours, quoth my grandmother to my grandfather.
My father, replied my grandfather, had no more nose, my dear, saving the mark, than there is upon the back of my hand.
—Now, you must know, that my great-grandmother outlived my grandfather twelve years; so that my father had the jointure to pay, a hundred and fifty pounds half-yearly—(on Michaelmas and Lady-day,)—during all that time.
No man discharged pecuniary obligations with a better grace than my father.—And as far as a hundred pounds went, he would fling it upon the table, guinea by guinea, with that spirited jerk of an honest welcome, which generous souls, and generous souls only, are able to fling down money: but as soon as ever he enter'd upon the odd fifty—he generally gave a loud Hem! rubb'd the side of his nose leisurely with the flat part of his fore finger—inserted his hand cautiously betwixt his head and the cawl of his wig—look'd at both sides of every guinea as he parted with it—and seldom could get to the end of the fifty pounds, without pulling out his handkerchief, and wiping his temples.
Defend me, gracious Heaven! from those persecuting spirits who make no allowances for these workings within us.—Never—O never may I lay down in their tents, who cannot relax the engine, and feel pity for the force of education, and the prevalence of opinions long derived from ancestors!
For three generations at least this tenet in favour of long noses had gradually been taking root in our family.—Tradition was all along on its side, and Interest was every half-year stepping in to strengthen it; so that the whimsicality of my father's brain was far from having the whole honour of this, as it had of almost all his other strange notions.—For in a great measure he might be said to have suck'd this in with his mother's milk. He did his part however.—If education planted the mistake (in case it was one) my father watered it, and ripened it to perfection.
He would often declare, in speaking his thoughts upon the subject, that he did not conceive how the greatest family in England could stand it out against an uninterrupted succession of six or seven short noses.—And for the contrary reason, he would generally add, That it must be one of the greatest problems in civil life, where the same number of long and jolly noses, following one another in a direct line, did not raise and hoist it up into the best vacancies in the kingdom.—He would often boast that the Shandy family rank'd very high in king Harry the VIIIth's time, but owed its rise to no state engine—he would say—but to that only;—but that, like other families, he would add—it had felt the turn of the wheel, and had never recovered the blow of my great-grandfather's nose.—It was an ace of clubs indeed, he would cry, shaking his head—and as vile a one for an unfortunate family as ever turn'd up trumps.
—Fair and softly, gentle reader!—where is thy fancy carrying thee!—If there is truth in man, by my great-grandfather's nose, I mean the external organ of smelling, or that part of man which stands prominent in his face—and which painters say, in good jolly noses and well-proportioned faces, should comprehend a full third—that is, measured downwards from the setting on of the hair.
—What a life of it has an author, at this pass!
It is a singular blessing, that nature has form'd the mind of man with the same happy backwardness and renitency against conviction, which is observed in old dogs—'of not learning new tricks.'
What a shuttlecock of a fellow would the greatest philosopher that ever existed be whisk'd into at once, did he read such books, and observe such facts, and think such thoughts, as would eternally be making him change sides!
Now, my father, as I told you last year, detested all this—He pick'd up an opinion, Sir, as a man in a state of nature picks up an apple.—It becomes his own—and if he is a man of spirit, he would lose his life rather than give it up.
I am aware that Didius, the great civilian, will contest this point; and cry out against me, Whence comes this man's right to this apple? ex confesso, he will say—things were in a state of nature—The apple, is as much Frank's apple as John's. Pray, Mr. Shandy, what patent has he to shew for it? and how did it begin to be his? was it, when he set his heart upon it? or when he gathered it? or when he chew'd it? or when he roasted it? or when he peel'd, or when he brought it home? or when he digested?—or when he—?—For 'tis plain, Sir, if the first picking up of the apple, made it not his—that no subsequent act could.
Brother Didius, Tribonius will answer—(now Tribonius the civilian and church lawyer's beard being three inches and a half and three eighths longer than Didius his beard—I'm glad he takes up the cudgels for me, so I give myself no farther trouble about the answer.)—Brother Didius, Tribonius will say, it is a decreed case, as you may find it in the fragments of Gregorius and Hermogines's codes, and in all the codes from Justinian's down to the codes of Louis and Des Eaux—That the sweat of a man's brows, and the exsudations of a man's brains, are as much a man's own property as the breeches upon his backside;—which said exsudations, &c. being dropp'd upon the said apple by the labour of finding it, and picking it up; and being moreover indissolubly wasted, and as indissolubly annex'd, by the picker up, to the thing pick'd up, carried home, roasted, peel'd, eaten, digested, and so on;—'tis evident that the gatherer of the apple, in so doing, has mix'd up something which was his own, with the apple which was not his own, by which means he has acquired a property;—or, in other words, the apple is John's apple.
By the same learned chain of reasoning my father stood up for all his opinions; he had spared no pains in picking them up, and the more they lay out of the common way, the better still was his title.—No mortal claimed them; they had cost him moreover as much labour in cooking and digesting as in the case above, so that they might well and truly be said to be of his own goods and chattels.—Accordingly he held fast by 'em, both by teeth and claws—would fly to whatever he could lay his hands on—and, in a word, would intrench and fortify them round with as many circumvallations and breast-works, as my uncle Toby would a citadel.
There was one plaguy rub in the way of this—the scarcity of materials to make any thing of a defence with, in case of a smart attack; inasmuch as few men of great genius had exercised their parts in writing books upon the subject of great noses: by the trotting of my lean horse, the thing is incredible! and I am quite lost in my understanding, when I am considering what a treasure of precious time and talents together has been wasted upon worse subjects—and how many millions of books in all languages and in all possible types and bindings, have been fabricated upon points not half so much tending to the unity and peace-making of the world. What was to be had, however, he set the greater store by; and though my father would oft-times sport with my uncle Toby's library—which, by-the-bye, was ridiculous enough—yet at the very same time he did it, he collected every book and treatise which had been systematically wrote upon noses, with as much care as my honest uncle Toby had done those upon military architecture.—'Tis true, a much less table would have held them—but that was not thy transgression, my dear uncle.—
Here—but why here—rather than in any other part of my story—I am not able to tell:—but here it is—my heart stops me to pay to thee, my dear uncle Toby, once for all, the tribute I owe thy goodness.—Here let me thrust my chair aside, and kneel down upon the ground, whilst I am pouring forth the warmest sentiment of love for thee, and veneration for the excellency of thy character, that ever virtue and nature kindled in a nephew's bosom.—Peace and comfort rest for evermore upon thy head!—Thou enviedst no man's comforts—insultedst no man's opinions—Thou blackenedst no man's character—devouredst no man's bread: gently, with faithful Trim behind thee, didst thou amble round the little circle of thy pleasures, jostling no creature in thy way:—for each one's sorrows, thou hadst a tear,—for each man's need, thou hadst a shilling.
Whilst I am worth one, to pay a weeder—thy path from thy door to thy bowling-green shall never be grown up.—Whilst there is a rood and a half of land in the Shandy family, thy fortifications, my dear uncle Toby, shall never be demolish'd.