My father's collection was not great, but to make amends, it was curious; and consequently he was some time in making it; he had the great good fortune hewever, to set off well, in getting Bruscambille's prologue upon long noses, almost for nothing—for he gave no more for Bruscambille than three half-crowns; owing indeed to the strong fancy which the stall-man saw my father had for the book the moment he laid his hands upon it.—There are not three Bruscambilles in Christendom—said the stall-man, except what are chain'd up in the libraries of the curious. My father flung down the money as quick as lightning—took Bruscambille into his bosom—hied home from Piccadilly to Coleman-street with it, as he would have hied home with a treasure, without taking his hand once off from Bruscambille all the way.
To those who do not yet know of which gender Bruscambille is—inasmuch as a prologue upon long noses might easily be done by either—'twill be no objection against the simile—to say, That when my father got home, he solaced himself with Bruscambille after the manner in which, 'tis ten to one, your worship solaced yourself with your first mistress—that is, from morning even unto night: which, by-the-bye, how delightful soever it may prove to the inamorato—is of little or no entertainment at all to by-standers.—Take notice, I go no farther with the simile—my father's eye was greater than his appetite—his zeal greater than his knowledge—he cool'd—his affections became divided—he got hold of Prignitz—purchased Scroderus, Andrea Paraeus, Bouchet's Evening Conferences, and above all, the great and learned Hafen Slawkenbergius; of which, as I shall have much to say by-and-bye—I will say nothing now.
Of all the tracts my father was at the pains to procure and study in support of his hypothesis, there was not any one wherein he felt a more cruel disappointment at first, than in the celebrated dialogue between Pamphagus and Cocles, written by the chaste pen of the great and venerable Erasmus, upon the various uses and seasonable applications of long noses.—Now don't let Satan, my dear girl, in this chapter, take advantage of any one spot of rising ground to get astride of your imagination, if you can any ways help it; or if he is so nimble as to slip on—let me beg of you, like an unback'd filly, to frisk it, to squirt it, to jump it, to rear it, to bound it—and to kick it, with long kicks and short kicks, till like Tickletoby's mare, you break a strap or a crupper, and throw his worship into the dirt.—You need not kill him.—
—And pray who was Tickletoby's mare?—'tis just as discreditable and unscholar-like a question, Sir, as to have asked what year (ab. urb. con.) the second Punic war broke out.—Who was Tickletoby's mare!—Read, read, read, read, my unlearned reader! read—or by the knowledge of the great saint Paraleipomenon—I tell you before-hand, you had better throw down the book at once; for without much reading, by which your reverence knows I mean much knowledge, you will no more be able to penetrate the moral of the next marbled page (motley emblem of my work!) than the world with all its sagacity has been able to unravel the many opinions, transactions, and truths which still lie mystically hid under the dark veil of the black one.
(two marble plates)
'Nihil me paenitet hujus nasi,' quoth Pamphagus;—that is—'My nose has been the making of me.'—'Nec est cur poeniteat,' replies Cocles; that is, 'How the duce should such a nose fail?'
The doctrine, you see, was laid down by Erasmus, as my father wished it, with the utmost plainness; but my father's disappointment was, in finding nothing more from so able a pen, but the bare fact itself; without any of that speculative subtilty or ambidexterity of argumentation upon it, which Heaven had bestow'd upon man on purpose to investigate truth, and fight for her on all sides.—My father pish'd and pugh'd at first most terribly—'tis worth something to have a good name. As the dialogue was of Erasmus, my father soon came to himself, and read it over and over again with great application, studying every word and every syllable of it thro' and thro' in its most strict and literal interpretation—he could still make nothing of it, that way. Mayhap there is more meant, than is said in it, quoth my father.—Learned men, brother Toby, don't write dialogues upon long noses for nothing.—I'll study the mystick and the allegorick sense—here is some room to turn a man's self in, brother.
My father read on.—
Now I find it needful to inform your reverences and worships, that besides the many nautical uses of long noses enumerated by Erasmus, the dialogist affirmeth that a long nose is not without its domestic conveniences also; for that in a case of distress—and for want of a pair of bellows, it will do excellently well, ad ixcitandum focum (to stir up the fire.)
Nature had been prodigal in her gifts to my father beyond measure, and had sown the seeds of verbal criticism as deep within him, as she had done the seeds of all other knowledge—so that he had got out his penknife, and was trying experiments upon the sentence, to see if he could not scratch some better sense into it.—I've got within a single letter, brother Toby, cried my father, of Erasmus his mystic meaning.—You are near enough, brother, replied my uncle, in all conscience.—Pshaw! cried my father, scratching on—I might as well be seven miles off.—I've done it—said my father, snapping his fingers—See, my dear brother Toby, how I have mended the sense.—But you have marr'd a word, replied my uncle Toby.—My father put on his spectacles—bit his lip—and tore out the leaf in a passion.
O Slawkenbergius! thou faithful analyzer of my Disgrazias—thou sad foreteller of so many of the whips and short turns which on one stage or other of my life have come slap upon me from the shortness of my nose, and no other cause, that I am conscious of.—Tell me, Slawkenbergius! what secret impulse was it? what intonation of voice? whence came it? how did it sound in thy ears?—art thou sure thou heard'st it?—which first cried out to thee—go—go, Slawkenbergius! dedicate the labours of thy life—neglect thy pastimes—call forth all the powers and faculties of thy nature—macerate thyself in the service of mankind, and write a grand Folio for them, upon the subject of their noses.
How the communication was conveyed into Slawkenbergius's sensorium—so that Slawkenbergius should know whose finger touch'd the key—and whose hand it was that blew the bellows—as Hafen Slawkenbergius has been dead and laid in his grave above fourscore and ten years—we can only raise conjectures.
Slawkenbergius was play'd upon, for aught I know, like one of Whitefield's disciples—that is, with such a distinct intelligence, Sir, of which of the two masters it was that had been practising upon his instrument—as to make all reasoning upon it needless.
—For in the account which Hafen Slawkenbergius gives the world of his motives and occasions for writing, and spending so many years of his life upon this one work—towards the end of his prolegomena, which by-the-bye should have come first—but the bookbinder has most injudiciously placed it betwixt the analytical contents of the book, and the book itself—he informs his reader, that ever since he had arrived at the age of discernment, and was able to sit down cooly, and consider within himself the true state and condition of man, and distinguish the main end and design of his being;—or—to shorten my translation, for Slawkenbergius's book is in Latin, and not a little prolix in this passage—ever since I understood, quoth Slawkenbergius, any thing—or rather what was what—and could perceive that the point of long noses had been too loosely handled by all who had gone before;—have I Slawkenbergius, felt a strong impulse, with a mighty and unresistible call within me, to gird up myself to this undertaking.
And to do justice to Slawkenbergius, he has entered the list with a stronger lance, and taken a much larger career in it than any one man who had ever entered it before him—and indeed, in many respects, deserves to be en-nich'd as a prototype for all writers, of voluminous works at least, to model their books by—for he has taken in, Sir, the whole subject—examined every part of it dialectically—then brought it into full day; dilucidating it with all the light which either the collision of his own natural parts could strike—or the profoundest knowledge of the sciences had impowered him to cast upon it—collating, collecting, and compiling—begging, borrowing, and stealing, as he went along, all that had been wrote or wrangled thereupon in the schools and porticos of the learned: so that Slawkenbergius his book may properly be considered, not only as a model—but as a thorough-stitched Digest and regular institute of noses, comprehending in it all that is or can be needful to be known about them.
For this cause it is that I forbear to speak of so many (otherwise) valuable books and treatises of my father's collecting, wrote either, plump upon noses—or collaterally touching them;—such for instance as Prignitz, now lying upon the table before me, who with infinite learning, and from the most candid and scholar-like examination of above four thousand different skulls, in upwards of twenty charnel-houses in Silesia, which he had rummaged—has informed us, that the mensuration and configuration of the osseous or bony parts of human noses, in any given tract of country, except Crim Tartary, where they are all crush'd down by the thumb, so that no judgment can be formed upon them—are much nearer alike, than the world imagines;—the difference amongst them being, he says, a mere trifle, not worth taking notice of;—but that the size and jollity of every individual nose, and by which one nose ranks above another, and bears a higher price, is owing to the cartilaginous and muscular parts of it, into whose ducts and sinuses the blood and animal spirits being impell'd and driven by the warmth and force of the imagination, which is but a step from it (bating the case of idiots, whom Prignitz, who had lived many years in Turky, supposes under the more immediate tutelage of Heaven)—it so happens, and ever must, says Prignitz, that the excellency of the nose is in a direct arithmetical proportion to the excellency of the wearer's fancy.
It is for the same reason, that is, because 'tis all comprehended in Slawkenbergius, that I say nothing likewise of Scroderus (Andrea) who, all the world knows, set himself to oppugn Prignitz with great violence—proving it in his own way, first logically, and then by a series of stubborn facts, 'That so far was Prignitz from the truth, in affirming that the fancy begat the nose, that on the contrary—the nose begat the fancy.'
—The learned suspected Scroderus of an indecent sophism in this—and Prignitz cried out aloud in the dispute, that Scroderus had shifted the idea upon him—but Scroderus went on, maintaining his thesis.
My father was just balancing within himself, which of the two sides he should take in this affair; when Ambrose Paraeus decided it in a moment, and by overthrowing the systems, both of Prignitz and Scroderus, drove my father out of both sides of the controversy at once.
I don't acquaint the learned reader—in saying it, I mention it only to shew the learned, I know the fact myself—
That this Ambrose Paraeus was chief surgeon and nose-mender to Francis the ninth of France, and in high credit with him and the two preceding, or succeeding kings (I know not which)—and that, except in the slip he made in his story of Taliacotius's noses, and his manner of setting them on—he was esteemed by the whole college of physicians at that time, as more knowing in matters of noses, than any one who had ever taken them in hand.
Now Ambrose Paraeus convinced my father, that the true and efficient cause of what had engaged so much the attention of the world, and upon which Prignitz and Scroderus had wasted so much learning and fine parts—was neither this nor that—but that the length and goodness of the nose was owing simply to the softness and flaccidity in the nurse's breast—as the flatness and shortness of puisne noses was to the firmness and elastic repulsion of the same organ of nutrition in the hale and lively—which, tho' happy for the woman, was the undoing of the child, inasmuch as his nose was so snubb'd, so rebuff'd, so rebated, and so refrigerated thereby, as never to arrive ad mensuram suam legitimam;—but that in case of the flaccidity and softness of the nurse or mother's breast—by sinking into it, quoth Paraeus, as into so much butter, the nose was comforted, nourish'd, plump'd up, refresh'd, refocillated, and set a growing for ever.
I have but two things to observe of Paraeus; first, That he proves and explains all this with the utmost chastity and decorum of expression:—for which may his soul for ever rest in peace!
And, secondly, that besides the systems of Prignitz and Scroderus, which Ambrose Paraeus his hypothesis effectually overthrew—it overthrew at the same time the system of peace and harmony of our family; and for three days together, not only embroiled matters between my father and my mother, but turn'd likewise the whole house and every thing in it, except my uncle Toby, quite upside down.
Such a ridiculous tale of a dispute between a man and his wife, never surely in any age or country got vent through the key-hole of a street-door.
My mother, you must know—but I have fifty things more necessary to let you know first—I have a hundred difficulties which I have promised to clear up, and a thousand distresses and domestick misadventures crowding in upon me thick and threefold, one upon the neck of another. A cow broke in (tomorrow morning) to my uncle Toby's fortifications, and eat up two rations and a half of dried grass, tearing up the sods with it, which faced his horn-work and covered way.—Trim insists upon being tried by a court-martial—the cow to be shot—Slop to be crucifix'd—myself to be tristram'd and at my very baptism made a martyr of;—poor unhappy devils that we all are!—I want swaddling—but there is no time to be lost in exclamations—I have left my father lying across his bed, and my uncle Toby in his old fringed chair, sitting beside him, and promised I would go back to them in half an hour; and five-and-thirty minutes are laps'd already.—Of all the perplexities a mortal author was ever seen in—this certainly is the greatest, for I have Hafen Slawkenbergius's folio, Sir, to finish—a dialogue between my father and my uncle Toby, upon the solution of Prignitz, Scroderus, Ambrose Paraeus, Panocrates, and Grangousier to relate—a tale out of Slawkenbergius to translate, and all this in five minutes less than no time at all;—such a head!—would to Heaven my enemies only saw the inside of it!
There was not any one scene more entertaining in our family—and to do it justice in this point;—and I here put off my cap and lay it upon the table close beside my ink-horn, on purpose to make my declaration to the world concerning this one article the more solemn—that I believe in my soul (unless my love and partiality to my understanding blinds me) the hand of the supreme Maker and first Designer of all things never made or put a family together (in that period at least of it which I have sat down to write the story of)—where the characters of it were cast or contrasted with so dramatick a felicity as ours was, for this end; or in which the capacities of affording such exquisite scenes, and the powers of shifting them perpetually from morning to night, were lodged and intrusted with so unlimited a confidence, as in the Shandy Family.
Not any one of these was more diverting, I say, in this whimsical theatre of ours—than what frequently arose out of this self-same chapter of long noses—especially when my father's imagination was heated with the enquiry, and nothing would serve him but to heat my uncle Toby's too.
My uncle Toby would give my father all possible fair play in this attempt; and with infinite patience would sit smoking his pipe for whole hours together, whilst my father was practising upon his head, and trying every accessible avenue to drive Prignitz and Scroderus's solutions into it.
Whether they were above my uncle Toby's reason—or contrary to it—or that his brain was like damp timber, and no spark could possibly take hold—or that it was so full of saps, mines, blinds, curtins, and such military disqualifications to his seeing clearly into Prignitz and Scroderus's doctrines—I say not—let schoolmen—scullions, anatomists, and engineers, fight for it among themselves—
'Twas some misfortune, I make no doubt, in this affair, that my father had every word of it to translate for the benefit of my uncle Toby, and render out of Slawkenbergius's Latin, of which, as he was no great master, his translation was not always of the purest—and generally least so where 'twas most wanted.—This naturally open'd a door to a second misfortune;—that in the warmer paroxysms of his zeal to open my uncle Toby's eyes—my father's ideas ran on as much faster than the translation, as the translation outmoved my uncle Toby's—neither the one or the other added much to the perspicuity of my father's lecture.
The gift of ratiocination and making syllogisms—I mean in man—for in superior classes of being, such as angels and spirits—'tis all done, may it please your worships, as they tell me, by Intuition;—and beings inferior, as your worships all know—syllogize by their noses: though there is an island swimming in the sea (though not altogether at its ease) whose inhabitants, if my intelligence deceives me not, are so wonderfully gifted, as to syllogize after the same fashion, and oft-times to make very well out too:—but that's neither here nor there—
The gift of doing it as it should be, amongst us, or—the great and principal act of ratiocination in man, as logicians tell us, is the finding out the agreement or disagreement of two ideas one with another, by the intervention of a third (called the medius terminus); just as a man, as Locke well observes, by a yard, finds two mens nine-pin-alleys to be of the same length, which could not be brought together, to measure their equality, by juxta-position.
Had the same great reasoner looked on, as my father illustrated his systems of noses, and observed my uncle Toby's deportment—what great attention he gave to every word—and as oft as he took his pipe from his mouth, with what wonderful seriousness he contemplated the length of it—surveying it transversely as he held it betwixt his finger and his thumb—then fore-right—then this way, and then that, in all its possible directions and fore-shortenings—he would have concluded my uncle Toby had got hold of the medius terminus, and was syllogizing and measuring with it the truth of each hypothesis of long noses, in order, as my father laid them before him. This, by-the-bye, was more than my father wanted—his aim in all the pains he was at in these philosophick lectures—was to enable my uncle Toby not to discuss—but comprehend—to hold the grains and scruples of learning—not to weigh them.—My uncle Toby, as you will read in the next chapter, did neither the one or the other.
'Tis a pity, cried my father one winter's night, after a three hours painful translation of Slawkenbergius—'tis a pity, cried my father, putting my mother's threadpaper into the book for a mark, as he spoke—that truth, brother Toby, should shut herself up in such impregnable fastnesses, and be so obstinate as not to surrender herself sometimes up upon the closest siege.—
Now it happened then, as indeed it had often done before, that my uncle Toby's fancy, during the time of my father's explanation of Prignitz to him—having nothing to stay it there, had taken a short flight to the bowling-green;—his body might as well have taken a turn there too—so that with all the semblance of a deep school-man intent upon the medius terminus—my uncle Toby was in fact as ignorant of the whole lecture, and all its pros and cons, as if my father had been translating Hafen Slawkenbergius from the Latin tongue into the Cherokee. But the word siege, like a talismanic power, in my father's metaphor, wafting back my uncle Toby's fancy, quick as a note could follow the touch—he open'd his ears—and my father observing that he took his pipe out of his mouth, and shuffled his chair nearer the table, as with a desire to profit—my father with great pleasure began his sentence again—changing only the plan, and dropping the metaphor of the siege of it, to keep clear of some dangers my father apprehended from it.
'Tis a pity, said my father, that truth can only be on one side, brother Toby—considering what ingenuity these learned men have all shewn in their solutions of noses.—Can noses be dissolved? replied my uncle Toby.
—My father thrust back his chair—rose up—put on his hat—took four long strides to the door—jerked it open—thrust his head half way out—shut the door again—took no notice of the bad hinge—returned to the table—pluck'd my mother's thread-paper out of Slawkenbergius's book—went hastily to his bureau—walked slowly back—twisted my mother's thread-paper about his thumb—unbutton'd his waistcoat—threw my mother's thread-paper into the fire—bit her sattin pin-cushion in two, fill'd his mouth with bran—confounded it;—but mark!—the oath of confusion was levell'd at my uncle Toby's brain—which was e'en confused enough already—the curse came charged only with the bran—the bran, may it please your honours, was no more than powder to the ball.
'Twas well my father's passions lasted not long; for so long as they did last, they led him a busy life on't; and it is one of the most unaccountable problems that ever I met with in my observations of human nature, that nothing should prove my father's mettle so much, or make his passions go off so like gun-powder, as the unexpected strokes his science met with from the quaint simplicity of my uncle Toby's questions.—Had ten dozen of hornets stung him behind in so many different places all at one time—he could not have exerted more mechanical functions in fewer seconds—or started half so much, as with one single quaere of three words unseasonably popping in full upon him in his hobby-horsical career.
'Twas all one to my uncle Toby—he smoked his pipe on with unvaried composure—his heart never intended offence to his brother—and as his head could seldom find out where the sting of it lay—he always gave my father the credit of cooling by himself.—He was five minutes and thirty-five seconds about it in the present case.
By all that's good! said my father, swearing, as he came to himself, and taking the oath out of Ernulphus's digest of curses—(though to do my father justice it was a fault (as he told Dr. Slop in the affair of Ernulphus) which he as seldom committed as any man upon earth)—By all that's good and great! brother Toby, said my father, if it was not for the aids of philosophy, which befriend one so much as they do—you would put a man beside all temper.—Why, by the solutions of noses, of which I was telling you, I meant, as you might have known, had you favoured me with one grain of attention, the various accounts which learned men of different kinds of knowledge have given the world of the causes of short and long noses.—There is no cause but one, replied my uncle Toby—why one man's nose is longer than another's, but because that God pleases to have it so.—That is Grangousier's solution, said my father.—'Tis he, continued my uncle Toby, looking up, and not regarding my father's interruption, who makes us all, and frames and puts us together in such forms and proportions, and for such ends, as is agreeable to his infinite wisdom,.—'Tis a pious account, cried my father, but not philosophical—there is more religion in it than sound science. 'Twas no inconsistent part of my uncle Toby's character—that he feared God, and reverenced religion.—So the moment my father finished his remark—my uncle Toby fell a whistling Lillabullero with more zeal (though more out of tune) than usual.—
What is become of my wife's thread-paper?
No matter—as an appendage to seamstressy, the thread-paper might be of some consequence to my mother—of none to my father, as a mark in Slawkenbergius. Slawkenbergius in every page of him was a rich treasure of inexhaustible knowledge to my father—he could not open him amiss; and he would often say in closing the book, that if all the arts and sciences in the world, with the books which treated of them, were lost—should the wisdom and policies of governments, he would say, through disuse, ever happen to be forgot, and all that statesmen had wrote or caused to be written, upon the strong or the weak sides of courts and kingdoms, should they be forgot also—and Slawkenbergius only left—there would be enough in him in all conscience, he would say, to set the world a-going again. A treasure therefore was he indeed! an institute of all that was necessary to be known of noses, and every thing else—at matin, noon, and vespers was Hafen Slawkenbergius his recreation and delight: 'twas for ever in his hands—you would have sworn, Sir, it had been a canon's prayer-book—so worn, so glazed, so contrited and attrited was it with fingers and with thumbs in all its parts, from one end even unto the other.
I am not such a bigot to Slawkenbergius as my father;—there is a fund in him, no doubt: but in my opinion, the best, I don't say the most profitable, but the most amusing part of Hafen Slawkenbergius, is his tales—and, considering he was a German, many of them told not without fancy:—these take up his second book, containing nearly one half of his folio, and are comprehended in ten decads, each decad containing ten tales—Philosophy is not built upon tales; and therefore 'twas certainly wrong in Slawkenbergius to send them into the world by that name!—there are a few of them in his eighth, ninth, and tenth decads, which I own seem rather playful and sportive, than speculative—but in general they are to be looked upon by the learned as a detail of so many independent facts, all of them turning round somehow or other upon the main hinges of his subject, and added to his work as so many illustrations upon the doctrines of noses.
As we have leisure enough upon our hands—if you give me leave, madam, I'll tell you the ninth tale of his tenth decad.
Slawkenbergii Fabella (As Hafen Slawkenbergius de Nasis is extremely scarce, it may not be unacceptable to the learned reader to see the specimen of a few pages of his original; I will make no reflection upon it, but that his story-telling Latin is much more concise than his philosophic—and, I think, has more of Latinity in it.)
Vespera quadam frigidula, posteriori in parte mensis Augusti, peregrinus, mulo fusco colore incidens, mantica a tergo, paucis indusiis, binis calceis, braccisque sericis coccineis repleta, Argentoratum ingressus est.
Militi eum percontanti, quum portus intraret dixit, se apud Nasorum promontorium fuisse, Francofurtum proficisci, et Argentoratum, transitu ad fines Sarmatiae mensis intervallo, reversurum.
Miles peregrini in faciem suspexit—Di boni, nova forma nasi!
At multum mihi profuit, inquit peregrinus, carpum amento extrahens, e quo pependit acinaces: Loculo manum inseruit; et magna cum urbanitate, pilei parte anteriore tacta manu sinistra, ut extendit dextram, militi florinum dedit et processit.
Dolet mihi, ait miles, tympanistam nanum et valgum alloquens, virum adeo urbanum vaginam perdidisse: itinerari haud poterit nuda acinaci; neque vaginam toto Argentorato, habilem inveniet.—Nullam unquam habui, respondit peregrinus respiciens—seque comiter inclinans—hoc more gesto, nudam acinacem elevans, mulo lento progrediente, ut nasum tueri possim.
Non immerito, benigne peregrine, respondit miles.
Nihili aestimo, ait ille tympanista, e pergamena factitius est.
Prout christianus sum, inquit miles, nasus ille, ni sexties major fit, meo esset conformis.
Crepitare audivi ait tympanista.
Mehercule! sanguinem emisit, respondit miles.
Miseret me, inquit tympanista, qui non ambo tetigimus!
Eodem temporis puncto, quo haec res argumentata fuit inter militem et tympanistam, disceptabatur ibidem tubicine et uxore sua qui tunc accesserunt, et peregrino praetereunte, restiterunt.
Quantus nasus! aeque longus est, ait tubicina, ac tuba.
Et ex eodem metallo, ait tubicen, velut sternutamento audias.
Tantum abest, respondit illa, quod fistulam dulcedine vincit.
Aeneus est, ait tubicen.
Nequaquam, respondit uxor.
Rursum affirmo, ait tubicen, quod aeneus est.
Rem penitus explorabo; prius, enim digito tangam, ait uxor, quam dormivero,
Mulus peregrini gradu lento progressus est, ut unumquodque verbum controversiae, non tantum inter militem et tympanistam, verum etiam inter tubicinem et uxorum ejus, audiret.
Nequaquam, ait ille, in muli collum fraena demittens, et manibus ambabus in pectus positis, (mulo lente progrediente) nequaquam, ait ille respiciens, non necesse est ut res isthaec dilucidata foret. Minime gentium! meus nasus nunquam tangetur, dum spiritus hos reget artus—Ad quid agendum? air uxor burgomagistri.
Peregrinus illi non respondit. Votum faciebat tunc temporis sancto Nicolao; quo facto, sinum dextrum inserens, e qua negligenter pependit acinaces, lento gradu processit per plateam Argentorati latam quae ad diversorium templo ex adversum ducit.
Peregrinus mulo descendens stabulo includi, et manticam inferri jussit: qua aperta et coccineis sericis femoralibus extractis cum argento laciniato (Greek), his sese induit, statimque, acinaci in manu, ad forum deambulavit.
Quod ubi peregrinus esset ingressus, uxorem tubicinis obviam euntem aspicit; illico cursum flectit, metuens ne nasus suus exploraretur, atque ad diversorium regressus est—exuit se vestibus; braccas coccineas sericas manticae imposuit mulumque educi jussit.
Francofurtum proficiscor, ait ille, et Argentoratum quatuor abhinc hebdomadis revertar.
Bene curasti hoc jumentam? (ait) muli faciem manu demulcens—me, manticamque meam, plus sexcentis mille passibus portavit.
Longa via est! respondet hospes, nisi plurimum esset negoti.—Enimvero, ait peregrinus, a Nasorum promontorio redii, et nasum speciosissimum, egregiosissimumque quem unquam quisquam sortitus est, acquisivi?
Dum peregrinus hanc miram rationem de seipso reddit, hospes et uxor ejus, oculis intentis, peregrini nasum contemplantur—Per sanctos sanctasque omnes, ait hospitis uxor, nasis duodecim maximis in toto Argentorato major est!—estne, ait illa mariti in aurem insusurrans, nonne est nasus praegrandis?
Dolus inest, anime mi, ait hospes—nasus est falsus.
Verus est, respondit uxor—
Ex abiete factus est, ait ille, terebinthinum olet—
Carbunculus inest, ait uxor.
Mortuus est nasus, respondit hospes.
Vivus est ait illa,—et si ipsa vivam tangam.
Votum feci sancto Nicolao, ait peregrinus, nasum meum intactum fore usque ad—Quodnam tempus? illico respondit illa.
Minimo tangetur, inquit ille (manibus in pectus compositis) usque ad illam horam—Quam horam? ait illa—Nullam, respondit peregrinus, donec pervenio ad—Quem locum,—obsecro? ait illa—Peregrinus nil respondens mulo conscenso discessit.
It was one cool refreshing evening, at the close of a very sultry day, in the latter end of the month of August, when a stranger, mounted upon a dark mule, with a small cloak-bag behind him, containing a few shirts, a pair of shoes, and a crimson-sattin pair of breeches, entered the town of Strasburg.
He told the centinel, who questioned him as he entered the gates, that he had been at the Promontory of Noses—was going on to Frankfort—and should be back again at Strasburg that day month, in his way to the borders of Crim Tartary.
The centinel looked up into the stranger's face—he never saw such a Nose in his life!
—I have made a very good venture of it, quoth the stranger—so slipping his wrist out of the loop of a black ribbon, to which a short scymetar was hung, he put his hand into his pocket, and with great courtesy touching the fore part of his cap with his left hand, as he extended his right—he put a florin into the centinel's hand, and passed on.
It grieves, me, said the centinel, speaking to a little dwarfish bandy-legg'd drummer, that so courteous a soul should have lost his scabbard—he cannot travel without one to his scymetar, and will not be able to get a scabbard to fit it in all Strasburg.—I never had one, replied the stranger, looking back to the centinel, and putting his hand up to his cap as he spoke—I carry it, continued he, thus—holding up his naked scymetar, his mule moving on slowly all the time—on purpose to defend my nose.
It is well worth it, gentle stranger, replied the centinel.
—'Tis not worth a single stiver, said the bandy-legg'd drummer—'tis a nose of parchment.
As I am a true catholic—except that it is six times as big—'tis a nose, said the centinel, like my own.
—I heard it crackle, said the drummer.
By dunder, said the centinel, I saw it bleed.
What a pity, cried the bandy-legg'd drummer, we did not both touch it!
At the very time that this dispute was maintaining by the centinel and the drummer—was the same point debating betwixt a trumpeter and a trumpeter's wife, who were just then coming up, and had stopped to see the stranger pass by.
Benedicity!—What a nose! 'tis as long, said the trumpeter's wife, as a trumpet.
And of the same metal said the trumpeter, as you hear by its sneezing.
'Tis as soft as a flute, said she.
—'Tis brass, said the trumpeter.
—'Tis a pudding's end, said his wife.
I tell thee again, said the trumpeter, 'tis a brazen nose,
I'll know the bottom of it, said the trumpeter's wife, for I will touch it with my finger before I sleep.
The stranger's mule moved on at so slow a rate, that he heard every word of the dispute, not only betwixt the centinel and the drummer, but betwixt the trumpeter and trumpeter's wife.
No! said he, dropping his reins upon his mule's neck, and laying both his hands upon his breast, the one over the other in a saint-like position (his mule going on easily all the time) No! said he, looking up—I am not such a debtor to the world—slandered and disappointed as I have been—as to give it that conviction—no! said he, my nose shall never be touched whilst Heaven gives me strength—To do what? said a burgomaster's wife.
The stranger took no notice of the burgomaster's wife—he was making a vow to Saint Nicolas; which done, having uncrossed his arms with the same solemnity with which he crossed them, he took up the reins of his bridle with his left-hand, and putting his right hand into his bosom, with the scymetar hanging loosely to the wrist of it, he rode on, as slowly as one foot of the mule could follow another, thro' the principal streets of Strasburg, till chance brought him to the great inn in the market-place over-against the church.
The moment the stranger alighted, he ordered his mule to be led into the stable, and his cloak-bag to be brought in; then opening, and taking out of it his crimson-sattin breeches, with a silver-fringed—(appendage to them, which I dare not translate)—he put his breeches, with his fringed cod-piece on, and forth-with, with his short scymetar in his hand, walked out to the grand parade.
The stranger had just taken three turns upon the parade, when he perceived the trumpeter's wife at the opposite side of it—so turning short, in pain lest his nose should be attempted, he instantly went back to his inn—undressed himself, packed up his crimson-sattin breeches, &c. in his cloak-bag, and called for his mule.
I am going forwards, said the stranger, for Frankfort—and shall be back at Strasburg this day month.
I hope, continued the stranger, stroking down the face of his mule with his left hand as he was going to mount it, that you have been kind to this faithful slave of mine—it has carried me and my cloak-bag, continued he, tapping the mule's back, above six hundred leagues.
—'Tis a long journey, Sir, replied the master of the inn—unless a man has great business.—Tut! tut! said the stranger, I have been at the promontory of Noses; and have got me one of the goodliest, thank Heaven, that ever fell to a single man's lot.
Whilst the stranger was giving this odd account of himself, the master of the inn and his wife kept both their eyes fixed full upon the stranger's nose—By saint Radagunda, said the inn-keeper's wife to herself, there is more of it than in any dozen of the largest noses put together in all Strasburg! is it not, said she, whispering her husband in his ear, is it not a noble nose?
'Tis an imposture, my dear, said the master of the inn—'tis a false nose.
'Tis a true nose, said his wife.
'Tis made of fir-tree, said he, I smell the turpentine.—
There's a pimple on it, said she.
'Tis a dead nose, replied the inn-keeper.
'Tis a live nose, and if I am alive myself, said the inn-keeper's, wife, I will touch it.
I have made a vow to saint Nicolas this day, said the stranger, that my nose shall not be touched till—Here the stranger suspending his voice, looked up.—Till when? said she hastily.
It never shall be touched, said he, clasping his hands and bringing them close to his breast, till that hour—What hour? cried the inn keeper's wife.—Never!—never! said the stranger, never till I am got—For Heaven's sake, into what place? said she—The stranger rode away without saying a word.
The stranger had not got half a league on his way towards Frankfort before all the city of Strasburg was in an uproar about his nose. The Compline bells were just ringing to call the Strasburgers to their devotions, and shut up the duties of the day in prayer:—no soul in all Strasburg heard 'em—the city was like a swarm of bees—men, women, and children, (the Compline bells tinkling all the time) flying here and there—in at one door, out at another—this way and that way—long ways and cross ways—up one street, down another street—in at this alley, out of that—did you see it? did you see it? did you see it? O! did you see it?—who saw it? who did see it? for mercy's sake, who saw it?
Alack o'day! I was at vespers!—I was washing, I was starching, I was scouring, I was quilting—God help me! I never saw it—I never touch'd it!—would I had been a centinel, a bandy-legg'd drummer, a trumpeter, a trumpeter's wife, was the general cry and lamentation in every street and corner of Strasburg.
Whilst all this confusion and disorder triumphed throughout the great city of Strasburg, was the courteous stranger going on as gently upon his mule in his way to Frankfort, as if he had no concern at all in the affair—talking all the way he rode in broken sentences, sometimes to his mule—sometimes to himself—sometimes to his Julia.
O Julia, my lovely Julia!—nay I cannot stop to let thee bite that thistle—that ever the suspected tongue of a rival should have robbed me of enjoyment when I was upon the point of tasting it.—
—Pugh!—'tis nothing but a thistle—never mind it—thou shalt have a better supper at night.
—Banish'd from my country—my friends—from thee.—
Poor devil, thou'rt sadly tired with thy journey!—come—get on a little faster—there's nothing in my cloak-bag but two shirts—a crimson-sattin pair of breeches, and a fringed—Dear Julia!
—But why to Frankfort?—is it that there is a hand unfelt, which secretly is conducting me through these meanders and unsuspected tracts?
—Stumbling! by saint Nicolas! every step—why at this rate we shall be all night in getting in—
—To happiness—or am I to be the sport of fortune and slander—destined to be driven forth unconvicted—unheard—untouch'd—if so, why did I not stay at Strasburg, where justice—but I had sworn! Come, thou shalt drink—to St. Nicolas—O Julia!—What dost thou prick up thy ears at?—'tis nothing but a man, &c.
The stranger rode on communing in this manner with his mule and Julia—till he arrived at his inn, where, as soon as he arrived, he alighted—saw his mule, as he had promised it, taken good care of—took off his cloak-bag, with his crimson-sattin breeches, &c. in it—called for an omelet to his supper, went to his bed about twelve o'clock, and in five minutes fell fast asleep.
It was about the same hour when the tumult in Strasburg being abated for that night,—the Strasburgers had all got quietly into their beds—but not like the stranger, for the rest either of their minds or bodies; queen Mab, like an elf as she was, had taken the stranger's nose, and without reduction of its bulk, had that night been at the pains of slitting and dividing it into as many noses of different cuts and fashions, as there were heads in Strasburg to hold them. The abbess of Quedlingberg, who with the four great dignitaries of her chapter, the prioress, the deaness, the sub-chantress, and senior canonness, had that week come to Strasburg to consult the university upon a case of conscience relating to their placket-holes—was ill all the night.
The courteous stranger's nose had got perched upon the top of the pineal gland of her brain, and made such rousing work in the fancies of the four great dignitaries of her chapter, they could not get a wink of sleep the whole night thro' for it—there was no keeping a limb still amongst them—in short, they got up like so many ghosts.
The penitentiaries of the third order of saint Francis—the nuns of mount Calvary—the Praemonstratenses—the Clunienses (Hafen Slawkenbergius means the Benedictine nuns of Cluny, founded in the year 940, by Odo, abbe de Cluny.)—the Carthusians, and all the severer orders of nuns, who lay that night in blankets or hair-cloth, were still in a worse condition than the abbess of Quedlingberg—by tumbling and tossing, and tossing and tumbling from one side of their beds to the other the whole night long—the several sisterhoods had scratch'd and maul'd themselves all to death—they got out of their beds almost flay'd alive—every body thought saint Antony had visited them for probation with his fire—they had never once, in short, shut their eyes the whole night long from vespers to matins.
The nuns of saint Ursula acted the wisest—they never attempted to go to bed at all.
The dean of Strasburg, the prebendaries, the capitulars and domiciliars (capitularly assembled in the morning to consider the case of butter'd buns) all wished they had followed the nuns of saint Ursula's example.—
In the hurry and confusion every thing had been in the night before, the bakers had all forgot to lay their leaven—there were no butter'd buns to be had for breakfast in all Strasburg—the whole close of the cathedral was in one eternal commotion—such a cause of restlessness and disquietude, and such a zealous inquiry into that cause of the restlessness, had never happened in Strasburg, since Martin Luther, with his doctrines, had turned the city upside down.
If the stranger's nose took this liberty of thrusting himself thus into the dishes (Mr. Shandy's compliments to orators—is very sensible that Slawkenbergius has here changed his metaphor—which he is very guilty of:—that as a translator, Mr. Shandy has all along done what he could to make him stick to it—but that here 'twas impossible.) of religious orders, &c. what a carnival did his nose make of it, in those of the laity!—'tis more than my pen, worn to the stump as it is, has power to describe; tho', I acknowledge, (cries Slawkenbergius with more gaiety of thought than I could have expected from him) that there is many a good simile now subsisting in the world which might give my countrymen some idea of it; but at the close of such a folio as this, wrote for their sakes, and in which I have spent the greatest part of my life—tho' I own to them the simile is in being, yet would it not be unreasonable in them to expect I should have either time or inclination to search for it? Let it suffice to say, that the riot and disorder it occasioned in the Strasburgers fantasies was so general—such an overpowering mastership had it got of all the faculties of the Strasburgers minds—so many strange things, with equal confidence on all sides, and with equal eloquence in all places, were spoken and sworn to concerning it, that turned the whole stream of all discourse and wonder towards it—every soul, good and bad—rich and poor—learned and unlearned—doctor and student—mistress and maid—gentle and simple—nun's flesh and woman's flesh, in Strasburg spent their time in hearing tidings about it—every eye in Strasburg languished to see it—every finger—every thumb in Strasburg burned to touch it.
Now what might add, if any thing may be thought necessary to add, to so vehement a desire—was this, that the centinel, the bandy-legg'd drummer, the trumpeter, the trumpeter's wife, the burgomaster's widow, the master of the inn, and the master of the inn's wife, how widely soever they all differed every one from another in their testimonies and description of the stranger's nose—they all agreed together in two points—namely, that he was gone to Frankfort, and would not return to Strasburg till that day month; and secondly, whether his nose was true or false, that the stranger himself was one of the most perfect paragons of beauty—the finest-made man—the most genteel!—the most generous of his purse—the most courteous in his carriage, that had ever entered the gates of Strasburg—that as he rode, with scymetar slung loosely to his wrist, thro' the streets—and walked with his crimson-sattin breeches across the parade—'twas with so sweet an air of careless modesty, and so manly withal—as would have put the heart in jeopardy (had his nose not stood in his way) of every virgin who had cast her eyes upon him.
I call not upon that heart which is a stranger to the throbs and yearnings of curiosity, so excited, to justify the abbess of Quedlingberg, the prioress, the deaness, and sub-chantress, for sending at noon-day for the trumpeter's wife: she went through the streets of Strasburg with her husband's trumpet in her hand,—the best apparatus the straitness of the time would allow her, for the illustration of her theory—she staid no longer than three days.
The centinel and bandy-legg'd drummer!—nothing on this side of old Athens could equal them! they read their lectures under the city-gates to comers and goers, with all the pomp of a Chrysippus and a Crantor in their porticos.
The master of the inn, with his ostler on his left-hand, read his also in the same stile—under the portico or gateway of his stable-yard—his wife, hers more privately in a back room: all flocked to their lectures; not promiscuously—but to this or that, as is ever the way, as faith and credulity marshal'd them—in a word, each Strasburger came crouding for intelligence—and every Strasburger had the intelligence he wanted.
'Tis worth remarking, for the benefit of all demonstrators in natural philosophy, &c. that as soon as the trumpeter's wife had finished the abbess of Quedlingberg's private lecture, and had begun to read in public, which she did upon a stool in the middle of the great parade,—she incommoded the other demonstrators mainly, by gaining incontinently the most fashionable part of the city of Strasburg for her auditory—But when a demonstrator in philosophy (cries Slawkenbergius) has a trumpet for an apparatus, pray what rival in science can pretend to be heard besides him?
Whilst the unlearned, thro' these conduits of intelligence, were all busied in getting down to the bottom of the well, where Truth keeps her little court—were the learned in their way as busy in pumping her up thro' the conduits of dialect induction—they concerned themselves not with facts—they reasoned—
Not one profession had thrown more light upon this subject than the Faculty—had not all their disputes about it run into the affair of Wens and oedematous swellings, they could not keep clear of them for their bloods and souls—the stranger's nose had nothing to do either with wens or oedematous swellings.
It was demonstrated however very satisfactorily, that such a ponderous mass of heterogenous matter could not be congested and conglomerated to the nose, whilst the infant was in Utera, without destroying the statical balance of the foetus, and throwing it plump upon its head nine months before the time.—
—The opponents granted the theory—they denied the consequences.
And if a suitable provision of veins, arteries, &c. said they, was not laid in, for the due nourishment of such a nose, in the very first stamina and rudiments of its formation, before it came into the world (bating the case of Wens) it could not regularly grow and be sustained afterwards.
This was all answered by a dissertation upon nutriment, and the effect which nutriment had in extending the vessels, and in the increase and prolongation of the muscular parts to the greatest growth and expansion imaginable—In the triumph of which theory, they went so far as to affirm, that there was no cause in nature, why a nose might not grow to the size of the man himself.
The respondents satisfied the world this event could never happen to them so long as a man had but one stomach and one pair of lungs—For the stomach, said they, being the only organ destined for the reception of food, and turning it into chyle—and the lungs the only engine of sanguification—it could possibly work off no more, than what the appetite brought it: or admitting the possibility of a man's overloading his stomach, nature had set bounds however to his lungs—the engine was of a determined size and strength, and could elaborate but a certain quantity in a given time—that is, it could produce just as much blood as was sufficient for one single man, and no more; so that, if there was as much nose as man—they proved a mortification must necessarily ensue; and forasmuch as there could not be a support for both, that the nose must either fall off from the man, or the man inevitably fall off from his nose.
Nature accommodates herself to these emergencies, cried the opponents—else what do you say to the case of a whole stomach—a whole pair of lungs, and but half a man, when both his legs have been unfortunately shot off?
He dies of a plethora, said they—or must spit blood, and in a fortnight or three weeks go off in a consumption.—
—It happens otherwise—replied the opponents.—
It ought not, said they.
The more curious and intimate inquirers after nature and her doings, though they went hand in hand a good way together, yet they all divided about the nose at last, almost as much as the Faculty itself
They amicably laid it down, that there was a just and geometrical arrangement and proportion of the several parts of the human frame to its several destinations, offices, and functions, which could not be transgressed but within certain limits—that nature, though she sported—she sported within a certain circle;—and they could not agree about the diameter of it.
The logicians stuck much closer to the point before them than any of the classes of the literati;—they began and ended with the word Nose; and had it not been for a petitio principii, which one of the ablest of them ran his head against in the beginning of the combat, the whole controversy had been settled at once.
A nose, argued the logician, cannot bleed without blood—and not only blood—but blood circulating in it to supply the phaenomenon with a succession of drops—(a stream being but a quicker succession of drops, that is included, said he.)—Now death, continued the logician, being nothing but the stagnation of the blood—
I deny the definition—Death is the separation of the soul from the body, said his antagonist—Then we don't agree about our weapons, said the logician—Then there is an end of the dispute, replied the antagonist.
The civilians were still more concise: what they offered being more in the nature of a decree—than a dispute.
Such a monstrous nose, said they, had it been a true nose, could not possibly have been suffered in civil society—and if false—to impose upon society with such false signs and tokens, was a still greater violation of its rights, and must have had still less mercy shewn it.
The only objection to this was, that if it proved any thing, it proved the stranger's nose was neither true nor false.
This left room for the controversy to go on. It was maintained by the advocates of the ecclesiastic court, that there was nothing to inhibit a decree, since the stranger ex mero motu had confessed he had been at the Promontory of Noses, and had got one of the goodliest, &c. &c.—To this it was answered, it was impossible there should be such a place as the Promontory of Noses, and the learned be ignorant where it lay. The commissary of the bishop of Strasburg undertook the advocates, explained this matter in a treatise upon proverbial phrases, shewing them, that the Promontory of Noses was a mere allegorick expression, importing no more than that nature had given him a long nose: in proof of which, with great learning, he cited the underwritten authorities, (Nonnulli ex nostratibus eadem loquendi formula utun. Quinimo & Logistae & Canonistae—Vid. Parce Barne Jas in d. L. Provincial. Constitut. de conjec. vid. Vol. Lib. 4. Titul. I. n. 7 qua etiam in re conspir. Om de Promontorio Nas. Tichmak. ff. d. tit. 3. fol. 189. passim. Vid. Glos. de contrahend. empt. &c. necnon J. Scrudr. in cap. para refut. per totum. Cum his cons. Rever. J. Tubal, Sentent. & Prov. cap. 9. ff. 11, 12. obiter. V. & Librum, cui Tit. de Terris & Phras. Belg. ad finem, cum comment. N. Bardy Belg. Vid. Scrip. Argentotarens. de Antiq. Ecc. in Episc Archiv. fid coll. per Von Jacobum Koinshoven Folio Argent. 1583. praecip. ad finem. Quibus add. Rebuff in L. obvenire de Signif. Nom. ff. fol. & de jure Gent. & Civil. de protib. aliena feud. per federa, test. Joha. Luxius in prolegom. quem velim videas, de Analy. Cap. 1, 2, 3. Vid. Idea.) which had decided the point incontestably, had it not appeared that a dispute about some franchises of dean and chapter-lands had been determined by it nineteen years before.
It happened—I must say unluckily for Truth, because they were giving her a lift another way in so doing; that the two universities of Strasburg—the Lutheran, founded in the year 1538 by Jacobus Surmis, counsellor of the senate,—and the Popish, founded by Leopold, arch-duke of Austria, were, during all this time, employing the whole depth of their knowledge (except just what the affair of the abbess of Quedlingberg's placket-holes required)—in determining the point of Martin Luther's damnation.
The Popish doctors had undertaken to demonstrate a priori, that from the necessary influence of the planets on the twenty-second day of October 1483—when the moon was in the twelfth house, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus in the third, the Sun, Saturn, and Mercury, all got together in the fourth—that he must in course, and unavoidably, be a damn'd man—and that his doctrines, by a direct corollary, must be damn'd doctrines too.
By inspection into his horoscope, where five planets were in coition all at once with Scorpio (Haec mira, satisque horrenda. Planetarum coitio sub Scorpio Asterismo in nona coeli statione, quam Arabes religioni deputabant efficit Martinum Lutherum sacrilegum hereticum, Christianae religionis hostem acerrimum atque prophanum, ex horoscopi directione ad Martis coitum, religiosissimus obiit, ejus Anima scelestissima ad infernos navigavit—ab Alecto, Tisiphone & Megara flagellis igneis cruciata perenniter.—Lucas Gaurieus in Tractatu astrologico de praeteritis multorum hominum accidentibus per genituras examinatis.) (in reading this my father would always shake his head) in the ninth house, with the Arabians allotted to religion—it appeared that Martin Luther did not care one stiver about the matter—and that from the horoscope directed to the conjunction of Mars—they made it plain likewise he must die cursing and blaspheming—with the blast of which his soul (being steep'd in guilt) sailed before the wind, in the lake of hell-fire.
The little objection of the Lutheran doctors to this, was, that it must certainly be the soul of another man, born Oct. 22, 83. which was forced to sail down before the wind in that manner—inasmuch as it appeared from the register of Islaben in the county of Mansfelt, that Luther was not born in the year 1483, but in 84; and not on the 22d day of October, but on the 10th of November, the eve of Martinmas day, from whence he had the name of Martin.
(—I must break off my translation for a moment; for if I did not, I know I should no more be able to shut my eyes in bed, than the abbess of Quedlingberg—It is to tell the reader; that my father never read this passage of Slawkenbergius to my uncle Toby, but with triumph—not over my uncle Toby, for he never opposed him in it—but over the whole world.
—Now you see, brother Toby, he would say, looking up, 'that christian names are not such indifferent things;'—had Luther here been called by any other name but Martin, he would have been damn'd to all eternity—Not that I look upon Martin, he would add, as a good name—far from it—'tis something better than a neutral, and but a little—yet little as it is you see it was of some service to him.
My father knew the weakness of this prop to his hypothesis, as well as the best logician could shew him—yet so strange is the weakness of man at the same time, as it fell in his way, he could not for his life but make use of it; and it was certainly for this reason, that though there are many stories in Hafen Slawkenbergius's Decades full as entertaining as this I am translating, yet there is not one amongst them which my father read over with half the delight—it flattered two of his strangest hypotheses together—his Names and his Noses.—I will be bold to say, he might have read all the books in the Alexandrian Library, had not fate taken other care of them, and not have met with a book or passage in one, which hit two such nails as these upon the head at one stroke.)
The two universities of Strasburg were hard tugging at this affair of Luther's navigation. The Protestant doctors had demonstrated, that he had not sailed right before the wind, as the Popish doctors had pretended; and as every one knew there was no sailing full in the teeth of it—they were going to settle, in case he had sailed, how many points he was off; whether Martin had doubled the cape, or had fallen upon a lee-shore; and no doubt, as it was an enquiry of much edification, at least to those who understood this sort of Navigation, they had gone on with it in spite of the size of the stranger's nose, had not the size of the stranger's nose drawn off the attention of the world from what they were about—it was their business to follow.
The abbess of Quedlingberg and her four dignitaries was no stop; for the enormity of the stranger's nose running full as much in their fancies as their case of conscience—the affair of their placket-holes kept cold—in a word, the printers were ordered to distribute their types—all controversies dropp'd.
'Twas a square cap with a silver tassel upon the crown of it—to a nut-shell—to have guessed on which side of the nose the two universities would split.
'Tis above reason, cried the doctors on one side.
'Tis below reason, cried the others.
'Tis faith, cried one.
'Tis a fiddle-stick, said the other.
'Tis possible, cried the one.
'Tis impossible, said the other.
God's power is infinite, cried the Nosarians, he can do any thing.
He can do nothing, replied the Anti-nosarians, which implies contradictions.
He can make matter think, said the Nosarians.
As certainly as you can make a velvet cap out of a sow's ear, replied the Anti-nosarians.
He cannot make two and two five, replied the Popish doctors.—'Tis false, said their other opponents.—
Infinite power is infinite power, said the doctors who maintained the reality of the nose.—It extends only to all possible things, replied the Lutherans.
By God in heaven, cried the Popish doctors, he can make a nose, if he thinks fit, as big as the steeple of Strasburg.
Now the steeple of Strasburg being the biggest and the tallest church-steeple to be seen in the whole world, the Anti-nosarians denied that a nose of 575 geometrical feet in length could be worn, at least by a middle-siz'd man—The Popish doctors swore it could—The Lutheran doctors said No;—it could not.
This at once started a new dispute, which they pursued a great way, upon the extent and limitation of the moral and natural attributes of God—That controversy led them naturally into Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Aquinas to the devil.
The stranger's nose was no more heard of in the dispute—it just served as a frigate to launch them into the gulph of school-divinity—and then they all sailed before the wind.
Heat is in proportion to the want of true knowledge.
The controversy about the attributes, &c. instead of cooling, on the contrary had inflamed the Strasburgers imaginations to a most inordinate degree—The less they understood of the matter the greater was their wonder about it—they were left in all the distresses of desire unsatisfied—saw their doctors, the Parchmentarians, the Brassarians, the Turpentarians, on one side—the Popish doctors on the other, like Pantagruel and his companions in quest of the oracle of the bottle, all embarked out of sight.
—The poor Strasburgers left upon the beach!
—What was to be done?—No delay—the uproar increased—every one in disorder—the city gates set open.—
Unfortunate Strasbergers! was there in the store-house of nature—was there in the lumber-rooms of learning—was there in the great arsenal of chance, one single engine left undrawn forth to torture your curiosities, and stretch your desires, which was not pointed by the hand of Fate to play upon your hearts?—I dip not my pen into my ink to excuse the surrender of yourselves—'tis to write your panegyrick. Shew me a city so macerated with expectation—who neither eat, or drank, or slept, or prayed, or hearkened to the calls either of religion or nature, for seven-and-twenty days together, who could have held out one day longer.
On the twenty-eighth the courteous stranger had promised to return to Strasburg.
Seven thousand coaches (Slawkenbergius must certainly have made some mistake in his numeral characters) 7000 coaches—15000 single-horse chairs—20000 waggons, crowded as full as they could all hold with senators, counsellors, syndicks—beguines, widows, wives, virgins, canons, concubines, all in their coaches—The abbess of Quedlingberg, with the prioress, the deaness and sub-chantress, leading the procession in one coach, and the dean of Strasburg, with the four great dignitaries of his chapter, on her left-hand—the rest following higglety-pigglety as they could; some on horseback—some on foot—some led—some driven—some down the Rhine—some this way—some that—all set out at sun-rise to meet the courteous stranger on the road.
Haste we now towards the catastrophe of my tale—I say Catastrophe (cries Slawkenbergius) inasmuch as a tale, with parts rightly disposed, not only rejoiceth (gaudet) in the Catastrophe and Peripeitia of a Drama, but rejoiceth moreover in all the essential and integrant parts of it—it has its Protasis, Epitasis, Catastasis, its Catastrophe or Peripeitia growing one out of the other in it, in the order Aristotle first planted them—without which a tale had better never be told at all, says Slawkenbergius, but be kept to a man's self.
In all my ten tales, in all my ten decades, have I Slawkenbergius tied down every tale of them as tightly to this rule, as I have done this of the stranger and his nose.
—From his first parley with the centinel, to his leaving the city of Strasburg, after pulling off his crimson-sattin pair of breeches, is the Protasis or first entrance—where the characters of the Personae Dramatis are just touched in, and the subject slightly begun.
The Epitasis, wherein the action is more fully entered upon and heightened, till it arrives at its state or height called the Catastasis, and which usually takes up the 2d and 3d act, is included within that busy period of my tale, betwixt the first night's uproar about the nose, to the conclusion of the trumpeter's wife's lectures upon it in the middle of the grand parade: and from the first embarking of the learned in the dispute—to the doctors finally sailing away, and leaving the Strasburgers upon the beach in distress, is the Catastasis or the ripening of the incidents and passions for their bursting forth in the fifth act.
This commences with the setting out of the Strasburgers in the Frankfort road, and terminates in unwinding the labyrinth and bringing the hero out of a state of agitation (as Aristotle calls it) to a state of rest and quietness.
This, says Hafen Slawkenbergius, constitutes the Catastrophe or Peripeitia of my tale—and that is the part of it I am going to relate.
We left the stranger behind the curtain asleep—he enters now upon the stage.
—What dost thou prick up thy ears at?—'tis nothing but a man upon a horse—was the last word the stranger uttered to his mule. It was not proper then to tell the reader, that the mule took his master's word for it; and without any more ifs or ands, let the traveller and his horse pass by.
The traveller was hastening with all diligence to get to Strasburg that night. What a fool am I, said the traveller to himself, when he had rode about a league farther, to think of getting into Strasburg this night.—Strasburg!—the great Strasburg!—Strasburg, the capital of all Alsatia! Strasburg, an imperial city! Strasburg, a sovereign state! Strasburg, garrisoned with five thousand of the best troops in all the world!—Alas! if I was at the gates of Strasburg this moment, I could not gain admittance into it for a ducat—nay a ducat and half—'tis too much—better go back to the last inn I have passed—than lie I know not where—or give I know not what. The traveller, as he made these reflections in his mind, turned his horse's head about, and three minutes after the stranger had been conducted into his chamber, he arrived at the same inn.
—We have bacon in the house, said the host, and bread—and till eleven o'clock this night had three eggs in it—but a stranger, who arrived an hour ago, has had them dressed into an omelet, and we have nothing.—
Alas! said the traveller, harassed as I am, I want nothing but a bed.—I have one as soft as is in Alsatia, said the host.
—The stranger, continued he, should have slept in it, for 'tis my best bed, but upon the score of his nose.—He has got a defluxion, said the traveller.—Not that I know, cried the host.—But 'tis a camp-bed, and Jacinta, said he, looking towards the maid, imagined there was not room in it to turn his nose in.—Why so? cried the traveller, starting back.—It is so long a nose, replied the host.—The traveller fixed his eyes upon Jacinta, then upon the ground—kneeled upon his right knee—had just got his hand laid upon his breast—Trifle not with my anxiety, said he rising up again.—'Tis no trifle, said Jacinta, 'tis the most glorious nose!—The traveller fell upon his knee again—laid his hand upon his breast—then, said he, looking up to heaven, thou hast conducted me to the end of my pilgrimage—'Tis Diego.
The traveller was the brother of the Julia, so often invoked that night by the stranger as he rode from Strasburg upon his mule; and was come, on her part, in quest of him. He had accompanied his sister from Valadolid across the Pyrenean mountains through France, and had many an entangled skein to wind off in pursuit of him through the many meanders and abrupt turnings of a lover's thorny tracks.
—Julia had sunk under it—and had not been able to go a step farther than to Lyons, where, with the many disquietudes of a tender heart, which all talk of—but few feel—she sicken'd, but had just strength to write a letter to Diego; and having conjured her brother never to see her face till he had found him out, and put the letter into his hands, Julia took to her bed.
Fernandez (for that was her brother's name)—tho' the camp-bed was as soft as any one in Alsace, yet he could not shut his eyes in it.—As soon as it was day he rose, and hearing Diego was risen too, he entered his chamber, and discharged his sister's commission.
The letter was as follows:
'Whether my suspicions of your nose were justly excited or not—'tis not now to inquire—it is enough I have not had firmness to put them to farther tryal.
'How could I know so little of myself, when I sent my Duenna to forbid your coming more under my lattice? or how could I know so little of you, Diego, as to imagine you would not have staid one day in Valadolid to have given ease to my doubts?—Was I to be abandoned, Diego, because I was deceived? or was it kind to take me at my word, whether my suspicions were just or no, and leave me, as you did, a prey to much uncertainty and sorrow?
'In what manner Julia has resented this—my brother, when he puts this letter into your hands, will tell you; He will tell you in how few moments she repented of the rash message she had sent you—in what frantic haste she flew to her lattice, and how many days and nights together she leaned immoveably upon her elbow, looking through it towards the way which Diego was wont to come.
'He will tell you, when she heard of your departure—how her spirits deserted her—how her heart sicken'd—how piteously she mourned—how low she hung her head. O Diego! how many weary steps has my brother's pity led me by the hand languishing to trace out yours; how far has desire carried me beyond strength—and how oft have I fainted by the way, and sunk into his arms, with only power to cry out—O my Diego!
'If the gentleness of your carriage has not belied your heart, you will fly to me, almost as fast as you fled from me—haste as you will—you will arrive but to see me expire.—'Tis a bitter draught, Diego, but oh! 'tis embittered still more by dying un...—'
She could proceed no farther.
Slawkenbergius supposes the word intended was unconvinced, but her strength would not enable her to finish her letter.
The heart of the courteous Diego over-flowed as he read the letter—he ordered his mule forthwith and Fernandez's horse to be saddled; and as no vent in prose is equal to that of poetry in such conflicts—chance, which as often directs us to remedies as to diseases, having thrown a piece of charcoal into the window—Diego availed himself of it, and whilst the hostler was getting ready his mule, he eased his mind against the wall as follows.
The lines were very natural—for they were nothing at all to the purpose, says Slawkenbergius, and 'tis a pity there were no more of them; but whether it was that Seig. Diego was slow in composing verses—or the hostler quick in saddling mules—is not averred; certain it was, that Diego's mule and Fernandez's horse were ready at the door of the inn, before Diego was ready for his second stanza; so without staying to finish his ode, they both mounted, sallied forth, passed the Rhine, traversed Alsace, shaped their course towards Lyons, and before the Strasburgers and the abbess of Quedlingberg had set out on their cavalcade, had Fernandez, Diego, and his Julia, crossed the Pyrenean mountains, and got safe to Valadolid.
'Tis needless to inform the geographical reader, that when Diego was in Spain, it was not possible to meet the courteous stranger in the Frankfort road; it is enough to say, that of all restless desires, curiosity being the strongest—the Strasburgers felt the full force of it; and that for three days and nights they were tossed to and fro in the Frankfort road, with the tempestuous fury of this passion, before they could submit to return home.—When alas! an event was prepared for them, of all other, the most grievous that could befal a free people.
As this revolution of the Strasburgers affairs is often spoken of, and little understood, I will, in ten words, says Slawkenbergius, give the world an explanation of it, and with it put an end to my tale.
Every body knows of the grand system of Universal Monarchy, wrote by order of Mons. Colbert, and put in manuscript into the hands of Lewis the fourteenth, in the year 1664.
'Tis as well known, that one branch out of many of that system, was the getting possession of Strasburg, to favour an entrance at all times into Suabia, in order to disturb the quiet of Germany—and that in consequence of this plan, Strasburg unhappily fell at length into their hands.
It is the lot of a few to trace out the true springs of this and such like revolutions—The vulgar look too high for them—Statesmen look too low—Truth (for once) lies in the middle.
What a fatal thing is the popular pride of a free city! cries one historian—The Strasburgers deemed it a diminution of their freedom to receive an imperial garrison—so fell a prey to a French one.
The fate, says another, of the Strasburgers, may be a warning to all free people to save their money.—They anticipated their revenues—brought themselves under taxes, exhausted their strength, and in the end became so weak a people, they had not strength to keep their gates shut, and so the French pushed them open.
Alas! alas! cries Slawkenbergius, 'twas not the French,—'twas Curiosity pushed them open—The French indeed, who are ever upon the catch, when they saw the Strasburgers, men, women and children, all marched out to follow the stranger's nose—each man followed his own, and marched in.
Trade and manufactures have decayed and gradually grown down ever since—but not from any cause which commercial heads have assigned; for it is owing to this only, that Noses have ever so run in their heads, that the Strasburgers could not follow their business.
Alas! alas! cries Slawkenbergius, making an exclamation—it is not the first—and I fear will not be the last fortress that has been either won—or lost by Noses.
The End of Slawkenbergius's Tale.
With all this learning upon Noses running perpetually in my father's fancy—with so many family prejudices—and ten decades of such tales running on for ever along with them—how was it possible with such exquisite—was it a true nose?—That a man with such exquisite feelings as my father had, could bear the shock at all below stairs—or indeed above stairs, in any other posture, but the very posture I have described?
—Throw yourself down upon the bed, a dozen times—taking care only to place a looking-glass first in a chair on one side of it, before you do it—But was the stranger's nose a true nose, or was it a false one?
To tell that before-hand, madam, would be to do injury to one of the best tales in the Christian-world; and that is the tenth of the tenth decade, which immediately follows this.
This tale, cried Slawkenbergius, somewhat exultingly, has been reserved by me for the concluding tale of my whole work; knowing right well, that when I shall have told it, and my reader shall have read it thro'—'twould be even high time for both of us to shut up the book; inasmuch, continues Slawkenbergius, as I know of no tale which could possibly ever go down after it.
'Tis a tale indeed!
This sets out with the first interview in the inn at Lyons, when Fernandez left the courteous stranger and his sister Julia alone in her chamber, and is over-written.
The Intricacies of Diego and Julia.
Heavens! thou art a strange creature, Slawkenbergius! what a whimsical view of the involutions of the heart of woman hast thou opened! how this can ever be translated, and yet if this specimen of Slawkenbergius's tales, and the exquisitiveness of his moral, should please the world—translated shall a couple of volumes be.—Else, how this can ever be translated into good English, I have no sort of conception—There seems in some passages to want a sixth sense to do it rightly.—What can he mean by the lambent pupilability of slow, low, dry chat, five notes below the natural tone—which you know, madam, is little more than a whisper? The moment I pronounced the words, I could perceive an attempt towards a vibration in the strings, about the region of the heart.—The brain made no acknowledgment.—There's often no good understanding betwixt 'em—I felt as if I understood it.—I had no ideas.—The movement could not be without cause.—I'm lost. I can make nothing of it—unless, may it please your worships, the voice, in that case being little more than a whisper, unavoidably forces the eyes to approach not only within six inches of each other—but to look into the pupils—is not that dangerous?—But it can't be avoided—for to look up to the cieling, in that case the two chins unavoidably meet—and to look down into each other's lap, the foreheads come to immediate contact, which at once puts an end to the conference—I mean to the sentimental part of it.—What is left, madam, is not worth stooping for.
My father lay stretched across the bed as still as if the hand of death had pushed him down, for a full hour and a half before he began to play upon the floor with the toe of that foot which hung over the bed-side; my uncle Toby's heart was a pound lighter for it.—In a few moments, his left-hand, the knuckles of which had all the time reclined upon the handle of the chamber-pot, came to its feeling—he thrust it a little more within the valance—drew up his hand, when he had done, into his bosom—gave a hem! My good uncle Toby, with infinite pleasure, answered it; and full gladly would have ingrafted a sentence of consolation upon the opening it afforded: but having no talents, as I said, that way, and fearing moreover that he might set out with something which might make a bad matter worse, he contented himself with resting his chin placidly upon the cross of his crutch.
Now whether the compression shortened my uncle Toby's face into a more pleasurable oval—or that the philanthropy of his heart, in seeing his brother beginning to emerge out of the sea of his afflictions, had braced up his muscles—so that the compression upon his chin only doubled the benignity which was there before, is not hard to decide.—My father, in turning his eyes, was struck with such a gleam of sun-shine in his face, as melted down the sullenness of his grief in a moment.
He broke silence as follows:
Did ever man, brother Toby, cried my father, raising himself upon his elbow, and turning himself round to the opposite side of the bed, where my uncle Toby was sitting in his old fringed chair, with his chin resting upon his crutch—did ever a poor unfortunate man, brother Toby, cried my father, receive so many lashes?—The most I ever saw given, quoth my uncle Toby (ringing the bell at the bed's head for Trim) was to a grenadier, I think in Mackay's regiment.
—Had my uncle Toby shot a bullet through my father's heart, he could not have fallen down with his nose upon the quilt more suddenly.
Bless me! said my uncle Toby.
Was it Mackay's regiment, quoth my uncle Toby, where the poor grenadier was so unmercifully whipp'd at Bruges about the ducats?—O Christ! he was innocent! cried Trim, with a deep sigh.—And he was whipp'd, may it please your honour, almost to death's door.—They had better have shot him outright, as he begg'd, and he had gone directly to heaven, for he was as innocent as your honour.—I thank thee, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby.—I never think of his, continued Trim, and my poor brother Tom's misfortunes, for we were all three school-fellows, but I cry like a coward.—Tears are no proof of cowardice, Trim.—I drop them oft-times myself, cried my uncle Toby.—I know your honour does, replied Trim, and so am not ashamed of it myself.—But to think, may it please your honour, continued Trim, a tear stealing into the corner of his eye as he spoke—to think of two virtuous lads with hearts as warm in their bodies, and as honest as God could make them—the children of honest people, going forth with gallant spirits to seek their fortunes in the world—and fall into such evils!—poor Tom! to be tortured upon a rack for nothing—but marrying a Jew's widow who sold sausages—honest Dick Johnson's soul to be scourged out of his body, for the ducats another man put into his knapsack!—O!—these are misfortunes, cried Trim,—pulling out his handkerchief—these are misfortunes, may it please your honour, worth lying down and crying over.
—My father could not help blushing.
'Twould be a pity, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, thou shouldst ever feel sorrow of thy own—thou feelest it so tenderly for others.—Alack-o-day, replied the corporal, brightening up his face—your honour knows I have neither wife or child—I can have no sorrows in this world.—My father could not help smiling.—As few as any man, Trim, replied my uncle Toby; nor can I see how a fellow of thy light heart can suffer, but from the distress of poverty in thy old age—when thou art passed all services, Trim—and hast outlived thy friends.—An' please your honour, never fear, replied Trim, chearily.—But I would have thee never fear, Trim, replied my uncle Toby, and therefore, continued my uncle Toby, throwing down his crutch, and getting up upon his legs as he uttered the word therefore—in recompence, Trim, of thy long fidelity to me, and that goodness of thy heart I have had such proofs of—whilst thy master is worth a shilling—thou shalt never ask elsewhere, Trim, for a penny. Trim attempted to thank my uncle Toby—but had not power—tears trickled down his cheeks faster than he could wipe them off—He laid his hands upon his breast—made a bow to the ground, and shut the door.
—I have left Trim my bowling-green, cried my uncle Toby—My father smiled.—I have left him moreover a pension, continued my uncle Toby.—My father looked grave.
Is this a fit time, said my father to himself, to talk of Pensions and Grenadiers?
When my uncle Toby first mentioned the grenadier, my father, I said, fell down with his nose flat to the quilt, and as suddenly as if my uncle Toby had shot him; but it was not added that every other limb and member of my father instantly relapsed with his nose into the same precise attitude in which he lay first described; so that when corporal Trim left the room, and my father found himself disposed to rise off the bed—he had all the little preparatory movements to run over again, before he could do it. Attitudes are nothing, madam—'tis the transition from one attitude to another—like the preparation and resolution of the discord into harmony, which is all in all.
For which reason my father played the same jig over again with his toe upon the floor—pushed the chamber-pot still a little farther within the valance—gave a hem—raised himself up upon his elbow—and was just beginning to address himself to my uncle Toby—when recollecting the unsuccessfulness of his first effort in that attitude—he got upon his legs, and in making the third turn across the room, he stopped short before my uncle Toby; and laying the three first fingers of his right-hand in the palm of his left, and stooping a little, he addressed himself to my uncle Toby as follows:
When I reflect, brother Toby, upon Man; and take a view of that dark side of him which represents his life as open to so many causes of trouble—when I consider, brother Toby, how oft we eat the bread of affliction, and that we are born to it, as to the portion of our inheritance—I was born to nothing, quoth my uncle Toby, interrupting my father—but my commission. Zooks! said my father, did not my uncle leave you a hundred and twenty pounds a year?—What could I have done without it? replied my uncle Toby—That's another concern, said my father testily—But I say Toby, when one runs over the catalogue of all the cross-reckonings and sorrowful Items with which the heart of man is overcharged, 'tis wonderful by what hidden resources the mind is enabled to stand out, and bear itself up, as it does, against the impositions laid upon our nature.—'Tis by the assistance of Almighty God, cried my uncle Toby, looking up, and pressing the palms of his hands close together—'tis not from our own strength, brother Shandy—a centinel in a wooden centry-box might as well pretend to stand it out against a detachment of fifty men.—We are upheld by the grace and the assistance of the best of Beings.
—That is cutting the knot, said my father, instead of untying it,—But give me leave to lead you, brother Toby, a little deeper into the mystery.
With all my heart, replied my uncle Toby.
My father instantly exchanged the attitude he was in, for that in which Socrates is so finely painted by Raffael in his school of Athens; which your connoisseurship knows is so exquisitely imagined, that even the particular manner of the reasoning of Socrates is expressed by it—for he holds the fore-finger of his left-hand between the fore-finger and the thumb of his right, and seems as if he was saying to the libertine he is reclaiming—'You grant me this—and this: and this, and this, I don't ask of you—they follow of themselves in course.'
So stood my father, holding fast his fore-finger betwixt his finger and his thumb, and reasoning with my uncle Toby as he sat in his old fringed chair, valanced around with party-coloured worsted bobs—O Garrick!—what a rich scene of this would thy exquisite powers make! and how gladly would I write such another to avail myself of thy immortality, and secure my own behind it.
Though man is of all others the most curious vehicle, said my father, yet at the same time 'tis of so slight a frame, and so totteringly put together, that the sudden jerks and hard jostlings it unavoidably meets with in this rugged journey, would overset and tear it to pieces a dozen times a day—was it not, brother Toby, that there is a secret spring within us.—Which spring, said my uncle Toby, I take to be Religion.—Will that set my child's nose on? cried my father, letting go his finger, and striking one hand against the other.—It makes every thing straight for us, answered my uncle Toby.—Figuratively speaking, dear Toby, it may, for aught I know, said my father; but the spring I am speaking of, is that great and elastic power within us of counterbalancing evil, which, like a secret spring in a well-ordered machine, though it can't prevent the shock—at least it imposes upon our sense of it.
Now, my dear brother, said my father, replacing his fore-finger, as he was coming closer to the point—had my child arrived safe into the world, unmartyr'd in that precious part of him—fanciful and extravagant as I may appear to the world in my opinion of christian names, and of that magic bias which good or bad names irresistibly impress upon our characters and conducts—Heaven is witness! that in the warmest transports of my wishes for the prosperity of my child, I never once wished to crown his head with more glory and honour than what George or Edward would have spread around it.
But alas! continued my father, as the greatest evil has befallen him—I must counteract and undo it with the greatest good.
He shall be christened Trismegistus, brother.
I wish it may answer—replied my uncle Toby, rising up.
What a chapter of chances, said my father, turning himself about upon the first landing, as he and my uncle Toby were going down stairs, what a long chapter of chances do the events of this world lay open to us! Take pen and ink in hand, brother Toby, and calculate it fairly—I know no more of calculation than this balluster, said my uncle Toby (striking short of it with his crutch, and hitting my father a desperate blow souse upon his shin-bone)—'Twas a hundred to one-cried my uncle Toby—I thought, quoth my father, (rubbing his shin) you had known nothing of calculations, brother Toby. A mere chance, said my uncle Toby.—Then it adds one to the chapter—replied my father.
The double success of my father's repartees tickled off the pain of his shin at once—it was well it so fell out—(chance! again)—or the world to this day had never known the subject of my father's calculation—to guess it—there was no chance—What a lucky chapter of chances has this turned out! for it has saved me the trouble of writing one express, and in truth I have enough already upon my hands without it.—Have not I promised the world a chapter of knots? two chapters upon the right and the wrong end of a woman? a chapter upon whiskers? a chapter upon wishes?—a chapter of noses?—No, I have done that—a chapter upon my uncle Toby's modesty? to say nothing of a chapter upon chapters, which I will finish before I sleep—by my great grandfather's whiskers, I shall never get half of 'em through this year.
Take pen and ink in hand, and calculate it fairly, brother Toby, said my father, and it will turn out a million to one, that of all the parts of the body, the edge of the forceps should have the ill luck just to fall upon and break down that one part, which should break down the fortunes of our house with it.
It might have been worse, replied my uncle Toby.—I don't comprehend, said my father.—Suppose the hip had presented, replied my uncle Toby, as Dr. Slop foreboded.
My father reflected half a minute—looked down—touched the middle of his forehead slightly with his finger—
—True, said he.
Is it not a shame to make two chapters of what passed in going down one pair of stairs? for we are got no farther yet than to the first landing, and there are fifteen more steps down to the bottom; and for aught I know, as my father and my uncle Toby are in a talking humour, there may be as many chapters as steps:—let that be as it will, Sir, I can no more help it than my destiny:—A sudden impulse comes across me—drop the curtain, Shandy—I drop it—Strike a line here across the paper, Tristram—I strike it—and hey for a new chapter.
The deuce of any other rule have I to govern myself by in this affair—and if I had one—as I do all things out of all rule—I would twist it and tear it to pieces, and throw it into the fire when I had done—Am I warm? I am, and the cause demands it—a pretty story! is a man to follow rules—or rules to follow him?
Now this, you must know, being my chapter upon chapters, which I promised to write before I went to sleep, I thought it meet to ease my conscience entirely before I laid down, by telling the world all I knew about the matter at once: Is not this ten times better than to set out dogmatically with a sententious parade of wisdom, and telling the world a story of a roasted horse—that chapters relieve the mind—that they assist—or impose upon the imagination—and that in a work of this dramatic cast they are as necessary as the shifting of scenes—with fifty other cold conceits, enough to extinguish the fire which roasted him?—O! but to understand this, which is a puff at the fire of Diana's temple—you must read Longinus—read away—if you are not a jot the wiser by reading him the first time over—never fear—read him again—Avicenna and Licetus read Aristotle's metaphysicks forty times through a-piece, and never understood a single word.—But mark the consequence—Avicenna turned out a desperate writer at all kinds of writing—for he wrote books de omni scribili; and for Licetus (Fortunio) though all the world knows he was born a foetus, (Ce Foetus n'etoit pas plus grand que la paume de la main; mais son pere l'ayant examine en qualite de Medecin, & ayant trouve que c'etoit quelque chose de plus qu'un Embryon, le fit transporter tout vivant a Rapallo, ou il le fit voir a Jerome Bardi & a d'autres Medecins du lieu. On trouva qu'il ne lui manquoit rien d'essentiel a la vie; & son pere pour faire voir un essai de son experience, entreprit d'achever l'ouvrage de la Nature, & de travailler a la formation de l'Enfant avec le meme artifice que celui dont on se sert pour faire ecclorre les Poulets en Egypte. Il instruisit une Nourisse de tout ce qu'elle avoit a faire, & ayant fait mettre son fils dans un pour proprement accommode, il reussit a l'elever & a lui faire prendre ses accroissemens necessaires, par l'uniformite d'une chaleur etrangere mesuree exactement sur les degres d'un Thermometre, ou d'un autre instrument equivalent. (Vide Mich. Giustinian, ne gli Scritt. Liguri a 223. 488.) On auroit toujours ete tres satisfait de l'industrie d'un pere si experimente dans l'Art de la Generation, quand il n'auroit pu prolonger la vie a son fils que pour Puelques mois, ou pour peu d'annees. Mais quand on se represente que l'Enfant a vecu pres de quatre-vingts ans, & qu'il a compose quatre-vingts Ouvrages differents tous fruits d'une longue lecture—il faut convenir que tout ce qui est incroyable n'est pas toujours faux, & que la Vraisemblance n'est pas toujours du cote la Verite. Il n'avoit que dix neuf ans lorsqu'il composa Gonopsychanthropologia de Origine Animae humanae. (Les Enfans celebres, revus & corriges par M. de la Monnoye de l'Academie Francoise.)) of no more than five inches and a half in length, yet he grew to that astonishing height in literature, as to write a book with a title as long as himself—the learned know I mean his Gonopsychanthropologia, upon the origin of the human soul.
So much for my chapter upon chapters, which I hold to be the best chapter in my whole work; and take my word, whoever reads it, is full as well employed, as in picking straws.
We shall bring all things to rights, said my father, setting his foot upon the first step from the landing.—This Trismegistus, continued my father, drawing his leg back and turning to my uncle Toby—was the greatest (Toby) of all earthly beings—he was the greatest king—the greatest lawgiver—the greatest philosopher—and the greatest priest—and engineer—said my uncle Toby.
—In course, said my father.
—And how does your mistress? cried my father, taking the same step over again from the landing, and calling to Susannah, whom he saw passing by the foot of the stairs with a huge pin-cushion in her hand—how does your mistress? As well, said Susannah, tripping by, but without looking up, as can be expected.—What a fool am I! said my father, drawing his leg back again—let things be as they will, brother Toby, 'tis ever the precise answer—And how is the child, pray?—No answer. And where is Dr. Slop? added my father, raising his voice aloud, and looking over the ballusters—Susannah was out of hearing.
Of all the riddles of a married life, said my father, crossing the landing in order to set his back against the wall, whilst he propounded it to my uncle Toby—of all the puzzling riddles, said he, in a marriage state,—of which you may trust me, brother Toby, there are more asses loads than all Job's stock of asses could have carried—there is not one that has more intricacies in it than this—that from the very moment the mistress of the house is brought to bed, every female in it, from my lady's gentlewoman down to the cinder-wench, becomes an inch taller for it; and give themselves more airs upon that single inch, than all their other inches put together.
I think rather, replied my uncle Toby, that 'tis we who sink an inch lower.—If I meet but a woman with child—I do it.—'Tis a heavy tax upon that half of our fellow-creatures, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby—'Tis a piteous burden upon 'em, continued he, shaking his head—Yes, yes, 'tis a painful thing—said my father, shaking his head too—but certainly since shaking of heads came into fashion, never did two heads shake together, in concert, from two such different springs.
God bless / Deuce take 'em all—said my uncle Toby and my father, each to himself.
Holla!—you, chairman!—here's sixpence—do step into that bookseller's shop, and call me a day-tall critick. I am very willing to give any one of 'em a crown to help me with his tackling, to get my father and my uncle Toby off the stairs, and to put them to bed.
—'Tis even high time; for except a short nap, which they both got whilst Trim was boring the jack-boots—and which, by-the-bye, did my father no sort of good, upon the score of the bad hinge—they have not else shut their eyes, since nine hours before the time that doctor Slop was led into the back parlour in that dirty pickle by Obadiah.
Was every day of my life to be as busy a day as this—and to take up—Truce.
I will not finish that sentence till I have made an observation upon the strange state of affairs between the reader and myself, just as things stand at present—an observation never applicable before to any one biographical writer since the creation of the world, but to myself—and I believe, will never hold good to any other, until its final destruction—and therefore, for the very novelty of it alone, it must be worth your worships attending to.
I am this month one whole year older than I was this time twelve-month; and having got, as you perceive, almost into the middle of my third volume (According to the preceding Editions.)—and no farther than to my first day's life—'tis demonstrative that I have three hundred and sixty-four days more life to write just now, than when I first set out; so that instead of advancing, as a common writer, in my work with what I have been doing at it—on the contrary, I am just thrown so many volumes back—was every day of my life to be as busy a day as this—And why not?—and the transactions and opinions of it to take up as much description—And for what reason should they be cut short? as at this rate I should just live 364 times faster than I should write—It must follow, an' please your worships, that the more I write, the more I shall have to write—and consequently, the more your worships read, the more your worships will have to read.
Will this be good for your worships eyes?
It will do well for mine; and, was it not that my Opinions will be the death of me, I perceive I shall lead a fine life of it out of this self-same life of mine; or, in other words, shall lead a couple of fine lives together.
As for the proposal of twelve volumes a year, or a volume a month, it no way alters my prospect—write as I will, and rush as I may into the middle of things, as Horace advises—I shall never overtake myself whipp'd and driven to the last pinch; at the worst I shall have one day the start of my pen—and one day is enough for two volumes—and two volumes will be enough for one year.—
Heaven prosper the manufacturers of paper under this propitious reign, which is now opened to us—as I trust its providence will prosper every thing else in it that is taken in hand.
As for the propagation of Geese—I give myself no concern—Nature is all-bountiful—I shall never want tools to work with.
—So then, friend! you have got my father and my uncle Toby off the stairs, and seen them to bed?—And how did you manage it?—You dropp'd a curtain at the stair-foot—I thought you had no other way for it—Here's a crown for your trouble.
—Then reach me my breeches off the chair, said my father to Susannah.—There is not a moment's time to dress you, Sir, cried Susannah—the child is as black in the face as my—As your what? said my father, for like all orators, he was a dear searcher into comparisons.—Bless, me, Sir, said Susannah, the child's in a fit.—And where's Mr. Yorick?—Never where he should be, said Susannah, but his curate's in the dressing-room, with the child upon his arm, waiting for the name—and my mistress bid me run as fast as I could to know, as captain Shandy is the godfather, whether it should not be called after him.
Were one sure, said my father to himself, scratching his eye-brow, that the child was expiring, one might as well compliment my brother Toby as not—and it would be a pity, in such a case, to throw away so great a name as Trismegistus upon him—but he may recover.
No, no,—said my father to Susannah, I'll get up—There is no time, cried Susannah, the child's as black as my shoe. Trismegistus, said my father—But stay—thou art a leaky vessel, Susannah, added my father; canst thou carry Trismegistus in thy head, the length of the gallery without scattering?—Can I? cried Susannah, shutting the door in a huff.—If she can, I'll be shot, said my father, bouncing out of bed in the dark, and groping for his breeches.
Susannah ran with all speed along the gallery.
My father made all possible speed to find his breeches.
Susannah got the start, and kept it—'Tis Tris—something, cried Susannah—There is no christian-name in the world, said the curate, beginning with Tris—but Tristram. Then 'tis Tristram-gistus, quoth Susannah.
—There is no gistus to it, noodle!—'tis my own name, replied the curate, dipping his hand, as he spoke, into the bason—Tristram! said he, &c. &c. &c. &c.—so Tristram was I called, and Tristram shall I be to the day of my death.
My father followed Susannah, with his night-gown across his arm, with nothing more than his breeches on, fastened through haste with but a single button, and that button through haste thrust only half into the button-hole.
—She has not forgot the name, cried my father, half opening the door?—No, no, said the curate, with a tone of intelligence.—And the child is better, cried Susannah.—And how does your mistress? As well, said Susannah, as can be expected.—Pish! said my father, the button of his breeches slipping out of the button-hole—So that whether the interjection was levelled at Susannah, or the button-hole—whether Pish was an interjection of contempt or an interjection of modesty, is a doubt, and must be a doubt till I shall have time to write the three following favourite chapters, that is, my chapter of chamber-maids, my chapter of pishes, and my chapter of button-holes.
All the light I am able to give the reader at present is this, that the moment my father cried Pish! he whisk'd himself about—and with his breeches held up by one hand, and his night-gown thrown across the arm of the other, he turned along the gallery to bed, something slower than he came.
A fitter occasion could never have presented itself, than what this moment offers, when all the curtains of the family are drawn—the candles put out—and no creature's eyes are open but a single one, for the other has been shut these twenty years, of my mother's nurse.
It is a fine subject.
And yet, as fine as it is, I would undertake to write a dozen chapters upon button-holes, both quicker and with more fame, than a single chapter upon this.
Button-holes! there is something lively in the very idea of 'em—and trust me, when I get amongst 'em—You gentry with great beards—look as grave as you will—I'll make merry work with my button-holes—I shall have 'em all to myself—'tis a maiden subject—I shall run foul of no man's wisdom or fine sayings in it.
But for sleep—I know I shall make nothing of it before I begin—I am no dab at your fine sayings in the first place—and in the next, I cannot for my soul set a grave face upon a bad matter, and tell the world—'tis the refuge of the unfortunate—the enfranchisement of the prisoner—the downy lap of the hopeless, the weary, and the broken-hearted; nor could I set out with a lye in my mouth, by affirming, that of all the soft and delicious functions of our nature, by which the great Author of it, in his bounty, has been pleased to recompence the sufferings wherewith his justice and his good pleasure has wearied us—that this is the chiefest (I know pleasures worth ten of it); or what a happiness it is to man, when the anxieties and passions of the day are over, and he lies down upon his back, that his soul shall be so seated within him, that whichever way she turns her eyes, the heavens shall look calm and sweet above her—no desire—or fear—or doubt that troubles the air, nor any difficulty past, present, or to come, that the imagination may not pass over without offence, in that sweet secession.
'God's blessing,' said Sancho Panca, 'be upon the man who first invented this self-same thing called sleep—it covers a man all over like a cloak.' Now there is more to me in this, and it speaks warmer to my heart and affections, than all the dissertations squeez'd out of the heads of the learned together upon the subject.
—Not that I altogether disapprove of what Montaigne advances upon it—'tis admirable in its way—(I quote by memory.)
The world enjoys other pleasures, says he, as they do that of sleep, without tasting or feeling it as it slips and passes by.—We should study and ruminate upon it, in order to render proper thanks to him who grants it to us.—For this end I cause myself to be disturbed in my sleep, that I may the better and more sensibly relish it.—And yet I see few, says he again, who live with less sleep, when need requires; my body is capable of a firm, but not of a violent and sudden agitation—I evade of late all violent exercises—I am never weary with walking—but from my youth, I never looked to ride upon pavements. I love to lie hard and alone, and even without my wife—This last word may stagger the faith of the world—but remember, 'La Vraisemblance' (as Bayle says in the affair of Liceti) 'n'est pas toujours du Cote de la Verite.' And so much for sleep.
If my wife will but venture him—brother Toby, Trismegistus shall be dress'd and brought down to us, whilst you and I are getting our breakfasts together.—
—Go, tell Susannah, Obadiah, to step here.
She is run up stairs, answered Obadiah, this very instant, sobbing and crying, and wringing her hands as if her heart would break.
We shall have a rare month of it, said my father, turning his head from Obadiah, and looking wistfully in my uncle Toby's face for some time—we shall have a devilish month of it, brother Toby, said my father, setting his arms a'kimbo, and shaking his head; fire, water, women, wind—brother Toby!—'Tis some misfortune, quoth my uncle Toby.—That it is, cried my father—to have so many jarring elements breaking loose, and riding triumph in every corner of a gentleman's house—Little boots it to the peace of a family, brother Toby, that you and I possess ourselves, and sit here silent and unmoved—whilst such a storm is whistling over our heads.—
And what's the matter, Susannah? They have called the child Tristram—and my mistress is just got out of an hysterick fit about it—No!—'tis not my fault, said Susannah—I told him it was Tristram-gistus.
—Make tea for yourself, brother Toby, said my father, taking down his hat—but how different from the sallies and agitations of voice and members which a common reader would imagine!
—For he spake in the sweetest modulation—and took down his hat with the genteelest movement of limbs, that ever affliction harmonized and attuned together.
—Go to the bowling-green for corporal Trim, said my uncle Toby, speaking to Obadiah, as soon as my father left the room.
When the misfortune of my Nose fell so heavily upon my father's head;—the reader remembers that he walked instantly up stairs, and cast himself down upon his bed; and from hence, unless he has a great insight into human nature, he will be apt to expect a rotation of the same ascending and descending movements from him, upon this misfortune of my Name;—no.
The different weight, dear Sir—nay even the different package of two vexations of the same weight—makes a very wide difference in our manner of bearing and getting through with them.—It is not half an hour ago, when (in the great hurry and precipitation of a poor devil's writing for daily bread) I threw a fair sheet, which I had just finished, and carefully wrote out, slap into the fire, instead of the foul one.
Instantly I snatch'd off my wig, and threw it perpendicularly, with all imaginable violence, up to the top of the room—indeed I caught it as it fell—but there was an end of the matter; nor do I think any think else in Nature would have given such immediate ease: She, dear Goddess, by an instantaneous impulse, in all provoking cases, determines us to a sally of this or that member—or else she thrusts us into this or that place, or posture of body, we know not why—But mark, madam, we live amongst riddles and mysteries—the most obvious things, which come in our way, have dark sides, which the quickest sight cannot penetrate into; and even the clearest and most exalted understandings amongst us find ourselves puzzled and at a loss in almost every cranny of nature's works: so that this, like a thousand other things, falls out for us in a way, which tho' we cannot reason upon it—yet we find the good of it, may it please your reverences and your worships—and that's enough for us.
Now, my father could not lie down with this affliction for his life—nor could he carry it up stairs like the other—he walked composedly out with it to the fish-pond.
Had my father leaned his head upon his hand, and reasoned an hour which way to have gone—reason, with all her force, could not have directed him to any think like it: there is something, Sir, in fish-ponds—but what it is, I leave to system-builders and fish-pond-diggers betwixt 'em to find out—but there is something, under the first disorderly transport of the humours, so unaccountably becalming in an orderly and a sober walk towards one of them, that I have often wondered that neither Pythagoras, nor Plato, nor Solon, nor Lycurgus, nor Mahomet, nor any one of your noted lawgivers, ever gave order about them.
Your honour, said Trim, shutting the parlour-door before he began to speak, has heard, I imagine, of this unlucky accident—O yes, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and it gives me great concern.—I am heartily concerned too, but I hope your honour, replied Trim, will do me the justice to believe, that it was not in the least owing to me.—To thee—Trim?—cried my uncle Toby, looking kindly in his face—'twas Susannah's and the curate's folly betwixt them.—What business could they have together, an' please your honour, in the garden?—In the gallery thou meanest, replied my uncle Toby.
Trim found he was upon a wrong scent, and stopped short with a low bow—Two misfortunes, quoth the corporal to himself, are twice as many at least as are needful to be talked over at one time;—the mischief the cow has done in breaking into the fortifications, may be told his honour hereafter.—Trim's casuistry and address, under the cover of his low bow, prevented all suspicion in my uncle Toby, so he went on with what he had to say to Trim as follows:
—For my own part, Trim, though I can see little or no difference betwixt my nephew's being called Tristram or Trismegistus—yet as the thing sits so near my brother's heart, Trim—I would freely have given a hundred pounds rather than it should have happened.—A hundred pounds, an' please your honour! replied Trim,—I would not give a cherry-stone to boot.—Nor would I, Trim, upon my own account, quoth my uncle Toby—but my brother, whom there is no arguing with in this case—maintains that a great deal more depends, Trim, upon christian-names, than what ignorant people imagine—for he says there never was a great or heroic action performed since the world began by one called Tristram—nay, he will have it, Trim, that a man can neither be learned, or wise, or brave.—'Tis all fancy, an' please your honour—I fought just as well, replied the corporal, when the regiment called me Trim, as when they called me James Butler.—And for my own part, said my uncle Toby, though I should blush to boast of myself, Trim—yet had my name been Alexander, I could have done no more at Namur than my duty.—Bless your honour! cried Trim, advancing three steps as he spoke, does a man think of his christian-name when he goes upon the attack?—Or when he stands in the trench, Trim? cried my uncle Toby, looking firm.—Or when he enters a breach? said Trim, pushing in between two chairs.—Or forces the lines? cried my uncle, rising up, and pushing his crutch like a pike.—Or facing a platoon? cried Trim, presenting his stick like a firelock.—Or when he marches up the glacis? cried my uncle Toby, looking warm and setting his foot upon his stool.—
My father was returned from his walk to the fish-pond—and opened the parlour-door in the very height of the attack, just as my uncle Toby was marching up the glacis—Trim recovered his arms—never was my uncle Toby caught in riding at such a desperate rate in his life! Alas! my uncle Toby! had not a weightier matter called forth all the ready eloquence of my father—how hadst thou then and thy poor Hobby-Horse too been insulted!
My father hung up his hat with the same air he took it down; and after giving a slight look at the disorder of the room, he took hold of one of the chairs which had formed the corporal's breach, and placing it over-against my uncle Toby, he sat down in it, and as soon as the tea-things were taken away, and the door shut, he broke out in a lamentation as follows:
My Father's Lamentation.
It is in vain longer, said my father, addressing himself as much to Ernulphus's curse, which was laid upon the corner of the chimney-piece—as to my uncle Toby who sat under it—it is in vain longer, said my father, in the most querulous monotony imaginable, to struggle as I have done against this most uncomfortable of human persuasions—I see it plainly, that either for my own sins, brother Toby, or the sins and follies of the Shandy family, Heaven has thought fit to draw forth the heaviest of its artillery against me; and that the prosperity of my child is the point upon which the whole force of it is directed to play.—Such a thing would batter the whole universe about our ears, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby—if it was so-Unhappy Tristram! child of wrath! child of decrepitude! interruption! mistake! and discontent! What one misfortune or disaster in the book of embryotic evils, that could unmechanize thy frame, or entangle thy filaments! which has not fallen upon thy head, or ever thou camest into the world—what evils in thy passage into it!—what evils since!—produced into being, in the decline of thy father's days—when the powers of his imagination and of his body were waxing feeble—when radical heat and radical moisture, the elements which should have temper'd thine, were drying up; and nothing left to found thy stamina in, but negations—'tis pitiful—brother Toby, at the best, and called out for all the little helps that care and attention on both sides could give it. But how were we defeated! You know the event, brother Toby—'tis too melancholy a one to be repeated now—when the few animal spirits I was worth in the world, and with which memory, fancy, and quick parts should have been convey'd—were all dispersed, confused, confounded, scattered, and sent to the devil.—
Here then was the time to have put a stop to this persecution against him;—and tried an experiment at least—whether calmness and serenity of mind in your sister, with a due attention, brother Toby, to her evacuations and repletions—and the rest of her non-naturals, might not, in a course of nine months gestation, have set all things to rights.—My child was bereft of these!—What a teazing life did she lead herself, and consequently her foetus too, with that nonsensical anxiety of hers about lying-in in town? I thought my sister submitted with the greatest patience, replied my uncle Toby—I never heard her utter one fretful word about it.—She fumed inwardly, cried my father; and that, let me tell you, brother, was ten times worse for the child—and then! what battles did she fight with me, and what perpetual storms about the midwife.—There she gave vent, said my uncle Toby.—Vent! cried my father, looking up.
But what was all this, my dear Toby, to the injuries done us by my child's coming head foremost into the world, when all I wished, in this general wreck of his frame, was to have saved this little casket unbroke, unrifled.—
With all my precautions, how was my system turned topside-turvy in the womb with my child! his head exposed to the hand of violence, and a pressure of 470 pounds avoirdupois weight acting so perpendicularly upon its apex—that at this hour 'tis ninety per Cent. insurance, that the fine net-work of the intellectual web be not rent and torn to a thousand tatters.
—Still we could have done.—Fool, coxcomb, puppy—give him but a Nose—Cripple, Dwarf, Driveller, Goosecap—(shape him as you will) the door of fortune stands open—O Licetus! Licetus! had I been blest with a foetus five inches long and a half, like thee—Fate might have done her worst.
Still, brother Toby, there was one cast of the dye left for our child after all—O Tristram! Tristram! Tristram!
We will send for Mr. Yorick, said my uncle Toby.
—You may send for whom you will, replied my father.
What a rate have I gone on at, curvetting and striking it away, two up and two down for three volumes (According to the preceding Editions.) together, without looking once behind, or even on one side of me, to see whom I trod upon!—I'll tread upon no one—quoth I to myself when I mounted—I'll take a good rattling gallop; but I'll not hurt the poorest jack-ass upon the road.—So off I set—up one lane—down another, through this turnpike—over that, as if the arch-jockey of jockeys had got behind me.
Now ride at this rate with what good intention and resolution you may—'tis a million to one you'll do some one a mischief, if not yourself—He's flung—he's off—he's lost his hat—he's down—he'll break his neck—see!—if he has not galloped full among the scaffolding of the undertaking criticks!—he'll knock his brains out against some of their posts—he's bounced out!—look—he's now riding like a mad-cap full tilt through a whole crowd of painters, fiddlers, poets, biographers, physicians, lawyers, logicians, players, school-men, churchmen, statesmen, soldiers, casuists, connoisseurs, prelates, popes, and engineers.—Don't fear, said I—I'll not hurt the poorest jack-ass upon the king's highway.—But your horse throws dirt; see you've splash'd a bishop—I hope in God, 'twas only Ernulphus, said I.—But you have squirted full in the faces of Mess. Le Moyne, De Romigny, and De Marcilly, doctors of the Sorbonne.—That was last year, replied I.—But you have trod this moment upon a king.—Kings have bad times on't, said I, to be trod upon by such people as me.
You have done it, replied my accuser.
I deny it, quoth I, and so have got off, and here am I standing with my bridle in one hand, and with my cap in the other, to tell my story.—And what in it? You shall hear in the next chapter.
As Francis the first of France was one winterly night warming himself over the embers of a wood fire, and talking with his first minister of sundry things for the good of the state (Vide Menagiana, Vol. I.)—It would not be amiss, said the king, stirring up the embers with his cane, if this good understanding betwixt ourselves and Switzerland was a little strengthened.—There is no end, Sire, replied the minister, in giving money to these people—they would swallow up the treasury of France.—Poo! poo! answered the king—there are more ways, Mons. le Premier, of bribing states, besides that of giving money—I'll pay Switzerland the honour of standing godfather for my next child.—Your majesty, said the minister, in so doing, would have all the grammarians in Europe upon your back;—Switzerland, as a republic, being a female, can in no construction be godfather.—She may be godmother, replied Francis hastily—so announce my intentions by a courier to-morrow morning.
I am astonished, said Francis the First, (that day fortnight) speaking to his minister as he entered the closet, that we have had no answer from Switzerland.—Sire, I wait upon you this moment, said Mons. le Premier, to lay before you my dispatches upon that business.—They take it kindly, said the king.—They do, Sire, replied the minister, and have the highest sense of the honour your majesty has done them—but the republick, as godmother, claims her right, in this case, of naming the child.
In all reason, quoth the king—she will christen him Francis, or Henry, or Lewis, or some name that she knows will be agreeable to us. Your majesty is deceived, replied the minister—I have this hour received a dispatch from our resident, with the determination of the republic on that point also.—And what name has the republick fixed upon for the Dauphin?—Shadrach, Mesech, Abed-nego, replied the minister.—By Saint Peter's girdle, I will have nothing to do with the Swiss, cried Francis the First, pulling up his breeches and walking hastily across the floor.
Your majesty, replied the minister calmly, cannot bring yourself off.
We'll pay them in money—said the king.
Sire, there are not sixty thousand crowns in the treasury, answered the minister.—I'll pawn the best jewel in my crown, quoth Francis the First.
Your honour stands pawn'd already in this matter, answered Monsieur le Premier.
Then, Mons. le Premier, said the king, by...we'll go to war with 'em.
Albeit, gentle reader, I have lusted earnestly, and endeavoured carefully (according to the measure of such a slender skill as God has vouchsafed me, and as convenient leisure from other occasions of needful profit and healthful pastime have permitted) that these little books which I here put into thy hands, might stand instead of many bigger books—yet have I carried myself towards thee in such fanciful guise of careless disport, that right sore am I ashamed now to intreat thy lenity seriously—in beseeching thee to believe it of me, that in the story of my father and his christian-names—I have no thoughts of treading upon Francis the First—nor in the affair of the nose—upon Francis the Ninth—nor in the character of my uncle Toby—of characterizing the militiating spirits of my country—the wound upon his groin, is a wound to every comparison of that kind—nor by Trim—that I meant the duke of Ormond—or that my book is wrote against predestination, or free-will, or taxes—If 'tis wrote against any thing,—'tis wrote, an' please your worships, against the spleen! in order, by a more frequent and a more convulsive elevation and depression of the diaphragm, and the succussations of the intercostal and abdominal muscles in laughter, to drive the gall and other bitter juices from the gall-bladder, liver, and sweet-bread of his majesty's subjects, with all the inimicitious passions which belong to them, down into their duodenums.
—But can the thing be undone, Yorick? said my father—for in my opinion, continued he, it cannot. I am a vile canonist, replied Yorick—but of all evils, holding suspence to be the most tormenting, we shall at least know the worst of this matter. I hate these great dinners—said my father—The size of the dinner is not the point, answered Yorick—we want, Mr. Shandy, to dive into the bottom of this doubt, whether the name can be changed or not—and as the beards of so many commissaries, officials, advocates, proctors, registers, and of the most eminent of our school-divines, and others, are all to meet in the middle of one table, and Didius has so pressingly invited you—who in your distress would miss such an occasion? All that is requisite, continued Yorick, is to apprize Didius, and let him manage a conversation after dinner so as to introduce the subject.—Then my brother Toby, cried my father, clapping his two hands together, shall go with us.
—Let my old tye-wig, quoth my uncle Toby, and my laced regimentals, be hung to the fire all night, Trim.
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