The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Part 8 out of 10
ancestors, upon all occasions, into France: it was not without its
inconveniences also; being no less troublesome to the English in those
times, than Dunkirk has been to us, in ours; so that it was deservedly
looked upon as the key to both kingdoms, which no doubt is the reason that
there have arisen so many contentions who should keep it: of these, the
siege of Calais, or rather the blockade (for it was shut up both by land
and sea), was the most memorable, as it with-stood the efforts of Edward
the Third a whole year, and was not terminated at last but by famine and
extreme misery; the gallantry of Eustace de St. Pierre, who first offered
himself a victim for his fellow-citizens, has rank'd his name with heroes.
As it will not take up above fifty pages, it would be injustice to the
reader, not to give him a minute account of that romantic transaction, as
well as of the siege itself, in Rapin's own words:
--But courage! gentle reader!--I scorn it--'tis enough to have thee in my
power--but to make use of the advantage which the fortune of the pen has
now gained over thee, would be too much--No--! by that all-powerful fire
which warms the visionary brain, and lights the spirits through unworldly
tracts! ere I would force a helpless creature upon this hard service, and
make thee pay, poor soul! for fifty pages, which I have no right to sell
thee,--naked as I am, I would browse upon the mountains, and smile that the
north wind brought me neither my tent or my supper.
--So put on, my brave boy! and make the best of thy way to Boulogne.
Boulogne!--hah!--so we are all got together--debtors and sinners before
heaven; a jolly set of us--but I can't stay and quaff it off with you--I'm
pursued myself like a hundred devils, and shall be overtaken, before I can
well change horses:--for heaven's sake, make haste--'Tis for high-treason,
quoth a very little man, whispering as low as he could to a very tall man,
that stood next him--Or else for murder; quoth the tall man--Well thrown,
Size-ace! quoth I. No; quoth a third, the gentleman has been committing--
Ah! ma chere fille! said I, as she tripp'd by from her matins--you look as
rosy as the morning (for the sun was rising, and it made the compliment the
more gracious)--No; it can't be that, quoth a fourth--(she made a curt'sy
to me--I kiss'd my hand) 'tis debt, continued he: 'Tis certainly for debt;
quoth a fifth; I would not pay that gentleman's debts, quoth Ace, for a
thousand pounds; nor would I, quoth Size, for six times the sum--Well
thrown, Size-ace, again! quoth I;--but I have no debt but the debt of
Nature, and I want but patience of her, and I will pay her every farthing I
owe her--How can you be so hard-hearted, Madam, to arrest a poor traveller
going along without molestation to any one upon his lawful occasions? do
stop that death-looking, long-striding scoundrel of a scare-sinner, who is
posting after me--he never would have followed me but for you--if it be but
for a stage or two, just to give me start of him, I beseech you, madam--do,
--Now, in troth, 'tis a great pity, quoth mine Irish host, that all this
good courtship should be lost; for the young gentlewoman has been after
going out of hearing of it all along.--
--Simpleton! quoth I.
--So you have nothing else in Boulogne worth seeing?
--By Jasus! there is the finest Seminary for the Humanities--
--There cannot be a finer; quoth I.
When the precipitancy of a man's wishes hurries on his ideas ninety times
faster than the vehicle he rides in--woe be to truth! and woe be to the
vehicle and its tackling (let 'em be made of what stuff you will) upon
which he breathes forth the disappointment of his soul!
As I never give general characters either of men or things in choler, 'the
most haste the worse speed,' was all the reflection I made upon the affair,
the first time it happen'd;--the second, third, fourth, and fifth time, I
confined it respectively to those times, and accordingly blamed only the
second, third, fourth, and fifth post-boy for it, without carrying my
reflections further; but the event continuing to befal me from the fifth,
to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth time, and without one
exception, I then could not avoid making a national reflection of it, which
I do in these words;
That something is always wrong in a French post-chaise, upon first setting
Or the proposition may stand thus:
A French postilion has always to alight before he has got three hundred
yards out of town.
What's wrong now?--Diable!--a rope's broke!--a knot has slipt!--a staple's
drawn!--a bolt's to whittle!--a tag, a rag, a jag, a strap, a buckle, or a
buckle's tongue, want altering.
Now true as all this is, I never think myself impowered to excommunicate
thereupon either the post-chaise, or its driver--nor do I take it into my
head to swear by the living G.., I would rather go a-foot ten thousand
times--or that I will be damn'd, if ever I get into another--but I take the
matter coolly before me, and consider, that some tag, or rag, or jag, or
bolt, or buckle, or buckle's tongue, will ever be a wanting or want
altering, travel where I will--so I never chaff, but take the good and the
bad as they fall in my road, and get on:--Do so, my lad! said I; he had
lost five minutes already, in alighting in order to get at a luncheon of
black bread, which he had cramm'd into the chaise-pocket, and was
remounted, and going leisurely on, to relish it the better.--Get on, my
lad, said I, briskly--but in the most persuasive tone imaginable, for I
jingled a four-and-twenty sous piece against the glass, taking care to hold
the flat side towards him, as he look'd back: the dog grinn'd intelligence
from his right ear to his left, and behind his sooty muzzle discovered such
a pearly row of teeth, that Sovereignty would have pawn'd her jewels for
Just heaven! What masticators!--/What bread!--
and so as he finished the last mouthful of it, we entered the town of
There is not a town in all France which, in my opinion, looks better in the
map, than Montreuil;--I own, it does not look so well in the book of post-
roads; but when you come to see it--to be sure it looks most pitifully.
There is one thing, however, in it at present very handsome; and that is,
the inn-keeper's daughter: She has been eighteen months at Amiens, and six
at Paris, in going through her classes; so knits, and sews, and dances, and
does the little coquetries very well.--
--A slut! in running them over within these five minutes that I have stood
looking at her, she has let fall at least a dozen loops in a white thread
stocking--yes, yes--I see, you cunning gipsy!--'tis long and taper--you
need not pin it to your knee--and that 'tis your own--and fits you
--That Nature should have told this creature a word about a statue's thumb!
--But as this sample is worth all their thumbs--besides, I have her thumbs
and fingers in at the bargain, if they can be any guide to me,--and as
Janatone withal (for that is her name) stands so well for a drawing--may I
never draw more, or rather may I draw like a draught-horse, by main
strength all the days of my life,--if I do not draw her in all her
proportions, and with as determined a pencil, as if I had her in the
--But your worships chuse rather that I give you the length, breadth, and
perpendicular height of the great parish-church, or drawing of the facade
of the abbey of Saint Austreberte which has been transported from Artois
hither--every thing is just I suppose as the masons and carpenters left
them,--and if the belief in Christ continues so long, will be so these
fifty years to come--so your worships and reverences may all measure them
at your leisures--but he who measures thee, Janatone, must do it now--thou
carriest the principles of change within thy frame; and considering the
chances of a transitory life, I would not answer for thee a moment; ere
twice twelve months are passed and gone, thou mayest grow out like a
pumpkin, and lose thy shapes--or thou mayest go off like a flower, and lose
thy beauty--nay, thou mayest go off like a hussy--and lose thyself.--I
would not answer for my aunt Dinah, was she alive--'faith, scarce for her
picture--were it but painted by Reynolds--
But if I go on with my drawing, after naming that son of Apollo, I'll be
So you must e'en be content with the original; which, if the evening is
fine in passing thro' Montreuil, you will see at your chaise-door, as you
change horses: but unless you have as bad a reason for haste as I have--you
had better stop:--She has a little of the devote: but that, sir, is a
terce to a nine in your favour--
-L... help me! I could not count a single point: so had been piqued and
repiqued, and capotted to the devil.
All which being considered, and that Death moreover might be much nearer me
than I imagined--I wish I was at Abbeville, quoth I, were it only to see
how they card and spin--so off we set.
(Vid. Book of French post-roads, page 36. edition of 1762.)
de Montreuil a Nampont - poste et demi
de Nampont a Bernay --- poste
de Bernay a Nouvion --- poste
de Nouvion a Abbeville poste
--but the carders and spinners were all gone to bed.
What a vast advantage is travelling! only it heats one; but there is a
remedy for that, which you may pick out of the next chapter.
Was I in a condition to stipulate with Death, as I am this moment with my
apothecary, how and where I will take his clyster--I should certainly
declare against submitting to it before my friends; and therefore I never
seriously think upon the mode and manner of this great catastrophe, which
generally takes up and torments my thoughts as much as the catastrophe
itself; but I constantly draw the curtain across it with this wish, that
the Disposer of all things may so order it, that it happen not to me in my
own house--but rather in some decent inn--at home, I know it,--the concern
of my friends, and the last services of wiping my brows, and smoothing my
pillow, which the quivering hand of pale affection shall pay me, will so
crucify my soul, that I shall die of a distemper which my physician is not
aware of: but in an inn, the few cold offices I wanted, would be purchased
with a few guineas, and paid me with an undisturbed, but punctual
attention--but mark. This inn should not be the inn at Abbeville--if there
was not another inn in the universe, I would strike that inn out of the
Let the horses be in the chaise exactly by four in the morning--Yes, by
four, Sir,--or by Genevieve! I'll raise a clatter in the house shall wake
'Make them like unto a wheel,' is a bitter sarcasm, as all the learned
know, against the grand tour, and that restless spirit for making it, which
David prophetically foresaw would haunt the children of men in the latter
days; and therefore, as thinketh the great bishop Hall, 'tis one of the
severest imprecations which David ever utter'd against the enemies of the
Lord--and, as if he had said, 'I wish them no worse luck than always to be
rolling about.'--So much motion, continues he (for he was very corpulent)--
is so much unquietness; and so much of rest, by the same analogy, is so
much of heaven.
Now, I (being very thin) think differently; and that so much of motion, is
so much of life, and so much of joy--and that to stand still, or get on but
slowly, is death and the devil--
Hollo! Ho!--the whole world's asleep!--bring out the horses--grease the
wheels--tie on the mail--and drive a nail into that moulding--I'll not lose
Now the wheel we are talking of, and whereinto (but not whereonto, for that
would make an Ixion's wheel of it) he curseth his enemies, according to the
bishop's habit of body, should certainly be a post-chaise wheel, whether
they were set up in Palestine at that time or not--and my wheel, for the
contrary reasons, must as certainly be a cart-wheel groaning round its
revolution once in an age; and of which sort, were I to turn commentator, I
should make no scruple to affirm, they had great store in that hilly
I love the Pythagoreans (much more than ever I dare tell my dear Jenny) for
their '(Greek)'--(their) 'getting out of the body, in order to think well.'
No man thinks right, whilst he is in it; blinded as he must be, with his
congenial humours, and drawn differently aside, as the bishop and myself
have been, with too lax or too tense a fibre--Reason is, half of it, Sense;
and the measure of heaven itself is but the measure of our present
appetites and concoctions.--
--But which of the two, in the present case, do you think to be mostly in
You, certainly: quoth she, to disturb a whole family so early.
--But she did not know I was under a vow not to shave my beard till I got
to Paris;--yet I hate to make mysteries of nothing;--'tis the cold
cautiousness of one of those little souls from which Lessius (lib. 13. de
moribus divinis, cap. 24.) hath made his estimate, wherein he setteth
forth, That one Dutch mile, cubically multiplied, will allow room enough,
and to spare, for eight hundred thousand millions, which he supposes to be
as great a number of souls (counting from the fall of Adam) as can possibly
be damn'd to the end of the world.
From what he has made this second estimate--unless from the parental
goodness of God--I don't know--I am much more at a loss what could be in
Franciscus Ribbera's head, who pretends that no less a space than one of
two hundred Italian miles multiplied into itself, will be sufficient to
hold the like number--he certainly must have gone upon some of the old
Roman souls, of which he had read, without reflecting how much, by a
gradual and most tabid decline, in the course of eighteen hundred years,
they must unavoidably have shrunk so as to have come, when he wrote, almost
In Lessius's time, who seems the cooler man, they were as little as can be
--We find them less now--
And next winter we shall find them less again; so that if we go on from
little to less, and from less to nothing, I hesitate not one moment to
affirm, that in half a century at this rate, we shall have no souls at all;
which being the period beyond which I doubt likewise of the existence of
the Christian faith, 'twill be one advantage that both of 'em will be
exactly worn out together.
Blessed Jupiter! and blessed every other heathen god and goddess! for now
ye will all come into play again, and with Priapus at your tails--what
jovial times!--but where am I? and into what a delicious riot of things am
I rushing? I--I who must be cut short in the midst of my days, and taste
no more of 'em than what I borrow from my imagination--peace to thee,
generous fool! and let me go on.
--'So hating, I say, to make mysteries of nothing'--I intrusted it with the
post-boy, as soon as ever I got off the stones; he gave a crack with his
whip to balance the compliment; and with the thill-horse trotting, and a
sort of an up and a down of the other, we danced it along to Ailly au
clochers, famed in days of yore for the finest chimes in the world; but we
danced through it without music--the chimes being greatly out of order--(as
in truth they were through all France).
And so making all possible speed, from
Ailly au clochers, I got to Hixcourt,
from Hixcourt I got to Pequignay, and
from Pequignay, I got to Amiens,
concerning which town I have nothing to inform you, but what I have
informed you once before--and that was--that Janatone went there to school.
In the whole catalogue of those whiffling vexations which come puffing
across a man's canvass, there is not one of a more teasing and tormenting
nature, than this particular one which I am going to describe--and for
which (unless you travel with an avance-courier, which numbers do in order
to prevent it)--there is no help: and it is this.
That be you in never so kindly a propensity to sleep--though you are
passing perhaps through the finest country--upon the best roads, and in the
easiest carriage for doing it in the world--nay, was you sure you could
sleep fifty miles straight forwards, without once opening your eyes--nay,
what is more, was you as demonstratively satisfied as you can be of any
truth in Euclid, that you should upon all accounts be full as well asleep
as awake--nay, perhaps better--Yet the incessant returns of paying for the
horses at every stage,--with the necessity thereupon of putting your hand
into your pocket, and counting out from thence three livres fifteen sous
(sous by sous), puts an end to so much of the project, that you cannot
execute above six miles of it (or supposing it is a post and a half, that
is but nine)--were it to save your soul from destruction.
--I'll be even with 'em, quoth I, for I'll put the precise sum into a piece
of paper, and hold it ready in my hand all the way: 'Now I shall have
nothing to do,' said I (composing myself to rest), 'but to drop this gently
into the post-boy's hat, and not say a word.'--Then there wants two sous
more to drink--or there is a twelve sous piece of Louis XIV. which will not
pass--or a livre and some odd liards to be brought over from the last
stage, which Monsieur had forgot; which altercations (as a man cannot
dispute very well asleep) rouse him: still is sweet sleep retrievable; and
still might the flesh weigh down the spirit, and recover itself of these
blows--but then, by heaven! you have paid but for a single post--whereas
'tis a post and a half; and this obliges you to pull out your book of post-
roads, the print of which is so very small, it forces you to open your
eyes, whether you will or no: Then Monsieur le Cure offers you a pinch of
snuff--or a poor soldier shews you his leg--or a shaveling his box--or the
priestesse of the cistern will water your wheels--they do not want it--but
she swears by her priesthood (throwing it back) that they do:--then you
have all these points to argue, or consider over in your mind; in doing of
which, the rational powers get so thoroughly awakened--you may get 'em to
sleep again as you can.
It was entirely owing to one of these misfortunes, or I had pass'd clean by
the stables of Chantilly--
--But the postillion first affirming, and then persisting in it to my face,
that there was no mark upon the two sous piece, I open'd my eyes to be
convinced --and seeing the mark upon it as plain as my nose--I leap'd out
of the chaise in a passion, and so saw every thing at Chantilly in spite.--
I tried it but for three posts and a half, but believe 'tis the best
principle in the world to travel speedily upon; for as few objects look
very inviting in that mood--you have little or nothing to stop you; by
which means it was that I passed through St. Dennis, without turning my
head so much as on one side towards the Abby--
--Richness of their treasury! stuff and nonsense!--bating their jewels,
which are all false, I would not give three sous for any one thing in it,
but Jaidas's lantern--nor for that either, only as it grows dark, it might
be of use.
Crack, crack--crack, crack--crack, crack--so this is Paris! quoth I
(continuing in the same mood)--and this is Paris!--humph!--Paris! cried I,
repeating the name the third time--
The first, the finest, the most brilliant--
The streets however are nasty.
But it looks, I suppose, better than it smells--crack, crack--crack, crack-
-what a fuss thou makest!--as if it concerned the good people to be
informed, that a man with pale face and clad in black, had the honour to be
driven into Paris at nine o'clock at night, by a postillion in a tawny
yellow jerkin, turned up with red calamanco--crack, crack--crack, crack--
crack, crack,--I wish thy whip--
--But 'tis the spirit of thy nation; so crack--crack on.
Ha!--and no one gives the wall!--but in the School of Urbanity herself, if
the walls are besh..t--how can you do otherwise?
And prithee when do they light the lamps? What?--never in the summer
months!--Ho! 'tis the time of sallads.--O rare! sallad and soup--soup and
sallad--sallad and soup, encore--
--'Tis too much for sinners.
Now I cannot bear the barbarity of it; how can that unconscionable coachman
talk so much bawdy to that lean horse? don't you see, friend, the streets
are so villanously narrow, that there is not room in all Paris to turn a
wheelbarrow? In the grandest city of the whole world, it would not have
been amiss, if they had been left a thought wider; nay, were it only so
much in every single street, as that a man might know (was it only for
satisfaction) on which side of it he was walking.
shops! and twice the number of barbers! and all within three minutes
driving! one would think that all the cooks in the world, on some great
merry-meeting with the barbers, by joint consent had said--Come, let us all
go live at Paris: the French love good eating--they are all gourmands--we
shall rank high; if their god is their belly--their cooks must be
gentlemen: and forasmuch as the periwig maketh the man, and the periwig-
maker maketh the periwig--ergo, would the barbers say, we shall rank higher
still--we shall be above you all--we shall be Capitouls (Chief Magistrate
in Toulouse, &c. &c. &c.) at least--pardi! we shall all wear swords--
--And so, one would swear, (that is, by candle-light,--but there is no
depending upon it,) they continued to do, to this day.
The French are certainly misunderstood:--but whether the fault is theirs,
in not sufficiently explaining themselves; or speaking with that exact
limitation and precision which one would expect on a point of such
importance, and which, moreover, is so likely to be contested by us--or
whether the fault may not be altogether on our side, in not understanding
their language always so critically as to know 'what they would be at'--I
shall not decide; but 'tis evident to me, when they affirm, 'That they who
have seen Paris, have seen every thing,' they must mean to speak of those
who have seen it by day-light.
As for candle-light--I give it up--I have said before, there was no
depending upon it--and I repeat it again; but not because the lights and
shades are too sharp--or the tints confounded--or that there is neither
beauty or keeping, &c.. . .for that's not truth--but it is an uncertain
light in this respect, That in all the five hundred grand Hotels, which
they number up to you in Paris--and the five hundred good things, at a
modest computation (for 'tis only allowing one good thing to a Hotel),
which by candle-light are best to be seen, felt, heard, and understood
(which, by the bye, is a quotation from Lilly)--the devil a one of us out
of fifty, can get our heads fairly thrust in amongst them.
This is no part of the French computation: 'tis simply this,
That by the last survey taken in the year one thousand seven hundred and
sixteen, since which time there have been considerable augmentations, Paris
doth contain nine hundred streets; (viz)
In the quarter called the City--there are fifty-three streets.
In St. James of the Shambles, fifty-five streets.
In St. Oportune, thirty-four streets.
In the quarter of the Louvre, twenty-five streets.
In the Palace Royal, or St. Honorius, forty-nine streets.
In Mont. Martyr, forty-one streets.
In St. Eustace, twenty-nine streets.
In the Halles, twenty-seven streets.
In St. Dennis, fifty-five streets.
In St. Martin, fifty-four streets.
In St. Paul, or the Mortellerie, twenty-seven streets.
The Greve, thirty-eight streets.
In St. Avoy, or the Verrerie, nineteen streets.
In the Marais, or the Temple, fifty-two streets.
In St. Antony's, sixty-eight streets.
In the Place Maubert, eighty-one streets.
In St. Bennet, sixty streets.
In St. Andrews de Arcs, fifty-one streets.
In the quarter of the Luxembourg, sixty-two streets.
And in that of St. Germain, fifty-five streets, into any of which you may
walk; and that when you have seen them with all that belongs to them,
fairly by day-light--their gates, their bridges, their squares, their
statues. . .and have crusaded it moreover, through all their parish-
churches, by no means omitting St. Roche and Sulpice. . .and to crown all,
have taken a walk to the four palaces, which you may see, either with or
without the statues and pictures, just as you chuse--
--Then you will have seen--
--but 'tis what no one needeth to tell you, for you will read of it
yourself upon the portico of the Louvre, in these words,
Earth No Such Folks!--No Folks E'er Such A Town
As Paris Is!--Sing, Derry, Derry, Down.
(Non orbis gentem, non urbem gens habet ullam
The French have a gay way of treating every thing that is Great; and that
is all can be said upon it.
In mentioning the word gay (as in the close of the last chapter) it puts
one (i.e. an author) in mind of the word spleen--especially if he has any
thing to say upon it: not that by any analysis--or that from any table of
interest or genealogy, there appears much more ground of alliance betwixt
them, than betwixt light and darkness, or any two of the most unfriendly
opposites in nature--only 'tis an undercraft of authors to keep up a good
understanding amongst words, as politicians do amongst men--not knowing how
near they may be under a necessity of placing them to each other--which
point being now gain'd, and that I may place mine exactly to my mind, I
write it down here--
This, upon leaving Chantilly, I declared to be the best principle in the
world to travel speedily upon; but I gave it only as matter of opinion. I
still continue in the same sentiments--only I had not then experience
enough of its working to add this, that though you do get on at a tearing
rate, yet you get on but uneasily to yourself at the same time; for which
reason I here quit it entirely, and for ever, and 'tis heartily at any
one's service--it has spoiled me the digestion of a good supper, and
brought on a bilious diarrhoea, which has brought me back again to my first
principle on which I set out--and with which I shall now scamper it away to
the banks of the Garonne--
--No;--I cannot stop a moment to give you the character of the people--
their genius--their manners--their customs--their laws--their religion--
their government--their manufactures--their commerce--their finances, with
all the resources and hidden springs which sustain them: qualified as I may
be, by spending three days and two nights amongst them, and during all that
time making these things the entire subject of my enquiries and
Still--still I must away--the roads are paved--the posts are short--the
days are long--'tis no more than noon--I shall be at Fontainebleau before
--Was he going there? not that I know--
End of the Third Volume.
Volume the Fourth.
Non enim excursus hic ejus, sed opus ipsum est.
Plin. Lib. V. Epist. 6.
Si quid urbaniuscule lusum a nobis, per Musas et Charitas et omnium
poetarum Numina, Oro te, ne me male capias.
A Dedication to a Great Man.
Having, a priori, intended to dedicate The Amours of my Uncle Toby to Mr.
...--I see more reasons, a posteriori, for doing it to Lord ........
I should lament from my soul, if this exposed me to the jealousy of their
Reverences; because a posteriori, in Court-latin, signifies the kissing
hands for preferment--or any thing else--in order to get it.
My opinion of Lord ....... is neither better nor worse, than it was of Mr.
.... Honours, like impressions upon coin, may give an ideal and local
value to a bit of base metal; but Gold and Silver will pass all the world
over without any other recommendation than their own weight.
The same good-will that made me think of offering up half an hour's
amusement to Mr. ... when out of place--operates more forcibly at present,
as half an hour's amusement will be more serviceable and refreshing after
labour and sorrow, than after a philosophical repast.
Nothing is so perfectly amusement as a total change of ideas; no ideas are
so totally different as those of Ministers, and innocent Lovers: for which
reason, when I come to talk of Statesmen and Patriots, and set such marks
upon them as will prevent confusion and mistakes concerning them for the
future--I propose to dedicate that Volume to some gentle Shepherd,
Whose thoughts proud Science never taught to stray,
Far as the Statesman's walk or Patriot-way;
Yet simple Nature to his hopes had given
Out of a cloud-capp'd head a humbler heaven;
Some untam'd World in depths of wood embraced--
Some happier Island in the wat'ry-waste--
And where admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful Dogs should bear him company.
In a word, by thus introducing an entire new set of objects to his
Imagination, I shall unavoidably give a Diversion to his passionate and
love-sick Contemplations. In the mean time,
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.
Now I hate to hear a person, especially if he be a traveller, complain that
we do not get on so fast in France as we do in England; whereas we get on
much faster, consideratis considerandis; thereby always meaning, that if
you weigh their vehicles with the mountains of baggage which you lay both
before and behind upon them--and then consider their puny horses, with the
very little they give them--'tis a wonder they get on at all: their
suffering is most unchristian, and 'tis evident thereupon to me, that a
French post-horse would not know what in the world to do, was it not for
the two words ...... and ...... in which there is as much sustenance, as if
you give him a peck of corn: now as these words cost nothing, I long from
my soul to tell the reader what they are; but here is the question--they
must be told him plainly, and with the most distinct articulation, or it
will answer no end--and yet to do it in that plain way--though their
reverences may laugh at it in the bed-chamber--full well I wot, they will
abuse it in the parlour: for which cause, I have been volving and
revolving in my fancy some time, but to no purpose, by what clean device or
facette contrivance I might so modulate them, that whilst I satisfy that
ear which the reader chuses to lend me--I might not dissatisfy the other
which he keeps to himself.
--My ink burns my finger to try--and when I have--'twill have a worse
consequence--It will burn (I fear) my paper.
--No;--I dare not--
But if you wish to know how the abbess of Andouillets and a novice of her
convent got over the difficulty (only first wishing myself all imaginable
success)--I'll tell you without the least scruple.
The abbess of Andouillets, which if you look into the large set of
provincial maps now publishing at Paris, you will find situated amongst the
hills which divide Burgundy from Savoy, being in danger of an Anchylosis or
stiff joint (the sinovia of her knee becoming hard by long matins), and
having tried every remedy--first, prayers and thanksgiving; then
invocations to all the saints in heaven promiscuously--then particularly to
every saint who had ever had a stiff leg before her--then touching it with
all the reliques of the convent, principally with the thigh-bone of the man
of Lystra, who had been impotent from his youth--then wrapping it up in her
veil when she went to bed--then cross-wise her rosary--then bringing in to
her aid the secular arm, and anointing it with oils and hot fat of animals-
-then treating it with emollient and resolving fomentations--then with
poultices of marsh-mallows, mallows, bonus Henricus, white lillies and
fenugreek--then taking the woods, I mean the smoak of 'em, holding her
scapulary across her lap--then decoctions of wild chicory, water-cresses,
chervil, sweet cecily and cochlearia--and nothing all this while answering,
was prevailed on at last to try the hot-baths of Bourbon--so having first
obtained leave of the visitor-general to take care of her existence--she
ordered all to be got ready for her journey: a novice of the convent of
about seventeen, who had been troubled with a whitloe in her middle finger,
by sticking it constantly into the abbess's cast poultices, &c.--had gained
such an interest, that overlooking a sciatical old nun, who might have been
set up for ever by the hot-baths of Bourbon, Margarita, the little novice,
was elected as the companion of the journey.
An old calesh, belonging to the abbesse, lined with green frize, was
ordered to be drawn out into the sun--the gardener of the convent being
chosen muleteer, led out the two old mules, to clip the hair from the rump-
ends of their tails, whilst a couple of lay-sisters were busied, the one in
darning the lining, and the other in sewing on the shreds of yellow
binding, which the teeth of time had unravelled--the under-gardener dress'd
the muleteer's hat in hot wine-lees--and a taylor sat musically at it, in a
shed over-against the convent, in assorting four dozen of bells for the
harness, whistling to each bell, as he tied it on with a thong.--
--The carpenter and the smith of Andouillets held a council of wheels; and
by seven, the morning after, all look'd spruce, and was ready at the gate
of the convent for the hot-baths of Bourbon--two rows of the unfortunate
stood ready there an hour before.
The abbess of Andouillets, supported by Margarita the novice, advanced
slowly to the calesh, both clad in white, with their black rosaries hanging
at their breasts--
--There was a simple solemnity in the contrast: they entered the calesh;
the nuns in the same uniform, sweet emblem of innocence, each occupied a
window, and as the abbess and Margarita look'd up--each (the sciatical poor
nun excepted)--each stream'd out the end of her veil in the air--then
kiss'd the lilly hand which let it go: the good abbess and Margarita laid
their hands saint-wise upon their breasts--look'd up to heaven--then to
them--and look'd 'God bless you, dear sisters.'
I declare I am interested in this story, and wish I had been there.
The gardener, whom I shall now call the muleteer, was a little, hearty,
broad-set, good-natured, chattering, toping kind of a fellow, who troubled
his head very little with the hows and whens of life; so had mortgaged a
month of his conventical wages in a borrachio, or leathern cask of wine,
which he had disposed behind the calesh, with a large russet-coloured
riding-coat over it, to guard it from the sun; and as the weather was hot,
and he not a niggard of his labours, walking ten times more than he rode--
he found more occasions than those of nature, to fall back to the rear of
his carriage; till by frequent coming and going, it had so happen'd, that
all his wine had leak'd out at the legal vent of the borrachio, before one
half of the journey was finish'd.
Man is a creature born to habitudes. The day had been sultry--the evening
was delicious--the wine was generous--the Burgundian hill on which it grew
was steep--a little tempting bush over the door of a cool cottage at the
foot of it, hung vibrating in full harmony with the passions--a gentle air
rustled distinctly through the leaves--'Come--come, thirsty muleteer,--come
--The muleteer was a son of Adam, I need not say a word more. He gave the
mules, each of 'em, a sound lash, and looking in the abbess's and
Margarita's faces (as he did it)--as much as to say 'here I am'--he gave a
second good crack--as much as to say to his mules, 'get on'--so slinking
behind, he enter'd the little inn at the foot of the hill.
The muleteer, as I told you, was a little, joyous, chirping fellow, who
thought not of to-morrow, nor of what had gone before, or what was to
follow it, provided he got but his scantling of Burgundy, and a little
chit-chat along with it; so entering into a long conversation, as how he
was chief gardener to the convent of Andouillets, &c. &c. and out of
friendship for the abbess and Mademoiselle Margarita, who was only in her
noviciate, he had come along with them from the confines of Savoy, &c. &c.-
-and as how she had got a white swelling by her devotions--and what a
nation of herbs he had procured to mollify her humours, &c. &c. and that if
the waters of Bourbon did not mend that leg--she might as well be lame of
both--&c. &c. &c.--He so contrived his story, as absolutely to forget the
heroine of it--and with her the little novice, and what was a more ticklish
point to be forgot than both--the two mules; who being creatures that take
advantage of the world, inasmuch as their parents took it of them--and they
not being in a condition to return the obligation downwards (as men and
women and beasts are)--they do it side-ways, and long-ways, and back-ways--
and up hill, and down hill, and which way they can.--Philosophers, with all
their ethicks, have never considered this rightly--how should the poor
muleteer, then in his cups, consider it at all? he did not in the least--
'tis time we do; let us leave him then in the vortex of his element, the
happiest and most thoughtless of mortal men--and for a moment let us look
after the mules, the abbess, and Margarita.
By virtue of the muleteer's two last strokes the mules had gone quietly on,
following their own consciences up the hill, till they had conquer'd about
one half of it; when the elder of them, a shrewd crafty old devil, at the
turn of an angle, giving a side glance, and no muleteer behind them,--
By my fig! said she, swearing, I'll go no further--And if I do, replied the
other, they shall make a drum of my hide.--
And so with one consent they stopp'd thus--
--Get on with you, said the abbess.
Sh...a--shu..u--shu..u--sh..aw--shaw'd the abbess.
--Whu--v--w--whew--w--w--whuv'd Margarita, pursing up her sweet lips
betwixt a hoot and a whistle.
Thump--thump--thump--obstreperated the abbess of Andouillets with the end
of her gold-headed cane against the bottom of the calesh--
The old mule let a f...
We are ruin'd and undone, my child, said the abbess to Margarita,--we shall
be here all night--we shall be plunder'd--we shall be ravished--
--We shall be ravish'd, said Margarita, as sure as a gun.
Sancta Maria! cried the abbess (forgetting the O!)--why was I govern'd by
this wicked stiff joint? why did I leave the convent of Andouillets? and
why didst thou not suffer thy servant to go unpolluted to her tomb?
O my finger! my finger! cried the novice, catching fire at the word
servant--why was I not content to put it here, or there, any where rather
than be in this strait?
Strait! said the abbess.
Strait--said the novice; for terror had struck their understandings--the
one knew not what she said--the other what she answer'd.
O my virginity! virginity! cried the abbess.
...inity! ...inity! said the novice, sobbing.
My dear mother, quoth the novice, coming a little to herself,--there are
two certain words, which I have been told will force any horse, or ass, or
mule, to go up a hill whether he will or no; be he never so obstinate or
ill-will'd, the moment he hears them utter'd, he obeys. They are words
magic! cried the abbess in the utmost horror--No; replied Margarita calmly-
-but they are words sinful--What are they? quoth the abbess, interrupting
her: They are sinful in the first degree, answered Margarita,--they are
mortal--and if we are ravished and die unabsolved of them, we shall both-
but you may pronounce them to me, quoth the abbess of Andouillets--They
cannot, my dear mother, said the novice, be pronounced at all; they will
make all the blood in one's body fly up into one's face--But you may
whisper them in my ear, quoth the abbess.
Heaven! hadst thou no guardian angel to delegate to the inn at the bottom
of the hill? was there no generous and friendly spirit unemployed--no agent
in nature, by some monitory shivering, creeping along the artery which led
to his heart, to rouse the muleteer from his banquet?--no sweet minstrelsy
to bring back the fair idea of the abbess and Margarita, with their black
Rouse! rouse!--but 'tis too late--the horrid words are pronounced this
--and how to tell them--Ye, who can speak of every thing existing, with
unpolluted lips--instruct me--guide me--
All sins whatever, quoth the abbess, turning casuist in the distress they
were under, are held by the confessor of our convent to be either mortal or
venial: there is no further division. Now a venial sin being the
slightest and least of all sins--being halved--by taking either only the
half of it, and leaving the rest--or, by taking it all, and amicably
halving it betwixt yourself and another person--in course becomes diluted
into no sin at all.
Now I see no sin in saying, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, a hundred times
together; nor is there any turpitude in pronouncing the syllable ger, ger,
ger, ger, ger, were it from our matins to our vespers: Therefore, my dear
daughter, continued the abbess of Andouillets--I will say bou, and thou
shalt say ger; and then alternately, as there is no more sin in fou than in
bou--Thou shalt say fou--and I will come in (like fa, sol, la, re, mi, ut,
at our complines) with ter. And accordingly the abbess, giving the pitch
note, set off thus:
The two mules acknowledged the notes by a mutual lash of their tails; but
it went no further--'Twill answer by an' by, said the novice.
Abbess,.....) Bou. bou. bou. bou. bou. bou.
Margarita,..) ---ger, ger, ger, ger, ger, ger.
Quicker still, cried Margarita. Fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou,
Quicker still, cried Margarita. Bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou,
Quicker still--God preserve me; said the abbess--They do not understand us,
cried Margarita--But the Devil does, said the abbess of Andouillets.
What a tract of country have I run!--how many degrees nearer to the warm
sun am I advanced, and how many fair and goodly cities have I seen, during
the time you have been reading and reflecting, Madam, upon this story!
There's Fontainbleau, and Sens, and Joigny, and Auxerre, and Dijon the
capital of Burgundy, and Challon, and Macon the capital of the Maconese,
and a score more upon the road to Lyons--and now I have run them over--I
might as well talk to you of so many market towns in the moon, as tell you
one word about them: it will be this chapter at the least, if not both
this and the next entirely lost, do what I will--
--Why, 'tis a strange story! Tristram.
Alas! Madam, had it been upon some melancholy lecture of the cross--the
peace of meekness, or the contentment of resignation--I had not been
incommoded: or had I thought of writing it upon the purer abstractions of
the soul, and that food of wisdom and holiness and contemplation, upon
which the spirit of man (when separated from the body) is to subsist for
ever--You would have come with a better appetite from it--
--I wish I never had wrote it: but as I never blot any thing out--let us
use some honest means to get it out of our heads directly.
--Pray reach me my fool's cap--I fear you sit upon it, Madam--'tis under
the cushion--I'll put it on--
Bless me! you have had it upon your head this half hour.--There then let it
stay, with a
Fa-ra diddle di
and a fa-ri diddle d
and a high-dum--dye-dum
fiddle. . .dumb-c.
And now, Madam, we may venture, I hope a little to go on.
--All you need say of Fontainbleau (in case you are ask'd) is, that it
stands about forty miles (south something) from Paris, in the middle of a
large forest--That there is something great in it--That the king goes there
once every two or three years, with his whole court, for the pleasure of
the chace--and that, during that carnival of sporting, any English
gentleman of fashion (you need not forget yourself) may be accommodated
with a nag or two, to partake of the sport, taking care only not to out-
gallop the king--
Though there are two reasons why you need not talk loud of this to every
First, Because 'twill make the said nags the harder to be got; and
Secondly, 'Tis not a word of it true.--Allons!
As for Sens--you may dispatch--in a word--''Tis an archiepiscopal see.'
--For Joigny--the less, I think, one says of it the better.
But for Auxerre--I could go on for ever: for in my grand tour through
Europe, in which, after all, my father (not caring to trust me with any
one) attended me himself, with my uncle Toby, and Trim, and Obadiah, and
indeed most of the family, except my mother, who being taken up with a
project of knitting my father a pair of large worsted breeches--(the thing
is common sense)--and she not caring to be put out of her way, she staid at
home, at Shandy Hall, to keep things right during the expedition; in which,
I say, my father stopping us two days at Auxerre, and his researches being
ever of such a nature, that they would have found fruit even in a desert--
he has left me enough to say upon Auxerre: in short, wherever my father
went--but 'twas more remarkably so, in this journey through France and
Italy, than in any other stages of his life--his road seemed to lie so much
on one side of that, wherein all other travellers have gone before him--he
saw kings and courts and silks of all colours, in such strange lights--and
his remarks and reasonings upon the characters, the manners, and customs of
the countries we pass'd over, were so opposite to those of all other mortal
men, particularly those of my uncle Toby and Trim--(to say nothing of
myself)--and to crown all--the occurrences and scrapes which we were
perpetually meeting and getting into, in consequence of his systems and
opiniotry--they were of so odd, so mix'd and tragi-comical a contexture--
That the whole put together, it appears of so different a shade and tint
from any tour of Europe, which was ever executed--that I will venture to
pronounce--the fault must be mine and mine only--if it be not read by all
travellers and travel-readers, till travelling is no more,--or which comes
to the same point--till the world, finally, takes it into its head to stand
--But this rich bale is not to be open'd now; except a small thread or two
of it, merely to unravel the mystery of my father's stay at Auxerre.
--As I have mentioned it--'tis too slight to be kept suspended; and when
'tis wove in, there is an end of it.
We'll go, brother Toby, said my father, whilst dinner is coddling--to the
abbey of Saint Germain, if it be only to see these bodies, of which
Monsieur Sequier has given such a recommendation.--I'll go see any body,
quoth my uncle Toby; for he was all compliance through every step of the
journey--Defend me! said my father--they are all mummies--Then one need not
shave; quoth my uncle Toby--Shave! no--cried my father--'twill be more like
relations to go with our beards on--So out we sallied, the corporal lending
his master his arm, and bringing up the rear, to the abbey of Saint
Every thing is very fine, and very rich, and very superb, and very
magnificent, said my father, addressing himself to the sacristan, who was a
younger brother of the order of Benedictines--but our curiosity has led us
to see the bodies, of which Monsieur Sequier has given the world so exact a
description.--The sacristan made a bow, and lighting a torch first, which
he had always in the vestry ready for the purpose; he led us into the tomb
of St. Heribald--This, said the sacristan, laying his hand upon the tomb,
was a renowned prince of the house of Bavaria, who under the successive
reigns of Charlemagne, Louis le Debonnair, and Charles the Bald, bore a
great sway in the government, and had a principal hand in bringing every
thing into order and discipline--
Then he has been as great, said my uncle, in the field, as in the cabinet--
I dare say he has been a gallant soldier--He was a monk--said the
My uncle Toby and Trim sought comfort in each other's faces--but found it
not: my father clapped both his hands upon his cod-piece, which was a way
he had when any thing hugely tickled him: for though he hated a monk and
the very smell of a monk worse than all the devils in hell--yet the shot
hitting my uncle Toby and Trim so much harder than him, 'twas a relative
triumph; and put him into the gayest humour in the world.
--And pray what do you call this gentleman? quoth my father, rather
sportingly: This tomb, said the young Benedictine, looking downwards,
contains the bones of Saint Maxima, who came from Ravenna on purpose to
touch the body--
--Of Saint Maximus, said my father, popping in with his saint before him,--
they were two of the greatest saints in the whole martyrology, added my
father--Excuse me, said the sacristan--'twas to touch the bones of Saint
Germain, the builder of the abbey--And what did she get by it? said my
uncle Toby--What does any woman get by it? said my father--Martyrdome;
replied the young Benedictine, making a bow down to the ground, and
uttering the word with so humble, but decisive a cadence, it disarmed my
father for a moment. 'Tis supposed, continued the Benedictine, that St.
Maxima has lain in this tomb four hundred years, and two hundred before her
canonization--'Tis but a slow rise, brother Toby, quoth my father, in this
self-same army of martyrs.--A desperate slow one, an' please your honour,
said Trim, unless one could purchase--I should rather sell out entirely,
quoth my uncle Toby--I am pretty much of your opinion, brother Toby, said
--Poor St. Maxima! said my uncle Toby low to himself, as we turn'd from her
tomb: She was one of the fairest and most beautiful ladies either of Italy
or France, continued the sacristan--But who the duce has got lain down
here, besides her? quoth my father, pointing with his cane to a large tomb
as we walked on--It is Saint Optat, Sir, answered the sacristan--And
properly is Saint Optat plac'd! said my father: And what is Saint Optat's
story? continued he. Saint Optat, replied the sacristan, was a bishop--
--I thought so, by heaven! cried my father, interrupting him--Saint Optat!-
-how should Saint Optat fail? so snatching out his pocket-book, and the
young Benedictine holding him the torch as he wrote, he set it down as a
new prop to his system of Christian names, and I will be bold to say, so
disinterested was he in the search of truth, that had he found a treasure
in Saint Optat's tomb, it would not have made him half so rich: 'Twas as
successful a short visit as ever was paid to the dead; and so highly was
his fancy pleas'd with all that had passed in it,--that he determined at
once to stay another day in Auxerre.
--I'll see the rest of these good gentry to-morrow, said my father, as we
cross'd over the square--And while you are paying that visit, brother
Shandy, quoth my uncle Toby--the corporal and I will mount the ramparts.
--Now this is the most puzzled skein of all--for in this last chapter, as
far at least as it has help'd me through Auxerre, I have been getting
forwards in two different journies together, and with the same dash of the
pen--for I have got entirely out of Auxerre in this journey which I am
writing now, and I am got half way out of Auxerre in that which I shall
write hereafter--There is but a certain degree of perfection in every
thing; and by pushing at something beyond that, I have brought myself into
such a situation, as no traveller ever stood before me; for I am this
moment walking across the market-place of Auxerre with my father and my
uncle Toby, in our way back to dinner--and I am this moment also entering
Lyons with my post-chaise broke into a thousand pieces--and I am moreover
this moment in a handsome pavillion built by Pringello (The same Don
Pringello, the celebrated Spanish architect, of whom my cousin Antony has
made such honourable mention in a scholium to the Tale inscribed to his
name. Vid. p.129, small edit.), upon the banks of the Garonne, which Mons.
Sligniac has lent me, and where I now sit rhapsodising all these affairs.
--Let me collect myself, and pursue my journey.
I am glad of it, said I, settling the account with myself, as I walk'd into
Lyons--my chaise being all laid higgledy-piggledy with my baggage in a
cart, which was moving slowly before me--I am heartily glad, said I, that
'tis all broke to pieces; for now I can go directly by water to Avignon,
which will carry me on a hundred and twenty miles of my journey, and not
cost me seven livres--and from thence, continued I, bringing forwards the
account, I can hire a couple of mules--or asses, if I like, (for nobody
knows me,) and cross the plains of Languedoc for almost nothing--I shall
gain four hundred livres by the misfortune clear into my purse: and
pleasure! worth--worth double the money by it. With what velocity,
continued I, clapping my two hands together, shall I fly down the rapid
Rhone, with the Vivares on my right hand, and Dauphiny on my left, scarce
seeing the ancient cities of Vienne, Valence, and Vivieres. What a flame
will it rekindle in the lamp, to snatch a blushing grape from the Hermitage
and Cote roti, as I shoot by the foot of them! and what a fresh spring in
the blood! to behold upon the banks advancing and retiring, the castles of
romance, whence courteous knights have whilome rescued the distress'd--and
see vertiginous, the rocks, the mountains, the cataracts, and all the hurry
which Nature is in with all her great works about her.
As I went on thus, methought my chaise, the wreck of which look'd stately
enough at the first, insensibly grew less and less in its size; the
freshness of the painting was no more--the gilding lost its lustre--and the
whole affair appeared so poor in my eyes--so sorry!--so contemptible! and,
in a word, so much worse than the abbess of Andouillets' itself--that I was
just opening my mouth to give it to the devil--when a pert vamping chaise-
undertaker, stepping nimbly across the street, demanded if Monsieur would
have his chaise refitted--No, no, said I, shaking my head sideways--Would
Monsieur choose to sell it? rejoined the undertaker--With all my soul, said
I--the iron work is worth forty livres--and the glasses worth forty more--
and the leather you may take to live on.
What a mine of wealth, quoth I, as he counted me the money, has this post-
chaise brought me in? And this is my usual method of book-keeping, at
least with the disasters of life--making a penny of every one of 'em as
they happen to me--
--Do, my dear Jenny, tell the world for me, how I behaved under one, the
most oppressive of its kind, which could befal me as a man, proud as he
ought to be of his manhood--
'Tis enough, saidst thou, coming close up to me, as I stood with my garters
in my hand, reflecting upon what had not pass'd--'Tis enough, Tristram, and
I am satisfied, saidst thou, whispering these words in my ear, .... .. ....
... ......;--...... ...--any other man would have sunk down to the centre--
--Every thing is good for something, quoth I.
--I'll go into Wales for six weeks, and drink goat's whey--and I'll gain
seven years longer life for the accident. For which reason I think myself
inexcusable, for blaming Fortune so often as I have done, for pelting me
all my life long, like an ungracious duchess, as I call'd her, with so many
small evils: surely, if I have any cause to be angry with her, 'tis that
she has not sent me great ones--a score of good cursed, bouncing losses,
would have been as good as a pension to me.
--One of a hundred a year, or so, is all I wish--I would not be at the
plague of paying land-tax for a larger.
To those who call vexations, Vexations, as knowing what they are, there
could not be a greater, than to be the best part of a day at Lyons, the
most opulent and flourishing city in France, enriched with the most
fragments of antiquity--and not be able to see it. To be withheld upon any
account, must be a vexation; but to be withheld by a vexation--must
certainly be, what philosophy justly calls
I had got my two dishes of milk coffee (which by the bye is excellently
good for a consumption, but you must boil the milk and coffee together--
otherwise 'tis only coffee and milk)--and as it was no more than eight in
the morning, and the boat did not go off till noon, I had time to see
enough of Lyons to tire the patience of all the friends I had in the world
with it. I will take a walk to the cathedral, said I, looking at my list,
and see the wonderful mechanism of this great clock of Lippius of Basil, in
the first place--
Now, of all things in the world, I understand the least of mechanism--I
have neither genius, or taste, or fancy--and have a brain so entirely unapt
for every thing of that kind, that I solemnly declare I was never yet able
to comprehend the principles of motion of a squirrel cage, or a common
knife-grinder's wheel--tho' I have many an hour of my life look'd up with
great devotion at the one--and stood by with as much patience as any
christian ever could do, at the other--
I'll go see the surprising movements of this great clock, said I, the very
first thing I do: and then I will pay a visit to the great library of the
Jesuits, and procure, if possible, a sight of the thirty volumes of the
general history of China, wrote (not in the Tartarean, but) in the Chinese
language, and in the Chinese character too.
Now I almost know as little of the Chinese language, as I do of the
mechanism of Lippius's clock-work; so, why these should have jostled
themselves into the two first articles of my list--I leave to the curious
as a problem of Nature. I own it looks like one of her ladyship's
obliquities; and they who court her, are interested in finding out her
humour as much as I.
When these curiosities are seen, quoth I, half addressing myself to my
valet de place, who stood behind me--'twill be no hurt if we go to the
church of St. Irenaeus, and see the pillar to which Christ was tied--and
after that, the house where Pontius Pilate lived--'Twas at the next town,
said the valet de place--at Vienne; I am glad of it, said I, rising briskly
from my chair, and walking across the room with strides twice as long as my
usual pace--'for so much the sooner shall I be at the Tomb of the two
What was the cause of this movement, and why I took such long strides in
uttering this--I might leave to the curious too; but as no principle of
clock-work is concerned in it--'twill be as well for the reader if I
explain it myself.
O! there is a sweet aera in the life of man, when (the brain being tender
and fibrillous, and more like pap than any thing else)--a story read of two
fond lovers, separated from each other by cruel parents, and by still more
each ignorant of the other's course,
Amandus taken captive by the Turks, and carried to the emperor of Morocco's
court, where the princess of Morocco falling in love with him, keeps him
twenty years in prison for the love of his Amanda.--
She--(Amanda) all the time wandering barefoot, and with dishevell'd hair,
o'er rocks and mountains, enquiring for Amandus!--Amandus! Amandus!--making
every hill and valley to echo back his name--
at every town and city, sitting down forlorn at the gate--Has Amandus!--has
my Amandus enter'd?--till,--going round, and round, and round the world--
chance unexpected bringing them at the same moment of the night, though by
different ways, to the gate of Lyons, their native city, and each in well-
known accents calling out aloud,
Is Amandus / Is my Amanda still alive?
they fly into each other's arms, and both drop down dead for joy.
There is a soft aera in every gentle mortal's life, where such a story
affords more pabulum to the brain, than all the Frusts, and Crusts, and
Rusts of antiquity, which travellers can cook up for it.
--'Twas all that stuck on the right side of the cullender in my own, of
what Spon and others, in their accounts of Lyons, had strained into it; and
finding, moreover, in some Itinerary, but in what God knows--That sacred to
the fidelity of Amandus and Amanda, a tomb was built without the gates,
where, to this hour, lovers called upon them to attest their truths--I
never could get into a scrape of that kind in my life, but this tomb of the
lovers would, somehow or other, come in at the close--nay such a kind of
empire had it establish'd over me, that I could seldom think or speak of
Lyons--and sometimes not so much as see even a Lyons-waistcoat, but this
remnant of antiquity would present itself to my fancy; and I have often
said in my wild way of running on--tho' I fear with some irreverence--'I
thought this shrine (neglected as it was) as valuable as that of Mecca, and
so little short, except in wealth, of the Santa Casa itself, that some time
or other, I would go a pilgrimage (though I had no other business at Lyons)
on purpose to pay it a visit.'
In my list, therefore, of Videnda at Lyons, this, tho' last,--was not, you
see, least; so taking a dozen or two of longer strides than usual cross my
room, just whilst it passed my brain, I walked down calmly into the basse
cour, in order to sally forth; and having called for my bill--as it was
uncertain whether I should return to my inn, I had paid it--had moreover
given the maid ten sous, and was just receiving the dernier compliments of
Monsieur Le Blanc, for a pleasant voyage down the Rhone--when I was stopped
at the gate--
--'Twas by a poor ass, who had just turned in with a couple of large
panniers upon his back, to collect eleemosynary turnip-tops and cabbage-
leaves; and stood dubious, with his two fore-feet on the inside of the
threshold, and with his two hinder feet towards the street, as not knowing
very well whether he was to go in or no.
Now, 'tis an animal (be in what hurry I may) I cannot bear to strike--there
is a patient endurance of sufferings, wrote so unaffectedly in his looks
and carriage, which pleads so mightily for him, that it always disarms me;
and to that degree, that I do not like to speak unkindly to him: on the
contrary, meet him where I will--whether in town or country--in cart or
under panniers--whether in liberty or bondage--I have ever something civil
to say to him on my part; and as one word begets another (if he has as
little to do as I)--I generally fall into conversation with him; and surely
never is my imagination so busy as in framing his responses from the
etchings of his countenance--and where those carry me not deep enough--in
flying from my own heart into his, and seeing what is natural for an ass to
think--as well as a man, upon the occasion. In truth, it is the only
creature of all the classes of beings below me, with whom I can do this:
for parrots, jackdaws, &c.--I never exchange a word with them--nor with the
apes, &c. for pretty near the same reason; they act by rote, as the others
speak by it, and equally make me silent: nay my dog and my cat, though I
value them both--(and for my dog he would speak if he could)--yet somehow
or other, they neither of them possess the talents for conversation--I can
make nothing of a discourse with them, beyond the proposition, the reply,
and rejoinder, which terminated my father's and my mother's conversations,
in his beds of justice--and those utter'd--there's an end of the dialogue--
--But with an ass, I can commune for ever.
Come, Honesty! said I,--seeing it was impracticable to pass betwixt him and
the gate--art thou for coming in, or going out?
The ass twisted his head round to look up the street--
Well--replied I--we'll wait a minute for thy driver:
--He turned his head thoughtful about, and looked wistfully the opposite
I understand thee perfectly, answered I--If thou takest a wrong step in
this affair, he will cudgel thee to death--Well! a minute is but a minute,
and if it saves a fellow-creature a drubbing, it shall not be set down as
He was eating the stem of an artichoke as this discourse went on, and in
the little peevish contentions of nature betwixt hunger and unsavouriness,
had dropt it out of his mouth half a dozen times, and pick'd it up again--
God help thee, Jack! said I, thou hast a bitter breakfast on't--and many a
bitter day's labour,--and many a bitter blow, I fear, for its wages--'tis
all--all bitterness to thee, whatever life is to others.--And now thy
mouth, if one knew the truth of it, is as bitter, I dare say, as soot--(for
he had cast aside the stem) and thou hast not a friend perhaps in all this
world, that will give thee a macaroon.--In saying this, I pull'd out a
paper of 'em, which I had just purchased, and gave him one--and at this
moment that I am telling it, my heart smites me, that there was more of
pleasantry in the conceit, of seeing how an ass would eat a macaroon--than
of benevolence in giving him one, which presided in the act.
When the ass had eaten his macaroon, I press'd him to come in--the poor
beast was heavy loaded--his legs seem'd to tremble under him--he hung
rather backwards, and as I pull'd at his halter, it broke short in my hand-
-he look'd up pensive in my face--'Don't thrash me with it--but if you
will, you may'--If I do, said I, I'll be d....d.
The word was but one-half of it pronounced, like the abbess of
Andouillet's--(so there was no sin in it)--when a person coming in, let
fall a thundering bastinado upon the poor devil's crupper, which put an end
to the ceremony.
Out upon it!
cried I--but the interjection was equivocal--and, I think, wrong placed
too--for the end of an osier which had started out from the contexture of
the ass's panier, had caught hold of my breeches pocket, as he rush'd by
me, and rent it in the most disastrous direction you can imagine--so that
Out upon it! in my opinion, should have come in here--but this I leave to
be settled by
which I have brought over along with me for that purpose.
When all was set to rights, I came down stairs again into the basse cour
with my valet de place, in order to sally out towards the tomb of the two
lovers, &c.--and was a second time stopp'd at the gate--not by the ass--but
by the person who struck him; and who, by that time, had taken possession
(as is not uncommon after a defeat) of the very spot of ground where the
It was a commissary sent to me from the post-office, with a rescript in his
hand for the payment of some six livres odd sous.
Upon what account? said I.--'Tis upon the part of the king, replied the
commissary, heaving up both his shoulders--
--My good friend, quoth I--as sure as I am I--and you are you--
--And who are you? said he.--Don't puzzle me; said I.
--But it is an indubitable verity, continued I, addressing myself to the
commissary, changing only the form of my asseveration--that I owe the king
of France nothing but my good will; for he is a very honest man, and I wish
him all health and pastime in the world--
Pardonnez moi--replied the commissary, you are indebted to him six livres
four sous, for the next post from hence to St. Fons, in your route to
Avignon--which being a post royal, you pay double for the horses and
postillion--otherwise 'twould have amounted to no more than three livres
--But I don't go by land; said I.
--You may if you please; replied the commissary--
Your most obedient servant--said I, making him a low bow--
The commissary, with all the sincerity of grave good breeding--made me one,
as low again.--I never was more disconcerted with a bow in my life.
--The devil take the serious character of these people! quoth I--(aside)
they understand no more of Irony than this--
The comparison was standing close by with his panniers--but something
seal'd up my lips--I could not pronounce the name--
Sir, said I, collecting myself--it is not my intention to take post--
--But you may--said he, persisting in his first reply--you may take post if
--And I may take salt to my pickled herring, said I, if I chuse--
--But I do not chuse--
--But you must pay for it, whether you do or no.
Aye! for the salt; said I (I know)--
--And for the post too; added he. Defend me! cried I--
I travel by water--I am going down the Rhone this very afternoon--my
baggage is in the boat--and I have actually paid nine livres for my
C'est tout egal--'tis all one; said he.
Bon Dieu! what, pay for the way I go! and for the way I do not go!
--C'est tout egal; replied the commissary--
--The devil it is! said I--but I will go to ten thousand Bastiles first--
O England! England! thou land of liberty, and climate of good sense, thou
tenderest of mothers--and gentlest of nurses, cried I, kneeling upon one
knee, as I was beginning my apostrophe.
When the director of Madam Le Blanc's conscience coming in at that instant,
and seeing a person in black, with a face as pale as ashes, at his
devotions--looking still paler by the contrast and distress of his drapery-
-ask'd, if I stood in want of the aids of the church--
I go by Water--said I--and here's another will be for making me pay for
going by Oil.
As I perceived the commissary of the post-office would have his six livres
four sous, I had nothing else for it, but to say some smart thing upon the
occasion, worth the money:
And so I set off thus:--
--And pray, Mr. Commissary, by what law of courtesy is a defenceless
stranger to be used just the reverse from what you use a Frenchman in this
By no means; said he.
Excuse me; said I--for you have begun, Sir, with first tearing off my
breeches-and now you want my pocket--
Whereas--had you first taken my pocket, as you do with your own people--and
then left me bare a..'d after--I had been a beast to have complain'd--
As it is--
--'Tis contrary to the law of nature.
--'Tis contrary to reason.
--'Tis contrary to the Gospel.
But not to this--said he--putting a printed paper into my hand,
Par le Roy.
--'Tis a pithy prolegomenon, quoth I--and so read on. . ..
--By all which it appears, quoth I, having read it over, a little too
rapidly, that if a man sets out in a post-chaise from Paris--he must go on
travelling in one, all the days of his life--or pay for it.--Excuse me,
said the commissary, the spirit of the ordinance is this--That if you set
out with an intention of running post from Paris to Avignon, &c. you shall
not change that intention or mode of travelling, without first satisfying
the fermiers for two posts further than the place you repent at--and 'tis
founded, continued he, upon this, that the Revenues are not to fall short
through your fickleness--
--O by heavens! cried I--if fickleness is taxable in France--we have
nothing to do but to make the best peace with you we can--
And So the Peace Was Made;
--And if it is a bad one--as Tristram Shandy laid the corner-stone of it--
nobody but Tristram Shandy ought to be hanged.
Though I was sensible I had said as many clever things to the commissary
as came to six livres four sous, yet I was determined to note down the
imposition amongst my remarks before I retired from the place; so putting
my hand into my coat-pocket for my remarks--(which, by the bye, may be a
caution to travellers to take a little more care of their remarks for the
future) 'my remarks were stolen'--Never did sorry traveller make such a
pother and racket about his remarks as I did about mine, upon the occasion.
Heaven! earth! sea! fire! cried I, calling in every thing to my aid but
what I should--My remarks are stolen!--what shall I do?--Mr. Commissary!
pray did I drop any remarks, as I stood besides you?--
You dropp'd a good many very singular ones; replied he--Pugh! said I, those
were but a few, not worth above six livres two sous--but these are a large
parcel--He shook his head--Monsieur Le Blanc! Madam Le Blanc! did you see
any papers of mine?--you maid of the house! run up stairs--Francois! run up
--I must have my remarks--they were the best remarks, cried I, that ever
were made--the wisest--the wittiest--What shall I do?--which way shall I
Sancho Panca, when he lost his ass's Furniture, did not exclaim more
When the first transport was over, and the registers of the brain were
beginning to get a little out of the confusion into which this jumble of
cross accidents had cast them--it then presently occurr'd to me, that I had
left my remarks in the pocket of the chaise--and that in selling my chaise,
I had sold my remarks along with it, to the chaise-vamper. I leave
this void space that the reader may swear into it any oath that he is most
accustomed to--For my own part, if ever I swore a whole oath into a vacancy
in my life, I think it was into that--........., said I--and so my remarks
through France, which were as full of wit, as an egg is full of meat, and
as well worth four hundred guineas, as the said egg is worth a penny--have
I been selling here to a chaise-vamper--for four Louis d'Ors--and giving
him a post-chaise (by heaven) worth six into the bargain; had it been to
Dodsley, or Becket, or any creditable bookseller, who was either leaving
off business, and wanted a post-chaise--or who was beginning it--and wanted
my remarks, and two or three guineas along with them--I could have borne
it--but to a chaise-vamper!--shew me to him this moment, Francois,--said I-
-The valet de place put on his hat, and led the way--and I pull'd off mine,
as I pass'd the commissary, and followed him.
When we arrived at the chaise-vamper's house, both the house and the shop
were shut up; it was the eighth of September, the nativity of the blessed
Virgin Mary, mother of God--
--Tantarra-ra-tan-tivi--the whole world was gone out a May-poling--frisking
here--capering there--no body cared a button for me or my remarks; so I sat
me down upon a bench by the door, philosophating upon my condition: by a
better fate than usually attends me, I had not waited half an hour, when
the mistress came in to take the papilliotes from off her hair, before she
went to the May-poles--
The French women, by the bye, love May-poles, a la folie--that is, as much
as their matins--give 'em but a May-pole, whether in May, June, July or
September--they never count the times--down it goes--'tis meat, drink,
washing, and lodging to 'em--and had we but the policy, an' please your
worships (as wood is a little scarce in France), to send them but plenty of
The women would set them up; and when they had done, they would dance round
them (and the men for company) till they were all blind.
The wife of the chaise-vamper stepp'd in, I told you, to take the
papilliotes from off her hair--the toilet stands still for no man--so she
jerk'd off her cap, to begin with them as she open'd the door, in doing
which, one of them fell upon the ground--I instantly saw it was my own
O Seigneur! cried I--you have got all my remarks upon your head, Madam!--
J'en suis bien mortifiee, said she--'tis well, thinks I, they have stuck
there--for could they have gone deeper, they would have made such confusion
in a French woman's noddle--She had better have gone with it unfrizled, to
the day of eternity.
Tenez--said she--so without any idea of the nature of my suffering, she
took them from her curls, and put them gravely one by one into my hat--one
was twisted this way--another twisted that--ey! by my faith; and when they
are published, quoth I,--
They will be worse twisted still.
And now for Lippius's clock! said I, with the air of a man, who had got
thro' all his difficulties--nothing can prevent us seeing that, and the
Chinese history, &c. except the time, said Francois--for 'tis almost
eleven--then we must speed the faster, said I, striding it away to the
I cannot say, in my heart, that it gave me any concern in being told by one
of the minor canons, as I was entering the west door,--That Lippius's great
clock was all out of joints, and had not gone for some years--It will give
me the more time, thought I, to peruse the Chinese history; and besides I
shall be able to give the world a better account of the clock in its decay,
than I could have done in its flourishing condition--
--And so away I posted to the college of the Jesuits.
Now it is with the project of getting a peep at the history of China in
Chinese characters--as with many others I could mention, which strike the
fancy only at a distance; for as I came nearer and nearer to the point--my
blood cool'd--the freak gradually went off, till at length I would not have
given a cherry-stone to have it gratified--The truth was, my time was
short, and my heart was at the Tomb of the Lovers--I wish to God, said I,
as I got the rapper in my hand, that the key of the library may be but
lost; it fell out as well--
For all the Jesuits had got the cholic--and to that degree, as never was
known in the memory of the oldest practitioner.
As I knew the geography of the Tomb of the Lovers, as well as if I had
lived twenty years in Lyons, namely, that it was upon the turning of my
right hand, just without the gate, leading to the Fauxbourg de Vaise--I
dispatched Francois to the boat, that I might pay the homage I so long ow'd
it, without a witness of my weakness--I walk'd with all imaginable joy
towards the place--when I saw the gate which intercepted the tomb, my heart
glowed within me--
--Tender and faithful spirits! cried I, addressing myself to Amandus and
Amanda--long--long have I tarried to drop this tear upon your tomb--I come-
When I came--there was no tomb to drop it upon.
What would I have given for my uncle Toby, to have whistled Lillo bullero!
No matter how, or in what mood--but I flew from the tomb of the lovers--or
rather I did not fly from it--(for there was no such thing existing) and
just got time enough to the boat to save my passage;--and ere I had sailed
a hundred yards, the Rhone and the Saon met together, and carried me down
merrily betwixt them.
But I have described this voyage down the Rhone, before I made it--
--So now I am at Avignon, and as there is nothing to see but the old house,
in which the duke of Ormond resided, and nothing to stop me but a short
remark upon the place, in three minutes you will see me crossing the bridge
upon a mule, with Francois upon a horse with my portmanteau behind him, and
the owner of both, striding the way before us, with a long gun upon his
shoulder, and a sword under his arm, lest peradventure we should run away
with his cattle. Had you seen my breeches in entering Avignon,--Though
you'd have seen them better, I think, as I mounted--you would not have
thought the precaution amiss, or found in your heart to have taken it in
dudgeon; for my own part, I took it most kindly; and determined to make him
a present of them, when we got to the end of our journey, for the trouble
they had put him to, of arming himself at all points against them.
Before I go further, let me get rid of my remark upon Avignon, which is
this: That I think it wrong, merely because a man's hat has been blown off
his head by chance the first night he comes to Avignon,--that he should
therefore say, 'Avignon is more subject to high winds than any town in all
France:' for which reason I laid no stress upon the accident till I had
enquired of the master of the inn about it, who telling me seriously it was
so--and hearing, moreover, the windiness of Avignon spoke of in the country
about as a proverb--I set it down, merely to ask the learned what can be
the cause--the consequence I saw--for they are all Dukes, Marquisses, and
Counts, there--the duce a Baron, in all Avignon--so that there is scarce
any talking to them on a windy day.
Prithee, friend, said I, take hold of my mule for a moment--for I wanted to
pull off one of my jack-boots, which hurt my heel--the man was standing
quite idle at the door of the inn, and as I had taken it into my head, he
was someway concerned about the house or stable, I put the bridle into his
hand--so begun with the boot:--when I had finished the affair, I turned
about to take the mule from the man, and thank him--
--But Monsieur le Marquis had walked in--
I had now the whole south of France, from the banks of the Rhone to those
of the Garonne, to traverse upon my mule at my own leisure--at my own
leisure--for I had left Death, the Lord knows--and He only--how far behind
me--'I have followed many a man thro' France, quoth he--but never at this
mettlesome rate.'--Still he followed,--and still I fled him--but I fled him
cheerfully--still he pursued--but, like one who pursued his prey without
hope--as he lagg'd, every step he lost, softened his looks--why should I
fly him at this rate?
So notwithstanding all the commissary of the post-office had said, I
changed the mode of my travelling once more; and, after so precipitate and
rattling a course as I had run, I flattered my fancy with thinking of my
mule, and that I should traverse the rich plains of Languedoc upon his
back, as slowly as foot could fall.
There is nothing more pleasing to a traveller--or more terrible to travel-
writers, than a large rich plain; especially if it is without great rivers
or bridges; and presents nothing to the eye, but one unvaried picture of
plenty: for after they have once told you, that 'tis delicious! or
delightful! (as the case happens)--that the soil was grateful, and that
nature pours out all her abundance, &c. . .they have then a large plain
upon their hands, which they know not what to do with--and which is of
little or no use to them but to carry them to some town; and that town,
perhaps of little more, but a new place to start from to the next plain--
and so on.
--This is most terrible work; judge if I don't manage my plains better.
I had not gone above two leagues and a half, before the man with his gun
began to look at his priming.
I had three several times loiter'd terribly behind; half a mile at least
every time; once, in deep conference with a drum-maker, who was making
drums for the fairs of Baucaira and Tarascone--I did not understand the
The second time, I cannot so properly say, I stopp'd--for meeting a couple
of Franciscans straitened more for time than myself, and not being able to
get to the bottom of what I was about--I had turn'd back with them--
The third, was an affair of trade with a gossip, for a hand-basket of
Provence figs for four sous; this would have been transacted at once; but
for a case of conscience at the close of it; for when the figs were paid
for, it turn'd out, that there were two dozen of eggs covered over with
vine-leaves at the bottom of the basket--as I had no intention of buying
eggs--I made no sort of claim of them--as for the space they had occupied--
what signified it? I had figs enow for my money--
--But it was my intention to have the basket--it was the gossip's intention
to keep it, without which, she could do nothing with her eggs--and unless I
had the basket, I could do as little with my figs, which were too ripe
already, and most of 'em burst at the side: this brought on a short
contention, which terminated in sundry proposals, what we should both do--
--How we disposed of our eggs and figs, I defy you, or the Devil himself,
had he not been there (which I am persuaded he was), to form the least
probable conjecture: You will read the whole of it--not this year, for I
am hastening to the story of my uncle Toby's amours--but you will read it
in the collection of those which have arose out of the journey across this
plain--and which, therefore, I call my
How far my pen has been fatigued, like those of other travellers, in this
journey of it, over so barren a track--the world must judge--but the traces
of it, which are now all set o' vibrating together this moment, tell me 'tis
the most fruitful and busy period of my life; for as I had made no
convention with my man with the gun, as to time--by stopping and talking to
every soul I met, who was not in a full trot--joining all parties before
me--waiting for every soul behind--hailing all those who were coming
through cross-roads--arresting all kinds of beggars, pilgrims, fiddlers,
friars--not passing by a woman in a mulberry-tree without commending her
legs, and tempting her into conversation with a pinch of snuff--In short,
by seizing every handle, of what size or shape soever, which chance held
out to me in this journey--I turned my plain into a city--I was always in
company, and with great variety too; and as my mule loved society as much
as myself, and had some proposals always on his part to offer to every
beast he met--I am confident we could have passed through Pall-Mall, or St.
James's-Street, for a month together, with fewer adventures--and seen less
of human nature.
O! there is that sprightly frankness, which at once unpins every plait of a
Languedocian's dress--that whatever is beneath it, it looks so like the
simplicity which poets sing of in better days--I will delude my fancy, and
believe it is so.
'Twas in the road betwixt Nismes and Lunel, where there is the best
Muscatto wine in all France, and which by the bye belongs to the honest
canons of Montpellier--and foul befal the man who has drunk it at their
table, who grudges them a drop of it.
--The sun was set--they had done their work; the nymphs had tied up their
hair afresh--and the swains were preparing for a carousal--my mule made a
dead point--'Tis the fife and tabourin, said I--I'm frighten'd to death,
quoth he--They are running at the ring of pleasure, said I, giving him a
prick--By saint Boogar, and all the saints at the backside of the door of
purgatory, said he--(making the same resolution with the abbesse of
Andouillets) I'll not go a step further--'Tis very well, sir, said I--I
never will argue a point with one of your family, as long as I live; so
leaping off his back, and kicking off one boot into this ditch, and t'other
into that--I'll take a dance, said I--so stay you here.
A sun-burnt daughter of Labour rose up from the groupe to meet me, as I
advanced towards them; her hair, which was a dark chesnut approaching
rather to a black, was tied up in a knot, all but a single tress.
We want a cavalier, said she, holding out both her hands, as if to offer
them--And a cavalier ye shall have; said I, taking hold of both of them.
Hadst thou, Nannette, been array'd like a duchesse!
--But that cursed slit in thy petticoat!
Nannette cared not for it.
We could not have done without you, said she, letting go one hand, with
self-taught politeness, leading me up with the other.
A lame youth, whom Apollo had recompensed with a pipe, and to which he had
added a tabourin of his own accord, ran sweetly over the prelude, as he sat
upon the bank--Tie me up this tress instantly, said Nannette, putting a
piece of string into my hand--It taught me to forget I was a stranger--The
whole knot fell down--We had been seven years acquainted.
The youth struck the note upon the tabourin--his pipe followed, and off we
bounded--'the duce take that slit!'
The sister of the youth, who had stolen her voice from heaven, sung
alternately with her brother--'twas a Gascoigne roundelay.
Viva la Joia!
Fidon la Tristessa!
The nymphs join'd in unison, and their swains an octave below them--
I would have given a crown to have it sew'd up--Nannette would not have
given a sous--Viva la joia! was in her lips--Viva la joia! was in her eyes.
A transient spark of amity shot across the space betwixt us--She look'd
amiable!--Why could I not live, and end my days thus? Just Disposer of our
joys and sorrows, cried I, why could not a man sit down in the lap of
content here--and dance, and sing, and say his prayers, and go to heaven
with this nut-brown maid? Capriciously did she bend her head on one side,
and dance up insidious--Then 'tis time to dance off, quoth I; so changing
only partners and tunes, I danced it away from Lunel to Montpellier--from
thence to Pescnas, Beziers--I danced it along through Narbonne, Carcasson,
and Castle Naudairy, till at last I danced myself into Perdrillo's
pavillion, where pulling out a paper of black lines, that I might go on
straight forwards, without digression or parenthesis, in my uncle Toby's
I begun thus--
--But softly--for in these sportive plains, and under this genial sun,
where at this instant all flesh is running out piping, fiddling, and
dancing to the vintage, and every step that's taken, the judgment is
surprised by the imagination, I defy, notwithstanding all that has been
said upon straight lines (Vid. Vol. III.) in sundry pages of my book--I
defy the best cabbage planter that ever existed, whether he plants
backwards or forwards, it makes little difference in the account (except
that he will have more to answer for in the one case than in the other)--I
defy him to go on coolly, critically, and canonically, planting his
cabbages one by one, in straight lines, and stoical distances, especially
if slits in petticoats are unsew'd up--without ever and anon straddling
out, or sidling into some bastardly digression--In Freeze-land, Fog-land,
and some other lands I wot of--it may be done--
But in this clear climate of fantasy and perspiration, where every idea,
sensible and insensible, gets vent--in this land, my dear Eugenius--in this
fertile land of chivalry and romance, where I now sit, unskrewing my ink-
horn to write my uncle Toby's amours, and with all the meanders of Julia's
track in quest of her Diego, in full view of my study window--if thou
comest not and takest me by the hand--
What a work it is likely to turn out!
Let us begin it.
It is with Love as with Cuckoldom--
But now I am talking of beginning a book, and have long had a thing upon my
mind to be imparted to the reader, which, if not imparted now, can never be
imparted to him as long as I live (whereas the Comparison may be imparted
to him any hour in the day)--I'll just mention it, and begin in good
The thing is this.
That of all the several ways of beginning a book which are now in practice
throughout the known world, I am confident my own way of doing it is the
best--I'm sure it is the most religious--for I begin with writing the first
sentence--and trusting to Almighty God for the second.
'Twould cure an author for ever of the fuss and folly of opening his
street-door, and calling in his neighbours and friends, and kinsfolk, with
the devil and all his imps, with their hammers and engines, &c. only to
observe how one sentence of mine follows another, and how the plan follows
I wish you saw me half starting out of my chair, with what confidence, as I
grasp the elbow of it, I look up--catching the idea, even sometimes before
it half way reaches me--
I believe in my conscience I intercept many a thought which heaven intended
for another man.
Pope and his Portrait (Vid. Pope's Portrait.) are fools to me--no martyr is
ever so full of faith or fire--I wish I could say of good works too--but I
Zeal or Anger--or
Anger or Zeal--
And till gods and men agree together to call it by the same name--the
errantest Tartuffe, in science--in politics--or in religion, shall never
kindle a spark within me, or have a worse word, or a more unkind greeting,
than what he will read in the next chapter.
--Bon jour!--good morrow!--so you have got your cloak on betimes!--but 'tis
a cold morning, and you judge the matter rightly--'tis better to be well
mounted, than go o' foot--and obstructions in the glands are dangerous--And
how goes it with thy concubine--thy wife,--and thy little ones o' both
sides? and when did you hear from the old gentleman and lady--your sister,
aunt, uncle, and cousins--I hope they have got better of their colds,
coughs, claps, tooth-aches, fevers, stranguries, sciaticas, swellings, and
--What a devil of an apothecary! to take so much blood--give such a vile
so many grains of calomel? santa Maria! and such a dose of opium! peri-
clitating, pardi! the whole family of ye, from head to tail--By my great-
aunt Dinah's old black velvet mask! I think there is no occasion for it.
Now this being a little bald about the chin, by frequently putting off and
on, before she was got with child by the coachman--not one of our family
would wear it after. To cover the Mask afresh, was more than the mask was
worth--and to wear a mask which was bald, or which could be half seen
through, was as bad as having no mask at all--
This is the reason, may it please your reverences, that in all our numerous
family, for these four generations, we count no more than one archbishop, a
Welch judge, some three or four aldermen, and a single mountebank--
In the sixteenth century, we boast of no less than a dozen alchymists.
'It is with Love as with Cuckoldom'--the suffering party is at least the
third, but generally the last in the house who knows any thing about the
matter: this comes, as all the world knows, from having half a dozen words
for one thing; and so long, as what in this vessel of the human frame, is
Love--may be Hatred, in that--Sentiment half a yard higher--and Nonsense--
no, Madam,--not there--I mean at the part I am now pointing to with my
forefinger--how can we help ourselves?
Of all mortal, and immortal men too, if you please, who ever soliloquized
upon this mystic subject, my uncle Toby was the worst fitted, to have
push'd his researches, thro' such a contention of feelings; and he had
infallibly let them all run on, as we do worse matters, to see what they
would turn out--had not Bridget's pre-notification of them to Susannah, and
Susannah's repeated manifestoes thereupon to all the world, made it
necessary for my uncle Toby to look into the affair.
Why weavers, gardeners, and gladiators--or a man with a pined leg
(proceeding from some ailment in the foot)--should ever have had some
tender nymph breaking her heart in secret for them, are points well and
duly settled and accounted for, by ancient and modern physiologists.
A water-drinker, provided he is a profess'd one, and does it without fraud
or covin, is precisely in the same predicament: not that, at first sight,
there is any consequence, or show of logic in it, 'That a rill of cold
water dribbling through my inward parts, should light up a torch in my
--The proposition does not strike one; on the contrary, it seems to run
opposite to the natural workings of causes and effects--
But it shews the weakness and imbecility of human reason.
--'And in perfect good health with it?'
--The most perfect,--Madam, that friendship herself could wish me--
'And drink nothing!--nothing but water?'
--Impetuous fluid! the moment thou pressest against the flood-gates of the
brain--see how they give way!--
In swims Curiosity, beckoning to her damsels to follow--they dive into the
Back to Full Books