Multitudinis imperitae non formido judicia, meis tamen, rogo, parcant opusculis — in quibus fuit propositi semper, a jocis ad seria, in seriis vicissim ad jocos transire.
Joan. Saresberiensis, Episcopus Lugdun.
Great wits jump: for the moment Dr. Slop cast his eyes upon his bag (which he had not done till the dispute with my uncle Toby about mid-wifery put him in mind of it)— the very same thought occurred. —’Tis God’s mercy, quoth he (to himself) that Mrs. Shandy has had so bad a time of it — else she might have been brought to bed seven times told, before one half of these knots could have got untied. — But here you must distinguish — the thought floated only in Dr. Slop’s mind, without sail or ballast to it, as a simple proposition; millions of which, as your worship knows, are every day swimming quietly in the middle of the thin juice of a man’s understanding, without being carried backwards or forwards, till some little gusts of passion or interest drive them to one side.
A sudden trampling in the room above, near my mother’s bed, did the proposition the very service I am speaking of. By all that’s unfortunate, quoth Dr. Slop, unless I make haste, the thing will actually befall me as it is.
In the case of knots — by which, in the first place, I would not be understood to mean slip-knots — because in the course of my life and opinions — my opinions concerning them will come in more properly when I mention the catastrophe of my great uncle Mr. Hammond Shandy — a little man — but of high fancy:— he rushed into the duke of Monmouth’s affair:— nor, secondly, in this place, do I mean that particular species of knots called bow-knots; — there is so little address, or skill, or patience required in the unloosing them, that they are below my giving any opinion at all about them. — But by the knots I am speaking of, may it please your reverences to believe, that I mean good, honest, devilish tight, hard knots, made bona fide, as Obadiah made his; — in which there is no quibbling provision made by the duplication and return of the two ends of the strings thro’ the annulus or noose made by the second implication of them — to get them slipp’d and undone by. — I hope you apprehend me.
In the case of these knots then, and of the several obstructions, which, may it please your reverences, such knots cast in our way in getting through life — every hasty man can whip out his pen-knife and cut through them. —’Tis wrong. Believe me, Sirs, the most virtuous way, and which both reason and conscience dictate — is to take our teeth or our fingers to them. — Dr. Slop had lost his teeth — his favourite instrument, by extracting in a wrong direction, or by some misapplication of it, unfortunately slipping, he had formerly, in a hard labour, knock’d out three of the best of them with the handle of it:— he tried his fingers — alas; the nails of his fingers and thumbs were cut close. — The duce take it! I can make nothing of it either way, cried Dr. Slop. — The trampling over head near my mother’s bed-side increased. — Pox take the fellow! I shall never get the knots untied as long as I live. — My mother gave a groan. — Lend me your penknife — I must e’en cut the knots at last — pugh! — psha! — Lord! I have cut my thumb quite across to the very bone — curse the fellow — if there was not another man-midwife within fifty miles — I am undone for this bout — I wish the scoundrel hang’d — I wish he was shot — I wish all the devils in hell had him for a blockhead! —
My father had a great respect for Obadiah, and could not bear to hear him disposed of in such a manner — he had moreover some little respect for himself — and could as ill bear with the indignity offered to himself in it.
Had Dr. Slop cut any part about him, but his thumb — my father had pass’d it by — his prudence had triumphed: as it was, he was determined to have his revenge.
Small curses, Dr. Slop, upon great occasions, quoth my father (condoling with him first upon the accident) are but so much waste of our strength and soul’s health to no manner of purpose. — I own it, replied Dr. Slop. — They are like sparrow-shot, quoth my uncle Toby (suspending his whistling) fired against a bastion. — They serve, continued my father, to stir the humours — but carry off none of their acrimony:— for my own part, I seldom swear or curse at all — I hold it bad — but if I fall into it by surprize, I generally retain so much presence of mind (right, quoth my uncle Toby) as to make it answer my purpose — that is, I swear on till I find myself easy. A wife and a just man however would always endeavour to proportion the vent given to these humours, not only to the degree of them stirring within himself — but to the size and ill intent of the offence upon which they are to fall. — ‘Injuries come only from the heart,’— quoth my uncle Toby. For this reason, continued my father, with the most Cervantick gravity, I have the greatest veneration in the world for that gentleman, who, in distrust of his own discretion in this point, sat down and composed (that is at his leisure) fit forms of swearing suitable to all cases, from the lowest to the highest provocation which could possibly happen to him — which forms being well considered by him, and such moreover as he could stand to, he kept them ever by him on the chimney-piece, within his reach, ready for use. — I never apprehended, replied Dr. Slop, that such a thing was ever thought of — much less executed. I beg your pardon, answered my father; I was reading, though not using, one of them to my brother Toby this morning, whilst he pour’d out the tea —’tis here upon the shelf over my head; — but if I remember right, ’tis too violent for a cut of the thumb. — Not at all, quoth Dr. Slop — the devil take the fellow. — Then, answered my father, ’Tis much at your service, Dr. Slop — on condition you will read it aloud; — so rising up and reaching down a form of excommunication of the church of Rome, a copy of which, my father (who was curious in his collections) had procured out of the leger-book of the church of Rochester, writ by Ernulphus the bishop — with a most affected seriousness of look and voice, which might have cajoled Ernulphus himself — he put it into Dr. Slop’s hands. — Dr. Slop wrapt his thumb up in the corner of his handkerchief, and with a wry face, though without any suspicion, read aloud, as follows — my uncle Toby whistling Lillabullero as loud as he could all the time.
(As the geniuneness of the consultation of the Sorbonne upon the question of baptism, was doubted by some, and denied by others —’twas thought proper to print the original of this excommunication; for the copy of which Mr. Shandy returns thanks to the chapter clerk of the dean and chapter of Rochester.)
Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi, per Ernulfum Episcopum.
Ex auctoritate Dei omnipotentis, Patris, et Filij, et Spiritus Sancti, et sanctorum canonum, sanctaeque et entemeratae Virginis Dei genetricis Mariae —
— Atque omnium coelestium virtutum, angelorum, archangelorum, thronorum, dominationum, potestatuum, cherubin ac seraphin, & sanctorum patriarchum, prophetarum, & omnium apolstolorum & evangelistarum, & sanctorum innocentum, qui in conspectu Agni soli digni inventi sunt canticum cantare novum, et sanctorum martyrum et sanctorum confessorum, et sanctarum virginum, atque omnium simul sanctorum et electorum Dei — Excommunicamus, et vel os s vel os anathematizamus hunc furem, vel hunc s malefactorem, N.N. et a liminibus sanctae Dei ecclesiae sequestramus, et aeternis vel i n suppliciis excruciandus, mancipetur, cum Dathan et Abiram, et cum his qui dixerunt Domino Deo, Recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus: et ficut aqua ignis extinguatur lu-vel eorum cerna ejus in secula seculorum nisi resque-n n rit, et ad satisfactionem venerit. Amen. os Maledicat illum Deus Pater qui homi-os nem creavit. Maledicat illum Dei Filius qui pro homine passus est. Maledicat os illum Spiritus Sanctus qui in baptismo ef-os fusus est. Maledicat illum sancta crux, quam Christus pro nostra salute hostem triumphans ascendit. os Maledicat illum sancta Dei genetrix et os perpetua Virgo Maria. Maledicat illum sanctus Michael, animarum susceptor sa-os crarum. Maledicant illum omnes angeli et archangeli, principatus et potestates, omnisque militia coelestis. os Maledicat illum patriarcharum et prophetarum laudabilis numerus. Maledicat os illum sanctus Johannes Praecursor et Baptista Christi, et sanctus Petrus, et sanctus Paulus, atque sanctus Andreas, omnesque Christi apostoli, simul et caeteri discipuli, quatuor quoque evangelistae, qui sua praedicatione mundum universum converte-os runt. Maledicat illum cuneus martyrum et confessorum mirificus, qui Deo bonis operibus placitus inventus est. os Maledicant illum sacrarum virginum chori, quae mundi vana causa honoris Christi respuenda contempserunt. Male-os dicant illum omnes sancti qui ab initio mundi usque in finem seculi Deo dilecti inveniuntur. os Maledicant illum coeli et terra, et omnia sancta in eis manentia. i n n Maledictus sit ubicunque, fuerit, sive in domo, sive in agro, sive in via, sive in semita, sive in silva, sive in aqua, sive in ecclesia. i n Maledictus sit vivendo, moriendo — -manducando, bibendo, esuriendo, sitiendo, jejunando, dormitando, dormiendo, vigilando, ambulando, stando, sedendo, jacendo, operando, quiescendo, mingendo, cacando, flebotomando. i n Maledictus sit in totis viribus corporis. i n Maledictus sit intus et exterius. i n i Maledictus sit in capillis; maledictus n i n sit in cerebro. Maledictus sit in vertice, in temporibus, in fronte, in auriculis, in superciliis, in oculis, in genis, in maxillis, in naribus, in dentibus, mordacibus, in labris sive molibus, in labiis, in guttere, in humeris, in harnis, in brachiis, in manubus, in digitis, in pectore, in corde, et in omnibus interioribus stomacho tenus, in renibus, in inguinibus, in femore, in genitalibus, in coxis, in genubus, in cruribus, in pedibus, et in unguibus.
Maledictus sit in totis compagibus membrorum, a vertice capitis, usque ad plantam pedis — non sit in eo sanitas.
Maledicat illum Christus Filius Dei vivi toto suae majestatis imperio —— et insurgat adversus illum coelum cum omnibus virtutibus quae in eo moventur ad damnandum eum, nisi penituerit et ad satisfactionem venerit. Amen. Fiat, fiat. Amen.
‘By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of the holy canons, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour.’ I think there is no necessity, quoth Dr. Slop, dropping the paper down to his knee, and addressing himself to my father — as you have read it over, Sir, so lately, to read it aloud — and as Captain Shandy seems to have no great inclination to hear it — I may as well read it to myself. That’s contrary to treaty, replied my father:— besides, there is something so whimsical, especially in the latter part of it, I should grieve to lose the pleasure of a second reading. Dr. Slop did not altogether like it — but my uncle Toby offering at that instant to give over whistling, and read it himself to them; — Dr. Slop thought he might as well read it under the cover of my uncle Toby’s whistling — as suffer my uncle Toby to read it alone; — so raising up the paper to his face, and holding it quite parallel to it, in order to hide his chagrin — he read it aloud as follows — my uncle Toby whistling Lillabullero, though not quite so loud as before.
‘By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour, and of all the celestial virtues, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, cherubins and seraphins, and of all the holy patriarchs, prophets, and of all the apostles and evangelists, and of the holy innocents, who in the sight of the Holy Lamb, are found worthy to sing the new song of the holy martyrs and holy confessors, and of the holy virgins, and of all the saints together, with the holy and elect of God — May he’ (Obadiah) ‘be damn’d’ (for tying these knots)—‘We excommunicate, and anathematize him, and from the thresholds of the holy church of God Almighty we sequester him, that he may be tormented, disposed, and delivered over with Dathan and Abiram, and with those who say unto the Lord God, Depart from us, we desire none of thy ways. And as fire is quenched with water, so let the light of him be put out for evermore, unless it shall repent him’ (Obadiah, of the knots which he has tied) ‘and make satisfaction’ (for them) ‘Amen.
‘May the Father who created man, curse him. — May the Son who suffered for us curse him. — May the Holy Ghost, who was given to us in baptism, curse him’ (Obadiah)—‘May the holy cross which Christ, for our salvation triumphing over his enemies, ascended, curse him.
‘May the holy and eternal Virgin Mary, mother of God, curse him. — May St. Michael, the advocate of holy souls, curse him. — May all the angels and archangels, principalities and powers, and all the heavenly armies, curse him.’ (Our armies swore terribly in Flanders, cried my uncle Toby — but nothing to this. — For my own part I could not have a heart to curse my dog so.)
‘May St. John, the Praecursor, and St. John the Baptist, and St. Peter and St. Paul, and St. Andrew, and all other Christ’s apostles, together curse him. And may the rest of his disciples and four evangelists, who by their preaching converted the universal world, and may the holy and wonderful company of martyrs and confessors who by their holy works are found pleasing to God Almighty, curse him’ (Obadiah.)
‘May the holy choir of the holy virgins, who for the honour of Christ have despised the things of the world, damn him — May all the saints, who from the beginning of the world to everlasting ages are found to be beloved of God, damn him — May the heavens and earth, and all the holy things remaining therein, damn him,’ (Obadiah) ‘or her,’ (or whoever else had a hand in tying these knots.)
‘May he (Obadiah) be damn’d wherever he be — whether in the house or the stables, the garden or the field, or the highway, or in the path, or in the wood, or in the water, or in the church. — May he be cursed in living, in dying.’ (Here my uncle Toby, taking the advantage of a minim in the second bar of his tune, kept whistling one continued note to the end of the sentence. — Dr. Slop, with his division of curses moving under him, like a running bass all the way.) ‘May he be cursed in eating and drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting, in pissing, in shitting, and in blood-letting!
‘May he’ (Obadiah) ‘be cursed in all the faculties of his body!
‘May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly! — May he be cursed in the hair of his head! — May he be cursed in his brains, and in his vertex,’ (that is a sad curse, quoth my father) ‘in his temples, in his forehead, in his ears, in his eye-brows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils, in his fore-teeth and grinders, in his lips, in his throat, in his shoulders, in his wrists, in his arms, in his hands, in his fingers!
‘May he be damn’d in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart and purtenance, down to the very stomach!
‘May he be cursed in his reins, and in his groin,’ (God in heaven forbid! quoth my uncle Toby) ‘in his thighs, in his genitals,’ (my father shook his head) ‘and in his hips, and in his knees, his legs, and feet, and toe-nails!
‘May he be cursed in all the joints and articulations of the members, from the top of his head to the sole of his foot! May there be no soundness in him!
‘May the son of the living God, with all the glory of his Majesty’—(Here my uncle Toby, throwing back his head, gave a monstrous, long, loud Whew — w — w — something betwixt the interjectional whistle of Hay-day! and the word itself. —
— By the golden beard of Jupiter — and of Juno (if her majesty wore one) and by the beards of the rest of your heathen worships, which by the bye was no small number, since what with the beards of your celestial gods, and gods aerial and aquatick — to say nothing of the beards of town-gods and country-gods, or of the celestial goddesses your wives, or of the infernal goddesses your whores and concubines (that is in case they wore them)— all which beards, as Varro tells me, upon his word and honour, when mustered up together, made no less than thirty thousand effective beards upon the Pagan establishment; — every beard of which claimed the rights and privileges of being stroken and sworn by — by all these beards together then — I vow and protest, that of the two bad cassocks I am worth in the world, I would have given the better of them, as freely as ever Cid Hamet offered his — to have stood by, and heard my uncle Toby’s accompanyment.
—‘curse him!’— continued Dr. Slop — ‘and may heaven, with all the powers which move therein, rise up against him, curse and damn him’ (Obadiah) ‘unless he repent and make satisfaction! Amen. So be it — so be it. Amen.’
I declare, quoth my uncle Toby, my heart would not let me curse the devil himself with so much bitterness. — He is the father of curses, replied Dr. Slop. — So am not I, replied my uncle. — But he is cursed, and damn’d already, to all eternity, replied Dr. Slop.
I am sorry for it, quoth my uncle Toby.
Dr. Slop drew up his mouth, and was just beginning to return my uncle Toby the compliment of his Whu — u — u — or interjectional whistle — when the door hastily opening in the next chapter but one — put an end to the affair.
Now don’t let us give ourselves a parcel of airs, and pretend that the oaths we make free with in this land of liberty of ours are our own; and because we have the spirit to swear them — imagine that we have had the wit to invent them too.
I’ll undertake this moment to prove it to any man in the world, except to a connoisseur:— though I declare I object only to a connoisseur in swearing — as I would do to a connoisseur in painting, &c. &c. the whole set of ’em are so hung round and befetish’d with the bobs and trinkets of criticism — or to drop my metaphor, which by the bye is a pity — for I have fetch’d it as far as from the coast of Guiney; — their heads, Sir, are stuck so full of rules and compasses, and have that eternal propensity to apply them upon all occasions, that a work of genius had better go to the devil at once, than stand to be prick’d and tortured to death by ’em.
— And how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night? — Oh, against all rule, my lord — most ungrammatically! betwixt the substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, case, and gender, he made a breach thus — stopping, as if the point wanted settling; — and betwixt the nominative case, which your lordship knows should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times three seconds and three fifths by a stop watch, my lord, each time. — Admirable grammarian! — But in suspending his voice — was the sense suspended likewise? Did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm? — Was the eye silent? Did you narrowly look? — I look’d only at the stop-watch, my lord. — Excellent observer!
And what of this new book the whole world makes such a rout about? — Oh! ’tis out of all plumb, my lord — quite an irregular thing! — not one of the angles at the four corners was a right angle. — I had my rule and compasses, &c. my lord, in my pocket. — Excellent critick!
— And for the epick poem your lordship bid me look at — upon taking the length, breadth, height, and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an exact scale of Bossu’s —’tis out, my lord, in every one of its dimensions. — Admirable connoisseur!
— And did you step in, to take a look at the grand picture in your way back? —’Tis a melancholy daub! my lord; not one principle of the pyramid in any one group! — and what a price! — for there is nothing of the colouring of Titian — the expression of Rubens — the grace of Raphael — the purity of Dominichino — the corregiescity of Corregio — the learning of Poussin — the airs of Guido — the taste of the Carrachis — or the grand contour of Angelo. — Grant me patience, just Heaven! — Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world — though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst — the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!
I would go fifty miles on foot, for I have not a horse worth riding on, to kiss the hand of that man whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his author’s hands — be pleased he knows not why, and cares not wherefore.
Great Apollo! if thou art in a giving humour — give me — I ask no more, but one stroke of native humour, with a single spark of thy own fire along with it — and send Mercury, with the rules and compasses, if he can be spared, with my compliments to — no matter.
Now to any one else I will undertake to prove, that all the oaths and imprecations which we have been puffing off upon the world for these two hundred and fifty years last past as originals — except St. Paul’s thumb — God’s flesh and God’s fish, which were oaths monarchical, and, considering who made them, not much amiss; and as kings oaths, ’tis not much matter whether they were fish or flesh; — else I say, there is not an oath, or at least a curse amongst them, which has not been copied over and over again out of Ernulphus a thousand times: but, like all other copies, how infinitely short of the force and spirit of the original! — it is thought to be no bad oath — and by itself passes very well —‘G-d damn you.’— Set it beside Ernulphus’s —‘God almighty the Father damn you — God the Son damn you — God the Holy Ghost damn you’— you see ’tis nothing. — There is an orientality in his, we cannot rise up to: besides, he is more copious in his invention — possess’d more of the excellencies of a swearer — had such a thorough knowledge of the human frame, its membranes, nerves, ligaments, knittings of the joints, and articulations — that when Ernulphus cursed — no part escaped him. —’Tis true there is something of a hardness in his manner — and, as in Michael Angelo, a want of grace — but then there is such a greatness of gusto!
My father, who generally look’d upon every thing in a light very different from all mankind, would, after all, never allow this to be an original. — He considered rather Ernulphus’s anathema, as an institute of swearing, in which, as he suspected, upon the decline of swearing in some milder pontificate, Ernulphus, by order of the succeeding pope, had with great learning and diligence collected together all the laws of it; — for the same reason that Justinian, in the decline of the empire, had ordered his chancellor Tribonian to collect the Roman or civil laws all together into one code or digest — lest, through the rust of time — and the fatality of all things committed to oral tradition — they should be lost to the world for ever.
For this reason my father would oft-times affirm, there was not an oath from the great and tremendous oath of William the conqueror (By the splendour of God) down to the lowest oath of a scavenger (Damn your eyes) which was not to be found in Ernulphus. — In short, he would add — I defy a man to swear out of it.
The hypothesis is, like most of my father’s, singular and ingenious too; — nor have I any objection to it, but that it overturns my own.
— Bless my soul! — my poor mistress is ready to faint — and her pains are gone — and the drops are done — and the bottle of julap is broke — and the nurse has cut her arm —(and I, my thumb, cried Dr. Slop,) and the child is where it was, continued Susannah — and the midwife has fallen backwards upon the edge of the fender, and bruised her hip as black as your hat. — I’ll look at it, quoth Dr Slop. — There is no need of that, replied Susannah — you had better look at my mistress — but the midwife would gladly first give you an account how things are, so desires you would go up stairs and speak to her this moment.
Human nature is the same in all professions.
The midwife had just before been put over Dr. Slop’s head — He had not digested it. — No, replied Dr. Slop, ‘twould be full as proper if the midwife came down to me. — I like subordination, quoth my uncle Toby — and but for it, after the reduction of Lisle, I know not what might have become of the garrison of Ghent, in the mutiny for bread, in the year Ten. — Nor, replied Dr. Slop, (parodying my uncle Toby’s hobby-horsical reflection; though full as hobby-horsical himself)— do I know, Captain Shandy, what might have become of the garrison above stairs, in the mutiny and confusion I find all things are in at present, but for the subordination of fingers and thumbs to . . . — the application of which, Sir, under this accident of mine, comes in so a propos, that without it, the cut upon my thumb might have been felt by the Shandy family, as long as the Shandy family had a name.
Let us go back to the . . . — in the last chapter.
It is a singular stroke of eloquence (at least it was so, when eloquence flourished at Athens and Rome, and would be so now, did orators wear mantles) not to mention the name of a thing, when you had the thing about you in petto, ready to produce, pop, in the place you want it. A scar, an axe, a sword, a pink’d doublet, a rusty helmet, a pound and a half of pot-ashes in an urn, or a three-halfpenny pickle pot — but above all, a tender infant royally accoutred. — Tho’ if it was too young, and the oration as long as Tully’s second Philippick — it must certainly have beshit the orator’s mantle. — And then again, if too old — it must have been unwieldly and incommodious to his action — so as to make him lose by his child almost as much as he could gain by it. — Otherwise, when a state orator has hit the precise age to a minute — hid his Bambino in his mantle so cunningly that no mortal could smell it — and produced it so critically, that no soul could say, it came in by head and shoulders — Oh Sirs! it has done wonders — It has open’d the sluices, and turn’d the brains, and shook the principles, and unhinged the politicks of half a nation.
These feats however are not to be done, except in those states and times, I say, where orators wore mantles — and pretty large ones too, my brethren, with some twenty or five-and-twenty yards of good purple, superfine, marketable cloth in them — with large flowing folds and doubles, and in a great style of design. — All which plainly shews, may it please your worships, that the decay of eloquence, and the little good service it does at present, both within and without doors, is owing to nothing else in the world, but short coats, and the disuse of trunk-hose. — We can conceal nothing under ours, Madam, worth shewing.
Dr. Slop was within an ace of being an exception to all this argumentation: for happening to have his green baize bag upon his knees, when he began to parody my uncle Toby —’twas as good as the best mantle in the world to him: for which purpose, when he foresaw the sentence would end in his new-invented forceps, he thrust his hand into the bag in order to have them ready to clap in, when your reverences took so much notice of the. . ., which had he managed — my uncle Toby had certainly been overthrown: the sentence and the argument in that case jumping closely in one point, so like the two lines which form the salient angle of a ravelin — Dr. Slop would never have given them up; — and my uncle Toby would as soon have thought of flying, as taking them by force: but Dr. Slop fumbled so vilely in pulling them out, it took off the whole effect, and what was a ten times worse evil (for they seldom come alone in this life) in pulling out his forceps, his forceps unfortunately drew out the squirt along with it.
When a proposition can be taken in two senses —’tis a law in disputation, That the respondent may reply to which of the two he pleases, or finds most convenient for him. — This threw the advantage of the argument quite on my uncle Toby’s side. —‘Good God!’ cried my uncle Toby, ‘are children brought into the world with a squirt?’
— Upon my honour, Sir, you have tore every bit of skin quite off the back of both my hands with your forceps, cried my uncle Toby — and you have crush’d all my knuckles into the bargain with them to a jelly. ’Tis your own fault, said Dr. Slop — you should have clinch’d your two fists together into the form of a child’s head as I told you, and sat firm. — I did so, answered my uncle Toby. — Then the points of my forceps have not been sufficiently arm’d, or the rivet wants closing — or else the cut on my thumb has made me a little aukward — or possibly —’Tis well, quoth my father, interrupting the detail of possibilities — that the experiment was not first made upon my child’s head-piece. — It would not have been a cherry-stone the worse, answered Dr. Slop. — I maintain it, said my uncle Toby, it would have broke the cerebellum (unless indeed the skull had been as hard as a granado) and turn’d it all into a perfect posset. — Pshaw! replied Dr. Slop, a child’s head is naturally as soft as the pap of an apple; — the sutures give way — and besides, I could have extracted by the feet after. — Not you, said she. — I rather wish you would begin that way, quoth my father.
Pray do, added my uncle Toby.
— And pray, good woman, after all, will you take upon you to say, it may not be the child’s hip, as well as the child’s head? —’Tis most certainly the head, replied the midwife. Because, continued Dr. Slop (turning to my father) as positive as these old ladies generally are —’tis a point very difficult to know — and yet of the greatest consequence to be known; — because, Sir, if the hip is mistaken for the head — there is a possibility (if it is a boy) that the forceps. . ..
— What the possibility was, Dr. Slop whispered very low to my father, and then to my uncle Toby. — There is no such danger, continued he, with the head. — No, in truth quoth my father — but when your possibility has taken place at the hip — you may as well take off the head too.
— It is morally impossible the reader should understand this —’tis enough Dr. Slop understood it; — so taking the green baize bag in his hand, with the help of Obadiah’s pumps, he tripp’d pretty nimbly, for a man of his size, across the room to the door — and from the door was shewn the way, by the good old midwife, to my mother’s apartments.
It is two hours, and ten minutes — and no more — cried my father, looking at his watch, since Dr. Slop and Obadiah arrived — and I know not how it happens, Brother Toby — but to my imagination it seems almost an age.
— Here — pray, Sir, take hold of my cap — nay, take the bell along with it, and my pantoufles too.
Now, Sir, they are all at your service; and I freely make you a present of ’em, on condition you give me all your attention to this chapter.
Though my father said, ‘he knew not how it happen’d,’— yet he knew very well how it happen’d; — and at the instant he spoke it, was pre-determined in his mind to give my uncle Toby a clear account of the matter by a metaphysical dissertation upon the subject of duration and its simple modes, in order to shew my uncle Toby by what mechanism and mensurations in the brain it came to pass, that the rapid succession of their ideas, and the eternal scampering of the discourse from one thing to another, since Dr. Slop had come into the room, had lengthened out so short a period to so inconceivable an extent. —‘I know not how it happens — cried my father — but it seems an age.’
—’Tis owing entirely, quoth my uncle Toby, to the succession of our ideas.
My father, who had an itch, in common with all philosophers, of reasoning upon every thing which happened, and accounting for it too — proposed infinite pleasure to himself in this, of the succession of ideas, and had not the least apprehension of having it snatch’d out of his hands by my uncle Toby, who (honest man!) generally took every thing as it happened; — and who, of all things in the world, troubled his brain the least with abstruse thinking; — the ideas of time and space — or how we came by those ideas — or of what stuff they were made — or whether they were born with us — or we picked them up afterwards as we went along — or whether we did it in frocks — or not till we had got into breeches — with a thousand other inquiries and disputes about Infinity Prescience, Liberty, Necessity, and so forth, upon whose desperate and unconquerable theories so many fine heads have been turned and cracked — never did my uncle Toby’s the least injury at all; my father knew it — and was no less surprized than he was disappointed, with my uncle’s fortuitous solution.
Do you understand the theory of that affair? replied my father.
Not I, quoth my uncle.
— But you have some ideas, said my father, of what you talk about?
No more than my horse, replied my uncle Toby.
Gracious heaven! cried my father, looking upwards, and clasping his two hands together — there is a worth in thy honest ignorance, brother Toby — ’twere almost a pity to exchange it for a knowledge. — But I’ll tell thee. —
To understand what time is aright, without which we never can comprehend infinity, insomuch as one is a portion of the other — we ought seriously to sit down and consider what idea it is we have of duration, so as to give a satisfactory account how we came by it. — What is that to any body? quoth my uncle Toby. (Vide Locke.) For if you will turn your eyes inwards upon your mind, continued my father, and observe attentively, you will perceive, brother, that whilst you and I are talking together, and thinking, and smoking our pipes, or whilst we receive successively ideas in our minds, we know that we do exist, and so we estimate the existence, or the continuation of the existence of ourselves, or any thing else, commensurate to the succession of any ideas in our minds, the duration of ourselves, or any such other thing co-existing with our thinking — and so according to that preconceived — You puzzle me to death, cried my uncle Toby.
—’Tis owing to this, replied my father, that in our computations of time, we are so used to minutes, hours, weeks, and months — and of clocks (I wish there was not a clock in the kingdom) to measure out their several portions to us, and to those who belong to us — that ’twill be well, if in time to come, the succession of our ideas be of any use or service to us at all.
Now, whether we observe it or no, continued my father, in every sound man’s head, there is a regular succession of ideas of one sort or other, which follow each other in train just like — A train of artillery? said my uncle Toby — A train of a fiddle-stick! — quoth my father — which follow and succeed one another in our minds at certain distances, just like the images in the inside of a lanthorn turned round by the heat of a candle. — I declare, quoth my uncle Toby, mine are more like a smoke-jack — Then, brother Toby, I have nothing more to say to you upon that subject, said my father.
— What a conjuncture was here lost! — My father in one of his best explanatory moods — in eager pursuit of a metaphysical point into the very regions, where clouds and thick darkness would soon have encompassed it about; — my uncle Toby in one of the finest dispositions for it in the world; — his head like a smoke-jack; — the funnel unswept, and the ideas whirling round and round about in it, all obfuscated and darkened over with fuliginous matter! — By the tomb-stone of Lucian — if it is in being — if not, why then by his ashes! by the ashes of my dear Rabelais, and dearer Cervantes! — my father and my uncle Toby’s discourse upon Time and Eternity — was a discourse devoutly to be wished for! and the petulancy of my father’s humour, in putting a stop to it as he did, was a robbery of the Ontologic Treasury of such a jewel, as no coalition of great occasions and great men are ever likely to restore to it again.
Tho’ my father persisted in not going on with the discourse — yet he could not get my uncle Toby’s smoke-jack out of his head — piqued as he was at first with it; — there was something in the comparison at the bottom, which hit his fancy; for which purpose, resting his elbow upon the table, and reclining the right side of his head upon the palm of his hand — but looking first stedfastly in the fire — he began to commune with himself, and philosophize about it: but his spirits being wore out with the fatigues of investigating new tracts, and the constant exertion of his faculties upon that variety of subjects which had taken their turn in the discourse — the idea of the smoke jack soon turned all his ideas upside down — so that he fell asleep almost before he knew what he was about.
As for my uncle Toby, his smoke-jack had not made a dozen revolutions, before he fell asleep also. — Peace be with them both! — Dr. Slop is engaged with the midwife and my mother above stairs. — Trim is busy in turning an old pair of jack-boots into a couple of mortars, to be employed in the siege of Messina next summer — and is this instant boring the touch-holes with the point of a hot poker. — All my heroes are off my hands; —’tis the first time I have had a moment to spare — and I’ll make use of it, and write my preface.
The Author’s Preface
No, I’ll not say a word about it — here it is; — in publishing it — I have appealed to the world — and to the world I leave it; — it must speak for itself.
All I know of the matter is — when I sat down, my intent was to write a good book; and as far as the tenuity of my understanding would hold out — a wise, aye, and a discreet — taking care only, as I went along, to put into it all the wit and the judgment (be it more or less) which the great Author and Bestower of them had thought fit originally to give me — so that, as your worships see —’tis just as God pleases.
Now, Agalastes (speaking dispraisingly) sayeth, That there may be some wit in it, for aught he knows — but no judgment at all. And Triptolemus and Phutatorius agreeing thereto, ask, How is it possible there should? for that wit and judgment in this world never go together; inasmuch as they are two operations differing from each other as wide as east from west — So, says Locke — so are farting and hickuping, say I. But in answer to this, Didius the great church lawyer, in his code de fartendi et illustrandi fallaciis, doth maintain and make fully appear, That an illustration is no argument — nor do I maintain the wiping of a looking-glass clean to be a syllogism; — but you all, may it please your worships, see the better for it — so that the main good these things do is only to clarify the understanding, previous to the application of the argument itself, in order to free it from any little motes, or specks of opacular matter, which, if left swimming therein, might hinder a conception and spoil all.
Now, my dear anti-Shandeans, and thrice able criticks, and fellow-labourers (for to you I write this Preface)— and to you, most subtle statesmen and discreet doctors (do — pull off your beards) renowned for gravity and wisdom; — Monopolus, my politician — Didius, my counsel; Kysarcius, my friend; — Phutatorius, my guide; — Gastripheres, the preserver of my life; Somnolentius, the balm and repose of it — not forgetting all others, as well sleeping as waking, ecclesiastical as civil, whom for brevity, but out of no resentment to you, I lump all together. — Believe me, right worthy,
My most zealous wish and fervent prayer in your behalf, and in my own too, in case the thing is not done already for us — is, that the great gifts and endowments both of wit and judgment, with every thing which usually goes along with them — such as memory, fancy, genius, eloquence, quick parts, and what not, may this precious moment, without stint or measure, let or hindrance, be poured down warm as each of us could bear it — scum and sediment and all (for I would not have a drop lost) into the several receptacles, cells, cellules, domiciles, dormitories, refectories, and spare places of our brains — in such sort, that they might continue to be injected and tunn’d into, according to the true intent and meaning of my wish, until every vessel of them, both great and small, be so replenish’d, saturated, and filled up therewith, that no more, would it save a man’s life, could possibly be got either in or out.
Bless us! — what noble work we should make! — how should I tickle it off! — and what spirits should I find myself in, to be writing away for such readers! — and you — just heaven! — with what raptures would you sit and read — but oh! —’tis too much — I am sick — I faint away deliciously at the thoughts of it —’tis more than nature can bear! — lay hold of me — I am giddy — I am stone blind — I’m dying — I am gone. — Help! Help! Help! — But hold — I grow something better again, for I am beginning to foresee, when this is over, that as we shall all of us continue to be great wits — we should never agree amongst ourselves, one day to an end:— there would be so much satire and sarcasm — scoffing and flouting, with raillying and reparteeing of it — thrusting and parrying in one corner or another — there would be nothing but mischief among us — Chaste stars! what biting and scratching, and what a racket and a clatter we should make, what with breaking of heads, rapping of knuckles, and hitting of sore places — there would be no such thing as living for us.
But then again, as we should all of us be men of great judgment, we should make up matters as fast as ever they went wrong; and though we should abominate each other ten times worse than so many devils or devilesses, we should nevertheless, my dear creatures, be all courtesy and kindness, milk and honey —‘twould be a second land of promise — a paradise upon earth, if there was such a thing to be had — so that upon the whole we should have done well enough.
All I fret and fume at, and what most distresses my invention at present, is how to bring the point itself to bear; for as your worships well know, that of these heavenly emanations of wit and judgment, which I have so bountifully wished both for your worships and myself — there is but a certain quantum stored up for us all, for the use and behoof of the whole race of mankind; and such small modicums of ’em are only sent forth into this wide world, circulating here and there in one bye corner or another — and in such narrow streams, and at such prodigious intervals from each other, that one would wonder how it holds out, or could be sufficient for the wants and emergencies of so many great estates, and populous empires.
Indeed there is one thing to be considered, that in Nova Zembla, North Lapland, and in all those cold and dreary tracks of the globe, which lie more directly under the arctick and antartick circles, where the whole province of a man’s concernments lies for near nine months together within the narrow compass of his cave — where the spirits are compressed almost to nothing — and where the passions of a man, with every thing which belongs to them, are as frigid as the zone itself — there the least quantity of judgment imaginable does the business — and of wit — there is a total and an absolute saving — for as not one spark is wanted — so not one spark is given. Angels and ministers of grace defend us! what a dismal thing would it have been to have governed a kingdom, to have fought a battle, or made a treaty, or run a match, or wrote a book, or got a child, or held a provincial chapter there, with so plentiful a lack of wit and judgment about us! For mercy’s sake, let us think no more about it, but travel on as fast as we can southwards into Norway — crossing over Swedeland, if you please, through the small triangular province of Angermania to the lake of Bothmia; coasting along it through east and west Bothnia, down to Carelia, and so on, through all those states and provinces which border upon the far side of the Gulf of Finland, and the north-east of the Baltick, up to Petersbourg, and just stepping into Ingria; — then stretching over directly from thence through the north parts of the Russian empire — leaving Siberia a little upon the left hand, till we got into the very heart of Russian and Asiatick Tartary.
Now through this long tour which I have led you, you observe the good people are better off by far, than in the polar countries which we have just left:— for if you hold your hand over your eyes, and look very attentively, you may perceive some small glimmerings (as it were) of wit, with a comfortable provision of good plain houshold judgment, which, taking the quality and quantity of it together, they make a very good shift with — and had they more of either the one or the other, it would destroy the proper balance betwixt them, and I am satisfied moreover they would want occasions to put them to use.
Now, Sir, if I conduct you home again into this warmer and more luxuriant island, where you perceive the spring-tide of our blood and humours runs high — where we have more ambition, and pride, and envy, and lechery, and other whoreson passions upon our hands to govern and subject to reason — the height of our wit, and the depth of our judgment, you see, are exactly proportioned to the length and breadth of our necessities — and accordingly we have them sent down amongst us in such a flowing kind of decent and creditable plenty, that no one thinks he has any cause to complain.
It must however be confessed on this head, that, as our air blows hot and cold — wet and dry, ten times in a day, we have them in no regular and settled way; — so that sometimes for near half a century together, there shall be very little wit or judgment either to be seen or heard of amongst us:— the small channels of them shall seem quite dried up — then all of a sudden the sluices shall break out, and take a fit of running again like fury — you would think they would never stop:— and then it is, that in writing, and fighting, and twenty other gallant things, we drive all the world before us.
It is by these observations, and a wary reasoning by analogy in that kind of argumentative process, which Suidas calls dialectick induction — that I draw and set up this position as most true and veritable;
That of these two luminaries so much of their irradiations are suffered from time to time to shine down upon us, as he, whose infinite wisdom which dispenses every thing in exact weight and measure, knows will just serve to light us on our way in this night of our obscurity; so that your reverences and worships now find out, nor is it a moment longer in my power to conceal it from you, That the fervent wish in your behalf with which I set out, was no more than the first insinuating How d’ye of a caressing prefacer, stifling his reader, as a lover sometimes does a coy mistress, into silence. For alas! could this effusion of light have been as easily procured, as the exordium wished it — I tremble to think how many thousands for it, of benighted travellers (in the learned sciences at least) must have groped and blundered on in the dark, all the nights of their lives — running their heads against posts, and knocking out their brains without ever getting to their journies end; — some falling with their noses perpendicularly into sinks — others horizontally with their tails into kennels. Here one half of a learned profession tilting full but against the other half of it, and then tumbling and rolling one over the other in the dirt like hogs. — Here the brethren of another profession, who should have run in opposition to each other, flying on the contrary like a flock of wild geese, all in a row the same way. — What confusion! — what mistakes! — fiddlers and painters judging by their eyes and ears — admirable! — trusting to the passions excited — in an air sung, or a story painted to the heart — instead of measuring them by a quadrant.
In the fore-ground of this picture, a statesman turning the political wheel, like a brute, the wrong way round — against the stream of corruption — by Heaven! — instead of with it.
In this corner, a son of the divine Esculapius, writing a book against predestination; perhaps worse — feeling his patient’s pulse, instead of his apothecary’s — a brother of the Faculty in the back-ground upon his knees in tears — drawing the curtains of a mangled victim to beg his forgiveness; — offering a fee — instead of taking one.
In that spacious Hall, a coalition of the gown, from all the bars of it, driving a damn’d, dirty, vexatious cause before them, with all their might and main, the wrong way! — kicking it out of the great doors, instead of, in — and with such fury in their looks, and such a degree of inveteracy in their manner of kicking it, as if the laws had been originally made for the peace and preservation of mankind:— perhaps a more enormous mistake committed by them still — a litigated point fairly hung up; — for instance, Whether John o’Nokes his nose could stand in Tom o’Stiles his face, without a trespass, or not — rashly determined by them in five-and-twenty minutes, which, with the cautious pros and cons required in so intricate a proceeding, might have taken up as many months — and if carried on upon a military plan, as your honours know an Action should be, with all the stratagems practicable therein — such as feints — forced marches — surprizes — ambuscades — mask-batteries, and a thousand other strokes of generalship, which consist in catching at all advantages on both sides — might reasonably have lasted them as many years, finding food and raiment all that term for a centumvirate of the profession.
As for the Clergy — No — if I say a word against them, I’ll be shot. — I have no desire; and besides, if I had — I durst not for my soul touch upon the subject — with such weak nerves and spirits, and in the condition I am in at present, ‘twould be as much as my life was worth, to deject and contrist myself with so bad and melancholy an account — and therefore ’tis safer to draw a curtain across, and hasten from it, as fast as I can, to the main and principal point I have undertaken to clear up — and that is, How it comes to pass, that your men of least wit are reported to be men of most judgment. — But mark — I say, reported to be — for it is no more, my dear Sirs, than a report, and which, like twenty others taken up every day upon trust, I maintain to be a vile and a malicious report into the bargain.
This by the help of the observation already premised, and I hope already weighed and perpended by your reverences and worships, I shall forthwith make appear.
I hate set dissertations — and above all things in the world, ’tis one of the silliest things in one of them, to darken your hypothesis by placing a number of tall, opake words, one before another, in a right line, betwixt your own and your reader’s conception — when in all likelihood, if you had looked about, you might have seen something standing, or hanging up, which would have cleared the point at once —‘for what hindrance, hurt, or harm doth the laudable desire of knowledge bring to any man, if even from a sot, a pot, a fool, a stool, a winter-mittain, a truckle for a pully, the lid of a goldsmith’s crucible, an oil bottle, an old slipper, or a cane chair?’— I am this moment sitting upon one. Will you give me leave to illustrate this affair of wit and judgment, by the two knobs on the top of the back of it? — they are fastened on, you see, with two pegs stuck slightly into two gimlet-holes, and will place what I have to say in so clear a light, as to let you see through the drift and meaning of my whole preface, as plainly as if every point and particle of it was made up of sun-beams.
I enter now directly upon the point.
— Here stands wit — and there stands judgment, close beside it, just like the two knobs I’m speaking of, upon the back of this self-same chair on which I am sitting.
— You see, they are the highest and most ornamental parts of its frame — as wit and judgment are of ours — and like them too, indubitably both made and fitted to go together, in order, as we say in all such cases of duplicated embellishments — to answer one another.
Now for the sake of an experiment, and for the clearer illustrating this matter — let us for a moment take off one of these two curious ornaments (I care not which) from the point or pinnacle of the chair it now stands on — nay, don’t laugh at it — but did you ever see, in the whole course of your lives, such a ridiculous business as this has made of it? — Why, ’tis as miserable a sight as a sow with one ear; and there is just as much sense and symmetry in the one as in the other:— do — pray, get off your seats only to take a view of it — Now would any man who valued his character a straw, have turned a piece of work out of his hand in such a condition? — nay, lay your hands upon your hearts, and answer this plain question, Whether this one single knob, which now stands here like a blockhead by itself, can serve any purpose upon earth, but to put one in mind of the want of the other? — and let me farther ask, in case the chair was your own, if you would not in your consciences think, rather than be as it is, that it would be ten times better without any knob at all?
Now these two knobs — or top ornaments of the mind of man, which crown the whole entablature — being, as I said, wit and judgment, which of all others, as I have proved it, are the most needful — the most priz’d — the most calamitous to be without, and consequently the hardest to come at — for all these reasons put together, there is not a mortal among us, so destitute of a love of good fame or feeding — or so ignorant of what will do him good therein — who does not wish and stedfastly resolve in his own mind, to be, or to be thought at least, master of the one or the other, and indeed of both of them, if the thing seems any way feasible, or likely to be brought to pass.
Now your graver gentry having little or no kind of chance in aiming at the one — unless they laid hold of the other — pray what do you think would become of them? — Why, Sirs, in spite of all their gravities, they must e’en have been contented to have gone with their insides naked — this was not to be borne, but by an effort of philosophy not to be supposed in the case we are upon — so that no one could well have been angry with them, had they been satisfied with what little they could have snatched up and secreted under their cloaks and great perriwigs, had they not raised a hue and cry at the same time against the lawful owners.
I need not tell your worships, that this was done with so much cunning and artifice — that the great Locke, who was seldom outwitted by false sounds — was nevertheless bubbled here. The cry, it seems, was so deep and solemn a one, and what with the help of great wigs, grave faces, and other implements of deceit, was rendered so general a one against the poor wits in this matter, that the philosopher himself was deceived by it — it was his glory to free the world from the lumber of a thousand vulgar errors; — but this was not of the number; so that instead of sitting down coolly, as such a philosopher should have done, to have examined the matter of fact before he philosophised upon it — on the contrary he took the fact for granted, and so joined in with the cry, and halloo’d it as boisterously as the rest.
This has been made the Magna Charta of stupidity ever since — but your reverences plainly see, it has been obtained in such a manner, that the title to it is not worth a groat:— which by-the-bye is one of the many and vile impositions which gravity and grave folks have to answer for hereafter.
As for great wigs, upon which I may be thought to have spoken my mind too freely — I beg leave to qualify whatever has been unguardedly said to their dispraise or prejudice, by one general declaration — That I have no abhorrence whatever, nor do I detest and abjure either great wigs or long beards, any farther than when I see they are bespoke and let grow on purpose to carry on this self-same imposture — for any purpose — peace be with them! —> mark only — I write not for them.
Every day for at least ten years together did my father resolve to have it mended —’tis not mended yet; — no family but ours would have borne with it an hour — and what is most astonishing, there was not a subject in the world upon which my father was so eloquent, as upon that of door-hinges. — And yet at the same time, he was certainly one of the greatest bubbles to them, I think, that history can produce: his rhetorick and conduct were at perpetual handy-cuffs. — Never did the parlour-door open — but his philosophy or his principles fell a victim to it; — three drops of oil with a feather, and a smart stroke of a hammer, had saved his honour for ever.
— Inconsistent soul that man is! — languishing under wounds, which he has the power to heal! — his whole life a contradiction to his knowledge! — his reason, that precious gift of God to him —(instead of pouring in oil) serving but to sharpen his sensibilities — to multiply his pains, and render him more melancholy and uneasy under them! — Poor unhappy creature, that he should do so! — Are not the necessary causes of misery in this life enow, but he must add voluntary ones to his stock of sorrow; — struggle against evils which cannot be avoided, and submit to others, which a tenth part of the trouble they create him would remove from his heart for ever?
By all that is good and virtuous, if there are three drops of oil to be got, and a hammer to be found within ten miles of Shandy Hall — the parlour door hinge shall be mended this reign.
When Corporal Trim had brought his two mortars to bear, he was delighted with his handy-work above measure; and knowing what a pleasure it would be to his master to see them, he was not able to resist the desire he had of carrying them directly into his parlour.
Now next to the moral lesson I had in view in mentioning the affair of hinges, I had a speculative consideration arising out of it, and it is this.
Had the parlour door opened and turn’d upon its hinges, as a door should do —
Or for example, as cleverly as our government has been turning upon its hinges —(that is, in case things have all along gone well with your worship — otherwise I give up my simile)— in this case, I say, there had been no danger either to master or man, in corporal Trim’s peeping in: the moment he had beheld my father and my uncle Toby fast asleep — the respectfulness of his carriage was such, he would have retired as silent as death, and left them both in their arm-chairs, dreaming as happy as he had found them: but the thing was, morally speaking, so very impracticable, that for the many years in which this hinge was suffered to be out of order, and amongst the hourly grievances my father submitted to upon its account — this was one; that he never folded his arms to take his nap after dinner, but the thoughts of being unavoidably awakened by the first person who should open the door, was always uppermost in his imagination, and so incessantly stepp’d in betwixt him and the first balmy presage of his repose, as to rob him, as he often declared, of the whole sweets of it.
‘When things move upon bad hinges, an’ please your lordships, how can it be otherwise?’
Pray what’s the matter? Who is there? cried my father, waking, the moment the door began to creak. — I wish the smith would give a peep at that confounded hinge. —’Tis nothing, an please your honour, said Trim, but two mortars I am bringing in. — They shan’t make a clatter with them here, cried my father hastily. — If Dr. Slop has any drugs to pound, let him do it in the kitchen. — May it please your honour, cried Trim, they are two mortar-pieces for a siege next summer, which I have been making out of a pair of jack-boots, which Obadiah told me your honour had left off wearing. — By Heaven! cried my father, springing out of his chair, as he swore — I have not one appointment belonging to me, which I set so much store by as I do by these jack-boots — they were our great grandfather’s brother Toby — they were hereditary. Then I fear, quoth my uncle Toby, Trim has cut off the entail. — I have only cut off the tops, an’ please your honour, cried Trim — I hate perpetuities as much as any man alive, cried my father — but these jack-boots, continued he (smiling, though very angry at the same time) have been in the family, brother, ever since the civil wars; — Sir Roger Shandy wore them at the battle of Marston-Moor. — I declare I would not have taken ten pounds for them. — I’ll pay you the money, brother Shandy, quoth my uncle Toby, looking at the two mortars with infinite pleasure, and putting his hand into his breeches pocket as he viewed them — I’ll pay you the ten pounds this moment with all my heart and soul. —
Brother Toby, replied my father, altering his tone, you care not what money you dissipate and throw away, provided, continued he, ’tis but upon a Siege. — Have I not one hundred and twenty pounds a year, besides my half pay? cried my uncle Toby. — What is that — replied my father hastily — to ten pounds for a pair of jack-boots? — twelve guineas for your pontoons? — half as much for your Dutch draw-bridge? — to say nothing of the train of little brass artillery you bespoke last week, with twenty other preparations for the siege of Messina: believe me, dear brother Toby, continued my father, taking him kindly by the hand — these military operations of yours are above your strength; — you mean well brother — but they carry you into greater expences than you were first aware of; — and take my word, dear Toby, they will in the end quite ruin your fortune, and make a beggar of you. — What signifies it if they do, brother, replied my uncle Toby, so long as we know ’tis for the good of the nation? —
My father could not help smiling for his soul — his anger at the worst was never more than a spark; — and the zeal and simplicity of Trim — and the generous (though hobby-horsical) gallantry of my uncle Toby, brought him into perfect good humour with them in an instant.
Generous souls! — God prosper you both, and your mortar-pieces too! quoth my father to himself.
All is quiet and hush, cried my father, at least above stairs — I hear not one foot stirring. — Prithee Trim, who’s in the kitchen? There is no one soul in the kitchen, answered Trim, making a low bow as he spoke, except Dr. Slop. — Confusion! cried my father (getting upon his legs a second time)— not one single thing has gone right this day! had I faith in astrology, brother, (which, by the bye, my father had) I would have sworn some retrograde planet was hanging over this unfortunate house of mine, and turning every individual thing in it out of its place. — Why, I thought Dr. Slop had been above stairs with my wife, and so said you. — What can the fellow be puzzling about in the kitchen! — He is busy, an’ please your honour, replied Trim, in making a bridge. —’Tis very obliging in him, quoth my uncle Toby:— pray, give my humble service to Dr. Slop, Trim, and tell him I thank him heartily.
You must know, my uncle Toby mistook the bridge — as widely as my father mistook the mortars:— but to understand how my uncle Toby could mistake the bridge — I fear I must give you an exact account of the road which led to it; — or to drop my metaphor (for there is nothing more dishonest in an historian than the use of one)— in order to conceive the probability of this error in my uncle Toby aright, I must give you some account of an adventure of Trim’s, though much against my will, I say much against my will, only because the story, in one sense, is certainly out of its place here; for by right it should come in, either amongst the anecdotes of my uncle Toby’s amours with widow Wadman, in which corporal Trim was no mean actor — or else in the middle of his and my uncle Toby’s campaigns on the bowling-green — for it will do very well in either place; — but then if I reserve it for either of those parts of my story — I ruin the story I’m upon; — and if I tell it here — I anticipate matters, and ruin it there.
— What would your worship have me to do in this case?
— Tell it, Mr Shandy, by all means. — You are a fool, Tristram, if you do.
O ye powers! (for powers ye are, and great ones too)— which enable mortal man to tell a story worth the hearing — that kindly shew him, where he is to begin it — and where he is to end it — what he is to put into it — and what he is to leave out — how much of it he is to cast into a shade — and whereabouts he is to throw his light! — Ye, who preside over this vast empire of biographical freebooters, and see how many scrapes and plunges your subjects hourly fall into; — will you do one thing?
I beg and beseech you (in case you will do nothing better for us) that wherever in any part of your dominions it so falls out, that three several roads meet in one point, as they have done just here — that at least you set up a guide-post in the centre of them, in mere charity, to direct an uncertain devil which of the three he is to take.
Tho’ the shock my uncle Toby received the year after the demolition of Dunkirk, in his affair with widow Wadman, had fixed him in a resolution never more to think of the sex — or of aught which belonged to it; — yet corporal Trim had made no such bargain with himself. Indeed in my uncle Toby’s case there was a strange and unaccountable concurrence of circumstances, which insensibly drew him in, to lay siege to that fair and strong citadel. — In Trim’s case there was a concurrence of nothing in the world, but of him and Bridget in the kitchen; — though in truth, the love and veneration he bore his master was such, and so fond was he of imitating him in all he did, that had my uncle Toby employed his time and genius in tagging of points — I am persuaded the honest corporal would have laid down his arms, and followed his example with pleasure. When therefore my uncle Toby sat down before the mistress — corporal Trim incontinently took ground before the maid.
Now, my dear friend Garrick, whom I have so much cause to esteem and honour —(why, or wherefore, ’tis no matter)— can it escape your penetration — I defy it — that so many play-wrights, and opificers of chit-chat have ever since been working upon Trim’s and my uncle Toby’s pattern. — I care not what Aristotle, or Pacuvius, or Bossu, or Ricaboni say —(though I never read one of them)— there is not a greater difference between a single-horse chair and madam Pompadour’s vis-a-vis; than betwixt a single amour, and an amour thus nobly doubled, and going upon all four, prancing throughout a grand drama — Sir, a simple, single, silly affair of that kind — is quite lost in five acts — but that is neither here nor there.
After a series of attacks and repulses in a course of nine months on my uncle Toby’s quarter, a most minute account of every particular of which shall be given in its proper place, my uncle Toby, honest man! found it necessary to draw off his forces and raise the siege somewhat indignantly.
Corporal Trim, as I said, had made no such bargain either with himself — or with any one else — the fidelity however of his heart not suffering him to go into a house which his master had forsaken with disgust — he contented himself with turning his part of the siege into a blockade; — that is, he kept others off; — for though he never after went to the house, yet he never met Bridget in the village, but he would either nod or wink, or smile, or look kindly at her — or (as circumstances directed) he would shake her by the hand — or ask her lovingly how she did — or would give her a ribbon — and now-and-then, though never but when it could be done with decorum, would give Bridget a. . . —
Precisely in this situation, did these things stand for five years; that is from the demolition of Dunkirk in the year 13, to the latter end of my uncle Toby’s campaign in the year 18, which was about six or seven weeks before the time I’m speaking of. — When Trim, as his custom was, after he had put my uncle Toby to bed, going down one moon-shiny night to see that every thing was right at his fortifications — in the lane separated from the bowling-green with flowering shrubs and holly — he espied his Bridget.
As the corporal thought there was nothing in the world so well worth shewing as the glorious works which he and my uncle Toby had made, Trim courteously and gallantly took her by the hand, and led her in: this was not done so privately, but that the foul-mouth’d trumpet of Fame carried it from ear to ear, till at length it reach’d my father’s, with this untoward circumstance along with it, that my uncle Toby’s curious draw-bridge, constructed and painted after the Dutch fashion, and which went quite across the ditch — was broke down, and somehow or other crushed all to pieces that very night.
My Father, as you have observed, had no great esteem for my uncle Toby’s hobby-horse; he thought it the most ridiculous horse that ever gentleman mounted; and indeed unless my uncle Toby vexed him about it, could never think of it once, without smiling at it — so that it could never get lame or happen any mischance, but it tickled my father’s imagination beyond measure; but this being an accident much more to his humour than any one which had yet befall’n it, it proved an inexhaustible fund of entertainment to him — Well — but dear Toby! my father would say, do tell me seriously how this affair of the bridge happened. — How can you teaze me so much about it? my uncle Toby would reply — I have told it you twenty times, word for word as Trim told it me. — Prithee, how was it then, corporal? my father would cry, turning to Trim. — It was a mere misfortune, an’ please your honour; — I was shewing Mrs. Bridget our fortifications, and in going too near the edge of the fosse, I unfortunately slipp’d in — Very well, Trim! my father would cry —(smiling mysteriously, and giving a nod — but without interrupting him)— and being link’d fast, an’ please your honour, arm in arm with Mrs. Bridget, I dragg’d her after me, by means of which she fell backwards soss against the bridge — and Trim’s foot (my uncle Toby would cry, taking the story out of his mouth) getting into the cuvette, he tumbled full against the bridge too. — It was a thousand to one, my uncle Toby would add, that the poor fellow did not break his leg. — Ay truly, my father would say — a limb is soon broke, brother Toby, in such encounters. — And so, an’ please your honour, the bridge, which your honour knows was a very slight one, was broke down betwixt us, and splintered all to pieces.
At other times, but especially when my uncle Toby was so unfortunate as to say a syllable about cannons, bombs, or petards — my father would exhaust all the stores of his eloquence (which indeed were very great) in a panegyric upon the Battering-Rams of the ancients — the Vinea which Alexander made use of at the siege of Troy. — He would tell my uncle Toby of the Catapultae of the Syrians, which threw such monstrous stones so many hundred feet, and shook the strongest bulwarks from their very foundation:— he would go on and describe the wonderful mechanism of the Ballista which Marcellinus makes so much rout about! — the terrible effects of the Pyraboli, which cast fire; — the danger of the Terebra and Scorpio, which cast javelins. — But what are these, would he say, to the destructive machinery of corporal Trim? — Believe me, brother Toby, no bridge, or bastion, or sally-port, that ever was constructed in this world, can hold out against such artillery.
My uncle Toby would never attempt any defence against the force of this ridicule, but that of redoubling the vehemence of smoaking his pipe; in doing which, he raised so dense a vapour one night after supper, that it set my father, who was a little phthisical, into a suffocating fit of violent coughing: my uncle Toby leap’d up without feeling the pain upon his groin — and, with infinite pity, stood beside his brother’s chair, tapping his back with one hand, and holding his head with the other, and from time to time wiping his eyes with a clean cambrick handkerchief, which he pulled out of his pocket. — The affectionate and endearing manner in which my uncle Toby did these little offices — cut my father thro’ his reins, for the pain he had just been giving him. — May my brains be knock’d out with a battering-ram or a catapulta, I care not which, quoth my father to himself — if ever I insult this worthy soul more!
The draw-bridge being held irreparable, Trim was ordered directly to set about another — but not upon the same model: for cardinal Alberoni’s intrigues at that time being discovered, and my uncle Toby rightly foreseeing that a flame would inevitably break out betwixt Spain and the Empire, and that the operations of the ensuing campaign must in all likelihood be either in Naples or Sicily — he determined upon an Italian bridge —(my uncle Toby, by-the-bye, was not far out of his conjectures)— but my father, who was infinitely the better politician, and took the lead as far of my uncle Toby in the cabinet, as my uncle Toby took it of him in the field — convinced him, that if the king of Spain and the Emperor went together by the ears, England and France and Holland must, by force of their pre-engagements, all enter the lists too; — and if so, he would say, the combatants, brother Toby, as sure as we are alive, will fall to it again, pell-mell, upon the old prize-fighting stage of Flanders; — then what will you do with your Italian bridge?
— We will go on with it then upon the old model, cried my uncle Toby.
When corporal Trim had about half finished it in that style — my uncle Toby found out a capital defect in it, which he had never thoroughly considered before. It turned, it seems, upon hinges at both ends of it, opening in the middle, one half of which turning to one side of the fosse, and the other to the other; the advantage of which was this, that by dividing the weight of the bridge into two equal portions, it impowered my uncle Toby to raise it up or let it down with the end of his crutch, and with one hand, which, as his garrison was weak, was as much as he could well spare — but the disadvantages of such a construction were insurmountable; — for by this means, he would say, I leave one half of my bridge in my enemy’s possession — and pray of what use is the other?
The natural remedy for this was, no doubt, to have his bridge fast only at one end with hinges, so that the whole might be lifted up together, and stand bolt upright — but that was rejected for the reason given above.
For a whole week after he was determined in his mind to have one of that particular construction which is made to draw back horizontally, to hinder a passage; and to thrust forwards again to gain a passage — of which sorts your worship might have seen three famous ones at Spires before its destruction — and one now at Brisac, if I mistake not; — but my father advising my uncle Toby, with great earnestness, to have nothing more to do with thrusting bridges — and my uncle foreseeing moreover that it would but perpetuate the memory of the Corporal’s misfortune — he changed his mind for that of the marquis d’Hopital’s invention, which the younger Bernouilli has so well and learnedly described, as your worships may see — Act. Erud. Lips. an. 1695 — to these a lead weight is an eternal balance, and keeps watch as well as a couple of centinels, inasmuch as the construction of them was a curve line approximating to a cycloid — if not a cycloid itself.
My uncle Toby understood the nature of a parabola as well as any man in England — but was not quite such a master of the cycloid; — he talked however about it every day — the bridge went not forwards. — We’ll ask somebody about it, cried my uncle Toby to Trim.
When Trim came in and told my father, that Dr. Slop was in the kitchen, and busy in making a bridge — my uncle Toby — the affair of the jack-boots having just then raised a train of military ideas in his brain — took it instantly for granted that Dr. Slop was making a model of the marquis d’Hopital’s bridge. —’tis very obliging in him, quoth my uncle Toby; — pray give my humble service to Dr. Slop, Trim, and tell him I thank him heartily.
Had my uncle Toby’s head been a Savoyard’s box, and my father peeping in all the time at one end of it — it could not have given him a more distinct conception of the operations of my uncle Toby’s imagination, than what he had; so, notwithstanding the catapulta and battering-ram, and his bitter imprecation about them, he was just beginning to triumph —
When Trim’s answer, in an instant, tore the laurel from his brows, and twisted it to pieces.
— This unfortunate draw-bridge of yours, quoth my father — God bless your honour, cried Trim, ’tis a bridge for master’s nose. — In bringing him into the world with his vile instruments, he has crushed his nose, Susannah says, as flat as a pancake to his face, and he is making a false bridge with a piece of cotton and a thin piece of whalebone out of Susannah’s stays, to raise it up.
— Lead me, brother Toby, cried my father, to my room this instant.
From the first moment I sat down to write my life for the amusement of the world, and my opinions for its instruction, has a cloud insensibly been gathering over my father. — A tide of little evils and distresses has been setting in against him. — Not one thing, as he observed himself, has gone right: and now is the storm thicken’d and going to break, and pour down full upon his head.
I enter upon this part of my story in the most pensive and melancholy frame of mind that ever sympathetic breast was touched with. — My nerves relax as I tell it. — Every line I write, I feel an abatement of the quickness of my pulse, and of that careless alacrity with it, which every day of my life prompts me to say and write a thousand things I should not — And this moment that I last dipp’d my pen into my ink, I could not help taking notice what a cautious air of sad composure and solemnity there appear’d in my manner of doing it. — Lord! how different from the rash jerks and hair-brain’d squirts thou art wont, Tristram, to transact it with in other humours — dropping thy pen — spurting thy ink about thy table and thy books — as if thy pen and thy ink, thy books and furniture cost thee nothing!
— I won’t go about to argue the point with you —’tis so — and I am persuaded of it, madam, as much as can be, ‘That both man and woman bear pain or sorrow (and, for aught I know, pleasure too) best in a horizontal position.’
The moment my father got up into his chamber, he threw himself prostrate across his bed in the wildest disorder imaginable, but at the same time in the most lamentable attitude of a man borne down with sorrows, that ever the eye of pity dropp’d a tear for. — The palm of his right hand, as he fell upon the bed, receiving his forehead, and covering the greatest part of both his eyes, gently sunk down with his head (his elbow giving way backwards) till his nose touch’d the quilt; — his left arm hung insensible over the side of the bed, his knuckles reclining upon the handle of the chamber-pot, which peep’d out beyond the valance — his right leg (his left being drawn up towards his body) hung half over the side of the bed, the edge of it pressing upon his shin bone — He felt it not. A fix’d, inflexible sorrow took possession of every line of his face. — He sigh’d once — heaved his breast often — but uttered not a word.
An old set-stitch’d chair, valanced and fringed around with party coloured worsted bobs, stood at the bed’s head, opposite to the side where my father’s head reclined. — My uncle Toby sat him down in it.
Before an affliction is digested — consolation ever comes too soon; — and after it is digested — it comes too late: so that you see, madam, there is but a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to take aim at:— my uncle Toby was always either on this side, or on that of it, and would often say, he believed in his heart he could as soon hit the longitude; for this reason, when he sat down in the chair, he drew the curtain a little forwards, and having a tear at every one’s service — he pull’d out a cambrick handkerchief — gave a low sigh — but held his peace.
—‘All is not gain that is got into the purse.’— So that notwithstanding my father had the happiness of reading the oddest books in the universe, and had moreover, in himself, the oddest way of thinking that ever man in it was bless’d with, yet it had this drawback upon him after all — that it laid him open to some of the oddest and most whimsical distresses; of which this particular one, which he sunk under at present, is as strong an example as can be given.
No doubt, the breaking down of the bridge of a child’s nose, by the edge of a pair of forceps — however scientifically applied — would vex any man in the world, who was at so much pains in begetting a child, as my father was — yet it will not account for the extravagance of his affliction, nor will it justify the un-christian manner he abandoned and surrendered himself up to.
To explain this, I must leave him upon the bed for half an hour — and my uncle Toby in his old fringed chair sitting beside him.
— I think it a very unreasonable demand — cried my great-grandfather, twisting up the paper, and throwing it upon the table. — By this account, madam, you have but two thousand pounds fortune, and not a shilling more — and you insist upon having three hundred pounds a year jointure for it. —
—‘Because,’ replied my great-grandmother, ‘you have little or no nose, Sir.’—
Now before I venture to make use of the word Nose a second time — to avoid all confusion in what will be said upon it, in this interesting part of my story, it may not be amiss to explain my own meaning, and define, with all possible exactness and precision, what I would willingly be understood to mean by the term: being of opinion, that ’tis owing to the negligence and perverseness of writers in despising this precaution, and to nothing else — that all the polemical writings in divinity are not as clear and demonstrative as those upon a Will o’ the Wisp, or any other sound part of philosophy, and natural pursuit; in order to which, what have you to do, before you set out, unless you intend to go puzzling on to the day of judgment — but to give the world a good definition, and stand to it, of the main word you have most occasion for — changing it, Sir, as you would a guinea, into small coin? — which done — let the father of confusion puzzle you, if he can; or put a different idea either into your head, or your reader’s head, if he knows how.
In books of strict morality and close reasoning, such as I am engaged in — the neglect is inexcusable; and Heaven is witness, how the world has revenged itself upon me for leaving so many openings to equivocal strictures — and for depending so much as I have done, all along, upon the cleanliness of my readers imaginations.
— Here are two senses, cried Eugenius, as we walk’d along, pointing with the fore finger of his right hand to the word Crevice, in the one hundred and seventy-eighth page of the first volume of this book of books — here are two senses — quoth he. — And here are two roads, replied I, turning short upon him — a dirty and a clean one — which shall we take? — The clean, by all means, replied Eugenius. Eugenius, said I, stepping before him, and laying my hand upon his breast — to define — is to distrust. — Thus I triumph’d over Eugenius; but I triumph’d over him as I always do, like a fool. —’Tis my comfort, however, I am not an obstinate one: therefore
I define a nose as follows — intreating only beforehand, and beseeching my readers, both male and female, of what age, complexion, and condition soever, for the love of God and their own souls, to guard against the temptations and suggestions of the devil, and suffer him by no art or wile to put any other ideas into their minds, than what I put into my definition — For by the word Nose, throughout all this long chapter of noses, and in every other part of my work, where the word Nose occurs — I declare, by that word I mean a nose, and nothing more, or less.
—‘Because,’ quoth my great grandmother, repeating the words again —‘you have little or no nose, Sir.’—
S’death! cried my great-grandfather, clapping his hand upon his nose — ’tis not so small as that comes to; —’tis a full inch longer than my father’s. — Now, my great-grandfather’s nose was for all the world like unto the noses of all the men, women, and children, whom Pantagruel found dwelling upon the island of Ennasin. — By the way, if you would know the strange way of getting a-kin amongst so flat-nosed a people — you must read the book; — find it out yourself, you never can. —
—’Twas shaped, Sir, like an ace of clubs.
—’Tis a full inch, continued my grandfather, pressing up the ridge of his nose with his finger and thumb; and repeating his assertion —’tis a full inch longer, madam, than my father’s — You must mean your uncle’s, replied my great-grandmother.
— My great-grandfather was convinced. — He untwisted the paper, and signed the article.
— What an unconscionable jointure, my dear, do we pay out of this small estate of ours, quoth my grandmother to my grandfather.
My father, replied my grandfather, had no more nose, my dear, saving the mark, than there is upon the back of my hand.
— Now, you must know, that my great-grandmother outlived my grandfather twelve years; so that my father had the jointure to pay, a hundred and fifty pounds half-yearly —(on Michaelmas and Lady-day,)— during all that time.
No man discharged pecuniary obligations with a better grace than my father. — And as far as a hundred pounds went, he would fling it upon the table, guinea by guinea, with that spirited jerk of an honest welcome, which generous souls, and generous souls only, are able to fling down money: but as soon as ever he enter’d upon the odd fifty — he generally gave a loud Hem! rubb’d the side of his nose leisurely with the flat part of his fore finger — inserted his hand cautiously betwixt his head and the cawl of his wig — look’d at both sides of every guinea as he parted with it — and seldom could get to the end of the fifty pounds, without pulling out his handkerchief, and wiping his temples.
Defend me, gracious Heaven! from those persecuting spirits who make no allowances for these workings within us. — Never — O never may I lay down in their tents, who cannot relax the engine, and feel pity for the force of education, and the prevalence of opinions long derived from ancestors!
For three generations at least this tenet in favour of long noses had gradually been taking root in our family. — Tradition was all along on its side, and Interest was every half-year stepping in to strengthen it; so that the whimsicality of my father’s brain was far from having the whole honour of this, as it had of almost all his other strange notions. — For in a great measure he might be said to have suck’d this in with his mother’s milk. He did his part however. — If education planted the mistake (in case it was one) my father watered it, and ripened it to perfection.
He would often declare, in speaking his thoughts upon the subject, that he did not conceive how the greatest family in England could stand it out against an uninterrupted succession of six or seven short noses. — And for the contrary reason, he would generally add, That it must be one of the greatest problems in civil life, where the same number of long and jolly noses, following one another in a direct line, did not raise and hoist it up into the best vacancies in the kingdom. — He would often boast that the Shandy family rank’d very high in king Harry the VIIIth’s time, but owed its rise to no state engine — he would say — but to that only; — but that, like other families, he would add — it had felt the turn of the wheel, and had never recovered the blow of my great-grandfather’s nose. — It was an ace of clubs indeed, he would cry, shaking his head — and as vile a one for an unfortunate family as ever turn’d up trumps.
— Fair and softly, gentle reader! — where is thy fancy carrying thee! — If there is truth in man, by my great-grandfather’s nose, I mean the external organ of smelling, or that part of man which stands prominent in his face — and which painters say, in good jolly noses and well-proportioned faces, should comprehend a full third — that is, measured downwards from the setting on of the hair.
— What a life of it has an author, at this pass!
It is a singular blessing, that nature has form’d the mind of man with the same happy backwardness and renitency against conviction, which is observed in old dogs —‘of not learning new tricks.’
What a shuttlecock of a fellow would the greatest philosopher that ever existed be whisk’d into at once, did he read such books, and observe such facts, and think such thoughts, as would eternally be making him change sides!
Now, my father, as I told you last year, detested all this — He pick’d up an opinion, Sir, as a man in a state of nature picks up an apple. — It becomes his own — and if he is a man of spirit, he would lose his life rather than give it up.
I am aware that Didius, the great civilian, will contest this point; and cry out against me, Whence comes this man’s right to this apple? ex confesso, he will say — things were in a state of nature — The apple, is as much Frank’s apple as John’s. Pray, Mr. Shandy, what patent has he to shew for it? and how did it begin to be his? was it, when he set his heart upon it? or when he gathered it? or when he chew’d it? or when he roasted it? or when he peel’d, or when he brought it home? or when he digested? — or when he —? — For ’tis plain, Sir, if the first picking up of the apple, made it not his — that no subsequent act could.
Brother Didius, Tribonius will answer —(now Tribonius the civilian and church lawyer’s beard being three inches and a half and three eighths longer than Didius his beard — I’m glad he takes up the cudgels for me, so I give myself no farther trouble about the answer.)— Brother Didius, Tribonius will say, it is a decreed case, as you may find it in the fragments of Gregorius and Hermogines’s codes, and in all the codes from Justinian’s down to the codes of Louis and Des Eaux — That the sweat of a man’s brows, and the exsudations of a man’s brains, are as much a man’s own property as the breeches upon his backside; — which said exsudations, &c. being dropp’d upon the said apple by the labour of finding it, and picking it up; and being moreover indissolubly wasted, and as indissolubly annex’d, by the picker up, to the thing pick’d up, carried home, roasted, peel’d, eaten, digested, and so on; —’tis evident that the gatherer of the apple, in so doing, has mix’d up something which was his own, with the apple which was not his own, by which means he has acquired a property; — or, in other words, the apple is John’s apple.
By the same learned chain of reasoning my father stood up for all his opinions; he had spared no pains in picking them up, and the more they lay out of the common way, the better still was his title. — No mortal claimed them; they had cost him moreover as much labour in cooking and digesting as in the case above, so that they might well and truly be said to be of his own goods and chattels. — Accordingly he held fast by ’em, both by teeth and claws — would fly to whatever he could lay his hands on — and, in a word, would intrench and fortify them round with as many circumvallations and breast-works, as my uncle Toby would a citadel.
There was one plaguy rub in the way of this — the scarcity of materials to make any thing of a defence with, in case of a smart attack; inasmuch as few men of great genius had exercised their parts in writing books upon the subject of great noses: by the trotting of my lean horse, the thing is incredible! and I am quite lost in my understanding, when I am considering what a treasure of precious time and talents together has been wasted upon worse subjects — and how many millions of books in all languages and in all possible types and bindings, have been fabricated upon points not half so much tending to the unity and peace-making of the world. What was to be had, however, he set the greater store by; and though my father would oft-times sport with my uncle Toby’s library — which, by-the-bye, was ridiculous enough — yet at the very same time he did it, he collected every book and treatise which had been systematically wrote upon noses, with as much care as my honest uncle Toby had done those upon military architecture. —’Tis true, a much less table would have held them — but that was not thy transgression, my dear uncle. —
Here — but why here — rather than in any other part of my story — I am not able to tell:— but here it is — my heart stops me to pay to thee, my dear uncle Toby, once for all, the tribute I owe thy goodness. — Here let me thrust my chair aside, and kneel down upon the ground, whilst I am pouring forth the warmest sentiment of love for thee, and veneration for the excellency of thy character, that ever virtue and nature kindled in a nephew’s bosom. — Peace and comfort rest for evermore upon thy head! — Thou enviedst no man’s comforts — insultedst no man’s opinions — Thou blackenedst no man’s character — devouredst no man’s bread: gently, with faithful Trim behind thee, didst thou amble round the little circle of thy pleasures, jostling no creature in thy way:— for each one’s sorrows, thou hadst a tear — for each man’s need, thou hadst a shilling.
Whilst I am worth one, to pay a weeder — thy path from thy door to thy bowling-green shall never be grown up. — Whilst there is a rood and a half of land in the Shandy family, thy fortifications, my dear uncle Toby, shall never be demolish’d.
My father’s collection was not great, but to make amends, it was curious; and consequently he was some time in making it; he had the great good fortune hewever, to set off well, in getting Bruscambille’s prologue upon long noses, almost for nothing — for he gave no more for Bruscambille than three half-crowns; owing indeed to the strong fancy which the stall-man saw my father had for the book the moment he laid his hands upon it. — There are not three Bruscambilles in Christendom — said the stall-man, except what are chain’d up in the libraries of the curious. My father flung down the money as quick as lightning — took Bruscambille into his bosom — hied home from Piccadilly to Coleman-street with it, as he would have hied home with a treasure, without taking his hand once off from Bruscambille all the way.
To those who do not yet know of which gender Bruscambille is — inasmuch as a prologue upon long noses might easily be done by either —’twill be no objection against the simile — to say, That when my father got home, he solaced himself with Bruscambille after the manner in which, ’tis ten to one, your worship solaced yourself with your first mistress — that is, from morning even unto night: which, by-the-bye, how delightful soever it may prove to the inamorato — is of little or no entertainment at all to by-standers. — Take notice, I go no farther with the simile — my father’s eye was greater than his appetite — his zeal greater than his knowledge — he cool’d — his affections became divided — he got hold of Prignitz — purchased Scroderus, Andrea Paraeus, Bouchet’s Evening Conferences, and above all, the great and learned Hafen Slawkenbergius; of which, as I shall have much to say by-and-bye — I will say nothing now.
Of all the tracts my father was at the pains to procure and study in support of his hypothesis, there was not any one wherein he felt a more cruel disappointment at first, than in the celebrated dialogue between Pamphagus and Cocles, written by the chaste pen of the great and venerable Erasmus, upon the various uses and seasonable applications of long noses. — Now don’t let Satan, my dear girl, in this chapter, take advantage of any one spot of rising ground to get astride of your imagination, if you can any ways help it; or if he is so nimble as to slip on — let me beg of you, like an unback’d filly, to frisk it, to squirt it, to jump it, to rear it, to bound it — and to kick it, with long kicks and short kicks, till like Tickletoby’s mare, you break a strap or a crupper, and throw his worship into the dirt. — You need not kill him. —
— And pray who was Tickletoby’s mare? —’tis just as discreditable and unscholar-like a question, Sir, as to have asked what year (ab. urb. con.) the second Punic war broke out. — Who was Tickletoby’s mare! — Read, read, read, read, my unlearned reader! read — or by the knowledge of the great saint Paraleipomenon — I tell you before-hand, you had better throw down the book at once; for without much reading, by which your reverence knows I mean much knowledge, you will no more be able to penetrate the moral of the next marbled page (motley emblem of my work!) than the world with all its sagacity has been able to unravel the many opinions, transactions, and truths which still lie mystically hid under the dark veil of the black one.
(two marble plates)
‘Nihil me paenitet hujus nasi,’ quoth Pamphagus; — that is —‘My nose has been the making of me.’—‘Nec est cur poeniteat,’ replies Cocles; that is, ‘How the duce should such a nose fail?’
The doctrine, you see, was laid down by Erasmus, as my father wished it, with the utmost plainness; but my father’s disappointment was, in finding nothing more from so able a pen, but the bare fact itself; without any of that speculative subtilty or ambidexterity of argumentation upon it, which Heaven had bestow’d upon man on purpose to investigate truth, and fight for her on all sides. — My father pish’d and pugh’d at first most terribly —’tis worth something to have a good name. As the dialogue was of Erasmus, my father soon came to himself, and read it over and over again with great application, studying every word and every syllable of it thro’ and thro’ in its most strict and literal interpretation — he could still make nothing of it, that way. Mayhap there is more meant, than is said in it, quoth my father. — Learned men, brother Toby, don’t write dialogues upon long noses for nothing. — I’ll study the mystick and the allegorick sense — here is some room to turn a man’s self in, brother.
My father read on. —
Now I find it needful to inform your reverences and worships, that besides the many nautical uses of long noses enumerated by Erasmus, the dialogist affirmeth that a long nose is not without its domestic conveniences also; for that in a case of distress — and for want of a pair of bellows, it will do excellently well, ad ixcitandum focum (to stir up the fire.)
Nature had been prodigal in her gifts to my father beyond measure, and had sown the seeds of verbal criticism as deep within him, as she had done the seeds of all other knowledge — so that he had got out his penknife, and was trying experiments upon the sentence, to see if he could not scratch some better sense into it. — I’ve got within a single letter, brother Toby, cried my father, of Erasmus his mystic meaning. — You are near enough, brother, replied my uncle, in all conscience. — Pshaw! cried my father, scratching on — I might as well be seven miles off. — I’ve done it — said my father, snapping his fingers — See, my dear brother Toby, how I have mended the sense. — But you have marr’d a word, replied my uncle Toby. — My father put on his spectacles — bit his lip — and tore out the leaf in a passion.
O Slawkenbergius! thou faithful analyzer of my Disgrazias — thou sad foreteller of so many of the whips and short turns which on one stage or other of my life have come slap upon me from the shortness of my nose, and no other cause, that I am conscious of. — Tell me, Slawkenbergius! what secret impulse was it? what intonation of voice? whence came it? how did it sound in thy ears? — art thou sure thou heard’st it? — which first cried out to thee — go — go, Slawkenbergius! dedicate the labours of thy life — neglect thy pastimes — call forth all the powers and faculties of thy nature — macerate thyself in the service of mankind, and write a grand Folio for them, upon the subject of their noses.
How the communication was conveyed into Slawkenbergius’s sensorium — so that Slawkenbergius should know whose finger touch’d the key — and whose hand it was that blew the bellows — as Hafen Slawkenbergius has been dead and laid in his grave above fourscore and ten years — we can only raise conjectures.
Slawkenbergius was play’d upon, for aught I know, like one of Whitefield’s disciples — that is, with such a distinct intelligence, Sir, of which of the two masters it was that had been practising upon his instrument — as to make all reasoning upon it needless.
— For in the account which Hafen Slawkenbergius gives the world of his motives and occasions for writing, and spending so many years of his life upon this one work — towards the end of his prolegomena, which by-the-bye should have come first — but the bookbinder has most injudiciously placed it betwixt the analytical contents of the book, and the book itself — he informs his reader, that ever since he had arrived at the age of discernment, and was able to sit down cooly, and consider within himself the true state and condition of man, and distinguish the main end and design of his being; — or — to shorten my translation, for Slawkenbergius’s book is in Latin, and not a little prolix in this passage — ever since I understood, quoth Slawkenbergius, any thing — or rather what was what — and could perceive that the point of long noses had been too loosely handled by all who had gone before; — have I Slawkenbergius, felt a strong impulse, with a mighty and unresistible call within me, to gird up myself to this undertaking.
And to do justice to Slawkenbergius, he has entered the list with a stronger lance, and taken a much larger career in it than any one man who had ever entered it before him — and indeed, in many respects, deserves to be en-nich’d as a prototype for all writers, of voluminous works at least, to model their books by — for he has taken in, Sir, the whole subject — examined every part of it dialectically — then brought it into full day; dilucidating it with all the light which either the collision of his own natural parts could strike — or the profoundest knowledge of the sciences had impowered him to cast upon it — collating, collecting, and compiling — begging, borrowing, and stealing, as he went along, all that had been wrote or wrangled thereupon in the schools and porticos of the learned: so that Slawkenbergius his book may properly be considered, not only as a model — but as a thorough-stitched Digest and regular institute of noses, comprehending in it all that is or can be needful to be known about them.
For this cause it is that I forbear to speak of so many (otherwise) valuable books and treatises of my father’s collecting, wrote either, plump upon noses — or collaterally touching them; — such for instance as Prignitz, now lying upon the table before me, who with infinite learning, and from the most candid and scholar-like examination of above four thousand different skulls, in upwards of twenty charnel-houses in Silesia, which he had rummaged — has informed us, that the mensuration and configuration of the osseous or bony parts of human noses, in any given tract of country, except Crim Tartary, where they are all crush’d down by the thumb, so that no judgment can be formed upon them — are much nearer alike, than the world imagines; — the difference amongst them being, he says, a mere trifle, not worth taking notice of; — but that the size and jollity of every individual nose, and by which one nose ranks above another, and bears a higher price, is owing to the cartilaginous and muscular parts of it, into whose ducts and sinuses the blood and animal spirits being impell’d and driven by the warmth and force of the imagination, which is but a step from it (bating the case of idiots, whom Prignitz, who had lived many years in Turky, supposes under the more immediate tutelage of Heaven)— it so happens, and ever must, says Prignitz, that the excellency of the nose is in a direct arithmetical proportion to the excellency of the wearer’s fancy.
It is for the same reason, that is, because ’tis all comprehended in Slawkenbergius, that I say nothing likewise of Scroderus (Andrea) who, all the world knows, set himself to oppugn Prignitz with great violence — proving it in his own way, first logically, and then by a series of stubborn facts, ‘That so far was Prignitz from the truth, in affirming that the fancy begat the nose, that on the contrary — the nose begat the fancy.’
— The learned suspected Scroderus of an indecent sophism in this — and Prignitz cried out aloud in the dispute, that Scroderus had shifted the idea upon him — but Scroderus went on, maintaining his thesis.
My Father was just balancing within himself, which of the two sides he should take in this affair; when Ambrose Paraeus decided it in a moment, and by overthrowing the systems, both of Prignitz and Scroderus, drove my father out of both sides of the controversy at once.
Be witness —
I don’t acquaint the learned reader — in saying it, I mention it only to shew the learned, I know the fact myself —
That this Ambrose Paraeus was chief surgeon and nose-mender to Francis the ninth of France, and in high credit with him and the two preceding, or succeeding kings (I know not which)— and that, except in the slip he made in his story of Taliacotius’s noses, and his manner of setting them on — he was esteemed by the whole college of physicians at that time, as more knowing in matters of noses, than any one who had ever taken them in hand.
Now Ambrose Paraeus convinced my father, that the true and efficient cause of what had engaged so much the attention of the world, and upon which Prignitz and Scroderus had wasted so much learning and fine parts — was neither this nor that — but that the length and goodness of the nose was owing simply to the softness and flaccidity in the nurse’s breast — as the flatness and shortness of puisne noses was to the firmness and elastic repulsion of the same organ of nutrition in the hale and lively — which, tho’ happy for the woman, was the undoing of the child, inasmuch as his nose was so snubb’d, so rebuff’d, so rebated, and so refrigerated thereby, as never to arrive ad mensuram suam legitimam; — but that in case of the flaccidity and softness of the nurse or mother’s breast — by sinking into it, quoth Paraeus, as into so much butter, the nose was comforted, nourish’d, plump’d up, refresh’d, refocillated, and set a growing for ever.
I have but two things to observe of Paraeus; first, That he proves and explains all this with the utmost chastity and decorum of expression:— for which may his soul for ever rest in peace!
And, secondly, that besides the systems of Prignitz and Scroderus, which Ambrose Paraeus his hypothesis effectually overthrew — it overthrew at the same time the system of peace and harmony of our family; and for three days together, not only embroiled matters between my father and my mother, but turn’d likewise the whole house and every thing in it, except my uncle Toby, quite upside down.
Such a ridiculous tale of a dispute between a man and his wife, never surely in any age or country got vent through the key-hole of a street-door.
My mother, you must know — but I have fifty things more necessary to let you know first — I have a hundred difficulties which I have promised to clear up, and a thousand distresses and domestick misadventures crowding in upon me thick and threefold, one upon the neck of another. A cow broke in (tomorrow morning) to my uncle Toby’s fortifications, and eat up two rations and a half of dried grass, tearing up the sods with it, which faced his horn-work and covered way. — Trim insists upon being tried by a court-martial — the cow to be shot — Slop to be crucifix’d — myself to be tristram’d and at my very baptism made a martyr of; — poor unhappy devils that we all are! — I want swaddling — but there is no time to be lost in exclamations — I have left my father lying across his bed, and my uncle Toby in his old fringed chair, sitting beside him, and promised I would go back to them in half an hour; and five-and-thirty minutes are laps’d already. — Of all the perplexities a mortal author was ever seen in — this certainly is the greatest, for I have Hafen Slawkenbergius’s folio, Sir, to finish — a dialogue between my father and my uncle Toby, upon the solution of Prignitz, Scroderus, Ambrose Paraeus, Panocrates, and Grangousier to relate — a tale out of Slawkenbergius to translate, and all this in five minutes less than no time at all; — such a head! — would to Heaven my enemies only saw the inside of it!
There was not any one scene more entertaining in our family — and to do it justice in this point; — and I here put off my cap and lay it upon the table close beside my ink-horn, on purpose to make my declaration to the world concerning this one article the more solemn — that I believe in my soul (unless my love and partiality to my understanding blinds me) the hand of the supreme Maker and first Designer of all things never made or put a family together (in that period at least of it which I have sat down to write the story of)— where the characters of it were cast or contrasted with so dramatick a felicity as ours was, for this end; or in which the capacities of affording such exquisite scenes, and the powers of shifting them perpetually from morning to night, were lodged and instrusted with so unlimited a confidence, as in the Shandy Family.
Not any one of these was more diverting, I say, in this whimsical theatre of ours — than what frequently arose out of this self-same chapter of long noses — especially when my father’s imagination was heated with the enquiry, and nothing would serve him but to heat my uncle Toby’s too.
My uncle Toby would give my father all possible fair play in this attempt; and with infinite patience would sit smoking his pipe for whole hours together, whilst my father was practising upon his head, and trying every accessible avenue to drive Prignitz and Scroderus’s solutions into it.
Whether they were above my uncle Toby’s reason — or contrary to it — or that his brain was like damp timber, and no spark could possibly take hold — or that it was so full of saps, mines, blinds, curtins, and such military disqualifications to his seeing clearly into Prignitz and Scroderus’s doctrines — I say not — let schoolmen — scullions, anatomists, and engineers, fight for it among themselves —
’Twas some misfortune, I make no doubt, in this affair, that my father had every word of it to translate for the benefit of my uncle Toby, and render out of Slawkenbergius’s Latin, of which, as he was no great master, his translation was not always of the purest — and generally least so where ’twas most wanted. — This naturally open’d a door to a second misfortune; — that in the warmer paroxysms of his zeal to open my uncle Toby’s eyes — my father’s ideas ran on as much faster than the translation, as the translation outmoved my uncle Toby’s — neither the one or the other added much to the perspicuity of my father’s lecture.
The gift of ratiocination and making syllogisms — I mean in man — for in superior classes of being, such as angels and spirits —’tis all done, may it please your worships, as they tell me, by Intuition; — and beings inferior, as your worships all know — syllogize by their noses: though there is an island swimming in the sea (though not altogether at its ease) whose inhabitants, if my intelligence deceives me not, are so wonderfully gifted, as to syllogize after the same fashion, and oft-times to make very well out too:— but that’s neither here nor there —
The gift of doing it as it should be, amongst us, or — the great and principal act of ratiocination in man, as logicians tell us, is the finding out the agreement or disagreement of two ideas one with another, by the intervention of a third (called the medius terminus); just as a man, as Locke well observes, by a yard, finds two mens nine-pin-alleys to be of the same length, which could not be brought together, to measure their equality, by juxta-position.
Had the same great reasoner looked on, as my father illustrated his systems of noses, and observed my uncle Toby’s deportment — what great attention he gave to every word — and as oft as he took his pipe from his mouth, with what wonderful seriousness he contemplated the length of it — surveying it transversely as he held it betwixt his finger and his thumb — then fore-right — then this way, and then that, in all its possible directions and fore-shortenings — he would have concluded my uncle Toby had got hold of the medius terminus, and was syllogizing and measuring with it the truth of each hypothesis of long noses, in order, as my father laid them before him. This, by-the-bye, was more than my father wanted — his aim in all the pains he was at in these philosophick lectures — was to enable my uncle Toby not to discuss — but comprehend — to hold the grains and scruples of learning — not to weigh them. — My uncle Toby, as you will read in the next chapter, did neither the one or the other.
’Tis a pity, cried my father one winter’s night, after a three hours painful translation of Slawkenbergius —’tis a pity, cried my father, putting my mother’s threadpaper into the book for a mark, as he spoke — that truth, brother Toby, should shut herself up in such impregnable fastnesses, and be so obstinate as not to surrender herself sometimes up upon the closest siege. —
Now it happened then, as indeed it had often done before, that my uncle Toby’s fancy, during the time of my father’s explanation of Prignitz to him — having nothing to stay it there, had taken a short flight to the bowling-green; — his body might as well have taken a turn there too — so that with all the semblance of a deep school-man intent upon the medius terminus — my uncle Toby was in fact as ignorant of the whole lecture, and all its pros and cons, as if my father had been translating Hafen Slawkenbergius from the Latin tongue into the Cherokee. But the word siege, like a talismanic power, in my father’s metaphor, wafting back my uncle Toby’s fancy, quick as a note could follow the touch — he open’d his ears — and my father observing that he took his pipe out of his mouth, and shuffled his chair nearer the table, as with a desire to profit — my father with great pleasure began his sentence again — changing only the plan, and dropping the metaphor of the siege of it, to keep clear of some dangers my father apprehended from it.
’Tis a pity, said my father, that truth can only be on one side, brother Toby — considering what ingenuity these learned men have all shewn in their solutions of noses. — Can noses be dissolved? replied my uncle Toby.
— My father thrust back his chair — rose up — put on his hat — took four long strides to the door — jerked it open — thrust his head half way out — shut the door again — took no notice of the bad hinge — returned to the table — pluck’d my mother’s thread-paper out of Slawkenbergius’s book — went hastily to his bureau — walked slowly back — twisted my mother’s thread-paper about his thumb — unbutton’d his waistcoat — threw my mother’s thread-paper into the fire — bit her sattin pin-cushion in two, fill’d his mouth with bran — confounded it; — but mark! — the oath of confusion was levell’d at my uncle Toby’s brain — which was e’en confused enough already — the curse came charged only with the bran — the bran, may it please your honours, was no more than powder to the ball.
’Twas well my father’s passions lasted not long; for so long as they did last, they led him a busy life on’t; and it is one of the most unaccountable problems that ever I met with in my observations of human nature, that nothing should prove my father’s mettle so much, or make his passions go off so like gun-powder, as the unexpected strokes his science met with from the quaint simplicity of my uncle Toby’s questions. — Had ten dozen of hornets stung him behind in so many different places all at one time — he could not have exerted more mechanical functions in fewer seconds — or started half so much, as with one single quaere of three words unseasonably popping in full upon him in his hobby-horsical career.
’Twas all one to my uncle Toby — he smoked his pipe on with unvaried composure — his heart never intended offence to his brother — and as his head could seldom find out where the sting of it lay — he always gave my father the credit of cooling by himself. — He was five minutes and thirty-five seconds about it in the present case.
By all that’s good! said my father, swearing, as he came to himself, and taking the oath out of Ernulphus’s digest of curses —(though to do my father justice it was a fault (as he told Dr. Slop in the affair of Ernulphus) which he as seldom committed as any man upon earth)— By all that’s good and great! brother Toby, said my father, if it was not for the aids of philosophy, which befriend one so much as they do — you would put a man beside all temper. — Why, by the solutions of noses, of which I was telling you, I meant, as you might have known, had you favoured me with one grain of attention, the various accounts which learned men of different kinds of knowledge have given the world of the causes of short and long noses. — There is no cause but one, replied my uncle Toby — why one man’s nose is longer than another’s, but because that God pleases to have it so. — That is Grangousier’s solution, said my father. —’Tis he, continued my uncle Toby, looking up, and not regarding my father’s interruption, who makes us all, and frames and puts us together in such forms and proportions, and for such ends, as is agreeable to his infinite wisdom,. — ’Tis a pious account, cried my father, but not philosophical — there is more religion in it than sound science. ’Twas no inconsistent part of my uncle Toby’s character — that he feared God, and reverenced religion. — So the moment my father finished his remark — my uncle Toby fell a whistling Lillabullero with more zeal (though more out of tune) than usual. —
What is become of my wife’s thread-paper?
No matter — as an appendage to seamstressy, the thread-paper might be of some consequence to my mother — of none to my father, as a mark in Slawkenbergius. Slawkenbergius in every page of him was a rich treasure of inexhaustible knowledge to my father — he could not open him amiss; and he would often say in closing the book, that if all the arts and sciences in the world, with the books which treated of them, were lost — should the wisdom and policies of governments, he would say, through disuse, ever happen to be forgot, and all that statesmen had wrote or caused to be written, upon the strong or the weak sides of courts and kingdoms, should they be forgot also — and Slawkenbergius only left — there would be enough in him in all conscience, he would say, to set the world a-going again. A treasure therefore was he indeed! an institute of all that was necessary to be known of noses, and every thing else — at matin, noon, and vespers was Hafen Slawkenbergius his recreation and delight: ’twas for ever in his hands — you would have sworn, Sir, it had been a canon’s prayer-book — so worn, so glazed, so contrited and attrited was it with fingers and with thumbs in all its parts, from one end even unto the other.
I am not such a bigot to Slawkenbergius as my father; — there is a fund in him, no doubt: but in my opinion, the best, I don’t say the most profitable, but the most amusing part of Hafen Slawkenbergius, is his tales — and, considering he was a German, many of them told not without fancy:— these take up his second book, containing nearly one half of his folio, and are comprehended in ten decads, each decad containing ten tales — Philosophy is not built upon tales; and therefore ’twas certainly wrong in Slawkenbergius to send them into the world by that name! — there are a few of them in his eighth, ninth, and tenth decads, which I own seem rather playful and sportive, than speculative — but in general they are to be looked upon by the learned as a detail of so many independent facts, all of them turning round somehow or other upon the main hinges of his subject, and added to his work as so many illustrations upon the doctrines of noses.
As we have leisure enough upon our hands — if you give me leave, madam, I’ll tell you the ninth tale of his tenth decad.
Slawkenbergii Fabella (As Hafen Slawkenbergius de Nasis is extremely scarce, it may not be unacceptable to the learned reader to see the specimen of a few pages of his original; I will make no reflection upon it, but that his story-telling Latin is much more concise than his philosophic — and, I think, has more of Latinity in it.)
Vespera quadam frigidula, posteriori in parte mensis Augusti, peregrinus, mulo fusco colore incidens, mantica a tergo, paucis indusiis, binis calceis, braccisque sericis coccineis repleta, Argentoratum ingressus est.
Militi eum percontanti, quum portus intraret dixit, se apud Nasorum promontorium fuisse, Francofurtum proficisci, et Argentoratum, transitu ad fines Sarmatiae mensis intervallo, reversurum.
Miles peregrini in faciem suspexit — Di boni, nova forma nasi!
At multum mihi profuit, inquit peregrinus, carpum amento extrahens, e quo pependit acinaces: Loculo manum inseruit; et magna cum urbanitate, pilei parte anteriore tacta manu sinistra, ut extendit dextram, militi florinum dedit et processit.
Dolet mihi, ait miles, tympanistam nanum et valgum alloquens, virum adeo urbanum vaginam perdidisse: itinerari haud poterit nuda acinaci; neque vaginam toto Argentorato, habilem inveniet. — Nullam unquam habui, respondit peregrinus respiciens — seque comiter inclinans — hoc more gesto, nudam acinacem elevans, mulo lento progrediente, ut nasum tueri possim.
Non immerito, benigne peregrine, respondit miles.
Nihili aestimo, ait ille tympanista, e pergamena factitius est.
Prout christianus sum, inquit miles, nasus ille, ni sexties major fit, meo esset conformis.
Crepitare audivi ait tympanista.
Mehercule! sanguinem emisit, respondit miles.
Miseret me, inquit tympanista, qui non ambo tetigimus!
Eodem temporis puncto, quo haec res argumentata fuit inter militem et tympanistam, disceptabatur ibidem tubicine et uxore sua qui tunc accesserunt, et peregrino praetereunte, restiterunt.
Quantus nasus! aeque longus est, ait tubicina, ac tuba.
Et ex eodem metallo, ait tubicen, velut sternutamento audias.
Tantum abest, respondit illa, quod fistulam dulcedine vincit.
Aeneus est, ait tubicen.
Nequaquam, respondit uxor.
Rursum affirmo, ait tubicen, quod aeneus est.
Rem penitus explorabo; prius, enim digito tangam, ait uxor, quam dormivero,
Mulus peregrini gradu lento progressus est, ut unumquodque verbum controversiae, non tantum inter militem et tympanistam, verum etiam inter tubicinem et uxorum ejus, audiret.
Nequaquam, ait ille, in muli collum fraena demittens, et manibus ambabus in pectus positis, (mulo lente progrediente) nequaquam, ait ille respiciens, non necesse est ut res isthaec dilucidata foret. Minime gentium! meus nasus nunquam tangetur, dum spiritus hos reget artus — Ad quid agendum? air uxor burgomagistri.
Peregrinus illi non respondit. Votum faciebat tunc temporis sancto Nicolao; quo facto, sinum dextrum inserens, e qua negligenter pependit acinaces, lento gradu processit per plateam Argentorati latam quae ad diversorium templo ex adversum ducit.
Peregrinus mulo descendens stabulo includi, et manticam inferri jussit: qua aperta et coccineis sericis femoralibus extractis cum argento laciniato (Greek), his sese induit, statimque, acinaci in manu, ad forum deambulavit.
Quod ubi peregrinus esset ingressus, uxorem tubicinis obviam euntem aspicit; illico cursum flectit, metuens ne nasus suus exploraretur, atque ad diversorium regressus est — exuit se vestibus; braccas coccineas sericas manticae imposuit mulumque educi jussit.
Francofurtum proficiscor, ait ille, et Argentoratum quatuor abhinc hebdomadis revertar.
Bene curasti hoc jumentam? (ait) muli faciem manu demulcens — me, manticamque meam, plus sexcentis mille passibus portavit.
Longa via est! respondet hospes, nisi plurimum esset negoti. — Enimvero, ait peregrinus, a Nasorum promontorio redii, et nasum speciosissimum, egregiosissimumque quem unquam quisquam sortitus est, acquisivi?
Dum peregrinus hanc miram rationem de seipso reddit, hospes et uxor ejus, oculis intentis, peregrini nasum contemplantur — Per sanctos sanctasque omnes, ait hospitis uxor, nasis duodecim maximis in toto Argentorato major est! — estne, ait illa mariti in aurem insusurrans, nonne est nasus praegrandis?
Dolus inest, anime mi, ait hospes — nasus est falsus.
Verus est, respondit uxor —
Ex abiete factus est, ait ille, terebinthinum olet —
Carbunculus inest, ait uxor.
Mortuus est nasus, respondit hospes.
Vivus est ait illa — et si ipsa vivam tangam.
Votum feci sancto Nicolao, ait peregrinus, nasum meum intactum fore usque ad — Quodnam tempus? illico respondit illa.
Minimo tangetur, inquit ille (manibus in pectus compositis) usque ad illam horam — Quam horam? ait illa — Nullam, respondit peregrinus, donec pervenio ad — Quem locum — obsecro? ait illa — Peregrinus nil respondens mulo conscenso discessit.
It was one cool refreshing evening, at the close of a very sultry day, in the latter end of the month of August, when a stranger, mounted upon a dark mule, with a small cloak-bag behind him, containing a few shirts, a pair of shoes, and a crimson-sattin pair of breeches, entered the town of Strasburg.
He told the centinel, who questioned him as he entered the gates, that he had been at the Promontory of Noses — was going on to Frankfort — and should be back again at Strasburg that day month, in his way to the borders of Crim Tartary.
The centinel looked up into the stranger’s face — he never saw such a Nose in his life!
— I have made a very good venture of it, quoth the stranger — so slipping his wrist out of the loop of a black ribbon, to which a short scymetar was hung, he put his hand into his pocket, and with great courtesy touching the fore part of his cap with his left hand, as he extended his right — he put a florin into the centinel’s hand, and passed on.
It grieves, me, said the centinel, speaking to a little dwarfish bandy-legg’d drummer, that so courteous a soul should have lost his scabbard — he cannot travel without one to his scymetar, and will not be able to get a scabbard to fit it in all Strasburg. — I never had one, replied the stranger, looking back to the centinel, and putting his hand up to his cap as he spoke — I carry it, continued he, thus — holding up his naked scymetar, his mule moving on slowly all the time — on purpose to defend my nose.
It is well worth it, gentle stranger, replied the centinel.
—’Tis not worth a single stiver, said the bandy-legg’d drummer —’tis a nose of parchment.
As I am a true catholic — except that it is six times as big —’tis a nose, said the centinel, like my own.
— I heard it crackle, said the drummer.
By dunder, said the centinel, I saw it bleed.
What a pity, cried the bandy-legg’d drummer, we did not both touch it!
At the very time that this dispute was maintaining by the centinel and the drummer — was the same point debating betwixt a trumpeter and a trumpeter’s wife, who were just then coming up, and had stopped to see the stranger pass by.
Benedicity! — What a nose! ’tis as long, said the trumpeter’s wife, as a trumpet.
And of the same metal said the trumpeter, as you hear by its sneezing.
’Tis as soft as a flute, said she.
—’Tis brass, said the trumpeter.
—’Tis a pudding’s end, said his wife.
I tell thee again, said the trumpeter, ’tis a brazen nose,
I’ll know the bottom of it, said the trumpeter’s wife, for I will touch it with my finger before I sleep.
The stranger’s mule moved on at so slow a rate, that he heard every word of the dispute, not only betwixt the centinel and the drummer, but betwixt the trumpeter and trumpeter’s wife.
No! said he, dropping his reins upon his mule’s neck, and laying both his hands upon his breast, the one over the other in a saint-like position (his mule going on easily all the time) No! said he, looking up — I am not such a debtor to the world — slandered and disappointed as I have been — as to give it that conviction — no! said he, my nose shall never be touched whilst Heaven gives me strength — To do what? said a burgomaster’s wife.
The stranger took no notice of the burgomaster’s wife — he was making a vow to Saint Nicolas; which done, having uncrossed his arms with the same solemnity with which he crossed them, he took up the reins of his bridle with his left-hand, and putting his right hand into his bosom, with the scymetar hanging loosely to the wrist of it, he rode on, as slowly as one foot of the mule could follow another, thro’ the principal streets of Strasburg, till chance brought him to the great inn in the market-place over-against the church.
The moment the stranger alighted, he ordered his mule to be led into the stable, and his cloak-bag to be brought in; then opening, and taking out of it his crimson-sattin breeches, with a silver-fringed —(appendage to them, which I dare not translate)— he put his breeches, with his fringed cod-piece on, and forth-with, with his short scymetar in his hand, walked out to the grand parade.
The stranger had just taken three turns upon the parade, when he perceived the trumpeter’s wife at the opposite side of it — so turning short, in pain lest his nose should be attempted, he instantly went back to his inn — undressed himself, packed up his crimson-sattin breeches, &c. in his cloak-bag, and called for his mule.
I am going forwards, said the stranger, for Frankfort — and shall be back at Strasburg this day month.
I hope, continued the stranger, stroking down the face of his mule with his left hand as he was going to mount it, that you have been kind to this faithful slave of mine — it has carried me and my cloak-bag, continued he, tapping the mule’s back, above six hundred leagues.
—’Tis a long journey, Sir, replied the master of the inn — unless a man has great business. — Tut! tut! said the stranger, I have been at the promontory of Noses; and have got me one of the goodliest, thank Heaven, that ever fell to a single man’s lot.
Whilst the stranger was giving this odd account of himself, the master of the inn and his wife kept both their eyes fixed full upon the stranger’s nose — By saint Radagunda, said the inn-keeper’s wife to herself, there is more of it than in any dozen of the largest noses put together in all Strasburg! is it not, said she, whispering her husband in his ear, is it not a noble nose?
’Tis an imposture, my dear, said the master of the inn —’tis a false nose.
’Tis a true nose, said his wife.
’Tis made of fir-tree, said he, I smell the turpentine. —
There’s a pimple on it, said she.
’Tis a dead nose, replied the inn-keeper.
’Tis a live nose, and if I am alive myself, said the inn-keeper’s, wife, I will touch it.
I have made a vow to saint Nicolas this day, said the stranger, that my nose shall not be touched till — Here the stranger suspending his voice, looked up. — Till when? said she hastily.
It never shall be touched, said he, clasping his hands and bringing them close to his breast, till that hour — What hour? cried the inn keeper’s wife. — Never! — never! said the stranger, never till I am got — For Heaven’s sake, into what place? said she — The stranger rode away without saying a word.
The stranger had not got half a league on his way towards Frankfort before all the city of Strasburg was in an uproar about his nose. The Compline bells were just ringing to call the Strasburgers to their devotions, and shut up the duties of the day in prayer:— no soul in all Strasburg heard ’em — the city was like a swarm of bees — men, women, and children, (the Compline bells tinkling all the time) flying here and there — in at one door, out at another — this way and that way — long ways and cross ways — up one street, down another street — in at this alley, out of that — did you see it? did you see it? did you see it? O! did you see it? — who saw it? who did see it? for mercy’s sake, who saw it?
Alack o’day! I was at vespers! — I was washing, I was starching, I was scouring, I was quilting — God help me! I never saw it — I never touch’d it! — would I had been a centinel, a bandy-legg’d drummer, a trumpeter, a trumpeter’s wife, was the general cry and lamentation in every street and corner of Strasburg.
Whilst all this confusion and disorder triumphed throughout the great city of Strasburg, was the courteous stranger going on as gently upon his mule in his way to Frankfort, as if he had no concern at all in the affair — talking all the way he rode in broken sentences, sometimes to his mule — sometimes to himself — sometimes to his Julia.
O Julia, my lovely Julia! — nay I cannot stop to let thee bite that thistle — that ever the suspected tongue of a rival should have robbed me of enjoyment when I was upon the point of tasting it. —
— Pugh! —’tis nothing but a thistle — never mind it — thou shalt have a better supper at night.
— Banish’d from my country — my friends — from thee. —
Poor devil, thou’rt sadly tired with thy journey! — come — get on a little faster — there’s nothing in my cloak-bag but two shirts — a crimson-sattin pair of breeches, and a fringed — Dear Julia!
— But why to Frankfort? — is it that there is a hand unfelt, which secretly is conducting me through these meanders and unsuspected tracts?
— Stumbling! by saint Nicolas! every step — why at this rate we shall be all night in getting in —
— To happiness — or am I to be the sport of fortune and slander — destined to be driven forth unconvicted — unheard — untouch’d — if so, why did I not stay at Strasburg, where justice — but I had sworn! Come, thou shalt drink — to St. Nicolas — O Julia! — What dost thou prick up thy ears at? —’tis nothing but a man, &c.
The stranger rode on communing in this manner with his mule and Julia — till he arrived at his inn, where, as soon as he arrived, he alighted — saw his mule, as he had promised it, taken good care of — took off his cloak-bag, with his crimson-sattin breeches, &c. in it — called for an omelet to his supper, went to his bed about twelve o’clock, and in five minutes fell fast asleep.
It was about the same hour when the tumult in Strasburg being abated for that night — the Strasburgers had all got quietly into their beds — but not like the stranger, for the rest either of their minds or bodies; queen Mab, like an elf as she was, had taken the stranger’s nose, and without reduction of its bulk, had that night been at the pains of slitting and dividing it into as many noses of different cuts and fashions, as there were heads in Strasburg to hold them. The abbess of Quedlingberg, who with the four great dignitaries of her chapter, the prioress, the deaness, the sub-chantress, and senior canonness, had that week come to Strasburg to consult the university upon a case of conscience relating to their placket-holes — was ill all the night.
The courteous stranger’s nose had got perched upon the top of the pineal gland of her brain, and made such rousing work in the fancies of the four great dignitaries of her chapter, they could not get a wink of sleep the whole night thro’ for it — there was no keeping a limb still amongst them — in short, they got up like so many ghosts.
The penitentiaries of the third order of saint Francis — the nuns of mount Calvary — the Praemonstratenses — the Clunienses (Hafen Slawkenbergius means the Benedictine nuns of Cluny, founded in the year 940, by Odo, abbe de Cluny.)— the Carthusians, and all the severer orders of nuns, who lay that night in blankets or hair-cloth, were still in a worse condition than the abbess of Quedlingberg — by tumbling and tossing, and tossing and tumbling from one side of their beds to the other the whole night long — the several sisterhoods had scratch’d and maul’d themselves all to death — they got out of their beds almost flay’d alive — every body thought saint Antony had visited them for probation with his fire — they had never once, in short, shut their eyes the whole night long from vespers to matins.
The nuns of saint Ursula acted the wisest — they never attempted to go to bed at all.
The dean of Strasburg, the prebendaries, the capitulars and domiciliars (capitularly assembled in the morning to consider the case of butter’d buns) all wished they had followed the nuns of saint Ursula’s example. —
In the hurry and confusion every thing had been in the night before, the bakers had all forgot to lay their leaven — there were no butter’d buns to be had for breakfast in all Strasburg — the whole close of the cathedral was in one eternal commotion — such a cause of restlessness and disquietude, and such a zealous inquiry into that cause of the restlessness, had never happened in Strasburg, since Martin Luther, with his doctrines, had turned the city upside down.
If the stranger’s nose took this liberty of thrusting himself thus into the dishes (Mr. Shandy’s compliments to orators — is very sensible that Slawkenbergius has here changed his metaphor — which he is very guilty of:— that as a translator, Mr. Shandy has all along done what he could to make him stick to it — but that here ’twas impossible.) of religious orders, &c. what a carnival did his nose make of it, in those of the laity! —’tis more than my pen, worn to the stump as it is, has power to describe; tho’, I acknowledge, (cries Slawkenbergius with more gaiety of thought than I could have expected from him) that there is many a good simile now subsisting in the world which might give my countrymen some idea of it; but at the close of such a folio as this, wrote for their sakes, and in which I have spent the greatest part of my life — tho’ I own to them the simile is in being, yet would it not be unreasonable in them to expect I should have either time or inclination to search for it? Let it suffice to say, that the riot and disorder it occasioned in the Strasburgers fantasies was so general — such an overpowering mastership had it got of all the faculties of the Strasburgers minds — so many strange things, with equal confidence on all sides, and with equal eloquence in all places, were spoken and sworn to concerning it, that turned the whole stream of all discourse and wonder towards it — every soul, good and bad — rich and poor — learned and unlearned — doctor and student — mistress and maid — gentle and simple — nun’s flesh and woman’s flesh, in Strasburg spent their time in hearing tidings about it — every eye in Strasburg languished to see it — every finger — every thumb in Strasburg burned to touch it.
Now what might add, if any thing may be thought necessary to add, to so vehement a desire — was this, that the centinel, the bandy-legg’d drummer, the trumpeter, the trumpeter’s wife, the burgomaster’s widow, the master of the inn, and the master of the inn’s wife, how widely soever they all differed every one from another in their testimonies and description of the stranger’s nose — they all agreed together in two points — namely, that he was gone to Frankfort, and would not return to Strasburg till that day month; and secondly, whether his nose was true or false, that the stranger himself was one of the most perfect paragons of beauty — the finest-made man — the most genteel! — the most generous of his purse — the most courteous in his carriage, that had ever entered the gates of Strasburg — that as he rode, with scymetar slung loosely to his wrist, thro’ the streets — and walked with his crimson-sattin breeches across the parade —’twas with so sweet an air of careless modesty, and so manly withal — as would have put the heart in jeopardy (had his nose not stood in his way) of every virgin who had cast her eyes upon him.
I call not upon that heart which is a stranger to the throbs and yearnings of curiosity, so excited, to justify the abbess of Quedlingberg, the prioress, the deaness, and sub-chantress, for sending at noon-day for the trumpeter’s wife: she went through the streets of Strasburg with her husband’s trumpet in her hand — the best apparatus the straitness of the time would allow her, for the illustration of her theory — she staid no longer than three days.
The centinel and bandy-legg’d drummer! — nothing on this side of old Athens could equal them! they read their lectures under the city-gates to comers and goers, with all the pomp of a Chrysippus and a Crantor in their porticos.
The master of the inn, with his ostler on his left-hand, read his also in the same stile — under the portico or gateway of his stable-yard — his wife, hers more privately in a back room: all flocked to their lectures; not promiscuously — but to this or that, as is ever the way, as faith and credulity marshal’d them — in a word, each Strasburger came crouding for intelligence — and every Strasburger had the intelligence he wanted.
’Tis worth remarking, for the benefit of all demonstrators in natural philosophy, &c. that as soon as the trumpeter’s wife had finished the abbess of Quedlingberg’s private lecture, and had begun to read in public, which she did upon a stool in the middle of the great parade — she incommoded the other demonstrators mainly, by gaining incontinently the most fashionable part of the city of Strasburg for her auditory — But when a demonstrator in philosophy (cries Slawkenbergius) has a trumpet for an apparatus, pray what rival in science can pretend to be heard besides him?
Whilst the unlearned, thro’ these conduits of intelligence, were all busied in getting down to the bottom of the well, where Truth keeps her little court — were the learned in their way as busy in pumping her up thro’ the conduits of dialect induction — they concerned themselves not with facts — they reasoned —
Not one profession had thrown more light upon this subject than the Faculty — had not all their disputes about it run into the affair of Wens and oedematous swellings, they could not keep clear of them for their bloods and souls — the stranger’s nose had nothing to do either with wens or oedematous swellings.
It was demonstrated however very satisfactorily, that such a ponderous mass of heterogenous matter could not be congested and conglomerated to the nose, whilst the infant was in Utera, without destroying the statical balance of the foetus, and throwing it plump upon its head nine months before the time. —
— The opponents granted the theory — they denied the consequences.
And if a suitable provision of veins, arteries, &c. said they, was not laid in, for the due nourishment of such a nose, in the very first stamina and rudiments of its formation, before it came into the world (bating the case of Wens) it could not regularly grow and be sustained afterwards.
This was all answered by a dissertation upon nutriment, and the effect which nutriment had in extending the vessels, and in the increase and prolongation of the muscular parts to the greatest growth and expansion imaginable — In the triumph of which theory, they went so far as to affirm, that there was no cause in nature, why a nose might not grow to the size of the man himself.
The respondents satisfied the world this event could never happen to them so long as a man had but one stomach and one pair of lungs — For the stomach, said they, being the only organ destined for the reception of food, and turning it into chyle — and the lungs the only engine of sanguification — it could possibly work off no more, than what the appetite brought it: or admitting the possibility of a man’s overloading his stomach, nature had set bounds however to his lungs — the engine was of a determined size and strength, and could elaborate but a certain quantity in a given time — that is, it could produce just as much blood as was sufficient for one single man, and no more; so that, if there was as much nose as man — they proved a mortification must necessarily ensue; and forasmuch as there could not be a support for both, that the nose must either fall off from the man, or the man inevitably fall off from his nose.
Nature accommodates herself to these emergencies, cried the opponents — else what do you say to the case of a whole stomach — a whole pair of lungs, and but half a man, when both his legs have been unfortunately shot off?
He dies of a plethora, said they — or must spit blood, and in a fortnight or three weeks go off in a consumption. —
— It happens otherwise — replied the opponents. —
It ought not, said they.
The more curious and intimate inquirers after nature and her doings, though they went hand in hand a good way together, yet they all divided about the nose at last, almost as much as the Faculty itself
They amicably laid it down, that there was a just and geometrical arrangement and proportion of the several parts of the human frame to its several destinations, offices, and functions, which could not be transgressed but within certain limits — that nature, though she sported — she sported within a certain circle; — and they could not agree about the diameter of it.
The logicians stuck much closer to the point before them than any of the classes of the literati; — they began and ended with the word Nose; and had it not been for a petitio principii, which one of the ablest of them ran his head against in the beginning of the combat, the whole controversy had been settled at once.
A nose, argued the logician, cannot bleed without blood — and not only blood — but blood circulating in it to supply the phaenomenon with a succession of drops —(a stream being but a quicker succession of drops, that is included, said he.)— Now death, continued the logician, being nothing but the stagnation of the blood —
I deny the definition — Death is the separation of the soul from the body, said his antagonist — Then we don’t agree about our weapons, said the logician — Then there is an end of the dispute, replied the antagonist.
The civilians were still more concise: what they offered being more in the nature of a decree — than a dispute.
Such a monstrous nose, said they, had it been a true nose, could not possibly have been suffered in civil society — and if false — to impose upon society with such false signs and tokens, was a still greater violation of its rights, and must have had still less mercy shewn it.
The only objection to this was, that if it proved any thing, it proved the stranger’s nose was neither true nor false.
This left room for the controversy to go on. It was maintained by the advocates of the ecclesiastic court, that there was nothing to inhibit a decree, since the stranger ex mero motu had confessed he had been at the Promontory of Noses, and had got one of the goodliest, &c. &c. — To this it was answered, it was impossible there should be such a place as the Promontory of Noses, and the learned be ignorant where it lay. The commissary of the bishop of Strasburg undertook the advocates, explained this matter in a treatise upon proverbial phrases, shewing them, that the Promontory of Noses was a mere allegorick expression, importing no more than that nature had given him a long nose: in proof of which, with great learning, he cited the underwritten authorities, (Nonnulli ex nostratibus eadem loquendi formula utun. Quinimo & Logistae & Canonistae — Vid. Parce Barne Jas in d. L. Provincial. Constitut. de conjec. vid. Vol. Lib. 4. Titul. I. n. 7 qua etiam in re conspir. Om de Promontorio Nas. Tichmak. ff. d. tit. 3. fol. 189. passim. Vid. Glos. de contrahend. empt. &c. necnon J. Scrudr. in cap. para refut. per totum. Cum his cons. Rever. J. Tubal, Sentent. & Prov. cap. 9. ff. 11, 12. obiter. V. & Librum, cui Tit. de Terris & Phras. Belg. ad finem, cum comment. N. Bardy Belg. Vid. Scrip. Argentotarens. de Antiq. Ecc. in Episc Archiv. fid coll. per Von Jacobum Koinshoven Folio Argent. 1583. praecip. ad finem. Quibus add. Rebuff in L. obvenire de Signif. Nom. ff. fol. & de jure Gent. & Civil. de protib. aliena feud. per federa, test. Joha. Luxius in prolegom. quem velim videas, de Analy. Cap. 1, 2, 3. Vid. Idea.) which had decided the point incontestably, had it not appeared that a dispute about some franchises of dean and chapter-lands had been determined by it nineteen years before.
It happened — I must say unluckily for Truth, because they were giving her a lift another way in so doing; that the two universities of Strasburg — the Lutheran, founded in the year 1538 by Jacobus Surmis, counsellor of the senate — and the Popish, founded by Leopold, arch-duke of Austria, were, during all this time, employing the whole depth of their knowledge (except just what the affair of the abbess of Quedlingberg’s placket-holes required)— in determining the point of Martin Luther’s damnation.
The Popish doctors had undertaken to demonstrate a priori, that from the necessary influence of the planets on the twenty-second day of October 1483 — when the moon was in the twelfth house, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus in the third, the Sun, Saturn, and Mercury, all got together in the fourth — that he must in course, and unavoidably, be a damn’d man — and that his doctrines, by a direct corollary, must be damn’d doctrines too.
By inspection into his horoscope, where five planets were in coition all at once with Scorpio (Haec mira, satisque horrenda. Planetarum coitio sub Scorpio Asterismo in nona coeli statione, quam Arabes religioni deputabant efficit Martinum Lutherum sacrilegum hereticum, Christianae religionis hostem acerrimum atque prophanum, ex horoscopi directione ad Martis coitum, religiosissimus obiit, ejus Anima scelestissima ad infernos navigavit — ab Alecto, Tisiphone & Megara flagellis igneis cruciata perenniter. — Lucas Gaurieus in Tractatu astrologico de praeteritis multorum hominum accidentibus per genituras examinatis.) (in reading this my father would always shake his head) in the ninth house, with the Arabians allotted to religion — it appeared that Martin Luther did not care one stiver about the matter — and that from the horoscope directed to the conjunction of Mars — they made it plain likewise he must die cursing and blaspheming — with the blast of which his soul (being steep’d in guilt) sailed before the wind, in the lake of hell-fire.
The little objection of the Lutheran doctors to this, was, that it must certainly be the soul of another man, born Oct. 22, 83. which was forced to sail down before the wind in that manner — inasmuch as it appeared from the register of Islaben in the county of Mansfelt, that Luther was not born in the year 1483, but in 84; and not on the 22d day of October, but on the 10th of November, the eve of Martinmas day, from whence he had the name of Martin.
(— I must break off my translation for a moment; for if I did not, I know I should no more be able to shut my eyes in bed, than the abbess of Quedlingberg — It is to tell the reader; that my father never read this passage of Slawkenbergius to my uncle Toby, but with triumph — not over my uncle Toby, for he never opposed him in it — but over the whole world.
— Now you see, brother Toby, he would say, looking up, ‘that christian names are not such indifferent things;’— had Luther here been called by any other name but Martin, he would have been damn’d to all eternity — Not that I look upon Martin, he would add, as a good name — far from it —’tis something better than a neutral, and but a little — yet little as it is you see it was of some service to him.
My father knew the weakness of this prop to his hypothesis, as well as the best logician could shew him — yet so strange is the weakness of man at the same time, as it fell in his way, he could not for his life but make use of it; and it was certainly for this reason, that though there are many stories in Hafen Slawkenbergius’s Decades full as entertaining as this I am translating, yet there is not one amongst them which my father read over with half the delight — it flattered two of his strangest hypotheses together — his Names and his Noses. — I will be bold to say, he might have read all the books in the Alexandrian Library, had not fate taken other care of them, and not have met with a book or passage in one, which hit two such nails as these upon the head at one stroke.)
The two universities of Strasburg were hard tugging at this affair of Luther’s navigation. The Protestant doctors had demonstrated, that he had not sailed right before the wind, as the Popish doctors had pretended; and as every one knew there was no sailing full in the teeth of it — they were going to settle, in case he had sailed, how many points he was off; whether Martin had doubled the cape, or had fallen upon a lee-shore; and no doubt, as it was an enquiry of much edification, at least to those who understood this sort of Navigation, they had gone on with it in spite of the size of the stranger’s nose, had not the size of the stranger’s nose drawn off the attention of the world from what they were about — it was their business to follow.
The abbess of Quedlingberg and her four dignitaries was no stop; for the enormity of the stranger’s nose running full as much in their fancies as their case of conscience — the affair of their placket-holes kept cold — in a word, the printers were ordered to distribute their types — all controversies dropp’d.
’Twas a square cap with a silver tassel upon the crown of it — to a nut-shell — to have guessed on which side of the nose the two universities would split.
’Tis above reason, cried the doctors on one side.
’Tis below reason, cried the others.
’Tis faith, cried one.
’Tis a fiddle-stick, said the other.
’Tis possible, cried the one.
’Tis impossible, said the other.
God’s power is infinite, cried the Nosarians, he can do any thing.
He can do nothing, replied the Anti-nosarians, which implies contradictions.
He can make matter think, said the Nosarians.
As certainly as you can make a velvet cap out of a sow’s ear, replied the Anti-nosarians.
He cannot make two and two five, replied the Popish doctors. —’Tis false, said their other opponents. —
Infinite power is infinite power, said the doctors who maintained the reality of the nose. — It extends only to all possible things, replied the Lutherans.
By God in heaven, cried the Popish doctors, he can make a nose, if he thinks fit, as big as the steeple of Strasburg.
Now the steeple of Strasburg being the biggest and the tallest church-steeple to be seen in the whole world, the Anti-nosarians denied that a nose of 575 geometrical feet in length could be worn, at least by a middle-siz’d man — The Popish doctors swore it could — The Lutheran doctors said No; — it could not.
This at once started a new dispute, which they pursued a great way, upon the extent and limitation of the moral and natural attributes of God — That controversy led them naturally into Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Aquinas to the devil.
The stranger’s nose was no more heard of in the dispute — it just served as a frigate to launch them into the gulph of school-divinity — and then they all sailed before the wind.
Heat is in proportion to the want of true knowledge.
The controversy about the attributes, &c. instead of cooling, on the contrary had inflamed the Strasburgers imaginations to a most inordinate degree — The less they understood of the matter the greater was their wonder about it — they were left in all the distresses of desire unsatisfied — saw their doctors, the Parchmentarians, the Brasssarians, the Turpentarians, on one side — the Popish doctors on the other, like Pantagruel and his companions in quest of the oracle of the bottle, all embarked out of sight.
— The poor Strasburgers left upon the beach!
— What was to be done? — No delay — the uproar increased — every one in disorder — the city gates set open. —
Unfortunate Strasbergers! was there in the store-house of nature — was there in the lumber-rooms of learning — was there in the great arsenal of chance, one single engine left undrawn forth to torture your curiosities, and stretch your desires, which was not pointed by the hand of Fate to play upon your hearts? — I dip not my pen into my ink to excuse the surrender of yourselves —’tis to write your panegyrick. Shew me a city so macerated with expectation — who neither eat, or drank, or slept, or prayed, or hearkened to the calls either of religion or nature, for seven-and-twenty days together, who could have held out one day longer.
On the twenty-eighth the courteous stranger had promised to return to Strasburg.
Seven thousand coaches (Slawkenbergius must certainly have made some mistake in his numeral characters) 7000 coaches — 15000 single-horse chairs — 20000 waggons, crowded as full as they could all hold with senators, counsellors, syndicks — beguines, widows, wives, virgins, canons, concubines, all in their coaches — The abbess of Quedlingberg, with the prioress, the deaness and sub-chantress, leading the procession in one coach, and the dean of Strasburg, with the four great dignitaries of his chapter, on her left-hand — the rest following higglety-pigglety as they could; some on horseback — some on foot — some led — some driven — some down the Rhine — some this way — some that — all set out at sun-rise to meet the courteous stranger on the road.
Haste we now towards the catastrophe of my tale — I say Catastrophe (cries Slawkenbergius) inasmuch as a tale, with parts rightly disposed, not only rejoiceth (gaudet) in the Catastrophe and Peripeitia of a Drama, but rejoiceth moreover in all the essential and integrant parts of it — it has its Protasis, Epitasis, Catastasis, its Catastrophe or Peripeitia growing one out of the other in it, in the order Aristotle first planted them — without which a tale had better never be told at all, says Slawkenbergius, but be kept to a man’s self.
In all my ten tales, in all my ten decades, have I Slawkenbergius tied down every tale of them as tightly to this rule, as I have done this of the stranger and his nose.
— From his first parley with the centinel, to his leaving the city of Strasburg, after pulling off his crimson-sattin pair of breeches, is the Protasis or first entrance — where the characters of the Personae Dramatis are just touched in, and the subject slightly begun.
The Epitasis, wherein the action is more fully entered upon and heightened, till it arrives at its state or height called the Catastasis, and which usually takes up the 2d and 3d act, is included within that busy period of my tale, betwixt the first night’s uproar about the nose, to the conclusion of the trumpeter’s wife’s lectures upon it in the middle of the grand parade: and from the first embarking of the learned in the dispute — to the doctors finally sailing away, and leaving the Strasburgers upon the beach in distress, is the Catastasis or the ripening of the incidents and passions for their bursting forth in the fifth act.
This commences with the setting out of the Strasburgers in the Frankfort road, and terminates in unwinding the labyrinth and bringing the hero out of a state of agitation (as Aristotle calls it) to a state of rest and quietness.
This, says Hafen Slawkenbergius, constitutes the Catastrophe or Peripeitia of my tale — and that is the part of it I am going to relate.
We left the stranger behind the curtain asleep — he enters now upon the stage.
— What dost thou prick up thy ears at? —’tis nothing but a man upon a horse — was the last word the stranger uttered to his mule. It was not proper then to tell the reader, that the mule took his master’s word for it; and without any more ifs or ands, let the traveller and his horse pass by.
The traveller was hastening with all diligence to get to Strasburg that night. What a fool am I, said the traveller to himself, when he had rode about a league farther, to think of getting into Strasburg this night. — Strasburg! — the great Strasburg! — Strasburg, the capital of all Alsatia! Strasburg, an imperial city! Strasburg, a sovereign state! Strasburg, garrisoned with five thousand of the best troops in all the world! — Alas! if I was at the gates of Strasburg this moment, I could not gain admittance into it for a ducat — nay a ducat and half —’tis too much — better go back to the last inn I have passed — than lie I know not where — or give I know not what. The traveller, as he made these reflections in his mind, turned his horse’s head about, and three minutes after the stranger had been conducted into his chamber, he arrived at the same inn.
— We have bacon in the house, said the host, and bread — and till eleven o’clock this night had three eggs in it — but a stranger, who arrived an hour ago, has had them dressed into an omelet, and we have nothing. —
Alas! said the traveller, harassed as I am, I want nothing but a bed. — I have one as soft as is in Alsatia, said the host.
— The stranger, continued he, should have slept in it, for ’tis my best bed, but upon the score of his nose. — He has got a defluxion, said the traveller. — Not that I know, cried the host. — But ’tis a camp-bed, and Jacinta, said he, looking towards the maid, imagined there was not room in it to turn his nose in. — Why so? cried the traveller, starting back. — It is so long a nose, replied the host. — The traveller fixed his eyes upon Jacinta, then upon the ground — kneeled upon his right knee — had just got his hand laid upon his breast — Trifle not with my anxiety, said he rising up again. —’Tis no trifle, said Jacinta, ’tis the most glorious nose! — The traveller fell upon his knee again — laid his hand upon his breast — then, said he, looking up to heaven, thou hast conducted me to the end of my pilgrimage —’Tis Diego.
The traveller was the brother of the Julia, so often invoked that night by the stranger as he rode from Strasburg upon his mule; and was come, on her part, in quest of him. He had accompanied his sister from Valadolid across the Pyrenean mountains through France, and had many an entangled skein to wind off in pursuit of him through the many meanders and abrupt turnings of a lover’s thorny tracks.
— Julia had sunk under it — and had not been able to go a step farther than to Lyons, where, with the many disquietudes of a tender heart, which all talk of — but few feel — she sicken’d, but had just strength to write a letter to Diego; and having conjured her brother never to see her face till he had found him out, and put the letter into his hands, Julia took to her bed.
Fernandez (for that was her brother’s name)— tho’ the camp-bed was as soft as any one in Alsace, yet he could not shut his eyes in it. — As soon as it was day he rose, and hearing Diego was risen too, he entered his chamber, and discharged his sister’s commission.
The letter was as follows:
‘Whether my suspicions of your nose were justly excited or not —’tis not now to inquire — it is enough I have not had firmness to put them to farther tryal.
‘How could I know so little of myself, when I sent my Duenna to forbid your coming more under my lattice? or how could I know so little of you, Diego, as to imagine you would not have staid one day in Valadolid to have given ease to my doubts? — Was I to be abandoned, Diego, because I was deceived? or was it kind to take me at my word, whether my suspicions were just or no, and leave me, as you did, a prey to much uncertainty and sorrow?
‘In what manner Julia has resented this — my brother, when he puts this letter into your hands, will tell you; He will tell you in how few moments she repented of the rash message she had sent you — in what frantic haste she flew to her lattice, and how many days and nights together she leaned immoveably upon her elbow, looking through it towards the way which Diego was wont to come.
‘He will tell you, when she heard of your departure — how her spirits deserted her — how her heart sicken’d — how piteously she mourned — how low she hung her head. O Diego! how many weary steps has my brother’s pity led me by the hand languishing to trace out yours; how far has desire carried me beyond strength — and how oft have I fainted by the way, and sunk into his arms, with only power to cry out — O my Diego!
‘If the gentleness of your carriage has not belied your heart, you will fly to me, almost as fast as you fled from me — haste as you will — you will arrive but to see me expire. —’Tis a bitter draught, Diego, but oh! ’tis embittered still more by dying un . . . —’
She could proceed no farther.
Slawkenbergius supposes the word intended was unconvinced, but her strength would not enable her to finish her letter.
The heart of the courteous Diego over-flowed as he read the letter — he ordered his mule forthwith and Fernandez’s horse to be saddled; and as no vent in prose is equal to that of poetry in such conflicts — chance, which as often directs us to remedies as to diseases, having thrown a piece of charcoal into the window — Diego availed himself of it, and whilst the hostler was getting ready his mule, he eased his mind against the wall as follows.
Harsh and untuneful are the notes of love, Unless my Julia strikes the key, Her hand alone can touch the part, Whose dulcet movement charms the heart, And governs all the man with sympathetick sway.
The lines were very natural — for they were nothing at all to the purpose, says Slawkenbergius, and ’tis a pity there were no more of them; but whether it was that Seig. Diego was slow in composing verses — or the hostler quick in saddling mules — is not averred; certain it was, that Diego’s mule and Fernandez’s horse were ready at the door of the inn, before Diego was ready for his second stanza; so without staying to finish his ode, they both mounted, sallied forth, passed the Rhine, traversed Alsace, shaped their course towards Lyons, and before the Strasburgers and the abbess of Quedlingberg had set out on their cavalcade, had Fernandez, Diego, and his Julia, crossed the Pyrenean mountains, and got safe to Valadolid.
’Tis needless to inform the geographical reader, that when Diego was in Spain, it was not possible to meet the courteous stranger in the Frankfort road; it is enough to say, that of all restless desires, curiosity being the strongest — the Strasburgers felt the full force of it; and that for three days and nights they were tossed to and fro in the Frankfort road, with the tempestuous fury of this passion, before they could submit to return home. — When alas! an event was prepared for them, of all other, the most grievous that could befal a free people.
As this revolution of the Strasburgers affairs is often spoken of, and little understood, I will, in ten words, says Slawkenbergius, give the world an explanation of it, and with it put an end to my tale.
Every body knows of the grand system of Universal Monarchy, wrote by order of Mons. Colbert, and put in manuscript into the hands of Lewis the fourteenth, in the year 1664.
’Tis as well known, that one branch out of many of that system, was the getting possession of Strasburg, to favour an entrance at all times into Suabia, in order to disturb the quiet of Germany — and that in consequence of this plan, Strasburg unhappily fell at length into their hands.
It is the lot of a few to trace out the true springs of this and such like revolutions — The vulgar look too high for them — Statesmen look too low — Truth (for once) lies in the middle.
What a fatal thing is the popular pride of a free city! cries one historian — The Strasburgers deemed it a diminution of their freedom to receive an imperial garrison — so fell a prey to a French one.
The fate, says another, of the Strasburgers, may be a warning to all free people to save their money. — They anticipated their revenues — brought themselves under taxes, exhausted their strength, and in the end became so weak a people, they had not strength to keep their gates shut, and so the French pushed them open.
Alas! alas! cries Slawkenbergius, ’twas not the French — ’twas Curiosity pushed them open — The French indeed, who are ever upon the catch, when they saw the Strasburgers, men, women and children, all marched out to follow the stranger’s nose — each man followed his own, and marched in.
Trade and manufactures have decayed and gradually grown down ever since — but not from any cause which commercial heads have assigned; for it is owing to this only, that Noses have ever so run in their heads, that the Strasburgers could not follow their business.
Alas! alas! cries Slawkenbergius, making an exclamation — it is not the first — and I fear will not be the last fortress that has been either won — or lost by Noses.
The End of Slawkenbergius’s Tale.
With all this learning upon Noses running perpetually in my father’s fancy — with so many family prejudices — and ten decades of such tales running on for ever along with them — how was it possible with such exquisite — was it a true nose? — That a man with such exquisite feelings as my father had, could bear the shock at all below stairs — or indeed above stairs, in any other posture, but the very posture I have described?
— Throw yourself down upon the bed, a dozen times — taking care only to place a looking-glass first in a chair on one side of it, before you do it — But was the stranger’s nose a true nose, or was it a false one?
To tell that before-hand, madam, would be to do injury to one of the best tales in the Christian-world; and that is the tenth of the tenth decade, which immediately follows this.
This tale, cried Slawkenbergius, somewhat exultingly, has been reserved by me for the concluding tale of my whole work; knowing right well, that when I shall have told it, and my reader shall have read it thro’—‘twould be even high time for both of us to shut up the book; inasmuch, continues Slawkenbergius, as I know of no tale which could possibly ever go down after it.
’Tis a tale indeed!
This sets out with the first interview in the inn at Lyons, when Fernandez left the courteous stranger and his sister Julia alone in her chamber, and is over-written.
The Intricacies of Diego and Julia.
Heavens! thou art a strange creature, Slawkenbergius! what a whimsical view of the involutions of the heart of woman hast thou opened! how this can ever be translated, and yet if this specimen of Slawkenbergius’s tales, and the exquisitiveness of his moral, should please the world — translated shall a couple of volumes be. — Else, how this can ever be translated into good English, I have no sort of conception — There seems in some passages to want a sixth sense to do it rightly. — What can he mean by the lambent pupilability of slow, low, dry chat, five notes below the natural tone — which you know, madam, is little more than a whisper? The moment I pronounced the words, I could perceive an attempt towards a vibration in the strings, about the region of the heart. — The brain made no acknowledgment. — There’s often no good understanding betwixt ’em — I felt as if I understood it. — I had no ideas. — The movement could not be without cause. — I’m lost. I can make nothing of it — unless, may it please your worships, the voice, in that case being little more than a whisper, unavoidably forces the eyes to approach not only within six inches of each other — but to look into the pupils — is not that dangerous? — But it can’t be avoided — for to look up to the cieling, in that case the two chins unavoidably meet — and to look down into each other’s lap, the foreheads come to immediate contact, which at once puts an end to the conference — I mean to the sentimental part of it. — What is left, madam, is not worth stooping for.
My father lay stretched across the bed as still as if the hand of death had pushed him down, for a full hour and a half before he began to play upon the floor with the toe of that foot which hung over the bed-side; my uncle Toby’s heart was a pound lighter for it. — In a few moments, his left-hand, the knuckles of which had all the time reclined upon the handle of the chamber-pot, came to its feeling — he thrust it a little more within the valance — drew up his hand, when he had done, into his bosom — gave a hem! My good uncle Toby, with infinite pleasure, answered it; and full gladly would have ingrafted a sentence of consolation upon the opening it afforded: but having no talents, as I said, that way, and fearing moreover that he might set out with something which might make a bad matter worse, he contented himself with resting his chin placidly upon the cross of his crutch.
Now whether the compression shortened my uncle Toby’s face into a more pleasurable oval — or that the philanthropy of his heart, in seeing his brother beginning to emerge out of the sea of his afflictions, had braced up his muscles — so that the compression upon his chin only doubled the benignity which was there before, is not hard to decide. — My father, in turning his eyes, was struck with such a gleam of sun-shine in his face, as melted down the sullenness of his grief in a moment.
He broke silence as follows:
Did ever man, brother Toby, cried my father, raising himself upon his elbow, and turning himself round to the opposite side of the bed, where my uncle Toby was sitting in his old fringed chair, with his chin resting upon his crutch — did ever a poor unfortunate man, brother Toby, cried my father, receive so many lashes? — The most I ever saw given, quoth my uncle Toby (ringing the bell at the bed’s head for Trim) was to a grenadier, I think in Mackay’s regiment.
— Had my uncle Toby shot a bullet through my father’s heart, he could not have fallen down with his nose upon the quilt more suddenly.
Bless me! said my uncle Toby.
Was it Mackay’s regiment, quoth my uncle Toby, where the poor grenadier was so unmercifully whipp’d at Bruges about the ducats? — O Christ! he was innocent! cried Trim, with a deep sigh. — And he was whipp’d, may it please your honour, almost to death’s door. — They had better have shot him outright, as he begg’d, and he had gone directly to heaven, for he was as innocent as your honour. — I thank thee, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby. — I never think of his, continued Trim, and my poor brother Tom’s misfortunes, for we were all three school-fellows, but I cry like a coward. — Tears are no proof of cowardice, Trim. — I drop them oft-times myself, cried my uncle Toby. — I know your honour does, replied Trim, and so am not ashamed of it myself. — But to think, may it please your honour, continued Trim, a tear stealing into the corner of his eye as he spoke — to think of two virtuous lads with hearts as warm in their bodies, and as honest as God could make them — the children of honest people, going forth with gallant spirits to seek their fortunes in the world — and fall into such evils! — poor Tom! to be tortured upon a rack for nothing — but marrying a Jew’s widow who sold sausages — honest Dick Johnson’s soul to be scourged out of his body, for the ducats another man put into his knapsack! — O! — these are misfortunes, cried Trim — pulling out his handkerchief — these are misfortunes, may it please your honour, worth lying down and crying over.
— My father could not help blushing.
‘Twould be a pity, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, thou shouldst ever feel sorrow of thy own — thou feelest it so tenderly for others. — Alack-o-day, replied the corporal, brightening up his face — your honour knows I have neither wife or child — I can have no sorrows in this world. — My father could not help smiling. — As few as any man, Trim, replied my uncle Toby; nor can I see how a fellow of thy light heart can suffer, but from the distress of poverty in thy old age — when thou art passed all services, Trim — and hast outlived thy friends. — An’ please your honour, never fear, replied Trim, chearily. — But I would have thee never fear, Trim, replied my uncle Toby, and therefore, continued my uncle Toby, throwing down his crutch, and getting up upon his legs as he uttered the word therefore — in recompence, Trim, of thy long fidelity to me, and that goodness of thy heart I have had such proofs of — whilst thy master is worth a shilling — thou shalt never ask elsewhere, Trim, for a penny. Trim attempted to thank my uncle Toby — but had not power — tears trickled down his cheeks faster than he could wipe them off — He laid his hands upon his breast — made a bow to the ground, and shut the door.
— I have left Trim my bowling-green, cried my uncle Toby — My father smiled. — I have left him moreover a pension, continued my uncle Toby. — My father looked grave.
Is this a fit time, said my father to himself, to talk of Pensions and Grenadiers?
When my uncle Toby first mentioned the grenadier, my father, I said, fell down with his nose flat to the quilt, and as suddenly as if my uncle Toby had shot him; but it was not added that every other limb and member of my father instantly relapsed with his nose into the same precise attitude in which he lay first described; so that when corporal Trim left the room, and my father found himself disposed to rise off the bed — he had all the little preparatory movements to run over again, before he could do it. Attitudes are nothing, madam —’tis the transition from one attitude to another — like the preparation and resolution of the discord into harmony, which is all in all.
For which reason my father played the same jig over again with his toe upon the floor — pushed the chamber-pot still a little farther within the valance — gave a hem — raised himself up upon his elbow — and was just beginning to address himself to my uncle Toby — when recollecting the unsuccessfulness of his first effort in that attitude — he got upon his legs, and in making the third turn across the room, he stopped short before my uncle Toby; and laying the three first fingers of his right-hand in the palm of his left, and stooping a little, he addressed himself to my uncle Toby as follows:
When I reflect, brother Toby, upon Man; and take a view of that dark side of him which represents his life as open to so many causes of trouble — when I consider, brother Toby, how oft we eat the bread of affliction, and that we are born to it, as to the portion of our inheritance — I was born to nothing, quoth my uncle Toby, interrupting my father — but my commission. Zooks! said my father, did not my uncle leave you a hundred and twenty pounds a year? — What could I have done without it? replied my uncle Toby — That’s another concern, said my father testily — But I say Toby, when one runs over the catalogue of all the cross-reckonings and sorrowful Items with which the heart of man is overcharged, ’tis wonderful by what hidden resources the mind is enabled to stand out, and bear itself up, as it does, against the impositions laid upon our nature. —’Tis by the assistance of Almighty God, cried my uncle Toby, looking up, and pressing the palms of his hands close together —’tis not from our own strength, brother Shandy — a centinel in a wooden centry-box might as well pretend to stand it out against a detachment of fifty men. — We are upheld by the grace and the assistance of the best of Beings.
— That is cutting the knot, said my father, instead of untying it — But give me leave to lead you, brother Toby, a little deeper into the mystery.
With all my heart, replied my uncle Toby.
My father instantly exchanged the attitude he was in, for that in which Socrates is so finely painted by Raffael in his school of Athens; which your connoisseurship knows is so exquisitely imagined, that even the particular manner of the reasoning of Socrates is expressed by it — for he holds the fore-finger of his left-hand between the fore-finger and the thumb of his right, and seems as if he was saying to the libertine he is reclaiming —‘You grant me this — and this: and this, and this, I don’t ask of you — they follow of themselves in course.’
So stood my father, holding fast his fore-finger betwixt his finger and his thumb, and reasoning with my uncle Toby as he sat in his old fringed chair, valanced around with party-coloured worsted bobs — O Garrick! — what a rich scene of this would thy exquisite powers make! and how gladly would I write such another to avail myself of thy immortality, and secure my own behind it.
Though man is of all others the most curious vehicle, said my father, yet at the same time ’tis of so slight a frame, and so totteringly put together, that the sudden jerks and hard jostlings it unavoidably meets with in this rugged journey, would overset and tear it to pieces a dozen times a day — was it not, brother Toby, that there is a secret spring within us. — Which spring, said my uncle Toby, I take to be Religion. — Will that set my child’s nose on? cried my father, letting go his finger, and striking one hand against the other. — It makes every thing straight for us, answered my uncle Toby. — Figuratively speaking, dear Toby, it may, for aught I know, said my father; but the spring I am speaking of, is that great and elastic power within us of counterbalancing evil, which, like a secret spring in a well-ordered machine, though it can’t prevent the shock — at least it imposes upon our sense of it.
Now, my dear brother, said my father, replacing his fore-finger, as he was coming closer to the point — had my child arrived safe into the world, unmartyr’d in that precious part of him — fanciful and extravagant as I may appear to the world in my opinion of christian names, and of that magic bias which good or bad names irresistibly impress upon our characters and conducts — Heaven is witness! that in the warmest transports of my wishes for the prosperity of my child, I never once wished to crown his head with more glory and honour than what George or Edward would have spread around it.
But alas! continued my father, as the greatest evil has befallen him — I must counteract and undo it with the greatest good.
He shall be christened Trismegistus, brother.
I wish it may answer — replied my uncle Toby, rising up.
What a chapter of chances, said my father, turning himself about upon the first landing, as he and my uncle Toby were going down stairs, what a long chapter of chances do the events of this world lay open to us! Take pen and ink in hand, brother Toby, and calculate it fairly — I know no more of calculation than this balluster, said my uncle Toby (striking short of it with his crutch, and hitting my father a desperate blow souse upon his shin-bone)—’Twas a hundred to one-cried my uncle Toby — I thought, quoth my father, (rubbing his shin) you had known nothing of calculations, brother Toby. a mere chance, said my uncle Toby. — Then it adds one to the chapter — replied my father.
The double success of my father’s repartees tickled off the pain of his shin at once — it was well it so fell out —(chance! again)— or the world to this day had never known the subject of my father’s calculation — to guess it — there was no chance — What a lucky chapter of chances has this turned out! for it has saved me the trouble of writing one express, and in truth I have enough already upon my hands without it. — Have not I promised the world a chapter of knots? two chapters upon the right and the wrong end of a woman? a chapter upon whiskers? a chapter upon wishes? — a chapter of noses? — No, I have done that — a chapter upon my uncle Toby’s modesty? to say nothing of a chapter upon chapters, which I will finish before I sleep — by my great grandfather’s whiskers, I shall never get half of ’em through this year.
Take pen and ink in hand, and calculate it fairly, brother Toby, said my father, and it will turn out a million to one, that of all the parts of the body, the edge of the forceps should have the ill luck just to fall upon and break down that one part, which should break down the fortunes of our house with it.
It might have been worse, replied my uncle Toby. — I don’t comprehend, said my father. — Suppose the hip had presented, replied my uncle Toby, as Dr. Slop foreboded.
My father reflected half a minute — looked down — touched the middle of his forehead slightly with his finger —
— True, said he.
Is it not a shame to make two chapters of what passed in going down one pair of stairs? for we are got no farther yet than to the first landing, and there are fifteen more steps down to the bottom; and for aught I know, as my father and my uncle Toby are in a talking humour, there may be as many chapters as steps:— let that be as it will, Sir, I can no more help it than my destiny:— A sudden impulse comes across me — drop the curtain, Shandy — I drop it — Strike a line here across the paper, Tristram — I strike it — and hey for a new chapter.
The deuce of any other rule have I to govern myself by in this affair — and if I had one — as I do all things out of all rule — I would twist it and tear it to pieces, and throw it into the fire when I had done — Am I warm? I am, and the cause demands it — a pretty story! is a man to follow rules — or rules to follow him?
Now this, you must know, being my chapter upon chapters, which I promised to write before I went to sleep, I thought it meet to ease my conscience entirely before I laid down, by telling the world all I knew about the matter at once: Is not this ten times better than to set out dogmatically with a sententious parade of wisdom, and telling the world a story of a roasted horse — that chapters relieve the mind — that they assist — or impose upon the imagination — and that in a work of this dramatic cast they are as necessary as the shifting of scenes — with fifty other cold conceits, enough to extinguish the fire which roasted him? — O! but to understand this, which is a puff at the fire of Diana’s temple — you must read Longinus — read away — if you are not a jot the wiser by reading him the first time over — never fear — read him again — Avicenna and Licetus read Aristotle’s metaphysicks forty times through a-piece, and never understood a single word. — But mark the consequence — Avicenna turned out a desperate writer at all kinds of writing — for he wrote books de omni scribili; and for Licetus (Fortunio) though all the world knows he was born a foetus, (Ce Foetus n’etoit pas plus grand que la paume de la main; mais son pere l’ayant examine en qualite de Medecin, & ayant trouve que c’etoit quelque chose de plus qu’un Embryon, le fit transporter tout vivant a Rapallo, ou il le fit voir a Jerome Bardi & a d’autres Medecins du lieu. On trouva qu’il ne lui manquoit rien d’essentiel a la vie; & son pere pour faire voir un essai de son experience, entreprit d’achever l’ouvrage de la Nature, & de travailler a la formation de l’Enfant avec le meme artifice que celui dont on se sert pour faire ecclorre les Poulets en Egypte. Il instruisit une Nourisse de tout ce qu’elle avoit a faire, & ayant fait mettre son fils dans un pour proprement accommode, il reussit a l’elever & a lui faire prendre ses accroissemens necessaires, par l’uniformite d’une chaleur etrangere mesuree exactement sur les degres d’un Thermometre, ou d’un autre instrument equivalent. (Vide Mich. Giustinian, ne gli Scritt. Liguri a 223. 488.) On auroit toujours ete tres satisfait de l’industrie d’un pere si experimente dans l’Art de la Generation, quand il n’auroit pu prolonger la vie a son fils que pour Puelques mois, ou pour peu d’annees. Mais quand on se represente que l’Enfant a vecu pres de quatre-vingts ans, & qu’il a compose quatre-vingts Ouvrages differents tous fruits d’une longue lecture — il faut convenir que tout ce qui est incroyable n’est pas toujours faux, & que la Vraisemblance n’est pas toujours du cote la Verite. Il n’avoit que dix neuf ans lorsqu’il composa Gonopsychanthropologia de Origine Animae humanae. (Les Enfans celebres, revus & corriges par M. de la Monnoye de l’Academie Francoise.)) of no more than five inches and a half in length, yet he grew to that astonishing height in literature, as to write a book with a title as long as himself — the learned know I mean his Gonopsychanthropologia, upon the origin of the human soul.
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.
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.
— 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, 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.
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.
— 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. —
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.
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.
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.
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.
— 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)
— 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.
— 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.
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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
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?
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.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00