The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
by Laurence Sterne
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So much for my chapter upon chapters, which I hold to be the best chapter in my whole work; and take my word, whoever reads it, is full as well employed, as in picking straws.

Chapter 2.XLVI.

We shall bring all things to rights, said my father, setting his foot upon the first step from the landing.—This Trismegistus, continued my father, drawing his leg back and turning to my uncle Toby—was the greatest (Toby) of all earthly beings—he was the greatest king—the greatest lawgiver—the greatest philosopher—and the greatest priest—and engineer—said my uncle Toby.

—In course, said my father.

Chapter 2.XLVII.

—And how does your mistress? cried my father, taking the same step over again from the landing, and calling to Susannah, whom he saw passing by the foot of the stairs with a huge pin-cushion in her hand—how does your mistress? As well, said Susannah, tripping by, but without looking up, as can be expected.—What a fool am I! said my father, drawing his leg back again—let things be as they will, brother Toby, 'tis ever the precise answer—And how is the child, pray?—No answer. And where is Dr. Slop? added my father, raising his voice aloud, and looking over the ballusters—Susannah was out of hearing.

Of all the riddles of a married life, said my father, crossing the landing in order to set his back against the wall, whilst he propounded it to my uncle Toby—of all the puzzling riddles, said he, in a marriage state,—of which you may trust me, brother Toby, there are more asses loads than all Job's stock of asses could have carried—there is not one that has more intricacies in it than this—that from the very moment the mistress of the house is brought to bed, every female in it, from my lady's gentlewoman down to the cinder-wench, becomes an inch taller for it; and give themselves more airs upon that single inch, than all their other inches put together.

I think rather, replied my uncle Toby, that 'tis we who sink an inch lower.—If I meet but a woman with child—I do it.—'Tis a heavy tax upon that half of our fellow-creatures, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby—'Tis a piteous burden upon 'em, continued he, shaking his head—Yes, yes, 'tis a painful thing—said my father, shaking his head too—but certainly since shaking of heads came into fashion, never did two heads shake together, in concert, from two such different springs.

God bless / Deuce take 'em all—said my uncle Toby and my father, each to himself.

Chapter 2.XVLIII.

Holla!—you, chairman!—here's sixpence—do step into that bookseller's shop, and call me a day-tall critick. I am very willing to give any one of 'em a crown to help me with his tackling, to get my father and my uncle Toby off the stairs, and to put them to bed.

—'Tis even high time; for except a short nap, which they both got whilst Trim was boring the jack-boots—and which, by-the-bye, did my father no sort of good, upon the score of the bad hinge—they have not else shut their eyes, since nine hours before the time that doctor Slop was led into the back parlour in that dirty pickle by Obadiah.

Was every day of my life to be as busy a day as this—and to take up—Truce.

I will not finish that sentence till I have made an observation upon the strange state of affairs between the reader and myself, just as things stand at present—an observation never applicable before to any one biographical writer since the creation of the world, but to myself—and I believe, will never hold good to any other, until its final destruction—and therefore, for the very novelty of it alone, it must be worth your worships attending to.

I am this month one whole year older than I was this time twelve-month; and having got, as you perceive, almost into the middle of my third volume (According to the preceding Editions.)—and no farther than to my first day's life—'tis demonstrative that I have three hundred and sixty-four days more life to write just now, than when I first set out; so that instead of advancing, as a common writer, in my work with what I have been doing at it—on the contrary, I am just thrown so many volumes back—was every day of my life to be as busy a day as this—And why not?—and the transactions and opinions of it to take up as much description—And for what reason should they be cut short? as at this rate I should just live 364 times faster than I should write—It must follow, an' please your worships, that the more I write, the more I shall have to write—and consequently, the more your worships read, the more your worships will have to read.

Will this be good for your worships eyes?

It will do well for mine; and, was it not that my Opinions will be the death of me, I perceive I shall lead a fine life of it out of this self-same life of mine; or, in other words, shall lead a couple of fine lives together.

As for the proposal of twelve volumes a year, or a volume a month, it no way alters my prospect—write as I will, and rush as I may into the middle of things, as Horace advises—I shall never overtake myself whipp'd and driven to the last pinch; at the worst I shall have one day the start of my pen—and one day is enough for two volumes—and two volumes will be enough for one year.—

Heaven prosper the manufacturers of paper under this propitious reign, which is now opened to us—as I trust its providence will prosper every thing else in it that is taken in hand.

As for the propagation of Geese—I give myself no concern—Nature is all-bountiful—I shall never want tools to work with.

—So then, friend! you have got my father and my uncle Toby off the stairs, and seen them to bed?—And how did you manage it?—You dropp'd a curtain at the stair-foot—I thought you had no other way for it—Here's a crown for your trouble.

Chapter 2.XLIX.

—Then reach me my breeches off the chair, said my father to Susannah.—There is not a moment's time to dress you, Sir, cried Susannah—the child is as black in the face as my—As your what? said my father, for like all orators, he was a dear searcher into comparisons.—Bless, me, Sir, said Susannah, the child's in a fit.—And where's Mr. Yorick?—Never where he should be, said Susannah, but his curate's in the dressing-room, with the child upon his arm, waiting for the name—and my mistress bid me run as fast as I could to know, as captain Shandy is the godfather, whether it should not be called after him.

Were one sure, said my father to himself, scratching his eye-brow, that the child was expiring, one might as well compliment my brother Toby as not—and it would be a pity, in such a case, to throw away so great a name as Trismegistus upon him—but he may recover.

No, no,—said my father to Susannah, I'll get up—There is no time, cried Susannah, the child's as black as my shoe. Trismegistus, said my father—But stay—thou art a leaky vessel, Susannah, added my father; canst thou carry Trismegistus in thy head, the length of the gallery without scattering?—Can I? cried Susannah, shutting the door in a huff.—If she can, I'll be shot, said my father, bouncing out of bed in the dark, and groping for his breeches.

Susannah ran with all speed along the gallery.

My father made all possible speed to find his breeches.

Susannah got the start, and kept it—'Tis Tris—something, cried Susannah—There is no christian-name in the world, said the curate, beginning with Tris—but Tristram. Then 'tis Tristram-gistus, quoth Susannah.

—There is no gistus to it, noodle!—'tis my own name, replied the curate, dipping his hand, as he spoke, into the bason—Tristram! said he, &c. &c. &c. &c.—so Tristram was I called, and Tristram shall I be to the day of my death.

My father followed Susannah, with his night-gown across his arm, with nothing more than his breeches on, fastened through haste with but a single button, and that button through haste thrust only half into the button-hole.

—She has not forgot the name, cried my father, half opening the door?—No, no, said the curate, with a tone of intelligence.—And the child is better, cried Susannah.—And how does your mistress? As well, said Susannah, as can be expected.—Pish! said my father, the button of his breeches slipping out of the button-hole—So that whether the interjection was levelled at Susannah, or the button-hole—whether Pish was an interjection of contempt or an interjection of modesty, is a doubt, and must be a doubt till I shall have time to write the three following favourite chapters, that is, my chapter of chamber-maids, my chapter of pishes, and my chapter of button-holes.

All the light I am able to give the reader at present is this, that the moment my father cried Pish! he whisk'd himself about—and with his breeches held up by one hand, and his night-gown thrown across the arm of the other, he turned along the gallery to bed, something slower than he came.

Chapter 2.L.

I wish I could write a chapter upon sleep.

A fitter occasion could never have presented itself, than what this moment offers, when all the curtains of the family are drawn—the candles put out—and no creature's eyes are open but a single one, for the other has been shut these twenty years, of my mother's nurse.

It is a fine subject.

And yet, as fine as it is, I would undertake to write a dozen chapters upon button-holes, both quicker and with more fame, than a single chapter upon this.

Button-holes! there is something lively in the very idea of 'em—and trust me, when I get amongst 'em—You gentry with great beards—look as grave as you will—I'll make merry work with my button-holes—I shall have 'em all to myself—'tis a maiden subject—I shall run foul of no man's wisdom or fine sayings in it.

But for sleep—I know I shall make nothing of it before I begin—I am no dab at your fine sayings in the first place—and in the next, I cannot for my soul set a grave face upon a bad matter, and tell the world—'tis the refuge of the unfortunate—the enfranchisement of the prisoner—the downy lap of the hopeless, the weary, and the broken-hearted; nor could I set out with a lye in my mouth, by affirming, that of all the soft and delicious functions of our nature, by which the great Author of it, in his bounty, has been pleased to recompence the sufferings wherewith his justice and his good pleasure has wearied us—that this is the chiefest (I know pleasures worth ten of it); or what a happiness it is to man, when the anxieties and passions of the day are over, and he lies down upon his back, that his soul shall be so seated within him, that whichever way she turns her eyes, the heavens shall look calm and sweet above her—no desire—or fear—or doubt that troubles the air, nor any difficulty past, present, or to come, that the imagination may not pass over without offence, in that sweet secession.

'God's blessing,' said Sancho Panca, 'be upon the man who first invented this self-same thing called sleep—it covers a man all over like a cloak.' Now there is more to me in this, and it speaks warmer to my heart and affections, than all the dissertations squeez'd out of the heads of the learned together upon the subject.

—Not that I altogether disapprove of what Montaigne advances upon it—'tis admirable in its way—(I quote by memory.)

The world enjoys other pleasures, says he, as they do that of sleep, without tasting or feeling it as it slips and passes by.—We should study and ruminate upon it, in order to render proper thanks to him who grants it to us.—For this end I cause myself to be disturbed in my sleep, that I may the better and more sensibly relish it.—And yet I see few, says he again, who live with less sleep, when need requires; my body is capable of a firm, but not of a violent and sudden agitation—I evade of late all violent exercises—I am never weary with walking—but from my youth, I never looked to ride upon pavements. I love to lie hard and alone, and even without my wife—This last word may stagger the faith of the world—but remember, 'La Vraisemblance' (as Bayle says in the affair of Liceti) 'n'est pas toujours du Cote de la Verite.' And so much for sleep.

Chapter 2.LI.

If my wife will but venture him—brother Toby, Trismegistus shall be dress'd and brought down to us, whilst you and I are getting our breakfasts together.—

—Go, tell Susannah, Obadiah, to step here.

She is run up stairs, answered Obadiah, this very instant, sobbing and crying, and wringing her hands as if her heart would break.

We shall have a rare month of it, said my father, turning his head from Obadiah, and looking wistfully in my uncle Toby's face for some time—we shall have a devilish month of it, brother Toby, said my father, setting his arms a'kimbo, and shaking his head; fire, water, women, wind—brother Toby!—'Tis some misfortune, quoth my uncle Toby.—That it is, cried my father—to have so many jarring elements breaking loose, and riding triumph in every corner of a gentleman's house—Little boots it to the peace of a family, brother Toby, that you and I possess ourselves, and sit here silent and unmoved—whilst such a storm is whistling over our heads.—

And what's the matter, Susannah? They have called the child Tristram—and my mistress is just got out of an hysterick fit about it—No!—'tis not my fault, said Susannah—I told him it was Tristram-gistus.

—Make tea for yourself, brother Toby, said my father, taking down his hat—but how different from the sallies and agitations of voice and members which a common reader would imagine!

—For he spake in the sweetest modulation—and took down his hat with the genteelest movement of limbs, that ever affliction harmonized and attuned together.

—Go to the bowling-green for corporal Trim, said my uncle Toby, speaking to Obadiah, as soon as my father left the room.

Chapter 2.LII.

When the misfortune of my Nose fell so heavily upon my father's head;—the reader remembers that he walked instantly up stairs, and cast himself down upon his bed; and from hence, unless he has a great insight into human nature, he will be apt to expect a rotation of the same ascending and descending movements from him, upon this misfortune of my Name;—no.

The different weight, dear Sir—nay even the different package of two vexations of the same weight—makes a very wide difference in our manner of bearing and getting through with them.—It is not half an hour ago, when (in the great hurry and precipitation of a poor devil's writing for daily bread) I threw a fair sheet, which I had just finished, and carefully wrote out, slap into the fire, instead of the foul one.

Instantly I snatch'd off my wig, and threw it perpendicularly, with all imaginable violence, up to the top of the room—indeed I caught it as it fell—but there was an end of the matter; nor do I think any think else in Nature would have given such immediate ease: She, dear Goddess, by an instantaneous impulse, in all provoking cases, determines us to a sally of this or that member—or else she thrusts us into this or that place, or posture of body, we know not why—But mark, madam, we live amongst riddles and mysteries—the most obvious things, which come in our way, have dark sides, which the quickest sight cannot penetrate into; and even the clearest and most exalted understandings amongst us find ourselves puzzled and at a loss in almost every cranny of nature's works: so that this, like a thousand other things, falls out for us in a way, which tho' we cannot reason upon it—yet we find the good of it, may it please your reverences and your worships—and that's enough for us.

Now, my father could not lie down with this affliction for his life—nor could he carry it up stairs like the other—he walked composedly out with it to the fish-pond.

Had my father leaned his head upon his hand, and reasoned an hour which way to have gone—reason, with all her force, could not have directed him to any think like it: there is something, Sir, in fish-ponds—but what it is, I leave to system-builders and fish-pond-diggers betwixt 'em to find out—but there is something, under the first disorderly transport of the humours, so unaccountably becalming in an orderly and a sober walk towards one of them, that I have often wondered that neither Pythagoras, nor Plato, nor Solon, nor Lycurgus, nor Mahomet, nor any one of your noted lawgivers, ever gave order about them.

Chapter 2.LIII.

Your honour, said Trim, shutting the parlour-door before he began to speak, has heard, I imagine, of this unlucky accident—O yes, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and it gives me great concern.—I am heartily concerned too, but I hope your honour, replied Trim, will do me the justice to believe, that it was not in the least owing to me.—To thee—Trim?—cried my uncle Toby, looking kindly in his face—'twas Susannah's and the curate's folly betwixt them.—What business could they have together, an' please your honour, in the garden?—In the gallery thou meanest, replied my uncle Toby.

Trim found he was upon a wrong scent, and stopped short with a low bow—Two misfortunes, quoth the corporal to himself, are twice as many at least as are needful to be talked over at one time;—the mischief the cow has done in breaking into the fortifications, may be told his honour hereafter.—Trim's casuistry and address, under the cover of his low bow, prevented all suspicion in my uncle Toby, so he went on with what he had to say to Trim as follows:

—For my own part, Trim, though I can see little or no difference betwixt my nephew's being called Tristram or Trismegistus—yet as the thing sits so near my brother's heart, Trim—I would freely have given a hundred pounds rather than it should have happened.—A hundred pounds, an' please your honour! replied Trim,—I would not give a cherry-stone to boot.—Nor would I, Trim, upon my own account, quoth my uncle Toby—but my brother, whom there is no arguing with in this case—maintains that a great deal more depends, Trim, upon christian-names, than what ignorant people imagine—for he says there never was a great or heroic action performed since the world began by one called Tristram—nay, he will have it, Trim, that a man can neither be learned, or wise, or brave.—'Tis all fancy, an' please your honour—I fought just as well, replied the corporal, when the regiment called me Trim, as when they called me James Butler.—And for my own part, said my uncle Toby, though I should blush to boast of myself, Trim—yet had my name been Alexander, I could have done no more at Namur than my duty.—Bless your honour! cried Trim, advancing three steps as he spoke, does a man think of his christian-name when he goes upon the attack?—Or when he stands in the trench, Trim? cried my uncle Toby, looking firm.—Or when he enters a breach? said Trim, pushing in between two chairs.—Or forces the lines? cried my uncle, rising up, and pushing his crutch like a pike.—Or facing a platoon? cried Trim, presenting his stick like a firelock.—Or when he marches up the glacis? cried my uncle Toby, looking warm and setting his foot upon his stool.—

Chapter 2.LIV.

My father was returned from his walk to the fish-pond—and opened the parlour-door in the very height of the attack, just as my uncle Toby was marching up the glacis—Trim recovered his arms—never was my uncle Toby caught in riding at such a desperate rate in his life! Alas! my uncle Toby! had not a weightier matter called forth all the ready eloquence of my father—how hadst thou then and thy poor Hobby-Horse too been insulted!

My father hung up his hat with the same air he took it down; and after giving a slight look at the disorder of the room, he took hold of one of the chairs which had formed the corporal's breach, and placing it over-against my uncle Toby, he sat down in it, and as soon as the tea-things were taken away, and the door shut, he broke out in a lamentation as follows:

My Father's Lamentation.

It is in vain longer, said my father, addressing himself as much to Ernulphus's curse, which was laid upon the corner of the chimney-piece—as to my uncle Toby who sat under it—it is in vain longer, said my father, in the most querulous monotony imaginable, to struggle as I have done against this most uncomfortable of human persuasions—I see it plainly, that either for my own sins, brother Toby, or the sins and follies of the Shandy family, Heaven has thought fit to draw forth the heaviest of its artillery against me; and that the prosperity of my child is the point upon which the whole force of it is directed to play.—Such a thing would batter the whole universe about our ears, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby—if it was so-Unhappy Tristram! child of wrath! child of decrepitude! interruption! mistake! and discontent! What one misfortune or disaster in the book of embryotic evils, that could unmechanize thy frame, or entangle thy filaments! which has not fallen upon thy head, or ever thou camest into the world—what evils in thy passage into it!—what evils since!—produced into being, in the decline of thy father's days—when the powers of his imagination and of his body were waxing feeble—when radical heat and radical moisture, the elements which should have temper'd thine, were drying up; and nothing left to found thy stamina in, but negations—'tis pitiful—brother Toby, at the best, and called out for all the little helps that care and attention on both sides could give it. But how were we defeated! You know the event, brother Toby—'tis too melancholy a one to be repeated now—when the few animal spirits I was worth in the world, and with which memory, fancy, and quick parts should have been convey'd—were all dispersed, confused, confounded, scattered, and sent to the devil.—

Here then was the time to have put a stop to this persecution against him;—and tried an experiment at least—whether calmness and serenity of mind in your sister, with a due attention, brother Toby, to her evacuations and repletions—and the rest of her non-naturals, might not, in a course of nine months gestation, have set all things to rights.—My child was bereft of these!—What a teazing life did she lead herself, and consequently her foetus too, with that nonsensical anxiety of hers about lying-in in town? I thought my sister submitted with the greatest patience, replied my uncle Toby—I never heard her utter one fretful word about it.—She fumed inwardly, cried my father; and that, let me tell you, brother, was ten times worse for the child—and then! what battles did she fight with me, and what perpetual storms about the midwife.—There she gave vent, said my uncle Toby.—Vent! cried my father, looking up.

But what was all this, my dear Toby, to the injuries done us by my child's coming head foremost into the world, when all I wished, in this general wreck of his frame, was to have saved this little casket unbroke, unrifled.—

With all my precautions, how was my system turned topside-turvy in the womb with my child! his head exposed to the hand of violence, and a pressure of 470 pounds avoirdupois weight acting so perpendicularly upon its apex—that at this hour 'tis ninety per Cent. insurance, that the fine net-work of the intellectual web be not rent and torn to a thousand tatters.

—Still we could have done.—Fool, coxcomb, puppy—give him but a Nose—Cripple, Dwarf, Driveller, Goosecap—(shape him as you will) the door of fortune stands open—O Licetus! Licetus! had I been blest with a foetus five inches long and a half, like thee—Fate might have done her worst.

Still, brother Toby, there was one cast of the dye left for our child after all—O Tristram! Tristram! Tristram!

We will send for Mr. Yorick, said my uncle Toby.

—You may send for whom you will, replied my father.

Chapter 2.LV.

What a rate have I gone on at, curvetting and striking it away, two up and two down for three volumes (According to the preceding Editions.) together, without looking once behind, or even on one side of me, to see whom I trod upon!—I'll tread upon no one—quoth I to myself when I mounted—I'll take a good rattling gallop; but I'll not hurt the poorest jack-ass upon the road.—So off I set—up one lane—down another, through this turnpike—over that, as if the arch-jockey of jockeys had got behind me.

Now ride at this rate with what good intention and resolution you may—'tis a million to one you'll do some one a mischief, if not yourself—He's flung—he's off—he's lost his hat—he's down—he'll break his neck—see!—if he has not galloped full among the scaffolding of the undertaking criticks!—he'll knock his brains out against some of their posts—he's bounced out!—look—he's now riding like a mad-cap full tilt through a whole crowd of painters, fiddlers, poets, biographers, physicians, lawyers, logicians, players, school-men, churchmen, statesmen, soldiers, casuists, connoisseurs, prelates, popes, and engineers.—Don't fear, said I—I'll not hurt the poorest jack-ass upon the king's highway.—But your horse throws dirt; see you've splash'd a bishop—I hope in God, 'twas only Ernulphus, said I.—But you have squirted full in the faces of Mess. Le Moyne, De Romigny, and De Marcilly, doctors of the Sorbonne.—That was last year, replied I.—But you have trod this moment upon a king.—Kings have bad times on't, said I, to be trod upon by such people as me.

You have done it, replied my accuser.

I deny it, quoth I, and so have got off, and here am I standing with my bridle in one hand, and with my cap in the other, to tell my story.—And what in it? You shall hear in the next chapter.

Chapter 2.LVI.

As Francis the first of France was one winterly night warming himself over the embers of a wood fire, and talking with his first minister of sundry things for the good of the state (Vide Menagiana, Vol. I.)—It would not be amiss, said the king, stirring up the embers with his cane, if this good understanding betwixt ourselves and Switzerland was a little strengthened.—There is no end, Sire, replied the minister, in giving money to these people—they would swallow up the treasury of France.—Poo! poo! answered the king—there are more ways, Mons. le Premier, of bribing states, besides that of giving money—I'll pay Switzerland the honour of standing godfather for my next child.—Your majesty, said the minister, in so doing, would have all the grammarians in Europe upon your back;—Switzerland, as a republic, being a female, can in no construction be godfather.—She may be godmother, replied Francis hastily—so announce my intentions by a courier to-morrow morning.

I am astonished, said Francis the First, (that day fortnight) speaking to his minister as he entered the closet, that we have had no answer from Switzerland.—Sire, I wait upon you this moment, said Mons. le Premier, to lay before you my dispatches upon that business.—They take it kindly, said the king.—They do, Sire, replied the minister, and have the highest sense of the honour your majesty has done them—but the republick, as godmother, claims her right, in this case, of naming the child.

In all reason, quoth the king—she will christen him Francis, or Henry, or Lewis, or some name that she knows will be agreeable to us. Your majesty is deceived, replied the minister—I have this hour received a dispatch from our resident, with the determination of the republic on that point also.—And what name has the republick fixed upon for the Dauphin?—Shadrach, Mesech, Abed-nego, replied the minister.—By Saint Peter's girdle, I will have nothing to do with the Swiss, cried Francis the First, pulling up his breeches and walking hastily across the floor.

Your majesty, replied the minister calmly, cannot bring yourself off.

We'll pay them in money—said the king.

Sire, there are not sixty thousand crowns in the treasury, answered the minister.—I'll pawn the best jewel in my crown, quoth Francis the First.

Your honour stands pawn'd already in this matter, answered Monsieur le Premier.

Then, Mons. le Premier, said the king, by...we'll go to war with 'em.

Chapter 2.LVII.

Albeit, gentle reader, I have lusted earnestly, and endeavoured carefully (according to the measure of such a slender skill as God has vouchsafed me, and as convenient leisure from other occasions of needful profit and healthful pastime have permitted) that these little books which I here put into thy hands, might stand instead of many bigger books—yet have I carried myself towards thee in such fanciful guise of careless disport, that right sore am I ashamed now to intreat thy lenity seriously—in beseeching thee to believe it of me, that in the story of my father and his christian-names—I have no thoughts of treading upon Francis the First—nor in the affair of the nose—upon Francis the Ninth—nor in the character of my uncle Toby—of characterizing the militiating spirits of my country—the wound upon his groin, is a wound to every comparison of that kind—nor by Trim—that I meant the duke of Ormond—or that my book is wrote against predestination, or free-will, or taxes—If 'tis wrote against any thing,—'tis wrote, an' please your worships, against the spleen! in order, by a more frequent and a more convulsive elevation and depression of the diaphragm, and the succussations of the intercostal and abdominal muscles in laughter, to drive the gall and other bitter juices from the gall-bladder, liver, and sweet-bread of his majesty's subjects, with all the inimicitious passions which belong to them, down into their duodenums.

Chapter 2.LVIII.

—But can the thing be undone, Yorick? said my father—for in my opinion, continued he, it cannot. I am a vile canonist, replied Yorick—but of all evils, holding suspence to be the most tormenting, we shall at least know the worst of this matter. I hate these great dinners—said my father—The size of the dinner is not the point, answered Yorick—we want, Mr. Shandy, to dive into the bottom of this doubt, whether the name can be changed or not—and as the beards of so many commissaries, officials, advocates, proctors, registers, and of the most eminent of our school-divines, and others, are all to meet in the middle of one table, and Didius has so pressingly invited you—who in your distress would miss such an occasion? All that is requisite, continued Yorick, is to apprize Didius, and let him manage a conversation after dinner so as to introduce the subject.—Then my brother Toby, cried my father, clapping his two hands together, shall go with us.

—Let my old tye-wig, quoth my uncle Toby, and my laced regimentals, be hung to the fire all night, Trim.

(page numbering skips ten pages)

Chapter 2.LX.

—No doubt, Sir,—there is a whole chapter wanting here—and a chasm of ten pages made in the book by it—but the book-binder is neither a fool, or a knave, or a puppy—nor is the book a jot more imperfect (at least upon that score)—but, on the contrary, the book is more perfect and complete by wanting the chapter, than having it, as I shall demonstrate to your reverences in this manner.—I question first, by-the-bye, whether the same experiment might not be made as successfully upon sundry other chapters—but there is no end, an' please your reverences, in trying experiments upon chapters—we have had enough of it—So there's an end of that matter.

But before I begin my demonstration, let me only tell you, that the chapter which I have torn out, and which otherwise you would all have been reading just now, instead of this—was the description of my father's, my uncle Toby's, Trim's, and Obadiah's setting out and journeying to the visitation at....

We'll go in the coach, said my father—Prithee, have the arms been altered, Obadiah?—It would have made my story much better to have begun with telling you, that at the time my mother's arms were added to the Shandy's, when the coach was re-painted upon my father's marriage, it had so fallen out that the coach-painter, whether by performing all his works with the left hand, like Turpilius the Roman, or Hans Holbein of Basil—or whether 'twas more from the blunder of his head than hand—or whether, lastly, it was from the sinister turn which every thing relating to our family was apt to take—it so fell out, however, to our reproach, that instead of the bend-dexter, which since Harry the Eighth's reign was honestly our due—a bend-sinister, by some of these fatalities, had been drawn quite across the field of the Shandy arms. 'Tis scarce credible that the mind of so wise a man as my father was, could be so much incommoded with so small a matter. The word coach—let it be whose it would—or coach-man, or coach-horse, or coach-hire, could never be named in the family, but he constantly complained of carrying this vile mark of illegitimacy upon the door of his own; he never once was able to step into the coach, or out of it, without turning round to take a view of the arms, and making a vow at the same time, that it was the last time he would ever set his foot in it again, till the bend-sinister was taken out—but like the affair of the hinge, it was one of the many things which the Destinies had set down in their books ever to be grumbled at (and in wiser families than ours)—but never to be mended.

—Has the bend-sinister been brush'd out, I say? said my father.—There has been nothing brush'd out, Sir, answered Obadiah, but the lining. We'll go o'horseback, said my father, turning to Yorick—Of all things in the world, except politicks, the clergy know the least of heraldry, said Yorick.—No matter for that, cried my father—I should be sorry to appear with a blot in my escutcheon before them.—Never mind the bend-sinister, said my uncle Toby, putting on his tye-wig.—No, indeed, said my father—you may go with my aunt Dinah to a visitation with a bend-sinister, if you think fit—My poor uncle Toby blush'd. My father was vexed at himself.—No—my dear brother Toby, said my father, changing his tone—but the damp of the coach-lining about my loins, may give me the sciatica again, as it did December, January, and February last winter—so if you please you shall ride my wife's pad—and as you are to preach, Yorick, you had better make the best of your way before—and leave me to take care of my brother Toby, and to follow at our own rates.

Now the chapter I was obliged to tear out, was the description of this cavalcade, in which Corporal Trim and Obadiah, upon two coach-horses a-breast, led the way as slow as a patrole—whilst my uncle Toby, in his laced regimentals and tye-wig, kept his rank with my father, in deep roads and dissertations alternately upon the advantage of learning and arms, as each could get the start.

—But the painting of this journey, upon reviewing it, appears to be so much above the stile and manner of any thing else I have been able to paint in this book, that it could not have remained in it, without depreciating every other scene; and destroying at the same time that necessary equipoise and balance, (whether of good or bad) betwixt chapter and chapter, from whence the just proportions and harmony of the whole work results. For my own part, I am but just set up in the business, so know little about it—but, in my opinion, to write a book is for all the world like humming a song—be but in tune with yourself, madam, 'tis no matter how high or how low you take it.

—This is the reason, may it please your reverences, that some of the lowest and flattest compositions pass off very well—(as Yorick told my uncle Toby one night) by siege.—My uncle Toby looked brisk at the sound of the word siege, but could make neither head or tail of it.

I'm to preach at court next Sunday, said Homenas—run over my notes—so I humm'd over doctor Homenas's notes—the modulation's very well—'twill do, Homenas, if it holds on at this rate—so on I humm'd—and a tolerable tune I thought it was; and to this hour, may it please your reverences, had never found out how low, how flat, how spiritless and jejune it was, but that all of a sudden, up started an air in the middle of it, so fine, so rich, so heavenly,—it carried my soul up with it into the other world; now had I (as Montaigne complained in a parallel accident)—had I found the declivity easy, or the ascent accessible—certes I had been outwitted.—Your notes, Homenas, I should have said, are good notes;—but it was so perpendicular a precipice—so wholly cut off from the rest of the work, that by the first note I humm'd I found myself flying into the other world, and from thence discovered the vale from whence I came, so deep, so low, and dismal, that I shall never have the heart to descend into it again.

A dwarf who brings a standard along with him to measure his own size—take my word, is a dwarf in more articles than one.—And so much for tearing out of chapters.

Chapter 2.LXI.

—See if he is not cutting it into slips, and giving them about him to light their pipes!—'Tis abominable, answered Didius; it should not go unnoticed, said doctor Kysarcius—he was of the Kysarcii of the Low Countries.

Methinks, said Didius, half rising from his chair, in order to remove a bottle and a tall decanter, which stood in a direct line betwixt him and Yorick—you might have spared this sarcastic stroke, and have hit upon a more proper place, Mr. Yorick—or at least upon a more proper occasion to have shewn your contempt of what we have been about: If the sermon is of no better worth than to light pipes with—'twas certainly, Sir, not good enough to be preached before so learned a body; and if 'twas good enough to be preached before so learned a body—'twas certainly Sir, too good to light their pipes with afterwards.

—I have got him fast hung up, quoth Didius to himself, upon one of the two horns of my dilemma—let him get off as he can.

I have undergone such unspeakable torments, in bringing forth this sermon, quoth Yorick, upon this occasion—that I declare, Didius, I would suffer martyrdom—and if it was possible my horse with me, a thousand times over, before I would sit down and make such another: I was delivered of it at the wrong end of me—it came from my head instead of my heart—and it is for the pain it gave me, both in the writing and preaching of it, that I revenge myself of it, in this manner—To preach, to shew the extent of our reading, or the subtleties of our wit—to parade in the eyes of the vulgar with the beggarly accounts of a little learning, tinsel'd over with a few words which glitter, but convey little light and less warmth—is a dishonest use of the poor single half hour in a week which is put into our hands—'Tis not preaching the gospel—but ourselves—For my own part, continued Yorick, I had rather direct five words point-blank to the heart.—As Yorick pronounced the word point-blank, my uncle Toby rose up to say something upon projectiles—when a single word and no more uttered from the opposite side of the table drew every one's ears towards it—a word of all others in the dictionary the last in that place to be expected—a word I am ashamed to write—yet must be written—must be read—illegal— uncanonical—guess ten thousand guesses, multiplied into themselves— rack—torture your invention for ever, you're where you was—In short, I'll tell it in the next chapter.

Chapter 2.LXII.

Zounds!—Z...ds! cried Phutatorius, partly to himself—and yet high enough to be heard—and what seemed odd, 'twas uttered in a construction of look, and in a tone of voice, somewhat between that of a man in amazement and one in bodily pain.

One or two who had very nice ears, and could distinguish the expression and mixture of the two tones as plainly as a third or a fifth, or any other chord in musick—were the most puzzled and perplexed with it—the concord was good in itself—but then 'twas quite out of the key, and no way applicable to the subject started;—so that with all their knowledge, they could not tell what in the world to make of it.

Others who knew nothing of musical expression, and merely lent their ears to the plain import of the word, imagined that Phutatorius, who was somewhat of a cholerick spirit, was just going to snatch the cudgels out of Didius's hands, in order to bemaul Yorick to some purpose—and that the desperate monosyllable Z...ds was the exordium to an oration, which, as they judged from the sample, presaged but a rough kind of handling of him; so that my uncle Toby's good-nature felt a pang for what Yorick was about to undergo. But seeing Phutatorius stop short, without any attempt or desire to go on—a third party began to suppose, that it was no more than an involuntary respiration, casually forming itself into the shape of a twelve-penny oath—without the sin or substance of one.

Others, and especially one or two who sat next him, looked upon it on the contrary as a real and substantial oath, propensly formed against Yorick, to whom he was known to bear no good liking—which said oath, as my father philosophized upon it, actually lay fretting and fuming at that very time in the upper regions of Phutatorius's purtenance; and so was naturally, and according to the due course of things, first squeezed out by the sudden influx of blood which was driven into the right ventricle of Phutatorius's heart, by the stroke of surprize which so strange a theory of preaching had excited.

How finely we argue upon mistaken facts!

There was not a soul busied in all these various reasonings upon the monosyllable which Phutatorius uttered—who did not take this for granted, proceeding upon it as from an axiom, namely, that Phutatorius's mind was intent upon the subject of debate which was arising between Didius and Yorick; and indeed as he looked first towards the one and then towards the other, with the air of a man listening to what was going forwards—who would not have thought the same? But the truth was, that Phutatorius knew not one word or one syllable of what was passing—but his whole thoughts and attention were taken up with a transaction which was going forwards at that very instant within the precincts of his own Galligaskins, and in a part of them, where of all others he stood most interested to watch accidents: So that notwithstanding he looked with all the attention in the world, and had gradually skrewed up every nerve and muscle in his face, to the utmost pitch the instrument would bear, in order, as it was thought, to give a sharp reply to Yorick, who sat over-against him—yet, I say, was Yorick never once in any one domicile of Phutatorius's brain—but the true cause of his exclamation lay at least a yard below.

This I will endeavour to explain to you with all imaginable decency.

You must be informed then, that Gastripheres, who had taken a turn into the kitchen a little before dinner, to see how things went on—observing a wicker-basket of fine chesnuts standing upon the dresser, had ordered that a hundred or two of them might be roasted and sent in, as soon as dinner was over—Gastripheres inforcing his orders about them, that Didius, but Phutatorius especially, were particularly fond of 'em.

About two minutes before the time that my uncle Toby interrupted Yorick's harangue—Gastripheres's chesnuts were brought in—and as Phutatorius's fondness for 'em was uppermost in the waiter's head, he laid them directly before Phutatorius, wrapt up hot in a clean damask napkin.

Now whether it was physically impossible, with half a dozen hands all thrust into the napkin at a time—but that some one chesnut, of more life and rotundity than the rest, must be put in motion—it so fell out, however, that one was actually sent rolling off the table; and as Phutatorius sat straddling under—it fell perpendicularly into that particular aperture of Phutatorius's breeches, for which, to the shame and indelicacy of our language be it spoke, there is no chaste word throughout all Johnson's dictionary—let it suffice to say—it was that particular aperture which, in all good societies, the laws of decorum do strictly require, like the temple of Janus (in peace at least) to be universally shut up.

The neglect of this punctilio in Phutatorius (which by-the-bye should be a warning to all mankind) had opened a door to this accident.—

Accident I call it, in compliance to a received mode of speaking—but in no opposition to the opinion either of Acrites or Mythogeras in this matter; I know they were both prepossessed and fully persuaded of it—and are so to this hour, That there was nothing of accident in the whole event—but that the chesnut's taking that particular course, and in a manner of its own accord—and then falling with all its heat directly into that one particular place, and no other—was a real judgment upon Phutatorius for that filthy and obscene treatise de Concubinis retinendis, which Phutatorius had published about twenty years ago—and was that identical week going to give the world a second edition of.

It is not my business to dip my pen in this controversy—much undoubtedly may be wrote on both sides of the question—all that concerns me as an historian, is to represent the matter of fact, and render it credible to the reader, that the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches was sufficiently wide to receive the chesnut;—and that the chesnut, somehow or other, did fall perpendicularly, and piping hot into it, without Phutatorius's perceiving it, or any one else at that time.

The genial warmth which the chesnut imparted, was not undelectable for the first twenty or five-and-twenty seconds—and did no more than gently solicit Phutatorius's attention towards the part:—But the heat gradually increasing, and in a few seconds more getting beyond the point of all sober pleasure, and then advancing with all speed into the regions of pain, the soul of Phutatorius, together with all his ideas, his thoughts, his attention, his imagination, judgment, resolution, deliberation, ratiocination, memory, fancy, with ten battalions of animal spirits, all tumultuously crowded down, through different defiles and circuits, to the place of danger, leaving all his upper regions, as you may imagine, as empty as my purse.

With the best intelligence which all these messengers could bring him back, Phutatorius was not able to dive into the secret of what was going forwards below, nor could he make any kind of conjecture, what the devil was the matter with it: However, as he knew not what the true cause might turn out, he deemed it most prudent in the situation he was in at present, to bear it, if possible, like a Stoick; which, with the help of some wry faces and compursions of the mouth, he had certainly accomplished, had his imagination continued neuter;—but the sallies of the imagination are ungovernable in things of this kind—a thought instantly darted into his mind, that tho' the anguish had the sensation of glowing heat—it might, notwithstanding that, be a bite as well as a burn; and if so, that possibly a Newt or an Asker, or some such detested reptile, had crept up, and was fastening his teeth—the horrid idea of which, with a fresh glow of pain arising that instant from the chesnut, seized Phutatorius with a sudden panick, and in the first terrifying disorder of the passion, it threw him, as it has done the best generals upon earth, quite off his guard:—the effect of which was this, that he leapt incontinently up, uttering as he rose that interjection of surprise so much descanted upon, with the aposiopestic break after it, marked thus, Z...ds—which, though not strictly canonical, was still as little as any man could have said upon the occasion;—and which, by-the-bye, whether canonical or not, Phutatorius could no more help than he could the cause of it.

Though this has taken up some time in the narrative, it took up little more time in the transaction, than just to allow time for Phutatorius to draw forth the chesnut, and throw it down with violence upon the floor—and for Yorick to rise from his chair, and pick the chesnut up.

It is curious to observe the triumph of slight incidents over the mind:—What incredible weight they have in forming and governing our opinions, both of men and things—that trifles, light as air, shall waft a belief into the soul, and plant it so immoveably within it—that Euclid's demonstrations, could they be brought to batter it in breach, should not all have power to overthrow it.

Yorick, I said, picked up the chesnut which Phutatorius's wrath had flung down—the action was trifling—I am ashamed to account for it—he did it, for no reason, but that he thought the chesnut not a jot worse for the adventure—and that he held a good chesnut worth stooping for.—But this incident, trifling as it was, wrought differently in Phutatorius's head: He considered this act of Yorick's in getting off his chair and picking up the chesnut, as a plain acknowledgment in him, that the chesnut was originally his—and in course, that it must have been the owner of the chesnut, and no one else, who could have played him such a prank with it: What greatly confirmed him in this opinion, was this, that the table being parallelogramical and very narrow, it afforded a fair opportunity for Yorick, who sat directly over against Phutatorius, of slipping the chesnut in—and consequently that he did it. The look of something more than suspicion, which Phutatorius cast full upon Yorick as these thoughts arose, too evidently spoke his opinion—and as Phutatorius was naturally supposed to know more of the matter than any person besides, his opinion at once became the general one;—and for a reason very different from any which have been yet given—in a little time it was put out of all manner of dispute.

When great or unexpected events fall out upon the stage of this sublunary world—the mind of man, which is an inquisitive kind of a substance, naturally takes a flight behind the scenes to see what is the cause and first spring of them.—The search was not long in this instance.

It was well known that Yorick had never a good opinion of the treatise which Phutatorius had wrote de Concubinis retinendis, as a thing which he feared had done hurt in the world—and 'twas easily found out, that there was a mystical meaning in Yorick's prank—and that his chucking the chesnut hot into Phutatorius's...—..., was a sarcastical fling at his book—the doctrines of which, they said, had enflamed many an honest man in the same place.

This conceit awaken'd Somnolentus—made Agelastes smile—and if you can recollect the precise look and air of a man's face intent in finding out a riddle—it threw Gastripheres's into that form—and in short was thought by many to be a master-stroke of arch-wit.

This, as the reader has seen from one end to the other, was as groundless as the dreams of philosophy: Yorick, no doubt, as Shakespeare said of his ancestor—'was a man of jest,' but it was temper'd with something which withheld him from that, and many other ungracious pranks, of which he as undeservedly bore the blame;—but it was his misfortune all his life long to bear the imputation of saying and doing a thousand things, of which (unless my esteem blinds me) his nature was incapable. All I blame him for—or rather, all I blame and alternately like him for, was that singularity of his temper, which would never suffer him to take pains to set a story right with the world, however in his power. In every ill usage of that sort, he acted precisely as in the affair of his lean horse—he could have explained it to his honour, but his spirit was above it; and besides, he ever looked upon the inventor, the propagator and believer of an illiberal report alike so injurious to him—he could not stoop to tell his story to them—and so trusted to time and truth to do it for him.

This heroic cast produced him inconveniences in many respects—in the present it was followed by the fixed resentment of Phutatorius, who, as Yorick had just made an end of his chesnut, rose up from his chair a second time, to let him know it—which indeed he did with a smile; saying only—that he would endeavour not to forget the obligation.

But you must mark and carefully separate and distinguish these two things in your mind.

—The smile was for the company.

—The threat was for Yorick.

Chapter 2.LXIII.

—Can you tell me, quoth Phutatorius, speaking to Gastripheres who sat next to him—for one would not apply to a surgeon in so foolish an affair—can you tell me, Gastripheres, what is best to take out the fire?—Ask Eugenius, said Gastripheres.—That greatly depends, said Eugenius, pretending ignorance of the adventure, upon the nature of the part—If it is a tender part, and a part which can conveniently be wrapt up—It is both the one and the other, replied Phutatorius, laying his hand as he spoke, with an emphatical nod of his head, upon the part in question, and lifting up his right leg at the same time to ease and ventilate it.—If that is the case, said Eugenius, I would advise you, Phutatorius, not to tamper with it by any means; but if you will send to the next printer, and trust your cure to such a simple thing as a soft sheet of paper just come off the press—you need do nothing more than twist it round.—The damp paper, quoth Yorick (who sat next to his friend Eugenius) though I know it has a refreshing coolness in it—yet I presume is no more than the vehicle—and that the oil and lamp-black with which the paper is so strongly impregnated, does the business.—Right, said Eugenius, and is, of any outward application I would venture to recommend, the most anodyne and safe.

Was it my case, said Gastripheres, as the main thing is the oil and lamp-black, I should spread them thick upon a rag, and clap it on directly.—That would make a very devil of it, replied Yorick.—And besides, added Eugenius, it would not answer the intention, which is the extreme neatness and elegance of the prescription, which the Faculty hold to be half in half;—for consider, if the type is a very small one (which it should be) the sanative particles, which come into contact in this form, have the advantage of being spread so infinitely thin, and with such a mathematical equality (fresh paragraphs and large capitals excepted) as no art or management of the spatula can come up to.—It falls out very luckily, replied Phutatorius, that the second edition of my treatise de Concubinis retinendis is at this instant in the press.—You may take any leaf of it, said Eugenius—no matter which.—Provided, quoth Yorick, there is no bawdry in it.—

They are just now, replied Phutatorius, printing off the ninth chapter—which is the last chapter but one in the book.—Pray what is the title of that chapter? said Yorick; making a respectful bow to Phutatorius as he spoke.—I think, answered Phutatorius, 'tis that de re concubinaria.

For Heaven's sake keep out of that chapter, quoth Yorick.

—By all means—added Eugenius.

Chapter 2.LXIV.

—Now, quoth Didius, rising up, and laying his right hand with his fingers spread upon his breast—had such a blunder about a christian-name happened before the Reformation—(It happened the day before yesterday, quoth my uncle Toby to himself)—and when baptism was administer'd in Latin—('Twas all in English, said my uncle)—many things might have coincided with it, and upon the authority of sundry decreed cases, to have pronounced the baptism null, with a power of giving the child a new name—Had a priest, for instance, which was no uncommon thing, through ignorance of the Latin tongue, baptized a child of Tom-o'Stiles, in nomine patriae & filia & spiritum sanctos—the baptism was held null.—I beg your pardon, replied Kysarcius—in that case, as the mistake was only the terminations, the baptism was valid—and to have rendered it null, the blunder of the priest should have fallen upon the first syllable of each noun—and not, as in your case, upon the last.

My father delighted in subtleties of this kind, and listen'd with infinite attention.

Gastripheres, for example, continued Kysarcius, baptizes a child of John Stradling's in Gomine gatris, &c. &c. instead of in Nomine patris, &c.—Is this a baptism? No—say the ablest canonists; in as much as the radix of each word is hereby torn up, and the sense and meaning of them removed and changed quite to another object; for Gomine does not signify a name, nor gatris a father.—What do they signify? said my uncle Toby.—Nothing at all—quoth Yorick.—Ergo, such a baptism is null, said Kysarcius.—

In course, answered Yorick, in a tone two parts jest and one part earnest.—But in the case cited, continued Kysarcius, where patriae is put for patris, filia for filii, and so on—as it is a fault only in the declension, and the roots of the words continue untouch'd, the inflections of their branches either this way or that, does not in any sort hinder the baptism, inasmuch as the same sense continues in the words as before.—But then, said Didius, the intention of the priest's pronouncing them grammatically must have been proved to have gone along with it.—Right, answered Kysarcius; and of this, brother Didius, we have an instance in a decree of the decretals of Pope Leo the IIId.—But my brother's child, cried my uncle Toby, has nothing to do with the Pope—'tis the plain child of a Protestant gentleman, christen'd Tristram against the wills and wishes both of his father and mother, and all who are a-kin to it.—

If the wills and wishes, said Kysarcius, interrupting my uncle Toby, of those only who stand related to Mr. Shandy's child, were to have weight in this matter, Mrs. Shandy, of all people, has the least to do in it.—My uncle Toby lay'd down his pipe, and my father drew his chair still closer to the table, to hear the conclusion of so strange an introduction.

—It has not only been a question, Captain Shandy, amongst the (Vide Swinburn on Testaments, Part 7. para 8.) best lawyers and civilians in this land, continued Kysarcius, 'Whether the mother be of kin to her child,'—but, after much dispassionate enquiry and jactitation of the arguments on all sides—it has been adjudged for the negative—namely, 'That the mother is not of kin to her child.' (Vide Brook Abridg. Tit. Administr. N. 47.) My father instantly clapp'd his hand upon my uncle Toby's mouth, under colour of whispering in his ear;—the truth was, he was alarmed for Lillabullero—and having a great desire to hear more of so curious an argument—he begg'd my uncle Toby, for heaven's sake, not to disappoint him in it.—My uncle Toby gave a nod—resumed his pipe, and contenting himself with whistling Lillabullero inwardly—Kysarcius, Didius, and Triptolemus went on with the discourse as follows:

This determination, continued Kysarcius, how contrary soever it may seem to run to the stream of vulgar ideas, yet had reason strongly on its side; and has been put out of all manner of dispute from the famous case, known commonly by the name of the Duke of Suffolk's case.—It is cited in Brook, said Triptolemus—And taken notice of by Lord Coke, added Didius.—And you may find it in Swinburn on Testaments, said Kysarcius.

The case, Mr. Shandy, was this:

In the reign of Edward the Sixth, Charles duke of Suffolk having issue a son by one venter, and a daughter by another venter, made his last will, wherein he devised goods to his son, and died; after whose death the son died also—but without will, without wife, and without child—his mother and his sister by the father's side (for she was born of the former venter) then living. The mother took the administration of her son's goods, according to the statute of the 21st of Harry the Eighth, whereby it is enacted, That in case any person die intestate the administration of his goods shall be committed to the next of kin.

The administration being thus (surreptitiously) granted to the mother, the sister by the father's side commenced a suit before the Ecclesiastical Judge, alledging, 1st, That she herself was next of kin; and 2dly, That the mother was not of kin at all to the party deceased; and therefore prayed the court, that the administration granted to the mother might be revoked, and be committed unto her, as next of kin to the deceased, by force of the said statute.

Hereupon, as it was a great cause, and much depending upon its issue—and many causes of great property likely to be decided in times to come, by the precedent to be then made—the most learned, as well in the laws of this realm, as in the civil law, were consulted together, whether the mother was of kin to her son, or no.—Whereunto not only the temporal lawyers—but the church lawyers—the juris-consulti—the jurisprudentes—the civilians—the advocates—the commissaries—the judges of the consistory and prerogative courts of Canterbury and York, with the master of the faculties, were all unanimously of opinion, That the mother was not of (Mater non numeratur inter consanguineos, Bald. in ult. C. de Verb. signific.) kin to her child.—

And what said the duchess of Suffolk to it? said my uncle Toby.

The unexpectedness of my uncle Toby's question, confounded Kysarcius more than the ablest advocate—He stopp'd a full minute, looking in my uncle Toby's face without replying—and in that single minute Triptolemus put by him, and took the lead as follows.

'Tis a ground and principle in the law, said Triptolemus, that things do not ascend, but descend in it; and I make no doubt 'tis for this cause, that however true it is, that the child may be of the blood and seed of its parents—that the parents, nevertheless, are not of the blood and seed of it; inasmuch as the parents are not begot by the child, but the child by the parents—For so they write, Liberi sunt de sanguine patris & matris, sed pater & mater non sunt de sanguine liberorum.

—But this, Triptolemus, cried Didius, proves too much—for from this authority cited it would follow, not only what indeed is granted on all sides, that the mother is not of kin to her child—but the father likewise.—It is held, said Triptolemus, the better opinion; because the father, the mother, and the child, though they be three persons, yet are they but (una caro (Vide Brook Abridg. tit. Administr. N.47.)) one flesh; and consequently no degree of kindred—or any method of acquiring one in nature.—There you push the argument again too far, cried Didius—for there is no prohibition in nature, though there is in the Levitical law—but that a man may beget a child upon his grandmother—in which case, supposing the issue a daughter, she would stand in relation both of—But who ever thought, cried Kysarcius, of laying with his grandmother?—The young gentleman, replied Yorick, whom Selden speaks of—who not only thought of it, but justified his intention to his father by the argument drawn from the law of retaliation.—'You laid, Sir, with my mother,' said the lad—'why may not I lay with yours?'—'Tis the Argumentum commune, added Yorick.—'Tis as good, replied Eugenius, taking down his hat, as they deserve.

The company broke up.

Chapter 2.LXV.

—And pray, said my uncle Toby, leaning upon Yorick, as he and my father were helping him leisurely down the stairs—don't be terrified, madam, this stair-case conversation is not so long as the last—And pray, Yorick, said my uncle Toby, which way is this said affair of Tristram at length settled by these learned men? Very satisfactorily, replied Yorick; no mortal, Sir, has any concern with it—for Mrs. Shandy the mother is nothing at all a-kin to him—and as the mother's is the surest side—Mr. Shandy, in course is still less than nothing—In short, he is not as much a-kin to him, Sir, as I am.—

—That may well be, said my father, shaking his head.

—Let the learned say what they will, there must certainly, quoth my uncle Toby, have been some sort of consanguinity betwixt the duchess of Suffolk and her son.

The vulgar are of the same opinion, quoth Yorick, to this hour.

Chapter 2.LXVI.

Though my father was hugely tickled with the subtleties of these learned discourses—'twas still but like the anointing of a broken bone—The moment he got home, the weight of his afflictions returned upon him but so much the heavier, as is ever the case when the staff we lean on slips from under us.—He became pensive—walked frequently forth to the fish-pond—let down one loop of his hat—sigh'd often—forbore to snap—and, as the hasty sparks of temper, which occasion snapping, so much assist perspiration and digestion, as Hippocrates tells us—he had certainly fallen ill with the extinction of them, had not his thoughts been critically drawn off, and his health rescued by a fresh train of disquietudes left him, with a legacy of a thousand pounds, by my aunt Dinah.

My father had scarce read the letter, when taking the thing by the right end, he instantly began to plague and puzzle his head how to lay it out mostly to the honour of his family.—A hundred-and-fifty odd projects took possession of his brains by turns—he would do this, and that and t'other—He would go to Rome—he would go to law—he would buy stock—he would buy John Hobson's farm—he would new fore front his house, and add a new wing to make it even—There was a fine water-mill on this side, and he would build a wind-mill on the other side of the river in full view to answer it—But above all things in the world, he would inclose the great Ox-moor, and send out my brother Bobby immediately upon his travels.

But as the sum was finite, and consequently could not do every thing—and in truth very few of these to any purpose—of all the projects which offered themselves upon this occasion, the two last seemed to make the deepest impression; and he would infallibly have determined upon both at once, but for the small inconvenience hinted at above, which absolutely put him under a necessity of deciding in favour either of the one or the other.

This was not altogether so easy to be done; for though 'tis certain my father had long before set his heart upon this necessary part of my brother's education, and like a prudent man had actually determined to carry it into execution, with the first money that returned from the second creation of actions in the Missisippi-scheme, in which he was an adventurer—yet the Ox-moor, which was a fine, large, whinny, undrained, unimproved common, belonging to the Shandy-estate, had almost as old a claim upon him: he had long and affectionately set his heart upon turning it likewise to some account.

But having never hitherto been pressed with such a conjuncture of things, as made it necessary to settle either the priority or justice of their claims—like a wise man he had refrained entering into any nice or critical examination about them: so that upon the dismission of every other project at this crisis—the two old projects, the Ox-moor and my Brother, divided him again; and so equal a match were they for each other, as to become the occasion of no small contest in the old gentleman's mind—which of the two should be set o'going first.

—People may laugh as they will—but the case was this.

It had ever been the custom of the family, and by length of time was almost become a matter of common right, that the eldest son of it should have free ingress, egress, and regress into foreign parts before marriage—not only for the sake of bettering his own private parts, by the benefit of exercise and change of so much air—but simply for the mere delectation of his fancy, by the feather put into his cap, of having been abroad—tantum valet, my father would say, quantum sonat.

Now as this was a reasonable, and in course a most christian indulgence—to deprive him of it, without why or wherefore—and thereby make an example of him, as the first Shandy unwhirl'd about Europe in a post-chaise, and only because he was a heavy lad—would be using him ten times worse than a Turk.

On the other hand, the case of the Ox-moor was full as hard.

Exclusive of the original purchase-money, which was eight hundred pounds—it had cost the family eight hundred pounds more in a law-suit about fifteen years before—besides the Lord knows what trouble and vexation.

It had been moreover in possession of the Shandy-family ever since the middle of the last century; and though it lay full in view before the house, bounded on one extremity by the water-mill, and on the other by the projected wind-mill spoken of above—and for all these reasons seemed to have the fairest title of any part of the estate to the care and protection of the family—yet by an unaccountable fatality, common to men, as well as the ground they tread on—it had all along most shamefully been overlook'd; and to speak the truth of it, had suffered so much by it, that it would have made any man's heart have bled (Obadiah said) who understood the value of the land, to have rode over it, and only seen the condition it was in.

However, as neither the purchasing this tract of ground—nor indeed the placing of it where it lay, were either of them, properly speaking, of my father's doing—he had never thought himself any way concerned in the affair—till the fifteen years before, when the breaking out of that cursed law-suit mentioned above (and which had arose about its boundaries)—which being altogether my father's own act and deed, it naturally awakened every other argument in its favour, and upon summing them all up together, he saw, not merely in interest, but in honour, he was bound to do something for it—and that now or never was the time.

I think there must certainly have been a mixture of ill-luck in it, that the reasons on both sides should happen to be so equally balanced by each other; for though my father weigh'd them in all humours and conditions—spent many an anxious hour in the most profound and abstracted meditation upon what was best to be done—reading books of farming one day—books of travels another—laying aside all passion whatever—viewing the arguments on both sides in all their lights and circumstances—communing every day with my uncle Toby—arguing with Yorick, and talking over the whole affair of the Ox-moor with Obadiah—yet nothing in all that time appeared so strongly in behalf of the one, which was not either strictly applicable to the other, or at least so far counterbalanced by some consideration of equal weight, as to keep the scales even.

For to be sure, with proper helps, in the hands of some people, tho' the Ox-moor would undoubtedly have made a different appearance in the world from what it did, or ever could do in the condition it lay—yet every tittle of this was true, with regard to my brother Bobby—let Obadiah say what he would.—

In point of interest—the contest, I own, at first sight, did not appear so undecisive betwixt them; for whenever my father took pen and ink in hand, and set about calculating the simple expence of paring and burning, and fencing in the Ox-moor, &c. &c.—with the certain profit it would bring him in return—the latter turned out so prodigiously in his way of working the account, that you would have sworn the Ox-moor would have carried all before it. For it was plain he should reap a hundred lasts of rape, at twenty pounds a last, the very first year—besides an excellent crop of wheat the year following—and the year after that, to speak within bounds, a hundred—but in all likelihood, a hundred and fifty—if not two hundred quarters of pease and beans—besides potatoes without end.—But then, to think he was all this while breeding up my brother, like a hog to eat them—knocked all on the head again, and generally left the old gentleman in such a state of suspense—that, as he often declared to my uncle Toby—he knew no more than his heels what to do.

No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time: for to say nothing of the havock, which by a certain consequence is unavoidably made by it all over the finer system of the nerves, which you know convey the animal spirits and more subtle juices from the heart to the head, and so on—it is not to be told in what a degree such a wayward kind of friction works upon the more gross and solid parts, wasting the fat and impairing the strength of a man every time as it goes backwards and forwards.

My father had certainly sunk under this evil, as certainly as he had done under that of my Christian Name—had he not been rescued out of it, as he was out of that, by a fresh evil—the misfortune of my brother Bobby's death.

What is the life of man! Is it not to shift from side to side?—from sorrow to sorrow?—to button up one cause of vexation—and unbutton another?

Chapter 2.LXVII.

From this moment I am to be considered as heir-apparent to the Shandy family—and it is from this point properly, that the story of my Life and my Opinions sets out. With all my hurry and precipitation, I have but been clearing the ground to raise the building—and such a building do I foresee it will turn out, as never was planned, and as never was executed since Adam. In less than five minutes I shall have thrown my pen into the fire, and the little drop of thick ink which is left remaining at the bottom of my ink-horn, after it—I have but half a score things to do in the time—I have a thing to name—a thing to lament—a thing to hope—a thing to promise, and a thing to threaten—I have a thing to suppose—a thing to declare—a thing to conceal—a thing to choose, and a thing to pray for—This chapter, therefore, I name the chapter of Things—and my next chapter to it, that is, the first chapter of my next volume, if I live, shall be my chapter upon Whiskers, in order to keep up some sort of connection in my works.

The thing I lament is, that things have crowded in so thick upon me, that I have not been able to get into that part of my work, towards which I have all the way looked forwards, with so much earnest desire; and that is the Campaigns, but especially the amours of my uncle Toby, the events of which are of so singular a nature, and so Cervantick a cast, that if I can so manage it, as to convey but the same impressions to every other brain, which the occurrences themselves excite in my own—I will answer for it the book shall make its way in the world, much better than its master has done before it.—Oh Tristram! Tristram! can this but be once brought about—the credit, which will attend thee as an author, shall counterbalance the many evils will have befallen thee as a man—thou wilt feast upon the one—when thou hast lost all sense and remembrance of the other—!

No wonder I itch so much as I do, to get at these amours—They are the choicest morsel of my whole story! and when I do get at 'em—assure yourselves, good folks—(nor do I value whose squeamish stomach takes offence at it) I shall not be at all nice in the choice of my words!—and that's the thing I have to declare.—I shall never get all through in five minutes, that I fear—and the thing I hope is, that your worships and reverences are not offended—if you are, depend upon't I'll give you something, my good gentry, next year to be offended at—that's my dear Jenny's way—but who my Jenny is—and which is the right and which the wrong end of a woman, is the thing to be concealed—it shall be told you in the next chapter but one to my chapter of Button-holes—and not one chapter before.

And now that you have just got to the end of these (According to the preceding Editions.) three volumes—the thing I have to ask is, how you feel your heads? my own akes dismally!—as for your healths, I know, they are much better.—True Shandeism, think what you will against it, opens the heart and lungs, and like all those affections which partake of its nature, it forces the blood and other vital fluids of the body to run freely through its channels, makes the wheel of life run long and cheerfully round.

Was I left, like Sancho Panca, to choose my kingdom, it should not be maritime—or a kingdom of blacks to make a penny of;—no, it should be a kingdom of hearty laughing subjects: And as the bilious and more saturnine passions, by creating disorders in the blood and humours, have as bad an influence, I see, upon the body politick as body natural—and as nothing but a habit of virtue can fully govern those passions, and subject them to reason—I should add to my prayer—that God would give my subjects grace to be as Wise as they were Merry; and then should I be the happiest monarch, and they are the happiest people under heaven.

And so with this moral for the present, may it please your worships and your reverences, I take my leave of you till this time twelve-month, when, (unless this vile cough kills me in the mean time) I'll have another pluck at your beards, and lay open a story to the world you little dream of.

End of the Second Volume.


Dixero si quid forte jocosius, hoc mihi juris Cum venia dabis.—Hor.

—Si quis calumnietur levius esse quam decet theologum, aut mordacius quam deceat Christianum—non Ego, sed Democritus dixit.—Erasmus.

Si quis Clericus, aut Monachus, verba joculatoria, risum moventia, sciebat, anathema esto. Second Council of Carthage.

To the Right Honorable John, Lord Viscount Spencer.

My Lord,

I Humbly beg leave to offer you these two Volumes (Volumes V. and VI. in the first Edition.); they are the best my talents, with such bad health as I have, could produce:—had Providence granted me a larger stock of either, they had been a much more proper present to your Lordship.

I beg your Lordship will forgive me, if, at the same time I dedicate this work to you, I join Lady Spencer, in the liberty I take of inscribing the story of Le Fever to her name; for which I have no other motive, which my heart has informed me of, but that the story is a humane one.

I am, My Lord, Your Lordship's most devoted and most humble Servant,

Laur. Sterne.

Chapter 3.I.

If it had not been for those two mettlesome tits, and that madcap of a postillion who drove them from Stilton to Stamford, the thought had never entered my head. He flew like lightning—there was a slope of three miles and a half—we scarce touched the ground—the motion was most rapid—most impetuous—'twas communicated to my brain—my heart partook of it—'By the great God of day,' said I, looking towards the sun, and thrusting my arm out of the fore-window of the chaise, as I made my vow, 'I will lock up my study-door the moment I get home, and throw the key of it ninety feet below the surface of the earth, into the draw-well at the back of my house.'

The London waggon confirmed me in my resolution; it hung tottering upon the hill, scarce progressive, drag'd—drag'd up by eight heavy beasts—'by main strength!—quoth I, nodding—but your betters draw the same way—and something of every body's!—O rare!'

Tell me, ye learned, shall we for ever be adding so much to the bulk—so little to the stock?

Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?

Are we for ever to be twisting, and untwisting the same rope? for ever in the same track—for ever at the same pace?

Shall we be destined to the days of eternity, on holy-days, as well as working-days, to be shewing the relicks of learning, as monks do the relicks of their saints—without working one—one single miracle with them?

Who made Man, with powers which dart him from earth to heaven in a moment—that great, that most excellent, and most noble creature of the world—the miracle of nature, as Zoroaster in his book (Greek) called him—the Shekinah of the divine presence, as Chrysostom—the image of God, as Moses—the ray of divinity, as Plato—the marvel of marvels, as Aristotle—to go sneaking on at this pitiful—pimping—pettifogging rate?

I scorn to be as abusive as Horace upon the occasion—but if there is no catachresis in the wish, and no sin in it, I wish from my soul, that every imitator in Great Britain, France, and Ireland, had the farcy for his pains; and that there was a good farcical house, large enough to hold—aye—and sublimate them, shag rag and bob-tail, male and female, all together: and this leads me to the affair of Whiskers—but, by what chain of ideas—I leave as a legacy in mort-main to Prudes and Tartufs, to enjoy and make the most of.

Upon Whiskers.

I'm sorry I made it—'twas as inconsiderate a promise as ever entered a man's head—A chapter upon whiskers! alas! the world will not bear it—'tis a delicate world—but I knew not of what mettle it was made—nor had I ever seen the under-written fragment; otherwise, as surely as noses are noses, and whiskers are whiskers still (let the world say what it will to the contrary); so surely would I have steered clear of this dangerous chapter.

The Fragment.

...—You are half asleep, my good lady, said the old gentleman, taking hold of the old lady's hand, and giving it a gentle squeeze, as he pronounced the word Whiskers—shall we change the subject? By no means, replied the old lady—I like your account of those matters; so throwing a thin gauze handkerchief over her head, and leaning it back upon the chair with her face turned towards him, and advancing her two feet as she reclined herself—I desire, continued she, you will go on.

The old gentleman went on as follows:—Whiskers! cried the queen of Navarre, dropping her knotting ball, as La Fosseuse uttered the word—Whiskers, madam, said La Fosseuse, pinning the ball to the queen's apron, and making a courtesy as she repeated it.

La Fosseuse's voice was naturally soft and low, yet 'twas an articulate voice: and every letter of the word Whiskers fell distinctly upon the queen of Navarre's ear—Whiskers! cried the queen, laying a greater stress upon the word, and as if she had still distrusted her ears—Whiskers! replied La Fosseuse, repeating the word a third time—There is not a cavalier, madam, of his age in Navarre, continued the maid of honour, pressing the page's interest upon the queen, that has so gallant a pair—Of what? cried Margaret, smiling—Of whiskers, said La Fosseuse, with infinite modesty.

The word Whiskers still stood its ground, and continued to be made use of in most of the best companies throughout the little kingdom of Navarre, notwithstanding the indiscreet use which La Fosseuse had made of it: the truth was, La Fosseuse had pronounced the word, not only before the queen, but upon sundry other occasions at court, with an accent which always implied something of a mystery—And as the court of Margaret, as all the world knows, was at that time a mixture of gallantry and devotion—and whiskers being as applicable to the one, as the other, the word naturally stood its ground—it gained full as much as it lost; that is, the clergy were for it—the laity were against it—and for the women,—they were divided.

The excellency of the figure and mien of the young Sieur De Croix, was at that time beginning to draw the attention of the maids of honour towards the terrace before the palace gate, where the guard was mounted. The lady De Baussiere fell deeply in love with him,—La Battarelle did the same—it was the finest weather for it, that ever was remembered in Navarre—La Guyol, La Maronette, La Sabatiere, fell in love with the Sieur De Croix also—La Rebours and La Fosseuse knew better—De Croix had failed in an attempt to recommend himself to La Rebours; and La Rebours and La Fosseuse were inseparable.

The queen of Navarre was sitting with her ladies in the painted bow-window, facing the gate of the second court, as De Croix passed through it—He is handsome, said the Lady Baussiere—He has a good mien, said La Battarelle—He is finely shaped, said La Guyol—I never saw an officer of the horse-guards in my life, said La Maronette, with two such legs—Or who stood so well upon them, said La Sabatiere—But he has no whiskers, cried La Fosseuse—Not a pile, said La Rebours.

The queen went directly to her oratory, musing all the way, as she walked through the gallery, upon the subject; turning it this way and that way in her fancy—Ave Maria!—what can La-Fosseuse mean? said she, kneeling down upon the cushion.

La Guyol, La Battarelle, La Maronette, La Sabatiere, retired instantly to their chambers—Whiskers! said all four of them to themselves, as they bolted their doors on the inside.

The Lady Carnavallette was counting her beads with both hands, unsuspected, under her farthingal—from St. Antony down to St. Ursula inclusive, not a saint passed through her fingers without whiskers; St. Francis, St. Dominick, St. Bennet, St. Basil, St. Bridget, had all whiskers.

The Lady Baussiere had got into a wilderness of conceits, with moralizing too intricately upon La Fosseuse's text—She mounted her palfrey, her page followed her—the host passed by—the Lady Baussiere rode on.

One denier, cried the order of mercy—one single denier, in behalf of a thousand patient captives, whose eyes look towards heaven and you for their redemption.

—The Lady Baussiere rode on.

Pity the unhappy, said a devout, venerable, hoary-headed man, meekly holding up a box, begirt with iron, in his withered hands—I beg for the unfortunate—good my Lady, 'tis for a prison—for an hospital—'tis for an old man—a poor man undone by shipwreck, by suretyship, by fire—I call God and all his angels to witness—'tis to clothe the naked—to feed the hungry—'tis to comfort the sick and the broken-hearted.

The Lady Baussiere rode on.

A decayed kinsman bowed himself to the ground.

—The Lady Baussiere rode on.

He ran begging bare-headed on one side of her palfrey, conjuring her by the former bonds of friendship, alliance, consanguinity, &c.—Cousin, aunt, sister, mother,—for virtue's sake, for your own, for mine, for Christ's sake, remember me—pity me.

—The Lady Baussiere rode on.

Take hold of my whiskers, said the Lady Baussiere—The page took hold of her palfrey. She dismounted at the end of the terrace.

There are some trains of certain ideas which leave prints of themselves about our eyes and eye-brows; and there is a consciousness of it, somewhere about the heart, which serves but to make these etchings the stronger—we see, spell, and put them together without a dictionary.

Ha, ha! he, hee! cried La Guyol and La Sabatiere, looking close at each other's prints—Ho, ho! cried La Battarelle and Maronette, doing the same:—Whist! cried one—ft, ft,—said a second—hush, quoth a third—poo, poo, replied a fourth—gramercy! cried the Lady Carnavallette;—'twas she who bewhisker'd St. Bridget.

La Fosseuse drew her bodkin from the knot of her hair, and having traced the outline of a small whisker, with the blunt end of it, upon one side of her upper lip, put in into La Rebours' hand—La Rebours shook her head.

The Lady Baussiere coughed thrice into the inside of her muff—La Guyol smiled—Fy, said the Lady Baussiere. The queen of Navarre touched her eye with the tip of her fore-finger—as much as to say, I understand you all.

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