'Twas plain to the whole court the word was ruined: La Fosseuse had given it a wound, and it was not the better for passing through all these defiles—It made a faint stand, however, for a few months, by the expiration of which, the Sieur De Croix, finding it high time to leave Navarre for want of whiskers—the word in course became indecent, and (after a few efforts) absolutely unfit for use.
The best word, in the best language of the best world, must have suffered under such combinations.—The curate of d'Estella wrote a book against them, setting forth the dangers of accessory ideas, and warning the Navarois against them.
Does not all the world know, said the curate d'Estella at the conclusion of his work, that Noses ran the same fate some centuries ago in most parts of Europe, which Whiskers have now done in the kingdom of Navarre?—The evil indeed spread no farther then—but have not beds and bolsters, and night-caps and chamber-pots stood upon the brink of destruction ever since? Are not trouse, and placket-holes, and pump-handles—and spigots and faucets, in danger still from the same association?—Chastity, by nature, the gentlest of all affections—give it but its head—'tis like a ramping and a roaring lion.
The drift of the curate d'Estella's argument was not understood.—They ran the scent the wrong way.—The world bridled his ass at the tail.—And when the extremes of Delicacy, and the beginnings of Concupiscence, hold their next provincial chapter together, they may decree that bawdy also.
When my father received the letter which brought him the melancholy account of my brother Bobby's death, he was busy calculating the expence of his riding post from Calais to Paris, and so on to Lyons.
'Twas a most inauspicious journey; my father having had every foot of it to travel over again, and his calculation to begin afresh, when he had almost got to the end of it, by Obadiah's opening the door to acquaint him the family was out of yeast—and to ask whether he might not take the great coach-horse early in the morning and ride in search of some.—With all my heart, Obadiah, said my father (pursuing his journey)—take the coach-horse, and welcome.—But he wants a shoe, poor creature! said Obadiah.—Poor creature! said my uncle Toby, vibrating the note back again, like a string in unison. Then ride the Scotch horse, quoth my father hastily.—He cannot bear a saddle upon his back, quoth Obadiah, for the whole world.—The devil's in that horse; then take Patriot, cried my father, and shut the door.—Patriot is sold, said Obadiah. Here's for you! cried my father, making a pause, and looking in my uncle Toby's face, as if the thing had not been a matter of fact.—Your worship ordered me to sell him last April, said Obadiah.—Then go on foot for your pains, cried my father—I had much rather walk than ride, said Obadiah, shutting the door.
What plagues, cried my father, going on with his calculation.—But the waters are out, said Obadiah,—opening the door again.
Till that moment, my father, who had a map of Sanson's, and a book of the post-roads before him, had kept his hand upon the head of his compasses, with one foot of them fixed upon Nevers, the last stage he had paid for—purposing to go on from that point with his journey and calculation, as soon as Obadiah quitted the room: but this second attack of Obadiah's, in opening the door and laying the whole country under water, was too much.—He let go his compasses—or rather with a mixed motion between accident and anger, he threw them upon the table; and then there was nothing for him to do, but to return back to Calais (like many others) as wise as he had set out.
When the letter was brought into the parlour, which contained the news of my brother's death, my father had got forwards again upon his journey to within a stride of the compasses of the very same stage of Nevers.—By your leave, Mons. Sanson, cried my father, striking the point of his compasses through Nevers into the table—and nodding to my uncle Toby to see what was in the letter—twice of one night, is too much for an English gentleman and his son, Mons. Sanson, to be turned back from so lousy a town as Nevers—What think'st thou, Toby? added my father in a sprightly tone.—Unless it be a garrison town, said my uncle Toby—for then—I shall be a fool, said my father, smiling to himself, as long as I live.—So giving a second nod—and keeping his compasses still upon Nevers with one hand, and holding his book of the post-roads in the other—half calculating and half listening, he leaned forwards upon the table with both elbows, as my uncle Toby hummed over the letter.
...he's gone! said my uncle Toby—Where—Who? cried my father.—My nephew, said my uncle Toby.—What—without leave—without money—without governor? cried my father in amazement. No:—he is dead, my dear brother, quoth my uncle Toby.—Without being ill? cried my father again.—I dare say not, said my uncle Toby, in a low voice, and fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of his heart, he has been ill enough, poor lad! I'll answer for him—for he is dead.
When Agrippina was told of her son's death, Tacitus informs us, that, not being able to moderate the violence of her passions, she abruptly broke off her work—My father stuck his compasses into Nevers, but so much the faster.—What contrarieties! his, indeed, was matter of calculation!—Agrippina's must have been quite a different affair; who else could pretend to reason from history?
How my father went on, in my opinion, deserves a chapter to itself.—
...—And a chapter it shall have, and a devil of a one too—so look to yourselves.
'Tis either Plato, or Plutarch, or Seneca, or Xenophon, or Epictetus, or Theophrastus, or Lucian—or some one perhaps of later date—either Cardan, or Budaeus, or Petrarch, or Stella—or possibly it may be some divine or father of the church, St. Austin, or St. Cyprian, or Barnard, who affirms that it is an irresistible and natural passion to weep for the loss of our friends or children—and Seneca (I'm positive) tells us somewhere, that such griefs evacuate themselves best by that particular channel—And accordingly we find, that David wept for his son Absalom—Adrian for his Antinous—Niobe for her children, and that Apollodorus and Crito both shed tears for Socrates before his death.
My father managed his affliction otherwise; and indeed differently from most men either ancient or modern; for he neither wept it away, as the Hebrews and the Romans—or slept it off, as the Laplanders—or hanged it, as the English, or drowned it, as the Germans,—nor did he curse it, or damn it, or excommunicate it, or rhyme it, or lillabullero it.—
—He got rid of it, however.
Will your worships give me leave to squeeze in a story between these two pages?
When Tully was bereft of his dear daughter Tullia, at first he laid it to his heart,—he listened to the voice of nature, and modulated his own unto it.—O my Tullia! my daughter! my child!—still, still, still,—'twas O my Tullia!—my Tullia! Methinks I see my Tullia, I hear my Tullia, I talk with my Tullia.—But as soon as he began to look into the stores of philosophy, and consider how many excellent things might be said upon the occasion—no body upon earth can conceive, says the great orator, how happy, how joyful it made me.
My father was as proud of his eloquence as Marcus Tullius Cicero could be for his life, and, for aught I am convinced of to the contrary at present, with as much reason: it was indeed his strength—and his weakness too.—His strength—for he was by nature eloquent; and his weakness—for he was hourly a dupe to it; and, provided an occasion in life would but permit him to shew his talents, or say either a wise thing, a witty, or a shrewd one—(bating the case of a systematic misfortune)—he had all he wanted.—A blessing which tied up my father's tongue, and a misfortune which let it loose with a good grace, were pretty equal: sometimes, indeed, the misfortune was the better of the two; for instance, where the pleasure of the harangue was as ten, and the pain of the misfortune but as five—my father gained half in half, and consequently was as well again off, as if it had never befallen him.
This clue will unravel what otherwise would seem very inconsistent in my father's domestic character; and it is this, that, in the provocations arising from the neglects and blunders of servants, or other mishaps unavoidable in a family, his anger, or rather the duration of it, eternally ran counter to all conjecture.
My father had a favourite little mare, which he had consigned over to a most beautiful Arabian horse, in order to have a pad out of her for his own riding: he was sanguine in all his projects; so talked about his pad every day with as absolute a security, as if it had been reared, broke,—and bridled and saddled at his door ready for mounting. By some neglect or other in Obadiah, it so fell out, that my father's expectations were answered with nothing better than a mule, and as ugly a beast of the kind as ever was produced.
My mother and my uncle Toby expected my father would be the death of Obadiah—and that there never would be an end of the disaster—See here! you rascal, cried my father, pointing to the mule, what you have done!—It was not me, said Obadiah.—How do I know that? replied my father.
Triumph swam in my father's eyes, at the repartee—the Attic salt brought water into them—and so Obadiah heard no more about it.
Now let us go back to my brother's death.
Philosophy has a fine saying for every thing.—For Death it has an entire set; the misery was, they all at once rushed into my father's head, that 'twas difficult to string them together, so as to make any thing of a consistent show out of them.—He took them as they came.
''Tis an inevitable chance—the first statute in Magna Charta—it is an everlasting act of parliament, my dear brother,—All must die.
'If my son could not have died, it had been matter of wonder,—not that he is dead.
'Monarchs and princes dance in the same ring with us.
'—To die, is the great debt and tribute due unto nature: tombs and monuments, which should perpetuate our memories, pay it themselves; and the proudest pyramid of them all, which wealth and science have erected, has lost its apex, and stands obtruncated in the traveller's horizon.' (My father found he got great ease, and went on)—'Kingdoms and provinces, and towns and cities, have they not their periods? and when those principles and powers, which at first cemented and put them together, have performed their several evolutions, they fall back.'—Brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby, laying down his pipe at the word evolutions—Revolutions, I meant, quoth my father,—by heaven! I meant revolutions, brother Toby—evolutions is nonsense.—'Tis not nonsense—said my uncle Toby.—But is it not nonsense to break the thread of such a discourse upon such an occasion? cried my father—do not—dear Toby, continued he, taking him by the hand, do not—do not, I beseech thee, interrupt me at this crisis.—My uncle Toby put his pipe into his mouth.
'Where is Troy and Mycenae, and Thebes and Delos, and Persepolis and Agrigentum?'—continued my father, taking up his book of post-roads, which he had laid down.—'What is become, brother Toby, of Nineveh and Babylon, of Cizicum and Mitylenae? The fairest towns that ever the sun rose upon, are now no more; the names only are left, and those (for many of them are wrong spelt) are falling themselves by piece-meals to decay, and in length of time will be forgotten, and involved with every thing in a perpetual night: the world itself, brother Toby, must—must come to an end.
'Returning out of Asia, when I sailed from Aegina towards Megara,' (when can this have been? thought my uncle Toby,) 'I began to view the country round about. Aegina was behind me, Megara was before, Pyraeus on the right hand, Corinth on the left.—What flourishing towns now prostrate upon the earth! Alas! alas! said I to myself, that man should disturb his soul for the loss of a child, when so much as this lies awfully buried in his presence—Remember, said I to myself again—remember thou art a man.'—
Now my uncle Toby knew not that this last paragraph was an extract of Servius Sulpicius's consolatory letter to Tully.—He had as little skill, honest man, in the fragments, as he had in the whole pieces of antiquity.—And as my father, whilst he was concerned in the Turkey trade, had been three or four different times in the Levant, in one of which he had stayed a whole year and an half at Zant, my uncle Toby naturally concluded, that, in some one of these periods, he had taken a trip across the Archipelago into Asia; and that all this sailing affair with Aegina behind, and Megara before, and Pyraeus on the right hand, &c. &c. was nothing more than the true course of my father's voyage and reflections.—'Twas certainly in his manner, and many an undertaking critic would have built two stories higher upon worse foundations.—And pray, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, laying the end of his pipe upon my father's hand in a kindly way of interruption—but waiting till he finished the account—what year of our Lord was this?—'Twas no year of our Lord, replied my father.—That's impossible, cried my uncle Toby.—Simpleton! said my father,—'twas forty years before Christ was born.
My uncle Toby had but two things for it; either to suppose his brother to be the wandering Jew, or that his misfortunes had disordered his brain.—'May the Lord God of heaven and earth protect him and restore him!' said my uncle Toby, praying silently for my father, and with tears in his eyes.
—My father placed the tears to a proper account, and went on with his harangue with great spirit.
'There is not such great odds, brother Toby, betwixt good and evil, as the world imagines'—(this way of setting off, by the bye, was not likely to cure my uncle Toby's suspicions).—'Labour, sorrow, grief, sickness, want, and woe, are the sauces of life.'—Much good may do them—said my uncle Toby to himself.—
'My son is dead!—so much the better;—'tis a shame in such a tempest to have but one anchor.
'But he is gone for ever from us!—be it so. He is got from under the hands of his barber before he was bald—he is but risen from a feast before he was surfeited—from a banquet before he had got drunken.
'The Thracians wept when a child was born,'—(and we were very near it, quoth my uncle Toby,)—'and feasted and made merry when a man went out of the world; and with reason.—Death opens the gate of fame, and shuts the gate of envy after it,—it unlooses the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman's task into another man's hands.
'Shew me the man, who knows what life is, who dreads it, and I'll shew thee a prisoner who dreads his liberty.'
Is it not better, my dear brother Toby, (for mark—our appetites are but diseases,)—is it not better not to hunger at all, than to eat?—not to thirst, than to take physic to cure it?
Is it not better to be freed from cares and agues, from love and melancholy, and the other hot and cold fits of life, than, like a galled traveller, who comes weary to his inn, to be bound to begin his journey afresh?
There is no terrour, brother Toby, in its looks, but what it borrows from groans and convulsions—and the blowing of noses and the wiping away of tears with the bottoms of curtains, in a dying man's room.—Strip it of these, what is it?—'Tis better in battle than in bed, said my uncle Toby.—Take away its hearses, its mutes, and its mourning,—its plumes, scutcheons, and other mechanic aids—What is it?—Better in battle! continued my father, smiling, for he had absolutely forgot my brother Bobby—'tis terrible no way—for consider, brother Toby,—when we are—death is not;—and when death is—we are not. My uncle Toby laid down his pipe to consider the proposition; my father's eloquence was too rapid to stay for any man—away it went,—and hurried my uncle Toby's ideas along with it.—
For this reason, continued my father, 'tis worthy to recollect, how little alteration, in great men, the approaches of death have made.—Vespasian died in a jest upon his close-stool—Galba with a sentence—Septimus Severus in a dispatch—Tiberius in dissimulation, and Caesar Augustus in a compliment.—I hope 'twas a sincere one—quoth my uncle Toby.
—'Twas to his wife,—said my father.
—And lastly—for all the choice anecdotes which history can produce of this matter, continued my father,—this, like the gilded dome which covers in the fabric—crowns all.—
'Tis of Cornelius Gallus, the praetor—which, I dare say, brother Toby, you have read.—I dare say I have not, replied my uncle.—He died, said my father as...—And if it was with his wife, said my uncle Toby—there could be no hurt in it.—That's more than I know—replied my father.
My mother was going very gingerly in the dark along the passage which led to the parlour, as my uncle Toby pronounced the word wife.—'Tis a shrill penetrating sound of itself, and Obadiah had helped it by leaving the door a little a-jar, so that my mother heard enough of it to imagine herself the subject of the conversation; so laying the edge of her finger across her two lips—holding in her breath, and bending her head a little downwards, with a twist of her neck—(not towards the door, but from it, by which means her ear was brought to the chink)—she listened with all her powers:—the listening slave, with the Goddess of Silence at his back, could not have given a finer thought for an intaglio.
In this attitude I am determined to let her stand for five minutes: till I bring up the affairs of the kitchen (as Rapin does those of the church) to the same period.
Though in one sense, our family was certainly a simple machine, as it consisted of a few wheels; yet there was thus much to be said for it, that these wheels were set in motion by so many different springs, and acted one upon the other from such a variety of strange principles and impulses—that though it was a simple machine, it had all the honour and advantages of a complex one,—and a number of as odd movements within it, as ever were beheld in the inside of a Dutch silk-mill.
Amongst these there was one, I am going to speak of, in which, perhaps, it was not altogether so singular, as in many others; and it was this, that whatever motion, debate, harangue, dialogue, project, or dissertation, was going forwards in the parlour, there was generally another at the same time, and upon the same subject, running parallel along with it in the kitchen.
Now to bring this about, whenever an extraordinary message, or letter, was delivered in the parlour—or a discourse suspended till a servant went out—or the lines of discontent were observed to hang upon the brows of my father or mother—or, in short, when any thing was supposed to be upon the tapis worth knowing or listening to, 'twas the rule to leave the door, not absolutely shut, but somewhat a-jar—as it stands just now,—which, under covert of the bad hinge, (and that possibly might be one of the many reasons why it was never mended,) it was not difficult to manage; by which means, in all these cases, a passage was generally left, not indeed as wide as the Dardanelles, but wide enough, for all that, to carry on as much of this windward trade, as was sufficient to save my father the trouble of governing his house;—my mother at this moment stands profiting by it.—Obadiah did the same thing, as soon as he had left the letter upon the table which brought the news of my brother's death, so that before my father had well got over his surprise, and entered upon his harangue,—had Trim got upon his legs, to speak his sentiments upon the subject.
A curious observer of nature, had he been worth the inventory of all Job's stock—though by the bye, your curious observers are seldom worth a groat—would have given the half of it, to have heard Corporal Trim and my father, two orators so contrasted by nature and education, haranguing over the same bier.
My father—a man of deep reading—prompt memory—with Cato, and Seneca, and Epictetus, at his fingers ends.—
The corporal—with nothing—to remember—of no deeper reading than his muster-roll—or greater names at his fingers end, than the contents of it.
The one proceeding from period to period, by metaphor and allusion, and striking the fancy as he went along (as men of wit and fancy do) with the entertainment and pleasantry of his pictures and images.
The other, without wit or antithesis, or point, or turn, this way or that; but leaving the images on one side, and the picture on the other, going straight forwards as nature could lead him, to the heart. O Trim! would to heaven thou had'st a better historian!—would!—thy historian had a better pair of breeches!—O ye critics! will nothing melt you?
—My young master in London is dead? said Obadiah.—
—A green sattin night-gown of my mother's, which had been twice scoured, was the first idea which Obadiah's exclamation brought into Susannah's head.—Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words.—Then, quoth Susannah, we must all go into mourning.—But note a second time: the word mourning, notwithstanding Susannah made use of it herself—failed also of doing its office; it excited not one single idea, tinged either with grey or black,—all was green.—The green sattin night-gown hung there still.
—O! 'twill be the death of my poor mistress, cried Susannah.—My mother's whole wardrobe followed.—What a procession! her red damask,—her orange tawney,—her white and yellow lutestrings,—her brown taffata,—her bone-laced caps, her bed-gowns, and comfortable under-petticoats.—Not a rag was left behind.—'No,—she will never look up again,' said Susannah.
We had a fat, foolish scullion—my father, I think, kept her for her simplicity;—she had been all autumn struggling with a dropsy.—He is dead, said Obadiah,—he is certainly dead!—So am not I, said the foolish scullion.
—Here is sad news, Trim, cried Susannah, wiping her eyes as Trim stepp'd into the kitchen,—master Bobby is dead and buried—the funeral was an interpolation of Susannah's—we shall have all to go into mourning, said Susannah.
I hope not, said Trim.—You hope not! cried Susannah earnestly.—The mourning ran not in Trim's head, whatever it did in Susannah's.—I hope—said Trim, explaining himself, I hope in God the news is not true. I heard the letter read with my own ears, answered Obadiah; and we shall have a terrible piece of work of it in stubbing the ox-moor.—Oh! he's dead, said Susannah.—As sure, said the scullion, as I'm alive.
I lament for him from my heart and my soul, said Trim, fetching a sigh.—Poor creature!—poor boy!—poor gentleman!
—He was alive last Whitsontide! said the coachman.—Whitsontide! alas! cried Trim, extending his right arm, and falling instantly into the same attitude in which he read the sermon,—what is Whitsontide, Jonathan (for that was the coachman's name), or Shrovetide, or any tide or time past, to this? Are we not here now, continued the corporal (striking the end of his stick perpendicularly upon the floor, so as to give an idea of health and stability)—and are we not—(dropping his hat upon the ground) gone! in a moment!—'Twas infinitely striking! Susannah burst into a flood of tears.—We are not stocks and stones.—Jonathan, Obadiah, the cook-maid, all melted.—The foolish fat scullion herself, who was scouring a fish-kettle upon her knees, was rous'd with it.—The whole kitchen crowded about the corporal.
Now, as I perceive plainly, that the preservation of our constitution in church and state,—and possibly the preservation of the whole world—or what is the same thing, the distribution and balance of its property and power, may in time to come depend greatly upon the right understanding of this stroke of the corporal's eloquence—I do demand your attention—your worships and reverences, for any ten pages together, take them where you will in any other part of the work, shall sleep for it at your ease.
I said, 'we were not stocks and stones'—'tis very well. I should have added, nor are we angels, I wish we were,—but men clothed with bodies, and governed by our imaginations;—and what a junketing piece of work of it there is, betwixt these and our seven senses, especially some of them, for my own part, I own it, I am ashamed to confess. Let it suffice to affirm, that of all the senses, the eye (for I absolutely deny the touch, though most of your Barbati, I know, are for it) has the quickest commerce with the soul,—gives a smarter stroke, and leaves something more inexpressible upon the fancy, than words can either convey—or sometimes get rid of.
—I've gone a little about—no matter, 'tis for health—let us only carry it back in our mind to the mortality of Trim's hat—'Are we not here now,—and gone in a moment?'—There was nothing in the sentence—'twas one of your self-evident truths we have the advantage of hearing every day; and if Trim had not trusted more to his hat than his head—he made nothing at all of it.
—'Are we not here now;' continued the corporal, 'and are we not'—(dropping his hat plumb upon the ground—and pausing, before he pronounced the word)—'gone! in a moment?' The descent of the hat was as if a heavy lump of clay had been kneaded into the crown of it.—Nothing could have expressed the sentiment of mortality, of which it was the type and fore-runner, like it,—his hand seemed to vanish from under it,—it fell dead,—the corporal's eye fixed upon it, as upon a corpse,—and Susannah burst into a flood of tears.
Now—Ten thousand, and ten thousand times ten thousand (for matter and motion are infinite) are the ways by which a hat may be dropped upon the ground, without any effect.—Had he flung it, or thrown it, or cast it, or skimmed it, or squirted it, or let it slip or fall in any possible direction under heaven,—or in the best direction that could be given to it,—had he dropped it like a goose—like a puppy—like an ass—or in doing it, or even after he had done, had he looked like a fool—like a ninny—like a nincompoop—it had fail'd, and the effect upon the heart had been lost.
Ye who govern this mighty world and its mighty concerns with the engines of eloquence,—who heat it, and cool it, and melt it, and mollify it,—and then harden it again to your purpose—
Ye who wind and turn the passions with this great windlass, and, having done it, lead the owners of them, whither ye think meet.
Ye, lastly, who drive—and why not, Ye also who are driven, like turkeys to market with a stick and a red clout—meditate—meditate, I beseech you, upon Trim's hat.
Stay—I have a small account to settle with the reader before Trim can go on with his harangue.—It shall be done in two minutes.
Amongst many other book-debts, all of which I shall discharge in due time,—I own myself a debtor to the world for two items,—a chapter upon chamber-maids and button-holes, which, in the former part of my work, I promised and fully intended to pay off this year: but some of your worships and reverences telling me, that the two subjects, especially so connected together, might endanger the morals of the world,—I pray the chapter upon chamber-maids and button-holes may be forgiven me,—and that they will accept of the last chapter in lieu of it; which is nothing, an't please your reverences, but a chapter of chamber-maids, green gowns, and old hats.
Trim took his hat off the ground,—put it upon his head,—and then went on with his oration upon death, in manner and form following.
—To us, Jonathan, who know not what want or care is—who live here in the service of two of the best of masters—(bating in my own case his majesty King William the Third, whom I had the honour to serve both in Ireland and Flanders)—I own it, that from Whitsontide to within three weeks of Christmas,—'tis not long—'tis like nothing;—but to those, Jonathan, who know what death is, and what havock and destruction he can make, before a man can well wheel about—'tis like a whole age.—O Jonathan! 'twould make a good-natured man's heart bleed, to consider, continued the corporal (standing perpendicularly), how low many a brave and upright fellow has been laid since that time!—And trust me, Susy, added the corporal, turning to Susannah, whose eyes were swimming in water,—before that time comes round again,—many a bright eye will be dim.—Susannah placed it to the right side of the page—she wept—but she court'sied too.—Are we not, continued Trim, looking still at Susannah—are we not like a flower of the field—a tear of pride stole in betwixt every two tears of humiliation—else no tongue could have described Susannah's affliction—is not all flesh grass?—Tis clay,—'tis dirt.—They all looked directly at the scullion,—the scullion had just been scouring a fish-kettle.—It was not fair.—
—What is the finest face that ever man looked at!—I could hear Trim talk so for ever, cried Susannah,—what is it! (Susannah laid her hand upon Trim's shoulder)—but corruption?—Susannah took it off.
Now I love you for this—and 'tis this delicious mixture within you which makes you dear creatures what you are—and he who hates you for it—all I can say of the matter is—That he has either a pumpkin for his head—or a pippin for his heart,—and whenever he is dissected 'twill be found so.
Whether Susannah, by taking her hand too suddenly from off the corporal's shoulder (by the whisking about of her passions)—broke a little the chain of his reflexions—
Or whether the corporal began to be suspicious, he had got into the doctor's quarters, and was talking more like the chaplain than himself—
Or whether...Or whether—for in all such cases a man of invention and parts may with pleasure fill a couple of pages with suppositions—which of all these was the cause, let the curious physiologist, or the curious any body determine—'tis certain, at least, the corporal went on thus with his harangue.
For my own part, I declare it, that out of doors, I value not death at all:—not this...added the corporal, snapping his fingers,—but with an air which no one but the corporal could have given to the sentiment.—In battle, I value death not this...and let him not take me cowardly, like poor Joe Gibbins, in scouring his gun.—What is he? A pull of a trigger—a push of a bayonet an inch this way or that—makes the difference.—Look along the line—to the right—see! Jack's down! well,—'tis worth a regiment of horse to him.—No—'tis Dick. Then Jack's no worse.—Never mind which,—we pass on,—in hot pursuit the wound itself which brings him is not felt,—the best way is to stand up to him,—the man who flies, is in ten times more danger than the man who marches up into his jaws.—I've look'd him, added the corporal, an hundred times in the face,—and know what he is.—He's nothing, Obadiah, at all in the field.—But he's very frightful in a house, quoth Obadiah.—I never mind it myself, said Jonathan, upon a coach-box.—It must, in my opinion, be most natural in bed, replied Susannah.—And could I escape him by creeping into the worst calf's skin that ever was made into a knapsack, I would do it there—said Trim—but that is nature.
—Nature is nature, said Jonathan.—And that is the reason, cried Susannah, I so much pity my mistress.—She will never get the better of it.—Now I pity the captain the most of any one in the family, answered Trim.—Madam will get ease of heart in weeping,—and the Squire in talking about it,—but my poor master will keep it all in silence to himself.—I shall hear him sigh in his bed for a whole month together, as he did for lieutenant Le Fever. An' please your honour, do not sigh so piteously, I would say to him as I laid besides him. I cannot help it, Trim, my master would say,—'tis so melancholy an accident—I cannot get it off my heart.—Your honour fears not death yourself.—I hope, Trim, I fear nothing, he would say, but the doing a wrong thing.—Well, he would add, whatever betides, I will take care of Le Fever's boy.—And with that, like a quieting draught, his honour would fall asleep.
I like to hear Trim's stories about the captain, said Susannah.—He is a kindly-hearted gentleman, said Obadiah, as ever lived.—Aye, and as brave a one too, said the corporal, as ever stept before a platoon.—There never was a better officer in the king's army,—or a better man in God's world; for he would march up to the mouth of a cannon, though he saw the lighted match at the very touch-hole,—and yet, for all that, he has a heart as soft as a child for other people.—He would not hurt a chicken.—I would sooner, quoth Jonathan, drive such a gentleman for seven pounds a year—than some for eight.—Thank thee, Jonathan! for thy twenty shillings,—as much, Jonathan, said the corporal, shaking him by the hand, as if thou hadst put the money into my own pocket.—I would serve him to the day of my death out of love. He is a friend and a brother to me,—and could I be sure my poor brother Tom was dead,—continued the corporal, taking out his handkerchief,—was I worth ten thousand pounds, I would leave every shilling of it to the captain.—Trim could not refrain from tears at this testamentary proof he gave of his affection to his master.—The whole kitchen was affected.—Do tell us the story of the poor lieutenant, said Susannah.—With all my heart, answered the corporal.
Susannah, the cook, Jonathan, Obadiah, and corporal Trim, formed a circle about the fire; and as soon as the scullion had shut the kitchen door,—the corporal begun.
I am a Turk if I had not as much forgot my mother, as if Nature had plaistered me up, and set me down naked upon the banks of the river Nile, without one.—Your most obedient servant, Madam—I've cost you a great deal of trouble,—I wish it may answer;—but you have left a crack in my back,—and here's a great piece fallen off here before,—and what must I do with this foot?—I shall never reach England with it.
For my own part, I never wonder at any thing;—and so often has my judgment deceived me in my life, that I always suspect it, right or wrong,—at least I am seldom hot upon cold subjects. For all this, I reverence truth as much as any body; and when it has slipped us, if a man will but take me by the hand, and go quietly and search for it, as for a thing we have both lost, and can neither of us do well without,—I'll go to the world's end with him:—But I hate disputes,—and therefore (bating religious points, or such as touch society) I would almost subscribe to any thing which does not choak me in the first passage, rather than be drawn into one—But I cannot bear suffocation,—and bad smells worst of all.—For which reasons, I resolved from the beginning, That if ever the army of martyrs was to be augmented,—or a new one raised,—I would have no hand in it, one way or t'other.
—But to return to my mother.
My uncle Toby's opinion, Madam, 'that there could be no harm in Cornelius Gallus, the Roman praetor's lying with his wife;'—or rather the last word of that opinion,—(for it was all my mother heard of it) caught hold of her by the weak part of the whole sex:—You shall not mistake me,—I mean her curiosity,—she instantly concluded herself the subject of the conversation, and with that prepossession upon her fancy, you will readily conceive every word my father said, was accommodated either to herself, or her family concerns.
—Pray, Madam, in what street does the lady live, who would not have done the same?
From the strange mode of Cornelius's death, my father had made a transition to that of Socrates, and was giving my uncle Toby an abstract of his pleading before his judges;—'twas irresistible:—not the oration of Socrates,—but my father's temptation to it.—He had wrote the Life of Socrates (This book my father would never consent to publish; 'tis in manuscript, with some other tracts of his, in the family, all, or most of which will be printed in due time.) himself the year before he left off trade, which, I fear, was the means of hastening him out of it;—so that no one was able to set out with so full a sail, and in so swelling a tide of heroic loftiness upon the occasion, as my father was. Not a period in Socrates's oration, which closed with a shorter word than transmigration, or annihilation,—or a worse thought in the middle of it than to be—or not to be,—the entering upon a new and untried state of things,—or, upon a long, a profound and peaceful sleep, without dreams, without disturbance?—That we and our children were born to die,—but neither of us born to be slaves.—No—there I mistake; that was part of Eleazer's oration, as recorded by Josephus (de Bell. Judaic)—Eleazer owns he had it from the philosophers of India; in all likelihood Alexander the Great, in his irruption into India, after he had over-run Persia, amongst the many things he stole,—stole that sentiment also; by which means it was carried, if not all the way by himself (for we all know he died at Babylon), at least by some of his maroders, into Greece,—from Greece it got to Rome,—from Rome to France,—and from France to England:—So things come round.—
By land carriage, I can conceive no other way.—
By water the sentiment might easily have come down the Ganges into the Sinus Gangeticus, or Bay of Bengal, and so into the Indian Sea; and following the course of trade (the way from India by the Cape of Good Hope being then unknown), might be carried with other drugs and spices up the Red Sea to Joddah, the port of Mekka, or else to Tor or Sues, towns at the bottom of the gulf; and from thence by karrawans to Coptos, but three days journey distant, so down the Nile directly to Alexandria, where the Sentiment would be landed at the very foot of the great stair-case of the Alexandrian library,—and from that store-house it would be fetched.—Bless me! what a trade was driven by the learned in those days!
—Now my father had a way, a little like that of Job's (in case there ever was such a man—if not, there's an end of the matter.—
Though, by the bye, because your learned men find some difficulty in fixing the precise aera in which so great a man lived;—whether, for instance, before or after the patriarchs, &c.—to vote, therefore, that he never lived at all, is a little cruel,—'tis not doing as they would be done by,—happen that as it may)—My father, I say, had a way, when things went extremely wrong with him, especially upon the first sally of his impatience,—of wondering why he was begot,—wishing himself dead;—sometimes worse:—And when the provocation ran high, and grief touched his lips with more than ordinary powers—Sir, you scarce could have distinguished him from Socrates himself.—Every word would breathe the sentiments of a soul disdaining life, and careless about all its issues; for which reason, though my mother was a woman of no deep reading, yet the abstract of Socrates's oration, which my father was giving my uncle Toby, was not altogether new to her.—She listened to it with composed intelligence, and would have done so to the end of the chapter, had not my father plunged (which he had no occasion to have done) into that part of the pleading where the great philosopher reckons up his connections, his alliances, and children; but renounces a security to be so won by working upon the passions of his judges.—'I have friends—I have relations,—I have three desolate children,'—says Socrates.—
—Then, cried my mother, opening the door,—you have one more, Mr. Shandy, than I know of.
By heaven! I have one less,—said my father, getting up and walking out of the room.
—They are Socrates's children, said my uncle Toby. He has been dead a hundred years ago, replied my mother.
My uncle Toby was no chronologer—so not caring to advance one step but upon safe ground, he laid down his pipe deliberately upon the table, and rising up, and taking my mother most kindly by the hand, without saying another word, either good or bad, to her, he led her out after my father, that he might finish the ecclaircissement himself.
Had this volume been a farce, which, unless every one's life and opinions are to be looked upon as a farce as well as mine, I see no reason to suppose—the last chapter, Sir, had finished the first act of it, and then this chapter must have set off thus.
Ptr...r...r...ing—twing—twang—prut—trut—'tis a cursed bad fiddle.—Do you know whether my fiddle's in tune or no?—trut...prut.. .—They should be fifths.—'Tis wickedly strung—tr...a.e.i.o.u.-twang.—The bridge is a mile too high, and the sound post absolutely down,—else—trut...prut—hark! tis not so bad a tone.—Diddle diddle, diddle diddle, diddle diddle, dum. There is nothing in playing before good judges,—but there's a man there—no—not him with the bundle under his arm—the grave man in black.—'Sdeath! not the gentleman with the sword on.—Sir, I had rather play a Caprichio to Calliope herself, than draw my bow across my fiddle before that very man; and yet I'll stake my Cremona to a Jew's trump, which is the greatest musical odds that ever were laid, that I will this moment stop three hundred and fifty leagues out of tune upon my fiddle, without punishing one single nerve that belongs to him—Twaddle diddle, tweddle diddle,—twiddle diddle,—twoddle diddle,—twuddle diddle,—prut trut—krish—krash—krush.—I've undone you, Sir,—but you see he's no worse,—and was Apollo to take his fiddle after me, he can make him no better.
Diddle diddle, diddle diddle, diddle diddle—hum—dum—drum.
—Your worships and your reverences love music—and God has made you all with good ears—and some of you play delightfully yourselves—trut-prut,—prut-trut.
O! there is—whom I could sit and hear whole days,—whose talents lie in making what he fiddles to be felt,—who inspires me with his joys and hopes, and puts the most hidden springs of my heart into motion.—If you would borrow five guineas of me, Sir,—which is generally ten guineas more than I have to spare—or you Messrs. Apothecary and Taylor, want your bills paying,—that's your time.
The first thing which entered my father's head, after affairs were a little settled in the family, and Susanna had got possession of my mother's green sattin night-gown,—was to sit down coolly, after the example of Xenophon, and write a Tristra-paedia, or system of education for me; collecting first for that purpose his own scattered thoughts, counsels, and notions; and binding them together, so as to form an Institute for the government of my childhood and adolescence. I was my father's last stake—he had lost my brother Bobby entirely,—he had lost, by his own computation, full three-fourths of me—that is, he had been unfortunate in his three first great casts for me—my geniture, nose, and name,—there was but this one left; and accordingly my father gave himself up to it with as much devotion as ever my uncle Toby had done to his doctrine of projectils.—The difference between them was, that my uncle Toby drew his whole knowledge of projectils from Nicholas Tartaglia—My father spun his, every thread of it, out of his own brain,—or reeled and cross-twisted what all other spinners and spinsters had spun before him, that 'twas pretty near the same torture to him.
In about three years, or something more, my father had got advanced almost into the middle of his work.—Like all other writers, he met with disappointments.—He imagined he should be able to bring whatever he had to say, into so small a compass, that when it was finished and bound, it might be rolled up in my mother's hussive.—Matter grows under our hands.—Let no man say,—'Come—I'll write a duodecimo.'
My father gave himself up to it, however, with the most painful diligence, proceeding step by step in every line, with the same kind of caution and circumspection (though I cannot say upon quite so religious a principle) as was used by John de la Casse, the lord archbishop of Benevento, in compassing his Galatea; in which his Grace of Benevento spent near forty years of his life; and when the thing came out, it was not of above half the size or the thickness of a Rider's Almanack.—How the holy man managed the affair, unless he spent the greatest part of his time in combing his whiskers, or playing at primero with his chaplain,—would pose any mortal not let into the true secret;—and therefore 'tis worth explaining to the world, was it only for the encouragement of those few in it, who write not so much to be fed—as to be famous.
I own had John de la Casse, the archbishop of Benevento, for whose memory (notwithstanding his Galatea,) I retain the highest veneration,—had he been, Sir, a slender clerk—of dull wit—slow parts—costive head, and so forth,—he and his Galatea might have jogged on together to the age of Methuselah for me,—the phaenomenon had not been worth a parenthesis.—
But the reverse of this was the truth: John de la Casse was a genius of fine parts and fertile fancy; and yet with all these great advantages of nature, which should have pricked him forwards with his Galatea, he lay under an impuissance at the same time of advancing above a line and a half in the compass of a whole summer's day: this disability in his Grace arose from an opinion he was afflicted with,—which opinion was this,—viz. that whenever a Christian was writing a book (not for his private amusement, but) where his intent and purpose was, bona fide, to print and publish it to the world, his first thoughts were always the temptations of the evil one.—This was the state of ordinary writers: but when a personage of venerable character and high station, either in church or state, once turned author,—he maintained, that from the very moment he took pen in hand—all the devils in hell broke out of their holes to cajole him.—'Twas Term-time with them,—every thought, first and last, was captious;—how specious and good soever,—'twas all one;—in whatever form or colour it presented itself to the imagination,—'twas still a stroke of one or other of 'em levell'd at him, and was to be fenced off.—So that the life of a writer, whatever he might fancy to the contrary, was not so much a state of composition, as a state of warfare; and his probation in it, precisely that of any other man militant upon earth,—both depending alike, not half so much upon the degrees of his wit—as his Resistance.
My father was hugely pleased with this theory of John de la Casse, archbishop of Benevento; and (had it not cramped him a little in his creed) I believe would have given ten of the best acres in the Shandy estate, to have been the broacher of it.—How far my father actually believed in the devil, will be seen, when I come to speak of my father's religious notions, in the progress of this work: 'tis enough to say here, as he could not have the honour of it, in the literal sense of the doctrine—he took up with the allegory of it; and would often say, especially when his pen was a little retrograde, there was as much good meaning, truth, and knowledge, couched under the veil of John de la Casse's parabolical representation,—as was to be found in any one poetic fiction or mystic record of antiquity.—Prejudice of education, he would say, is the devil,—and the multitudes of them which we suck in with our mother's milk—are the devil and all.—We are haunted with them, brother Toby, in all our lucubrations and researches; and was a man fool enough to submit tamely to what they obtruded upon him,—what would his book be? Nothing,—he would add, throwing his pen away with a vengeance,—nothing but a farrago of the clack of nurses, and of the nonsense of the old women (of both sexes) throughout the kingdom.
This is the best account I am determined to give of the slow progress my father made in his Tristra-paedia; at which (as I said) he was three years, and something more, indefatigably at work, and, at last, had scarce completed, by this own reckoning, one half of his undertaking: the misfortune was, that I was all that time totally neglected and abandoned to my mother; and what was almost as bad, by the very delay, the first part of the work, upon which my father had spent the most of his pains, was rendered entirely useless,—every day a page or two became of no consequence.—
—Certainly it was ordained as a scourge upon the pride of human wisdom, That the wisest of us all should thus outwit ourselves, and eternally forego our purposes in the intemperate act of pursuing them.
In short my father was so long in all his acts of resistance,—or in other words,—he advanced so very slow with his work, and I began to live and get forwards at such a rate, that if an event had not happened,—which, when we get to it, if it can be told with decency, shall not be concealed a moment from the reader—I verily believe, I had put by my father, and left him drawing a sundial, for no better purpose than to be buried under ground.
—'Twas nothing,—I did not lose two drops of blood by it—'twas not worth calling in a surgeon, had he lived next door to us—thousands suffer by choice, what I did by accident.—Doctor Slop made ten times more of it, than there was occasion:—some men rise, by the art of hanging great weights upon small wires,—and I am this day (August the 10th, 1761) paying part of the price of this man's reputation.—O 'twould provoke a stone, to see how things are carried on in this world!—The chamber-maid had left no .......... under the bed:—Cannot you contrive, master, quoth Susannah, lifting up the sash with one hand, as she spoke, and helping me up into the window-seat with the other,—cannot you manage, my dear, for a single time, to..................?
I was five years old.—Susannah did not consider that nothing was well hung in our family,—so slap came the sash down like lightning upon us;—Nothing is left,—cried Susannah,—nothing is left—for me, but to run my country.—My uncle Toby's house was a much kinder sanctuary; and so Susannah fled to it.
When Susannah told the corporal the misadventure of the sash, with all the circumstances which attended the murder of me,—(as she called it,)—the blood forsook his cheeks,—all accessaries in murder being principals,—Trim's conscience told him he was as much to blame as Susannah,—and if the doctrine had been true, my uncle Toby had as much of the bloodshed to answer for to heaven, as either of 'em;—so that neither reason or instinct, separate or together, could possibly have guided Susannah's steps to so proper an asylum. It is in vain to leave this to the Reader's imagination:—to form any kind of hypothesis that will render these propositions feasible, he must cudgel his brains sore,—and to do it without,—he must have such brains as no reader ever had before him.—Why should I put them either to trial or to torture? 'Tis my own affair: I'll explain it myself.
'Tis a pity, Trim, said my uncle Toby, resting with his hand upon the corporal's shoulder, as they both stood surveying their works,—that we have not a couple of field-pieces to mount in the gorge of that new redoubt;—'twould secure the lines all along there, and make the attack on that side quite complete:—get me a couple cast, Trim.
Your honour shall have them, replied Trim, before tomorrow morning.
It was the joy of Trim's heart, nor was his fertile head ever at a loss for expedients in doing it, to supply my uncle Toby in his campaigns, with whatever his fancy called for; had it been his last crown, he would have sate down and hammered it into a paderero, to have prevented a single wish in his master. The corporal had already,—what with cutting off the ends of my uncle Toby's spouts—hacking and chiseling up the sides of his leaden gutters,—melting down his pewter shaving-bason,—and going at last, like Lewis the Fourteenth, on to the top of the church, for spare ends, &c.—he had that very campaign brought no less than eight new battering cannons, besides three demi-culverins, into the field; my uncle Toby's demand for two more pieces for the redoubt, had set the corporal at work again; and no better resource offering, he had taken the two leaden weights from the nursery window: and as the sash pullies, when the lead was gone, were of no kind of use, he had taken them away also, to make a couple of wheels for one of their carriages.
He had dismantled every sash-window in my uncle Toby's house long before, in the very same way,—though not always in the same order; for sometimes the pullies have been wanted, and not the lead,—so then he began with the pullies,—and the pullies being picked out, then the lead became useless,—and so the lead went to pot too.
—A great Moral might be picked handsomely out of this, but I have not time—'tis enough to say, wherever the demolition began, 'twas equally fatal to the sash window.
The corporal had not taken his measures so badly in this stroke of artilleryship, but that he might have kept the matter entirely to himself, and left Susannah to have sustained the whole weight of the attack, as she could;—true courage is not content with coming off so.—The corporal, whether as general or comptroller of the train,—'twas no matter,—had done that, without which, as he imagined, the misfortune could never have happened,—at least in Susannah's hands;—How would your honours have behaved?—He determined at once, not to take shelter behind Susannah,—but to give it; and with this resolution upon his mind, he marched upright into the parlour, to lay the whole manoeuvre before my uncle Toby.
My uncle Toby had just then been giving Yorick an account of the Battle of Steenkirk, and of the strange conduct of count Solmes in ordering the foot to halt, and the horse to march where it could not act; which was directly contrary to the king's commands, and proved the loss of the day.
There are incidents in some families so pat to the purpose of what is going to follow,—they are scarce exceeded by the invention of a dramatic writer;—I mean of ancient days.—
Trim, by the help of his fore-finger, laid flat upon the table, and the edge of his hand striking across it at right angles, made a shift to tell his story so, that priests and virgins might have listened to it;—and the story being told,—the dialogue went on as follows.
—I would be picquetted to death, cried the corporal, as he concluded Susannah's story, before I would suffer the woman to come to any harm,—'twas my fault, an' please your honour,—not her's.
Corporal Trim, replied my uncle Toby, putting on his hat which lay upon the table,—if any thing can be said to be a fault, when the service absolutely requires it should be done,—'tis I certainly who deserve the blame,—you obeyed your orders.
Had count Solmes, Trim, done the same at the battle of Steenkirk, said Yorick, drolling a little upon the corporal, who had been run over by a dragoon in the retreat,—he had saved thee;—Saved! cried Trim, interrupting Yorick, and finishing the sentence for him after his own fashion,—he had saved five battalions, an' please your reverence, every soul of them:—there was Cutt's,—continued the corporal, clapping the forefinger of his right hand upon the thumb of his left, and counting round his hand,—there was Cutt's,—Mackay's,—Angus's,—Graham's,—and Leven's, all cut to pieces;—and so had the English life-guards too, had it not been for some regiments upon the right, who marched up boldly to their relief, and received the enemy's fire in their faces, before any one of their own platoons discharged a musket,—they'll go to heaven for it,—added Trim.—Trim is right, said my uncle Toby, nodding to Yorick,—he's perfectly right. What signified his marching the horse, continued the corporal, where the ground was so strait, that the French had such a nation of hedges, and copses, and ditches, and fell'd trees laid this way and that to cover them (as they always have).—Count Solmes should have sent us,—we would have fired muzzle to muzzle with them for their lives.—There was nothing to be done for the horse:—he had his foot shot off however for his pains, continued the corporal, the very next campaign at Landen.—Poor Trim got his wound there, quoth my uncle Toby.—'Twas owing, an' please your honour, entirely to count Solmes,—had he drubbed them soundly at Steenkirk, they would not have fought us at Landen.—Possibly not,—Trim, said my uncle Toby;—though if they have the advantage of a wood, or you give them a moment's time to intrench themselves, they are a nation which will pop and pop for ever at you.—There is no way but to march coolly up to them,—receive their fire, and fall in upon them, pell-mell—Ding dong, added Trim.—Horse and foot, said my uncle Toby.—Helter Skelter, said Trim.—Right and left, cried my uncle Toby.—Blood an' ounds, shouted the corporal;—the battle raged,—Yorick drew his chair a little to one side for safety, and after a moment's pause, my uncle Toby sinking his voice a note,—resumed the discourse as follows.
King William, said my uncle Toby, addressing himself to Yorick, was so terribly provoked at count Solmes for disobeying his orders, that he would not suffer him to come into his presence for many months after.—I fear, answered Yorick, the squire will be as much provoked at the corporal, as the King at the count.—But 'twould be singularly hard in this case, continued be, if corporal Trim, who has behaved so diametrically opposite to count Solmes, should have the fate to be rewarded with the same disgrace:—too oft in this world, do things take that train.—I would spring a mine, cried my uncle Toby, rising up,—and blow up my fortifications, and my house with them, and we would perish under their ruins, ere I would stand by and see it.—Trim directed a slight,—but a grateful bow towards his master,—and so the chapter ends.
—Then, Yorick, replied my uncle Toby, you and I will lead the way abreast,—and do you, corporal, follow a few paces behind us.—And Susannah, an' please your honour, said Trim, shall be put in the rear.—'Twas an excellent disposition,—and in this order, without either drums beating, or colours flying, they marched slowly from my uncle Toby's house to Shandy-hall.
—I wish, said Trim, as they entered the door,—instead of the sash weights, I had cut off the church spout, as I once thought to have done.—You have cut off spouts enow, replied Yorick.
As many pictures as have been given of my father, how like him soever in different airs and attitudes,—not one, or all of them, can ever help the reader to any kind of preconception of how my father would think, speak, or act, upon any untried occasion or occurrence of life.—There was that infinitude of oddities in him, and of chances along with it, by which handle he would take a thing,—it baffled, Sir, all calculations.—The truth was, his road lay so very far on one side, from that wherein most men travelled,—that every object before him presented a face and section of itself to his eye, altogether different from the plan and elevation of it seen by the rest of mankind.—In other words, 'twas a different object, and in course was differently considered:
This is the true reason, that my dear Jenny and I, as well as all the world besides us, have such eternal squabbles about nothing.—She looks at her outside,—I, at her in.... How is it possible we should agree about her value?
'Tis a point settled,—and I mention it for the comfort of Confucius, (Mr Shandy is supposed to mean..., Esq; member for...,—and not the Chinese Legislator.) who is apt to get entangled in telling a plain story—that provided he keeps along the line of his story,—he may go backwards and forwards as he will,—'tis still held to be no digression.
This being premised, I take the benefit of the act of going backwards myself.
Fifty thousand pannier loads of devils—(not of the Archbishop of Benevento's—I mean of Rabelais's devils), with their tails chopped off by their rumps, could not have made so diabolical a scream of it, as I did—when the accident befel me: it summoned up my mother instantly into the nursery,—so that Susannah had but just time to make her escape down the back stairs, as my mother came up the fore.
Now, though I was old enough to have told the story myself,—and young enough, I hope, to have done it without malignity; yet Susannah, in passing by the kitchen, for fear of accidents, had left it in short-hand with the cook—the cook had told it with a commentary to Jonathan, and Jonathan to Obadiah; so that by the time my father had rung the bell half a dozen times, to know what was the matter above,—was Obadiah enabled to give him a particular account of it, just as it had happened.—I thought as much, said my father, tucking up his night-gown;—and so walked up stairs.
One would imagine from this—(though for my own part I somewhat question it)—that my father, before that time, had actually wrote that remarkable character in the Tristra-paedia, which to me is the most original and entertaining one in the whole book;—and that is the chapter upon sash-windows, with a bitter Philippick at the end of it, upon the forgetfulness of chamber-maids.—I have but two reasons for thinking otherwise.
First, Had the matter been taken into consideration, before the event happened, my father certainly would have nailed up the sash window for good an' all;—which, considering with what difficulty he composed books,—he might have done with ten times less trouble, than he could have wrote the chapter: this argument I foresee holds good against his writing a chapter, even after the event; but 'tis obviated under the second reason, which I have the honour to offer to the world in support of my opinion, that my father did not write the chapter upon sash-windows and chamber-pots, at the time supposed,—and it is this.
—That, in order to render the Tristra-paedia complete,—I wrote the chapter myself.
My father put on his spectacles—looked,—took them off,—put them into the case—all in less than a statutable minute; and without opening his lips, turned about and walked precipitately down stairs: my mother imagined he had stepped down for lint and basilicon; but seeing him return with a couple of folios under his arm, and Obadiah following him with a large reading-desk, she took it for granted 'twas an herbal, and so drew him a chair to the bedside, that he might consult upon the case at his ease.
—If it be but right done,—said my father, turning to the Section—de sede vel subjecto circumcisionis,—for he had brought up Spenser de Legibus Hebraeorum Ritualibus—and Maimonides, in order to confront and examine us altogether.—
—If it be but right done, quoth he:—only tell us, cried my mother, interrupting him, what herbs?—For that, replied my father, you must send for Dr. Slop.
My mother went down, and my father went on, reading the section as follows,
...—Very well,—said my father,...—nay, if it has that convenience—and so without stopping a moment to settle it first in his mind, whether the Jews had it from the Egyptians, or the Egyptians from the Jews,—he rose up, and rubbing his forehead two or three times across with the palm of his hand, in the manner we rub out the footsteps of care, when evil has trod lighter upon us than we foreboded,—he shut the book, and walked down stairs.—Nay, said he, mentioning the name of a different great nation upon every step as he set his foot upon it—if the Egyptians,—the Syrians,—the Phoenicians,—the Arabians,—the Cappadocians,—if the Colchi, and Troglodytes did it—if Solon and Pythagoras submitted,—what is Tristram?—Who am I, that I should fret or fume one moment about the matter?
Dear Yorick, said my father smiling (for Yorick had broke his rank with my uncle Toby in coming through the narrow entry, and so had stept first into the parlour)—this Tristram of ours, I find, comes very hardly by all his religious rites.—Never was the son of Jew, Christian, Turk, or Infidel initiated into them in so oblique and slovenly a manner.—But he is no worse, I trust, said Yorick.—There has been certainly, continued my father, the deuce and all to do in some part or other of the ecliptic, when this offspring of mine was formed.—That, you are a better judge of than I, replied Yorick.—Astrologers, quoth my father, know better than us both:—the trine and sextil aspects have jumped awry,—or the opposite of their ascendents have not hit it, as they should,—or the lords of the genitures (as they call them) have been at bo-peep,—or something has been wrong above, or below with us.
'Tis possible, answered Yorick.—But is the child, cried my uncle Toby, the worse?—The Troglodytes say not, replied my father. And your theologists, Yorick, tell us—Theologically? said Yorick,—or speaking after the manner of apothecaries? (footnote in Greek Philo.)—statesmen? (footnote in Greek)—or washer-women? (footnote in Greek Bochart.)
—I'm not sure, replied my father,—but they tell us, brother Toby, he's the better for it.—Provided, said Yorick, you travel him into Egypt.—Of that, answered my father, he will have the advantage, when he sees the Pyramids.—
Now every word of this, quoth my uncle Toby, is Arabic to me.—I wish, said Yorick, 'twas so, to half the world.
—Ilus, (footnote in Greek Sanchuniatho.) continued my father, circumcised his whole army one morning.—Not without a court martial? cried my uncle Toby.—Though the learned, continued he, taking no notice of my uncle Toby's remark, but turning to Yorick,—are greatly divided still who Ilus was;—some say Saturn;—some the Supreme Being;—others, no more than a brigadier general under Pharaoh-neco.—Let him be who he will, said my uncle Toby, I know not by what article of war he could justify it.
The controvertists, answered my father, assign two-and-twenty different reasons for it:—others, indeed, who have drawn their pens on the opposite side of the question, have shewn the world the futility of the greatest part of them.—But then again, our best polemic divines—I wish there was not a polemic divine, said Yorick, in the kingdom;—one ounce of practical divinity—is worth a painted ship-load of all their reverences have imported these fifty years.—Pray, Mr. Yorick, quoth my uncle Toby,—do tell me what a polemic divine is?—The best description, captain Shandy, I have ever read, is of a couple of 'em, replied Yorick, in the account of the battle fought single hands betwixt Gymnast and captain Tripet; which I have in my pocket.—I beg I may hear it, quoth my uncle Toby earnestly.—You shall, said Yorick.—And as the corporal is waiting for me at the door,—and I know the description of a battle will do the poor fellow more good than his supper,—I beg, brother, you'll give him leave to come in.—With all my soul, said my father.—Trim came in, erect and happy as an emperor; and having shut the door, Yorick took a book from his right-hand coat-pocket, and read, or pretended to read, as follows.
—'which words being heard by all the soldiers which were there, divers of them being inwardly terrified, did shrink back and make room for the assailant: all this did Gymnast very well remark and consider; and therefore, making as if he would have alighted from off his horse, as he was poising himself on the mounting side, he most nimbly (with his short sword by this thigh) shifting his feet in the stirrup, and performing the stirrup-leather feat, whereby, after the inclining of his body downwards, he forthwith launched himself aloft into the air, and placed both his feet together upon the saddle, standing upright, with his back turned towards his horse's head,—Now, (said he) my case goes forward. Then suddenly in the same posture wherein he was, he fetched a gambol upon one foot, and turning to the left-hand, failed not to carry his body perfectly round, just into his former position, without missing one jot.—Ha! said Tripet, I will not do that at this time,—and not without cause. Well, said Gymnast, I have failed,—I will undo this leap; then with a marvellous strength and agility, turning towards the right-hand, he fetched another striking gambol as before; which done, he set his right hand thumb upon the bow of the saddle, raised himself up, and sprung into the air, poising and upholding his whole weight upon the muscle and nerve of the said thumb, and so turned and whirled himself about three times: at the fourth, reversing his body, and overturning it upside down, and foreside back, without touching any thing, he brought himself betwixt the horse's two ears, and then giving himself a jerking swing, he seated himself upon the crupper—'
(This can't be fighting, said my uncle Toby.—The corporal shook his head at it.—Have patience, said Yorick.)
'Then (Tripet) pass'd his right leg over his saddle, and placed himself en croup.—But, said he, 'twere better for me to get into the saddle; then putting the thumbs of both hands upon the crupper before him, and there-upon leaning himself, as upon the only supporters of his body, he incontinently turned heels over head in the air, and strait found himself betwixt the bow of the saddle in a tolerable seat; then springing into the air with a summerset, he turned him about like a wind-mill, and made above a hundred frisks, turns, and demi-pommadas.'—Good God! cried Trim, losing all patience,—one home thrust of a bayonet is worth it all.—I think so too, replied Yorick.—
I am of a contrary opinion, quoth my father.
—No,—I think I have advanced nothing, replied my father, making answer to a question which Yorick had taken the liberty to put to him,—I have advanced nothing in the Tristra-paedia, but what is as clear as any one proposition in Euclid.—Reach me, Trim, that book from off the scrutoir:—it has oft-times been in my mind, continued my father, to have read it over both to you, Yorick, and to my brother Toby, and I think it a little unfriendly in myself, in not having done it long ago:—shall we have a short chapter or two now,—and a chapter or two hereafter, as occasions serve; and so on, till we get through the whole? My uncle Toby and Yorick made the obeisance which was proper; and the corporal, though he was not included in the compliment, laid his hand upon his breast, and made his bow at the same time.—The company smiled. Trim, quoth my father, has paid the full price for staying out the entertainment.—He did not seem to relish the play, replied Yorick.—'Twas a Tom-fool-battle, an' please your reverence, of captain Tripet's and that other officer, making so many summersets, as they advanced;—the French come on capering now and then in that way,—but not quite so much.
My uncle Toby never felt the consciousness of his existence with more complacency than what the corporal's, and his own reflections, made him do at that moment;—he lighted his pipe,—Yorick drew his chair closer to the table,—Trim snuff'd the candle,—my father stirr'd up the fire,—took up the book,—cough'd twice, and begun.
The first thirty pages, said my father, turning over the leaves,—are a little dry; and as they are not closely connected with the subject,—for the present we'll pass them by: 'tis a prefatory introduction, continued my father, or an introductory preface (for I am not determined which name to give it) upon political or civil government; the foundation of which being laid in the first conjunction betwixt male and female, for procreation of the species—I was insensibly led into it.—'Twas natural, said Yorick.
The original of society, continued my father, I'm satisfied is, what Politian tells us, i. e. merely conjugal; and nothing more than the getting together of one man and one woman;—to which, (according to Hesiod) the philosopher adds a servant:—but supposing in the first beginning there were no men servants born—he lays the foundation of it, in a man,—a woman—and a bull.—I believe 'tis an ox, quoth Yorick, quoting the passage (Greek)—A bull must have given more trouble than his head was worth.—But there is a better reason still, said my father (dipping his pen into his ink); for the ox being the most patient of animals, and the most useful withal in tilling the ground for their nourishment,—was the properest instrument, and emblem too, for the new joined couple, that the creation could have associated with them.—And there is a stronger reason, added my uncle Toby, than them all for the ox.—My father had not power to take his pen out of his ink-horn, till he had heard my uncle Toby's reason.—For when the ground was tilled, said my uncle Toby, and made worth inclosing, then they began to secure it by walls and ditches, which was the origin of fortification.—True, true, dear Toby, cried my father, striking out the bull, and putting the ox in his place.
My father gave Trim a nod, to snuff the candle, and resumed his discourse.
—I enter upon this speculation, said my father carelessly, and half shutting the book, as he went on, merely to shew the foundation of the natural relation between a father and his child; the right and jurisdiction over whom he acquires these several ways—
1st, by marriage.
2d, by adoption.
3d, by legitimation.
And 4th, by procreation; all which I consider in their order.
I lay a slight stress upon one of them, replied Yorick—the act, especially where it ends there, in my opinion lays as little obligation upon the child, as it conveys power to the father.—You are wrong,—said my father argutely, and for this plain reason....—I own, added my father, that the offspring, upon this account, is not so under the power and jurisdiction of the mother.—But the reason, replied Yorick, equally holds good for her.—She is under authority herself, said my father:—and besides, continued my father, nodding his head, and laying his finger upon the side of his nose, as he assigned his reason,—she is not the principal agent, Yorick.—In what, quoth my uncle Toby? stopping his pipe.—Though by all means, added my father (not attending to my uncle Toby), 'The son ought to pay her respect,' as you may read, Yorick, at large in the first book of the Institutes of Justinian, at the eleventh title and the tenth section.—I can read it as well, replied Yorick, in the Catechism.
Trim can repeat every word of it by heart, quoth my uncle Toby.—Pugh! said my father, not caring to be interrupted with Trim's saying his Catechism. He can, upon my honour, replied my uncle Toby.—Ask him, Mr. Yorick, any question you please.—
—The fifth Commandment, Trim,—said Yorick, speaking mildly, and with a gentle nod, as to a modest Catechumen. The corporal stood silent.—You don't ask him right, said my uncle Toby, raising his voice, and giving it rapidly like the word of command:—The fifth—cried my uncle Toby.—I must begin with the first, an' please your honour, said the corporal.—
—Yorick could not forbear smiling.—Your reverence does not consider, said the corporal, shouldering his stick like a musket, and marching into the middle of the room, to illustrate his position,—that 'tis exactly the same thing, as doing one's exercise in the field.—
'Join your right-hand to your firelock,' cried the corporal, giving the word of command, and performing the motion.—
'Poise your firelock,' cried the corporal, doing the duty still both of adjutant and private man.
'Rest your firelock;'—one motion, an' please your reverence, you see leads into another.—If his honour will begin but with the first—
The First—cried my uncle Toby, setting his hand upon his side—....
The Second—cried my uncle Toby, waving his tobacco-pipe, as he would have done his sword at the head of a regiment.—The corporal went through his manual with exactness; and having honoured his father and mother, made a low bow, and fell back to the side of the room.
Every thing in this world, said my father, is big with jest, and has wit in it, and instruction too,—if we can but find it out.
—Here is the scaffold work of Instruction, its true point of folly, without the Building behind it.
—Here is the glass for pedagogues, preceptors, tutors, governors, gerund-grinders, and bear-leaders to view themselves in, in their true dimensions.—
Oh! there is a husk and shell, Yorick, which grows up with learning, which their unskilfulness knows not how to fling away!
—Sciences May Be Learned by Rote But Wisdom Not.
Yorick thought my father inspired.—I will enter into obligations this moment, said my father, to lay out all my aunt Dinah's legacy in charitable uses (of which, by the bye, my father had no high opinion), if the corporal has any one determinate idea annexed to any one word he has repeated.—Prithee, Trim, quoth my father, turning round to him,—What dost thou mean, by 'honouring thy father and mother?'
Allowing them, an' please your honour, three halfpence a day out of my pay, when they grow old.—And didst thou do that, Trim? said Yorick.—He did indeed, replied my uncle Toby.—Then, Trim, said Yorick, springing out of his chair, and taking the corporal by the hand, thou art the best commentator upon that part of the Decalogue; and I honour thee more for it, corporal Trim, than if thou hadst had a hand in the Talmud itself.
O blessed health! cried my father, making an exclamation, as he turned over the leaves to the next chapter, thou art before all gold and treasure; 'tis thou who enlargest the soul,—and openest all its powers to receive instruction and to relish virtue.—He that has thee, has little more to wish for;—and he that is so wretched as to want thee,—wants every thing with thee.
I have concentrated all that can be said upon this important head, said my father, into a very little room, therefore we'll read the chapter quite through.
My father read as follows:
'The whole secret of health depending upon the due contention for mastery betwixt the radical heat and the radical moisture'—You have proved that matter of fact, I suppose, above, said Yorick. Sufficiently, replied my father.
In saying this, my father shut the book,—not as if he resolved to read no more of it, for he kept his fore-finger in the chapter:—nor pettishly,—for he shut the book slowly; his thumb resting, when he had done it, upon the upper-side of the cover, as his three fingers supported the lower side of it, without the least compressive violence.—
I have demonstrated the truth of that point, quoth my father, nodding to Yorick, most sufficiently in the preceding chapter.
Now could the man in the moon be told, that a man in the earth had wrote a chapter, sufficiently demonstrating, That the secret of all health depended upon the due contention for mastery betwixt the radical heat and the radical moisture,—and that he had managed the point so well, that there was not one single word wet or dry upon radical heat or radical moisture, throughout the whole chapter,—or a single syllable in it, pro or con, directly or indirectly, upon the contention betwixt these two powers in any part of the animal oeconomy—
'O thou eternal Maker of all beings!'—he would cry, striking his breast with his right hand (in case he had one)—'Thou whose power and goodness can enlarge the faculties of thy creatures to this infinite degree of excellence and perfection,—What have we Moonites done?'
With two strokes, the one at Hippocrates, the other at Lord Verulam, did my father achieve it.
The stroke at the prince of physicians, with which he began, was no more than a short insult upon his sorrowful complaint of the Ars longa,—and Vita brevis.—Life short, cried my father,—and the art of healing tedious! And who are we to thank for both the one and the other, but the ignorance of quacks themselves,—and the stage-loads of chymical nostrums, and peripatetic lumber, with which, in all ages, they have first flatter'd the world, and at last deceived it?
—O my lord Verulam! cried my father, turning from Hippocrates, and making his second stroke at him, as the principal of nostrum-mongers, and the fittest to be made an example of to the rest,—What shall I say to thee, my great lord Verulam? What shall I say to thy internal spirit,—thy opium, thy salt-petre,—thy greasy unctions,—thy daily purges,—thy nightly clysters, and succedaneums?
—My father was never at a loss what to say to any man, upon any subject; and had the least occasion for the exordium of any man breathing: how he dealt with his lordship's opinion,—you shall see;—but when—I know not:—we must first see what his lordship's opinion was.
'The two great causes, which conspire with each other to shorten life, says lord Verulam, are first—
'The internal spirit, which like a gentle flame wastes the body down to death:—And secondly, the external air, that parches the body up to ashes:—which two enemies attacking us on both sides of our bodies together, at length destroy our organs, and render them unfit to carry on the functions of life.'
This being the state of the case, the road to longevity was plain; nothing more being required, says his lordship, but to repair the waste committed by the internal spirit, by making the substance of it more thick and dense, by a regular course of opiates on one side, and by refrigerating the heat of it on the other, by three grains and a half of salt-petre every morning before you got up.—
Still this frame of ours was left exposed to the inimical assaults of the air without;—but this was fenced off again by a course of greasy unctions, which so fully saturated the pores of the skin, that no spicula could enter;—nor could any one get out.—This put a stop to all perspiration, sensible and insensible, which being the cause of so many scurvy distempers—a course of clysters was requisite to carry off redundant humours,—and render the system complete.
What my father had to say to my lord of Verulam's opiates, his salt-petre, and greasy unctions and clysters, you shall read,—but not to-day—or to-morrow: time presses upon me,—my reader is impatient—I must get forwards—You shall read the chapter at your leisure (if you chuse it), as soon as ever the Tristra-paedia is published.—
Sufficeth it, at present to say, my father levelled the hypothesis with the ground, and in doing that, the learned know, he built up and established his own.—
The whole secret of health, said my father, beginning the sentence again, depending evidently upon the due contention betwixt the radical heat and radical moisture within us;—the least imaginable skill had been sufficient to have maintained it, had not the school-men confounded the task, merely (as Van Helmont, the famous chymist, has proved) by all along mistaking the radical moisture for the tallow and fat of animal bodies.
Now the radical moisture is not the tallow or fat of animals, but an oily and balsamous substance; for the fat and tallow, as also the phlegm or watery parts, are cold; whereas the oily and balsamous parts are of a lively heat and spirit, which accounts for the observation of Aristotle, 'Quod omne animal post coitum est triste.'
Now it is certain, that the radical heat lives in the radical moisture, but whether vice versa, is a doubt: however, when the one decays, the other decays also; and then is produced, either an unnatural heat, which causes an unnatural dryness—or an unnatural moisture, which causes dropsies.—So that if a child, as he grows up, can but be taught to avoid running into fire or water, as either of 'em threaten his destruction,—'twill be all that is needful to be done upon that head.—