The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne

Part 3 out of 10

to take its leave,--but not suffered to depart!--Behold the unhappy wretch
led back to his cell!'--(Then, thank God, however, quoth Trim, they have
not killed him.)--'See him dragged out of it again to meet the flames, and
the insults in his last agonies, which this principle,--this principle,
that there can be religion without mercy, has prepared for him.'--(Then,
thank God,--he is dead, quoth Trim,--he is out of his pain,--and they have
done their worst at him.--O Sirs!--Hold your peace, Trim, said my father,
going on with the sermon, lest Trim should incense Dr. Slop,--we shall
never have done at this rate.)

'The surest way to try the merit of any disputed notion is, to trace down
the consequences such a notion has produced, and compare them with the
spirit of Christianity;--'tis the short and decisive rule which our Saviour
hath left us, for these and such like cases, and it is worth a thousand
arguments--By their fruits ye shall know them.

'I will add no farther to the length of this sermon, than by two or three
short and independent rules deducible from it.

'First, Whenever a man talks loudly against religion, always suspect that
it is not his reason, but his passions, which have got the better of his
Creed. A bad life and a good belief are disagreeable and troublesome
neighbours, and where they separate, depend upon it, 'tis for no other
cause but quietness sake.

'Secondly, When a man, thus represented, tells you in any particular
instance,--That such a thing goes against his conscience,--always believe
he means exactly the same thing, as when he tells you such a thing goes
against his stomach;--a present want of appetite being generally the true
cause of both.

'In a word,--trust that man in nothing, who has not a Conscience in every

'And, in your own case, remember this plain distinction, a mistake in which
has ruined thousands,--that your conscience is not a law;--No, God and
reason made the law, and have placed conscience within you to determine;--
not, like an Asiatic Cadi, according to the ebbs and flows of his own
passions,--but like a British judge in this land of liberty and good sense,
who makes no new law, but faithfully declares that law which he knows
already written.'


Thou hast read the sermon extremely well, Trim, quoth my father.--If he had
spared his comments, replied Dr. Slop,--he would have read it much better.
I should have read it ten times better, Sir, answered Trim, but that my
heart was so full.--That was the very reason, Trim, replied my father,
which has made thee read the sermon as well as thou hast done; and if the
clergy of our church, continued my father, addressing himself to Dr. Slop,
would take part in what they deliver as deeply as this poor fellow has
done,--as their compositions are fine;--(I deny it, quoth Dr. Slop)--I
maintain it,--that the eloquence of our pulpits, with such subjects to
enflame it, would be a model for the whole world:--But alas! continued my
father, and I own it, Sir, with sorrow, that, like French politicians in
this respect, what they gain in the cabinet they lose in the field.--'Twere
a pity, quoth my uncle, that this should be lost. I like the sermon well,
replied my father,--'tis dramatick,--and there is something in that way of
writing, when skilfully managed, which catches the attention.--We preach
much in that way with us, said Dr. Slop.--I know that very well, said my
father,--but in a tone and manner which disgusted Dr. Slop, full as much as
his assent, simply, could have pleased him.--But in this, added Dr. Slop, a
little piqued,--our sermons have greatly the advantage, that we never
introduce any character into them below a patriarch or a patriarch's wife,
or a martyr or a saint.--There are some very bad characters in this,
however, said my father, and I do not think the sermon a jot the worse for
'em.--But pray, quoth my uncle Toby,--who's can this be?--How could it get
into my Stevinus? A man must be as great a conjurer as Stevinus, said my
father, to resolve the second question:--The first, I think, is not so
difficult;--for unless my judgment greatly deceives me,--I know the author,
for 'tis wrote, certainly, by the parson of the parish.

The similitude of the stile and manner of it, with those my father
constantly had heard preached in his parish-church, was the ground of his
conjecture,--proving it as strongly, as an argument a priori could prove
such a thing to a philosophic mind, That it was Yorick's and no one's
else:--It was proved to be so, a posteriori, the day after, when Yorick
sent a servant to my uncle Toby's house to enquire after it.

It seems that Yorick, who was inquisitive after all kinds of knowledge, had
borrowed Stevinus of my uncle Toby, and had carelesly popped his sermon, as
soon as he had made it, into the middle of Stevinus; and by an act of
forgetfulness, to which he was ever subject, he had sent Stevinus home, and
his sermon to keep him company.

Ill-fated sermon! Thou wast lost, after this recovery of thee, a second
time, dropped thru' an unsuspected fissure in thy master's pocket, down
into a treacherous and a tattered lining,--trod deep into the dirt by the
left hind-foot of his Rosinante inhumanly stepping upon thee as thou
falledst;--buried ten days in the mire,--raised up out of it by a beggar,--
sold for a halfpenny to a parish-clerk,--transferred to his parson,--lost
for ever to thy own, the remainder of his days,--nor restored to his
restless Manes till this very moment, that I tell the world the story.

Can the reader believe, that this sermon of Yorick's was preached at an
assize, in the cathedral of York, before a thousand witnesses, ready to
give oath of it, by a certain prebendary of that church, and actually
printed by him when he had done,--and within so short a space as two years
and three months after Yorick's death?--Yorick indeed, was never better
served in his life;--but it was a little hard to maltreat him after, and
plunder him after he was laid in his grave.

However, as the gentleman who did it was in perfect charity with Yorick,--
and, in conscious justice, printed but a few copies to give away;--and that
I am told he could moreover have made as good a one himself, had he thought
fit,--I declare I would not have published this anecdote to the world;--nor
do I publish it with an intent to hurt his character and advancement in the
church;--I leave that to others;--but I find myself impelled by two
reasons, which I cannot withstand.

The first is, That in doing justice, I may give rest to Yorick's ghost;--
which--as the country-people, and some others believe,--still walks.

The second reason is, That, by laying open this story to the world, I gain
an opportunity of informing it,--That in case the character of parson
Yorick, and this sample of his sermons, is liked,--there are now in the
possession of the Shandy family, as many as will make a handsome volume, at
the world's service,--and much good may they do it.

Chapter 1.XLIII.

Obadiah gained the two crowns without dispute;--for he came in jingling,
with all the instruments in the green baize bag we spoke of, flung across
his body, just as Corporal Trim went out of the room.

It is now proper, I think, quoth Dr. Slop, (clearing up his looks) as we
are in a condition to be of some service to Mrs. Shandy, to send up stairs
to know how she goes on.

I have ordered, answered my father, the old midwife to come down to us upon
the least difficulty;--for you must know, Dr. Slop, continued my father,
with a perplexed kind of a smile upon his countenance, that by express
treaty, solemnly ratified between me and my wife, you are no more than an
auxiliary in this affair,--and not so much as that,--unless the lean old
mother of a midwife above stairs cannot do without you.--Women have their
particular fancies, and in points of this nature, continued my father,
where they bear the whole burden, and suffer so much acute pain for the
advantage of our families, and the good of the species,--they claim a right
of deciding, en Souveraines, in whose hands, and in what fashion, they
choose to undergo it.

They are in the right of it,--quoth my uncle Toby. But Sir, replied Dr.
Slop, not taking notice of my uncle Toby's opinion, but turning to my
father,--they had better govern in other points;--and a father of a family,
who wishes its perpetuity, in my opinion, had better exchange this
prerogative with them, and give up some other rights in lieu of it.--I know
not, quoth my father, answering a letter too testily, to be quite
dispassionate in what he said,--I know not, quoth he, what we have left to
give up, in lieu of who shall bring our children into the world, unless
that,--of who shall beget them.--One would almost give up any thing,
replied Dr. Slop.--I beg your pardon,--answered my uncle Toby.--Sir,
replied Dr. Slop, it would astonish you to know what improvements we have
made of late years in all branches of obstetrical knowledge, but
particularly in that one single point of the safe and expeditious
extraction of the foetus,--which has received such lights, that, for my
part (holding up his hand) I declare I wonder how the world has--I wish,
quoth my uncle Toby, you had seen what prodigious armies we had in

Chapter 1.XLIV.

I have dropped the curtain over this scene for a minute,--to remind you of
one thing,--and to inform you of another.

What I have to inform you, comes, I own, a little out of its due course;--
for it should have been told a hundred and fifty pages ago, but that I
foresaw then 'twould come in pat hereafter, and be of more advantage here
than elsewhere.--Writers had need look before them, to keep up the spirit
and connection of what they have in hand.

When these two things are done,--the curtain shall be drawn up again, and
my uncle Toby, my father, and Dr. Slop, shall go on with their discourse,
without any more interruption.

First, then, the matter which I have to remind you of, is this;--that from
the specimens of singularity in my father's notions in the point of
Christian-names, and that other previous point thereto,--you was led, I
think, into an opinion,--(and I am sure I said as much) that my father was
a gentleman altogether as odd and whimsical in fifty other opinions. In
truth, there was not a stage in the life of man, from the very first act of
his begetting,--down to the lean and slippered pantaloon in his second
childishness, but he had some favourite notion to himself, springing out of
it, as sceptical, and as far out of the high-way of thinking, as these two
which have been explained.

--Mr. Shandy, my father, Sir, would see nothing in the light in which
others placed it;--he placed things in his own light;--he would weigh
nothing in common scales;--no, he was too refined a researcher to lie open
to so gross an imposition.--To come at the exact weight of things in the
scientific steel-yard, the fulcrum, he would say, should be almost
invisible, to avoid all friction from popular tenets;--without this the
minutiae of philosophy, which would always turn the balance, will have no
weight at all. Knowledge, like matter, he would affirm, was divisible in
infinitum;--that the grains and scruples were as much a part of it, as the
gravitation of the whole world.--In a word, he would say, error was error,-
-no matter where it fell,--whether in a fraction,--or a pound,--'twas alike
fatal to truth, and she was kept down at the bottom of her well, as
inevitably by a mistake in the dust of a butterfly's wing,--as in the disk
of the sun, the moon, and all the stars of heaven put together.

He would often lament that it was for want of considering this properly,
and of applying it skilfully to civil matters, as well as to speculative
truths, that so many things in this world were out of joint;--that the
political arch was giving way;--and that the very foundations of our
excellent constitution in church and state, were so sapped as estimators
had reported.

You cry out, he would say, we are a ruined, undone people. Why? he would
ask, making use of the sorites or syllogism of Zeno and Chrysippus, without
knowing it belonged to them.--Why? why are we a ruined people?--Because we
are corrupted.--Whence is it, dear Sir, that we are corrupted?--Because we
are needy;--our poverty, and not our wills, consent.--And wherefore, he
would add, are we needy?--From the neglect, he would answer, of our pence
and our halfpence:--Our bank notes, Sir, our guineas,--nay our shillings
take care of themselves.

'Tis the same, he would say, throughout the whole circle of the sciences;--
the great, the established points of them, are not to be broke in upon.--
The laws of nature will defend themselves;--but error--(he would add,
looking earnestly at my mother)--error, Sir, creeps in thro' the minute
holes and small crevices which human nature leaves unguarded.

This turn of thinking in my father, is what I had to remind you of:--The
point you are to be informed of, and which I have reserved for this place,
is as follows.

Amongst the many and excellent reasons, with which my father had urged my
mother to accept of Dr. Slop's assistance preferably to that of the old
woman,--there was one of a very singular nature; which, when he had done
arguing the matter with her as a Christian, and came to argue it over again
with her as a philosopher, he had put his whole strength to, depending
indeed upon it as his sheet-anchor.--It failed him, tho' from no defect in
the argument itself; but that, do what he could, he was not able for his
soul to make her comprehend the drift of it.--Cursed luck!--said he to
himself, one afternoon, as he walked out of the room, after he had been
stating it for an hour and a half to her, to no manner of purpose;--cursed
luck! said he, biting his lip as he shut the door,--for a man to be master
of one of the finest chains of reasoning in nature,--and have a wife at the
same time with such a head-piece, that he cannot hang up a single inference
within side of it, to save his soul from destruction.

This argument, though it was entirely lost upon my mother,--had more weight
with him, than all his other arguments joined together:--I will therefore
endeavour to do it justice,--and set it forth with all the perspicuity I am
master of.

My father set out upon the strength of these two following axioms:

First, That an ounce of a man's own wit, was worth a ton of other people's;

Secondly, (Which by the bye, was the ground-work of the first axiom,--tho'
it comes last) That every man's wit must come from every man's own soul,--
and no other body's.

Now, as it was plain to my father, that all souls were by nature equal,--
and that the great difference between the most acute and the most obtuse
understanding--was from no original sharpness or bluntness of one thinking
substance above or below another,--but arose merely from the lucky or
unlucky organization of the body, in that part where the soul principally
took up her residence,--he had made it the subject of his enquiry to find
out the identical place.

Now, from the best accounts he had been able to get of this matter, he was
satisfied it could not be where Des Cartes had fixed it, upon the top of
the pineal gland of the brain; which, as he philosophized, formed a cushion
for her about the size of a marrow pea; tho' to speak the truth, as so many
nerves did terminate all in that one place,--'twas no bad conjecture;--and
my father had certainly fallen with that great philosopher plumb into the
centre of the mistake, had it not been for my uncle Toby, who rescued him
out of it, by a story he told him of a Walloon officer at the battle of
Landen, who had one part of his brain shot away by a musket-ball,--and
another part of it taken out after by a French surgeon; and after all,
recovered, and did his duty very well without it.

If death, said my father, reasoning with himself, is nothing but the
separation of the soul from the body;--and if it is true that people can
walk about and do their business without brains,--then certes the soul does
not inhabit there. Q.E.D.

As for that certain, very thin, subtle and very fragrant juice which
Coglionissimo Borri, the great Milaneze physician affirms, in a letter to
Bartholine, to have discovered in the cellulae of the occipital parts of
the cerebellum, and which he likewise affirms to be the principal seat of
the reasonable soul, (for, you must know, in these latter and more
enlightened ages, there are two souls in every man living,--the one,
according to the great Metheglingius, being called the Animus, the other,
the Anima;)--as for the opinion, I say of Borri,--my father could never
subscribe to it by any means; the very idea of so noble, so refined, so
immaterial, and so exalted a being as the Anima, or even the Animus, taking
up her residence, and sitting dabbling, like a tad-pole all day long, both
summer and winter, in a puddle,--or in a liquid of any kind, how thick or
thin soever, he would say, shocked his imagination; he would scarce give
the doctrine a hearing.

What, therefore, seemed the least liable to objections of any, was that the
chief sensorium, or head-quarters of the soul, and to which place all
intelligences were referred, and from whence all her mandates were issued,-
-was in, or near, the cerebellum,--or rather somewhere about the medulla
oblongata, wherein it was generally agreed by Dutch anatomists, that all
the minute nerves from all the organs of the seven senses concentered, like
streets and winding alleys, into a square.

So far there was nothing singular in my father's opinion,--he had the best
of philosophers, of all ages and climates, to go along with him.--But here
he took a road of his own, setting up another Shandean hypothesis upon
these corner-stones they had laid for him;--and which said hypothesis
equally stood its ground; whether the subtilty and fineness of the soul
depended upon the temperature and clearness of the said liquor, or of the
finer net-work and texture in the cerebellum itself; which opinion he

He maintained, that next to the due care to be taken in the act of
propagation of each individual, which required all the thought in the
world, as it laid the foundation of this incomprehensible contexture, in
which wit, memory, fancy, eloquence, and what is usually meant by the name
of good natural parts, do consist;--that next to this and his Christian-
name, which were the two original and most efficacious causes of all;--that
the third cause, or rather what logicians call the Causa sina qua non, and
without which all that was done was of no manner of significance,--was the
preservation of this delicate and fine-spun web, from the havock which was
generally made in it by the violent compression and crush which the head
was made to undergo, by the nonsensical method of bringing us into the
world by that foremost.

--This requires explanation.

My father, who dipped into all kinds of books, upon looking into
Lithopaedus Senonesis de Portu difficili, (The author is here twice
mistaken; for Lithopaedus should be wrote thus, Lithopaedii Senonensis
Icon. The second mistake is, that this Lithopaedus is not an author, but a
drawing of a petrified child. The account of this, published by Athosius
1580, may be seen at the end of Cordaeus's works in Spachius. Mr. Tristram
Shandy has been led into this error, either from seeing Lithopaedus's name
of late in a catalogue of learned writers in Dr. . ., or by mistaking
Lithopaedus for Trinecavellius,--from the too great similitude of the
names.) published by Adrianus Smelvgot, had found out, that the lax and
pliable state of a child's head in parturition, the bones of the cranium
having no sutures at that time, was such,--that by force of the woman's
efforts, which, in strong labour-pains, was equal, upon an average, to the
weight of 470 pounds avoirdupois acting perpendicularly upon it;--it so
happened, that in 49 instances out of 50, the said head was compressed and
moulded into the shape of an oblong conical piece of dough, such as a
pastry-cook generally rolls up in order to make a pye of.--Good God! cried
my father, what havock and destruction must this make in the infinitely
fine and tender texture of the cerebellum!--Or if there is such a juice as
Borri pretends--is it not enough to make the clearest liquid in the world
both seculent and mothery?

But how great was his apprehension, when he farther understood, that this
force acting upon the very vertex of the head, not only injured the brain
itself, or cerebrum,--but that it necessarily squeezed and propelled the
cerebrum towards the cerebellum, which was the immediate seat of the
understanding!--Angels and ministers of grace defend us! cried my father,--
can any soul withstand this shock?--No wonder the intellectual web is so
rent and tattered as we see it; and that so many of our best heads are no
better than a puzzled skein of silk,--all perplexity,--all confusion

But when my father read on, and was let into the secret, that when a child
was turned topsy-turvy, which was easy for an operator to do, and was
extracted by the feet;--that instead of the cerebrum being propelled
towards the cerebellum, the cerebellum, on the contrary, was propelled
simply towards the cerebrum, where it could do no manner of hurt:--By
heavens! cried he, the world is in conspiracy to drive out what little wit
God has given us,--and the professors of the obstetric art are listed into
the same conspiracy.--What is it to me which end of my son comes foremost
into the world, provided all goes right after, and his cerebellum escapes

It is the nature of an hypothesis, when once a man has conceived it, that
it assimilates every thing to itself, as proper nourishment; and, from the
first moment of your begetting it, it generally grows the stronger by every
thing you see, hear, read, or understand. This is of great use.

When my father was gone with this about a month, there was scarce a
phaenomenon of stupidity or of genius, which he could not readily solve by
it;--it accounted for the eldest son being the greatest blockhead in the
family.--Poor devil, he would say,--he made way for the capacity of his
younger brothers.--It unriddled the observations of drivellers and
monstrous heads,--shewing a priori, it could not be otherwise,--unless . .
. I don't know what. It wonderfully explained and accounted for the acumen
of the Asiatic genius, and that sprightlier turn, and a more penetrating
intuition of minds, in warmer climates; not from the loose and common-place
solution of a clearer sky, and a more perpetual sunshine, &c.--which for
aught he knew, might as well rarefy and dilute the faculties of the soul
into nothing, by one extreme,--as they are condensed in colder climates by
the other;--but he traced the affair up to its spring-head;--shewed that,
in warmer climates, nature had laid a lighter tax upon the fairest parts of
the creation;--their pleasures more;--the necessity of their pains less,
insomuch that the pressure and resistance upon the vertex was so slight,
that the whole organization of the cerebellum was preserved;--nay, he did
not believe, in natural births, that so much as a single thread of the net-
work was broke or displaced,--so that the soul might just act as she liked.

When my father had got so far,--what a blaze of light did the accounts of
the Caesarian section, and of the towering geniuses who had come safe into
the world by it, cast upon this hypothesis? Here you see, he would say,
there was no injury done to the sensorium;--no pressure of the head against
the pelvis;--no propulsion of the cerebrum towards the cerebellum, either
by the os pubis on this side, or os coxygis on that;--and pray, what were
the happy consequences? Why, Sir, your Julius Caesar, who gave the
operation a name;--and your Hermes Trismegistus, who was born so before
ever the operation had a name;--your Scipio Africanus; your Manlius
Torquatus; our Edward the Sixth,--who, had he lived, would have done the
same honour to the hypothesis:--These, and many more who figured high in
the annals of fame,--all came side-way, Sir, into the world.

The incision of the abdomen and uterus ran for six weeks together in my
father's head;--he had read, and was satisfied, that wounds in the
epigastrium, and those in the matrix, were not mortal;--so that the belly
of the mother might be opened extremely well to give a passage to the
child.--He mentioned the thing one afternoon to my mother,--merely as a
matter of fact; but seeing her turn as pale as ashes at the very mention of
it, as much as the operation flattered his hopes,--he thought it as well to
say no more of it,--contenting himself with admiring,--what he thought was
to no purpose to propose.

This was my father Mr. Shandy's hypothesis; concerning which I have only to
add, that my brother Bobby did as great honour to it (whatever he did to
the family) as any one of the great heroes we spoke of: For happening not
only to be christened, as I told you, but to be born too, when my father
was at Epsom,--being moreover my mother's first child,--coming into the
world with his head foremost,--and turning out afterwards a lad of
wonderful slow parts,--my father spelt all these together into his opinion:
and as he had failed at one end,--he was determined to try the other.

This was not to be expected from one of the sisterhood, who are not easily
to be put out of their way,--and was therefore one of my father's great
reasons in favour of a man of science, whom he could better deal with.

Of all men in the world, Dr. Slop was the fittest for my father's purpose;-
-for though this new-invented forceps was the armour he had proved, and
what he maintained to be the safest instrument of deliverance, yet, it
seems, he had scattered a word or two in his book, in favour of the very
thing which ran in my father's fancy;--tho' not with a view to the soul's
good in extracting by the feet, as was my father's system,--but for reasons
merely obstetrical.

This will account for the coalition betwixt my father and Dr. Slop, in the
ensuing discourse, which went a little hard against my uncle Toby.--In what
manner a plain man, with nothing but common sense, could bear up against
two such allies in science,--is hard to conceive.--You may conjecture upon
it, if you please,--and whilst your imagination is in motion, you may
encourage it to go on, and discover by what causes and effects in nature it
could come to pass, that my uncle Toby got his modesty by the wound he
received upon his groin.--You may raise a system to account for the loss of
my nose by marriage-articles,--and shew the world how it could happen, that
I should have the misfortune to be called Tristram, in opposition to my
father's hypothesis, and the wish of the whole family, Godfathers and
Godmothers not excepted.--These, with fifty other points left yet
unravelled, you may endeavour to solve if you have time;--but I tell you
beforehand it will be in vain, for not the sage Alquise, the magician in
Don Belianis of Greece, nor the no less famous Urganda, the sorceress his
wife, (were they alive) could pretend to come within a league of the truth.

The reader will be content to wait for a full explanation of these matters
till the next year,--when a series of things will be laid open which he
little expects.

Chapter 1.XLV.

--'I wish, Dr. Slop,' quoth my uncle Toby, (repeating his wish for Dr. Slop
a second time, and with a degree of more zeal and earnestness in his manner
of wishing, than he had wished at first (Vide.))--'I wish, Dr. Slop,' quoth
my uncle Toby, 'you had seen what prodigious armies we had in Flanders.'

My uncle Toby's wish did Dr. Slop a disservice which his heart never
intended any man,--Sir, it confounded him--and thereby putting his ideas
first into confusion, and then to flight, he could not rally them again for
the soul of him.

In all disputes,--male or female,--whether for honour, for profit, or for
love,--it makes no difference in the case;--nothing is more dangerous,
Madam, than a wish coming sideways in this unexpected manner upon a man:
the safest way in general to take off the force of the wish, is for the
party wish'd at, instantly to get upon his legs--and wish the wisher
something in return, of pretty near the same value,--so balancing the
account upon the spot, you stand as you were--nay sometimes gain the
advantage of the attack by it.

This will be fully illustrated to the world in my chapter of wishes.--

Dr. Slop did not understand the nature of this defence;--he was puzzled
with it, and it put an entire stop to the dispute for four minutes and a
half;--five had been fatal to it:--my father saw the danger--the dispute
was one of the most interesting disputes in the world, 'Whether the child
of his prayers and endeavours should be born without a head or with one:'--
he waited to the last moment, to allow Dr. Slop, in whose behalf the wish
was made, his right of returning it; but perceiving, I say, that he was
confounded, and continued looking with that perplexed vacuity of eye which
puzzled souls generally stare with--first in my uncle Toby's face--then in
his--then up--then down--then east--east and by east, and so on,--coasting
it along by the plinth of the wainscot till he had got to the opposite
point of the compass,--and that he had actually begun to count the brass
nails upon the arm of his chair,--my father thought there was no time to be
lost with my uncle Toby, so took up the discourse as follows.

Chapter 1.XLVI.

'--What prodigious armies you had in Flanders!'--

Brother Toby, replied my father, taking his wig from off his head with his
right hand, and with his left pulling out a striped India handkerchief from
his right coat pocket, in order to rub his head, as he argued the point
with my uncle Toby.--

--Now, in this I think my father was much to blame; and I will give you my
reasons for it.

Matters of no more seeming consequence in themselves than, 'Whether my
father should have taken off his wig with his right hand or with his
left,'--have divided the greatest kingdoms, and made the crowns of the
monarchs who governed them, to totter upon their heads.--But need I tell
you, Sir, that the circumstances with which every thing in this world is
begirt, give every thing in this world its size and shape!--and by
tightening it, or relaxing it, this way or that, make the thing to be, what
it is--great--little--good--bad--indifferent or not indifferent, just as
the case happens?

As my father's India handkerchief was in his right coat pocket, he should
by no means have suffered his right hand to have got engaged: on the
contrary, instead of taking off his wig with it, as he did, he ought to
have committed that entirely to the left; and then, when the natural
exigency my father was under of rubbing his head, called out for his
handkerchief, he would have had nothing in the world to have done, but to
have put his right hand into his right coat pocket and taken it out;--which
he might have done without any violence, or the least ungraceful twist in
any one tendon or muscle of his whole body.

In this case, (unless, indeed, my father had been resolved to make a fool
of himself by holding the wig stiff in his left hand--or by making some
nonsensical angle or other at his elbow-joint, or armpit)--his whole
attitude had been easy--natural--unforced: Reynolds himself, as great and
gracefully as he paints, might have painted him as he sat.

Now as my father managed this matter,--consider what a devil of a figure my
father made of himself.

In the latter end of Queen Anne's reign, and in the beginning of the reign
of King George the first--'Coat pockets were cut very low down in the
skirt.'--I need say no more--the father of mischief, had he been hammering
at it a month, could not have contrived a worse fashion for one in my
father's situation.

Chapter 1.XLVII.

It was not an easy matter in any king's reign (unless you were as lean a
subject as myself) to have forced your hand diagonally, quite across your
whole body, so as to gain the bottom of your opposite coat pocket.--In the
year one thousand seven hundred and eighteen, when this happened, it was
extremely difficult; so that when my uncle Toby discovered the transverse
zig-zaggery of my father's approaches towards it, it instantly brought into
his mind those he had done duty in, before the gate of St. Nicolas;--the
idea of which drew off his attention so intirely from the subject in
debate, that he had got his right hand to the bell to ring up Trim to go
and fetch his map of Namur, and his compasses and sector along with it, to
measure the returning angles of the traverses of that attack,--but
particularly of that one, where he received his wound upon his groin.

My father knit his brows, and as he knit them, all the blood in his body
seemed to rush up into his face--my uncle Toby dismounted immediately.

--I did not apprehend your uncle Toby was o'horseback.--

Chapter 1.XLVIII.

A man's body and his mind, with the utmost reverence to both I speak it,
are exactly like a jerkin, and a jerkin's lining;--rumple the one,--you
rumple the other. There is one certain exception however in this case, and
that is, when you are so fortunate a fellow, as to have had your jerkin
made of gum-taffeta, and the body-lining to it of a sarcenet, or thin

Zeno, Cleanthes, Diogenes Babylonius, Dionysius, Heracleotes, Antipater,
Panaetius, and Possidonius amongst the Greeks;--Cato and Varro and Seneca
amongst the Romans;--Pantenus and Clemens Alexandrinus and Montaigne
amongst the Christians; and a score and a half of good, honest, unthinking
Shandean people as ever lived, whose names I can't recollect,--all
pretended that their jerkins were made after this fashion,--you might have
rumpled and crumpled, and doubled and creased, and fretted and fridged the
outside of them all to pieces;--in short, you might have played the very
devil with them, and at the same time, not one of the insides of them would
have been one button the worse, for all you had done to them.

I believe in my conscience that mine is made up somewhat after this sort:--
for never poor jerkin has been tickled off at such a rate as it has been
these last nine months together,--and yet I declare, the lining to it,--as
far as I am a judge of the matter,--is not a three-penny piece the worse;--
pell-mell, helter-skelter, ding-dong, cut and thrust, back stroke and fore
stroke, side way and long-way, have they been trimming it for me:--had
there been the least gumminess in my lining,--by heaven! it had all of it
long ago been frayed and fretted to a thread.

--You Messrs. the Monthly Reviewers!--how could you cut and slash my jerkin
as you did?--how did you know but you would cut my lining too?

Heartily and from my soul, to the protection of that Being who will injure
none of us, do I recommend you and your affairs,--so God bless you;--only
next month, if any one of you should gnash his teeth, and storm and rage at
me, as some of you did last May (in which I remember the weather was very
hot)--don't be exasperated, if I pass it by again with good temper,--being
determined as long as I live or write) which in my case means the same
thing) never to give the honest gentleman a worse word or a worse wish than
my uncle Toby gave the fly which buzz'd about his nose all dinner-time,--
'Go,--go, poor devil,' quoth he,--'get thee gone,--why should I hurt thee!
This world is surely wide enough to hold both thee and me.'

Chapter 1.XLIX.

Any man, Madam, reasoning upwards, and observing the prodigious suffusion
of blood in my father's countenance,--by means of which (as all the blood
in his body seemed to rush into his face, as I told you) he must have
reddened, pictorically and scientifically speaking, six whole tints and a
half, if not a full octave above his natural colour:--any man, Madam, but
my uncle Toby, who had observed this, together with the violent knitting of
my father's brows, and the extravagant contortion of his body during the
whole affair,--would have concluded my father in a rage; and taking that
for granted,--had he been a lover of such kind of concord as arises from
two such instruments being put in exact tune,--he would instantly have
skrew'd up his, to the same pitch;--and then the devil and all had broke
loose--the whole piece, Madam, must have been played off like the sixth of
Avison Scarlatti--con furia,--like mad.--Grant me patience!--What has con
furia,--con strepito,--or any other hurly burly whatever to do with

Any man, I say, Madam, but my uncle Toby, the benignity of whose heart
interpreted every motion of the body in the kindest sense the motion would
admit of, would have concluded my father angry, and blamed him too. My
uncle Toby blamed nothing but the taylor who cut the pocket-hole;--so
sitting still till my father had got his handkerchief out of it, and
looking all the time up in his face with inexpressible good-will--my
father, at length, went on as follows.

Chapter 1.L.

'What prodigious armies you had in Flanders!'

--Brother Toby, quoth my father, I do believe thee to be as honest a man,
and with as good and as upright a heart as ever God created;--nor is it thy
fault, if all the children which have been, may, can, shall, will, or ought
to be begotten, come with their heads foremost into the world:--but believe
me, dear Toby, the accidents which unavoidably way-lay them, not only in
the article of our begetting 'em--though these, in my opinion, are well
worth considering,--but the dangers and difficulties our children are beset
with, after they are got forth into the world, are enow--little need is
there to expose them to unnecessary ones in their passage to it.--Are these
dangers, quoth my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon my father's knee, and
looking up seriously in his face for an answer,--are these dangers greater
now o'days, brother, than in times past? Brother Toby, answered my father,
if a child was but fairly begot, and born alive, and healthy, and the
mother did well after it,--our forefathers never looked farther.--My uncle
Toby instantly withdrew his hand from off my father's knee, reclined his
body gently back in his chair, raised his head till he could just see the
cornice of the room, and then directing the buccinatory muscles along his
cheeks, and the orbicular muscles around his lips to do their duty--he
whistled Lillabullero.

Chapter 1.LI.

Whilst my uncle Toby was whistling Lillabullero to my father,--Dr. Slop was
stamping, and cursing and damning at Obadiah at a most dreadful rate,--it
would have done your heart good, and cured you, Sir, for ever of the vile
sin of swearing, to have heard him, I am determined therefore to relate the
whole affair to you.

When Dr. Slop's maid delivered the green baize bag with her master's
instruments in it, to Obadiah, she very sensibly exhorted him to put his
head and one arm through the strings, and ride with it slung across his
body: so undoing the bow-knot, to lengthen the strings for him, without
any more ado, she helped him on with it. However, as this, in some
measure, unguarded the mouth of the bag, lest any thing should bolt out in
galloping back, at the speed Obadiah threatened, they consulted to take it
off again: and in the great care and caution of their hearts, they had
taken the two strings and tied them close (pursing up the mouth of the bag
first) with half a dozen hard knots, each of which Obadiah, to make all
safe, had twitched and drawn together with all the strength of his body.

This answered all that Obadiah and the maid intended; but was no remedy
against some evils which neither he or she foresaw. The instruments, it
seems, as tight as the bag was tied above, had so much room to play in it,
towards the bottom (the shape of the bag being conical) that Obadiah could
not make a trot of it, but with such a terrible jingle, what with the tire
tete, forceps, and squirt, as would have been enough, had Hymen been taking
a jaunt that way, to have frightened him out of the country; but when
Obadiah accelerated his motion, and from a plain trot assayed to prick his
coach-horse into a full gallop--by Heaven! Sir, the jingle was incredible.

As Obadiah had a wife and three children--the turpitude of fornication, and
the many other political ill consequences of this jingling, never once
entered his brain,--he had however his objection, which came home to
himself, and weighed with him, as it has oft-times done with the greatest
patriots.--'The poor fellow, Sir, was not able to hear himself whistle.'

Chapter 1.LII.

As Obadiah loved wind-music preferably to all the instrumental music he
carried with him,--he very considerately set his imagination to work, to
contrive and to invent by what means he should put himself in a condition
of enjoying it.

In all distresses (except musical) where small cords are wanted, nothing is
so apt to enter a man's head as his hat-band:--the philosophy of this is so
near the surface--I scorn to enter into it.

As Obadiah's was a mixed case--mark, Sirs,--I say, a mixed case; for it was
obstetrical,--scrip-tical, squirtical, papistical--and as far as the coach-
horse was concerned in it,--caballistical--and only partly musical;--
Obadiah made no scruple of availing himself of the first expedient which
offered; so taking hold of the bag and instruments, and griping them hard
together with one hand, and with the finger and thumb of the other putting
the end of the hat-band betwixt his teeth, and then slipping his hand down
to the middle of it,--he tied and cross-tied them all fast together from
one end to the other (as you would cord a trunk) with such a multiplicity
of round-abouts and intricate cross turns, with a hard knot at every
intersection or point where the strings met,--that Dr. Slop must have had
three fifths of Job's patience at least to have unloosed them.--I think in
my conscience, that had Nature been in one of her nimble moods, and in
humour for such a contest--and she and Dr. Slop both fairly started
together--there is no man living which had seen the bag with all that
Obadiah had done to it,--and known likewise the great speed the Goddess can
make when she thinks proper, who would have had the least doubt remaining
in his mind--which of the two would have carried off the prize. My mother,
Madam, had been delivered sooner than the green bag infallibly--at least by
twenty knots.--Sport of small accidents, Tristram Shandy! that thou art,
and ever will be! had that trial been for thee, and it was fifty to one but
it had,--thy affairs had not been so depress'd--(at least by the depression
of thy nose) as they have been; nor had the fortunes of thy house and the
occasions of making them, which have so often presented themselves in the
course of thy life, to thee, been so often, so vexatiously, so tamely, so
irrecoverably abandoned--as thou hast been forced to leave them;--but 'tis
over,--all but the account of 'em, which cannot be given to the curious
till I am got out into the world.

End of the first volume.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.

Volume the Second

Multitudinis imperitae non formido judicia, meis tamen, rogo, parcant
opusculis--in quibus fuit propositi semper, a jocis ad seria, in seriis
vicissim ad jocos transire.

Joan. Saresberiensis,
Episcopus Lugdun.

Chapter 2.I.

Great wits jump: for the moment Dr. Slop cast his eyes upon his bag (which
he had not done till the dispute with my uncle Toby about mid-wifery put
him in mind of it)--the very same thought occurred.--'Tis God's mercy,
quoth he (to himself) that Mrs. Shandy has had so bad a time of it,--else
she might have been brought to bed seven times told, before one half of
these knots could have got untied.--But here you must distinguish--the
thought floated only in Dr. Slop's mind, without sail or ballast to it, as
a simple proposition; millions of which, as your worship knows, are every
day swimming quietly in the middle of the thin juice of a man's
understanding, without being carried backwards or forwards, till some
little gusts of passion or interest drive them to one side.

A sudden trampling in the room above, near my mother's bed, did the
proposition the very service I am speaking of. By all that's unfortunate,
quoth Dr. Slop, unless I make haste, the thing will actually befall me as
it is.

Chapter 2.II.

In the case of knots,--by which, in the first place, I would not be
understood to mean slip-knots--because in the course of my life and
opinions--my opinions concerning them will come in more properly when I
mention the catastrophe of my great uncle Mr. Hammond Shandy,--a little
man,--but of high fancy:--he rushed into the duke of Monmouth's affair:--
nor, secondly, in this place, do I mean that particular species of knots
called bow-knots;--there is so little address, or skill, or patience
required in the unloosing them, that they are below my giving any opinion
at all about them.--But by the knots I am speaking of, may it please your
reverences to believe, that I mean good, honest, devilish tight, hard
knots, made bona fide, as Obadiah made his;--in which there is no quibbling
provision made by the duplication and return of the two ends of the strings
thro' the annulus or noose made by the second implication of them--to get
them slipp'd and undone by.--I hope you apprehend me.

In the case of these knots then, and of the several obstructions, which,
may it please your reverences, such knots cast in our way in getting
through life--every hasty man can whip out his pen-knife and cut through
them.--'Tis wrong. Believe me, Sirs, the most virtuous way, and which both
reason and conscience dictate--is to take our teeth or our fingers to
them.--Dr. Slop had lost his teeth--his favourite instrument, by extracting
in a wrong direction, or by some misapplication of it, unfortunately
slipping, he had formerly, in a hard labour, knock'd out three of the best
of them with the handle of it:--he tried his fingers--alas; the nails of
his fingers and thumbs were cut close.--The duce take it! I can make
nothing of it either way, cried Dr. Slop.--The trampling over head near my
mother's bed-side increased.--Pox take the fellow! I shall never get the
knots untied as long as I live.--My mother gave a groan.--Lend me your
penknife--I must e'en cut the knots at last--pugh!--psha!--Lord! I have
cut my thumb quite across to the very bone--curse the fellow--if there was
not another man-midwife within fifty miles--I am undone for this bout--I
wish the scoundrel hang'd--I wish he was shot--I wish all the devils in
hell had him for a blockhead!--

My father had a great respect for Obadiah, and could not bear to hear him
disposed of in such a manner--he had moreover some little respect for
himself--and could as ill bear with the indignity offered to himself in it.

Had Dr. Slop cut any part about him, but his thumb--my father had pass'd it
by--his prudence had triumphed: as it was, he was determined to have his

Small curses, Dr. Slop, upon great occasions, quoth my father (condoling
with him first upon the accident) are but so much waste of our strength and
soul's health to no manner of purpose.--I own it, replied Dr. Slop.--They
are like sparrow-shot, quoth my uncle Toby (suspending his whistling) fired
against a bastion.--They serve, continued my father, to stir the humours--
but carry off none of their acrimony:--for my own part, I seldom swear or
curse at all--I hold it bad--but if I fall into it by surprize, I generally
retain so much presence of mind (right, quoth my uncle Toby) as to make it
answer my purpose--that is, I swear on till I find myself easy. A wife and
a just man however would always endeavour to proportion the vent given to
these humours, not only to the degree of them stirring within himself--but
to the size and ill intent of the offence upon which they are to fall.--
'Injuries come only from the heart,'--quoth my uncle Toby. For this
reason, continued my father, with the most Cervantick gravity, I have the
greatest veneration in the world for that gentleman, who, in distrust of
his own discretion in this point, sat down and composed (that is at his
leisure) fit forms of swearing suitable to all cases, from the lowest to
the highest provocation which could possibly happen to him--which forms
being well considered by him, and such moreover as he could stand to, he
kept them ever by him on the chimney-piece, within his reach, ready for
use.--I never apprehended, replied Dr. Slop, that such a thing was ever
thought of--much less executed. I beg your pardon, answered my father; I
was reading, though not using, one of them to my brother Toby this morning,
whilst he pour'd out the tea--'tis here upon the shelf over my head;--but
if I remember right, 'tis too violent for a cut of the thumb.--Not at all,
quoth Dr. Slop--the devil take the fellow.--Then, answered my father, 'Tis
much at your service, Dr. Slop--on condition you will read it aloud;--so
rising up and reaching down a form of excommunication of the church of
Rome, a copy of which, my father (who was curious in his collections) had
procured out of the leger-book of the church of Rochester, writ by
Ernulphus the bishop--with a most affected seriousness of look and voice,
which might have cajoled Ernulphus himself--he put it into Dr. Slop's
hands.--Dr. Slop wrapt his thumb up in the corner of his handkerchief, and
with a wry face, though without any suspicion, read aloud, as follows--my
uncle Toby whistling Lillabullero as loud as he could all the time.

(As the geniuneness of the consultation of the Sorbonne upon the question
of baptism, was doubted by some, and denied by others--'twas thought proper
to print the original of this excommunication; for the copy of which Mr.
Shandy returns thanks to the chapter clerk of the dean and chapter of

Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi, per Ernulfum Episcopum.

Cap. 2.III.


Ex auctoritate Dei omnipotentis, Patris, et Filij, et Spiritus Sancti, et
sanctorum canonum, sanctaeque et entemeratae Virginis Dei genetricis

--Atque omnium coelestium virtutum, angelorum, archangelorum, thronorum,
dominationum, potestatuum, cherubin ac seraphin, & sanctorum patriarchum,
prophetarum, & omnium apolstolorum & evangelistarum, & sanctorum
innocentum, qui in conspectu Agni soli digni inventi sunt canticum cantare
novum, et sanctorum martyrum et sanctorum confessorum, et sanctarum
virginum, atque omnium simul sanctorum et electorum Dei,--Excommunicamus,
vel os s vel os
anathematizamus hunc furem, vel hunc
malefactorem, N.N. et a liminibus sanctae Dei ecclesiae sequestramus, et
vel i n
suppliciis excruciandus, mancipetur, cum Dathan et Abiram, et cum his qui
dixerunt Domino Deo, Recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus: et
ficut aqua ignis extinguatur lu-
vel eorum
cerna ejus in secula seculorum nisi resque-
n n
rit, et ad satisfactionem venerit. Amen.
Maledicat illum Deus Pater qui homi-
nem creavit. Maledicat illum Dei Filius qui pro homine passus est.
illum Spiritus Sanctus qui in baptismo ef-
fusus est. Maledicat illum sancta crux, quam Christus pro nostra salute
hostem triumphans ascendit.
Maledicat illum sancta Dei genetrix et
perpetua Virgo Maria. Maledicat illum sanctus Michael, animarum susceptor
crarum. Maledicant illum omnes angeli et archangeli, principatus et
potestates, omnisque militia coelestis.
Maledicat illum patriarcharum et prophetarum laudabilis numerus. Maledicat
illum sanctus Johannes Praecursor et Baptista Christi, et sanctus Petrus,
et sanctus Paulus, atque sanctus Andreas, omnesque Christi apostoli, simul
et caeteri discipuli, quatuor quoque evangelistae, qui sua praedicatione
mundum universum converte-
runt. Maledicat illum cuneus martyrum et confessorum mirificus, qui Deo
bonis operibus placitus inventus est.
Maledicant illum sacrarum virginum chori, quae mundi vana causa honoris
Christi respuenda contempserunt. Male-
dicant illum omnes sancti qui ab initio mundi usque in finem seculi Deo
dilecti inveniuntur.
Maledicant illum coeli et terra, et omnia sancta in eis manentia.
i n n
Maledictus sit ubicunque, fuerit, sive in domo, sive in agro, sive in via,
sive in semita, sive in silva, sive in aqua, sive in ecclesia.
i n
Maledictus sit vivendo, moriendo,---
manducando, bibendo, esuriendo, sitiendo, jejunando, dormitando, dormiendo,
vigilando, ambulando, stando, sedendo, jacendo, operando, quiescendo,
mingendo, cacando, flebotomando.
i n
Maledictus sit in totis viribus corporis.
i n
Maledictus sit intus et exterius.
i n i
Maledictus sit in capillis; maledictus
n i n
sit in cerebro. Maledictus sit in vertice, in temporibus, in fronte, in
auriculis, in superciliis, in oculis, in genis, in maxillis, in naribus, in
dentibus, mordacibus, in labris sive molibus, in labiis, in guttere, in
humeris, in harnis, in brachiis, in manubus, in digitis, in pectore, in
corde, et in omnibus interioribus stomacho tenus, in renibus, in
inguinibus, in femore, in genitalibus, in coxis, in genubus, in cruribus,
in pedibus, et in unguibus.

Maledictus sit in totis compagibus membrorum, a vertice capitis, usque ad
plantam pedis--non sit in eo sanitas.

Maledicat illum Christus Filius Dei vivi toto suae majestatis imperio--
--et insurgat adversus illum coelum cum omnibus virtutibus quae in eo
moventur ad damnandum eum, nisi penituerit et ad satisfactionem venerit.
Amen. Fiat, fiat. Amen.

Chapter 2.IV.

'By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of
the holy canons, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of
our Saviour.' I think there is no necessity, quoth Dr. Slop, dropping the
paper down to his knee, and addressing himself to my father--as you have
read it over, Sir, so lately, to read it aloud--and as Captain Shandy seems
to have no great inclination to hear it--I may as well read it to myself.
That's contrary to treaty, replied my father:--besides, there is something
so whimsical, especially in the latter part of it, I should grieve to lose
the pleasure of a second reading. Dr. Slop did not altogether like it,--
but my uncle Toby offering at that instant to give over whistling, and read
it himself to them;--Dr. Slop thought he might as well read it under the
cover of my uncle Toby's whistling--as suffer my uncle Toby to read it
alone;--so raising up the paper to his face, and holding it quite parallel
to it, in order to hide his chagrin--he read it aloud as follows--my uncle
Toby whistling Lillabullero, though not quite so loud as before.

'By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of
the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour, and of all
the celestial virtues, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers,
cherubins and seraphins, and of all the holy patriarchs, prophets, and of
all the apostles and evangelists, and of the holy innocents, who in the
sight of the Holy Lamb, are found worthy to sing the new song of the holy
martyrs and holy confessors, and of the holy virgins, and of all the saints
together, with the holy and elect of God,--May he' (Obadiah) 'be damn'd'
(for tying these knots)--'We excommunicate, and anathematize him, and from
the thresholds of the holy church of God Almighty we sequester him, that he
may be tormented, disposed, and delivered over with Dathan and Abiram, and
with those who say unto the Lord God, Depart from us, we desire none of thy
ways. And as fire is quenched with water, so let the light of him be put
out for evermore, unless it shall repent him' (Obadiah, of the knots which
he has tied) 'and make satisfaction' (for them) 'Amen.

'May the Father who created man, curse him.--May the Son who suffered for
us curse him.--May the Holy Ghost, who was given to us in baptism, curse
him' (Obadiah)--'May the holy cross which Christ, for our salvation
triumphing over his enemies, ascended, curse him.

'May the holy and eternal Virgin Mary, mother of God, curse him.--May St.
Michael, the advocate of holy souls, curse him.--May all the angels and
archangels, principalities and powers, and all the heavenly armies, curse
him.' (Our armies swore terribly in Flanders, cried my uncle Toby,--but
nothing to this.--For my own part I could not have a heart to curse my dog

'May St. John, the Praecursor, and St. John the Baptist, and St. Peter and
St. Paul, and St. Andrew, and all other Christ's apostles, together curse
him. And may the rest of his disciples and four evangelists, who by their
preaching converted the universal world, and may the holy and wonderful
company of martyrs and confessors who by their holy works are found
pleasing to God Almighty, curse him' (Obadiah.)

'May the holy choir of the holy virgins, who for the honour of Christ have
despised the things of the world, damn him--May all the saints, who from
the beginning of the world to everlasting ages are found to be beloved of
God, damn him--May the heavens and earth, and all the holy things remaining
therein, damn him,' (Obadiah) 'or her,' (or whoever else had a hand in
tying these knots.)

'May he (Obadiah) be damn'd wherever he be--whether in the house or the
stables, the garden or the field, or the highway, or in the path, or in the
wood, or in the water, or in the church.--May he be cursed in living, in
dying.' (Here my uncle Toby, taking the advantage of a minim in the second
bar of his tune, kept whistling one continued note to the end of the
sentence.--Dr. Slop, with his division of curses moving under him, like a
running bass all the way.) 'May he be cursed in eating and drinking, in
being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in
walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting, in
pissing, in shitting, and in blood-letting!

'May he' (Obadiah) 'be cursed in all the faculties of his body!

'May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly!--May he be cursed in the hair of
his head!--May he be cursed in his brains, and in his vertex,' (that is a
sad curse, quoth my father) 'in his temples, in his forehead, in his ears,
in his eye-brows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils, in his
fore-teeth and grinders, in his lips, in his throat, in his shoulders, in
his wrists, in his arms, in his hands, in his fingers!

'May he be damn'd in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart and purtenance,
down to the very stomach!

'May he be cursed in his reins, and in his groin,' (God in heaven forbid!
quoth my uncle Toby) 'in his thighs, in his genitals,' (my father shook his
head) 'and in his hips, and in his knees, his legs, and feet, and toe-

'May he be cursed in all the joints and articulations of the members, from
the top of his head to the sole of his foot! May there be no soundness in

'May the son of the living God, with all the glory of his Majesty'--(Here
my uncle Toby, throwing back his head, gave a monstrous, long, loud Whew--
w--w--something betwixt the interjectional whistle of Hay-day! and the word

--By the golden beard of Jupiter--and of Juno (if her majesty wore one) and
by the beards of the rest of your heathen worships, which by the bye was no
small number, since what with the beards of your celestial gods, and gods
aerial and aquatick--to say nothing of the beards of town-gods and country-
gods, or of the celestial goddesses your wives, or of the infernal
goddesses your whores and concubines (that is in case they wore them)--all
which beards, as Varro tells me, upon his word and honour, when mustered up
together, made no less than thirty thousand effective beards upon the Pagan
establishment;--every beard of which claimed the rights and privileges of
being stroken and sworn by--by all these beards together then--I vow and
protest, that of the two bad cassocks I am worth in the world, I would have
given the better of them, as freely as ever Cid Hamet offered his--to have
stood by, and heard my uncle Toby's accompanyment.

--'curse him!'--continued Dr. Slop,--'and may heaven, with all the powers
which move therein, rise up against him, curse and damn him' (Obadiah)
'unless he repent and make satisfaction! Amen. So be it,--so be it.

I declare, quoth my uncle Toby, my heart would not let me curse the devil
himself with so much bitterness.--He is the father of curses, replied Dr.
Slop.--So am not I, replied my uncle.--But he is cursed, and damn'd
already, to all eternity, replied Dr. Slop.

I am sorry for it, quoth my uncle Toby.

Dr. Slop drew up his mouth, and was just beginning to return my uncle Toby
the compliment of his Whu--u--u--or interjectional whistle--when the door
hastily opening in the next chapter but one--put an end to the affair.

Chapter 2.V.

Now don't let us give ourselves a parcel of airs, and pretend that the
oaths we make free with in this land of liberty of ours are our own; and
because we have the spirit to swear them,--imagine that we have had the wit
to invent them too.

I'll undertake this moment to prove it to any man in the world, except to a
connoisseur:--though I declare I object only to a connoisseur in swearing,-
-as I would do to a connoisseur in painting, &c. &c. the whole set of 'em
are so hung round and befetish'd with the bobs and trinkets of criticism,--
or to drop my metaphor, which by the bye is a pity--for I have fetch'd it
as far as from the coast of Guiney;--their heads, Sir, are stuck so full of
rules and compasses, and have that eternal propensity to apply them upon
all occasions, that a work of genius had better go to the devil at once,
than stand to be prick'd and tortured to death by 'em.

--And how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night?--Oh, against all
rule, my lord,--most ungrammatically! betwixt the substantive and the
adjective, which should agree together in number, case, and gender, he made
a breach thus,--stopping, as if the point wanted settling;--and betwixt the
nominative case, which your lordship knows should govern the verb, he
suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times three seconds and three
fifths by a stop watch, my lord, each time.--Admirable grammarian!--But in
suspending his voice--was the sense suspended likewise? Did no expression
of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm?--Was the eye silent? Did you
narrowly look?--I look'd only at the stop-watch, my lord.--Excellent

And what of this new book the whole world makes such a rout about?--Oh!
'tis out of all plumb, my lord,--quite an irregular thing!--not one of the
angles at the four corners was a right angle.--I had my rule and compasses,
&c. my lord, in my pocket.--Excellent critick!

--And for the epick poem your lordship bid me look at--upon taking the
length, breadth, height, and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an
exact scale of Bossu's--'tis out, my lord, in every one of its dimensions.-
-Admirable connoisseur!

--And did you step in, to take a look at the grand picture in your way
back?--'Tis a melancholy daub! my lord; not one principle of the pyramid in
any one group!--and what a price!--for there is nothing of the colouring of
Titian--the expression of Rubens--the grace of Raphael--the purity of
Dominichino--the corregiescity of Corregio--the learning of Poussin--the
airs of Guido--the taste of the Carrachis--or the grand contour of Angelo.-
-Grant me patience, just Heaven!--Of all the cants which are canted in this
canting world--though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst--the cant of
criticism is the most tormenting!

I would go fifty miles on foot, for I have not a horse worth riding on, to
kiss the hand of that man whose generous heart will give up the reins of
his imagination into his author's hands--be pleased he knows not why, and
cares not wherefore.

Great Apollo! if thou art in a giving humour--give me--I ask no more, but
one stroke of native humour, with a single spark of thy own fire along with
it--and send Mercury, with the rules and compasses, if he can be spared,
with my compliments to--no matter.

Now to any one else I will undertake to prove, that all the oaths and
imprecations which we have been puffing off upon the world for these two
hundred and fifty years last past as originals--except St. Paul's thumb--
God's flesh and God's fish, which were oaths monarchical, and, considering
who made them, not much amiss; and as kings oaths, 'tis not much matter
whether they were fish or flesh;--else I say, there is not an oath, or at
least a curse amongst them, which has not been copied over and over again
out of Ernulphus a thousand times: but, like all other copies, how
infinitely short of the force and spirit of the original!--it is thought to
be no bad oath--and by itself passes very well--'G-d damn you.'--Set it
beside Ernulphus's--'God almighty the Father damn you--God the Son damn
you--God the Holy Ghost damn you'--you see 'tis nothing.--There is an
orientality in his, we cannot rise up to: besides, he is more copious in
his invention--possess'd more of the excellencies of a swearer--had such a
thorough knowledge of the human frame, its membranes, nerves, ligaments,
knittings of the joints, and articulations,--that when Ernulphus cursed--no
part escaped him.--'Tis true there is something of a hardness in his
manner--and, as in Michael Angelo, a want of grace--but then there is such
a greatness of gusto!

My father, who generally look'd upon every thing in a light very different
from all mankind, would, after all, never allow this to be an original.--He
considered rather Ernulphus's anathema, as an institute of swearing, in
which, as he suspected, upon the decline of swearing in some milder
pontificate, Ernulphus, by order of the succeeding pope, had with great
learning and diligence collected together all the laws of it;--for the same
reason that Justinian, in the decline of the empire, had ordered his
chancellor Tribonian to collect the Roman or civil laws all together into
one code or digest--lest, through the rust of time--and the fatality of all
things committed to oral tradition--they should be lost to the world for

For this reason my father would oft-times affirm, there was not an oath
from the great and tremendous oath of William the conqueror (By the
splendour of God) down to the lowest oath of a scavenger (Damn your eyes)
which was not to be found in Ernulphus.--In short, he would add--I defy a
man to swear out of it.

The hypothesis is, like most of my father's, singular and ingenious too;--
nor have I any objection to it, but that it overturns my own.

Chapter 2.VI.

--Bless my soul!--my poor mistress is ready to faint--and her pains are
gone--and the drops are done--and the bottle of julap is broke--and the
nurse has cut her arm--(and I, my thumb, cried Dr. Slop,) and the child is
where it was, continued Susannah,--and the midwife has fallen backwards
upon the edge of the fender, and bruised her hip as black as your hat.--
I'll look at it, quoth Dr Slop.--There is no need of that, replied
Susannah,--you had better look at my mistress--but the midwife would gladly
first give you an account how things are, so desires you would go up stairs
and speak to her this moment.

Human nature is the same in all professions.

The midwife had just before been put over Dr. Slop's head--He had not
digested it.--No, replied Dr. Slop, 'twould be full as proper if the
midwife came down to me.--I like subordination, quoth my uncle Toby,--and
but for it, after the reduction of Lisle, I know not what might have become
of the garrison of Ghent, in the mutiny for bread, in the year Ten.--Nor,
replied Dr. Slop, (parodying my uncle Toby's hobby-horsical reflection;
though full as hobby-horsical himself)--do I know, Captain Shandy, what
might have become of the garrison above stairs, in the mutiny and confusion
I find all things are in at present, but for the subordination of fingers
and thumbs to. . .--the application of which, Sir, under this accident of
mine, comes in so a propos, that without it, the cut upon my thumb might
have been felt by the Shandy family, as long as the Shandy family had a

Chapter 2.VII.

Let us go back to the. . .--in the last chapter.

It is a singular stroke of eloquence (at least it was so, when eloquence
flourished at Athens and Rome, and would be so now, did orators wear
mantles) not to mention the name of a thing, when you had the thing about
you in petto, ready to produce, pop, in the place you want it. A scar, an
axe, a sword, a pink'd doublet, a rusty helmet, a pound and a half of pot-
ashes in an urn, or a three-halfpenny pickle pot--but above all, a tender
infant royally accoutred.--Tho' if it was too young, and the oration as
long as Tully's second Philippick--it must certainly have beshit the
orator's mantle.--And then again, if too old,--it must have been unwieldly
and incommodious to his action--so as to make him lose by his child almost
as much as he could gain by it.--Otherwise, when a state orator has hit the
precise age to a minute--hid his Bambino in his mantle so cunningly that no
mortal could smell it--and produced it so critically, that no soul could
say, it came in by head and shoulders--Oh Sirs! it has done wonders--It has
open'd the sluices, and turn'd the brains, and shook the principles, and
unhinged the politicks of half a nation.

These feats however are not to be done, except in those states and times, I
say, where orators wore mantles--and pretty large ones too, my brethren,
with some twenty or five-and-twenty yards of good purple, superfine,
marketable cloth in them--with large flowing folds and doubles, and in a
great style of design.--All which plainly shews, may it please your
worships, that the decay of eloquence, and the little good service it does
at present, both within and without doors, is owing to nothing else in the
world, but short coats, and the disuse of trunk-hose.--We can conceal
nothing under ours, Madam, worth shewing.

Chapter 2.VIII.

Dr. Slop was within an ace of being an exception to all this argumentation:
for happening to have his green baize bag upon his knees, when he began to
parody my uncle Toby--'twas as good as the best mantle in the world to him:
for which purpose, when he foresaw the sentence would end in his new-
invented forceps, he thrust his hand into the bag in order to have them
ready to clap in, when your reverences took so much notice of the. . .,
which had he managed--my uncle Toby had certainly been overthrown: the
sentence and the argument in that case jumping closely in one point, so
like the two lines which form the salient angle of a ravelin,--Dr. Slop
would never have given them up;--and my uncle Toby would as soon have
thought of flying, as taking them by force: but Dr. Slop fumbled so vilely
in pulling them out, it took off the whole effect, and what was a ten times
worse evil (for they seldom come alone in this life) in pulling out his
forceps, his forceps unfortunately drew out the squirt along with it.

When a proposition can be taken in two senses--'tis a law in disputation,
That the respondent may reply to which of the two he pleases, or finds most
convenient for him.--This threw the advantage of the argument quite on my
uncle Toby's side.--'Good God!' cried my uncle Toby, 'are children brought
into the world with a squirt?'

Chapter 2.IX.

--Upon my honour, Sir, you have tore every bit of skin quite off the back
of both my hands with your forceps, cried my uncle Toby--and you have
crush'd all my knuckles into the bargain with them to a jelly. 'Tis your
own fault, said Dr. Slop--you should have clinch'd your two fists together
into the form of a child's head as I told you, and sat firm.--I did so,
answered my uncle Toby.--Then the points of my forceps have not been
sufficiently arm'd, or the rivet wants closing--or else the cut on my thumb
has made me a little aukward--or possibly--'Tis well, quoth my father,
interrupting the detail of possibilities--that the experiment was not first
made upon my child's head-piece.--It would not have been a cherry-stone the
worse, answered Dr. Slop.--I maintain it, said my uncle Toby, it would have
broke the cerebellum (unless indeed the skull had been as hard as a
granado) and turn'd it all into a perfect posset.--Pshaw! replied Dr. Slop,
a child's head is naturally as soft as the pap of an apple;--the sutures
give way--and besides, I could have extracted by the feet after.--Not you,
said she.--I rather wish you would begin that way, quoth my father.

Pray do, added my uncle Toby.

Chapter 2.X.

--And pray, good woman, after all, will you take upon you to say, it may
not be the child's hip, as well as the child's head?--'Tis most certainly
the head, replied the midwife. Because, continued Dr. Slop (turning to my
father) as positive as these old ladies generally are--'tis a point very
difficult to know--and yet of the greatest consequence to be known;--
because, Sir, if the hip is mistaken for the head--there is a possibility
(if it is a boy) that the forceps. . ..

--What the possibility was, Dr. Slop whispered very low to my father, and
then to my uncle Toby.--There is no such danger, continued he, with the
head.--No, in truth quoth my father--but when your possibility has taken
place at the hip--you may as well take off the head too.

--It is morally impossible the reader should understand this--'tis enough
Dr. Slop understood it;--so taking the green baize bag in his hand, with
the help of Obadiah's pumps, he tripp'd pretty nimbly, for a man of his
size, across the room to the door--and from the door was shewn the way, by
the good old midwife, to my mother's apartments.

Chapter 2.XI.

It is two hours, and ten minutes--and no more--cried my father, looking at
his watch, since Dr. Slop and Obadiah arrived--and I know not how it
happens, Brother Toby--but to my imagination it seems almost an age.

--Here--pray, Sir, take hold of my cap--nay, take the bell along with it,
and my pantoufles too.

Now, Sir, they are all at your service; and I freely make you a present of
'em, on condition you give me all your attention to this chapter.

Though my father said, 'he knew not how it happen'd,'--yet he knew very
well how it happen'd;--and at the instant he spoke it, was pre-determined
in his mind to give my uncle Toby a clear account of the matter by a
metaphysical dissertation upon the subject of duration and its simple
modes, in order to shew my uncle Toby by what mechanism and mensurations in
the brain it came to pass, that the rapid succession of their ideas, and
the eternal scampering of the discourse from one thing to another, since
Dr. Slop had come into the room, had lengthened out so short a period to so
inconceivable an extent.--'I know not how it happens--cried my father,--but
it seems an age.'

--'Tis owing entirely, quoth my uncle Toby, to the succession of our ideas.

My father, who had an itch, in common with all philosophers, of reasoning
upon every thing which happened, and accounting for it too--proposed
infinite pleasure to himself in this, of the succession of ideas, and had
not the least apprehension of having it snatch'd out of his hands by my
uncle Toby, who (honest man!) generally took every thing as it happened;--
and who, of all things in the world, troubled his brain the least with
abstruse thinking;--the ideas of time and space--or how we came by those
ideas--or of what stuff they were made--or whether they were born with us--
or we picked them up afterwards as we went along--or whether we did it in
frocks--or not till we had got into breeches--with a thousand other
inquiries and disputes about Infinity Prescience, Liberty, Necessity, and
so forth, upon whose desperate and unconquerable theories so many fine
heads have been turned and cracked--never did my uncle Toby's the least
injury at all; my father knew it--and was no less surprized than he was
disappointed, with my uncle's fortuitous solution.

Do you understand the theory of that affair? replied my father.

Not I, quoth my uncle.

--But you have some ideas, said my father, of what you talk about?

No more than my horse, replied my uncle Toby.

Gracious heaven! cried my father, looking upwards, and clasping his two
hands together--there is a worth in thy honest ignorance, brother Toby--
'twere almost a pity to exchange it for a knowledge.--But I'll tell thee.--

To understand what time is aright, without which we never can comprehend
infinity, insomuch as one is a portion of the other--we ought seriously to
sit down and consider what idea it is we have of duration, so as to give a
satisfactory account how we came by it.--What is that to any body? quoth my
uncle Toby. (Vide Locke.) For if you will turn your eyes inwards upon
your mind, continued my father, and observe attentively, you will perceive,
brother, that whilst you and I are talking together, and thinking, and
smoking our pipes, or whilst we receive successively ideas in our minds, we
know that we do exist, and so we estimate the existence, or the
continuation of the existence of ourselves, or any thing else, commensurate
to the succession of any ideas in our minds, the duration of ourselves, or
any such other thing co-existing with our thinking--and so according to
that preconceived--You puzzle me to death, cried my uncle Toby.

--'Tis owing to this, replied my father, that in our computations of time,
we are so used to minutes, hours, weeks, and months--and of clocks (I wish
there was not a clock in the kingdom) to measure out their several portions
to us, and to those who belong to us--that 'twill be well, if in time to
come, the succession of our ideas be of any use or service to us at all.

Now, whether we observe it or no, continued my father, in every sound man's
head, there is a regular succession of ideas of one sort or other, which
follow each other in train just like--A train of artillery? said my uncle
Toby--A train of a fiddle-stick!--quoth my father--which follow and succeed
one another in our minds at certain distances, just like the images in the
inside of a lanthorn turned round by the heat of a candle.--I declare,
quoth my uncle Toby, mine are more like a smoke-jack,--Then, brother Toby,
I have nothing more to say to you upon that subject, said my father.

Chapter 2.XII.

--What a conjuncture was here lost!--My father in one of his best
explanatory moods--in eager pursuit of a metaphysical point into the very
regions, where clouds and thick darkness would soon have encompassed it
about;--my uncle Toby in one of the finest dispositions for it in the
world;--his head like a smoke-jack;--the funnel unswept, and the ideas
whirling round and round about in it, all obfuscated and darkened over with
fuliginous matter!--By the tomb-stone of Lucian--if it is in being--if not,
why then by his ashes! by the ashes of my dear Rabelais, and dearer
Cervantes!--my father and my uncle Toby's discourse upon Time and Eternity-
-was a discourse devoutly to be wished for! and the petulancy of my
father's humour, in putting a stop to it as he did, was a robbery of the
Ontologic Treasury of such a jewel, as no coalition of great occasions and
great men are ever likely to restore to it again.

Chapter 2.XIII.

Tho' my father persisted in not going on with the discourse--yet he could
not get my uncle Toby's smoke-jack out of his head--piqued as he was at
first with it;--there was something in the comparison at the bottom, which
hit his fancy; for which purpose, resting his elbow upon the table, and
reclining the right side of his head upon the palm of his hand--but looking
first stedfastly in the fire--he began to commune with himself, and
philosophize about it: but his spirits being wore out with the fatigues of
investigating new tracts, and the constant exertion of his faculties upon
that variety of subjects which had taken their turn in the discourse--the
idea of the smoke jack soon turned all his ideas upside down--so that he
fell asleep almost before he knew what he was about.

As for my uncle Toby, his smoke-jack had not made a dozen revolutions,
before he fell asleep also.--Peace be with them both!--Dr. Slop is engaged
with the midwife and my mother above stairs.--Trim is busy in turning an
old pair of jack-boots into a couple of mortars, to be employed in the
siege of Messina next summer--and is this instant boring the touch-holes
with the point of a hot poker.--All my heroes are off my hands;--'tis the
first time I have had a moment to spare--and I'll make use of it, and write
my preface.

The Author's Preface

No, I'll not say a word about it--here it is;--in publishing it--I have
appealed to the world--and to the world I leave it;--it must speak for

All I know of the matter is--when I sat down, my intent was to write a good
book; and as far as the tenuity of my understanding would hold out--a wise,
aye, and a discreet--taking care only, as I went along, to put into it all
the wit and the judgment (be it more or less) which the great Author and
Bestower of them had thought fit originally to give me--so that, as your
worships see--'tis just as God pleases.

Now, Agalastes (speaking dispraisingly) sayeth, That there may be some wit
in it, for aught he knows--but no judgment at all. And Triptolemus and
Phutatorius agreeing thereto, ask, How is it possible there should? for
that wit and judgment in this world never go together; inasmuch as they are
two operations differing from each other as wide as east from west--So,
says Locke--so are farting and hickuping, say I. But in answer to this,
Didius the great church lawyer, in his code de fartendi et illustrandi
fallaciis, doth maintain and make fully appear, That an illustration is no
argument--nor do I maintain the wiping of a looking-glass clean to be a
syllogism;--but you all, may it please your worships, see the better for
it--so that the main good these things do is only to clarify the
understanding, previous to the application of the argument itself, in order
to free it from any little motes, or specks of opacular matter, which, if
left swimming therein, might hinder a conception and spoil all.

Now, my dear anti-Shandeans, and thrice able criticks, and fellow-labourers
(for to you I write this Preface)--and to you, most subtle statesmen and
discreet doctors (do--pull off your beards) renowned for gravity and
wisdom;--Monopolus, my politician--Didius, my counsel; Kysarcius, my
friend;--Phutatorius, my guide;--Gastripheres, the preserver of my life;
Somnolentius, the balm and repose of it--not forgetting all others, as well
sleeping as waking, ecclesiastical as civil, whom for brevity, but out of
no resentment to you, I lump all together.--Believe me, right worthy,

My most zealous wish and fervent prayer in your behalf, and in my own too,
in case the thing is not done already for us--is, that the great gifts and
endowments both of wit and judgment, with every thing which usually goes
along with them--such as memory, fancy, genius, eloquence, quick parts, and
what not, may this precious moment, without stint or measure, let or
hindrance, be poured down warm as each of us could bear it--scum and
sediment and all (for I would not have a drop lost) into the several
receptacles, cells, cellules, domiciles, dormitories, refectories, and
spare places of our brains--in such sort, that they might continue to be
injected and tunn'd into, according to the true intent and meaning of my
wish, until every vessel of them, both great and small, be so replenish'd,
saturated, and filled up therewith, that no more, would it save a man's
life, could possibly be got either in or out.

Bless us!--what noble work we should make!--how should I tickle it off!--
and what spirits should I find myself in, to be writing away for such
readers!--and you--just heaven!--with what raptures would you sit and read-
-but oh!--'tis too much--I am sick--I faint away deliciously at the
thoughts of it--'tis more than nature can bear!--lay hold of me--I am
giddy--I am stone blind--I'm dying--I am gone.--Help! Help! Help!--But
hold--I grow something better again, for I am beginning to foresee, when
this is over, that as we shall all of us continue to be great wits--we
should never agree amongst ourselves, one day to an end:--there would be so
much satire and sarcasm--scoffing and flouting, with raillying and
reparteeing of it--thrusting and parrying in one corner or another--there
would be nothing but mischief among us--Chaste stars! what biting and
scratching, and what a racket and a clatter we should make, what with
breaking of heads, rapping of knuckles, and hitting of sore places--there
would be no such thing as living for us.

But then again, as we should all of us be men of great judgment, we should
make up matters as fast as ever they went wrong; and though we should
abominate each other ten times worse than so many devils or devilesses, we
should nevertheless, my dear creatures, be all courtesy and kindness, milk
and honey--'twould be a second land of promise--a paradise upon earth, if
there was such a thing to be had--so that upon the whole we should have
done well enough.

All I fret and fume at, and what most distresses my invention at present,
is how to bring the point itself to bear; for as your worships well know,
that of these heavenly emanations of wit and judgment, which I have so
bountifully wished both for your worships and myself--there is but a
certain quantum stored up for us all, for the use and behoof of the whole
race of mankind; and such small modicums of 'em are only sent forth into
this wide world, circulating here and there in one bye corner or another--
and in such narrow streams, and at such prodigious intervals from each
other, that one would wonder how it holds out, or could be sufficient for
the wants and emergencies of so many great estates, and populous empires.

Indeed there is one thing to be considered, that in Nova Zembla, North
Lapland, and in all those cold and dreary tracks of the globe, which lie
more directly under the arctick and antartick circles, where the whole
province of a man's concernments lies for near nine months together within
the narrow compass of his cave--where the spirits are compressed almost to
nothing--and where the passions of a man, with every thing which belongs to
them, are as frigid as the zone itself--there the least quantity of
judgment imaginable does the business--and of wit--there is a total and an
absolute saving--for as not one spark is wanted--so not one spark is given.
Angels and ministers of grace defend us! what a dismal thing would it have
been to have governed a kingdom, to have fought a battle, or made a treaty,
or run a match, or wrote a book, or got a child, or held a provincial
chapter there, with so plentiful a lack of wit and judgment about us! For
mercy's sake, let us think no more about it, but travel on as fast as we
can southwards into Norway--crossing over Swedeland, if you please, through
the small triangular province of Angermania to the lake of Bothmia;
coasting along it through east and west Bothnia, down to Carelia, and so
on, through all those states and provinces which border upon the far side
of the Gulf of Finland, and the north-east of the Baltick, up to
Petersbourg, and just stepping into Ingria;--then stretching over directly
from thence through the north parts of the Russian empire--leaving Siberia
a little upon the left hand, till we got into the very heart of Russian and
Asiatick Tartary.

Now through this long tour which I have led you, you observe the good
people are better off by far, than in the polar countries which we have
just left:--for if you hold your hand over your eyes, and look very
attentively, you may perceive some small glimmerings (as it were) of wit,
with a comfortable provision of good plain houshold judgment, which, taking
the quality and quantity of it together, they make a very good shift with--
and had they more of either the one or the other, it would destroy the
proper balance betwixt them, and I am satisfied moreover they would want
occasions to put them to use.

Now, Sir, if I conduct you home again into this warmer and more luxuriant
island, where you perceive the spring-tide of our blood and humours runs
high--where we have more ambition, and pride, and envy, and lechery, and
other whoreson passions upon our hands to govern and subject to reason--the
height of our wit, and the depth of our judgment, you see, are exactly
proportioned to the length and breadth of our necessities--and accordingly
we have them sent down amongst us in such a flowing kind of decent and
creditable plenty, that no one thinks he has any cause to complain.

It must however be confessed on this head, that, as our air blows hot and
cold--wet and dry, ten times in a day, we have them in no regular and
settled way;--so that sometimes for near half a century together, there
shall be very little wit or judgment either to be seen or heard of amongst
us:--the small channels of them shall seem quite dried up--then all of a
sudden the sluices shall break out, and take a fit of running again like
fury--you would think they would never stop:--and then it is, that in
writing, and fighting, and twenty other gallant things, we drive all the
world before us.

It is by these observations, and a wary reasoning by analogy in that kind
of argumentative process, which Suidas calls dialectick induction--that I
draw and set up this position as most true and veritable;

That of these two luminaries so much of their irradiations are suffered
from time to time to shine down upon us, as he, whose infinite wisdom which
dispenses every thing in exact weight and measure, knows will just serve to
light us on our way in this night of our obscurity; so that your reverences
and worships now find out, nor is it a moment longer in my power to conceal
it from you, That the fervent wish in your behalf with which I set out, was
no more than the first insinuating How d'ye of a caressing prefacer,
stifling his reader, as a lover sometimes does a coy mistress, into
silence. For alas! could this effusion of light have been as easily
procured, as the exordium wished it--I tremble to think how many thousands
for it, of benighted travellers (in the learned sciences at least) must
have groped and blundered on in the dark, all the nights of their lives--
running their heads against posts, and knocking out their brains without
ever getting to their journies end;--some falling with their noses
perpendicularly into sinks--others horizontally with their tails into
kennels. Here one half of a learned profession tilting full but against
the other half of it, and then tumbling and rolling one over the other in
the dirt like hogs.--Here the brethren of another profession, who should
have run in opposition to each other, flying on the contrary like a flock
of wild geese, all in a row the same way.--What confusion!--what mistakes!-
-fiddlers and painters judging by their eyes and ears--admirable!--trusting
to the passions excited--in an air sung, or a story painted to the heart--
instead of measuring them by a quadrant.

In the fore-ground of this picture, a statesman turning the political
wheel, like a brute, the wrong way round--against the stream of corruption-
-by Heaven!--instead of with it.

In this corner, a son of the divine Esculapius, writing a book against
predestination; perhaps worse--feeling his patient's pulse, instead of his
apothecary's--a brother of the Faculty in the back-ground upon his knees in
tears--drawing the curtains of a mangled victim to beg his forgiveness;--
offering a fee--instead of taking one.

In that spacious Hall, a coalition of the gown, from all the bars of it,
driving a damn'd, dirty, vexatious cause before them, with all their might
and main, the wrong way!--kicking it out of the great doors, instead of,
in--and with such fury in their looks, and such a degree of inveteracy in
their manner of kicking it, as if the laws had been originally made for the
peace and preservation of mankind:--perhaps a more enormous mistake
committed by them still--a litigated point fairly hung up;--for instance,
Whether John o'Nokes his nose could stand in Tom o'Stiles his face, without
a trespass, or not--rashly determined by them in five-and-twenty minutes,
which, with the cautious pros and cons required in so intricate a
proceeding, might have taken up as many months--and if carried on upon a
military plan, as your honours know an Action should be, with all the
stratagems practicable therein,--such as feints,--forced marches,--
surprizes--ambuscades--mask-batteries, and a thousand other strokes of
generalship, which consist in catching at all advantages on both sides--
might reasonably have lasted them as many years, finding food and raiment
all that term for a centumvirate of the profession.

As for the Clergy--No--if I say a word against them, I'll be shot.--I have
no desire; and besides, if I had--I durst not for my soul touch upon the
subject--with such weak nerves and spirits, and in the condition I am in at
present, 'twould be as much as my life was worth, to deject and contrist
myself with so bad and melancholy an account--and therefore 'tis safer to
draw a curtain across, and hasten from it, as fast as I can, to the main
and principal point I have undertaken to clear up--and that is, How it
comes to pass, that your men of least wit are reported to be men of most
judgment.--But mark--I say, reported to be--for it is no more, my dear
Sirs, than a report, and which, like twenty others taken up every day upon
trust, I maintain to be a vile and a malicious report into the bargain.

This by the help of the observation already premised, and I hope already
weighed and perpended by your reverences and worships, I shall forthwith
make appear.

I hate set dissertations--and above all things in the world, 'tis one of
the silliest things in one of them, to darken your hypothesis by placing a
number of tall, opake words, one before another, in a right line, betwixt
your own and your reader's conception--when in all likelihood, if you had
looked about, you might have seen something standing, or hanging up, which
would have cleared the point at once--'for what hindrance, hurt, or harm
doth the laudable desire of knowledge bring to any man, if even from a sot,
a pot, a fool, a stool, a winter-mittain, a truckle for a pully, the lid of
a goldsmith's crucible, an oil bottle, an old slipper, or a cane chair?'--I
am this moment sitting upon one. Will you give me leave to illustrate this
affair of wit and judgment, by the two knobs on the top of the back of it?-
-they are fastened on, you see, with two pegs stuck slightly into two
gimlet-holes, and will place what I have to say in so clear a light, as to
let you see through the drift and meaning of my whole preface, as plainly
as if every point and particle of it was made up of sun-beams.

I enter now directly upon the point.

--Here stands wit--and there stands judgment, close beside it, just like
the two knobs I'm speaking of, upon the back of this self-same chair on
which I am sitting.

--You see, they are the highest and most ornamental parts of its frame--as
wit and judgment are of ours--and like them too, indubitably both made and
fitted to go together, in order, as we say in all such cases of duplicated
embellishments--to answer one another.

Now for the sake of an experiment, and for the clearer illustrating this
matter--let us for a moment take off one of these two curious ornaments (I
care not which) from the point or pinnacle of the chair it now stands on--
nay, don't laugh at it,--but did you ever see, in the whole course of your
lives, such a ridiculous business as this has made of it?--Why, 'tis as
miserable a sight as a sow with one ear; and there is just as much sense
and symmetry in the one as in the other:--do--pray, get off your seats only
to take a view of it,--Now would any man who valued his character a straw,
have turned a piece of work out of his hand in such a condition?--nay, lay
your hands upon your hearts, and answer this plain question, Whether this
one single knob, which now stands here like a blockhead by itself, can
serve any purpose upon earth, but to put one in mind of the want of the
other?--and let me farther ask, in case the chair was your own, if you
would not in your consciences think, rather than be as it is, that it would
be ten times better without any knob at all?

Now these two knobs--or top ornaments of the mind of man, which crown the
whole entablature--being, as I said, wit and judgment, which of all others,
as I have proved it, are the most needful--the most priz'd--the most
calamitous to be without, and consequently the hardest to come at--for all
these reasons put together, there is not a mortal among us, so destitute of
a love of good fame or feeding--or so ignorant of what will do him good
therein--who does not wish and stedfastly resolve in his own mind, to be,
or to be thought at least, master of the one or the other, and indeed of
both of them, if the thing seems any way feasible, or likely to be brought
to pass.

Now your graver gentry having little or no kind of chance in aiming at the
one--unless they laid hold of the other,--pray what do you think would
become of them?--Why, Sirs, in spite of all their gravities, they must e'en
have been contented to have gone with their insides naked--this was not to
be borne, but by an effort of philosophy not to be supposed in the case we
are upon--so that no one could well have been angry with them, had they
been satisfied with what little they could have snatched up and secreted
under their cloaks and great perriwigs, had they not raised a hue and cry
at the same time against the lawful owners.

I need not tell your worships, that this was done with so much cunning and
artifice--that the great Locke, who was seldom outwitted by false sounds--
was nevertheless bubbled here. The cry, it seems, was so deep and solemn a
one, and what with the help of great wigs, grave faces, and other
implements of deceit, was rendered so general a one against the poor wits
in this matter, that the philosopher himself was deceived by it--it was his
glory to free the world from the lumber of a thousand vulgar errors;--but
this was not of the number; so that instead of sitting down coolly, as such
a philosopher should have done, to have examined the matter of fact before
he philosophised upon it--on the contrary he took the fact for granted, and
so joined in with the cry, and halloo'd it as boisterously as the rest.

This has been made the Magna Charta of stupidity ever since--but your
reverences plainly see, it has been obtained in such a manner, that the
title to it is not worth a groat:--which by-the-bye is one of the many and
vile impositions which gravity and grave folks have to answer for

As for great wigs, upon which I may be thought to have spoken my mind too
freely--I beg leave to qualify whatever has been unguardedly said to their
dispraise or prejudice, by one general declaration--That I have no
abhorrence whatever, nor do I detest and abjure either great wigs or long
beards, any farther than when I see they are bespoke and let grow on
purpose to carry on this self-same imposture--for any purpose--peace be
with them!--> mark only--I write not for them.

Chapter 2.XIV.

Every day for at least ten years together did my father resolve to have it
mended--'tis not mended yet;--no family but ours would have borne with it
an hour--and what is most astonishing, there was not a subject in the world
upon which my father was so eloquent, as upon that of door-hinges.--And yet
at the same time, he was certainly one of the greatest bubbles to them, I
think, that history can produce: his rhetorick and conduct were at
perpetual handy-cuffs.--Never did the parlour-door open--but his philosophy
or his principles fell a victim to it;--three drops of oil with a feather,
and a smart stroke of a hammer, had saved his honour for ever.

--Inconsistent soul that man is!--languishing under wounds, which he has
the power to heal!--his whole life a contradiction to his knowledge!--his
reason, that precious gift of God to him--(instead of pouring in oil)
serving but to sharpen his sensibilities--to multiply his pains, and render
him more melancholy and uneasy under them!--Poor unhappy creature, that he
should do so!--Are not the necessary causes of misery in this life enow,
but he must add voluntary ones to his stock of sorrow;--struggle against
evils which cannot be avoided, and submit to others, which a tenth part of
the trouble they create him would remove from his heart for ever?

By all that is good and virtuous, if there are three drops of oil to be
got, and a hammer to be found within ten miles of Shandy Hall--the parlour
door hinge shall be mended this reign.

Chapter 2.XV.

When Corporal Trim had brought his two mortars to bear, he was delighted
with his handy-work above measure; and knowing what a pleasure it would be
to his master to see them, he was not able to resist the desire he had of
carrying them directly into his parlour.

Now next to the moral lesson I had in view in mentioning the affair of
hinges, I had a speculative consideration arising out of it, and it is

Had the parlour door opened and turn'd upon its hinges, as a door should

Or for example, as cleverly as our government has been turning upon its
hinges--(that is, in case things have all along gone well with your
worship,--otherwise I give up my simile)--in this case, I say, there had
been no danger either to master or man, in corporal Trim's peeping in: the
moment he had beheld my father and my uncle Toby fast asleep--the
respectfulness of his carriage was such, he would have retired as silent as
death, and left them both in their arm-chairs, dreaming as happy as he had
found them: but the thing was, morally speaking, so very impracticable,
that for the many years in which this hinge was suffered to be out of
order, and amongst the hourly grievances my father submitted to upon its
account--this was one; that he never folded his arms to take his nap after
dinner, but the thoughts of being unavoidably awakened by the first person
who should open the door, was always uppermost in his imagination, and so
incessantly stepp'd in betwixt him and the first balmy presage of his
repose, as to rob him, as he often declared, of the whole sweets of it.

'When things move upon bad hinges, an' please your lordships, how can it be

Pray what's the matter? Who is there? cried my father, waking, the moment
the door began to creak.--I wish the smith would give a peep at that
confounded hinge.--'Tis nothing, an please your honour, said Trim, but two
mortars I am bringing in.--They shan't make a clatter with them here, cried
my father hastily.--If Dr. Slop has any drugs to pound, let him do it in
the kitchen.--May it please your honour, cried Trim, they are two mortar-
pieces for a siege next summer, which I have been making out of a pair of
jack-boots, which Obadiah told me your honour had left off wearing.--By
Heaven! cried my father, springing out of his chair, as he swore--I have
not one appointment belonging to me, which I set so much store by as I do
by these jack-boots--they were our great grandfather's brother Toby--they
were hereditary. Then I fear, quoth my uncle Toby, Trim has cut off the
entail.--I have only cut off the tops, an' please your honour, cried Trim--
I hate perpetuities as much as any man alive, cried my father--but these
jack-boots, continued he (smiling, though very angry at the same time) have
been in the family, brother, ever since the civil wars;--Sir Roger Shandy
wore them at the battle of Marston-Moor.--I declare I would not have taken
ten pounds for them.--I'll pay you the money, brother Shandy, quoth my
uncle Toby, looking at the two mortars with infinite pleasure, and putting
his hand into his breeches pocket as he viewed them--I'll pay you the ten
pounds this moment with all my heart and soul.--

Brother Toby, replied my father, altering his tone, you care not what money
you dissipate and throw away, provided, continued he, 'tis but upon a
Siege.--Have I not one hundred and twenty pounds a year, besides my half
pay? cried my uncle Toby.--What is that--replied my father hastily--to ten
pounds for a pair of jack-boots?--twelve guineas for your pontoons?--half
as much for your Dutch draw-bridge?--to say nothing of the train of little
brass artillery you bespoke last week, with twenty other preparations for
the siege of Messina: believe me, dear brother Toby, continued my father,
taking him kindly by the hand--these military operations of yours are above
your strength;--you mean well brother--but they carry you into greater
expences than you were first aware of;--and take my word, dear Toby, they
will in the end quite ruin your fortune, and make a beggar of you.--What
signifies it if they do, brother, replied my uncle Toby, so long as we know
'tis for the good of the nation?--

My father could not help smiling for his soul--his anger at the worst was
never more than a spark;--and the zeal and simplicity of Trim--and the
generous (though hobby-horsical) gallantry of my uncle Toby, brought him
into perfect good humour with them in an instant.

Generous souls!--God prosper you both, and your mortar-pieces too! quoth my
father to himself.

Chapter 2.XVI.

All is quiet and hush, cried my father, at least above stairs--I hear not
one foot stirring.--Prithee Trim, who's in the kitchen? There is no one
soul in the kitchen, answered Trim, making a low bow as he spoke, except
Dr. Slop.--Confusion! cried my father (getting upon his legs a second
time)--not one single thing has gone right this day! had I faith in
astrology, brother, (which, by the bye, my father had) I would have sworn
some retrograde planet was hanging over this unfortunate house of mine, and
turning every individual thing in it out of its place.--Why, I thought Dr.
Slop had been above stairs with my wife, and so said you.--What can the
fellow be puzzling about in the kitchen!--He is busy, an' please your
honour, replied Trim, in making a bridge.--'Tis very obliging in him, quoth
my uncle Toby:--pray, give my humble service to Dr. Slop, Trim, and tell
him I thank him heartily.

You must know, my uncle Toby mistook the bridge--as widely as my father
mistook the mortars:--but to understand how my uncle Toby could mistake the
bridge--I fear I must give you an exact account of the road which led to
it;--or to drop my metaphor (for there is nothing more dishonest in an
historian than the use of one)--in order to conceive the probability of
this error in my uncle Toby aright, I must give you some account of an
adventure of Trim's, though much against my will, I say much against my
will, only because the story, in one sense, is certainly out of its place
here; for by right it should come in, either amongst the anecdotes of my
uncle Toby's amours with widow Wadman, in which corporal Trim was no mean
actor--or else in the middle of his and my uncle Toby's campaigns on the
bowling-green--for it will do very well in either place;--but then if I
reserve it for either of those parts of my story--I ruin the story I'm
upon;--and if I tell it here--I anticipate matters, and ruin it there.

--What would your worship have me to do in this case?

--Tell it, Mr. Shandy, by all means.--You are a fool, Tristram, if you do.

O ye powers! (for powers ye are, and great ones too)--which enable mortal
man to tell a story worth the hearing--that kindly shew him, where he is to
begin it--and where he is to end it--what he is to put into it--and what he
is to leave out--how much of it he is to cast into a shade--and whereabouts
he is to throw his light!--Ye, who preside over this vast empire of
biographical freebooters, and see how many scrapes and plunges your
subjects hourly fall into;--will you do one thing?

I beg and beseech you (in case you will do nothing better for us) that
wherever in any part of your dominions it so falls out, that three several
roads meet in one point, as they have done just here--that at least you set
up a guide-post in the centre of them, in mere charity, to direct an
uncertain devil which of the three he is to take.

Chapter 2.XVII.

Tho' the shock my uncle Toby received the year after the demolition of
Dunkirk, in his affair with widow Wadman, had fixed him in a resolution
never more to think of the sex--or of aught which belonged to it;--yet
corporal Trim had made no such bargain with himself. Indeed in my uncle
Toby's case there was a strange and unaccountable concurrence of
circumstances, which insensibly drew him in, to lay siege to that fair and
strong citadel.--In Trim's case there was a concurrence of nothing in the
world, but of him and Bridget in the kitchen;--though in truth, the love
and veneration he bore his master was such, and so fond was he of imitating
him in all he did, that had my uncle Toby employed his time and genius in
tagging of points--I am persuaded the honest corporal would have laid down
his arms, and followed his example with pleasure. When therefore my uncle
Toby sat down before the mistress--corporal Trim incontinently took ground
before the maid.

Now, my dear friend Garrick, whom I have so much cause to esteem and
honour--(why, or wherefore, 'tis no matter)--can it escape your
penetration--I defy it--that so many play-wrights, and opificers of chit-
chat have ever since been working upon Trim's and my uncle Toby's pattern.-
-I care not what Aristotle, or Pacuvius, or Bossu, or Ricaboni say--(though
I never read one of them)--there is not a greater difference between a
single-horse chair and madam Pompadour's vis-a-vis; than betwixt a single
amour, and an amour thus nobly doubled, and going upon all four, prancing
throughout a grand drama--Sir, a simple, single, silly affair of that kind-
-is quite lost in five acts--but that is neither here nor there.

After a series of attacks and repulses in a course of nine months on my
uncle Toby's quarter, a most minute account of every particular of which
shall be given in its proper place, my uncle Toby, honest man! found it
necessary to draw off his forces and raise the siege somewhat indignantly.

Corporal Trim, as I said, had made no such bargain either with himself--or
with any one else--the fidelity however of his heart not suffering him to
go into a house which his master had forsaken with disgust--he contented
himself with turning his part of the siege into a blockade;--that is, he
kept others off;--for though he never after went to the house, yet he never
met Bridget in the village, but he would either nod or wink, or smile, or
look kindly at her--or (as circumstances directed) he would shake her by
the hand--or ask her lovingly how she did--or would give her a ribbon--and
now-and-then, though never but when it could be done with decorum, would
give Bridget a. . .--

Precisely in this situation, did these things stand for five years; that is
from the demolition of Dunkirk in the year 13, to the latter end of my
uncle Toby's campaign in the year 18, which was about six or seven weeks
before the time I'm speaking of.--When Trim, as his custom was, after he
had put my uncle Toby to bed, going down one moon-shiny night to see that
every thing was right at his fortifications--in the lane separated from the
bowling-green with flowering shrubs and holly--he espied his Bridget.

As the corporal thought there was nothing in the world so well worth
shewing as the glorious works which he and my uncle Toby had made, Trim
courteously and gallantly took her by the hand, and led her in: this was
not done so privately, but that the foul-mouth'd trumpet of Fame carried it
from ear to ear, till at length it reach'd my father's, with this untoward
circumstance along with it, that my uncle Toby's curious draw-bridge,
constructed and painted after the Dutch fashion, and which went quite
across the ditch--was broke down, and somehow or other crushed all to
pieces that very night.

My father, as you have observed, had no great esteem for my uncle Toby's


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