This is to serve for parents and governors instead of a whole volume upon the subject.
I could not give the reader this stroke in my uncle Toby's picture, by the instrument with which I drew the other parts of it,—that taking in no more than the mere Hobby-Horsical likeness:—this is a part of his moral character. My father, in this patient endurance of wrongs, which I mention, was very different, as the reader must long ago have noted; he had a much more acute and quick sensibility of nature, attended with a little soreness of temper; tho' this never transported him to any thing which looked like malignancy:—yet in the little rubs and vexations of life, 'twas apt to shew itself in a drollish and witty kind of peevishness:—He was, however, frank and generous in his nature;—at all times open to conviction; and in the little ebullitions of this subacid humour towards others, but particularly towards my uncle Toby, whom he truly loved:—he would feel more pain, ten times told (except in the affair of my aunt Dinah, or where an hypothesis was concerned) than what he ever gave.
The characters of the two brothers, in this view of them, reflected light upon each other, and appeared with great advantage in this affair which arose about Stevinus.
I need not tell the reader, if he keeps a Hobby-Horse,—that a man's Hobby-Horse is as tender a part as he has about him; and that these unprovoked strokes at my uncle Toby's could not be unfelt by him.—No:—as I said above, my uncle Toby did feel them, and very sensibly too.
Pray, Sir, what said he?—How did he behave?—O, Sir!—it was great: For as soon as my father had done insulting his Hobby-Horse,—he turned his head without the least emotion, from Dr. Slop, to whom he was addressing his discourse, and looking up into my father's face, with a countenance spread over with so much good-nature;—so placid;—so fraternal;—so inexpressibly tender towards him:—it penetrated my father to his heart: He rose up hastily from his chair, and seizing hold of both my uncle Toby's hands as he spoke:—Brother Toby, said he:—I beg thy pardon;—forgive, I pray thee, this rash humour which my mother gave me.—My dear, dear brother, answered my uncle Toby, rising up by my father's help, say no more about it;—you are heartily welcome, had it been ten times as much, brother. But 'tis ungenerous, replied my father, to hurt any man;—a brother worse;—but to hurt a brother of such gentle manners,—so unprovoking,—and so unresenting;—'tis base:—By Heaven, 'tis cowardly.—You are heartily welcome, brother, quoth my uncle Toby,—had it been fifty times as much.—Besides, what have I to do, my dear Toby, cried my father, either with your amusements or your pleasures, unless it was in my power (which it is not) to increase their measure?
—Brother Shandy, answered my uncle Toby, looking wistfully in his face,—you are much mistaken in this point:—for you do increase my pleasure very much, in begetting children for the Shandy family at your time of life.—But, by that, Sir, quoth Dr. Slop, Mr. Shandy increases his own.—Not a jot, quoth my father.
My brother does it, quoth my uncle Toby, out of principle.—In a family way, I suppose, quoth Dr. Slop.—Pshaw!—said my father,—'tis not worth talking of.
At the end of the last chapter, my father and my uncle Toby were left both standing, like Brutus and Cassius, at the close of the scene, making up their accounts.
As my father spoke the three last words,—he sat down;—my uncle Toby exactly followed his example, only, that before he took his chair, he rung the bell, to order Corporal Trim, who was in waiting, to step home for Stevinus:—my uncle Toby's house being no farther off than the opposite side of the way.
Some men would have dropped the subject of Stevinus;—but my uncle Toby had no resentment in his heart, and he went on with the subject, to shew my father that he had none.
Your sudden appearance, Dr. Slop, quoth my uncle, resuming the discourse, instantly brought Stevinus into my head. (My father, you may be sure, did not offer to lay any more wagers upon Stevinus's head.)—Because, continued my uncle Toby, the celebrated sailing chariot, which belonged to Prince Maurice, and was of such wonderful contrivance and velocity, as to carry half a dozen people thirty German miles, in I don't know how few minutes,—was invented by Stevinus, that great mathematician and engineer.
You might have spared your servant the trouble, quoth Dr. Slop (as the fellow is lame) of going for Stevinus's account of it, because in my return from Leyden thro' the Hague, I walked as far as Schevling, which is two long miles, on purpose to take a view of it.
That's nothing, replied my uncle Toby, to what the learned Peireskius did, who walked a matter of five hundred miles, reckoning from Paris to Schevling, and from Schevling to Paris back again, in order to see it, and nothing else.
Some men cannot bear to be out-gone.
The more fool Peireskius, replied Dr. Slop. But mark, 'twas out of no contempt of Peireskius at all;—but that Peireskius's indefatigable labour in trudging so far on foot, out of love for the sciences, reduced the exploit of Dr. Slop, in that affair, to nothing:—the more fool Peireskius, said he again.—Why so?—replied my father, taking his brother's part, not only to make reparation as fast as he could for the insult he had given him, which sat still upon my father's mind;—but partly, that my father began really to interest himself in the discourse.—Why so?—said he. Why is Peireskius, or any man else, to be abused for an appetite for that, or any other morsel of sound knowledge: For notwithstanding I know nothing of the chariot in question, continued he, the inventor of it must have had a very mechanical head; and tho' I cannot guess upon what principles of philosophy he has atchieved it;—yet certainly his machine has been constructed upon solid ones, be they what they will, or it could not have answered at the rate my brother mentions.
It answered, replied my uncle Toby, as well, if not better; for, as Peireskius elegantly expresses it, speaking of the velocity of its motion, Tam citus erat, quam erat ventus; which, unless I have forgot my Latin, is, that it was as swift as the wind itself.
But pray, Dr. Slop, quoth my father, interrupting my uncle (tho' not without begging pardon for it at the same time) upon what principles was this self-same chariot set a-going?—Upon very pretty principles to be sure, replied Dr. Slop:—And I have often wondered, continued he, evading the question, why none of our gentry, who live upon large plains like this of ours,—(especially they whose wives are not past child-bearing) attempt nothing of this kind; for it would not only be infinitely expeditious upon sudden calls, to which the sex is subject,—if the wind only served,—but would be excellent good husbandry to make use of the winds, which cost nothing, and which eat nothing, rather than horses, which (the devil take 'em) both cost and eat a great deal.
For that very reason, replied my father, 'Because they cost nothing, and because they eat nothing,'—the scheme is bad;—it is the consumption of our products, as well as the manufactures of them, which gives bread to the hungry, circulates trade,—brings in money, and supports the value of our lands;—and tho', I own, if I was a Prince, I would generously recompense the scientifick head which brought forth such contrivances;—yet I would as peremptorily suppress the use of them.
My father here had got into his element,—and was going on as prosperously with his dissertation upon trade, as my uncle Toby had before, upon his of fortification;—but to the loss of much sound knowledge, the destinies in the morning had decreed that no dissertation of any kind should be spun by my father that day,—for as he opened his mouth to begin the next sentence,
In popped Corporal Trim with Stevinus:—But 'twas too late,—all the discourse had been exhausted without him, and was running into a new channel.
—You may take the book home again, Trim, said my uncle Toby, nodding to him.
But prithee, Corporal, quoth my father, drolling,—look first into it, and see if thou canst spy aught of a sailing chariot in it.
Corporal Trim, by being in the service, had learned to obey,—and not to remonstrate,—so taking the book to a side-table, and running over the leaves; An' please your Honour, said Trim, I can see no such thing;—however, continued the Corporal, drolling a little in his turn, I'll make sure work of it, an' please your Honour;—so taking hold of the two covers of the book, one in each hand, and letting the leaves fall down as he bent the covers back, he gave the book a good sound shake.
There is something falling out, however, said Trim, an' please your Honour;—but it is not a chariot, or any thing like one:—Prithee, Corporal, said my father, smiling, what is it then?—I think, answered Trim, stooping to take it up,—'tis more like a sermon,—for it begins with a text of scripture, and the chapter and verse;—and then goes on, not as a chariot, but like a sermon directly.
The company smiled.
I cannot conceive how it is possible, quoth my uncle Toby, for such a thing as a sermon to have got into my Stevinus.
I think 'tis a sermon, replied Trim:—but if it please your Honours, as it is a fair hand, I will read you a page;—for Trim, you must know, loved to hear himself read almost as well as talk.
I have ever a strong propensity, said my father, to look into things which cross my way, by such strange fatalities as these;—and as we have nothing better to do, at least till Obadiah gets back, I shall be obliged to you, brother, if Dr. Slop has no objection to it, to order the Corporal to give us a page or two of it,—if he is as able to do it, as he seems willing. An' please your honour, quoth Trim, I officiated two whole campaigns, in Flanders, as clerk to the chaplain of the regiment.—He can read it, quoth my uncle Toby, as well as I can.—Trim, I assure you, was the best scholar in my company, and should have had the next halberd, but for the poor fellow's misfortune. Corporal Trim laid his hand upon his heart, and made an humble bow to his master; then laying down his hat upon the floor, and taking up the sermon in his left hand, in order to have his right at liberty,—he advanced, nothing doubting, into the middle of the room, where he could best see, and be best seen by his audience.
—If you have any objection,—said my father, addressing himself to Dr. Slop. Not in the least, replied Dr. Slop;—for it does not appear on which side of the question it is wrote,—it may be a composition of a divine of our church, as well as yours,—so that we run equal risques.—'Tis wrote upon neither side, quoth Trim, for 'tis only upon Conscience, an' please your Honours.
Trim's reason put his audience into good humour,—all but Dr. Slop, who turning his head about towards Trim, looked a little angry.
Begin, Trim,—and read distinctly, quoth my father.—I will, an' please your Honour, replied the Corporal, making a bow, and bespeaking attention with a slight movement of his right hand.
—But before the Corporal begins, I must first give you a description of his attitude;—otherwise he will naturally stand represented, by your imagination, in an uneasy posture,—stiff,—perpendicular,—dividing the weight of his body equally upon both legs;—his eye fixed, as if on duty;—his look determined,—clenching the sermon in his left hand, like his firelock.—In a word, you would be apt to paint Trim, as if he was standing in his platoon ready for action,—His attitude was as unlike all this as you can conceive.
He stood before them with his body swayed, and bent forwards just so far, as to make an angle of 85 degrees and a half upon the plain of the horizon;—which sound orators, to whom I address this, know very well to be the true persuasive angle of incidence;—in any other angle you may talk and preach;—'tis certain;—and it is done every day;—but with what effect,—I leave the world to judge!
The necessity of this precise angle of 85 degrees and a half to a mathematical exactness,—does it not shew us, by the way, how the arts and sciences mutually befriend each other?
How the duce Corporal Trim, who knew not so much as an acute angle from an obtuse one, came to hit it so exactly;—or whether it was chance or nature, or good sense or imitation, &c. shall be commented upon in that part of the cyclopaedia of arts and sciences, where the instrumental parts of the eloquence of the senate, the pulpit, and the bar, the coffee-house, the bed-chamber, and fire-side, fall under consideration.
He stood,—for I repeat it, to take the picture of him in at one view, with his body swayed, and somewhat bent forwards,—his right leg from under him, sustaining seven-eighths of his whole weight,—the foot of his left leg, the defect of which was no disadvantage to his attitude, advanced a little,—not laterally, nor forwards, but in a line betwixt them;—his knee bent, but that not violently,—but so as to fall within the limits of the line of beauty;—and I add, of the line of science too;—for consider, it had one eighth part of his body to bear up;—so that in this case the position of the leg is determined,—because the foot could be no farther advanced, or the knee more bent, than what would allow him, mechanically to receive an eighth part of his whole weight under it, and to carry it too.
>This I recommend to painters;—need I add,—to orators!—I think not; for unless they practise it,—they must fall upon their noses.
So much for Corporal Trim's body and legs.—He held the sermon loosely, not carelessly, in his left hand, raised something above his stomach, and detached a little from his breast;—his right arm falling negligently by his side, as nature and the laws of gravity ordered it,—but with the palm of it open and turned towards his audience, ready to aid the sentiment in case it stood in need.
Corporal Trim's eyes and the muscles of his face were in full harmony with the other parts of him;—he looked frank,—unconstrained,— something assured,—but not bordering upon assurance.
Let not the critic ask how Corporal Trim could come by all this.—I've told him it should be explained;—but so he stood before my father, my uncle Toby, and Dr. Slop,—so swayed his body, so contrasted his limbs, and with such an oratorical sweep throughout the whole figure,—a statuary might have modelled from it;—nay, I doubt whether the oldest Fellow of a College,—or the Hebrew Professor himself, could have much mended it.
Trim made a bow, and read as follows:
Hebrews xiii. 18.
—For we trust we have a good Conscience.
'Trust!—Trust we have a good conscience!'
(Certainly, Trim, quoth my father, interrupting him, you give that sentence a very improper accent; for you curl up your nose, man, and read it with such a sneering tone, as if the Parson was going to abuse the Apostle.
He is, an' please your Honour, replied Trim. Pugh! said my father, smiling.
Sir, quoth Dr. Slop, Trim is certainly in the right; for the writer (who I perceive is a Protestant) by the snappish manner in which he takes up the apostle, is certainly going to abuse him;—if this treatment of him has not done it already. But from whence, replied my father, have you concluded so soon, Dr. Slop, that the writer is of our church?—for aught I can see yet,—he may be of any church.—Because, answered Dr. Slop, if he was of ours,—he durst no more take such a licence,—than a bear by his beard:—If, in our communion, Sir, a man was to insult an apostle,—a saint,—or even the paring of a saint's nail,—he would have his eyes scratched out.—What, by the saint? quoth my uncle Toby. No, replied Dr. Slop, he would have an old house over his head. Pray is the Inquisition an ancient building, answered my uncle Toby, or is it a modern one?—I know nothing of architecture, replied Dr. Slop.—An' please your Honours, quoth Trim, the Inquisition is the vilest—Prithee spare thy description, Trim, I hate the very name of it, said my father.—No matter for that, answered Dr. Slop,—it has its uses; for tho' I'm no great advocate for it, yet, in such a case as this, he would soon be taught better manners; and I can tell him, if he went on at that rate, would be flung into the Inquisition for his pains. God help him then, quoth my uncle Toby. Amen, added Trim; for Heaven above knows, I have a poor brother who has been fourteen years a captive in it.—I never heard one word of it before, said my uncle Toby, hastily:—How came he there, Trim?—O, Sir, the story will make your heart bleed,—as it has made mine a thousand times;—but it is too long to be told now;—your Honour shall hear it from first to last some day when I am working beside you in our fortifications;—but the short of the story is this;—That my brother Tom went over a servant to Lisbon,—and then married a Jew's widow, who kept a small shop, and sold sausages, which somehow or other, was the cause of his being taken in the middle of the night out of his bed, where he was lying with his wife and two small children, and carried directly to the Inquisition, where, God help him, continued Trim, fetching a sigh from the bottom of his heart,—the poor honest lad lies confined at this hour; he was as honest a soul, added Trim, (pulling out his handkerchief) as ever blood warmed.—
—The tears trickled down Trim's cheeks faster than he could well wipe them away.—A dead silence in the room ensued for some minutes.—Certain proof of pity!
Come Trim, quoth my father, after he saw the poor fellow's grief had got a little vent,—read on,—and put this melancholy story out of thy head:—I grieve that I interrupted thee; but prithee begin the sermon again;—for if the first sentence in it is matter of abuse, as thou sayest, I have a great desire to know what kind of provocation the apostle has given.
Corporal Trim wiped his face, and returned his handkerchief into his pocket, and, making a bow as he did it,—he began again.)
Hebrews xiii. 18.
—For we trust we have a good Conscience.—
'Trust! trust we have a good conscience! Surely if there is any thing in this life which a man may depend upon, and to the knowledge of which he is capable of arriving upon the most indisputable evidence, it must be this very thing,—whether he has a good conscience or no.'
(I am positive I am right, quoth Dr. Slop.)
'If a man thinks at all, he cannot well be a stranger to the true state of this account:—he must be privy to his own thoughts and desires;—he must remember his past pursuits, and know certainly the true springs and motives, which, in general, have governed the actions of his life.'
(I defy him, without an assistant, quoth Dr. Slop.)
'In other matters we may be deceived by false appearances; and, as the wise man complains, hardly do we guess aright at the things that are upon the earth, and with labour do we find the things that are before us. But here the mind has all the evidence and facts within herself;—is conscious of the web she has wove;—knows its texture and fineness, and the exact share which every passion has had in working upon the several designs which virtue or vice has planned before her.'
(The language is good, and I declare Trim reads very well, quoth my father.)
'Now,—as conscience is nothing else but the knowledge which the mind has within herself of this; and the judgment, either of approbation or censure, which it unavoidably makes upon the successive actions of our lives; 'tis plain you will say, from the very terms of the proposition,—whenever this inward testimony goes against a man, and he stands self-accused, that he must necessarily be a guilty man.—And, on the contrary, when the report is favourable on his side, and his heart condemns him not:—that it is not a matter of trust, as the apostle intimates, but a matter of certainty and fact, that the conscience is good, and that the man must be good also.'
(Then the apostle is altogether in the wrong, I suppose, quoth Dr. Slop, and the Protestant divine is in the right. Sir, have patience, replied my father, for I think it will presently appear that St. Paul and the Protestant divine are both of an opinion.—As nearly so, quoth Dr. Slop, as east is to west;—but this, continued he, lifting both hands, comes from the liberty of the press.
It is no more at the worst, replied my uncle Toby, than the liberty of the pulpit; for it does not appear that the sermon is printed, or ever likely to be.
Go on, Trim, quoth my father.)
'At first sight this may seem to be a true state of the case: and I make no doubt but the knowledge of right and wrong is so truly impressed upon the mind of man,—that did no such thing ever happen, as that the conscience of a man, by long habits of sin, might (as the scripture assures it may) insensibly become hard;—and, like some tender parts of his body, by much stress and continual hard usage, lose by degrees that nice sense and perception with which God and nature endowed it:—Did this never happen;—or was it certain that self-love could never hang the least bias upon the judgment;—or that the little interests below could rise up and perplex the faculties of our upper regions, and encompass them about with clouds and thick darkness:—Could no such thing as favour and affection enter this sacred Court—Did Wit disdain to take a bribe in it;—or was ashamed to shew its face as an advocate for an unwarrantable enjoyment: Or, lastly, were we assured that Interest stood always unconcerned whilst the cause was hearing—and that Passion never got into the judgment-seat, and pronounced sentence in the stead of Reason, which is supposed always to preside and determine upon the case:—Was this truly so, as the objection must suppose;—no doubt then the religious and moral state of a man would be exactly what he himself esteemed it:—and the guilt or innocence of every man's life could be known, in general, by no better measure, than the degrees of his own approbation and censure.
'I own, in one case, whenever a man's conscience does accuse him (as it seldom errs on that side) that he is guilty;—and unless in melancholy and hypocondriac cases, we may safely pronounce upon it, that there is always sufficient grounds for the accusation.
'But the converse of the proposition will not hold true;—namely, that whenever there is guilt, the conscience must accuse; and if it does not, that a man is therefore innocent.—This is not fact—So that the common consolation which some good christian or other is hourly administering to himself,—that he thanks God his mind does not misgive him; and that, consequently, he has a good conscience, because he hath a quiet one,—is fallacious;—and as current as the inference is, and as infallible as the rule appears at first sight, yet when you look nearer to it, and try the truth of this rule upon plain facts,—you see it liable to so much error from a false application;—the principle upon which it goes so often perverted;—the whole force of it lost, and sometimes so vilely cast away, that it is painful to produce the common examples from human life, which confirm the account.
'A man shall be vicious and utterly debauched in his principles;—exceptionable in his conduct to the world; shall live shameless, in the open commission of a sin which no reason or pretence can justify,—a sin by which, contrary to all the workings of humanity, he shall ruin for ever the deluded partner of his guilt;—rob her of her best dowry; and not only cover her own head with dishonour;—but involve a whole virtuous family in shame and sorrow for her sake. Surely, you will think conscience must lead such a man a troublesome life; he can have no rest night and day from its reproaches.
'Alas! Conscience had something else to do all this time, than break in upon him; as Elijah reproached the god Baal,—this domestic god was either talking, or pursuing, or was in a journey, or peradventure he slept and could not be awoke.
'Perhaps He was gone out in company with Honour to fight a duel: to pay off some debt at play;—or dirty annuity, the bargain of his lust; Perhaps Conscience all this time was engaged at home, talking aloud against petty larceny, and executing vengeance upon some such puny crimes as his fortune and rank of life secured him against all temptation of committing; so that he lives as merrily;'—(If he was of our church, tho', quoth Dr. Slop, he could not)—'sleeps as soundly in his bed;—and at last meets death unconcernedly;—perhaps much more so, than a much better man.'
(All this is impossible with us, quoth Dr. Slop, turning to my father,—the case could not happen in our church.—It happens in ours, however, replied my father, but too often.—I own, quoth Dr. Slop, (struck a little with my father's frank acknowledgment)—that a man in the Romish church may live as badly;—but then he cannot easily die so.—'Tis little matter, replied my father, with an air of indifference,—how a rascal dies.—I mean, answered Dr. Slop, he would be denied the benefits of the last sacraments.—Pray how many have you in all, said my uncle Toby,—for I always forget?—Seven, answered Dr. Slop.—Humph!—said my uncle Toby; tho' not accented as a note of acquiescence,—but as an interjection of that particular species of surprize, when a man in looking into a drawer, finds more of a thing than he expected.—Humph! replied my uncle Toby. Dr. Slop, who had an ear, understood my uncle Toby as well as if he had wrote a whole volume against the seven sacraments.—Humph! replied Dr. Slop, (stating my uncle Toby's argument over again to him)—Why, Sir, are there not seven cardinal virtues?—Seven mortal sins?—Seven golden candlesticks?—Seven heavens?—'Tis more than I know, replied my uncle Toby.—Are there not seven wonders of the world?—Seven days of the creation?—Seven planets?—Seven plagues?—That there are, quoth my father with a most affected gravity. But prithee, continued he, go on with the rest of thy characters, Trim.)
'Another is sordid, unmerciful,' (here Trim waved his right hand) 'a strait-hearted, selfish wretch, incapable either of private friendship or public spirit. Take notice how he passes by the widow and orphan in their distress, and sees all the miseries incident to human life without a sigh or a prayer.' (An' please your honours, cried Trim, I think this a viler man than the other.)
'Shall not conscience rise up and sting him on such occasions?—No; thank God there is no occasion, I pay every man his own;—I have no fornication to answer to my conscience;—no faithless vows or promises to make up;—I have debauched no man's wife or child; thank God, I am not as other men, adulterers, unjust, or even as this libertine, who stands before me.
'A third is crafty and designing in his nature. View his whole life;—'tis nothing but a cunning contexture of dark arts and unequitable subterfuges, basely to defeat the true intent of all laws,—plain dealing and the safe enjoyment of our several properties.—You will see such a one working out a frame of little designs upon the ignorance and perplexities of the poor and needy man;—shall raise a fortune upon the inexperience of a youth, or the unsuspecting temper of his friend, who would have trusted him with his life.
'When old age comes on, and repentance calls him to look back upon this black account, and state it over again with his conscience—Conscience looks into the Statutes at Large;—finds no express law broken by what he has done;—perceives no penalty or forfeiture of goods and chattels incurred;—sees no scourge waving over his head, or prison opening his gates upon him:—What is there to affright his conscience?—Conscience has got safely entrenched behind the Letter of the Law; sits there invulnerable, fortified with Cases and Reports so strongly on all sides;—that it is not preaching can dispossess it of its hold.'
(Here Corporal Trim and my uncle Toby exchanged looks with each other.—Aye, Aye, Trim! quoth my uncle Toby, shaking his head,—these are but sorry fortifications, Trim.—O! very poor work, answered Trim, to what your Honour and I make of it.—The character of this last man, said Dr. Slop, interrupting Trim, is more detestable than all the rest; and seems to have been taken from some pettifogging Lawyer amongst you:—Amongst us, a man's conscience could not possibly continue so long blinded,—three times in a year, at least, he must go to confession. Will that restore it to sight? quoth my uncle Toby,—Go on, Trim, quoth my father, or Obadiah will have got back before thou has got to the end of thy sermon.—'Tis a very short one, replied Trim.—I wish it was longer, quoth my uncle Toby, for I like it hugely.—Trim went on.)
'A fourth man shall want even this refuge;—shall break through all their ceremony of slow chicane;—scorns the doubtful workings of secret plots and cautious trains to bring about his purpose:—See the bare-faced villain, how he cheats, lies, perjures, robs, murders!—Horrid!—But indeed much better was not to be expected, in the present case—the poor man was in the dark!—his priest had got the keeping of his conscience;—and all he would let him know of it, was, That he must believe in the Pope;—go to Mass;—cross himself;—tell his beads;—be a good Catholic, and that this, in all conscience, was enough to carry him to heaven. What;—if he perjures?—Why;—he had a mental reservation in it.—But if he is so wicked and abandoned a wretch as you represent him;—if he robs,—if he stabs, will not conscience, on every such act, receive a wound itself?—Aye,—but the man has carried it to confession;—the wound digests there, and will do well enough, and in a short time be quite healed up by absolution. O Popery! what hast thou to answer for!—when not content with the too many natural and fatal ways, thro' which the heart of man is every day thus treacherous to itself above all things;—thou hast wilfully set open the wide gate of deceit before the face of this unwary traveller, too apt, God knows, to go astray of himself, and confidently speak peace to himself, when there is no peace.
'Of this the common instances which I have drawn out of life, are too notorious to require much evidence. If any man doubts the reality of them, or thinks it impossible for a man to be such a bubble to himself,—I must refer him a moment to his own reflections, and will then venture to trust my appeal with his own heart.
'Let him consider in how different a degree of detestation, numbers of wicked actions stand there, tho' equally bad and vicious in their own natures;—he will soon find, that such of them as strong inclination and custom have prompted him to commit, are generally dressed out and painted with all the false beauties which a soft and a flattering hand can give them;—and that the others, to which he feels no propensity, appear, at once, naked and deformed, surrounded with all the true circumstances of folly and dishonour.
'When David surprized Saul sleeping in the cave, and cut off the skirt of his robe—we read his heart smote him for what he had done:—But in the matter of Uriah, where a faithful and gallant servant, whom he ought to have loved and honoured, fell to make way for his lust,—where conscience had so much greater reason to take the alarm, his heart smote him not. A whole year had almost passed from first commission of that crime, to the time Nathan was sent to reprove him; and we read not once of the least sorrow or compunction of heart which he testified, during all that time, for what he had done.
'Thus conscience, this once able monitor,—placed on high as a judge within us, and intended by our maker as a just and equitable one too,—by an unhappy train of causes and impediments, takes often such imperfect cognizance of what passes,—does its office so negligently,—sometimes so corruptly,—that it is not to be trusted alone; and therefore we find there is a necessity, an absolute necessity, of joining another principle with it, to aid, if not govern, its determinations.
'So that if you would form a just judgment of what is of infinite importance to you not to be misled in,—namely, in what degree of real merit you stand either as an honest man, an useful citizen, a faithful subject to your king, or a good servant to your God,—call in religion and morality.—Look, What is written in the law of God?—How readest thou?—Consult calm reason and the unchangeable obligations of justice and truth;—what say they?
'Let Conscience determine the matter upon these reports;—and then if thy heart condemns thee not, which is the case the apostle supposes,—the rule will be infallible;'—(Here Dr. Slop fell asleep)—'thou wilt have confidence towards God;—that is, have just grounds to believe the judgment thou hast past upon thyself, is the judgment of God; and nothing else but an anticipation of that righteous sentence which will be pronounced upon thee hereafter by that Being, to whom thou art finally to give an account of thy actions.
'Blessed is the man, indeed, then, as the author of the book of Ecclesiasticus expresses it, who is not pricked with the multitude of his sins: Blessed is the man whose heart hath not condemned him; whether he be rich, or whether he be poor, if he have a good heart (a heart thus guided and informed) he shall at all times rejoice in a chearful countenance; his mind shall tell him more than seven watch-men that sit above upon a tower on high.'—(A tower has no strength, quoth my uncle Toby, unless 'tis flank'd.)—'in the darkest doubts it shall conduct him safer than a thousand casuists, and give the state he lives in, a better security for his behaviour than all the causes and restrictions put together, which law-makers are forced to multiply:—Forced, I say, as things stand; human laws not being a matter of original choice, but of pure necessity, brought in to fence against the mischievous effects of those consciences which are no law unto themselves; well intending, by the many provisions made,—that in all such corrupt and misguided cases, where principles and the checks of conscience will not make us upright,—to supply their force, and, by the terrors of gaols and halters, oblige us to it.'
(I see plainly, said my father, that this sermon has been composed to be preached at the Temple,—or at some Assize.—I like the reasoning,—and am sorry that Dr. Slop has fallen asleep before the time of his conviction:—for it is now clear, that the Parson, as I thought at first, never insulted St. Paul in the least;—nor has there been, brother, the least difference between them.—A great matter, if they had differed, replied my uncle Toby,—the best friends in the world may differ sometimes.—True,—brother Toby quoth my father, shaking hands with him,—we'll fill our pipes, brother, and then Trim shall go on.
Well,—what dost thou think of it? said my father, speaking to Corporal Trim, as he reached his tobacco-box.
I think, answered the Corporal, that the seven watch-men upon the tower, who, I suppose, are all centinels there,—are more, an' please your Honour, than were necessary;—and, to go on at that rate, would harrass a regiment all to pieces, which a commanding officer, who loves his men, will never do, if he can help it, because two centinels, added the Corporal, are as good as twenty.—I have been a commanding officer myself in the Corps de Garde a hundred times, continued Trim, rising an inch higher in his figure, as he spoke,—and all the time I had the honour to serve his Majesty King William, in relieving the most considerable posts, I never left more than two in my life.—Very right, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby,—but you do not consider, Trim, that the towers, in Solomon's days, were not such things as our bastions, flanked and defended by other works;—this, Trim, was an invention since Solomon's death; nor had they horn-works, or ravelins before the curtin, in his time;—or such a fosse as we make with a cuvette in the middle of it, and with covered ways and counterscarps pallisadoed along it, to guard against a Coup de main:—So that the seven men upon the tower were a party, I dare say, from the Corps de Garde, set there, not only to look out, but to defend it.—They could be no more, an' please your Honour, than a Corporal's Guard.—My father smiled inwardly, but not outwardly—the subject being rather too serious, considering what had happened, to make a jest of.—So putting his pipe into his mouth, which he had just lighted,—he contented himself with ordering Trim to read on. He read on as follows:
'To have the fear of God before our eyes, and, in our mutual dealings with each other, to govern our actions by the eternal measures of right and wrong:—The first of these will comprehend the duties of religion;—the second, those of morality, which are so inseparably connected together, that you cannot divide these two tables, even in imagination, (tho' the attempt is often made in practice) without breaking and mutually destroying them both.
I said the attempt is often made; and so it is;—there being nothing more common than to see a man who has no sense at all of religion, and indeed has so much honesty as to pretend to none, who would take it as the bitterest affront, should you but hint at a suspicion of his moral character,—or imagine he was not conscientiously just and scrupulous to the uttermost mite.
'When there is some appearance that it is so,—tho' one is unwilling even to suspect the appearance of so amiable a virtue as moral honesty, yet were we to look into the grounds of it, in the present case, I am persuaded we should find little reason to envy such a one the honour of his motive.
'Let him declaim as pompously as he chooses upon the subject, it will be found to rest upon no better foundation than either his interest, his pride, his ease, or some such little and changeable passion as will give us but small dependence upon his actions in matters of great distress.
'I will illustrate this by an example.
'I know the banker I deal with, or the physician I usually call in,'—(There is no need, cried Dr. Slop, (waking) to call in any physician in this case)—'to be neither of them men of much religion: I hear them make a jest of it every day, and treat all its sanctions with so much scorn, as to put the matter past doubt. Well;—notwithstanding this, I put my fortune into the hands of the one:—and what is dearer still to me, I trust my life to the honest skill of the other.
'Now let me examine what is my reason for this great confidence. Why, in the first place, I believe there is no probability that either of them will employ the power I put into their hands to my disadvantage;—I consider that honesty serves the purposes of this life:—I know their success in the world depends upon the fairness of their characters.—In a word, I'm persuaded that they cannot hurt me without hurting themselves more.
'But put it otherwise, namely, that interest lay, for once, on the other side; that a case should happen, wherein the one, without stain to his reputation, could secrete my fortune, and leave me naked in the world;—or that the other could send me out of it, and enjoy an estate by my death, without dishonour to himself or his art:—In this case, what hold have I of either of them?—Religion, the strongest of all motives, is out of the question;—Interest, the next most powerful motive in the world, is strongly against me:—What have I left to cast into the opposite scale to balance this temptation?—Alas! I have nothing,—nothing but what is lighter than a bubble—I must lie at the mercy of Honour, or some such capricious principle—Strait security for two of the most valuable blessings!—my property and myself.
'As, therefore, we can have no dependence upon morality without religion;—so, on the other hand, there is nothing better to be expected from religion without morality; nevertheless, 'tis no prodigy to see a man whose real moral character stands very low, who yet entertains the highest notion of himself in the light of a religious man.
'He shall not only be covetous, revengeful, implacable,—but even wanting in points of common honesty; yet inasmuch as he talks aloud against the infidelity of the age,—is zealous for some points of religion,—goes twice a day to church,—attends the sacraments,—and amuses himself with a few instrumental parts of religion,—shall cheat his conscience into a judgment, that, for this, he is a religious man, and has discharged truly his duty to God: And you will find that such a man, through force of this delusion, generally looks down with spiritual pride upon every other man who has less affectation of piety,—though, perhaps, ten times more real honesty than himself.
'This likewise is a sore evil under the sun; and I believe, there is no one mistaken principle, which, for its time, has wrought more serious mischiefs.—For a general proof of this,—examine the history of the Romish church;'—(Well what can you make of that? cried Dr. Slop)—'see what scenes of cruelty, murder, rapine, bloodshed,'—(They may thank their own obstinacy, cried Dr. Slop)—have all been sanctified by a religion not strictly governed by morality.
'In how many kingdoms of the world'—(Here Trim kept waving his right-hand from the sermon to the extent of his arm, returning it backwards and forwards to the conclusion of the paragraph.)
'In how many kingdoms of the world has the crusading sword of this misguided saint-errant, spared neither age or merit, or sex, or condition?—and, as he fought under the banners of a religion which set him loose from justice and humanity, he shewed none; mercilessly trampled upon both,—heard neither the cries of the unfortunate, nor pitied their distresses.'
(I have been in many a battle, an' please your Honour, quoth Trim, sighing, but never in so melancholy a one as this,—I would not have drawn a tricker in it against these poor souls,—to have been made a general officer.—Why? what do you understand of the affair? said Dr. Slop, looking towards Trim, with something more of contempt than the Corporal's honest heart deserved.—What do you know, friend, about this battle you talk of?—I know, replied Trim, that I never refused quarter in my life to any man who cried out for it;—but to a woman or a child, continued Trim, before I would level my musket at them, I would loose my life a thousand times.—Here's a crown for thee, Trim, to drink with Obadiah to-night, quoth my uncle Toby, and I'll give Obadiah another too.—God bless your Honour, replied Trim,—I had rather these poor women and children had it.—thou art an honest fellow, quoth my uncle Toby.—My father nodded his head, as much as to say—and so he is.—
But prithee, Trim, said my father, make an end,—for I see thou hast but a leaf or two left.
Corporal Trim read on.)
'If the testimony of past centuries in this matter is not sufficient,—consider at this instant, how the votaries of that religion are every day thinking to do service and honour to God, by actions which are a dishonour and scandal to themselves.
'To be convinced of this, go with me for a moment into the prisons of the Inquisition.'—(God help my poor brother Tom.)—'Behold Religion, with Mercy and Justice chained down under her feet,—there sitting ghastly upon a black tribunal, propped up with racks and instruments of torment. Hark!—hark! what a piteous groan!'—(Here Trim's face turned as pale as ashes.)—'See the melancholy wretch who uttered it'—(Here the tears began to trickle down)—'just brought forth to undergo the anguish of a mock trial, and endure the utmost pains that a studied system of cruelty has been able to invent.'—(D..n them all, quoth Trim, his colour returning into his face as red as blood.)—'Behold this helpless victim delivered up to his tormentors,—his body so wasted with sorrow and confinement.'—(Oh! 'tis my brother, cried poor Trim in a most passionate exclamation, dropping the sermon upon the ground, and clapping his hands together—I fear 'tis poor Tom. My father's and my uncle Toby's heart yearned with sympathy for the poor fellow's distress; even Slop himself acknowledged pity for him.—Why, Trim, said my father, this is not a history,—'tis a sermon thou art reading; prithee begin the sentence again.)—'Behold this helpless victim delivered up to his tormentors,—his body so wasted with sorrow and confinement, you will see every nerve and muscle as it suffers.
'Observe the last movement of that horrid engine!'—(I would rather face a cannon, quoth Trim, stamping.)—'See what convulsions it has thrown him into!—Consider the nature of the posture in which he how lies stretched,—what exquisite tortures he endures by it!'—(I hope 'tis not in Portugal.)—''Tis all nature can bear! Good God! see how it keeps his weary soul hanging upon his trembling lips!' (I would not read another line of it, quoth Trim for all this world;—I fear, an' please your Honours, all this is in Portugal, where my poor brother Tom is. I tell thee, Trim, again, quoth my father, 'tis not an historical account,—'tis a description.—'Tis only a description, honest man, quoth Slop, there's not a word of truth in it.—That's another story, replied my father.—However, as Trim reads it with so much concern,—'tis cruelty to force him to go on with it.—Give me hold of the sermon, Trim,—I'll finish it for thee, and thou may'st go. I must stay and hear it too, replied Trim, if your Honour will allow me;—tho' I would not read it myself for a Colonel's pay.—Poor Trim! quoth my uncle Toby. My father went on.)
'—Consider the nature of the posture in which he now lies stretched,—what exquisite torture he endures by it!—'Tis all nature can bear! Good God! See how it keeps his weary soul hanging upon his trembling lips,—willing to take its leave,—but not suffered to depart!—Behold the unhappy wretch led back to his cell!'—(Then, thank God, however, quoth Trim, they have not killed him.)—'See him dragged out of it again to meet the flames, and the insults in his last agonies, which this principle,—this principle, that there can be religion without mercy, has prepared for him.'—(Then, thank God,—he is dead, quoth Trim,—he is out of his pain,—and they have done their worst at him.—O Sirs!—Hold your peace, Trim, said my father, going on with the sermon, lest Trim should incense Dr. Slop,—we shall never have done at this rate.)
'The surest way to try the merit of any disputed notion is, to trace down the consequences such a notion has produced, and compare them with the spirit of Christianity;—'tis the short and decisive rule which our Saviour hath left us, for these and such like cases, and it is worth a thousand arguments—By their fruits ye shall know them.
'I will add no farther to the length of this sermon, than by two or three short and independent rules deducible from it.
'First, Whenever a man talks loudly against religion, always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions, which have got the better of his Creed. A bad life and a good belief are disagreeable and troublesome neighbours, and where they separate, depend upon it, 'tis for no other cause but quietness sake.
'Secondly, When a man, thus represented, tells you in any particular instance,—That such a thing goes against his conscience,—always believe he means exactly the same thing, as when he tells you such a thing goes against his stomach;—a present want of appetite being generally the true cause of both.
'In a word,—trust that man in nothing, who has not a Conscience in every thing.
'And, in your own case, remember this plain distinction, a mistake in which has ruined thousands,—that your conscience is not a law;—No, God and reason made the law, and have placed conscience within you to determine;—not, like an Asiatic Cadi, according to the ebbs and flows of his own passions,—but like a British judge in this land of liberty and good sense, who makes no new law, but faithfully declares that law which he knows already written.'
Thou hast read the sermon extremely well, Trim, quoth my father.—If he had spared his comments, replied Dr. Slop,—he would have read it much better. I should have read it ten times better, Sir, answered Trim, but that my heart was so full.—That was the very reason, Trim, replied my father, which has made thee read the sermon as well as thou hast done; and if the clergy of our church, continued my father, addressing himself to Dr. Slop, would take part in what they deliver as deeply as this poor fellow has done,—as their compositions are fine;—(I deny it, quoth Dr. Slop)—I maintain it,—that the eloquence of our pulpits, with such subjects to enflame it, would be a model for the whole world:—But alas! continued my father, and I own it, Sir, with sorrow, that, like French politicians in this respect, what they gain in the cabinet they lose in the field.—'Twere a pity, quoth my uncle, that this should be lost. I like the sermon well, replied my father,—'tis dramatick,—and there is something in that way of writing, when skilfully managed, which catches the attention.—We preach much in that way with us, said Dr. Slop.—I know that very well, said my father,—but in a tone and manner which disgusted Dr. Slop, full as much as his assent, simply, could have pleased him.—But in this, added Dr. Slop, a little piqued,—our sermons have greatly the advantage, that we never introduce any character into them below a patriarch or a patriarch's wife, or a martyr or a saint.—There are some very bad characters in this, however, said my father, and I do not think the sermon a jot the worse for 'em.—But pray, quoth my uncle Toby,—who's can this be?—How could it get into my Stevinus? A man must be as great a conjurer as Stevinus, said my father, to resolve the second question:—The first, I think, is not so difficult;—for unless my judgment greatly deceives me,—I know the author, for 'tis wrote, certainly, by the parson of the parish.
The similitude of the stile and manner of it, with those my father constantly had heard preached in his parish-church, was the ground of his conjecture,—proving it as strongly, as an argument a priori could prove such a thing to a philosophic mind, That it was Yorick's and no one's else:—It was proved to be so, a posteriori, the day after, when Yorick sent a servant to my uncle Toby's house to enquire after it.
It seems that Yorick, who was inquisitive after all kinds of knowledge, had borrowed Stevinus of my uncle Toby, and had carelesly popped his sermon, as soon as he had made it, into the middle of Stevinus; and by an act of forgetfulness, to which he was ever subject, he had sent Stevinus home, and his sermon to keep him company.
Ill-fated sermon! Thou wast lost, after this recovery of thee, a second time, dropped thru' an unsuspected fissure in thy master's pocket, down into a treacherous and a tattered lining,—trod deep into the dirt by the left hind-foot of his Rosinante inhumanly stepping upon thee as thou falledst;—buried ten days in the mire,—raised up out of it by a beggar,—sold for a halfpenny to a parish-clerk,—transferred to his parson,—lost for ever to thy own, the remainder of his days,—nor restored to his restless Manes till this very moment, that I tell the world the story.
Can the reader believe, that this sermon of Yorick's was preached at an assize, in the cathedral of York, before a thousand witnesses, ready to give oath of it, by a certain prebendary of that church, and actually printed by him when he had done,—and within so short a space as two years and three months after Yorick's death?—Yorick indeed, was never better served in his life;—but it was a little hard to maltreat him after, and plunder him after he was laid in his grave.
However, as the gentleman who did it was in perfect charity with Yorick,—and, in conscious justice, printed but a few copies to give away;—and that I am told he could moreover have made as good a one himself, had he thought fit,—I declare I would not have published this anecdote to the world;—nor do I publish it with an intent to hurt his character and advancement in the church;—I leave that to others;—but I find myself impelled by two reasons, which I cannot withstand.
The first is, That in doing justice, I may give rest to Yorick's ghost;—which—as the country-people, and some others believe,—still walks.
The second reason is, That, by laying open this story to the world, I gain an opportunity of informing it,—That in case the character of parson Yorick, and this sample of his sermons, is liked,—there are now in the possession of the Shandy family, as many as will make a handsome volume, at the world's service,—and much good may they do it.
Obadiah gained the two crowns without dispute;—for he came in jingling, with all the instruments in the green baize bag we spoke of, flung across his body, just as Corporal Trim went out of the room.
It is now proper, I think, quoth Dr. Slop, (clearing up his looks) as we are in a condition to be of some service to Mrs. Shandy, to send up stairs to know how she goes on.
I have ordered, answered my father, the old midwife to come down to us upon the least difficulty;—for you must know, Dr. Slop, continued my father, with a perplexed kind of a smile upon his countenance, that by express treaty, solemnly ratified between me and my wife, you are no more than an auxiliary in this affair,—and not so much as that,—unless the lean old mother of a midwife above stairs cannot do without you.—Women have their particular fancies, and in points of this nature, continued my father, where they bear the whole burden, and suffer so much acute pain for the advantage of our families, and the good of the species,—they claim a right of deciding, en Souveraines, in whose hands, and in what fashion, they choose to undergo it.
They are in the right of it,—quoth my uncle Toby. But Sir, replied Dr. Slop, not taking notice of my uncle Toby's opinion, but turning to my father,—they had better govern in other points;—and a father of a family, who wishes its perpetuity, in my opinion, had better exchange this prerogative with them, and give up some other rights in lieu of it.—I know not, quoth my father, answering a letter too testily, to be quite dispassionate in what he said,—I know not, quoth he, what we have left to give up, in lieu of who shall bring our children into the world, unless that,—of who shall beget them.—One would almost give up any thing, replied Dr. Slop.—I beg your pardon,—answered my uncle Toby.—Sir, replied Dr. Slop, it would astonish you to know what improvements we have made of late years in all branches of obstetrical knowledge, but particularly in that one single point of the safe and expeditious extraction of the foetus,—which has received such lights, that, for my part (holding up his hand) I declare I wonder how the world has—I wish, quoth my uncle Toby, you had seen what prodigious armies we had in Flanders.
I have dropped the curtain over this scene for a minute,—to remind you of one thing,—and to inform you of another.
What I have to inform you, comes, I own, a little out of its due course;—for it should have been told a hundred and fifty pages ago, but that I foresaw then 'twould come in pat hereafter, and be of more advantage here than elsewhere.—Writers had need look before them, to keep up the spirit and connection of what they have in hand.
When these two things are done,—the curtain shall be drawn up again, and my uncle Toby, my father, and Dr. Slop, shall go on with their discourse, without any more interruption.
First, then, the matter which I have to remind you of, is this;—that from the specimens of singularity in my father's notions in the point of Christian-names, and that other previous point thereto,—you was led, I think, into an opinion,—(and I am sure I said as much) that my father was a gentleman altogether as odd and whimsical in fifty other opinions. In truth, there was not a stage in the life of man, from the very first act of his begetting,—down to the lean and slippered pantaloon in his second childishness, but he had some favourite notion to himself, springing out of it, as sceptical, and as far out of the high-way of thinking, as these two which have been explained.
—Mr. Shandy, my father, Sir, would see nothing in the light in which others placed it;—he placed things in his own light;—he would weigh nothing in common scales;—no, he was too refined a researcher to lie open to so gross an imposition.—To come at the exact weight of things in the scientific steel-yard, the fulcrum, he would say, should be almost invisible, to avoid all friction from popular tenets;—without this the minutiae of philosophy, which would always turn the balance, will have no weight at all. Knowledge, like matter, he would affirm, was divisible in infinitum;—that the grains and scruples were as much a part of it, as the gravitation of the whole world.—In a word, he would say, error was error,—no matter where it fell,—whether in a fraction,—or a pound,—'twas alike fatal to truth, and she was kept down at the bottom of her well, as inevitably by a mistake in the dust of a butterfly's wing,—as in the disk of the sun, the moon, and all the stars of heaven put together.
He would often lament that it was for want of considering this properly, and of applying it skilfully to civil matters, as well as to speculative truths, that so many things in this world were out of joint;—that the political arch was giving way;—and that the very foundations of our excellent constitution in church and state, were so sapped as estimators had reported.
You cry out, he would say, we are a ruined, undone people. Why? he would ask, making use of the sorites or syllogism of Zeno and Chrysippus, without knowing it belonged to them.—Why? why are we a ruined people?—Because we are corrupted.—Whence is it, dear Sir, that we are corrupted?—Because we are needy;—our poverty, and not our wills, consent.—And wherefore, he would add, are we needy?—From the neglect, he would answer, of our pence and our halfpence:—Our bank notes, Sir, our guineas,—nay our shillings take care of themselves.
'Tis the same, he would say, throughout the whole circle of the sciences;—the great, the established points of them, are not to be broke in upon.—The laws of nature will defend themselves;—but error—(he would add, looking earnestly at my mother)—error, Sir, creeps in thro' the minute holes and small crevices which human nature leaves unguarded.
This turn of thinking in my father, is what I had to remind you of:—The point you are to be informed of, and which I have reserved for this place, is as follows.
Amongst the many and excellent reasons, with which my father had urged my mother to accept of Dr. Slop's assistance preferably to that of the old woman,—there was one of a very singular nature; which, when he had done arguing the matter with her as a Christian, and came to argue it over again with her as a philosopher, he had put his whole strength to, depending indeed upon it as his sheet-anchor.—It failed him, tho' from no defect in the argument itself; but that, do what he could, he was not able for his soul to make her comprehend the drift of it.—Cursed luck!—said he to himself, one afternoon, as he walked out of the room, after he had been stating it for an hour and a half to her, to no manner of purpose;—cursed luck! said he, biting his lip as he shut the door,—for a man to be master of one of the finest chains of reasoning in nature,—and have a wife at the same time with such a head-piece, that he cannot hang up a single inference within side of it, to save his soul from destruction.
This argument, though it was entirely lost upon my mother,—had more weight with him, than all his other arguments joined together:—I will therefore endeavour to do it justice,—and set it forth with all the perspicuity I am master of.
My father set out upon the strength of these two following axioms:
First, That an ounce of a man's own wit, was worth a ton of other people's; and,
Secondly, (Which by the bye, was the ground-work of the first axiom,—tho' it comes last) That every man's wit must come from every man's own soul,—and no other body's.
Now, as it was plain to my father, that all souls were by nature equal,—and that the great difference between the most acute and the most obtuse understanding—was from no original sharpness or bluntness of one thinking substance above or below another,—but arose merely from the lucky or unlucky organization of the body, in that part where the soul principally took up her residence,—he had made it the subject of his enquiry to find out the identical place.
Now, from the best accounts he had been able to get of this matter, he was satisfied it could not be where Des Cartes had fixed it, upon the top of the pineal gland of the brain; which, as he philosophized, formed a cushion for her about the size of a marrow pea; tho' to speak the truth, as so many nerves did terminate all in that one place,—'twas no bad conjecture;—and my father had certainly fallen with that great philosopher plumb into the centre of the mistake, had it not been for my uncle Toby, who rescued him out of it, by a story he told him of a Walloon officer at the battle of Landen, who had one part of his brain shot away by a musket-ball,—and another part of it taken out after by a French surgeon; and after all, recovered, and did his duty very well without it.
If death, said my father, reasoning with himself, is nothing but the separation of the soul from the body;—and if it is true that people can walk about and do their business without brains,—then certes the soul does not inhabit there. Q.E.D.
As for that certain, very thin, subtle and very fragrant juice which Coglionissimo Borri, the great Milaneze physician affirms, in a letter to Bartholine, to have discovered in the cellulae of the occipital parts of the cerebellum, and which he likewise affirms to be the principal seat of the reasonable soul, (for, you must know, in these latter and more enlightened ages, there are two souls in every man living,—the one, according to the great Metheglingius, being called the Animus, the other, the Anima;)—as for the opinion, I say of Borri,—my father could never subscribe to it by any means; the very idea of so noble, so refined, so immaterial, and so exalted a being as the Anima, or even the Animus, taking up her residence, and sitting dabbling, like a tad-pole all day long, both summer and winter, in a puddle,—or in a liquid of any kind, how thick or thin soever, he would say, shocked his imagination; he would scarce give the doctrine a hearing.
What, therefore, seemed the least liable to objections of any, was that the chief sensorium, or head-quarters of the soul, and to which place all intelligences were referred, and from whence all her mandates were issued,—was in, or near, the cerebellum,—or rather somewhere about the medulla oblongata, wherein it was generally agreed by Dutch anatomists, that all the minute nerves from all the organs of the seven senses concentered, like streets and winding alleys, into a square.
So far there was nothing singular in my father's opinion,—he had the best of philosophers, of all ages and climates, to go along with him.—But here he took a road of his own, setting up another Shandean hypothesis upon these corner-stones they had laid for him;—and which said hypothesis equally stood its ground; whether the subtilty and fineness of the soul depended upon the temperature and clearness of the said liquor, or of the finer net-work and texture in the cerebellum itself; which opinion he favoured.
He maintained, that next to the due care to be taken in the act of propagation of each individual, which required all the thought in the world, as it laid the foundation of this incomprehensible contexture, in which wit, memory, fancy, eloquence, and what is usually meant by the name of good natural parts, do consist;—that next to this and his Christian-name, which were the two original and most efficacious causes of all;—that the third cause, or rather what logicians call the Causa sina qua non, and without which all that was done was of no manner of significance,—was the preservation of this delicate and fine-spun web, from the havock which was generally made in it by the violent compression and crush which the head was made to undergo, by the nonsensical method of bringing us into the world by that foremost.
—This requires explanation.
My father, who dipped into all kinds of books, upon looking into Lithopaedus Senonesis de Portu difficili, (The author is here twice mistaken; for Lithopaedus should be wrote thus, Lithopaedii Senonensis Icon. The second mistake is, that this Lithopaedus is not an author, but a drawing of a petrified child. The account of this, published by Athosius 1580, may be seen at the end of Cordaeus's works in Spachius. Mr. Tristram Shandy has been led into this error, either from seeing Lithopaedus's name of late in a catalogue of learned writers in Dr..., or by mistaking Lithopaedus for Trinecavellius,—from the too great similitude of the names.) published by Adrianus Smelvgot, had found out, that the lax and pliable state of a child's head in parturition, the bones of the cranium having no sutures at that time, was such,—that by force of the woman's efforts, which, in strong labour-pains, was equal, upon an average, to the weight of 470 pounds avoirdupois acting perpendicularly upon it;—it so happened, that in 49 instances out of 50, the said head was compressed and moulded into the shape of an oblong conical piece of dough, such as a pastry-cook generally rolls up in order to make a pye of.—Good God! cried my father, what havock and destruction must this make in the infinitely fine and tender texture of the cerebellum!—Or if there is such a juice as Borri pretends—is it not enough to make the clearest liquid in the world both seculent and mothery?
But how great was his apprehension, when he farther understood, that this force acting upon the very vertex of the head, not only injured the brain itself, or cerebrum,—but that it necessarily squeezed and propelled the cerebrum towards the cerebellum, which was the immediate seat of the understanding!—Angels and ministers of grace defend us! cried my father,—can any soul withstand this shock?—No wonder the intellectual web is so rent and tattered as we see it; and that so many of our best heads are no better than a puzzled skein of silk,—all perplexity,—all confusion within-side.
But when my father read on, and was let into the secret, that when a child was turned topsy-turvy, which was easy for an operator to do, and was extracted by the feet;—that instead of the cerebrum being propelled towards the cerebellum, the cerebellum, on the contrary, was propelled simply towards the cerebrum, where it could do no manner of hurt:—By heavens! cried he, the world is in conspiracy to drive out what little wit God has given us,—and the professors of the obstetric art are listed into the same conspiracy.—What is it to me which end of my son comes foremost into the world, provided all goes right after, and his cerebellum escapes uncrushed?
It is the nature of an hypothesis, when once a man has conceived it, that it assimilates every thing to itself, as proper nourishment; and, from the first moment of your begetting it, it generally grows the stronger by every thing you see, hear, read, or understand. This is of great use.
When my father was gone with this about a month, there was scarce a phaenomenon of stupidity or of genius, which he could not readily solve by it;—it accounted for the eldest son being the greatest blockhead in the family.—Poor devil, he would say,—he made way for the capacity of his younger brothers.—It unriddled the observations of drivellers and monstrous heads,—shewing a priori, it could not be otherwise,—unless... I don't know what. It wonderfully explained and accounted for the acumen of the Asiatic genius, and that sprightlier turn, and a more penetrating intuition of minds, in warmer climates; not from the loose and common-place solution of a clearer sky, and a more perpetual sunshine, &c.—which for aught he knew, might as well rarefy and dilute the faculties of the soul into nothing, by one extreme,—as they are condensed in colder climates by the other;—but he traced the affair up to its spring-head;—shewed that, in warmer climates, nature had laid a lighter tax upon the fairest parts of the creation;—their pleasures more;—the necessity of their pains less, insomuch that the pressure and resistance upon the vertex was so slight, that the whole organization of the cerebellum was preserved;—nay, he did not believe, in natural births, that so much as a single thread of the net-work was broke or displaced,—so that the soul might just act as she liked.
When my father had got so far,—what a blaze of light did the accounts of the Caesarian section, and of the towering geniuses who had come safe into the world by it, cast upon this hypothesis? Here you see, he would say, there was no injury done to the sensorium;—no pressure of the head against the pelvis;—no propulsion of the cerebrum towards the cerebellum, either by the os pubis on this side, or os coxygis on that;—and pray, what were the happy consequences? Why, Sir, your Julius Caesar, who gave the operation a name;—and your Hermes Trismegistus, who was born so before ever the operation had a name;—your Scipio Africanus; your Manlius Torquatus; our Edward the Sixth,—who, had he lived, would have done the same honour to the hypothesis:—These, and many more who figured high in the annals of fame,—all came side-way, Sir, into the world.
The incision of the abdomen and uterus ran for six weeks together in my father's head;—he had read, and was satisfied, that wounds in the epigastrium, and those in the matrix, were not mortal;—so that the belly of the mother might be opened extremely well to give a passage to the child.—He mentioned the thing one afternoon to my mother,—merely as a matter of fact; but seeing her turn as pale as ashes at the very mention of it, as much as the operation flattered his hopes,—he thought it as well to say no more of it,—contenting himself with admiring,—what he thought was to no purpose to propose.
This was my father Mr. Shandy's hypothesis; concerning which I have only to add, that my brother Bobby did as great honour to it (whatever he did to the family) as any one of the great heroes we spoke of: For happening not only to be christened, as I told you, but to be born too, when my father was at Epsom,—being moreover my mother's first child,—coming into the world with his head foremost,—and turning out afterwards a lad of wonderful slow parts,—my father spelt all these together into his opinion: and as he had failed at one end,—he was determined to try the other.
This was not to be expected from one of the sisterhood, who are not easily to be put out of their way,—and was therefore one of my father's great reasons in favour of a man of science, whom he could better deal with.
Of all men in the world, Dr. Slop was the fittest for my father's purpose;—for though this new-invented forceps was the armour he had proved, and what he maintained to be the safest instrument of deliverance, yet, it seems, he had scattered a word or two in his book, in favour of the very thing which ran in my father's fancy;—tho' not with a view to the soul's good in extracting by the feet, as was my father's system,—but for reasons merely obstetrical.
This will account for the coalition betwixt my father and Dr. Slop, in the ensuing discourse, which went a little hard against my uncle Toby.—In what manner a plain man, with nothing but common sense, could bear up against two such allies in science,—is hard to conceive.—You may conjecture upon it, if you please,—and whilst your imagination is in motion, you may encourage it to go on, and discover by what causes and effects in nature it could come to pass, that my uncle Toby got his modesty by the wound he received upon his groin.—You may raise a system to account for the loss of my nose by marriage-articles,—and shew the world how it could happen, that I should have the misfortune to be called Tristram, in opposition to my father's hypothesis, and the wish of the whole family, Godfathers and Godmothers not excepted.—These, with fifty other points left yet unravelled, you may endeavour to solve if you have time;—but I tell you beforehand it will be in vain, for not the sage Alquise, the magician in Don Belianis of Greece, nor the no less famous Urganda, the sorceress his wife, (were they alive) could pretend to come within a league of the truth.
The reader will be content to wait for a full explanation of these matters till the next year,—when a series of things will be laid open which he little expects.
—'I wish, Dr. Slop,' quoth my uncle Toby, (repeating his wish for Dr. Slop a second time, and with a degree of more zeal and earnestness in his manner of wishing, than he had wished at first (Vide.))—'I wish, Dr. Slop,' quoth my uncle Toby, 'you had seen what prodigious armies we had in Flanders.'
My uncle Toby's wish did Dr. Slop a disservice which his heart never intended any man,—Sir, it confounded him—and thereby putting his ideas first into confusion, and then to flight, he could not rally them again for the soul of him.
In all disputes,—male or female,—whether for honour, for profit, or for love,—it makes no difference in the case;—nothing is more dangerous, Madam, than a wish coming sideways in this unexpected manner upon a man: the safest way in general to take off the force of the wish, is for the party wish'd at, instantly to get upon his legs—and wish the wisher something in return, of pretty near the same value,—so balancing the account upon the spot, you stand as you were—nay sometimes gain the advantage of the attack by it.
This will be fully illustrated to the world in my chapter of wishes.—
Dr. Slop did not understand the nature of this defence;—he was puzzled with it, and it put an entire stop to the dispute for four minutes and a half;—five had been fatal to it:—my father saw the danger—the dispute was one of the most interesting disputes in the world, 'Whether the child of his prayers and endeavours should be born without a head or with one:'—he waited to the last moment, to allow Dr. Slop, in whose behalf the wish was made, his right of returning it; but perceiving, I say, that he was confounded, and continued looking with that perplexed vacuity of eye which puzzled souls generally stare with—first in my uncle Toby's face—then in his—then up—then down—then east—east and by east, and so on,—coasting it along by the plinth of the wainscot till he had got to the opposite point of the compass,—and that he had actually begun to count the brass nails upon the arm of his chair,—my father thought there was no time to be lost with my uncle Toby, so took up the discourse as follows.
'—What prodigious armies you had in Flanders!'—
Brother Toby, replied my father, taking his wig from off his head with his right hand, and with his left pulling out a striped India handkerchief from his right coat pocket, in order to rub his head, as he argued the point with my uncle Toby.—
—Now, in this I think my father was much to blame; and I will give you my reasons for it.
Matters of no more seeming consequence in themselves than, 'Whether my father should have taken off his wig with his right hand or with his left,'—have divided the greatest kingdoms, and made the crowns of the monarchs who governed them, to totter upon their heads.—But need I tell you, Sir, that the circumstances with which every thing in this world is begirt, give every thing in this world its size and shape!—and by tightening it, or relaxing it, this way or that, make the thing to be, what it is—great—little—good—bad—indifferent or not indifferent, just as the case happens?
As my father's India handkerchief was in his right coat pocket, he should by no means have suffered his right hand to have got engaged: on the contrary, instead of taking off his wig with it, as he did, he ought to have committed that entirely to the left; and then, when the natural exigency my father was under of rubbing his head, called out for his handkerchief, he would have had nothing in the world to have done, but to have put his right hand into his right coat pocket and taken it out;—which he might have done without any violence, or the least ungraceful twist in any one tendon or muscle of his whole body.
In this case, (unless, indeed, my father had been resolved to make a fool of himself by holding the wig stiff in his left hand—or by making some nonsensical angle or other at his elbow-joint, or armpit)—his whole attitude had been easy—natural—unforced: Reynolds himself, as great and gracefully as he paints, might have painted him as he sat.
Now as my father managed this matter,—consider what a devil of a figure my father made of himself.
In the latter end of Queen Anne's reign, and in the beginning of the reign of King George the first—'Coat pockets were cut very low down in the skirt.'—I need say no more—the father of mischief, had he been hammering at it a month, could not have contrived a worse fashion for one in my father's situation.
It was not an easy matter in any king's reign (unless you were as lean a subject as myself) to have forced your hand diagonally, quite across your whole body, so as to gain the bottom of your opposite coat pocket.—In the year one thousand seven hundred and eighteen, when this happened, it was extremely difficult; so that when my uncle Toby discovered the transverse zig-zaggery of my father's approaches towards it, it instantly brought into his mind those he had done duty in, before the gate of St. Nicolas;—the idea of which drew off his attention so intirely from the subject in debate, that he had got his right hand to the bell to ring up Trim to go and fetch his map of Namur, and his compasses and sector along with it, to measure the returning angles of the traverses of that attack,—but particularly of that one, where he received his wound upon his groin.
My father knit his brows, and as he knit them, all the blood in his body seemed to rush up into his face—my uncle Toby dismounted immediately.
—I did not apprehend your uncle Toby was o'horseback.—
A man's body and his mind, with the utmost reverence to both I speak it, are exactly like a jerkin, and a jerkin's lining;—rumple the one,—you rumple the other. There is one certain exception however in this case, and that is, when you are so fortunate a fellow, as to have had your jerkin made of gum-taffeta, and the body-lining to it of a sarcenet, or thin persian.
Zeno, Cleanthes, Diogenes Babylonius, Dionysius, Heracleotes, Antipater, Panaetius, and Possidonius amongst the Greeks;—Cato and Varro and Seneca amongst the Romans;—Pantenus and Clemens Alexandrinus and Montaigne amongst the Christians; and a score and a half of good, honest, unthinking Shandean people as ever lived, whose names I can't recollect,—all pretended that their jerkins were made after this fashion,—you might have rumpled and crumpled, and doubled and creased, and fretted and fridged the outside of them all to pieces;—in short, you might have played the very devil with them, and at the same time, not one of the insides of them would have been one button the worse, for all you had done to them.
I believe in my conscience that mine is made up somewhat after this sort:—for never poor jerkin has been tickled off at such a rate as it has been these last nine months together,—and yet I declare, the lining to it,—as far as I am a judge of the matter,—is not a three-penny piece the worse;—pell-mell, helter-skelter, ding-dong, cut and thrust, back stroke and fore stroke, side way and long-way, have they been trimming it for me:—had there been the least gumminess in my lining,—by heaven! it had all of it long ago been frayed and fretted to a thread.
—You Messrs. the Monthly Reviewers!—how could you cut and slash my jerkin as you did?—how did you know but you would cut my lining too?
Heartily and from my soul, to the protection of that Being who will injure none of us, do I recommend you and your affairs,—so God bless you;—only next month, if any one of you should gnash his teeth, and storm and rage at me, as some of you did last May (in which I remember the weather was very hot)—don't be exasperated, if I pass it by again with good temper,—(being determined as long as I live or write) which in my case means the same thing) never to give the honest gentleman a worse word or a worse wish than my uncle Toby gave the fly which buzz'd about his nose all dinner-time,—'Go,—go, poor devil,' quoth he,—'get thee gone,—why should I hurt thee! This world is surely wide enough to hold both thee and me.'
Any man, Madam, reasoning upwards, and observing the prodigious suffusion of blood in my father's countenance,—by means of which (as all the blood in his body seemed to rush into his face, as I told you) he must have reddened, pictorically and scientifically speaking, six whole tints and a half, if not a full octave above his natural colour:—any man, Madam, but my uncle Toby, who had observed this, together with the violent knitting of my father's brows, and the extravagant contortion of his body during the whole affair,—would have concluded my father in a rage; and taking that for granted,—had he been a lover of such kind of concord as arises from two such instruments being put in exact tune,—he would instantly have skrew'd up his, to the same pitch;—and then the devil and all had broke loose—the whole piece, Madam, must have been played off like the sixth of Avison Scarlatti—con furia,—like mad.—Grant me patience!—What has con furia,—con strepito,—or any other hurly burly whatever to do with harmony?
Any man, I say, Madam, but my uncle Toby, the benignity of whose heart interpreted every motion of the body in the kindest sense the motion would admit of, would have concluded my father angry, and blamed him too. My uncle Toby blamed nothing but the taylor who cut the pocket-hole;—so sitting still till my father had got his handkerchief out of it, and looking all the time up in his face with inexpressible good-will—my father, at length, went on as follows.
'What prodigious armies you had in Flanders!'
—Brother Toby, quoth my father, I do believe thee to be as honest a man, and with as good and as upright a heart as ever God created;—nor is it thy fault, if all the children which have been, may, can, shall, will, or ought to be begotten, come with their heads foremost into the world:—but believe me, dear Toby, the accidents which unavoidably way-lay them, not only in the article of our begetting 'em—though these, in my opinion, are well worth considering,—but the dangers and difficulties our children are beset with, after they are got forth into the world, are enow—little need is there to expose them to unnecessary ones in their passage to it.—Are these dangers, quoth my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon my father's knee, and looking up seriously in his face for an answer,—are these dangers greater now o'days, brother, than in times past? Brother Toby, answered my father, if a child was but fairly begot, and born alive, and healthy, and the mother did well after it,—our forefathers never looked farther.—My uncle Toby instantly withdrew his hand from off my father's knee, reclined his body gently back in his chair, raised his head till he could just see the cornice of the room, and then directing the buccinatory muscles along his cheeks, and the orbicular muscles around his lips to do their duty—he whistled Lillabullero.
Whilst my uncle Toby was whistling Lillabullero to my father,—Dr. Slop was stamping, and cursing and damning at Obadiah at a most dreadful rate,—it would have done your heart good, and cured you, Sir, for ever of the vile sin of swearing, to have heard him, I am determined therefore to relate the whole affair to you.
When Dr. Slop's maid delivered the green baize bag with her master's instruments in it, to Obadiah, she very sensibly exhorted him to put his head and one arm through the strings, and ride with it slung across his body: so undoing the bow-knot, to lengthen the strings for him, without any more ado, she helped him on with it. However, as this, in some measure, unguarded the mouth of the bag, lest any thing should bolt out in galloping back, at the speed Obadiah threatened, they consulted to take it off again: and in the great care and caution of their hearts, they had taken the two strings and tied them close (pursing up the mouth of the bag first) with half a dozen hard knots, each of which Obadiah, to make all safe, had twitched and drawn together with all the strength of his body.
This answered all that Obadiah and the maid intended; but was no remedy against some evils which neither he or she foresaw. The instruments, it seems, as tight as the bag was tied above, had so much room to play in it, towards the bottom (the shape of the bag being conical) that Obadiah could not make a trot of it, but with such a terrible jingle, what with the tire tete, forceps, and squirt, as would have been enough, had Hymen been taking a jaunt that way, to have frightened him out of the country; but when Obadiah accelerated his motion, and from a plain trot assayed to prick his coach-horse into a full gallop—by Heaven! Sir, the jingle was incredible.
As Obadiah had a wife and three children—the turpitude of fornication, and the many other political ill consequences of this jingling, never once entered his brain,—he had however his objection, which came home to himself, and weighed with him, as it has oft-times done with the greatest patriots.—'The poor fellow, Sir, was not able to hear himself whistle.'
As Obadiah loved wind-music preferably to all the instrumental music he carried with him,—he very considerately set his imagination to work, to contrive and to invent by what means he should put himself in a condition of enjoying it.
In all distresses (except musical) where small cords are wanted, nothing is so apt to enter a man's head as his hat-band:—the philosophy of this is so near the surface—I scorn to enter into it.
As Obadiah's was a mixed case—mark, Sirs,—I say, a mixed case; for it was obstetrical,—scrip-tical, squirtical, papistical—and as far as the coach-horse was concerned in it,—caballistical—and only partly musical;—Obadiah made no scruple of availing himself of the first expedient which offered; so taking hold of the bag and instruments, and griping them hard together with one hand, and with the finger and thumb of the other putting the end of the hat-band betwixt his teeth, and then slipping his hand down to the middle of it,—he tied and cross-tied them all fast together from one end to the other (as you would cord a trunk) with such a multiplicity of round-abouts and intricate cross turns, with a hard knot at every intersection or point where the strings met,—that Dr. Slop must have had three fifths of Job's patience at least to have unloosed them.—I think in my conscience, that had Nature been in one of her nimble moods, and in humour for such a contest—and she and Dr. Slop both fairly started together—there is no man living which had seen the bag with all that Obadiah had done to it,—and known likewise the great speed the Goddess can make when she thinks proper, who would have had the least doubt remaining in his mind—which of the two would have carried off the prize. My mother, Madam, had been delivered sooner than the green bag infallibly—at least by twenty knots.—Sport of small accidents, Tristram Shandy! that thou art, and ever will be! had that trial been for thee, and it was fifty to one but it had,—thy affairs had not been so depress'd—(at least by the depression of thy nose) as they have been; nor had the fortunes of thy house and the occasions of making them, which have so often presented themselves in the course of thy life, to thee, been so often, so vexatiously, so tamely, so irrecoverably abandoned—as thou hast been forced to leave them;—but 'tis over,—all but the account of 'em, which cannot be given to the curious till I am got out into the world.