—No doubt, Sir,—there is a whole chapter wanting here—and a chasm of ten pages made in the book by it—but the book-binder is neither a fool, or a knave, or a puppy—nor is the book a jot more imperfect (at least upon that score)—but, on the contrary, the book is more perfect and complete by wanting the chapter, than having it, as I shall demonstrate to your reverences in this manner.—I question first, by-the-bye, whether the same experiment might not be made as successfully upon sundry other chapters—but there is no end, an' please your reverences, in trying experiments upon chapters—we have had enough of it—So there's an end of that matter.
But before I begin my demonstration, let me only tell you, that the chapter which I have torn out, and which otherwise you would all have been reading just now, instead of this—was the description of my father's, my uncle Toby's, Trim's, and Obadiah's setting out and journeying to the visitation at....
We'll go in the coach, said my father—Prithee, have the arms been altered, Obadiah?—It would have made my story much better to have begun with telling you, that at the time my mother's arms were added to the Shandy's, when the coach was re-painted upon my father's marriage, it had so fallen out that the coach-painter, whether by performing all his works with the left hand, like Turpilius the Roman, or Hans Holbein of Basil—or whether 'twas more from the blunder of his head than hand—or whether, lastly, it was from the sinister turn which every thing relating to our family was apt to take—it so fell out, however, to our reproach, that instead of the bend-dexter, which since Harry the Eighth's reign was honestly our due—a bend-sinister, by some of these fatalities, had been drawn quite across the field of the Shandy arms. 'Tis scarce credible that the mind of so wise a man as my father was, could be so much incommoded with so small a matter. The word coach—let it be whose it would—or coach-man, or coach-horse, or coach-hire, could never be named in the family, but he constantly complained of carrying this vile mark of illegitimacy upon the door of his own; he never once was able to step into the coach, or out of it, without turning round to take a view of the arms, and making a vow at the same time, that it was the last time he would ever set his foot in it again, till the bend-sinister was taken out—but like the affair of the hinge, it was one of the many things which the Destinies had set down in their books ever to be grumbled at (and in wiser families than ours)—but never to be mended.
—Has the bend-sinister been brush'd out, I say? said my father.—There has been nothing brush'd out, Sir, answered Obadiah, but the lining. We'll go o'horseback, said my father, turning to Yorick—Of all things in the world, except politicks, the clergy know the least of heraldry, said Yorick.—No matter for that, cried my father—I should be sorry to appear with a blot in my escutcheon before them.—Never mind the bend-sinister, said my uncle Toby, putting on his tye-wig.—No, indeed, said my father—you may go with my aunt Dinah to a visitation with a bend-sinister, if you think fit—My poor uncle Toby blush'd. My father was vexed at himself.—No—my dear brother Toby, said my father, changing his tone—but the damp of the coach-lining about my loins, may give me the sciatica again, as it did December, January, and February last winter—so if you please you shall ride my wife's pad—and as you are to preach, Yorick, you had better make the best of your way before—and leave me to take care of my brother Toby, and to follow at our own rates.
Now the chapter I was obliged to tear out, was the description of this cavalcade, in which Corporal Trim and Obadiah, upon two coach-horses a-breast, led the way as slow as a patrole—whilst my uncle Toby, in his laced regimentals and tye-wig, kept his rank with my father, in deep roads and dissertations alternately upon the advantage of learning and arms, as each could get the start.
—But the painting of this journey, upon reviewing it, appears to be so much above the stile and manner of any thing else I have been able to paint in this book, that it could not have remained in it, without depreciating every other scene; and destroying at the same time that necessary equipoise and balance, (whether of good or bad) betwixt chapter and chapter, from whence the just proportions and harmony of the whole work results. For my own part, I am but just set up in the business, so know little about it—but, in my opinion, to write a book is for all the world like humming a song—be but in tune with yourself, madam, 'tis no matter how high or how low you take it.
—This is the reason, may it please your reverences, that some of the lowest and flattest compositions pass off very well—(as Yorick told my uncle Toby one night) by siege.—My uncle Toby looked brisk at the sound of the word siege, but could make neither head or tail of it.
I'm to preach at court next Sunday, said Homenas—run over my notes—so I humm'd over doctor Homenas's notes—the modulation's very well—'twill do, Homenas, if it holds on at this rate—so on I humm'd—and a tolerable tune I thought it was; and to this hour, may it please your reverences, had never found out how low, how flat, how spiritless and jejune it was, but that all of a sudden, up started an air in the middle of it, so fine, so rich, so heavenly,—it carried my soul up with it into the other world; now had I (as Montaigne complained in a parallel accident)—had I found the declivity easy, or the ascent accessible—certes I had been outwitted.—Your notes, Homenas, I should have said, are good notes;—but it was so perpendicular a precipice—so wholly cut off from the rest of the work, that by the first note I humm'd I found myself flying into the other world, and from thence discovered the vale from whence I came, so deep, so low, and dismal, that I shall never have the heart to descend into it again.
A dwarf who brings a standard along with him to measure his own size—take my word, is a dwarf in more articles than one.—And so much for tearing out of chapters.
—See if he is not cutting it into slips, and giving them about him to light their pipes!—'Tis abominable, answered Didius; it should not go unnoticed, said doctor Kysarcius—he was of the Kysarcii of the Low Countries.
Methinks, said Didius, half rising from his chair, in order to remove a bottle and a tall decanter, which stood in a direct line betwixt him and Yorick—you might have spared this sarcastic stroke, and have hit upon a more proper place, Mr. Yorick—or at least upon a more proper occasion to have shewn your contempt of what we have been about: If the sermon is of no better worth than to light pipes with—'twas certainly, Sir, not good enough to be preached before so learned a body; and if 'twas good enough to be preached before so learned a body—'twas certainly Sir, too good to light their pipes with afterwards.
—I have got him fast hung up, quoth Didius to himself, upon one of the two horns of my dilemma—let him get off as he can.
I have undergone such unspeakable torments, in bringing forth this sermon, quoth Yorick, upon this occasion—that I declare, Didius, I would suffer martyrdom—and if it was possible my horse with me, a thousand times over, before I would sit down and make such another: I was delivered of it at the wrong end of me—it came from my head instead of my heart—and it is for the pain it gave me, both in the writing and preaching of it, that I revenge myself of it, in this manner—To preach, to shew the extent of our reading, or the subtleties of our wit—to parade in the eyes of the vulgar with the beggarly accounts of a little learning, tinsel'd over with a few words which glitter, but convey little light and less warmth—is a dishonest use of the poor single half hour in a week which is put into our hands—'Tis not preaching the gospel—but ourselves—For my own part, continued Yorick, I had rather direct five words point-blank to the heart.—As Yorick pronounced the word point-blank, my uncle Toby rose up to say something upon projectiles—when a single word and no more uttered from the opposite side of the table drew every one's ears towards it—a word of all others in the dictionary the last in that place to be expected—a word I am ashamed to write—yet must be written—must be read—illegal— uncanonical—guess ten thousand guesses, multiplied into themselves— rack—torture your invention for ever, you're where you was—In short, I'll tell it in the next chapter.
Zounds!—Z...ds! cried Phutatorius, partly to himself—and yet high enough to be heard—and what seemed odd, 'twas uttered in a construction of look, and in a tone of voice, somewhat between that of a man in amazement and one in bodily pain.
One or two who had very nice ears, and could distinguish the expression and mixture of the two tones as plainly as a third or a fifth, or any other chord in musick—were the most puzzled and perplexed with it—the concord was good in itself—but then 'twas quite out of the key, and no way applicable to the subject started;—so that with all their knowledge, they could not tell what in the world to make of it.
Others who knew nothing of musical expression, and merely lent their ears to the plain import of the word, imagined that Phutatorius, who was somewhat of a cholerick spirit, was just going to snatch the cudgels out of Didius's hands, in order to bemaul Yorick to some purpose—and that the desperate monosyllable Z...ds was the exordium to an oration, which, as they judged from the sample, presaged but a rough kind of handling of him; so that my uncle Toby's good-nature felt a pang for what Yorick was about to undergo. But seeing Phutatorius stop short, without any attempt or desire to go on—a third party began to suppose, that it was no more than an involuntary respiration, casually forming itself into the shape of a twelve-penny oath—without the sin or substance of one.
Others, and especially one or two who sat next him, looked upon it on the contrary as a real and substantial oath, propensly formed against Yorick, to whom he was known to bear no good liking—which said oath, as my father philosophized upon it, actually lay fretting and fuming at that very time in the upper regions of Phutatorius's purtenance; and so was naturally, and according to the due course of things, first squeezed out by the sudden influx of blood which was driven into the right ventricle of Phutatorius's heart, by the stroke of surprize which so strange a theory of preaching had excited.
How finely we argue upon mistaken facts!
There was not a soul busied in all these various reasonings upon the monosyllable which Phutatorius uttered—who did not take this for granted, proceeding upon it as from an axiom, namely, that Phutatorius's mind was intent upon the subject of debate which was arising between Didius and Yorick; and indeed as he looked first towards the one and then towards the other, with the air of a man listening to what was going forwards—who would not have thought the same? But the truth was, that Phutatorius knew not one word or one syllable of what was passing—but his whole thoughts and attention were taken up with a transaction which was going forwards at that very instant within the precincts of his own Galligaskins, and in a part of them, where of all others he stood most interested to watch accidents: So that notwithstanding he looked with all the attention in the world, and had gradually skrewed up every nerve and muscle in his face, to the utmost pitch the instrument would bear, in order, as it was thought, to give a sharp reply to Yorick, who sat over-against him—yet, I say, was Yorick never once in any one domicile of Phutatorius's brain—but the true cause of his exclamation lay at least a yard below.
This I will endeavour to explain to you with all imaginable decency.
You must be informed then, that Gastripheres, who had taken a turn into the kitchen a little before dinner, to see how things went on—observing a wicker-basket of fine chesnuts standing upon the dresser, had ordered that a hundred or two of them might be roasted and sent in, as soon as dinner was over—Gastripheres inforcing his orders about them, that Didius, but Phutatorius especially, were particularly fond of 'em.
About two minutes before the time that my uncle Toby interrupted Yorick's harangue—Gastripheres's chesnuts were brought in—and as Phutatorius's fondness for 'em was uppermost in the waiter's head, he laid them directly before Phutatorius, wrapt up hot in a clean damask napkin.
Now whether it was physically impossible, with half a dozen hands all thrust into the napkin at a time—but that some one chesnut, of more life and rotundity than the rest, must be put in motion—it so fell out, however, that one was actually sent rolling off the table; and as Phutatorius sat straddling under—it fell perpendicularly into that particular aperture of Phutatorius's breeches, for which, to the shame and indelicacy of our language be it spoke, there is no chaste word throughout all Johnson's dictionary—let it suffice to say—it was that particular aperture which, in all good societies, the laws of decorum do strictly require, like the temple of Janus (in peace at least) to be universally shut up.
The neglect of this punctilio in Phutatorius (which by-the-bye should be a warning to all mankind) had opened a door to this accident.—
Accident I call it, in compliance to a received mode of speaking—but in no opposition to the opinion either of Acrites or Mythogeras in this matter; I know they were both prepossessed and fully persuaded of it—and are so to this hour, That there was nothing of accident in the whole event—but that the chesnut's taking that particular course, and in a manner of its own accord—and then falling with all its heat directly into that one particular place, and no other—was a real judgment upon Phutatorius for that filthy and obscene treatise de Concubinis retinendis, which Phutatorius had published about twenty years ago—and was that identical week going to give the world a second edition of.
It is not my business to dip my pen in this controversy—much undoubtedly may be wrote on both sides of the question—all that concerns me as an historian, is to represent the matter of fact, and render it credible to the reader, that the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches was sufficiently wide to receive the chesnut;—and that the chesnut, somehow or other, did fall perpendicularly, and piping hot into it, without Phutatorius's perceiving it, or any one else at that time.
The genial warmth which the chesnut imparted, was not undelectable for the first twenty or five-and-twenty seconds—and did no more than gently solicit Phutatorius's attention towards the part:—But the heat gradually increasing, and in a few seconds more getting beyond the point of all sober pleasure, and then advancing with all speed into the regions of pain, the soul of Phutatorius, together with all his ideas, his thoughts, his attention, his imagination, judgment, resolution, deliberation, ratiocination, memory, fancy, with ten battalions of animal spirits, all tumultuously crowded down, through different defiles and circuits, to the place of danger, leaving all his upper regions, as you may imagine, as empty as my purse.
With the best intelligence which all these messengers could bring him back, Phutatorius was not able to dive into the secret of what was going forwards below, nor could he make any kind of conjecture, what the devil was the matter with it: However, as he knew not what the true cause might turn out, he deemed it most prudent in the situation he was in at present, to bear it, if possible, like a Stoick; which, with the help of some wry faces and compursions of the mouth, he had certainly accomplished, had his imagination continued neuter;—but the sallies of the imagination are ungovernable in things of this kind—a thought instantly darted into his mind, that tho' the anguish had the sensation of glowing heat—it might, notwithstanding that, be a bite as well as a burn; and if so, that possibly a Newt or an Asker, or some such detested reptile, had crept up, and was fastening his teeth—the horrid idea of which, with a fresh glow of pain arising that instant from the chesnut, seized Phutatorius with a sudden panick, and in the first terrifying disorder of the passion, it threw him, as it has done the best generals upon earth, quite off his guard:—the effect of which was this, that he leapt incontinently up, uttering as he rose that interjection of surprise so much descanted upon, with the aposiopestic break after it, marked thus, Z...ds—which, though not strictly canonical, was still as little as any man could have said upon the occasion;—and which, by-the-bye, whether canonical or not, Phutatorius could no more help than he could the cause of it.
Though this has taken up some time in the narrative, it took up little more time in the transaction, than just to allow time for Phutatorius to draw forth the chesnut, and throw it down with violence upon the floor—and for Yorick to rise from his chair, and pick the chesnut up.
It is curious to observe the triumph of slight incidents over the mind:—What incredible weight they have in forming and governing our opinions, both of men and things—that trifles, light as air, shall waft a belief into the soul, and plant it so immoveably within it—that Euclid's demonstrations, could they be brought to batter it in breach, should not all have power to overthrow it.
Yorick, I said, picked up the chesnut which Phutatorius's wrath had flung down—the action was trifling—I am ashamed to account for it—he did it, for no reason, but that he thought the chesnut not a jot worse for the adventure—and that he held a good chesnut worth stooping for.—But this incident, trifling as it was, wrought differently in Phutatorius's head: He considered this act of Yorick's in getting off his chair and picking up the chesnut, as a plain acknowledgment in him, that the chesnut was originally his—and in course, that it must have been the owner of the chesnut, and no one else, who could have played him such a prank with it: What greatly confirmed him in this opinion, was this, that the table being parallelogramical and very narrow, it afforded a fair opportunity for Yorick, who sat directly over against Phutatorius, of slipping the chesnut in—and consequently that he did it. The look of something more than suspicion, which Phutatorius cast full upon Yorick as these thoughts arose, too evidently spoke his opinion—and as Phutatorius was naturally supposed to know more of the matter than any person besides, his opinion at once became the general one;—and for a reason very different from any which have been yet given—in a little time it was put out of all manner of dispute.
When great or unexpected events fall out upon the stage of this sublunary world—the mind of man, which is an inquisitive kind of a substance, naturally takes a flight behind the scenes to see what is the cause and first spring of them.—The search was not long in this instance.
It was well known that Yorick had never a good opinion of the treatise which Phutatorius had wrote de Concubinis retinendis, as a thing which he feared had done hurt in the world—and 'twas easily found out, that there was a mystical meaning in Yorick's prank—and that his chucking the chesnut hot into Phutatorius's...—..., was a sarcastical fling at his book—the doctrines of which, they said, had enflamed many an honest man in the same place.
This conceit awaken'd Somnolentus—made Agelastes smile—and if you can recollect the precise look and air of a man's face intent in finding out a riddle—it threw Gastripheres's into that form—and in short was thought by many to be a master-stroke of arch-wit.
This, as the reader has seen from one end to the other, was as groundless as the dreams of philosophy: Yorick, no doubt, as Shakespeare said of his ancestor—'was a man of jest,' but it was temper'd with something which withheld him from that, and many other ungracious pranks, of which he as undeservedly bore the blame;—but it was his misfortune all his life long to bear the imputation of saying and doing a thousand things, of which (unless my esteem blinds me) his nature was incapable. All I blame him for—or rather, all I blame and alternately like him for, was that singularity of his temper, which would never suffer him to take pains to set a story right with the world, however in his power. In every ill usage of that sort, he acted precisely as in the affair of his lean horse—he could have explained it to his honour, but his spirit was above it; and besides, he ever looked upon the inventor, the propagator and believer of an illiberal report alike so injurious to him—he could not stoop to tell his story to them—and so trusted to time and truth to do it for him.
This heroic cast produced him inconveniences in many respects—in the present it was followed by the fixed resentment of Phutatorius, who, as Yorick had just made an end of his chesnut, rose up from his chair a second time, to let him know it—which indeed he did with a smile; saying only—that he would endeavour not to forget the obligation.
But you must mark and carefully separate and distinguish these two things in your mind.
—The smile was for the company.
—The threat was for Yorick.
—Can you tell me, quoth Phutatorius, speaking to Gastripheres who sat next to him—for one would not apply to a surgeon in so foolish an affair—can you tell me, Gastripheres, what is best to take out the fire?—Ask Eugenius, said Gastripheres.—That greatly depends, said Eugenius, pretending ignorance of the adventure, upon the nature of the part—If it is a tender part, and a part which can conveniently be wrapt up—It is both the one and the other, replied Phutatorius, laying his hand as he spoke, with an emphatical nod of his head, upon the part in question, and lifting up his right leg at the same time to ease and ventilate it.—If that is the case, said Eugenius, I would advise you, Phutatorius, not to tamper with it by any means; but if you will send to the next printer, and trust your cure to such a simple thing as a soft sheet of paper just come off the press—you need do nothing more than twist it round.—The damp paper, quoth Yorick (who sat next to his friend Eugenius) though I know it has a refreshing coolness in it—yet I presume is no more than the vehicle—and that the oil and lamp-black with which the paper is so strongly impregnated, does the business.—Right, said Eugenius, and is, of any outward application I would venture to recommend, the most anodyne and safe.
Was it my case, said Gastripheres, as the main thing is the oil and lamp-black, I should spread them thick upon a rag, and clap it on directly.—That would make a very devil of it, replied Yorick.—And besides, added Eugenius, it would not answer the intention, which is the extreme neatness and elegance of the prescription, which the Faculty hold to be half in half;—for consider, if the type is a very small one (which it should be) the sanative particles, which come into contact in this form, have the advantage of being spread so infinitely thin, and with such a mathematical equality (fresh paragraphs and large capitals excepted) as no art or management of the spatula can come up to.—It falls out very luckily, replied Phutatorius, that the second edition of my treatise de Concubinis retinendis is at this instant in the press.—You may take any leaf of it, said Eugenius—no matter which.—Provided, quoth Yorick, there is no bawdry in it.—
They are just now, replied Phutatorius, printing off the ninth chapter—which is the last chapter but one in the book.—Pray what is the title of that chapter? said Yorick; making a respectful bow to Phutatorius as he spoke.—I think, answered Phutatorius, 'tis that de re concubinaria.
For Heaven's sake keep out of that chapter, quoth Yorick.
—By all means—added Eugenius.
—Now, quoth Didius, rising up, and laying his right hand with his fingers spread upon his breast—had such a blunder about a christian-name happened before the Reformation—(It happened the day before yesterday, quoth my uncle Toby to himself)—and when baptism was administer'd in Latin—('Twas all in English, said my uncle)—many things might have coincided with it, and upon the authority of sundry decreed cases, to have pronounced the baptism null, with a power of giving the child a new name—Had a priest, for instance, which was no uncommon thing, through ignorance of the Latin tongue, baptized a child of Tom-o'Stiles, in nomine patriae & filia & spiritum sanctos—the baptism was held null.—I beg your pardon, replied Kysarcius—in that case, as the mistake was only the terminations, the baptism was valid—and to have rendered it null, the blunder of the priest should have fallen upon the first syllable of each noun—and not, as in your case, upon the last.
My father delighted in subtleties of this kind, and listen'd with infinite attention.
Gastripheres, for example, continued Kysarcius, baptizes a child of John Stradling's in Gomine gatris, &c. &c. instead of in Nomine patris, &c.—Is this a baptism? No—say the ablest canonists; in as much as the radix of each word is hereby torn up, and the sense and meaning of them removed and changed quite to another object; for Gomine does not signify a name, nor gatris a father.—What do they signify? said my uncle Toby.—Nothing at all—quoth Yorick.—Ergo, such a baptism is null, said Kysarcius.—
In course, answered Yorick, in a tone two parts jest and one part earnest.—But in the case cited, continued Kysarcius, where patriae is put for patris, filia for filii, and so on—as it is a fault only in the declension, and the roots of the words continue untouch'd, the inflections of their branches either this way or that, does not in any sort hinder the baptism, inasmuch as the same sense continues in the words as before.—But then, said Didius, the intention of the priest's pronouncing them grammatically must have been proved to have gone along with it.—Right, answered Kysarcius; and of this, brother Didius, we have an instance in a decree of the decretals of Pope Leo the IIId.—But my brother's child, cried my uncle Toby, has nothing to do with the Pope—'tis the plain child of a Protestant gentleman, christen'd Tristram against the wills and wishes both of his father and mother, and all who are a-kin to it.—
If the wills and wishes, said Kysarcius, interrupting my uncle Toby, of those only who stand related to Mr. Shandy's child, were to have weight in this matter, Mrs. Shandy, of all people, has the least to do in it.—My uncle Toby lay'd down his pipe, and my father drew his chair still closer to the table, to hear the conclusion of so strange an introduction.
—It has not only been a question, Captain Shandy, amongst the (Vide Swinburn on Testaments, Part 7. para 8.) best lawyers and civilians in this land, continued Kysarcius, 'Whether the mother be of kin to her child,'—but, after much dispassionate enquiry and jactitation of the arguments on all sides—it has been adjudged for the negative—namely, 'That the mother is not of kin to her child.' (Vide Brook Abridg. Tit. Administr. N. 47.) My father instantly clapp'd his hand upon my uncle Toby's mouth, under colour of whispering in his ear;—the truth was, he was alarmed for Lillabullero—and having a great desire to hear more of so curious an argument—he begg'd my uncle Toby, for heaven's sake, not to disappoint him in it.—My uncle Toby gave a nod—resumed his pipe, and contenting himself with whistling Lillabullero inwardly—Kysarcius, Didius, and Triptolemus went on with the discourse as follows:
This determination, continued Kysarcius, how contrary soever it may seem to run to the stream of vulgar ideas, yet had reason strongly on its side; and has been put out of all manner of dispute from the famous case, known commonly by the name of the Duke of Suffolk's case.—It is cited in Brook, said Triptolemus—And taken notice of by Lord Coke, added Didius.—And you may find it in Swinburn on Testaments, said Kysarcius.
The case, Mr. Shandy, was this:
In the reign of Edward the Sixth, Charles duke of Suffolk having issue a son by one venter, and a daughter by another venter, made his last will, wherein he devised goods to his son, and died; after whose death the son died also—but without will, without wife, and without child—his mother and his sister by the father's side (for she was born of the former venter) then living. The mother took the administration of her son's goods, according to the statute of the 21st of Harry the Eighth, whereby it is enacted, That in case any person die intestate the administration of his goods shall be committed to the next of kin.
The administration being thus (surreptitiously) granted to the mother, the sister by the father's side commenced a suit before the Ecclesiastical Judge, alledging, 1st, That she herself was next of kin; and 2dly, That the mother was not of kin at all to the party deceased; and therefore prayed the court, that the administration granted to the mother might be revoked, and be committed unto her, as next of kin to the deceased, by force of the said statute.
Hereupon, as it was a great cause, and much depending upon its issue—and many causes of great property likely to be decided in times to come, by the precedent to be then made—the most learned, as well in the laws of this realm, as in the civil law, were consulted together, whether the mother was of kin to her son, or no.—Whereunto not only the temporal lawyers—but the church lawyers—the juris-consulti—the jurisprudentes—the civilians—the advocates—the commissaries—the judges of the consistory and prerogative courts of Canterbury and York, with the master of the faculties, were all unanimously of opinion, That the mother was not of (Mater non numeratur inter consanguineos, Bald. in ult. C. de Verb. signific.) kin to her child.—
And what said the duchess of Suffolk to it? said my uncle Toby.
The unexpectedness of my uncle Toby's question, confounded Kysarcius more than the ablest advocate—He stopp'd a full minute, looking in my uncle Toby's face without replying—and in that single minute Triptolemus put by him, and took the lead as follows.
'Tis a ground and principle in the law, said Triptolemus, that things do not ascend, but descend in it; and I make no doubt 'tis for this cause, that however true it is, that the child may be of the blood and seed of its parents—that the parents, nevertheless, are not of the blood and seed of it; inasmuch as the parents are not begot by the child, but the child by the parents—For so they write, Liberi sunt de sanguine patris & matris, sed pater & mater non sunt de sanguine liberorum.
—But this, Triptolemus, cried Didius, proves too much—for from this authority cited it would follow, not only what indeed is granted on all sides, that the mother is not of kin to her child—but the father likewise.—It is held, said Triptolemus, the better opinion; because the father, the mother, and the child, though they be three persons, yet are they but (una caro (Vide Brook Abridg. tit. Administr. N.47.)) one flesh; and consequently no degree of kindred—or any method of acquiring one in nature.—There you push the argument again too far, cried Didius—for there is no prohibition in nature, though there is in the Levitical law—but that a man may beget a child upon his grandmother—in which case, supposing the issue a daughter, she would stand in relation both of—But who ever thought, cried Kysarcius, of laying with his grandmother?—The young gentleman, replied Yorick, whom Selden speaks of—who not only thought of it, but justified his intention to his father by the argument drawn from the law of retaliation.—'You laid, Sir, with my mother,' said the lad—'why may not I lay with yours?'—'Tis the Argumentum commune, added Yorick.—'Tis as good, replied Eugenius, taking down his hat, as they deserve.
The company broke up.
—And pray, said my uncle Toby, leaning upon Yorick, as he and my father were helping him leisurely down the stairs—don't be terrified, madam, this stair-case conversation is not so long as the last—And pray, Yorick, said my uncle Toby, which way is this said affair of Tristram at length settled by these learned men? Very satisfactorily, replied Yorick; no mortal, Sir, has any concern with it—for Mrs. Shandy the mother is nothing at all a-kin to him—and as the mother's is the surest side—Mr. Shandy, in course is still less than nothing—In short, he is not as much a-kin to him, Sir, as I am.—
—That may well be, said my father, shaking his head.
—Let the learned say what they will, there must certainly, quoth my uncle Toby, have been some sort of consanguinity betwixt the duchess of Suffolk and her son.
The vulgar are of the same opinion, quoth Yorick, to this hour.
Though my father was hugely tickled with the subtleties of these learned discourses—'twas still but like the anointing of a broken bone—The moment he got home, the weight of his afflictions returned upon him but so much the heavier, as is ever the case when the staff we lean on slips from under us.—He became pensive—walked frequently forth to the fish-pond—let down one loop of his hat—sigh'd often—forbore to snap—and, as the hasty sparks of temper, which occasion snapping, so much assist perspiration and digestion, as Hippocrates tells us—he had certainly fallen ill with the extinction of them, had not his thoughts been critically drawn off, and his health rescued by a fresh train of disquietudes left him, with a legacy of a thousand pounds, by my aunt Dinah.
My father had scarce read the letter, when taking the thing by the right end, he instantly began to plague and puzzle his head how to lay it out mostly to the honour of his family.—A hundred-and-fifty odd projects took possession of his brains by turns—he would do this, and that and t'other—He would go to Rome—he would go to law—he would buy stock—he would buy John Hobson's farm—he would new fore front his house, and add a new wing to make it even—There was a fine water-mill on this side, and he would build a wind-mill on the other side of the river in full view to answer it—But above all things in the world, he would inclose the great Ox-moor, and send out my brother Bobby immediately upon his travels.
But as the sum was finite, and consequently could not do every thing—and in truth very few of these to any purpose—of all the projects which offered themselves upon this occasion, the two last seemed to make the deepest impression; and he would infallibly have determined upon both at once, but for the small inconvenience hinted at above, which absolutely put him under a necessity of deciding in favour either of the one or the other.
This was not altogether so easy to be done; for though 'tis certain my father had long before set his heart upon this necessary part of my brother's education, and like a prudent man had actually determined to carry it into execution, with the first money that returned from the second creation of actions in the Missisippi-scheme, in which he was an adventurer—yet the Ox-moor, which was a fine, large, whinny, undrained, unimproved common, belonging to the Shandy-estate, had almost as old a claim upon him: he had long and affectionately set his heart upon turning it likewise to some account.
But having never hitherto been pressed with such a conjuncture of things, as made it necessary to settle either the priority or justice of their claims—like a wise man he had refrained entering into any nice or critical examination about them: so that upon the dismission of every other project at this crisis—the two old projects, the Ox-moor and my Brother, divided him again; and so equal a match were they for each other, as to become the occasion of no small contest in the old gentleman's mind—which of the two should be set o'going first.
—People may laugh as they will—but the case was this.
It had ever been the custom of the family, and by length of time was almost become a matter of common right, that the eldest son of it should have free ingress, egress, and regress into foreign parts before marriage—not only for the sake of bettering his own private parts, by the benefit of exercise and change of so much air—but simply for the mere delectation of his fancy, by the feather put into his cap, of having been abroad—tantum valet, my father would say, quantum sonat.
Now as this was a reasonable, and in course a most christian indulgence—to deprive him of it, without why or wherefore—and thereby make an example of him, as the first Shandy unwhirl'd about Europe in a post-chaise, and only because he was a heavy lad—would be using him ten times worse than a Turk.
On the other hand, the case of the Ox-moor was full as hard.
Exclusive of the original purchase-money, which was eight hundred pounds—it had cost the family eight hundred pounds more in a law-suit about fifteen years before—besides the Lord knows what trouble and vexation.
It had been moreover in possession of the Shandy-family ever since the middle of the last century; and though it lay full in view before the house, bounded on one extremity by the water-mill, and on the other by the projected wind-mill spoken of above—and for all these reasons seemed to have the fairest title of any part of the estate to the care and protection of the family—yet by an unaccountable fatality, common to men, as well as the ground they tread on—it had all along most shamefully been overlook'd; and to speak the truth of it, had suffered so much by it, that it would have made any man's heart have bled (Obadiah said) who understood the value of the land, to have rode over it, and only seen the condition it was in.
However, as neither the purchasing this tract of ground—nor indeed the placing of it where it lay, were either of them, properly speaking, of my father's doing—he had never thought himself any way concerned in the affair—till the fifteen years before, when the breaking out of that cursed law-suit mentioned above (and which had arose about its boundaries)—which being altogether my father's own act and deed, it naturally awakened every other argument in its favour, and upon summing them all up together, he saw, not merely in interest, but in honour, he was bound to do something for it—and that now or never was the time.
I think there must certainly have been a mixture of ill-luck in it, that the reasons on both sides should happen to be so equally balanced by each other; for though my father weigh'd them in all humours and conditions—spent many an anxious hour in the most profound and abstracted meditation upon what was best to be done—reading books of farming one day—books of travels another—laying aside all passion whatever—viewing the arguments on both sides in all their lights and circumstances—communing every day with my uncle Toby—arguing with Yorick, and talking over the whole affair of the Ox-moor with Obadiah—yet nothing in all that time appeared so strongly in behalf of the one, which was not either strictly applicable to the other, or at least so far counterbalanced by some consideration of equal weight, as to keep the scales even.
For to be sure, with proper helps, in the hands of some people, tho' the Ox-moor would undoubtedly have made a different appearance in the world from what it did, or ever could do in the condition it lay—yet every tittle of this was true, with regard to my brother Bobby—let Obadiah say what he would.—
In point of interest—the contest, I own, at first sight, did not appear so undecisive betwixt them; for whenever my father took pen and ink in hand, and set about calculating the simple expence of paring and burning, and fencing in the Ox-moor, &c. &c.—with the certain profit it would bring him in return—the latter turned out so prodigiously in his way of working the account, that you would have sworn the Ox-moor would have carried all before it. For it was plain he should reap a hundred lasts of rape, at twenty pounds a last, the very first year—besides an excellent crop of wheat the year following—and the year after that, to speak within bounds, a hundred—but in all likelihood, a hundred and fifty—if not two hundred quarters of pease and beans—besides potatoes without end.—But then, to think he was all this while breeding up my brother, like a hog to eat them—knocked all on the head again, and generally left the old gentleman in such a state of suspense—that, as he often declared to my uncle Toby—he knew no more than his heels what to do.
No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time: for to say nothing of the havock, which by a certain consequence is unavoidably made by it all over the finer system of the nerves, which you know convey the animal spirits and more subtle juices from the heart to the head, and so on—it is not to be told in what a degree such a wayward kind of friction works upon the more gross and solid parts, wasting the fat and impairing the strength of a man every time as it goes backwards and forwards.
My father had certainly sunk under this evil, as certainly as he had done under that of my Christian Name—had he not been rescued out of it, as he was out of that, by a fresh evil—the misfortune of my brother Bobby's death.
What is the life of man! Is it not to shift from side to side?—from sorrow to sorrow?—to button up one cause of vexation—and unbutton another?
From this moment I am to be considered as heir-apparent to the Shandy family—and it is from this point properly, that the story of my Life and my Opinions sets out. With all my hurry and precipitation, I have but been clearing the ground to raise the building—and such a building do I foresee it will turn out, as never was planned, and as never was executed since Adam. In less than five minutes I shall have thrown my pen into the fire, and the little drop of thick ink which is left remaining at the bottom of my ink-horn, after it—I have but half a score things to do in the time—I have a thing to name—a thing to lament—a thing to hope—a thing to promise, and a thing to threaten—I have a thing to suppose—a thing to declare—a thing to conceal—a thing to choose, and a thing to pray for—This chapter, therefore, I name the chapter of Things—and my next chapter to it, that is, the first chapter of my next volume, if I live, shall be my chapter upon Whiskers, in order to keep up some sort of connection in my works.
The thing I lament is, that things have crowded in so thick upon me, that I have not been able to get into that part of my work, towards which I have all the way looked forwards, with so much earnest desire; and that is the Campaigns, but especially the amours of my uncle Toby, the events of which are of so singular a nature, and so Cervantick a cast, that if I can so manage it, as to convey but the same impressions to every other brain, which the occurrences themselves excite in my own—I will answer for it the book shall make its way in the world, much better than its master has done before it.—Oh Tristram! Tristram! can this but be once brought about—the credit, which will attend thee as an author, shall counterbalance the many evils will have befallen thee as a man—thou wilt feast upon the one—when thou hast lost all sense and remembrance of the other—!
No wonder I itch so much as I do, to get at these amours—They are the choicest morsel of my whole story! and when I do get at 'em—assure yourselves, good folks—(nor do I value whose squeamish stomach takes offence at it) I shall not be at all nice in the choice of my words!—and that's the thing I have to declare.—I shall never get all through in five minutes, that I fear—and the thing I hope is, that your worships and reverences are not offended—if you are, depend upon't I'll give you something, my good gentry, next year to be offended at—that's my dear Jenny's way—but who my Jenny is—and which is the right and which the wrong end of a woman, is the thing to be concealed—it shall be told you in the next chapter but one to my chapter of Button-holes—and not one chapter before.
And now that you have just got to the end of these (According to the preceding Editions.) three volumes—the thing I have to ask is, how you feel your heads? my own akes dismally!—as for your healths, I know, they are much better.—True Shandeism, think what you will against it, opens the heart and lungs, and like all those affections which partake of its nature, it forces the blood and other vital fluids of the body to run freely through its channels, makes the wheel of life run long and cheerfully round.
Was I left, like Sancho Panca, to choose my kingdom, it should not be maritime—or a kingdom of blacks to make a penny of;—no, it should be a kingdom of hearty laughing subjects: And as the bilious and more saturnine passions, by creating disorders in the blood and humours, have as bad an influence, I see, upon the body politick as body natural—and as nothing but a habit of virtue can fully govern those passions, and subject them to reason—I should add to my prayer—that God would give my subjects grace to be as Wise as they were Merry; and then should I be the happiest monarch, and they are the happiest people under heaven.
And so with this moral for the present, may it please your worships and your reverences, I take my leave of you till this time twelve-month, when, (unless this vile cough kills me in the mean time) I'll have another pluck at your beards, and lay open a story to the world you little dream of.
End of the Second Volume.
To the Right Honorable John, Lord Viscount Spencer.
I Humbly beg leave to offer you these two Volumes (Volumes V. and VI. in the first Edition.); they are the best my talents, with such bad health as I have, could produce:—had Providence granted me a larger stock of either, they had been a much more proper present to your Lordship.
I beg your Lordship will forgive me, if, at the same time I dedicate this work to you, I join Lady Spencer, in the liberty I take of inscribing the story of Le Fever to her name; for which I have no other motive, which my heart has informed me of, but that the story is a humane one.
I am, My Lord, Your Lordship's most devoted and most humble Servant,
If it had not been for those two mettlesome tits, and that madcap of a postillion who drove them from Stilton to Stamford, the thought had never entered my head. He flew like lightning—there was a slope of three miles and a half—we scarce touched the ground—the motion was most rapid—most impetuous—'twas communicated to my brain—my heart partook of it—'By the great God of day,' said I, looking towards the sun, and thrusting my arm out of the fore-window of the chaise, as I made my vow, 'I will lock up my study-door the moment I get home, and throw the key of it ninety feet below the surface of the earth, into the draw-well at the back of my house.'
The London waggon confirmed me in my resolution; it hung tottering upon the hill, scarce progressive, drag'd—drag'd up by eight heavy beasts—'by main strength!—quoth I, nodding—but your betters draw the same way—and something of every body's!—O rare!'
Tell me, ye learned, shall we for ever be adding so much to the bulk—so little to the stock?
Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?
Are we for ever to be twisting, and untwisting the same rope? for ever in the same track—for ever at the same pace?
Shall we be destined to the days of eternity, on holy-days, as well as working-days, to be shewing the relicks of learning, as monks do the relicks of their saints—without working one—one single miracle with them?
Who made Man, with powers which dart him from earth to heaven in a moment—that great, that most excellent, and most noble creature of the world—the miracle of nature, as Zoroaster in his book (Greek) called him—the Shekinah of the divine presence, as Chrysostom—the image of God, as Moses—the ray of divinity, as Plato—the marvel of marvels, as Aristotle—to go sneaking on at this pitiful—pimping—pettifogging rate?
I scorn to be as abusive as Horace upon the occasion—but if there is no catachresis in the wish, and no sin in it, I wish from my soul, that every imitator in Great Britain, France, and Ireland, had the farcy for his pains; and that there was a good farcical house, large enough to hold—aye—and sublimate them, shag rag and bob-tail, male and female, all together: and this leads me to the affair of Whiskers—but, by what chain of ideas—I leave as a legacy in mort-main to Prudes and Tartufs, to enjoy and make the most of.
I'm sorry I made it—'twas as inconsiderate a promise as ever entered a man's head—A chapter upon whiskers! alas! the world will not bear it—'tis a delicate world—but I knew not of what mettle it was made—nor had I ever seen the under-written fragment; otherwise, as surely as noses are noses, and whiskers are whiskers still (let the world say what it will to the contrary); so surely would I have steered clear of this dangerous chapter.
...—You are half asleep, my good lady, said the old gentleman, taking hold of the old lady's hand, and giving it a gentle squeeze, as he pronounced the word Whiskers—shall we change the subject? By no means, replied the old lady—I like your account of those matters; so throwing a thin gauze handkerchief over her head, and leaning it back upon the chair with her face turned towards him, and advancing her two feet as she reclined herself—I desire, continued she, you will go on.
The old gentleman went on as follows:—Whiskers! cried the queen of Navarre, dropping her knotting ball, as La Fosseuse uttered the word—Whiskers, madam, said La Fosseuse, pinning the ball to the queen's apron, and making a courtesy as she repeated it.
La Fosseuse's voice was naturally soft and low, yet 'twas an articulate voice: and every letter of the word Whiskers fell distinctly upon the queen of Navarre's ear—Whiskers! cried the queen, laying a greater stress upon the word, and as if she had still distrusted her ears—Whiskers! replied La Fosseuse, repeating the word a third time—There is not a cavalier, madam, of his age in Navarre, continued the maid of honour, pressing the page's interest upon the queen, that has so gallant a pair—Of what? cried Margaret, smiling—Of whiskers, said La Fosseuse, with infinite modesty.
The word Whiskers still stood its ground, and continued to be made use of in most of the best companies throughout the little kingdom of Navarre, notwithstanding the indiscreet use which La Fosseuse had made of it: the truth was, La Fosseuse had pronounced the word, not only before the queen, but upon sundry other occasions at court, with an accent which always implied something of a mystery—And as the court of Margaret, as all the world knows, was at that time a mixture of gallantry and devotion—and whiskers being as applicable to the one, as the other, the word naturally stood its ground—it gained full as much as it lost; that is, the clergy were for it—the laity were against it—and for the women,—they were divided.
The excellency of the figure and mien of the young Sieur De Croix, was at that time beginning to draw the attention of the maids of honour towards the terrace before the palace gate, where the guard was mounted. The lady De Baussiere fell deeply in love with him,—La Battarelle did the same—it was the finest weather for it, that ever was remembered in Navarre—La Guyol, La Maronette, La Sabatiere, fell in love with the Sieur De Croix also—La Rebours and La Fosseuse knew better—De Croix had failed in an attempt to recommend himself to La Rebours; and La Rebours and La Fosseuse were inseparable.
The queen of Navarre was sitting with her ladies in the painted bow-window, facing the gate of the second court, as De Croix passed through it—He is handsome, said the Lady Baussiere—He has a good mien, said La Battarelle—He is finely shaped, said La Guyol—I never saw an officer of the horse-guards in my life, said La Maronette, with two such legs—Or who stood so well upon them, said La Sabatiere—But he has no whiskers, cried La Fosseuse—Not a pile, said La Rebours.
The queen went directly to her oratory, musing all the way, as she walked through the gallery, upon the subject; turning it this way and that way in her fancy—Ave Maria!—what can La-Fosseuse mean? said she, kneeling down upon the cushion.
La Guyol, La Battarelle, La Maronette, La Sabatiere, retired instantly to their chambers—Whiskers! said all four of them to themselves, as they bolted their doors on the inside.
The Lady Carnavallette was counting her beads with both hands, unsuspected, under her farthingal—from St. Antony down to St. Ursula inclusive, not a saint passed through her fingers without whiskers; St. Francis, St. Dominick, St. Bennet, St. Basil, St. Bridget, had all whiskers.
The Lady Baussiere had got into a wilderness of conceits, with moralizing too intricately upon La Fosseuse's text—She mounted her palfrey, her page followed her—the host passed by—the Lady Baussiere rode on.
One denier, cried the order of mercy—one single denier, in behalf of a thousand patient captives, whose eyes look towards heaven and you for their redemption.
—The Lady Baussiere rode on.
Pity the unhappy, said a devout, venerable, hoary-headed man, meekly holding up a box, begirt with iron, in his withered hands—I beg for the unfortunate—good my Lady, 'tis for a prison—for an hospital—'tis for an old man—a poor man undone by shipwreck, by suretyship, by fire—I call God and all his angels to witness—'tis to clothe the naked—to feed the hungry—'tis to comfort the sick and the broken-hearted.
The Lady Baussiere rode on.
A decayed kinsman bowed himself to the ground.
—The Lady Baussiere rode on.
He ran begging bare-headed on one side of her palfrey, conjuring her by the former bonds of friendship, alliance, consanguinity, &c.—Cousin, aunt, sister, mother,—for virtue's sake, for your own, for mine, for Christ's sake, remember me—pity me.
—The Lady Baussiere rode on.
Take hold of my whiskers, said the Lady Baussiere—The page took hold of her palfrey. She dismounted at the end of the terrace.
There are some trains of certain ideas which leave prints of themselves about our eyes and eye-brows; and there is a consciousness of it, somewhere about the heart, which serves but to make these etchings the stronger—we see, spell, and put them together without a dictionary.
Ha, ha! he, hee! cried La Guyol and La Sabatiere, looking close at each other's prints—Ho, ho! cried La Battarelle and Maronette, doing the same:—Whist! cried one—ft, ft,—said a second—hush, quoth a third—poo, poo, replied a fourth—gramercy! cried the Lady Carnavallette;—'twas she who bewhisker'd St. Bridget.
La Fosseuse drew her bodkin from the knot of her hair, and having traced the outline of a small whisker, with the blunt end of it, upon one side of her upper lip, put in into La Rebours' hand—La Rebours shook her head.
The Lady Baussiere coughed thrice into the inside of her muff—La Guyol smiled—Fy, said the Lady Baussiere. The queen of Navarre touched her eye with the tip of her fore-finger—as much as to say, I understand you all.
'Twas plain to the whole court the word was ruined: La Fosseuse had given it a wound, and it was not the better for passing through all these defiles—It made a faint stand, however, for a few months, by the expiration of which, the Sieur De Croix, finding it high time to leave Navarre for want of whiskers—the word in course became indecent, and (after a few efforts) absolutely unfit for use.
The best word, in the best language of the best world, must have suffered under such combinations.—The curate of d'Estella wrote a book against them, setting forth the dangers of accessory ideas, and warning the Navarois against them.
Does not all the world know, said the curate d'Estella at the conclusion of his work, that Noses ran the same fate some centuries ago in most parts of Europe, which Whiskers have now done in the kingdom of Navarre?—The evil indeed spread no farther then—but have not beds and bolsters, and night-caps and chamber-pots stood upon the brink of destruction ever since? Are not trouse, and placket-holes, and pump-handles—and spigots and faucets, in danger still from the same association?—Chastity, by nature, the gentlest of all affections—give it but its head—'tis like a ramping and a roaring lion.
The drift of the curate d'Estella's argument was not understood.—They ran the scent the wrong way.—The world bridled his ass at the tail.—And when the extremes of Delicacy, and the beginnings of Concupiscence, hold their next provincial chapter together, they may decree that bawdy also.
When my father received the letter which brought him the melancholy account of my brother Bobby's death, he was busy calculating the expence of his riding post from Calais to Paris, and so on to Lyons.
'Twas a most inauspicious journey; my father having had every foot of it to travel over again, and his calculation to begin afresh, when he had almost got to the end of it, by Obadiah's opening the door to acquaint him the family was out of yeast—and to ask whether he might not take the great coach-horse early in the morning and ride in search of some.—With all my heart, Obadiah, said my father (pursuing his journey)—take the coach-horse, and welcome.—But he wants a shoe, poor creature! said Obadiah.—Poor creature! said my uncle Toby, vibrating the note back again, like a string in unison. Then ride the Scotch horse, quoth my father hastily.—He cannot bear a saddle upon his back, quoth Obadiah, for the whole world.—The devil's in that horse; then take Patriot, cried my father, and shut the door.—Patriot is sold, said Obadiah. Here's for you! cried my father, making a pause, and looking in my uncle Toby's face, as if the thing had not been a matter of fact.—Your worship ordered me to sell him last April, said Obadiah.—Then go on foot for your pains, cried my father—I had much rather walk than ride, said Obadiah, shutting the door.
What plagues, cried my father, going on with his calculation.—But the waters are out, said Obadiah,—opening the door again.
Till that moment, my father, who had a map of Sanson's, and a book of the post-roads before him, had kept his hand upon the head of his compasses, with one foot of them fixed upon Nevers, the last stage he had paid for—purposing to go on from that point with his journey and calculation, as soon as Obadiah quitted the room: but this second attack of Obadiah's, in opening the door and laying the whole country under water, was too much.—He let go his compasses—or rather with a mixed motion between accident and anger, he threw them upon the table; and then there was nothing for him to do, but to return back to Calais (like many others) as wise as he had set out.
When the letter was brought into the parlour, which contained the news of my brother's death, my father had got forwards again upon his journey to within a stride of the compasses of the very same stage of Nevers.—By your leave, Mons. Sanson, cried my father, striking the point of his compasses through Nevers into the table—and nodding to my uncle Toby to see what was in the letter—twice of one night, is too much for an English gentleman and his son, Mons. Sanson, to be turned back from so lousy a town as Nevers—What think'st thou, Toby? added my father in a sprightly tone.—Unless it be a garrison town, said my uncle Toby—for then—I shall be a fool, said my father, smiling to himself, as long as I live.—So giving a second nod—and keeping his compasses still upon Nevers with one hand, and holding his book of the post-roads in the other—half calculating and half listening, he leaned forwards upon the table with both elbows, as my uncle Toby hummed over the letter.
...he's gone! said my uncle Toby—Where—Who? cried my father.—My nephew, said my uncle Toby.—What—without leave—without money—without governor? cried my father in amazement. No:—he is dead, my dear brother, quoth my uncle Toby.—Without being ill? cried my father again.—I dare say not, said my uncle Toby, in a low voice, and fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of his heart, he has been ill enough, poor lad! I'll answer for him—for he is dead.
When Agrippina was told of her son's death, Tacitus informs us, that, not being able to moderate the violence of her passions, she abruptly broke off her work—My father stuck his compasses into Nevers, but so much the faster.—What contrarieties! his, indeed, was matter of calculation!—Agrippina's must have been quite a different affair; who else could pretend to reason from history?
How my father went on, in my opinion, deserves a chapter to itself.—
...—And a chapter it shall have, and a devil of a one too—so look to yourselves.
'Tis either Plato, or Plutarch, or Seneca, or Xenophon, or Epictetus, or Theophrastus, or Lucian—or some one perhaps of later date—either Cardan, or Budaeus, or Petrarch, or Stella—or possibly it may be some divine or father of the church, St. Austin, or St. Cyprian, or Barnard, who affirms that it is an irresistible and natural passion to weep for the loss of our friends or children—and Seneca (I'm positive) tells us somewhere, that such griefs evacuate themselves best by that particular channel—And accordingly we find, that David wept for his son Absalom—Adrian for his Antinous—Niobe for her children, and that Apollodorus and Crito both shed tears for Socrates before his death.
My father managed his affliction otherwise; and indeed differently from most men either ancient or modern; for he neither wept it away, as the Hebrews and the Romans—or slept it off, as the Laplanders—or hanged it, as the English, or drowned it, as the Germans,—nor did he curse it, or damn it, or excommunicate it, or rhyme it, or lillabullero it.—
—He got rid of it, however.
Will your worships give me leave to squeeze in a story between these two pages?
When Tully was bereft of his dear daughter Tullia, at first he laid it to his heart,—he listened to the voice of nature, and modulated his own unto it.—O my Tullia! my daughter! my child!—still, still, still,—'twas O my Tullia!—my Tullia! Methinks I see my Tullia, I hear my Tullia, I talk with my Tullia.—But as soon as he began to look into the stores of philosophy, and consider how many excellent things might be said upon the occasion—no body upon earth can conceive, says the great orator, how happy, how joyful it made me.
My father was as proud of his eloquence as Marcus Tullius Cicero could be for his life, and, for aught I am convinced of to the contrary at present, with as much reason: it was indeed his strength—and his weakness too.—His strength—for he was by nature eloquent; and his weakness—for he was hourly a dupe to it; and, provided an occasion in life would but permit him to shew his talents, or say either a wise thing, a witty, or a shrewd one—(bating the case of a systematic misfortune)—he had all he wanted.—A blessing which tied up my father's tongue, and a misfortune which let it loose with a good grace, were pretty equal: sometimes, indeed, the misfortune was the better of the two; for instance, where the pleasure of the harangue was as ten, and the pain of the misfortune but as five—my father gained half in half, and consequently was as well again off, as if it had never befallen him.
This clue will unravel what otherwise would seem very inconsistent in my father's domestic character; and it is this, that, in the provocations arising from the neglects and blunders of servants, or other mishaps unavoidable in a family, his anger, or rather the duration of it, eternally ran counter to all conjecture.
My father had a favourite little mare, which he had consigned over to a most beautiful Arabian horse, in order to have a pad out of her for his own riding: he was sanguine in all his projects; so talked about his pad every day with as absolute a security, as if it had been reared, broke,—and bridled and saddled at his door ready for mounting. By some neglect or other in Obadiah, it so fell out, that my father's expectations were answered with nothing better than a mule, and as ugly a beast of the kind as ever was produced.
My mother and my uncle Toby expected my father would be the death of Obadiah—and that there never would be an end of the disaster—See here! you rascal, cried my father, pointing to the mule, what you have done!—It was not me, said Obadiah.—How do I know that? replied my father.
Triumph swam in my father's eyes, at the repartee—the Attic salt brought water into them—and so Obadiah heard no more about it.
Now let us go back to my brother's death.
Philosophy has a fine saying for every thing.—For Death it has an entire set; the misery was, they all at once rushed into my father's head, that 'twas difficult to string them together, so as to make any thing of a consistent show out of them.—He took them as they came.
''Tis an inevitable chance—the first statute in Magna Charta—it is an everlasting act of parliament, my dear brother,—All must die.
'If my son could not have died, it had been matter of wonder,—not that he is dead.
'Monarchs and princes dance in the same ring with us.
'—To die, is the great debt and tribute due unto nature: tombs and monuments, which should perpetuate our memories, pay it themselves; and the proudest pyramid of them all, which wealth and science have erected, has lost its apex, and stands obtruncated in the traveller's horizon.' (My father found he got great ease, and went on)—'Kingdoms and provinces, and towns and cities, have they not their periods? and when those principles and powers, which at first cemented and put them together, have performed their several evolutions, they fall back.'—Brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby, laying down his pipe at the word evolutions—Revolutions, I meant, quoth my father,—by heaven! I meant revolutions, brother Toby—evolutions is nonsense.—'Tis not nonsense—said my uncle Toby.—But is it not nonsense to break the thread of such a discourse upon such an occasion? cried my father—do not—dear Toby, continued he, taking him by the hand, do not—do not, I beseech thee, interrupt me at this crisis.—My uncle Toby put his pipe into his mouth.
'Where is Troy and Mycenae, and Thebes and Delos, and Persepolis and Agrigentum?'—continued my father, taking up his book of post-roads, which he had laid down.—'What is become, brother Toby, of Nineveh and Babylon, of Cizicum and Mitylenae? The fairest towns that ever the sun rose upon, are now no more; the names only are left, and those (for many of them are wrong spelt) are falling themselves by piece-meals to decay, and in length of time will be forgotten, and involved with every thing in a perpetual night: the world itself, brother Toby, must—must come to an end.
'Returning out of Asia, when I sailed from Aegina towards Megara,' (when can this have been? thought my uncle Toby,) 'I began to view the country round about. Aegina was behind me, Megara was before, Pyraeus on the right hand, Corinth on the left.—What flourishing towns now prostrate upon the earth! Alas! alas! said I to myself, that man should disturb his soul for the loss of a child, when so much as this lies awfully buried in his presence—Remember, said I to myself again—remember thou art a man.'—
Now my uncle Toby knew not that this last paragraph was an extract of Servius Sulpicius's consolatory letter to Tully.—He had as little skill, honest man, in the fragments, as he had in the whole pieces of antiquity.—And as my father, whilst he was concerned in the Turkey trade, had been three or four different times in the Levant, in one of which he had stayed a whole year and an half at Zant, my uncle Toby naturally concluded, that, in some one of these periods, he had taken a trip across the Archipelago into Asia; and that all this sailing affair with Aegina behind, and Megara before, and Pyraeus on the right hand, &c. &c. was nothing more than the true course of my father's voyage and reflections.—'Twas certainly in his manner, and many an undertaking critic would have built two stories higher upon worse foundations.—And pray, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, laying the end of his pipe upon my father's hand in a kindly way of interruption—but waiting till he finished the account—what year of our Lord was this?—'Twas no year of our Lord, replied my father.—That's impossible, cried my uncle Toby.—Simpleton! said my father,—'twas forty years before Christ was born.
My uncle Toby had but two things for it; either to suppose his brother to be the wandering Jew, or that his misfortunes had disordered his brain.—'May the Lord God of heaven and earth protect him and restore him!' said my uncle Toby, praying silently for my father, and with tears in his eyes.
—My father placed the tears to a proper account, and went on with his harangue with great spirit.
'There is not such great odds, brother Toby, betwixt good and evil, as the world imagines'—(this way of setting off, by the bye, was not likely to cure my uncle Toby's suspicions).—'Labour, sorrow, grief, sickness, want, and woe, are the sauces of life.'—Much good may do them—said my uncle Toby to himself.—
'My son is dead!—so much the better;—'tis a shame in such a tempest to have but one anchor.
'But he is gone for ever from us!—be it so. He is got from under the hands of his barber before he was bald—he is but risen from a feast before he was surfeited—from a banquet before he had got drunken.
'The Thracians wept when a child was born,'—(and we were very near it, quoth my uncle Toby,)—'and feasted and made merry when a man went out of the world; and with reason.—Death opens the gate of fame, and shuts the gate of envy after it,—it unlooses the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman's task into another man's hands.
'Shew me the man, who knows what life is, who dreads it, and I'll shew thee a prisoner who dreads his liberty.'
Is it not better, my dear brother Toby, (for mark—our appetites are but diseases,)—is it not better not to hunger at all, than to eat?—not to thirst, than to take physic to cure it?
Is it not better to be freed from cares and agues, from love and melancholy, and the other hot and cold fits of life, than, like a galled traveller, who comes weary to his inn, to be bound to begin his journey afresh?
There is no terrour, brother Toby, in its looks, but what it borrows from groans and convulsions—and the blowing of noses and the wiping away of tears with the bottoms of curtains, in a dying man's room.—Strip it of these, what is it?—'Tis better in battle than in bed, said my uncle Toby.—Take away its hearses, its mutes, and its mourning,—its plumes, scutcheons, and other mechanic aids—What is it?—Better in battle! continued my father, smiling, for he had absolutely forgot my brother Bobby—'tis terrible no way—for consider, brother Toby,—when we are—death is not;—and when death is—we are not. My uncle Toby laid down his pipe to consider the proposition; my father's eloquence was too rapid to stay for any man—away it went,—and hurried my uncle Toby's ideas along with it.—
For this reason, continued my father, 'tis worthy to recollect, how little alteration, in great men, the approaches of death have made.—Vespasian died in a jest upon his close-stool—Galba with a sentence—Septimus Severus in a dispatch—Tiberius in dissimulation, and Caesar Augustus in a compliment.—I hope 'twas a sincere one—quoth my uncle Toby.
—'Twas to his wife,—said my father.
—And lastly—for all the choice anecdotes which history can produce of this matter, continued my father,—this, like the gilded dome which covers in the fabric—crowns all.—
'Tis of Cornelius Gallus, the praetor—which, I dare say, brother Toby, you have read.—I dare say I have not, replied my uncle.—He died, said my father as...—And if it was with his wife, said my uncle Toby—there could be no hurt in it.—That's more than I know—replied my father.
My mother was going very gingerly in the dark along the passage which led to the parlour, as my uncle Toby pronounced the word wife.—'Tis a shrill penetrating sound of itself, and Obadiah had helped it by leaving the door a little a-jar, so that my mother heard enough of it to imagine herself the subject of the conversation; so laying the edge of her finger across her two lips—holding in her breath, and bending her head a little downwards, with a twist of her neck—(not towards the door, but from it, by which means her ear was brought to the chink)—she listened with all her powers:—the listening slave, with the Goddess of Silence at his back, could not have given a finer thought for an intaglio.
In this attitude I am determined to let her stand for five minutes: till I bring up the affairs of the kitchen (as Rapin does those of the church) to the same period.
Though in one sense, our family was certainly a simple machine, as it consisted of a few wheels; yet there was thus much to be said for it, that these wheels were set in motion by so many different springs, and acted one upon the other from such a variety of strange principles and impulses—that though it was a simple machine, it had all the honour and advantages of a complex one,—and a number of as odd movements within it, as ever were beheld in the inside of a Dutch silk-mill.
Amongst these there was one, I am going to speak of, in which, perhaps, it was not altogether so singular, as in many others; and it was this, that whatever motion, debate, harangue, dialogue, project, or dissertation, was going forwards in the parlour, there was generally another at the same time, and upon the same subject, running parallel along with it in the kitchen.
Now to bring this about, whenever an extraordinary message, or letter, was delivered in the parlour—or a discourse suspended till a servant went out—or the lines of discontent were observed to hang upon the brows of my father or mother—or, in short, when any thing was supposed to be upon the tapis worth knowing or listening to, 'twas the rule to leave the door, not absolutely shut, but somewhat a-jar—as it stands just now,—which, under covert of the bad hinge, (and that possibly might be one of the many reasons why it was never mended,) it was not difficult to manage; by which means, in all these cases, a passage was generally left, not indeed as wide as the Dardanelles, but wide enough, for all that, to carry on as much of this windward trade, as was sufficient to save my father the trouble of governing his house;—my mother at this moment stands profiting by it.—Obadiah did the same thing, as soon as he had left the letter upon the table which brought the news of my brother's death, so that before my father had well got over his surprise, and entered upon his harangue,—had Trim got upon his legs, to speak his sentiments upon the subject.
A curious observer of nature, had he been worth the inventory of all Job's stock—though by the bye, your curious observers are seldom worth a groat—would have given the half of it, to have heard Corporal Trim and my father, two orators so contrasted by nature and education, haranguing over the same bier.
My father—a man of deep reading—prompt memory—with Cato, and Seneca, and Epictetus, at his fingers ends.—
The corporal—with nothing—to remember—of no deeper reading than his muster-roll—or greater names at his fingers end, than the contents of it.
The one proceeding from period to period, by metaphor and allusion, and striking the fancy as he went along (as men of wit and fancy do) with the entertainment and pleasantry of his pictures and images.
The other, without wit or antithesis, or point, or turn, this way or that; but leaving the images on one side, and the picture on the other, going straight forwards as nature could lead him, to the heart. O Trim! would to heaven thou had'st a better historian!—would!—thy historian had a better pair of breeches!—O ye critics! will nothing melt you?
—A green sattin night-gown of my mother's, which had been twice scoured, was the first idea which Obadiah's exclamation brought into Susannah's head.—Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words.—Then, quoth Susannah, we must all go into mourning.—But note a second time: the word mourning, notwithstanding Susannah made use of it herself—failed also of doing its office; it excited not one single idea, tinged either with grey or black,—all was green.—The green sattin night-gown hung there still.
—O! 'twill be the death of my poor mistress, cried Susannah.—My mother's whole wardrobe followed.—What a procession! her red damask,—her orange tawney,—her white and yellow lutestrings,—her brown taffata,—her bone-laced caps, her bed-gowns, and comfortable under-petticoats.—Not a rag was left behind.—'No,—she will never look up again,' said Susannah.
We had a fat, foolish scullion—my father, I think, kept her for her simplicity;—she had been all autumn struggling with a dropsy.—He is dead, said Obadiah,—he is certainly dead!—So am not I, said the foolish scullion.
—Here is sad news, Trim, cried Susannah, wiping her eyes as Trim stepp'd into the kitchen,—master Bobby is dead and buried—the funeral was an interpolation of Susannah's—we shall have all to go into mourning, said Susannah.
I hope not, said Trim.—You hope not! cried Susannah earnestly.—The mourning ran not in Trim's head, whatever it did in Susannah's.—I hope—said Trim, explaining himself, I hope in God the news is not true. I heard the letter read with my own ears, answered Obadiah; and we shall have a terrible piece of work of it in stubbing the ox-moor.—Oh! he's dead, said Susannah.—As sure, said the scullion, as I'm alive.
I lament for him from my heart and my soul, said Trim, fetching a sigh.—Poor creature!—poor boy!—poor gentleman!
—He was alive last Whitsontide! said the coachman.—Whitsontide! alas! cried Trim, extending his right arm, and falling instantly into the same attitude in which he read the sermon,—what is Whitsontide, Jonathan (for that was the coachman's name), or Shrovetide, or any tide or time past, to this? Are we not here now, continued the corporal (striking the end of his stick perpendicularly upon the floor, so as to give an idea of health and stability)—and are we not—(dropping his hat upon the ground) gone! in a moment!—'Twas infinitely striking! Susannah burst into a flood of tears.—We are not stocks and stones.—Jonathan, Obadiah, the cook-maid, all melted.—The foolish fat scullion herself, who was scouring a fish-kettle upon her knees, was rous'd with it.—The whole kitchen crowded about the corporal.
Now, as I perceive plainly, that the preservation of our constitution in church and state,—and possibly the preservation of the whole world—or what is the same thing, the distribution and balance of its property and power, may in time to come depend greatly upon the right understanding of this stroke of the corporal's eloquence—I do demand your attention—your worships and reverences, for any ten pages together, take them where you will in any other part of the work, shall sleep for it at your ease.
I said, 'we were not stocks and stones'—'tis very well. I should have added, nor are we angels, I wish we were,—but men clothed with bodies, and governed by our imaginations;—and what a junketing piece of work of it there is, betwixt these and our seven senses, especially some of them, for my own part, I own it, I am ashamed to confess. Let it suffice to affirm, that of all the senses, the eye (for I absolutely deny the touch, though most of your Barbati, I know, are for it) has the quickest commerce with the soul,—gives a smarter stroke, and leaves something more inexpressible upon the fancy, than words can either convey—or sometimes get rid of.
—I've gone a little about—no matter, 'tis for health—let us only carry it back in our mind to the mortality of Trim's hat—'Are we not here now,—and gone in a moment?'—There was nothing in the sentence—'twas one of your self-evident truths we have the advantage of hearing every day; and if Trim had not trusted more to his hat than his head—he made nothing at all of it.
—'Are we not here now;' continued the corporal, 'and are we not'—(dropping his hat plumb upon the ground—and pausing, before he pronounced the word)—'gone! in a moment?' The descent of the hat was as if a heavy lump of clay had been kneaded into the crown of it.—Nothing could have expressed the sentiment of mortality, of which it was the type and fore-runner, like it,—his hand seemed to vanish from under it,—it fell dead,—the corporal's eye fixed upon it, as upon a corpse,—and Susannah burst into a flood of tears.
Now—Ten thousand, and ten thousand times ten thousand (for matter and motion are infinite) are the ways by which a hat may be dropped upon the ground, without any effect.—Had he flung it, or thrown it, or cast it, or skimmed it, or squirted it, or let it slip or fall in any possible direction under heaven,—or in the best direction that could be given to it,—had he dropped it like a goose—like a puppy—like an ass—or in doing it, or even after he had done, had he looked like a fool—like a ninny—like a nincompoop—it had fail'd, and the effect upon the heart had been lost.
Ye who govern this mighty world and its mighty concerns with the engines of eloquence,—who heat it, and cool it, and melt it, and mollify it,—and then harden it again to your purpose—
Ye who wind and turn the passions with this great windlass, and, having done it, lead the owners of them, whither ye think meet.
Ye, lastly, who drive—and why not, Ye also who are driven, like turkeys to market with a stick and a red clout—meditate—meditate, I beseech you, upon Trim's hat.
Stay—I have a small account to settle with the reader before Trim can go on with his harangue.—It shall be done in two minutes.
Amongst many other book-debts, all of which I shall discharge in due time,—I own myself a debtor to the world for two items,—a chapter upon chamber-maids and button-holes, which, in the former part of my work, I promised and fully intended to pay off this year: but some of your worships and reverences telling me, that the two subjects, especially so connected together, might endanger the morals of the world,—I pray the chapter upon chamber-maids and button-holes may be forgiven me,—and that they will accept of the last chapter in lieu of it; which is nothing, an't please your reverences, but a chapter of chamber-maids, green gowns, and old hats.
Trim took his hat off the ground,—put it upon his head,—and then went on with his oration upon death, in manner and form following.
—To us, Jonathan, who know not what want or care is—who live here in the service of two of the best of masters—(bating in my own case his majesty King William the Third, whom I had the honour to serve both in Ireland and Flanders)—I own it, that from Whitsontide to within three weeks of Christmas,—'tis not long—'tis like nothing;—but to those, Jonathan, who know what death is, and what havock and destruction he can make, before a man can well wheel about—'tis like a whole age.—O Jonathan! 'twould make a good-natured man's heart bleed, to consider, continued the corporal (standing perpendicularly), how low many a brave and upright fellow has been laid since that time!—And trust me, Susy, added the corporal, turning to Susannah, whose eyes were swimming in water,—before that time comes round again,—many a bright eye will be dim.—Susannah placed it to the right side of the page—she wept—but she court'sied too.—Are we not, continued Trim, looking still at Susannah—are we not like a flower of the field—a tear of pride stole in betwixt every two tears of humiliation—else no tongue could have described Susannah's affliction—is not all flesh grass?—Tis clay,—'tis dirt.—They all looked directly at the scullion,—the scullion had just been scouring a fish-kettle.—It was not fair.—
—What is the finest face that ever man looked at!—I could hear Trim talk so for ever, cried Susannah,—what is it! (Susannah laid her hand upon Trim's shoulder)—but corruption?—Susannah took it off.
Now I love you for this—and 'tis this delicious mixture within you which makes you dear creatures what you are—and he who hates you for it—all I can say of the matter is—That he has either a pumpkin for his head—or a pippin for his heart,—and whenever he is dissected 'twill be found so.
Whether Susannah, by taking her hand too suddenly from off the corporal's shoulder (by the whisking about of her passions)—broke a little the chain of his reflexions—
Or whether the corporal began to be suspicious, he had got into the doctor's quarters, and was talking more like the chaplain than himself—
Or whether...Or whether—for in all such cases a man of invention and parts may with pleasure fill a couple of pages with suppositions—which of all these was the cause, let the curious physiologist, or the curious any body determine—'tis certain, at least, the corporal went on thus with his harangue.
For my own part, I declare it, that out of doors, I value not death at all:—not this...added the corporal, snapping his fingers,—but with an air which no one but the corporal could have given to the sentiment.—In battle, I value death not this...and let him not take me cowardly, like poor Joe Gibbins, in scouring his gun.—What is he? A pull of a trigger—a push of a bayonet an inch this way or that—makes the difference.—Look along the line—to the right—see! Jack's down! well,—'tis worth a regiment of horse to him.—No—'tis Dick. Then Jack's no worse.—Never mind which,—we pass on,—in hot pursuit the wound itself which brings him is not felt,—the best way is to stand up to him,—the man who flies, is in ten times more danger than the man who marches up into his jaws.—I've look'd him, added the corporal, an hundred times in the face,—and know what he is.—He's nothing, Obadiah, at all in the field.—But he's very frightful in a house, quoth Obadiah.—I never mind it myself, said Jonathan, upon a coach-box.—It must, in my opinion, be most natural in bed, replied Susannah.—And could I escape him by creeping into the worst calf's skin that ever was made into a knapsack, I would do it there—said Trim—but that is nature.
—Nature is nature, said Jonathan.—And that is the reason, cried Susannah, I so much pity my mistress.—She will never get the better of it.—Now I pity the captain the most of any one in the family, answered Trim.—Madam will get ease of heart in weeping,—and the Squire in talking about it,—but my poor master will keep it all in silence to himself.—I shall hear him sigh in his bed for a whole month together, as he did for lieutenant Le Fever. An' please your honour, do not sigh so piteously, I would say to him as I laid besides him. I cannot help it, Trim, my master would say,—'tis so melancholy an accident—I cannot get it off my heart.—Your honour fears not death yourself.—I hope, Trim, I fear nothing, he would say, but the doing a wrong thing.—Well, he would add, whatever betides, I will take care of Le Fever's boy.—And with that, like a quieting draught, his honour would fall asleep.
I like to hear Trim's stories about the captain, said Susannah.—He is a kindly-hearted gentleman, said Obadiah, as ever lived.—Aye, and as brave a one too, said the corporal, as ever stept before a platoon.—There never was a better officer in the king's army,—or a better man in God's world; for he would march up to the mouth of a cannon, though he saw the lighted match at the very touch-hole,—and yet, for all that, he has a heart as soft as a child for other people.—He would not hurt a chicken.—I would sooner, quoth Jonathan, drive such a gentleman for seven pounds a year—than some for eight.—Thank thee, Jonathan! for thy twenty shillings,—as much, Jonathan, said the corporal, shaking him by the hand, as if thou hadst put the money into my own pocket.—I would serve him to the day of my death out of love. He is a friend and a brother to me,—and could I be sure my poor brother Tom was dead,—continued the corporal, taking out his handkerchief,—was I worth ten thousand pounds, I would leave every shilling of it to the captain.—Trim could not refrain from tears at this testamentary proof he gave of his affection to his master.—The whole kitchen was affected.—Do tell us the story of the poor lieutenant, said Susannah.—With all my heart, answered the corporal.
Susannah, the cook, Jonathan, Obadiah, and corporal Trim, formed a circle about the fire; and as soon as the scullion had shut the kitchen door,—the corporal begun.
I am a Turk if I had not as much forgot my mother, as if Nature had plaistered me up, and set me down naked upon the banks of the river Nile, without one.—Your most obedient servant, Madam—I've cost you a great deal of trouble,—I wish it may answer;—but you have left a crack in my back,—and here's a great piece fallen off here before,—and what must I do with this foot?—I shall never reach England with it.
For my own part, I never wonder at any thing;—and so often has my judgment deceived me in my life, that I always suspect it, right or wrong,—at least I am seldom hot upon cold subjects. For all this, I reverence truth as much as any body; and when it has slipped us, if a man will but take me by the hand, and go quietly and search for it, as for a thing we have both lost, and can neither of us do well without,—I'll go to the world's end with him:—But I hate disputes,—and therefore (bating religious points, or such as touch society) I would almost subscribe to any thing which does not choak me in the first passage, rather than be drawn into one—But I cannot bear suffocation,—and bad smells worst of all.—For which reasons, I resolved from the beginning, That if ever the army of martyrs was to be augmented,—or a new one raised,—I would have no hand in it, one way or t'other.
My uncle Toby's opinion, Madam, 'that there could be no harm in Cornelius Gallus, the Roman praetor's lying with his wife;'—or rather the last word of that opinion,—(for it was all my mother heard of it) caught hold of her by the weak part of the whole sex:—You shall not mistake me,—I mean her curiosity,—she instantly concluded herself the subject of the conversation, and with that prepossession upon her fancy, you will readily conceive every word my father said, was accommodated either to herself, or her family concerns.
—Pray, Madam, in what street does the lady live, who would not have done the same?
From the strange mode of Cornelius's death, my father had made a transition to that of Socrates, and was giving my uncle Toby an abstract of his pleading before his judges;—'twas irresistible:—not the oration of Socrates,—but my father's temptation to it.—He had wrote the Life of Socrates (This book my father would never consent to publish; 'tis in manuscript, with some other tracts of his, in the family, all, or most of which will be printed in due time.) himself the year before he left off trade, which, I fear, was the means of hastening him out of it;—so that no one was able to set out with so full a sail, and in so swelling a tide of heroic loftiness upon the occasion, as my father was. Not a period in Socrates's oration, which closed with a shorter word than transmigration, or annihilation,—or a worse thought in the middle of it than to be—or not to be,—the entering upon a new and untried state of things,—or, upon a long, a profound and peaceful sleep, without dreams, without disturbance?—That we and our children were born to die,—but neither of us born to be slaves.—No—there I mistake; that was part of Eleazer's oration, as recorded by Josephus (de Bell. Judaic)—Eleazer owns he had it from the philosophers of India; in all likelihood Alexander the Great, in his irruption into India, after he had over-run Persia, amongst the many things he stole,—stole that sentiment also; by which means it was carried, if not all the way by himself (for we all know he died at Babylon), at least by some of his maroders, into Greece,—from Greece it got to Rome,—from Rome to France,—and from France to England:—So things come round.—
By land carriage, I can conceive no other way.—
By water the sentiment might easily have come down the Ganges into the Sinus Gangeticus, or Bay of Bengal, and so into the Indian Sea; and following the course of trade (the way from India by the Cape of Good Hope being then unknown), might be carried with other drugs and spices up the Red Sea to Joddah, the port of Mekka, or else to Tor or Sues, towns at the bottom of the gulf; and from thence by karrawans to Coptos, but three days journey distant, so down the Nile directly to Alexandria, where the Sentiment would be landed at the very foot of the great stair-case of the Alexandrian library,—and from that store-house it would be fetched.—Bless me! what a trade was driven by the learned in those days!
—Now my father had a way, a little like that of Job's (in case there ever was such a man—if not, there's an end of the matter.—
Though, by the bye, because your learned men find some difficulty in fixing the precise aera in which so great a man lived;—whether, for instance, before or after the patriarchs, &c.—to vote, therefore, that he never lived at all, is a little cruel,—'tis not doing as they would be done by,—happen that as it may)—My father, I say, had a way, when things went extremely wrong with him, especially upon the first sally of his impatience,—of wondering why he was begot,—wishing himself dead;—sometimes worse:—And when the provocation ran high, and grief touched his lips with more than ordinary powers—Sir, you scarce could have distinguished him from Socrates himself.—Every word would breathe the sentiments of a soul disdaining life, and careless about all its issues; for which reason, though my mother was a woman of no deep reading, yet the abstract of Socrates's oration, which my father was giving my uncle Toby, was not altogether new to her.—She listened to it with composed intelligence, and would have done so to the end of the chapter, had not my father plunged (which he had no occasion to have done) into that part of the pleading where the great philosopher reckons up his connections, his alliances, and children; but renounces a security to be so won by working upon the passions of his judges.—'I have friends—I have relations,—I have three desolate children,'—says Socrates.—
—Then, cried my mother, opening the door,—you have one more, Mr. Shandy, than I know of.
By heaven! I have one less,—said my father, getting up and walking out of the room.
—They are Socrates's children, said my uncle Toby. He has been dead a hundred years ago, replied my mother.
My uncle Toby was no chronologer—so not caring to advance one step but upon safe ground, he laid down his pipe deliberately upon the table, and rising up, and taking my mother most kindly by the hand, without saying another word, either good or bad, to her, he led her out after my father, that he might finish the ecclaircissement himself.
Had this volume been a farce, which, unless every one's life and opinions are to be looked upon as a farce as well as mine, I see no reason to suppose—the last chapter, Sir, had finished the first act of it, and then this chapter must have set off thus.
Ptr...r...r...ing—twing—twang—prut—trut—'tis a cursed bad fiddle.—Do you know whether my fiddle's in tune or no?—trut...prut.. .—They should be fifths.—'Tis wickedly strung—tr...a.e.i.o.u.-twang.—The bridge is a mile too high, and the sound post absolutely down,—else—trut...prut—hark! tis not so bad a tone.—Diddle diddle, diddle diddle, diddle diddle, dum. There is nothing in playing before good judges,—but there's a man there—no—not him with the bundle under his arm—the grave man in black.—'Sdeath! not the gentleman with the sword on.—Sir, I had rather play a Caprichio to Calliope herself, than draw my bow across my fiddle before that very man; and yet I'll stake my Cremona to a Jew's trump, which is the greatest musical odds that ever were laid, that I will this moment stop three hundred and fifty leagues out of tune upon my fiddle, without punishing one single nerve that belongs to him—Twaddle diddle, tweddle diddle,—twiddle diddle,—twoddle diddle,—twuddle diddle,—prut trut—krish—krash—krush.—I've undone you, Sir,—but you see he's no worse,—and was Apollo to take his fiddle after me, he can make him no better.
Diddle diddle, diddle diddle, diddle diddle—hum—dum—drum.
—Your worships and your reverences love music—and God has made you all with good ears—and some of you play delightfully yourselves—trut-prut,—prut-trut.
O! there is—whom I could sit and hear whole days,—whose talents lie in making what he fiddles to be felt,—who inspires me with his joys and hopes, and puts the most hidden springs of my heart into motion.—If you would borrow five guineas of me, Sir,—which is generally ten guineas more than I have to spare—or you Messrs. Apothecary and Taylor, want your bills paying,—that's your time.
The first thing which entered my father's head, after affairs were a little settled in the family, and Susanna had got possession of my mother's green sattin night-gown,—was to sit down coolly, after the example of Xenophon, and write a Tristra-paedia, or system of education for me; collecting first for that purpose his own scattered thoughts, counsels, and notions; and binding them together, so as to form an Institute for the government of my childhood and adolescence. I was my father's last stake—he had lost my brother Bobby entirely,—he had lost, by his own computation, full three-fourths of me—that is, he had been unfortunate in his three first great casts for me—my geniture, nose, and name,—there was but this one left; and accordingly my father gave himself up to it with as much devotion as ever my uncle Toby had done to his doctrine of projectils.—The difference between them was, that my uncle Toby drew his whole knowledge of projectils from Nicholas Tartaglia—My father spun his, every thread of it, out of his own brain,—or reeled and cross-twisted what all other spinners and spinsters had spun before him, that 'twas pretty near the same torture to him.
In about three years, or something more, my father had got advanced almost into the middle of his work.—Like all other writers, he met with disappointments.—He imagined he should be able to bring whatever he had to say, into so small a compass, that when it was finished and bound, it might be rolled up in my mother's hussive.—Matter grows under our hands.—Let no man say,—'Come—I'll write a duodecimo.'
My father gave himself up to it, however, with the most painful diligence, proceeding step by step in every line, with the same kind of caution and circumspection (though I cannot say upon quite so religious a principle) as was used by John de la Casse, the lord archbishop of Benevento, in compassing his Galatea; in which his Grace of Benevento spent near forty years of his life; and when the thing came out, it was not of above half the size or the thickness of a Rider's Almanack.—How the holy man managed the affair, unless he spent the greatest part of his time in combing his whiskers, or playing at primero with his chaplain,—would pose any mortal not let into the true secret;—and therefore 'tis worth explaining to the world, was it only for the encouragement of those few in it, who write not so much to be fed—as to be famous.
I own had John de la Casse, the archbishop of Benevento, for whose memory (notwithstanding his Galatea,) I retain the highest veneration,—had he been, Sir, a slender clerk—of dull wit—slow parts—costive head, and so forth,—he and his Galatea might have jogged on together to the age of Methuselah for me,—the phaenomenon had not been worth a parenthesis.—
But the reverse of this was the truth: John de la Casse was a genius of fine parts and fertile fancy; and yet with all these great advantages of nature, which should have pricked him forwards with his Galatea, he lay under an impuissance at the same time of advancing above a line and a half in the compass of a whole summer's day: this disability in his Grace arose from an opinion he was afflicted with,—which opinion was this,—viz. that whenever a Christian was writing a book (not for his private amusement, but) where his intent and purpose was, bona fide, to print and publish it to the world, his first thoughts were always the temptations of the evil one.—This was the state of ordinary writers: but when a personage of venerable character and high station, either in church or state, once turned author,—he maintained, that from the very moment he took pen in hand—all the devils in hell broke out of their holes to cajole him.—'Twas Term-time with them,—every thought, first and last, was captious;—how specious and good soever,—'twas all one;—in whatever form or colour it presented itself to the imagination,—'twas still a stroke of one or other of 'em levell'd at him, and was to be fenced off.—So that the life of a writer, whatever he might fancy to the contrary, was not so much a state of composition, as a state of warfare; and his probation in it, precisely that of any other man militant upon earth,—both depending alike, not half so much upon the degrees of his wit—as his Resistance.
My father was hugely pleased with this theory of John de la Casse, archbishop of Benevento; and (had it not cramped him a little in his creed) I believe would have given ten of the best acres in the Shandy estate, to have been the broacher of it.—How far my father actually believed in the devil, will be seen, when I come to speak of my father's religious notions, in the progress of this work: 'tis enough to say here, as he could not have the honour of it, in the literal sense of the doctrine—he took up with the allegory of it; and would often say, especially when his pen was a little retrograde, there was as much good meaning, truth, and knowledge, couched under the veil of John de la Casse's parabolical representation,—as was to be found in any one poetic fiction or mystic record of antiquity.—Prejudice of education, he would say, is the devil,—and the multitudes of them which we suck in with our mother's milk—are the devil and all.—We are haunted with them, brother Toby, in all our lucubrations and researches; and was a man fool enough to submit tamely to what they obtruded upon him,—what would his book be? Nothing,—he would add, throwing his pen away with a vengeance,—nothing but a farrago of the clack of nurses, and of the nonsense of the old women (of both sexes) throughout the kingdom.
This is the best account I am determined to give of the slow progress my father made in his Tristra-paedia; at which (as I said) he was three years, and something more, indefatigably at work, and, at last, had scarce completed, by this own reckoning, one half of his undertaking: the misfortune was, that I was all that time totally neglected and abandoned to my mother; and what was almost as bad, by the very delay, the first part of the work, upon which my father had spent the most of his pains, was rendered entirely useless,—every day a page or two became of no consequence.—
—Certainly it was ordained as a scourge upon the pride of human wisdom, That the wisest of us all should thus outwit ourselves, and eternally forego our purposes in the intemperate act of pursuing them.
In short my father was so long in all his acts of resistance,—or in other words,—he advanced so very slow with his work, and I began to live and get forwards at such a rate, that if an event had not happened,—which, when we get to it, if it can be told with decency, shall not be concealed a moment from the reader—I verily believe, I had put by my father, and left him drawing a sundial, for no better purpose than to be buried under ground.
—'Twas nothing,—I did not lose two drops of blood by it—'twas not worth calling in a surgeon, had he lived next door to us—thousands suffer by choice, what I did by accident.—Doctor Slop made ten times more of it, than there was occasion:—some men rise, by the art of hanging great weights upon small wires,—and I am this day (August the 10th, 1761) paying part of the price of this man's reputation.—O 'twould provoke a stone, to see how things are carried on in this world!—The chamber-maid had left no .......... under the bed:—Cannot you contrive, master, quoth Susannah, lifting up the sash with one hand, as she spoke, and helping me up into the window-seat with the other,—cannot you manage, my dear, for a single time, to..................?
I was five years old.—Susannah did not consider that nothing was well hung in our family,—so slap came the sash down like lightning upon us;—Nothing is left,—cried Susannah,—nothing is left—for me, but to run my country.—My uncle Toby's house was a much kinder sanctuary; and so Susannah fled to it.
When Susannah told the corporal the misadventure of the sash, with all the circumstances which attended the murder of me,—(as she called it,)—the blood forsook his cheeks,—all accessaries in murder being principals,—Trim's conscience told him he was as much to blame as Susannah,—and if the doctrine had been true, my uncle Toby had as much of the bloodshed to answer for to heaven, as either of 'em;—so that neither reason or instinct, separate or together, could possibly have guided Susannah's steps to so proper an asylum. It is in vain to leave this to the Reader's imagination:—to form any kind of hypothesis that will render these propositions feasible, he must cudgel his brains sore,—and to do it without,—he must have such brains as no reader ever had before him.—Why should I put them either to trial or to torture? 'Tis my own affair: I'll explain it myself.
'Tis a pity, Trim, said my uncle Toby, resting with his hand upon the corporal's shoulder, as they both stood surveying their works,—that we have not a couple of field-pieces to mount in the gorge of that new redoubt;—'twould secure the lines all along there, and make the attack on that side quite complete:—get me a couple cast, Trim.
Your honour shall have them, replied Trim, before tomorrow morning.
It was the joy of Trim's heart, nor was his fertile head ever at a loss for expedients in doing it, to supply my uncle Toby in his campaigns, with whatever his fancy called for; had it been his last crown, he would have sate down and hammered it into a paderero, to have prevented a single wish in his master. The corporal had already,—what with cutting off the ends of my uncle Toby's spouts—hacking and chiseling up the sides of his leaden gutters,—melting down his pewter shaving-bason,—and going at last, like Lewis the Fourteenth, on to the top of the church, for spare ends, &c.—he had that very campaign brought no less than eight new battering cannons, besides three demi-culverins, into the field; my uncle Toby's demand for two more pieces for the redoubt, had set the corporal at work again; and no better resource offering, he had taken the two leaden weights from the nursery window: and as the sash pullies, when the lead was gone, were of no kind of use, he had taken them away also, to make a couple of wheels for one of their carriages.
He had dismantled every sash-window in my uncle Toby's house long before, in the very same way,—though not always in the same order; for sometimes the pullies have been wanted, and not the lead,—so then he began with the pullies,—and the pullies being picked out, then the lead became useless,—and so the lead went to pot too.
—A great Moral might be picked handsomely out of this, but I have not time—'tis enough to say, wherever the demolition began, 'twas equally fatal to the sash window.
The corporal had not taken his measures so badly in this stroke of artilleryship, but that he might have kept the matter entirely to himself, and left Susannah to have sustained the whole weight of the attack, as she could;—true courage is not content with coming off so.—The corporal, whether as general or comptroller of the train,—'twas no matter,—had done that, without which, as he imagined, the misfortune could never have happened,—at least in Susannah's hands;—How would your honours have behaved?—He determined at once, not to take shelter behind Susannah,—but to give it; and with this resolution upon his mind, he marched upright into the parlour, to lay the whole manoeuvre before my uncle Toby.
My uncle Toby had just then been giving Yorick an account of the Battle of Steenkirk, and of the strange conduct of count Solmes in ordering the foot to halt, and the horse to march where it could not act; which was directly contrary to the king's commands, and proved the loss of the day.
There are incidents in some families so pat to the purpose of what is going to follow,—they are scarce exceeded by the invention of a dramatic writer;—I mean of ancient days.—
Trim, by the help of his fore-finger, laid flat upon the table, and the edge of his hand striking across it at right angles, made a shift to tell his story so, that priests and virgins might have listened to it;—and the story being told,—the dialogue went on as follows.
—I would be picquetted to death, cried the corporal, as he concluded Susannah's story, before I would suffer the woman to come to any harm,—'twas my fault, an' please your honour,—not her's.
Corporal Trim, replied my uncle Toby, putting on his hat which lay upon the table,—if any thing can be said to be a fault, when the service absolutely requires it should be done,—'tis I certainly who deserve the blame,—you obeyed your orders.
Had count Solmes, Trim, done the same at the battle of Steenkirk, said Yorick, drolling a little upon the corporal, who had been run over by a dragoon in the retreat,—he had saved thee;—Saved! cried Trim, interrupting Yorick, and finishing the sentence for him after his own fashion,—he had saved five battalions, an' please your reverence, every soul of them:—there was Cutt's,—continued the corporal, clapping the forefinger of his right hand upon the thumb of his left, and counting round his hand,—there was Cutt's,—Mackay's,—Angus's,—Graham's,—and Leven's, all cut to pieces;—and so had the English life-guards too, had it not been for some regiments upon the right, who marched up boldly to their relief, and received the enemy's fire in their faces, before any one of their own platoons discharged a musket,—they'll go to heaven for it,—added Trim.—Trim is right, said my uncle Toby, nodding to Yorick,—he's perfectly right. What signified his marching the horse, continued the corporal, where the ground was so strait, that the French had such a nation of hedges, and copses, and ditches, and fell'd trees laid this way and that to cover them (as they always have).—Count Solmes should have sent us,—we would have fired muzzle to muzzle with them for their lives.—There was nothing to be done for the horse:—he had his foot shot off however for his pains, continued the corporal, the very next campaign at Landen.—Poor Trim got his wound there, quoth my uncle Toby.—'Twas owing, an' please your honour, entirely to count Solmes,—had he drubbed them soundly at Steenkirk, they would not have fought us at Landen.—Possibly not,—Trim, said my uncle Toby;—though if they have the advantage of a wood, or you give them a moment's time to intrench themselves, they are a nation which will pop and pop for ever at you.—There is no way but to march coolly up to them,—receive their fire, and fall in upon them, pell-mell—Ding dong, added Trim.—Horse and foot, said my uncle Toby.—Helter Skelter, said Trim.—Right and left, cried my uncle Toby.—Blood an' ounds, shouted the corporal;—the battle raged,—Yorick drew his chair a little to one side for safety, and after a moment's pause, my uncle Toby sinking his voice a note,—resumed the discourse as follows.
King William, said my uncle Toby, addressing himself to Yorick, was so terribly provoked at count Solmes for disobeying his orders, that he would not suffer him to come into his presence for many months after.—I fear, answered Yorick, the squire will be as much provoked at the corporal, as the King at the count.—But 'twould be singularly hard in this case, continued be, if corporal Trim, who has behaved so diametrically opposite to count Solmes, should have the fate to be rewarded with the same disgrace:—too oft in this world, do things take that train.—I would spring a mine, cried my uncle Toby, rising up,—and blow up my fortifications, and my house with them, and we would perish under their ruins, ere I would stand by and see it.—Trim directed a slight,—but a grateful bow towards his master,—and so the chapter ends.
—Then, Yorick, replied my uncle Toby, you and I will lead the way abreast,—and do you, corporal, follow a few paces behind us.—And Susannah, an' please your honour, said Trim, shall be put in the rear.—'Twas an excellent disposition,—and in this order, without either drums beating, or colours flying, they marched slowly from my uncle Toby's house to Shandy-hall.
—I wish, said Trim, as they entered the door,—instead of the sash weights, I had cut off the church spout, as I once thought to have done.—You have cut off spouts enow, replied Yorick.
As many pictures as have been given of my father, how like him soever in different airs and attitudes,—not one, or all of them, can ever help the reader to any kind of preconception of how my father would think, speak, or act, upon any untried occasion or occurrence of life.—There was that infinitude of oddities in him, and of chances along with it, by which handle he would take a thing,—it baffled, Sir, all calculations.—The truth was, his road lay so very far on one side, from that wherein most men travelled,—that every object before him presented a face and section of itself to his eye, altogether different from the plan and elevation of it seen by the rest of mankind.—In other words, 'twas a different object, and in course was differently considered:
This is the true reason, that my dear Jenny and I, as well as all the world besides us, have such eternal squabbles about nothing.—She looks at her outside,—I, at her in.... How is it possible we should agree about her value?
'Tis a point settled,—and I mention it for the comfort of Confucius, (Mr Shandy is supposed to mean..., Esq; member for...,—and not the Chinese Legislator.) who is apt to get entangled in telling a plain story—that provided he keeps along the line of his story,—he may go backwards and forwards as he will,—'tis still held to be no digression.
This being premised, I take the benefit of the act of going backwards myself.
Fifty thousand pannier loads of devils—(not of the Archbishop of Benevento's—I mean of Rabelais's devils), with their tails chopped off by their rumps, could not have made so diabolical a scream of it, as I did—when the accident befel me: it summoned up my mother instantly into the nursery,—so that Susannah had but just time to make her escape down the back stairs, as my mother came up the fore.
Now, though I was old enough to have told the story myself,—and young enough, I hope, to have done it without malignity; yet Susannah, in passing by the kitchen, for fear of accidents, had left it in short-hand with the cook—the cook had told it with a commentary to Jonathan, and Jonathan to Obadiah; so that by the time my father had rung the bell half a dozen times, to know what was the matter above,—was Obadiah enabled to give him a particular account of it, just as it had happened.—I thought as much, said my father, tucking up his night-gown;—and so walked up stairs.
One would imagine from this—(though for my own part I somewhat question it)—that my father, before that time, had actually wrote that remarkable character in the Tristra-paedia, which to me is the most original and entertaining one in the whole book;—and that is the chapter upon sash-windows, with a bitter Philippick at the end of it, upon the forgetfulness of chamber-maids.—I have but two reasons for thinking otherwise.
First, Had the matter been taken into consideration, before the event happened, my father certainly would have nailed up the sash window for good an' all;—which, considering with what difficulty he composed books,—he might have done with ten times less trouble, than he could have wrote the chapter: this argument I foresee holds good against his writing a chapter, even after the event; but 'tis obviated under the second reason, which I have the honour to offer to the world in support of my opinion, that my father did not write the chapter upon sash-windows and chamber-pots, at the time supposed,—and it is this.
—That, in order to render the Tristra-paedia complete,—I wrote the chapter myself.
My father put on his spectacles—looked,—took them off,—put them into the case—all in less than a statutable minute; and without opening his lips, turned about and walked precipitately down stairs: my mother imagined he had stepped down for lint and basilicon; but seeing him return with a couple of folios under his arm, and Obadiah following him with a large reading-desk, she took it for granted 'twas an herbal, and so drew him a chair to the bedside, that he might consult upon the case at his ease.
—If it be but right done,—said my father, turning to the Section—de sede vel subjecto circumcisionis,—for he had brought up Spenser de Legibus Hebraeorum Ritualibus—and Maimonides, in order to confront and examine us altogether.—
—If it be but right done, quoth he:—only tell us, cried my mother, interrupting him, what herbs?—For that, replied my father, you must send for Dr. Slop.
My mother went down, and my father went on, reading the section as follows,
...—Very well,—said my father,...—nay, if it has that convenience—and so without stopping a moment to settle it first in his mind, whether the Jews had it from the Egyptians, or the Egyptians from the Jews,—he rose up, and rubbing his forehead two or three times across with the palm of his hand, in the manner we rub out the footsteps of care, when evil has trod lighter upon us than we foreboded,—he shut the book, and walked down stairs.—Nay, said he, mentioning the name of a different great nation upon every step as he set his foot upon it—if the Egyptians,—the Syrians,—the Phoenicians,—the Arabians,—the Cappadocians,—if the Colchi, and Troglodytes did it—if Solon and Pythagoras submitted,—what is Tristram?—Who am I, that I should fret or fume one moment about the matter?
Dear Yorick, said my father smiling (for Yorick had broke his rank with my uncle Toby in coming through the narrow entry, and so had stept first into the parlour)—this Tristram of ours, I find, comes very hardly by all his religious rites.—Never was the son of Jew, Christian, Turk, or Infidel initiated into them in so oblique and slovenly a manner.—But he is no worse, I trust, said Yorick.—There has been certainly, continued my father, the deuce and all to do in some part or other of the ecliptic, when this offspring of mine was formed.—That, you are a better judge of than I, replied Yorick.—Astrologers, quoth my father, know better than us both:—the trine and sextil aspects have jumped awry,—or the opposite of their ascendents have not hit it, as they should,—or the lords of the genitures (as they call them) have been at bo-peep,—or something has been wrong above, or below with us.
'Tis possible, answered Yorick.—But is the child, cried my uncle Toby, the worse?—The Troglodytes say not, replied my father. And your theologists, Yorick, tell us—Theologically? said Yorick,—or speaking after the manner of apothecaries? (footnote in Greek Philo.)—statesmen? (footnote in Greek)—or washer-women? (footnote in Greek Bochart.)
—I'm not sure, replied my father,—but they tell us, brother Toby, he's the better for it.—Provided, said Yorick, you travel him into Egypt.—Of that, answered my father, he will have the advantage, when he sees the Pyramids.—
Now every word of this, quoth my uncle Toby, is Arabic to me.—I wish, said Yorick, 'twas so, to half the world.
—Ilus, (footnote in Greek Sanchuniatho.) continued my father, circumcised his whole army one morning.—Not without a court martial? cried my uncle Toby.—Though the learned, continued he, taking no notice of my uncle Toby's remark, but turning to Yorick,—are greatly divided still who Ilus was;—some say Saturn;—some the Supreme Being;—others, no more than a brigadier general under Pharaoh-neco.—Let him be who he will, said my uncle Toby, I know not by what article of war he could justify it.
The controvertists, answered my father, assign two-and-twenty different reasons for it:—others, indeed, who have drawn their pens on the opposite side of the question, have shewn the world the futility of the greatest part of them.—But then again, our best polemic divines—I wish there was not a polemic divine, said Yorick, in the kingdom;—one ounce of practical divinity—is worth a painted ship-load of all their reverences have imported these fifty years.—Pray, Mr. Yorick, quoth my uncle Toby,—do tell me what a polemic divine is?—The best description, captain Shandy, I have ever read, is of a couple of 'em, replied Yorick, in the account of the battle fought single hands betwixt Gymnast and captain Tripet; which I have in my pocket.—I beg I may hear it, quoth my uncle Toby earnestly.—You shall, said Yorick.—And as the corporal is waiting for me at the door,—and I know the description of a battle will do the poor fellow more good than his supper,—I beg, brother, you'll give him leave to come in.—With all my soul, said my father.—Trim came in, erect and happy as an emperor; and having shut the door, Yorick took a book from his right-hand coat-pocket, and read, or pretended to read, as follows.
—'which words being heard by all the soldiers which were there, divers of them being inwardly terrified, did shrink back and make room for the assailant: all this did Gymnast very well remark and consider; and therefore, making as if he would have alighted from off his horse, as he was poising himself on the mounting side, he most nimbly (with his short sword by this thigh) shifting his feet in the stirrup, and performing the stirrup-leather feat, whereby, after the inclining of his body downwards, he forthwith launched himself aloft into the air, and placed both his feet together upon the saddle, standing upright, with his back turned towards his horse's head,—Now, (said he) my case goes forward. Then suddenly in the same posture wherein he was, he fetched a gambol upon one foot, and turning to the left-hand, failed not to carry his body perfectly round, just into his former position, without missing one jot.—Ha! said Tripet, I will not do that at this time,—and not without cause. Well, said Gymnast, I have failed,—I will undo this leap; then with a marvellous strength and agility, turning towards the right-hand, he fetched another striking gambol as before; which done, he set his right hand thumb upon the bow of the saddle, raised himself up, and sprung into the air, poising and upholding his whole weight upon the muscle and nerve of the said thumb, and so turned and whirled himself about three times: at the fourth, reversing his body, and overturning it upside down, and foreside back, without touching any thing, he brought himself betwixt the horse's two ears, and then giving himself a jerking swing, he seated himself upon the crupper—'
(This can't be fighting, said my uncle Toby.—The corporal shook his head at it.—Have patience, said Yorick.)
'Then (Tripet) pass'd his right leg over his saddle, and placed himself en croup.—But, said he, 'twere better for me to get into the saddle; then putting the thumbs of both hands upon the crupper before him, and there-upon leaning himself, as upon the only supporters of his body, he incontinently turned heels over head in the air, and strait found himself betwixt the bow of the saddle in a tolerable seat; then springing into the air with a summerset, he turned him about like a wind-mill, and made above a hundred frisks, turns, and demi-pommadas.'—Good God! cried Trim, losing all patience,—one home thrust of a bayonet is worth it all.—I think so too, replied Yorick.—
I am of a contrary opinion, quoth my father.