The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Part 4 out of 10
hobby-horse; he thought it the most ridiculous horse that ever gentleman
mounted; and indeed unless my uncle Toby vexed him about it, could never
think of it once, without smiling at it--so that it could never get lame or
happen any mischance, but it tickled my father's imagination beyond
measure; but this being an accident much more to his humour than any one
which had yet befall'n it, it proved an inexhaustible fund of entertainment
to him--Well--but dear Toby! my father would say, do tell me seriously how
this affair of the bridge happened.--How can you teaze me so much about it?
my uncle Toby would reply--I have told it you twenty times, word for word
as Trim told it me.--Prithee, how was it then, corporal? my father would
cry, turning to Trim.--It was a mere misfortune, an' please your honour;--I
was shewing Mrs. Bridget our fortifications, and in going too near the edge
of the fosse, I unfortunately slipp'd in--Very well, Trim! my father would
cry--(smiling mysteriously, and giving a nod--but without interrupting
him)--and being link'd fast, an' please your honour, arm in arm with Mrs.
Bridget, I dragg'd her after me, by means of which she fell backwards soss
against the bridge--and Trim's foot (my uncle Toby would cry, taking the
story out of his mouth) getting into the cuvette, he tumbled full against
the bridge too.--It was a thousand to one, my uncle Toby would add, that
the poor fellow did not break his leg.--Ay truly, my father would say--a
limb is soon broke, brother Toby, in such encounters.--And so, an' please
your honour, the bridge, which your honour knows was a very slight one, was
broke down betwixt us, and splintered all to pieces.
At other times, but especially when my uncle Toby was so unfortunate as to
say a syllable about cannons, bombs, or petards--my father would exhaust
all the stores of his eloquence (which indeed were very great) in a
panegyric upon the Battering-Rams of the ancients--the Vinea which
Alexander made use of at the siege of Troy.--He would tell my uncle Toby of
the Catapultae of the Syrians, which threw such monstrous stones so many
hundred feet, and shook the strongest bulwarks from their very foundation:-
-he would go on and describe the wonderful mechanism of the Ballista which
Marcellinus makes so much rout about!--the terrible effects of the
Pyraboli, which cast fire;--the danger of the Terebra and Scorpio, which
cast javelins.--But what are these, would he say, to the destructive
machinery of corporal Trim?--Believe me, brother Toby, no bridge, or
bastion, or sally-port, that ever was constructed in this world, can hold
out against such artillery.
My uncle Toby would never attempt any defence against the force of this
ridicule, but that of redoubling the vehemence of smoaking his pipe; in
doing which, he raised so dense a vapour one night after supper, that it
set my father, who was a little phthisical, into a suffocating fit of
violent coughing: my uncle Toby leap'd up without feeling the pain upon
his groin--and, with infinite pity, stood beside his brother's chair,
tapping his back with one hand, and holding his head with the other, and
from time to time wiping his eyes with a clean cambrick handkerchief, which
he pulled out of his pocket.--The affectionate and endearing manner in
which my uncle Toby did these little offices--cut my father thro' his
reins, for the pain he had just been giving him.--May my brains be knock'd
out with a battering-ram or a catapulta, I care not which, quoth my father
to himself--if ever I insult this worthy soul more!
The draw-bridge being held irreparable, Trim was ordered directly to set
about another--but not upon the same model: for cardinal Alberoni's
intrigues at that time being discovered, and my uncle Toby rightly
foreseeing that a flame would inevitably break out betwixt Spain and the
Empire, and that the operations of the ensuing campaign must in all
likelihood be either in Naples or Sicily--he determined upon an Italian
bridge--(my uncle Toby, by-the-bye, was not far out of his conjectures)--
but my father, who was infinitely the better politician, and took the lead
as far of my uncle Toby in the cabinet, as my uncle Toby took it of him in
the field--convinced him, that if the king of Spain and the Emperor went
together by the ears, England and France and Holland must, by force of
their pre-engagements, all enter the lists too;--and if so, he would say,
the combatants, brother Toby, as sure as we are alive, will fall to it
again, pell-mell, upon the old prize-fighting stage of Flanders;--then what
will you do with your Italian bridge?
--We will go on with it then upon the old model, cried my uncle Toby.
When corporal Trim had about half finished it in that style--my uncle Toby
found out a capital defect in it, which he had never thoroughly considered
before. It turned, it seems, upon hinges at both ends of it, opening in
the middle, one half of which turning to one side of the fosse, and the
other to the other; the advantage of which was this, that by dividing the
weight of the bridge into two equal portions, it impowered my uncle Toby to
raise it up or let it down with the end of his crutch, and with one hand,
which, as his garrison was weak, was as much as he could well spare--but
the disadvantages of such a construction were insurmountable;--for by this
means, he would say, I leave one half of my bridge in my enemy's
possession--and pray of what use is the other?
The natural remedy for this was, no doubt, to have his bridge fast only at
one end with hinges, so that the whole might be lifted up together, and
stand bolt upright--but that was rejected for the reason given above.
For a whole week after he was determined in his mind to have one of that
particular construction which is made to draw back horizontally, to hinder
a passage; and to thrust forwards again to gain a passage--of which sorts
your worship might have seen three famous ones at Spires before its
destruction--and one now at Brisac, if I mistake not;--but my father
advising my uncle Toby, with great earnestness, to have nothing more to do
with thrusting bridges--and my uncle foreseeing moreover that it would but
perpetuate the memory of the Corporal's misfortune--he changed his mind for
that of the marquis d'Hopital's invention, which the younger Bernouilli has
so well and learnedly described, as your worships may see--Act. Erud. Lips.
an. 1695--to these a lead weight is an eternal balance, and keeps watch as
well as a couple of centinels, inasmuch as the construction of them was a
curve line approximating to a cycloid--if not a cycloid itself.
My uncle Toby understood the nature of a parabola as well as any man in
England--but was not quite such a master of the cycloid;--he talked however
about it every day--the bridge went not forwards.--We'll ask somebody about
it, cried my uncle Toby to Trim.
When Trim came in and told my father, that Dr. Slop was in the kitchen, and
busy in making a bridge--my uncle Toby--the affair of the jack-boots having
just then raised a train of military ideas in his brain--took it instantly
for granted that Dr. Slop was making a model of the marquis d'Hopital's
bridge.--'tis very obliging in him, quoth my uncle Toby;--pray give my
humble service to Dr. Slop, Trim, and tell him I thank him heartily.
Had my uncle Toby's head been a Savoyard's box, and my father peeping in
all the time at one end of it--it could not have given him a more distinct
conception of the operations of my uncle Toby's imagination, than what he
had; so, notwithstanding the catapulta and battering-ram, and his bitter
imprecation about them, he was just beginning to triumph--
When Trim's answer, in an instant, tore the laurel from his brows, and
twisted it to pieces.
--This unfortunate draw-bridge of yours, quoth my father--God bless your
honour, cried Trim, 'tis a bridge for master's nose.--In bringing him into
the world with his vile instruments, he has crushed his nose, Susannah
says, as flat as a pancake to his face, and he is making a false bridge
with a piece of cotton and a thin piece of whalebone out of Susannah's
stays, to raise it up.
--Lead me, brother Toby, cried my father, to my room this instant.
From the first moment I sat down to write my life for the amusement of the
world, and my opinions for its instruction, has a cloud insensibly been
gathering over my father.--A tide of little evils and distresses has been
setting in against him.--Not one thing, as he observed himself, has gone
right: and now is the storm thicken'd and going to break, and pour down
full upon his head.
I enter upon this part of my story in the most pensive and melancholy frame
of mind that ever sympathetic breast was touched with.--My nerves relax as
I tell it.--Every line I write, I feel an abatement of the quickness of my
pulse, and of that careless alacrity with it, which every day of my life
prompts me to say and write a thousand things I should not--And this moment
that I last dipp'd my pen into my ink, I could not help taking notice what
a cautious air of sad composure and solemnity there appear'd in my manner
of doing it.--Lord! how different from the rash jerks and hair-brain'd
squirts thou art wont, Tristram, to transact it with in other humours--
dropping thy pen--spurting thy ink about thy table and thy books--as if thy
pen and thy ink, thy books and furniture cost thee nothing!
--I won't go about to argue the point with you--'tis so--and I am persuaded
of it, madam, as much as can be, 'That both man and woman bear pain or
sorrow (and, for aught I know, pleasure too) best in a horizontal
The moment my father got up into his chamber, he threw himself prostrate
across his bed in the wildest disorder imaginable, but at the same time in
the most lamentable attitude of a man borne down with sorrows, that ever
the eye of pity dropp'd a tear for.--The palm of his right hand, as he fell
upon the bed, receiving his forehead, and covering the greatest part of
both his eyes, gently sunk down with his head (his elbow giving way
backwards) till his nose touch'd the quilt;--his left arm hung insensible
over the side of the bed, his knuckles reclining upon the handle of the
chamber-pot, which peep'd out beyond the valance--his right leg (his left
being drawn up towards his body) hung half over the side of the bed, the
edge of it pressing upon his shin bone--He felt it not. A fix'd,
inflexible sorrow took possession of every line of his face.--He sigh'd
once--heaved his breast often--but uttered not a word.
An old set-stitch'd chair, valanced and fringed around with party coloured
worsted bobs, stood at the bed's head, opposite to the side where my
father's head reclined.--My uncle Toby sat him down in it.
Before an affliction is digested--consolation ever comes too soon;--and
after it is digested--it comes too late: so that you see, madam, there is
but a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to
take aim at:--my uncle Toby was always either on this side, or on that of
it, and would often say, he believed in his heart he could as soon hit the
longitude; for this reason, when he sat down in the chair, he drew the
curtain a little forwards, and having a tear at every one's service--he
pull'd out a cambrick handkerchief--gave a low sigh--but held his peace.
--'All is not gain that is got into the purse.'--So that notwithstanding my
father had the happiness of reading the oddest books in the universe, and
had moreover, in himself, the oddest way of thinking that ever man in it
was bless'd with, yet it had this drawback upon him after all--that it laid
him open to some of the oddest and most whimsical distresses; of which this
particular one, which he sunk under at present, is as strong an example as
can be given.
No doubt, the breaking down of the bridge of a child's nose, by the edge of
a pair of forceps--however scientifically applied--would vex any man in the
world, who was at so much pains in begetting a child, as my father was--yet
it will not account for the extravagance of his affliction, nor will it
justify the un-christian manner he abandoned and surrendered himself up to.
To explain this, I must leave him upon the bed for half an hour--and my
uncle Toby in his old fringed chair sitting beside him.
--I think it a very unreasonable demand--cried my great-grandfather,
twisting up the paper, and throwing it upon the table.--By this account,
madam, you have but two thousand pounds fortune, and not a shilling more--
and you insist upon having three hundred pounds a year jointure for it.--
--'Because,' replied my great-grandmother, 'you have little or no nose,
Now before I venture to make use of the word Nose a second time--to avoid
all confusion in what will be said upon it, in this interesting part of my
story, it may not be amiss to explain my own meaning, and define, with all
possible exactness and precision, what I would willingly be understood to
mean by the term: being of opinion, that 'tis owing to the negligence and
perverseness of writers in despising this precaution, and to nothing else--
that all the polemical writings in divinity are not as clear and
demonstrative as those upon a Will o' the Wisp, or any other sound part of
philosophy, and natural pursuit; in order to which, what have you to do,
before you set out, unless you intend to go puzzling on to the day of
judgment--but to give the world a good definition, and stand to it, of the
main word you have most occasion for--changing it, Sir, as you would a
guinea, into small coin?--which done--let the father of confusion puzzle
you, if he can; or put a different idea either into your head, or your
reader's head, if he knows how.
In books of strict morality and close reasoning, such as I am engaged in--
the neglect is inexcusable; and Heaven is witness, how the world has
revenged itself upon me for leaving so many openings to equivocal
strictures--and for depending so much as I have done, all along, upon the
cleanliness of my readers imaginations.
--Here are two senses, cried Eugenius, as we walk'd along, pointing with
the fore finger of his right hand to the word Crevice, in the one hundred
and seventy-eighth page of the first volume of this book of books,--here
are two senses--quoth he.--And here are two roads, replied I, turning short
upon him--a dirty and a clean one--which shall we take?--The clean, by all
means, replied Eugenius. Eugenius, said I, stepping before him, and laying
my hand upon his breast--to define--is to distrust.--Thus I triumph'd over
Eugenius; but I triumph'd over him as I always do, like a fool.--'Tis my
comfort, however, I am not an obstinate one: therefore
I define a nose as follows--intreating only beforehand, and beseeching my
readers, both male and female, of what age, complexion, and condition
soever, for the love of God and their own souls, to guard against the
temptations and suggestions of the devil, and suffer him by no art or wile
to put any other ideas into their minds, than what I put into my
definition--For by the word Nose, throughout all this long chapter of
noses, and in every other part of my work, where the word Nose occurs--I
declare, by that word I mean a nose, and nothing more, or less.
--'Because,' quoth my great grandmother, repeating the words again--'you
have little or no nose, Sir.'--
S'death! cried my great-grandfather, clapping his hand upon his nose,--'tis
not so small as that comes to;--'tis a full inch longer than my father's.--
Now, my great-grandfather's nose was for all the world like unto the noses
of all the men, women, and children, whom Pantagruel found dwelling upon
the island of Ennasin.--By the way, if you would know the strange way of
getting a-kin amongst so flat-nosed a people--you must read the book;--find
it out yourself, you never can.--
--'Twas shaped, Sir, like an ace of clubs.
--'Tis a full inch, continued my grandfather, pressing up the ridge of his
nose with his finger and thumb; and repeating his assertion--'tis a full
inch longer, madam, than my father's--You must mean your uncle's, replied
--My great-grandfather was convinced.--He untwisted the paper, and signed
--What an unconscionable jointure, my dear, do we pay out of this small
estate of ours, quoth my grandmother to my grandfather.
My father, replied my grandfather, had no more nose, my dear, saving the
mark, than there is upon the back of my hand.
--Now, you must know, that my great-grandmother outlived my grandfather
twelve years; so that my father had the jointure to pay, a hundred and
fifty pounds half-yearly--(on Michaelmas and Lady-day,)--during all that
No man discharged pecuniary obligations with a better grace than my
father.--And as far as a hundred pounds went, he would fling it upon the
table, guinea by guinea, with that spirited jerk of an honest welcome,
which generous souls, and generous souls only, are able to fling down
money: but as soon as ever he enter'd upon the odd fifty--he generally
gave a loud Hem! rubb'd the side of his nose leisurely with the flat part
of his fore finger--inserted his hand cautiously betwixt his head and the
cawl of his wig--look'd at both sides of every guinea as he parted with it-
-and seldom could get to the end of the fifty pounds, without pulling out
his handkerchief, and wiping his temples.
Defend me, gracious Heaven! from those persecuting spirits who make no
allowances for these workings within us.--Never--O never may I lay down in
their tents, who cannot relax the engine, and feel pity for the force of
education, and the prevalence of opinions long derived from ancestors!
For three generations at least this tenet in favour of long noses had
gradually been taking root in our family.--Tradition was all along on its
side, and Interest was every half-year stepping in to strengthen it; so
that the whimsicality of my father's brain was far from having the whole
honour of this, as it had of almost all his other strange notions.--For in
a great measure he might be said to have suck'd this in with his mother's
milk. He did his part however.--If education planted the mistake (in case
it was one) my father watered it, and ripened it to perfection.
He would often declare, in speaking his thoughts upon the subject, that he
did not conceive how the greatest family in England could stand it out
against an uninterrupted succession of six or seven short noses.--And for
the contrary reason, he would generally add, That it must be one of the
greatest problems in civil life, where the same number of long and jolly
noses, following one another in a direct line, did not raise and hoist it
up into the best vacancies in the kingdom.--He would often boast that the
Shandy family rank'd very high in king Harry the VIIIth's time, but owed
its rise to no state engine--he would say--but to that only;--but that,
like other families, he would add--it had felt the turn of the wheel, and
had never recovered the blow of my great-grandfather's nose.--It was an ace
of clubs indeed, he would cry, shaking his head--and as vile a one for an
unfortunate family as ever turn'd up trumps.
--Fair and softly, gentle reader!--where is thy fancy carrying thee!--If
there is truth in man, by my great-grandfather's nose, I mean the external
organ of smelling, or that part of man which stands prominent in his face--
and which painters say, in good jolly noses and well-proportioned faces,
should comprehend a full third--that is, measured downwards from the
setting on of the hair.
--What a life of it has an author, at this pass!
It is a singular blessing, that nature has form'd the mind of man with the
same happy backwardness and renitency against conviction, which is observed
in old dogs--'of not learning new tricks.'
What a shuttlecock of a fellow would the greatest philosopher that ever
existed be whisk'd into at once, did he read such books, and observe such
facts, and think such thoughts, as would eternally be making him change
Now, my father, as I told you last year, detested all this--He pick'd up an
opinion, Sir, as a man in a state of nature picks up an apple.--It becomes
his own--and if he is a man of spirit, he would lose his life rather than
give it up.
I am aware that Didius, the great civilian, will contest this point; and
cry out against me, Whence comes this man's right to this apple? ex
confesso, he will say--things were in a state of nature--The apple, is as
much Frank's apple as John's. Pray, Mr. Shandy, what patent has he to shew
for it? and how did it begin to be his? was it, when he set his heart upon
it? or when he gathered it? or when he chew'd it? or when he roasted it? or
when he peel'd, or when he brought it home? or when he digested?--or when
he--?--For 'tis plain, Sir, if the first picking up of the apple, made it
not his--that no subsequent act could.
Brother Didius, Tribonius will answer--(now Tribonius the civilian and
church lawyer's beard being three inches and a half and three eighths
longer than Didius his beard--I'm glad he takes up the cudgels for me, so I
give myself no farther trouble about the answer.)--Brother Didius,
Tribonius will say, it is a decreed case, as you may find it in the
fragments of Gregorius and Hermogines's codes, and in all the codes from
Justinian's down to the codes of Louis and Des Eaux--That the sweat of a
man's brows, and the exsudations of a man's brains, are as much a man's own
property as the breeches upon his backside;--which said exsudations, &c.
being dropp'd upon the said apple by the labour of finding it, and picking
it up; and being moreover indissolubly wasted, and as indissolubly annex'd,
by the picker up, to the thing pick'd up, carried home, roasted, peel'd,
eaten, digested, and so on;--'tis evident that the gatherer of the apple,
in so doing, has mix'd up something which was his own, with the apple which
was not his own, by which means he has acquired a property;--or, in other
words, the apple is John's apple.
By the same learned chain of reasoning my father stood up for all his
opinions; he had spared no pains in picking them up, and the more they lay
out of the common way, the better still was his title.--No mortal claimed
them; they had cost him moreover as much labour in cooking and digesting as
in the case above, so that they might well and truly be said to be of his
own goods and chattels.--Accordingly he held fast by 'em, both by teeth and
claws--would fly to whatever he could lay his hands on--and, in a word,
would intrench and fortify them round with as many circumvallations and
breast-works, as my uncle Toby would a citadel.
There was one plaguy rub in the way of this--the scarcity of materials to
make any thing of a defence with, in case of a smart attack; inasmuch as
few men of great genius had exercised their parts in writing books upon the
subject of great noses: by the trotting of my lean horse, the thing is
incredible! and I am quite lost in my understanding, when I am considering
what a treasure of precious time and talents together has been wasted upon
worse subjects--and how many millions of books in all languages and in all
possible types and bindings, have been fabricated upon points not half so
much tending to the unity and peace-making of the world. What was to be
had, however, he set the greater store by; and though my father would oft-
times sport with my uncle Toby's library--which, by-the-bye, was ridiculous
enough--yet at the very same time he did it, he collected every book and
treatise which had been systematically wrote upon noses, with as much care
as my honest uncle Toby had done those upon military architecture.--'Tis
true, a much less table would have held them--but that was not thy
transgression, my dear uncle.--
Here--but why here--rather than in any other part of my story--I am not
able to tell:--but here it is--my heart stops me to pay to thee, my dear
uncle Toby, once for all, the tribute I owe thy goodness.--Here let me
thrust my chair aside, and kneel down upon the ground, whilst I am pouring
forth the warmest sentiment of love for thee, and veneration for the
excellency of thy character, that ever virtue and nature kindled in a
nephew's bosom.--Peace and comfort rest for evermore upon thy head!--Thou
enviedst no man's comforts--insultedst no man's opinions--Thou blackenedst
no man's character--devouredst no man's bread: gently, with faithful Trim
behind thee, didst thou amble round the little circle of thy pleasures,
jostling no creature in thy way:--for each one's sorrows, thou hadst a
tear,--for each man's need, thou hadst a shilling.
Whilst I am worth one, to pay a weeder--thy path from thy door to thy
bowling-green shall never be grown up.--Whilst there is a rood and a half
of land in the Shandy family, thy fortifications, my dear uncle Toby, shall
never be demolish'd.
My father's collection was not great, but to make amends, it was curious;
and consequently he was some time in making it; he had the great good
fortune hewever, to set off well, in getting Bruscambille's prologue upon
long noses, almost for nothing--for he gave no more for Bruscambille than
three half-crowns; owing indeed to the strong fancy which the stall-man saw
my father had for the book the moment he laid his hands upon it.--There are
not three Bruscambilles in Christendom--said the stall-man, except what are
chain'd up in the libraries of the curious. My father flung down the money
as quick as lightning--took Bruscambille into his bosom--hied home from
Piccadilly to Coleman-street with it, as he would have hied home with a
treasure, without taking his hand once off from Bruscambille all the way.
To those who do not yet know of which gender Bruscambille is--inasmuch as a
prologue upon long noses might easily be done by either--'twill be no
objection against the simile--to say, That when my father got home, he
solaced himself with Bruscambille after the manner in which, 'tis ten to
one, your worship solaced yourself with your first mistress--that is, from
morning even unto night: which, by-the-bye, how delightful soever it may
prove to the inamorato--is of little or no entertainment at all to by-
standers.--Take notice, I go no farther with the simile--my father's eye
was greater than his appetite--his zeal greater than his knowledge--he
cool'd--his affections became divided--he got hold of Prignitz--purchased
Scroderus, Andrea Paraeus, Bouchet's Evening Conferences, and above all,
the great and learned Hafen Slawkenbergius; of which, as I shall have much
to say by-and-bye--I will say nothing now.
Of all the tracts my father was at the pains to procure and study in
support of his hypothesis, there was not any one wherein he felt a more
cruel disappointment at first, than in the celebrated dialogue between
Pamphagus and Cocles, written by the chaste pen of the great and venerable
Erasmus, upon the various uses and seasonable applications of long noses.--
Now don't let Satan, my dear girl, in this chapter, take advantage of any
one spot of rising ground to get astride of your imagination, if you can
any ways help it; or if he is so nimble as to slip on--let me beg of you,
like an unback'd filly, to frisk it, to squirt it, to jump it, to rear it,
to bound it--and to kick it, with long kicks and short kicks, till like
Tickletoby's mare, you break a strap or a crupper, and throw his worship
into the dirt.--You need not kill him.--
--And pray who was Tickletoby's mare?--'tis just as discreditable and
unscholar-like a question, Sir, as to have asked what year (ab. urb. con.)
the second Punic war broke out.--Who was Tickletoby's mare!--Read, read,
read, read, my unlearned reader! read--or by the knowledge of the great
saint Paraleipomenon--I tell you before-hand, you had better throw down the
book at once; for without much reading, by which your reverence knows I
mean much knowledge, you will no more be able to penetrate the moral of the
next marbled page (motley emblem of my work!) than the world with all its
sagacity has been able to unravel the many opinions, transactions, and
truths which still lie mystically hid under the dark veil of the black one.
(two marble plates)
'Nihil me paenitet hujus nasi,' quoth Pamphagus;--that is--'My nose has
been the making of me.'--'Nec est cur poeniteat,' replies Cocles; that is,
'How the duce should such a nose fail?'
The doctrine, you see, was laid down by Erasmus, as my father wished it,
with the utmost plainness; but my father's disappointment was, in finding
nothing more from so able a pen, but the bare fact itself; without any of
that speculative subtilty or ambidexterity of argumentation upon it, which
Heaven had bestow'd upon man on purpose to investigate truth, and fight for
her on all sides.--My father pish'd and pugh'd at first most terribly--'tis
worth something to have a good name. As the dialogue was of Erasmus, my
father soon came to himself, and read it over and over again with great
application, studying every word and every syllable of it thro' and thro'
in its most strict and literal interpretation--he could still make nothing
of it, that way. Mayhap there is more meant, than is said in it, quoth my
father.--Learned men, brother Toby, don't write dialogues upon long noses
for nothing.--I'll study the mystick and the allegorick sense--here is some
room to turn a man's self in, brother.
My father read on.--
Now I find it needful to inform your reverences and worships, that besides
the many nautical uses of long noses enumerated by Erasmus, the dialogist
affirmeth that a long nose is not without its domestic conveniences also;
for that in a case of distress--and for want of a pair of bellows, it will
do excellently well, ad ixcitandum focum (to stir up the fire.)
Nature had been prodigal in her gifts to my father beyond measure, and had
sown the seeds of verbal criticism as deep within him, as she had done the
seeds of all other knowledge--so that he had got out his penknife, and was
trying experiments upon the sentence, to see if he could not scratch some
better sense into it.--I've got within a single letter, brother Toby, cried
my father, of Erasmus his mystic meaning.--You are near enough, brother,
replied my uncle, in all conscience.--Pshaw! cried my father, scratching
on--I might as well be seven miles off.--I've done it--said my father,
snapping his fingers--See, my dear brother Toby, how I have mended the
sense.--But you have marr'd a word, replied my uncle Toby.--My father put
on his spectacles--bit his lip--and tore out the leaf in a passion.
O Slawkenbergius! thou faithful analyzer of my Disgrazias--thou sad
foreteller of so many of the whips and short turns which on one stage or
other of my life have come slap upon me from the shortness of my nose, and
no other cause, that I am conscious of.--Tell me, Slawkenbergius! what
secret impulse was it? what intonation of voice? whence came it? how did it
sound in thy ears?--art thou sure thou heard'st it?--which first cried out
to thee--go--go, Slawkenbergius! dedicate the labours of thy life--neglect
thy pastimes--call forth all the powers and faculties of thy nature--
macerate thyself in the service of mankind, and write a grand Folio for
them, upon the subject of their noses.
How the communication was conveyed into Slawkenbergius's sensorium--so that
Slawkenbergius should know whose finger touch'd the key--and whose hand it
was that blew the bellows--as Hafen Slawkenbergius has been dead and laid
in his grave above fourscore and ten years--we can only raise conjectures.
Slawkenbergius was play'd upon, for aught I know, like one of Whitefield's
disciples--that is, with such a distinct intelligence, Sir, of which of the
two masters it was that had been practising upon his instrument--as to make
all reasoning upon it needless.
--For in the account which Hafen Slawkenbergius gives the world of his
motives and occasions for writing, and spending so many years of his life
upon this one work--towards the end of his prolegomena, which by-the-bye
should have come first--but the bookbinder has most injudiciously placed it
betwixt the analytical contents of the book, and the book itself--he
informs his reader, that ever since he had arrived at the age of
discernment, and was able to sit down cooly, and consider within himself
the true state and condition of man, and distinguish the main end and
design of his being;--or--to shorten my translation, for Slawkenbergius's
book is in Latin, and not a little prolix in this passage--ever since I
understood, quoth Slawkenbergius, any thing--or rather what was what--and
could perceive that the point of long noses had been too loosely handled by
all who had gone before;--have I Slawkenbergius, felt a strong impulse,
with a mighty and unresistible call within me, to gird up myself to this
And to do justice to Slawkenbergius, he has entered the list with a
stronger lance, and taken a much larger career in it than any one man who
had ever entered it before him--and indeed, in many respects, deserves to
be en-nich'd as a prototype for all writers, of voluminous works at least,
to model their books by--for he has taken in, Sir, the whole subject--
examined every part of it dialectically--then brought it into full day;
dilucidating it with all the light which either the collision of his own
natural parts could strike--or the profoundest knowledge of the sciences
had impowered him to cast upon it--collating, collecting, and compiling--
begging, borrowing, and stealing, as he went along, all that had been wrote
or wrangled thereupon in the schools and porticos of the learned: so that
Slawkenbergius his book may properly be considered, not only as a model--
but as a thorough-stitched Digest and regular institute of noses,
comprehending in it all that is or can be needful to be known about them.
For this cause it is that I forbear to speak of so many (otherwise)
valuable books and treatises of my father's collecting, wrote either, plump
upon noses--or collaterally touching them;--such for instance as Prignitz,
now lying upon the table before me, who with infinite learning, and from
the most candid and scholar-like examination of above four thousand
different skulls, in upwards of twenty charnel-houses in Silesia, which he
had rummaged--has informed us, that the mensuration and configuration of
the osseous or bony parts of human noses, in any given tract of country,
except Crim Tartary, where they are all crush'd down by the thumb, so that
no judgment can be formed upon them--are much nearer alike, than the world
imagines;--the difference amongst them being, he says, a mere trifle, not
worth taking notice of;--but that the size and jollity of every individual
nose, and by which one nose ranks above another, and bears a higher price,
is owing to the cartilaginous and muscular parts of it, into whose ducts
and sinuses the blood and animal spirits being impell'd and driven by the
warmth and force of the imagination, which is but a step from it (bating
the case of idiots, whom Prignitz, who had lived many years in Turky,
supposes under the more immediate tutelage of Heaven)--it so happens, and
ever must, says Prignitz, that the excellency of the nose is in a direct
arithmetical proportion to the excellency of the wearer's fancy.
It is for the same reason, that is, because 'tis all comprehended in
Slawkenbergius, that I say nothing likewise of Scroderus (Andrea) who, all
the world knows, set himself to oppugn Prignitz with great violence--
proving it in his own way, first logically, and then by a series of
stubborn facts, 'That so far was Prignitz from the truth, in affirming that
the fancy begat the nose, that on the contrary--the nose begat the fancy.'
--The learned suspected Scroderus of an indecent sophism in this--and
Prignitz cried out aloud in the dispute, that Scroderus had shifted the
idea upon him--but Scroderus went on, maintaining his thesis.
My father was just balancing within himself, which of the two sides he
should take in this affair; when Ambrose Paraeus decided it in a moment,
and by overthrowing the systems, both of Prignitz and Scroderus, drove my
father out of both sides of the controversy at once.
I don't acquaint the learned reader--in saying it, I mention it only to
shew the learned, I know the fact myself--
That this Ambrose Paraeus was chief surgeon and nose-mender to Francis the
ninth of France, and in high credit with him and the two preceding, or
succeeding kings (I know not which)--and that, except in the slip he made
in his story of Taliacotius's noses, and his manner of setting them on--he
was esteemed by the whole college of physicians at that time, as more
knowing in matters of noses, than any one who had ever taken them in hand.
Now Ambrose Paraeus convinced my father, that the true and efficient cause
of what had engaged so much the attention of the world, and upon which
Prignitz and Scroderus had wasted so much learning and fine parts--was
neither this nor that--but that the length and goodness of the nose was
owing simply to the softness and flaccidity in the nurse's breast--as the
flatness and shortness of puisne noses was to the firmness and elastic
repulsion of the same organ of nutrition in the hale and lively--which,
tho' happy for the woman, was the undoing of the child, inasmuch as his
nose was so snubb'd, so rebuff'd, so rebated, and so refrigerated thereby,
as never to arrive ad mensuram suam legitimam;--but that in case of the
flaccidity and softness of the nurse or mother's breast--by sinking into
it, quoth Paraeus, as into so much butter, the nose was comforted,
nourish'd, plump'd up, refresh'd, refocillated, and set a growing for ever.
I have but two things to observe of Paraeus; first, That he proves and
explains all this with the utmost chastity and decorum of expression:--for
which may his soul for ever rest in peace!
And, secondly, that besides the systems of Prignitz and Scroderus, which
Ambrose Paraeus his hypothesis effectually overthrew--it overthrew at the
same time the system of peace and harmony of our family; and for three days
together, not only embroiled matters between my father and my mother, but
turn'd likewise the whole house and every thing in it, except my uncle
Toby, quite upside down.
Such a ridiculous tale of a dispute between a man and his wife, never
surely in any age or country got vent through the key-hole of a street-
My mother, you must know--but I have fifty things more necessary to let you
know first--I have a hundred difficulties which I have promised to clear
up, and a thousand distresses and domestick misadventures crowding in upon
me thick and threefold, one upon the neck of another. A cow broke in
(tomorrow morning) to my uncle Toby's fortifications, and eat up two
rations and a half of dried grass, tearing up the sods with it, which faced
his horn-work and covered way.--Trim insists upon being tried by a court-
martial--the cow to be shot--Slop to be crucifix'd--myself to be tristram'd
and at my very baptism made a martyr of;--poor unhappy devils that we all
are!--I want swaddling--but there is no time to be lost in exclamations--I
have left my father lying across his bed, and my uncle Toby in his old
fringed chair, sitting beside him, and promised I would go back to them in
half an hour; and five-and-thirty minutes are laps'd already.--Of all the
perplexities a mortal author was ever seen in--this certainly is the
greatest, for I have Hafen Slawkenbergius's folio, Sir, to finish--a
dialogue between my father and my uncle Toby, upon the solution of
Prignitz, Scroderus, Ambrose Paraeus, Panocrates, and Grangousier to
relate--a tale out of Slawkenbergius to translate, and all this in five
minutes less than no time at all;--such a head!--would to Heaven my enemies
only saw the inside of it!
There was not any one scene more entertaining in our family--and to do it
justice in this point;--and I here put off my cap and lay it upon the table
close beside my ink-horn, on purpose to make my declaration to the world
concerning this one article the more solemn--that I believe in my soul
(unless my love and partiality to my understanding blinds me) the hand of
the supreme Maker and first Designer of all things never made or put a
family together (in that period at least of it which I have sat down to
write the story of)--where the characters of it were cast or contrasted
with so dramatick a felicity as ours was, for this end; or in which the
capacities of affording such exquisite scenes, and the powers of shifting
them perpetually from morning to night, were lodged and intrusted with so
unlimited a confidence, as in the Shandy Family.
Not any one of these was more diverting, I say, in this whimsical theatre
of ours--than what frequently arose out of this self-same chapter of long
noses--especially when my father's imagination was heated with the enquiry,
and nothing would serve him but to heat my uncle Toby's too.
My uncle Toby would give my father all possible fair play in this attempt;
and with infinite patience would sit smoking his pipe for whole hours
together, whilst my father was practising upon his head, and trying every
accessible avenue to drive Prignitz and Scroderus's solutions into it.
Whether they were above my uncle Toby's reason--or contrary to it--or that
his brain was like damp timber, and no spark could possibly take hold--or
that it was so full of saps, mines, blinds, curtins, and such military
disqualifications to his seeing clearly into Prignitz and Scroderus's
doctrines--I say not--let schoolmen--scullions, anatomists, and engineers,
fight for it among themselves--
'Twas some misfortune, I make no doubt, in this affair, that my father had
every word of it to translate for the benefit of my uncle Toby, and render
out of Slawkenbergius's Latin, of which, as he was no great master, his
translation was not always of the purest--and generally least so where
'twas most wanted.--This naturally open'd a door to a second misfortune;--
that in the warmer paroxysms of his zeal to open my uncle Toby's eyes--my
father's ideas ran on as much faster than the translation, as the
translation outmoved my uncle Toby's--neither the one or the other added
much to the perspicuity of my father's lecture.
The gift of ratiocination and making syllogisms--I mean in man--for in
superior classes of being, such as angels and spirits--'tis all done, may
it please your worships, as they tell me, by Intuition;--and beings
inferior, as your worships all know--syllogize by their noses: though
there is an island swimming in the sea (though not altogether at its ease)
whose inhabitants, if my intelligence deceives me not, are so wonderfully
gifted, as to syllogize after the same fashion, and oft-times to make very
well out too:--but that's neither here nor there--
The gift of doing it as it should be, amongst us, or--the great and
principal act of ratiocination in man, as logicians tell us, is the finding
out the agreement or disagreement of two ideas one with another, by the
intervention of a third (called the medius terminus); just as a man, as
Locke well observes, by a yard, finds two mens nine-pin-alleys to be of the
same length, which could not be brought together, to measure their
equality, by juxta-position.
Had the same great reasoner looked on, as my father illustrated his systems
of noses, and observed my uncle Toby's deportment--what great attention he
gave to every word--and as oft as he took his pipe from his mouth, with
what wonderful seriousness he contemplated the length of it--surveying it
transversely as he held it betwixt his finger and his thumb--then fore-
right--then this way, and then that, in all its possible directions and
fore-shortenings--he would have concluded my uncle Toby had got hold of the
medius terminus, and was syllogizing and measuring with it the truth of
each hypothesis of long noses, in order, as my father laid them before him.
This, by-the-bye, was more than my father wanted--his aim in all the pains
he was at in these philosophick lectures--was to enable my uncle Toby not
to discuss--but comprehend--to hold the grains and scruples of learning--
not to weigh them.--My uncle Toby, as you will read in the next chapter,
did neither the one or the other.
'Tis a pity, cried my father one winter's night, after a three hours
painful translation of Slawkenbergius--'tis a pity, cried my father,
putting my mother's threadpaper into the book for a mark, as he spoke--that
truth, brother Toby, should shut herself up in such impregnable fastnesses,
and be so obstinate as not to surrender herself sometimes up upon the
Now it happened then, as indeed it had often done before, that my uncle
Toby's fancy, during the time of my father's explanation of Prignitz to
him--having nothing to stay it there, had taken a short flight to the
bowling-green;--his body might as well have taken a turn there too--so that
with all the semblance of a deep school-man intent upon the medius
terminus--my uncle Toby was in fact as ignorant of the whole lecture, and
all its pros and cons, as if my father had been translating Hafen
Slawkenbergius from the Latin tongue into the Cherokee. But the word
siege, like a talismanic power, in my father's metaphor, wafting back my
uncle Toby's fancy, quick as a note could follow the touch--he open'd his
ears--and my father observing that he took his pipe out of his mouth, and
shuffled his chair nearer the table, as with a desire to profit--my father
with great pleasure began his sentence again--changing only the plan, and
dropping the metaphor of the siege of it, to keep clear of some dangers my
father apprehended from it.
'Tis a pity, said my father, that truth can only be on one side, brother
Toby--considering what ingenuity these learned men have all shewn in their
solutions of noses.--Can noses be dissolved? replied my uncle Toby.
--My father thrust back his chair--rose up--put on his hat--took four long
strides to the door--jerked it open--thrust his head half way out--shut the
door again--took no notice of the bad hinge--returned to the table--pluck'd
my mother's thread-paper out of Slawkenbergius's book--went hastily to his
bureau--walked slowly back--twisted my mother's thread-paper about his
thumb--unbutton'd his waistcoat--threw my mother's thread-paper into the
fire--bit her sattin pin-cushion in two, fill'd his mouth with bran--
confounded it;--but mark!--the oath of confusion was levell'd at my uncle
Toby's brain--which was e'en confused enough already--the curse came
charged only with the bran--the bran, may it please your honours, was no
more than powder to the ball.
'Twas well my father's passions lasted not long; for so long as they did
last, they led him a busy life on't; and it is one of the most
unaccountable problems that ever I met with in my observations of human
nature, that nothing should prove my father's mettle so much, or make his
passions go off so like gun-powder, as the unexpected strokes his science
met with from the quaint simplicity of my uncle Toby's questions.--Had ten
dozen of hornets stung him behind in so many different places all at one
time--he could not have exerted more mechanical functions in fewer seconds-
-or started half so much, as with one single quaere of three words
unseasonably popping in full upon him in his hobby-horsical career.
'Twas all one to my uncle Toby--he smoked his pipe on with unvaried
composure--his heart never intended offence to his brother--and as his head
could seldom find out where the sting of it lay--he always gave my father
the credit of cooling by himself.--He was five minutes and thirty-five
seconds about it in the present case.
By all that's good! said my father, swearing, as he came to himself, and
taking the oath out of Ernulphus's digest of curses--(though to do my
father justice it was a fault (as he told Dr. Slop in the affair of
Ernulphus) which he as seldom committed as any man upon earth)--By all
that's good and great! brother Toby, said my father, if it was not for the
aids of philosophy, which befriend one so much as they do--you would put a
man beside all temper.--Why, by the solutions of noses, of which I was
telling you, I meant, as you might have known, had you favoured me with one
grain of attention, the various accounts which learned men of different
kinds of knowledge have given the world of the causes of short and long
noses.--There is no cause but one, replied my uncle Toby--why one man's
nose is longer than another's, but because that God pleases to have it so.-
-That is Grangousier's solution, said my father.--'Tis he, continued my
uncle Toby, looking up, and not regarding my father's interruption, who
makes us all, and frames and puts us together in such forms and
proportions, and for such ends, as is agreeable to his infinite wisdom,.--
'Tis a pious account, cried my father, but not philosophical--there is more
religion in it than sound science. 'Twas no inconsistent part of my uncle
Toby's character--that he feared God, and reverenced religion.--So the
moment my father finished his remark--my uncle Toby fell a whistling
Lillabullero with more zeal (though more out of tune) than usual.--
What is become of my wife's thread-paper?
No matter--as an appendage to seamstressy, the thread-paper might be of
some consequence to my mother--of none to my father, as a mark in
Slawkenbergius. Slawkenbergius in every page of him was a rich treasure of
inexhaustible knowledge to my father--he could not open him amiss; and he
would often say in closing the book, that if all the arts and sciences in
the world, with the books which treated of them, were lost--should the
wisdom and policies of governments, he would say, through disuse, ever
happen to be forgot, and all that statesmen had wrote or caused to be
written, upon the strong or the weak sides of courts and kingdoms, should
they be forgot also--and Slawkenbergius only left--there would be enough in
him in all conscience, he would say, to set the world a-going again. A
treasure therefore was he indeed! an institute of all that was necessary to
be known of noses, and every thing else--at matin, noon, and vespers was
Hafen Slawkenbergius his recreation and delight: 'twas for ever in his
hands--you would have sworn, Sir, it had been a canon's prayer-book--so
worn, so glazed, so contrited and attrited was it with fingers and with
thumbs in all its parts, from one end even unto the other.
I am not such a bigot to Slawkenbergius as my father;--there is a fund in
him, no doubt: but in my opinion, the best, I don't say the most
profitable, but the most amusing part of Hafen Slawkenbergius, is his
tales--and, considering he was a German, many of them told not without
fancy:--these take up his second book, containing nearly one half of his
folio, and are comprehended in ten decads, each decad containing ten tales-
-Philosophy is not built upon tales; and therefore 'twas certainly wrong in
Slawkenbergius to send them into the world by that name!--there are a few
of them in his eighth, ninth, and tenth decads, which I own seem rather
playful and sportive, than speculative--but in general they are to be
looked upon by the learned as a detail of so many independent facts, all of
them turning round somehow or other upon the main hinges of his subject,
and added to his work as so many illustrations upon the doctrines of noses.
As we have leisure enough upon our hands--if you give me leave, madam, I'll
tell you the ninth tale of his tenth decad.
Slawkenbergii Fabella (As Hafen Slawkenbergius de Nasis is extremely
scarce, it may not be unacceptable to the learned reader to see the
specimen of a few pages of his original; I will make no reflection upon it,
but that his story-telling Latin is much more concise than his philosophic-
-and, I think, has more of Latinity in it.)
Vespera quadam frigidula, posteriori in parte mensis Augusti, peregrinus,
mulo fusco colore incidens, mantica a tergo, paucis indusiis, binis
calceis, braccisque sericis coccineis repleta, Argentoratum ingressus est.
Militi eum percontanti, quum portus intraret dixit, se apud Nasorum
promontorium fuisse, Francofurtum proficisci, et Argentoratum, transitu ad
fines Sarmatiae mensis intervallo, reversurum.
Miles peregrini in faciem suspexit--Di boni, nova forma nasi!
At multum mihi profuit, inquit peregrinus, carpum amento extrahens, e quo
pependit acinaces: Loculo manum inseruit; et magna cum urbanitate, pilei
parte anteriore tacta manu sinistra, ut extendit dextram, militi florinum
dedit et processit.
Dolet mihi, ait miles, tympanistam nanum et valgum alloquens, virum adeo
urbanum vaginam perdidisse: itinerari haud poterit nuda acinaci; neque
vaginam toto Argentorato, habilem inveniet.--Nullam unquam habui, respondit
peregrinus respiciens--seque comiter inclinans--hoc more gesto, nudam
acinacem elevans, mulo lento progrediente, ut nasum tueri possim.
Non immerito, benigne peregrine, respondit miles.
Nihili aestimo, ait ille tympanista, e pergamena factitius est.
Prout christianus sum, inquit miles, nasus ille, ni sexties major fit, meo
Crepitare audivi ait tympanista.
Mehercule! sanguinem emisit, respondit miles.
Miseret me, inquit tympanista, qui non ambo tetigimus!
Eodem temporis puncto, quo haec res argumentata fuit inter militem et
tympanistam, disceptabatur ibidem tubicine et uxore sua qui tunc
accesserunt, et peregrino praetereunte, restiterunt.
Quantus nasus! aeque longus est, ait tubicina, ac tuba.
Et ex eodem metallo, ait tubicen, velut sternutamento audias.
Tantum abest, respondit illa, quod fistulam dulcedine vincit.
Aeneus est, ait tubicen.
Nequaquam, respondit uxor.
Rursum affirmo, ait tubicen, quod aeneus est.
Rem penitus explorabo; prius, enim digito tangam, ait uxor, quam dormivero,
Mulus peregrini gradu lento progressus est, ut unumquodque verbum
controversiae, non tantum inter militem et tympanistam, verum etiam inter
tubicinem et uxorum ejus, audiret.
Nequaquam, ait ille, in muli collum fraena demittens, et manibus ambabus in
pectus positis, (mulo lente progrediente) nequaquam, ait ille respiciens,
non necesse est ut res isthaec dilucidata foret. Minime gentium! meus
nasus nunquam tangetur, dum spiritus hos reget artus--Ad quid agendum? air
Peregrinus illi non respondit. Votum faciebat tunc temporis sancto
Nicolao; quo facto, sinum dextrum inserens, e qua negligenter pependit
acinaces, lento gradu processit per plateam Argentorati latam quae ad
diversorium templo ex adversum ducit.
Peregrinus mulo descendens stabulo includi, et manticam inferri jussit:
qua aperta et coccineis sericis femoralibus extractis cum argento laciniato
(Greek), his sese induit, statimque, acinaci in manu, ad forum deambulavit.
Quod ubi peregrinus esset ingressus, uxorem tubicinis obviam euntem
aspicit; illico cursum flectit, metuens ne nasus suus exploraretur, atque
ad diversorium regressus est--exuit se vestibus; braccas coccineas sericas
manticae imposuit mulumque educi jussit.
Francofurtum proficiscor, ait ille, et Argentoratum quatuor abhinc
Bene curasti hoc jumentam? (ait) muli faciem manu demulcens--me,
manticamque meam, plus sexcentis mille passibus portavit.
Longa via est! respondet hospes, nisi plurimum esset negoti.--Enimvero, ait
peregrinus, a Nasorum promontorio redii, et nasum speciosissimum,
egregiosissimumque quem unquam quisquam sortitus est, acquisivi?
Dum peregrinus hanc miram rationem de seipso reddit, hospes et uxor ejus,
oculis intentis, peregrini nasum contemplantur--Per sanctos sanctasque
omnes, ait hospitis uxor, nasis duodecim maximis in toto Argentorato major
est!--estne, ait illa mariti in aurem insusurrans, nonne est nasus
Dolus inest, anime mi, ait hospes--nasus est falsus.
Verus est, respondit uxor--
Ex abiete factus est, ait ille, terebinthinum olet--
Carbunculus inest, ait uxor.
Mortuus est nasus, respondit hospes.
Vivus est ait illa,--et si ipsa vivam tangam.
Votum feci sancto Nicolao, ait peregrinus, nasum meum intactum fore usque
ad--Quodnam tempus? illico respondit illa.
Minimo tangetur, inquit ille (manibus in pectus compositis) usque ad illam
horam--Quam horam? ait illa--Nullam, respondit peregrinus, donec pervenio
ad--Quem locum,--obsecro? ait illa--Peregrinus nil respondens mulo
It was one cool refreshing evening, at the close of a very sultry day, in
the latter end of the month of August, when a stranger, mounted upon a dark
mule, with a small cloak-bag behind him, containing a few shirts, a pair of
shoes, and a crimson-sattin pair of breeches, entered the town of
He told the centinel, who questioned him as he entered the gates, that he
had been at the Promontory of Noses--was going on to Frankfort--and should
be back again at Strasburg that day month, in his way to the borders of
The centinel looked up into the stranger's face--he never saw such a Nose
in his life!
--I have made a very good venture of it, quoth the stranger--so slipping
his wrist out of the loop of a black ribbon, to which a short scymetar was
hung, he put his hand into his pocket, and with great courtesy touching the
fore part of his cap with his left hand, as he extended his right--he put a
florin into the centinel's hand, and passed on.
It grieves, me, said the centinel, speaking to a little dwarfish bandy-
legg'd drummer, that so courteous a soul should have lost his scabbard--he
cannot travel without one to his scymetar, and will not be able to get a
scabbard to fit it in all Strasburg.--I never had one, replied the
stranger, looking back to the centinel, and putting his hand up to his cap
as he spoke--I carry it, continued he, thus--holding up his naked scymetar,
his mule moving on slowly all the time--on purpose to defend my nose.
It is well worth it, gentle stranger, replied the centinel.
--'Tis not worth a single stiver, said the bandy-legg'd drummer--'tis a
nose of parchment.
As I am a true catholic--except that it is six times as big--'tis a nose,
said the centinel, like my own.
--I heard it crackle, said the drummer.
By dunder, said the centinel, I saw it bleed.
What a pity, cried the bandy-legg'd drummer, we did not both touch it!
At the very time that this dispute was maintaining by the centinel and the
drummer--was the same point debating betwixt a trumpeter and a trumpeter's
wife, who were just then coming up, and had stopped to see the stranger
Benedicity!--What a nose! 'tis as long, said the trumpeter's wife, as a
And of the same metal said the trumpeter, as you hear by its sneezing.
'Tis as soft as a flute, said she.
--'Tis brass, said the trumpeter.
--'Tis a pudding's end, said his wife.
I tell thee again, said the trumpeter, 'tis a brazen nose,
I'll know the bottom of it, said the trumpeter's wife, for I will touch it
with my finger before I sleep.
The stranger's mule moved on at so slow a rate, that he heard every word of
the dispute, not only betwixt the centinel and the drummer, but betwixt the
trumpeter and trumpeter's wife.
No! said he, dropping his reins upon his mule's neck, and laying both his
hands upon his breast, the one over the other in a saint-like position (his
mule going on easily all the time) No! said he, looking up--I am not such a
debtor to the world--slandered and disappointed as I have been--as to give
it that conviction--no! said he, my nose shall never be touched whilst
Heaven gives me strength--To do what? said a burgomaster's wife.
The stranger took no notice of the burgomaster's wife--he was making a vow
to Saint Nicolas; which done, having uncrossed his arms with the same
solemnity with which he crossed them, he took up the reins of his bridle
with his left-hand, and putting his right hand into his bosom, with the
scymetar hanging loosely to the wrist of it, he rode on, as slowly as one
foot of the mule could follow another, thro' the principal streets of
Strasburg, till chance brought him to the great inn in the market-place
over-against the church.
The moment the stranger alighted, he ordered his mule to be led into the
stable, and his cloak-bag to be brought in; then opening, and taking out of
it his crimson-sattin breeches, with a silver-fringed--(appendage to them,
which I dare not translate)--he put his breeches, with his fringed cod-
piece on, and forth-with, with his short scymetar in his hand, walked out
to the grand parade.
The stranger had just taken three turns upon the parade, when he perceived
the trumpeter's wife at the opposite side of it--so turning short, in pain
lest his nose should be attempted, he instantly went back to his inn--
undressed himself, packed up his crimson-sattin breeches, &c. in his cloak-
bag, and called for his mule.
I am going forwards, said the stranger, for Frankfort--and shall be back at
Strasburg this day month.
I hope, continued the stranger, stroking down the face of his mule with his
left hand as he was going to mount it, that you have been kind to this
faithful slave of mine--it has carried me and my cloak-bag, continued he,
tapping the mule's back, above six hundred leagues.
--'Tis a long journey, Sir, replied the master of the inn--unless a man has
great business.--Tut! tut! said the stranger, I have been at the promontory
of Noses; and have got me one of the goodliest, thank Heaven, that ever
fell to a single man's lot.
Whilst the stranger was giving this odd account of himself, the master of
the inn and his wife kept both their eyes fixed full upon the stranger's
nose--By saint Radagunda, said the inn-keeper's wife to herself, there is
more of it than in any dozen of the largest noses put together in all
Strasburg! is it not, said she, whispering her husband in his ear, is it
not a noble nose?
'Tis an imposture, my dear, said the master of the inn--'tis a false nose.
'Tis a true nose, said his wife.
'Tis made of fir-tree, said he, I smell the turpentine.--
There's a pimple on it, said she.
'Tis a dead nose, replied the inn-keeper.
'Tis a live nose, and if I am alive myself, said the inn-keeper's, wife, I
will touch it.
I have made a vow to saint Nicolas this day, said the stranger, that my
nose shall not be touched till--Here the stranger suspending his voice,
looked up.--Till when? said she hastily.
It never shall be touched, said he, clasping his hands and bringing them
close to his breast, till that hour--What hour? cried the inn keeper's
wife.--Never!--never! said the stranger, never till I am got--For Heaven's
sake, into what place? said she--The stranger rode away without saying a
The stranger had not got half a league on his way towards Frankfort before
all the city of Strasburg was in an uproar about his nose. The Compline
bells were just ringing to call the Strasburgers to their devotions, and
shut up the duties of the day in prayer:--no soul in all Strasburg heard
'em--the city was like a swarm of bees--men, women, and children, (the
Compline bells tinkling all the time) flying here and there--in at one
door, out at another--this way and that way--long ways and cross ways--up
one street, down another street--in at this alley, out of that--did you see
it? did you see it? did you see it? O! did you see it?--who saw it? who
did see it? for mercy's sake, who saw it?
Alack o'day! I was at vespers!--I was washing, I was starching, I was
scouring, I was quilting--God help me! I never saw it--I never touch'd
it!--would I had been a centinel, a bandy-legg'd drummer, a trumpeter, a
trumpeter's wife, was the general cry and lamentation in every street and
corner of Strasburg.
Whilst all this confusion and disorder triumphed throughout the great city
of Strasburg, was the courteous stranger going on as gently upon his mule
in his way to Frankfort, as if he had no concern at all in the affair--
talking all the way he rode in broken sentences, sometimes to his mule--
sometimes to himself--sometimes to his Julia.
O Julia, my lovely Julia!--nay I cannot stop to let thee bite that thistle-
-that ever the suspected tongue of a rival should have robbed me of
enjoyment when I was upon the point of tasting it.--
--Pugh!--'tis nothing but a thistle--never mind it--thou shalt have a
better supper at night.
--Banish'd from my country--my friends--from thee.--
Poor devil, thou'rt sadly tired with thy journey!--come--get on a little
faster--there's nothing in my cloak-bag but two shirts--a crimson-sattin
pair of breeches, and a fringed--Dear Julia!
--But why to Frankfort?--is it that there is a hand unfelt, which secretly
is conducting me through these meanders and unsuspected tracts?
--Stumbling! by saint Nicolas! every step--why at this rate we shall be all
night in getting in--
--To happiness--or am I to be the sport of fortune and slander--destined to
be driven forth unconvicted--unheard--untouch'd--if so, why did I not stay
at Strasburg, where justice--but I had sworn! Come, thou shalt drink--to
St. Nicolas--O Julia!--What dost thou prick up thy ears at?--'tis nothing
but a man, &c.
The stranger rode on communing in this manner with his mule and Julia--till
he arrived at his inn, where, as soon as he arrived, he alighted--saw his
mule, as he had promised it, taken good care of--took off his cloak-bag,
with his crimson-sattin breeches, &c. in it--called for an omelet to his
supper, went to his bed about twelve o'clock, and in five minutes fell fast
It was about the same hour when the tumult in Strasburg being abated for
that night,--the Strasburgers had all got quietly into their beds--but not
like the stranger, for the rest either of their minds or bodies; queen Mab,
like an elf as she was, had taken the stranger's nose, and without
reduction of its bulk, had that night been at the pains of slitting and
dividing it into as many noses of different cuts and fashions, as there
were heads in Strasburg to hold them. The abbess of Quedlingberg, who with
the four great dignitaries of her chapter, the prioress, the deaness, the
sub-chantress, and senior canonness, had that week come to Strasburg to
consult the university upon a case of conscience relating to their placket-
holes--was ill all the night.
The courteous stranger's nose had got perched upon the top of the pineal
gland of her brain, and made such rousing work in the fancies of the four
great dignitaries of her chapter, they could not get a wink of sleep the
whole night thro' for it--there was no keeping a limb still amongst them--
in short, they got up like so many ghosts.
The penitentiaries of the third order of saint Francis--the nuns of mount
Calvary--the Praemonstratenses--the Clunienses (Hafen Slawkenbergius means
the Benedictine nuns of Cluny, founded in the year 940, by Odo, abbe de
Cluny.)--the Carthusians, and all the severer orders of nuns, who lay that
night in blankets or hair-cloth, were still in a worse condition than the
abbess of Quedlingberg--by tumbling and tossing, and tossing and tumbling
from one side of their beds to the other the whole night long--the several
sisterhoods had scratch'd and maul'd themselves all to death--they got out
of their beds almost flay'd alive--every body thought saint Antony had
visited them for probation with his fire--they had never once, in short,
shut their eyes the whole night long from vespers to matins.
The nuns of saint Ursula acted the wisest--they never attempted to go to
bed at all.
The dean of Strasburg, the prebendaries, the capitulars and domiciliars
(capitularly assembled in the morning to consider the case of butter'd
buns) all wished they had followed the nuns of saint Ursula's example.--
In the hurry and confusion every thing had been in the night before, the
bakers had all forgot to lay their leaven--there were no butter'd buns to
be had for breakfast in all Strasburg--the whole close of the cathedral was
in one eternal commotion--such a cause of restlessness and disquietude, and
such a zealous inquiry into that cause of the restlessness, had never
happened in Strasburg, since Martin Luther, with his doctrines, had turned
the city upside down.
If the stranger's nose took this liberty of thrusting himself thus into the
dishes (Mr. Shandy's compliments to orators--is very sensible that
Slawkenbergius has here changed his metaphor--which he is very guilty of:--
that as a translator, Mr. Shandy has all along done what he could to make
him stick to it--but that here 'twas impossible.) of religious orders, &c.
what a carnival did his nose make of it, in those of the laity!--'tis more
than my pen, worn to the stump as it is, has power to describe; tho', I
acknowledge, (cries Slawkenbergius with more gaiety of thought than I could
have expected from him) that there is many a good simile now subsisting in
the world which might give my countrymen some idea of it; but at the close
of such a folio as this, wrote for their sakes, and in which I have spent
the greatest part of my life--tho' I own to them the simile is in being,
yet would it not be unreasonable in them to expect I should have either
time or inclination to search for it? Let it suffice to say, that the riot
and disorder it occasioned in the Strasburgers fantasies was so general--
such an overpowering mastership had it got of all the faculties of the
Strasburgers minds--so many strange things, with equal confidence on all
sides, and with equal eloquence in all places, were spoken and sworn to
concerning it, that turned the whole stream of all discourse and wonder
towards it--every soul, good and bad--rich and poor--learned and unlearned-
-doctor and student--mistress and maid--gentle and simple--nun's flesh and
woman's flesh, in Strasburg spent their time in hearing tidings about it--
every eye in Strasburg languished to see it--every finger--every thumb in
Strasburg burned to touch it.
Now what might add, if any thing may be thought necessary to add, to so
vehement a desire--was this, that the centinel, the bandy-legg'd drummer,
the trumpeter, the trumpeter's wife, the burgomaster's widow, the master of
the inn, and the master of the inn's wife, how widely soever they all
differed every one from another in their testimonies and description of the
stranger's nose--they all agreed together in two points--namely, that he
was gone to Frankfort, and would not return to Strasburg till that day
month; and secondly, whether his nose was true or false, that the stranger
himself was one of the most perfect paragons of beauty--the finest-made
man--the most genteel!--the most generous of his purse--the most courteous
in his carriage, that had ever entered the gates of Strasburg--that as he
rode, with scymetar slung loosely to his wrist, thro' the streets--and
walked with his crimson-sattin breeches across the parade--'twas with so
sweet an air of careless modesty, and so manly withal--as would have put
the heart in jeopardy (had his nose not stood in his way) of every virgin
who had cast her eyes upon him.
I call not upon that heart which is a stranger to the throbs and yearnings
of curiosity, so excited, to justify the abbess of Quedlingberg, the
prioress, the deaness, and sub-chantress, for sending at noon-day for the
trumpeter's wife: she went through the streets of Strasburg with her
husband's trumpet in her hand,--the best apparatus the straitness of the
time would allow her, for the illustration of her theory--she staid no
longer than three days.
The centinel and bandy-legg'd drummer!--nothing on this side of old Athens
could equal them! they read their lectures under the city-gates to comers
and goers, with all the pomp of a Chrysippus and a Crantor in their
The master of the inn, with his ostler on his left-hand, read his also in
the same stile--under the portico or gateway of his stable-yard--his wife,
hers more privately in a back room: all flocked to their lectures; not
promiscuously--but to this or that, as is ever the way, as faith and
credulity marshal'd them--in a word, each Strasburger came crouding for
intelligence--and every Strasburger had the intelligence he wanted.
'Tis worth remarking, for the benefit of all demonstrators in natural
philosophy, &c. that as soon as the trumpeter's wife had finished the
abbess of Quedlingberg's private lecture, and had begun to read in public,
which she did upon a stool in the middle of the great parade,--she
incommoded the other demonstrators mainly, by gaining incontinently the
most fashionable part of the city of Strasburg for her auditory--But when a
demonstrator in philosophy (cries Slawkenbergius) has a trumpet for an
apparatus, pray what rival in science can pretend to be heard besides him?
Whilst the unlearned, thro' these conduits of intelligence, were all busied
in getting down to the bottom of the well, where Truth keeps her little
court--were the learned in their way as busy in pumping her up thro' the
conduits of dialect induction--they concerned themselves not with facts--
Not one profession had thrown more light upon this subject than the
Faculty--had not all their disputes about it run into the affair of Wens
and oedematous swellings, they could not keep clear of them for their
bloods and souls--the stranger's nose had nothing to do either with wens or
It was demonstrated however very satisfactorily, that such a ponderous mass
of heterogenous matter could not be congested and conglomerated to the
nose, whilst the infant was in Utera, without destroying the statical
balance of the foetus, and throwing it plump upon its head nine months
before the time.--
--The opponents granted the theory--they denied the consequences.
And if a suitable provision of veins, arteries, &c. said they, was not laid
in, for the due nourishment of such a nose, in the very first stamina and
rudiments of its formation, before it came into the world (bating the case
of Wens) it could not regularly grow and be sustained afterwards.
This was all answered by a dissertation upon nutriment, and the effect
which nutriment had in extending the vessels, and in the increase and
prolongation of the muscular parts to the greatest growth and expansion
imaginable--In the triumph of which theory, they went so far as to affirm,
that there was no cause in nature, why a nose might not grow to the size of
the man himself.
The respondents satisfied the world this event could never happen to them
so long as a man had but one stomach and one pair of lungs--For the
stomach, said they, being the only organ destined for the reception of
food, and turning it into chyle--and the lungs the only engine of
sanguification--it could possibly work off no more, than what the appetite
brought it: or admitting the possibility of a man's overloading his
stomach, nature had set bounds however to his lungs--the engine was of a
determined size and strength, and could elaborate but a certain quantity in
a given time--that is, it could produce just as much blood as was
sufficient for one single man, and no more; so that, if there was as much
nose as man--they proved a mortification must necessarily ensue; and
forasmuch as there could not be a support for both, that the nose must
either fall off from the man, or the man inevitably fall off from his nose.
Nature accommodates herself to these emergencies, cried the opponents--else
what do you say to the case of a whole stomach--a whole pair of lungs, and
but half a man, when both his legs have been unfortunately shot off?
He dies of a plethora, said they--or must spit blood, and in a fortnight or
three weeks go off in a consumption.--
--It happens otherwise--replied the opponents.--
It ought not, said they.
The more curious and intimate inquirers after nature and her doings, though
they went hand in hand a good way together, yet they all divided about the
nose at last, almost as much as the Faculty itself
They amicably laid it down, that there was a just and geometrical
arrangement and proportion of the several parts of the human frame to its
several destinations, offices, and functions, which could not be
transgressed but within certain limits--that nature, though she sported--
she sported within a certain circle;--and they could not agree about the
diameter of it.
The logicians stuck much closer to the point before them than any of the
classes of the literati;--they began and ended with the word Nose; and had
it not been for a petitio principii, which one of the ablest of them ran
his head against in the beginning of the combat, the whole controversy had
been settled at once.
A nose, argued the logician, cannot bleed without blood--and not only
blood--but blood circulating in it to supply the phaenomenon with a
succession of drops--(a stream being but a quicker succession of drops,
that is included, said he.)--Now death, continued the logician, being
nothing but the stagnation of the blood--
I deny the definition--Death is the separation of the soul from the body,
said his antagonist--Then we don't agree about our weapons, said the
logician--Then there is an end of the dispute, replied the antagonist.
The civilians were still more concise: what they offered being more in the
nature of a decree--than a dispute.
Such a monstrous nose, said they, had it been a true nose, could not
possibly have been suffered in civil society--and if false--to impose upon
society with such false signs and tokens, was a still greater violation of
its rights, and must have had still less mercy shewn it.
The only objection to this was, that if it proved any thing, it proved the
stranger's nose was neither true nor false.
This left room for the controversy to go on. It was maintained by the
advocates of the ecclesiastic court, that there was nothing to inhibit a
decree, since the stranger ex mero motu had confessed he had been at the
Promontory of Noses, and had got one of the goodliest, &c. &c.--To this it
was answered, it was impossible there should be such a place as the
Promontory of Noses, and the learned be ignorant where it lay. The
commissary of the bishop of Strasburg undertook the advocates, explained
this matter in a treatise upon proverbial phrases, shewing them, that the
Promontory of Noses was a mere allegorick expression, importing no more
than that nature had given him a long nose: in proof of which, with great
learning, he cited the underwritten authorities, (Nonnulli ex nostratibus
eadem loquendi formula utun. Quinimo & Logistae & Canonistae--Vid. Parce
Barne Jas in d. L. Provincial. Constitut. de conjec. vid. Vol. Lib. 4.
Titul. I. n. 7 qua etiam in re conspir. Om de Promontorio Nas. Tichmak.
ff. d. tit. 3. fol. 189. passim. Vid. Glos. de contrahend. empt. &c. necnon
J. Scrudr. in cap. para refut. per totum. Cum his cons. Rever. J. Tubal,
Sentent. & Prov. cap. 9. ff. 11, 12. obiter. V. & Librum, cui Tit. de
Terris & Phras. Belg. ad finem, cum comment. N. Bardy Belg. Vid. Scrip.
Argentotarens. de Antiq. Ecc. in Episc Archiv. fid coll. per Von Jacobum
Koinshoven Folio Argent. 1583. praecip. ad finem. Quibus add. Rebuff in L.
obvenire de Signif. Nom. ff. fol. & de jure Gent. & Civil. de protib.
aliena feud. per federa, test. Joha. Luxius in prolegom. quem velim videas,
de Analy. Cap. 1, 2, 3. Vid. Idea.) which had decided the point
incontestably, had it not appeared that a dispute about some franchises of
dean and chapter-lands had been determined by it nineteen years before.
It happened--I must say unluckily for Truth, because they were giving her a
lift another way in so doing; that the two universities of Strasburg--the
Lutheran, founded in the year 1538 by Jacobus Surmis, counsellor of the
senate,--and the Popish, founded by Leopold, arch-duke of Austria, were,
during all this time, employing the whole depth of their knowledge (except
just what the affair of the abbess of Quedlingberg's placket-holes
required)--in determining the point of Martin Luther's damnation.
The Popish doctors had undertaken to demonstrate a priori, that from the
necessary influence of the planets on the twenty-second day of October
1483--when the moon was in the twelfth house, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus in
the third, the Sun, Saturn, and Mercury, all got together in the fourth--
that he must in course, and unavoidably, be a damn'd man--and that his
doctrines, by a direct corollary, must be damn'd doctrines too.
By inspection into his horoscope, where five planets were in coition all at
once with Scorpio (Haec mira, satisque horrenda. Planetarum coitio sub
Scorpio Asterismo in nona coeli statione, quam Arabes religioni deputabant
efficit Martinum Lutherum sacrilegum hereticum, Christianae religionis
hostem acerrimum atque prophanum, ex horoscopi directione ad Martis coitum,
religiosissimus obiit, ejus Anima scelestissima ad infernos navigavit--ab
Alecto, Tisiphone & Megara flagellis igneis cruciata perenniter.--Lucas
Gaurieus in Tractatu astrologico de praeteritis multorum hominum
accidentibus per genituras examinatis.) (in reading this my father would
always shake his head) in the ninth house, with the Arabians allotted to
religion--it appeared that Martin Luther did not care one stiver about the
matter--and that from the horoscope directed to the conjunction of Mars--
they made it plain likewise he must die cursing and blaspheming--with the
blast of which his soul (being steep'd in guilt) sailed before the wind, in
the lake of hell-fire.
The little objection of the Lutheran doctors to this, was, that it must
certainly be the soul of another man, born Oct. 22, 83. which was forced to
sail down before the wind in that manner--inasmuch as it appeared from the
register of Islaben in the county of Mansfelt, that Luther was not born in
the year 1483, but in 84; and not on the 22d day of October, but on the
10th of November, the eve of Martinmas day, from whence he had the name of
(--I must break off my translation for a moment; for if I did not, I know I
should no more be able to shut my eyes in bed, than the abbess of
Quedlingberg--It is to tell the reader; that my father never read this
passage of Slawkenbergius to my uncle Toby, but with triumph--not over my
uncle Toby, for he never opposed him in it--but over the whole world.
--Now you see, brother Toby, he would say, looking up, 'that christian
names are not such indifferent things;'--had Luther here been called by any
other name but Martin, he would have been damn'd to all eternity--Not that
I look upon Martin, he would add, as a good name--far from it--'tis
something better than a neutral, and but a little--yet little as it is you
see it was of some service to him.
My father knew the weakness of this prop to his hypothesis, as well as the
best logician could shew him--yet so strange is the weakness of man at the
same time, as it fell in his way, he could not for his life but make use of
it; and it was certainly for this reason, that though there are many
stories in Hafen Slawkenbergius's Decades full as entertaining as this I am
translating, yet there is not one amongst them which my father read over
with half the delight--it flattered two of his strangest hypotheses
together--his Names and his Noses.--I will be bold to say, he might have
read all the books in the Alexandrian Library, had not fate taken other
care of them, and not have met with a book or passage in one, which hit two
such nails as these upon the head at one stroke.)
The two universities of Strasburg were hard tugging at this affair of
Luther's navigation. The Protestant doctors had demonstrated, that he had
not sailed right before the wind, as the Popish doctors had pretended; and
as every one knew there was no sailing full in the teeth of it--they were
going to settle, in case he had sailed, how many points he was off; whether
Martin had doubled the cape, or had fallen upon a lee-shore; and no doubt,
as it was an enquiry of much edification, at least to those who understood
this sort of Navigation, they had gone on with it in spite of the size of
the stranger's nose, had not the size of the stranger's nose drawn off the
attention of the world from what they were about--it was their business to
The abbess of Quedlingberg and her four dignitaries was no stop; for the
enormity of the stranger's nose running full as much in their fancies as
their case of conscience--the affair of their placket-holes kept cold--in a
word, the printers were ordered to distribute their types--all
'Twas a square cap with a silver tassel upon the crown of it--to a nut-
shell--to have guessed on which side of the nose the two universities would
'Tis above reason, cried the doctors on one side.
'Tis below reason, cried the others.
'Tis faith, cried one.
'Tis a fiddle-stick, said the other.
'Tis possible, cried the one.
'Tis impossible, said the other.
God's power is infinite, cried the Nosarians, he can do any thing.
He can do nothing, replied the Anti-nosarians, which implies
He can make matter think, said the Nosarians.
As certainly as you can make a velvet cap out of a sow's ear, replied the
He cannot make two and two five, replied the Popish doctors.--'Tis false,
said their other opponents.--
Infinite power is infinite power, said the doctors who maintained the
reality of the nose.--It extends only to all possible things, replied the
By God in heaven, cried the Popish doctors, he can make a nose, if he
thinks fit, as big as the steeple of Strasburg.
Now the steeple of Strasburg being the biggest and the tallest church-
steeple to be seen in the whole world, the Anti-nosarians denied that a
nose of 575 geometrical feet in length could be worn, at least by a middle-
siz'd man--The Popish doctors swore it could--The Lutheran doctors said
No;--it could not.
This at once started a new dispute, which they pursued a great way, upon
the extent and limitation of the moral and natural attributes of God--That
controversy led them naturally into Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Aquinas to
The stranger's nose was no more heard of in the dispute--it just served as
a frigate to launch them into the gulph of school-divinity--and then they
all sailed before the wind.
Heat is in proportion to the want of true knowledge.
The controversy about the attributes, &c. instead of cooling, on the
contrary had inflamed the Strasburgers imaginations to a most inordinate
degree--The less they understood of the matter the greater was their wonder
about it--they were left in all the distresses of desire unsatisfied--saw
their doctors, the Parchmentarians, the Brassarians, the Turpentarians, on
one side--the Popish doctors on the other, like Pantagruel and his
companions in quest of the oracle of the bottle, all embarked out of sight.
--The poor Strasburgers left upon the beach!
--What was to be done?--No delay--the uproar increased--every one in
disorder--the city gates set open.--
Unfortunate Strasbergers! was there in the store-house of nature--was there
in the lumber-rooms of learning--was there in the great arsenal of chance,
one single engine left undrawn forth to torture your curiosities, and
stretch your desires, which was not pointed by the hand of Fate to play
upon your hearts?--I dip not my pen into my ink to excuse the surrender of
yourselves--'tis to write your panegyrick. Shew me a city so macerated
with expectation--who neither eat, or drank, or slept, or prayed, or
hearkened to the calls either of religion or nature, for seven-and-twenty
days together, who could have held out one day longer.
On the twenty-eighth the courteous stranger had promised to return to
Seven thousand coaches (Slawkenbergius must certainly have made some
mistake in his numeral characters) 7000 coaches--15000 single-horse chairs-
-20000 waggons, crowded as full as they could all hold with senators,
counsellors, syndicks--beguines, widows, wives, virgins, canons,
concubines, all in their coaches--The abbess of Quedlingberg, with the
prioress, the deaness and sub-chantress, leading the procession in one
coach, and the dean of Strasburg, with the four great dignitaries of his
chapter, on her left-hand--the rest following higglety-pigglety as they
could; some on horseback--some on foot--some led--some driven--some down
the Rhine--some this way--some that--all set out at sun-rise to meet the
courteous stranger on the road.
Haste we now towards the catastrophe of my tale--I say Catastrophe (cries
Slawkenbergius) inasmuch as a tale, with parts rightly disposed, not only
rejoiceth (gaudet) in the Catastrophe and Peripeitia of a Drama, but
rejoiceth moreover in all the essential and integrant parts of it--it has
its Protasis, Epitasis, Catastasis, its Catastrophe or Peripeitia growing
one out of the other in it, in the order Aristotle first planted them--
without which a tale had better never be told at all, says Slawkenbergius,
but be kept to a man's self.
In all my ten tales, in all my ten decades, have I Slawkenbergius tied down
every tale of them as tightly to this rule, as I have done this of the
stranger and his nose.
--From his first parley with the centinel, to his leaving the city of
Strasburg, after pulling off his crimson-sattin pair of breeches, is the
Protasis or first entrance--where the characters of the Personae Dramatis
are just touched in, and the subject slightly begun.
The Epitasis, wherein the action is more fully entered upon and heightened,
till it arrives at its state or height called the Catastasis, and which
usually takes up the 2d and 3d act, is included within that busy period of
my tale, betwixt the first night's uproar about the nose, to the conclusion
of the trumpeter's wife's lectures upon it in the middle of the grand
parade: and from the first embarking of the learned in the dispute--to the
doctors finally sailing away, and leaving the Strasburgers upon the beach
in distress, is the Catastasis or the ripening of the incidents and
passions for their bursting forth in the fifth act.
This commences with the setting out of the Strasburgers in the Frankfort
road, and terminates in unwinding the labyrinth and bringing the hero out
of a state of agitation (as Aristotle calls it) to a state of rest and
This, says Hafen Slawkenbergius, constitutes the Catastrophe or Peripeitia
of my tale--and that is the part of it I am going to relate.
We left the stranger behind the curtain asleep--he enters now upon the
--What dost thou prick up thy ears at?--'tis nothing but a man upon a
horse--was the last word the stranger uttered to his mule. It was not
proper then to tell the reader, that the mule took his master's word for
it; and without any more ifs or ands, let the traveller and his horse pass
The traveller was hastening with all diligence to get to Strasburg that
night. What a fool am I, said the traveller to himself, when he had rode
about a league farther, to think of getting into Strasburg this night.--
Strasburg!--the great Strasburg!--Strasburg, the capital of all Alsatia!
Strasburg, an imperial city! Strasburg, a sovereign state! Strasburg,
garrisoned with five thousand of the best troops in all the world!--Alas!
if I was at the gates of Strasburg this moment, I could not gain admittance
into it for a ducat--nay a ducat and half--'tis too much--better go back to
the last inn I have passed--than lie I know not where--or give I know not
what. The traveller, as he made these reflections in his mind, turned his
horse's head about, and three minutes after the stranger had been conducted
into his chamber, he arrived at the same inn.
--We have bacon in the house, said the host, and bread--and till eleven
o'clock this night had three eggs in it--but a stranger, who arrived an
hour ago, has had them dressed into an omelet, and we have nothing.--
Alas! said the traveller, harassed as I am, I want nothing but a bed.--I
have one as soft as is in Alsatia, said the host.
--The stranger, continued he, should have slept in it, for 'tis my best
bed, but upon the score of his nose.--He has got a defluxion, said the
traveller.--Not that I know, cried the host.--But 'tis a camp-bed, and
Jacinta, said he, looking towards the maid, imagined there was not room in
it to turn his nose in.--Why so? cried the traveller, starting back.--It is
so long a nose, replied the host.--The traveller fixed his eyes upon
Jacinta, then upon the ground--kneeled upon his right knee--had just got
his hand laid upon his breast--Trifle not with my anxiety, said he rising
up again.--'Tis no trifle, said Jacinta, 'tis the most glorious nose!--The
traveller fell upon his knee again--laid his hand upon his breast--then,
said he, looking up to heaven, thou hast conducted me to the end of my
The traveller was the brother of the Julia, so often invoked that night by
the stranger as he rode from Strasburg upon his mule; and was come, on her
part, in quest of him. He had accompanied his sister from Valadolid across
the Pyrenean mountains through France, and had many an entangled skein to
wind off in pursuit of him through the many meanders and abrupt turnings of
a lover's thorny tracks.
--Julia had sunk under it--and had not been able to go a step farther than
to Lyons, where, with the many disquietudes of a tender heart, which all
talk of--but few feel--she sicken'd, but had just strength to write a
letter to Diego; and having conjured her brother never to see her face till
he had found him out, and put the letter into his hands, Julia took to her
Fernandez (for that was her brother's name)--tho' the camp-bed was as soft
as any one in Alsace, yet he could not shut his eyes in it.--As soon as it
was day he rose, and hearing Diego was risen too, he entered his chamber,
and discharged his sister's commission.
The letter was as follows:
'Whether my suspicions of your nose were justly excited or not--'tis not
now to inquire--it is enough I have not had firmness to put them to farther
'How could I know so little of myself, when I sent my Duenna to forbid your
coming more under my lattice? or how could I know so little of you, Diego,
as to imagine you would not have staid one day in Valadolid to have given
ease to my doubts?--Was I to be abandoned, Diego, because I was deceived?
or was it kind to take me at my word, whether my suspicions were just or
no, and leave me, as you did, a prey to much uncertainty and sorrow?
'In what manner Julia has resented this--my brother, when he puts this
letter into your hands, will tell you; He will tell you in how few moments
she repented of the rash message she had sent you--in what frantic haste
she flew to her lattice, and how many days and nights together she leaned
immoveably upon her elbow, looking through it towards the way which Diego
was wont to come.
'He will tell you, when she heard of your departure--how her spirits
deserted her--how her heart sicken'd--how piteously she mourned--how low
she hung her head. O Diego! how many weary steps has my brother's pity led
me by the hand languishing to trace out yours; how far has desire carried
me beyond strength--and how oft have I fainted by the way, and sunk into
his arms, with only power to cry out--O my Diego!
'If the gentleness of your carriage has not belied your heart, you will fly
to me, almost as fast as you fled from me--haste as you will--you will
arrive but to see me expire.--'Tis a bitter draught, Diego, but oh! 'tis
embittered still more by dying un. . .--'
She could proceed no farther.
Slawkenbergius supposes the word intended was unconvinced, but her strength
would not enable her to finish her letter.
The heart of the courteous Diego over-flowed as he read the letter--he
ordered his mule forthwith and Fernandez's horse to be saddled; and as no
vent in prose is equal to that of poetry in such conflicts--chance, which
as often directs us to remedies as to diseases, having thrown a piece of
charcoal into the window--Diego availed himself of it, and whilst the
hostler was getting ready his mule, he eased his mind against the wall as
Harsh and untuneful are the notes of love,
Unless my Julia strikes the key,
Her hand alone can touch the part,
Whose dulcet movement charms the heart,
And governs all the man with sympathetick sway.
The lines were very natural--for they were nothing at all to the purpose,
says Slawkenbergius, and 'tis a pity there were no more of them; but
whether it was that Seig. Diego was slow in composing verses--or the
hostler quick in saddling mules--is not averred; certain it was, that
Diego's mule and Fernandez's horse were ready at the door of the inn,
before Diego was ready for his second stanza; so without staying to finish
his ode, they both mounted, sallied forth, passed the Rhine, traversed
Alsace, shaped their course towards Lyons, and before the Strasburgers and
the abbess of Quedlingberg had set out on their cavalcade, had Fernandez,
Diego, and his Julia, crossed the Pyrenean mountains, and got safe to
'Tis needless to inform the geographical reader, that when Diego was in
Spain, it was not possible to meet the courteous stranger in the Frankfort
road; it is enough to say, that of all restless desires, curiosity being
the strongest--the Strasburgers felt the full force of it; and that for
three days and nights they were tossed to and fro in the Frankfort road,
with the tempestuous fury of this passion, before they could submit to
return home.--When alas! an event was prepared for them, of all other, the
most grievous that could befal a free people.
As this revolution of the Strasburgers affairs is often spoken of, and
little understood, I will, in ten words, says Slawkenbergius, give the
world an explanation of it, and with it put an end to my tale.
Every body knows of the grand system of Universal Monarchy, wrote by order
of Mons. Colbert, and put in manuscript into the hands of Lewis the
fourteenth, in the year 1664.
'Tis as well known, that one branch out of many of that system, was the
getting possession of Strasburg, to favour an entrance at all times into
Suabia, in order to disturb the quiet of Germany--and that in consequence
of this plan, Strasburg unhappily fell at length into their hands.
It is the lot of a few to trace out the true springs of this and such like
revolutions--The vulgar look too high for them--Statesmen look too low--
Truth (for once) lies in the middle.
What a fatal thing is the popular pride of a free city! cries one
historian--The Strasburgers deemed it a diminution of their freedom to
receive an imperial garrison--so fell a prey to a French one.
The fate, says another, of the Strasburgers, may be a warning to all free
people to save their money.--They anticipated their revenues--brought
themselves under taxes, exhausted their strength, and in the end became so
weak a people, they had not strength to keep their gates shut, and so the
French pushed them open.
Alas! alas! cries Slawkenbergius, 'twas not the French,--'twas Curiosity
pushed them open--The French indeed, who are ever upon the catch, when they
saw the Strasburgers, men, women and children, all marched out to follow
the stranger's nose--each man followed his own, and marched in.
Trade and manufactures have decayed and gradually grown down ever since--
but not from any cause which commercial heads have assigned; for it is
owing to this only, that Noses have ever so run in their heads, that the
Strasburgers could not follow their business.
Alas! alas! cries Slawkenbergius, making an exclamation--it is not the
first--and I fear will not be the last fortress that has been either won--
or lost by Noses.
The End of Slawkenbergius's Tale.
With all this learning upon Noses running perpetually in my father's fancy-
-with so many family prejudices--and ten decades of such tales running on
for ever along with them--how was it possible with such exquisite--was it a
true nose?--That a man with such exquisite feelings as my father had, could
bear the shock at all below stairs--or indeed above stairs, in any other
posture, but the very posture I have described?
--Throw yourself down upon the bed, a dozen times--taking care only to
place a looking-glass first in a chair on one side of it, before you do it-
-But was the stranger's nose a true nose, or was it a false one?
To tell that before-hand, madam, would be to do injury to one of the best
tales in the Christian-world; and that is the tenth of the tenth decade,
which immediately follows this.
This tale, cried Slawkenbergius, somewhat exultingly, has been reserved by
me for the concluding tale of my whole work; knowing right well, that when
I shall have told it, and my reader shall have read it thro'--'twould be
even high time for both of us to shut up the book; inasmuch, continues
Slawkenbergius, as I know of no tale which could possibly ever go down
'Tis a tale indeed!
This sets out with the first interview in the inn at Lyons, when Fernandez
left the courteous stranger and his sister Julia alone in her chamber, and
The Intricacies of Diego and Julia.
Heavens! thou art a strange creature, Slawkenbergius! what a whimsical view
of the involutions of the heart of woman hast thou opened! how this can
ever be translated, and yet if this specimen of Slawkenbergius's tales, and
the exquisitiveness of his moral, should please the world--translated shall
a couple of volumes be.--Else, how this can ever be translated into good
English, I have no sort of conception--There seems in some passages to want
a sixth sense to do it rightly.--What can he mean by the lambent
pupilability of slow, low, dry chat, five notes below the natural tone--
which you know, madam, is little more than a whisper? The moment I
pronounced the words, I could perceive an attempt towards a vibration in
the strings, about the region of the heart.--The brain made no
acknowledgment.--There's often no good understanding betwixt 'em--I felt as
if I understood it.--I had no ideas.--The movement could not be without
cause.--I'm lost. I can make nothing of it--unless, may it please your
worships, the voice, in that case being little more than a whisper,
unavoidably forces the eyes to approach not only within six inches of each
other--but to look into the pupils--is not that dangerous?--But it can't be
avoided--for to look up to the cieling, in that case the two chins
unavoidably meet--and to look down into each other's lap, the foreheads
come to immediate contact, which at once puts an end to the conference--I
mean to the sentimental part of it.--What is left, madam, is not worth
My father lay stretched across the bed as still as if the hand of death had
pushed him down, for a full hour and a half before he began to play upon
the floor with the toe of that foot which hung over the bed-side; my uncle
Toby's heart was a pound lighter for it.--In a few moments, his left-hand,
the knuckles of which had all the time reclined upon the handle of the
chamber-pot, came to its feeling--he thrust it a little more within the
valance--drew up his hand, when he had done, into his bosom--gave a hem!
My good uncle Toby, with infinite pleasure, answered it; and full gladly
would have ingrafted a sentence of consolation upon the opening it
afforded: but having no talents, as I said, that way, and fearing moreover
that he might set out with something which might make a bad matter worse,
he contented himself with resting his chin placidly upon the cross of his
Now whether the compression shortened my uncle Toby's face into a more
pleasurable oval--or that the philanthropy of his heart, in seeing his
brother beginning to emerge out of the sea of his afflictions, had braced
up his muscles--so that the compression upon his chin only doubled the
benignity which was there before, is not hard to decide.--My father, in
turning his eyes, was struck with such a gleam of sun-shine in his face, as
melted down the sullenness of his grief in a moment.
He broke silence as follows:
Did ever man, brother Toby, cried my father, raising himself upon his
elbow, and turning himself round to the opposite side of the bed, where my
uncle Toby was sitting in his old fringed chair, with his chin resting upon
his crutch--did ever a poor unfortunate man, brother Toby, cried my father,
receive so many lashes?--The most I ever saw given, quoth my uncle Toby
(ringing the bell at the bed's head for Trim) was to a grenadier, I think
in Mackay's regiment.
--Had my uncle Toby shot a bullet through my father's heart, he could not
have fallen down with his nose upon the quilt more suddenly.
Bless me! said my uncle Toby.
Was it Mackay's regiment, quoth my uncle Toby, where the poor grenadier was
so unmercifully whipp'd at Bruges about the ducats?--O Christ! he was
innocent! cried Trim, with a deep sigh.--And he was whipp'd, may it please
your honour, almost to death's door.--They had better have shot him
outright, as he begg'd, and he had gone directly to heaven, for he was as
innocent as your honour.--I thank thee, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby.--I never
think of his, continued Trim, and my poor brother Tom's misfortunes, for we
were all three school-fellows, but I cry like a coward.--Tears are no proof
of cowardice, Trim.--I drop them oft-times myself, cried my uncle Toby.--I
know your honour does, replied Trim, and so am not ashamed of it myself.--
But to think, may it please your honour, continued Trim, a tear stealing
into the corner of his eye as he spoke--to think of two virtuous lads with
hearts as warm in their bodies, and as honest as God could make them--the
children of honest people, going forth with gallant spirits to seek their
fortunes in the world--and fall into such evils!--poor Tom! to be tortured
upon a rack for nothing--but marrying a Jew's widow who sold sausages--
honest Dick Johnson's soul to be scourged out of his body, for the ducats
another man put into his knapsack!--O!--these are misfortunes, cried Trim,-
-pulling out his handkerchief--these are misfortunes, may it please your
honour, worth lying down and crying over.
--My father could not help blushing.
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