Dixero si quid forte jocosius, hoc mihi juris Cum venia dabis. — Hor.
— Si quis calumnietur levius esse quam decet theologum, aut mordacius quam deceat Christianum — non Ego, sed Democritus dixit. — Erasmus.
Si quis Clericus, aut Monachus, verba joculatoria, risum moventia, sciebat, anathema esto. Second Council of Carthage.
I Humbly beg leave to offer you these two Volumes; † they are the best my talents, with such bad health as I have, could produce:— had Providence granted me a larger stock of either, they had been a much more proper present to your Lordship.
I beg your Lordship will forgive me, if, at the same time I dedicate this work to you, I join Lady Spencer, in the liberty I take of inscribing the story of Le Fever to her name; for which I have no other motive, which my heart has informed me of, but that the story is a humane one.
I am, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most devoted and most humble Servant,
† Volumes V. and VI. in the first Edition.
If it had not been for those two mettlesome tits, and that madcap of a postillion who drove them from Stilton to Stamford, the thought had never entered my head. He flew like lightning — there was a slope of three miles and a half — we scarce touched the ground — the motion was most rapid — most impetuous —’twas communicated to my brain — my heart partook of it —‘By the great God of day,’ said I, looking towards the sun, and thrusting my arm out of the fore-window of the chaise, as I made my vow, ‘I will lock up my study-door the moment I get home, and throw the key of it ninety feet below the surface of the earth, into the draw-well at the back of my house.’
The London waggon confirmed me in my resolution; it hung tottering upon the hill, scarce progressive, drag’d — drag’d up by eight heavy beasts —‘by main strength! — quoth I, nodding — but your betters draw the same way — and something of every body’s! — O rare!’
Tell me, ye learned, shall we for ever be adding so much to the bulk — so little to the stock?
Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?
Are we for ever to be twisting, and untwisting the same rope? for ever in the same track — for ever at the same pace?
Shall we be destined to the days of eternity, on holy-days, as well as working-days, to be shewing the relicks of learning, as monks do the relicks of their saints — without working one — one single miracle with them?
Who made Man, with powers which dart him from earth to heaven in a moment — that great, that most excellent, and most noble creature of the world — the miracle of nature, as Zoroaster in his book (Greek) called him — the Shekinah of the divine presence, as Chrysostom — the image of God, as Moses — the ray of divinity, as Plato — the marvel of marvels, as Aristotle — to go sneaking on at this pitiful — pimping — pettifogging rate?
I scorn to be as abusive as Horace upon the occasion — but if there is no catachresis in the wish, and no sin in it, I wish from my soul, that every imitator in Great Britain, France, and Ireland, had the farcy for his pains; and that there was a good farcical house, large enough to hold — aye — and sublimate them, shag rag and bob-tail, male and female, all together: and this leads me to the affair of Whiskers — but, by what chain of ideas — I leave as a legacy in mort-main to Prudes and Tartufs, to enjoy and make the most of.
I’m sorry I made it —’twas as inconsiderate a promise as ever entered a man’s head — A chapter upon whiskers! alas! the world will not bear it —’tis a delicate world — but I knew not of what mettle it was made — nor had I ever seen the under-written fragment; otherwise, as surely as noses are noses, and whiskers are whiskers still (let the world say what it will to the contrary); so surely would I have steered clear of this dangerous chapter.
. . . — You are half asleep, my good lady, said the old gentleman, taking hold of the old lady’s hand, and giving it a gentle squeeze, as he pronounced the word Whiskers — shall we change the subject? By no means, replied the old lady — I like your account of those matters; so throwing a thin gauze handkerchief over her head, and leaning it back upon the chair with her face turned towards him, and advancing her two feet as she reclined herself — I desire, continued she, you will go on.
The old gentleman went on as follows:— Whiskers! cried the queen of Navarre, dropping her knotting ball, as La Fosseuse uttered the word — Whiskers, madam, said La Fosseuse, pinning the ball to the queen’s apron, and making a courtesy as she repeated it.
La Fosseuse’s voice was naturally soft and low, yet ’twas an articulate voice: and every letter of the word Whiskers fell distinctly upon the queen of Navarre’s ear — Whiskers! cried the queen, laying a greater stress upon the word, and as if she had still distrusted her ears — Whiskers! replied La Fosseuse, repeating the word a third time — There is not a cavalier, madam, of his age in Navarre, continued the maid of honour, pressing the page’s interest upon the queen, that has so gallant a pair — Of what? cried Margaret, smiling — Of whiskers, said La Fosseuse, with infinite modesty.
The word Whiskers still stood its ground, and continued to be made use of in most of the best companies throughout the little kingdom of Navarre, notwithstanding the indiscreet use which La Fosseuse had made of it: the truth was, La Fosseuse had pronounced the word, not only before the queen, but upon sundry other occasions at court, with an accent which always implied something of a mystery — And as the court of Margaret, as all the world knows, was at that time a mixture of gallantry and devotion — and whiskers being as applicable to the one, as the other, the word naturally stood its ground — it gained full as much as it lost; that is, the clergy were for it — the laity were against it — and for the women — they were divided.
The excellency of the figure and mien of the young Sieur De Croix, was at that time beginning to draw the attention of the maids of honour towards the terrace before the palace gate, where the guard was mounted. The lady De Baussiere fell deeply in love with him — La Battarelle did the same — it was the finest weather for it, that ever was remembered in Navarre — La Guyol, La Maronette, La Sabatiere, fell in love with the Sieur De Croix also — La Rebours and La Fosseuse knew better — De Croix had failed in an attempt to recommend himself to La Rebours; and La Rebours and La Fosseuse were inseparable.
The queen of Navarre was sitting with her ladies in the painted bow-window, facing the gate of the second court, as De Croix passed through it — He is handsome, said the Lady Baussiere — He has a good mien, said La Battarelle — He is finely shaped, said La Guyol — I never saw an officer of the horse-guards in my life, said La Maronette, with two such legs — Or who stood so well upon them, said La Sabatiere — But he has no whiskers, cried La Fosseuse — Not a pile, said La Rebours.
The queen went directly to her oratory, musing all the way, as she walked through the gallery, upon the subject; turning it this way and that way in her fancy — Ave Maria! — what can La-Fosseuse mean? said she, kneeling down upon the cushion.
La Guyol, La Battarelle, La Maronette, La Sabatiere, retired instantly to their chambers — Whiskers! said all four of them to themselves, as they bolted their doors on the inside.
The Lady Carnavallette was counting her beads with both hands, unsuspected, under her farthingal — from St. Antony down to St. Ursula inclusive, not a saint passed through her fingers without whiskers; St. Francis, St. Dominick, St. Bennet, St. Basil, St. Bridget, had all whiskers.
The Lady Baussiere had got into a wilderness of conceits, with moralizing too intricately upon La Fosseuse’s text — She mounted her palfrey, her page followed her — the host passed by — the Lady Baussiere rode on.
One denier, cried the order of mercy — one single denier, in behalf of a thousand patient captives, whose eyes look towards heaven and you for their redemption.
— The Lady Baussiere rode on.
Pity the unhappy, said a devout, venerable, hoary-headed man, meekly holding up a box, begirt with iron, in his withered hands — I beg for the unfortunate — good my Lady, ’tis for a prison — for an hospital —’tis for an old man — a poor man undone by shipwreck, by suretyship, by fire — I call God and all his angels to witness —’tis to clothe the naked — to feed the hungry —’tis to comfort the sick and the broken-hearted.
The Lady Baussiere rode on.
A decayed kinsman bowed himself to the ground.
— The Lady Baussiere rode on.
He ran begging bare-headed on one side of her palfrey, conjuring her by the former bonds of friendship, alliance, consanguinity, &c. — Cousin, aunt, sister, mother — for virtue’s sake, for your own, for mine, for Christ’s sake, remember me — pity me.
— The Lady Baussiere rode on.
Take hold of my whiskers, said the Lady Baussiere — The page took hold of her palfrey. She dismounted at the end of the terrace.
There are some trains of certain ideas which leave prints of themselves about our eyes and eye-brows; and there is a consciousness of it, somewhere about the heart, which serves but to make these etchings the stronger — we see, spell, and put them together without a dictionary.
Ha, ha! he, hee! cried La Guyol and La Sabatiere, looking close at each other’s prints — Ho, ho! cried La Battarelle and Maronette, doing the same:— Whist! cried one — ft, ft — said a second — hush, quoth a third — poo, poo, replied a fourth — gramercy! cried the Lady Carnavallette; —’twas she who bewhisker’d St. Bridget.
La Fosseuse drew her bodkin from the knot of her hair, and having traced the outline of a small whisker, with the blunt end of it, upon one side of her upper lip, put in into La Rebours’ hand — La Rebours shook her head.
The Lady Baussiere coughed thrice into the inside of her muff — La Guyol smiled — Fy, said the Lady Baussiere. The queen of Navarre touched her eye with the tip of her fore-finger — as much as to say, I understand you all.
’Twas plain to the whole court the word was ruined: La Fosseuse had given it a wound, and it was not the better for passing through all these defiles — It made a faint stand, however, for a few months, by the expiration of which, the Sieur De Croix, finding it high time to leave Navarre for want of whiskers — the word in course became indecent, and (after a few efforts) absolutely unfit for use.
The best word, in the best language of the best world, must have suffered under such combinations. — The curate of d’Estella wrote a book against them, setting forth the dangers of accessory ideas, and warning the Navarois against them.
Does not all the world know, said the curate d’Estella at the conclusion of his work, that Noses ran the same fate some centuries ago in most parts of Europe, which Whiskers have now done in the kingdom of Navarre? — The evil indeed spread no farther then — but have not beds and bolsters, and night-caps and chamber-pots stood upon the brink of destruction ever since? Are not trouse, and placket-holes, and pump-handles — and spigots and faucets, in danger still from the same association? — Chastity, by nature, the gentlest of all affections — give it but its head —’tis like a ramping and a roaring lion.
The drift of the curate d’Estella’s argument was not understood. — They ran the scent the wrong way. — The world bridled his ass at the tail. — And when the extremes of Delicacy, and the beginnings of Concupiscence, hold their next provincial chapter together, they may decree that bawdy also.
When my father received the letter which brought him the melancholy account of my brother Bobby’s death, he was busy calculating the expence of his riding post from Calais to Paris, and so on to Lyons.
’Twas a most inauspicious journey; my father having had every foot of it to travel over again, and his calculation to begin afresh, when he had almost got to the end of it, by Obadiah’s opening the door to acquaint him the family was out of yeast — and to ask whether he might not take the great coach-horse early in the morning and ride in search of some. — With all my heart, Obadiah, said my father (pursuing his journey)— take the coach-horse, and welcome. — But he wants a shoe, poor creature! said Obadiah. — Poor creature! said my uncle Toby, vibrating the note back again, like a string in unison. Then ride the Scotch horse, quoth my father hastily. — He cannot bear a saddle upon his back, quoth Obadiah, for the whole world. — The devil’s in that horse; then take Patriot, cried my father, and shut the door. — Patriot is sold, said Obadiah. Here’s for you! cried my father, making a pause, and looking in my uncle Toby’s face, as if the thing had not been a matter of fact. — Your worship ordered me to sell him last April, said Obadiah. — Then go on foot for your pains, cried my father — I had much rather walk than ride, said Obadiah, shutting the door.
What plagues, cried my father, going on with his calculation. — But the waters are out, said Obadiah — opening the door again.
Till that moment, my father, who had a map of Sanson’s, and a book of the post-roads before him, had kept his hand upon the head of his compasses, with one foot of them fixed upon Nevers, the last stage he had paid for — purposing to go on from that point with his journey and calculation, as soon as Obadiah quitted the room: but this second attack of Obadiah’s, in opening the door and laying the whole country under water, was too much. — He let go his compasses — or rather with a mixed motion between accident and anger, he threw them upon the table; and then there was nothing for him to do, but to return back to Calais (like many others) as wise as he had set out.
When the letter was brought into the parlour, which contained the news of my brother’s death, my father had got forwards again upon his journey to within a stride of the compasses of the very same stage of Nevers. — By your leave, Mons. Sanson, cried my father, striking the point of his compasses through Nevers into the table — and nodding to my uncle Toby to see what was in the letter — twice of one night, is too much for an English gentleman and his son, Mons. Sanson, to be turned back from so lousy a town as Nevers — What think’st thou, Toby? added my father in a sprightly tone. — Unless it be a garrison town, said my uncle Toby — for then — I shall be a fool, said my father, smiling to himself, as long as I live. — So giving a second nod — and keeping his compasses still upon Nevers with one hand, and holding his book of the post-roads in the other — half calculating and half listening, he leaned forwards upon the table with both elbows, as my uncle Toby hummed over the letter.
. . .he’s gone! said my uncle Toby — Where — Who? cried my father. — My nephew, said my uncle Toby. — What — without leave — without money — without governor? cried my father in amazement. No:— he is dead, my dear brother, quoth my uncle Toby. — Without being ill? cried my father again. — I dare say not, said my uncle Toby, in a low voice, and fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of his heart, he has been ill enough, poor lad! I’ll answer for him — for he is dead.
When Agrippina was told of her son’s death, Tacitus informs us, that, not being able to moderate the violence of her passions, she abruptly broke off her work — My father stuck his compasses into Nevers, but so much the faster. — What contrarieties! his, indeed, was matter of calculation! — Agrippina’s must have been quite a different affair; who else could pretend to reason from history?
How my father went on, in my opinion, deserves a chapter to itself. —
. . . — And a chapter it shall have, and a devil of a one too — so look to yourselves.
’Tis either Plato, or Plutarch, or Seneca, or Xenophon, or Epictetus, or Theophrastus, or Lucian — or some one perhaps of later date — either Cardan, or Budaeus, or Petrarch, or Stella — or possibly it may be some divine or father of the church, St. Austin, or St. Cyprian, or Barnard, who affirms that it is an irresistible and natural passion to weep for the loss of our friends or children — and Seneca (I’m positive) tells us somewhere, that such griefs evacuate themselves best by that particular channel — And accordingly we find, that David wept for his son Absalom — Adrian for his Antinous — Niobe for her children, and that Apollodorus and Crito both shed tears for Socrates before his death.
My father managed his affliction otherwise; and indeed differently from most men either ancient or modern; for he neither wept it away, as the Hebrews and the Romans — or slept it off, as the Laplanders — or hanged it, as the English, or drowned it, as the Germans — nor did he curse it, or damn it, or excommunicate it, or rhyme it, or lillabullero it. —
— He got rid of it, however.
Will your worships give me leave to squeeze in a story between these two pages?
When Tully was bereft of his dear daughter Tullia, at first he laid it to his heart — he listened to the voice of nature, and modulated his own unto it. — O my Tullia! my daughter! my child! — still, still, still — ’twas O my Tullia! — my Tullia! Methinks I see my Tullia, I hear my Tullia, I talk with my Tullia. — But as soon as he began to look into the stores of philosophy, and consider how many excellent things might be said upon the occasion — no body upon earth can conceive, says the great orator, how happy, how joyful it made me.
My father was as proud of his eloquence as Marcus Tullius Cicero could be for his life, and, for aught I am convinced of to the contrary at present, with as much reason: it was indeed his strength — and his weakness too. — His strength — for he was by nature eloquent; and his weakness — for he was hourly a dupe to it; and, provided an occasion in life would but permit him to shew his talents, or say either a wise thing, a witty, or a shrewd one — (bating the case of a systematic misfortune)— he had all he wanted. — A blessing which tied up my father’s tongue, and a misfortune which let it loose with a good grace, were pretty equal: sometimes, indeed, the misfortune was the better of the two; for instance, where the pleasure of the harangue was as ten, and the pain of the misfortune but as five — my father gained half in half, and consequently was as well again off, as if it had never befallen him.
This clue will unravel what otherwise would seem very inconsistent in my father’s domestic character; and it is this, that, in the provocations arising from the neglects and blunders of servants, or other mishaps unavoidable in a family, his anger, or rather the duration of it, eternally ran counter to all conjecture.
My father had a favourite little mare, which he had consigned over to a most beautiful Arabian horse, in order to have a pad out of her for his own riding: he was sanguine in all his projects; so talked about his pad every day with as absolute a security, as if it had been reared, broke — and bridled and saddled at his door ready for mounting. By some neglect or other in Obadiah, it so fell out, that my father’s expectations were answered with nothing better than a mule, and as ugly a beast of the kind as ever was produced.
My mother and my uncle Toby expected my father would be the death of Obadiah — and that there never would be an end of the disaster — See here! you rascal, cried my father, pointing to the mule, what you have done! — It was not me, said Obadiah. — How do I know that? replied my father.
Triumph swam in my father’s eyes, at the repartee — the Attic salt brought water into them — and so Obadiah heard no more about it.
Now let us go back to my brother’s death.
Philosophy has a fine saying for every thing. — For Death it has an entire set; the misery was, they all at once rushed into my father’s head, that ’twas difficult to string them together, so as to make any thing of a consistent show out of them. — He took them as they came.
‘’Tis an inevitable chance — the first statute in Magna Charta — it is an everlasting act of parliament, my dear brother — All must die.
‘If my son could not have died, it had been matter of wonder — not that he is dead.
‘Monarchs and princes dance in the same ring with us.
‘— To die, is the great debt and tribute due unto nature: tombs and monuments, which should perpetuate our memories, pay it themselves; and the proudest pyramid of them all, which wealth and science have erected, has lost its apex, and stands obtruncated in the traveller’s horizon.’ (My father found he got great ease, and went on)—‘Kingdoms and provinces, and towns and cities, have they not their periods? and when those principles and powers, which at first cemented and put them together, have performed their several evolutions, they fall back.’— Brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby, laying down his pipe at the word evolutions — Revolutions, I meant, quoth my father — by heaven! I meant revolutions, brother Toby — evolutions is nonsense. —’Tis not nonsense — said my uncle Toby. — But is it not nonsense to break the thread of such a discourse upon such an occasion? cried my father — do not — dear Toby, continued he, taking him by the hand, do not — do not, I beseech thee, interrupt me at this crisis. — My uncle Toby put his pipe into his mouth.
‘Where is Troy and Mycenae, and Thebes and Delos, and Persepolis and Agrigentum?’— continued my father, taking up his book of post-roads, which he had laid down. —‘What is become, brother Toby, of Nineveh and Babylon, of Cizicum and Mitylenae? The fairest towns that ever the sun rose upon, are now no more; the names only are left, and those (for many of them are wrong spelt) are falling themselves by piece-meals to decay, and in length of time will be forgotten, and involved with every thing in a perpetual night: the world itself, brother Toby, must — must come to an end.
‘Returning out of Asia, when I sailed from Aegina towards Megara,’ (when can this have been? thought my uncle Toby,) ‘ I began to view the country round about. Aegina was behind me, Megara was before, Pyraeus on the right hand, Corinth on the left. — What flourishing towns now prostrate upon the earth! Alas! alas! said I to myself, that man should disturb his soul for the loss of a child, when so much as this lies awfully buried in his presence — Remember, said I to myself again — remember thou art a man.’—
Now my uncle Toby knew not that this last paragraph was an extract of Servius Sulpicius’s consolatory letter to Tully. — He had as little skill, honest man, in the fragments, as he had in the whole pieces of antiquity. — And as my father, whilst he was concerned in the Turkey trade, had been three or four different times in the Levant, in one of which he had stayed a whole year and an half at Zant, my uncle Toby naturally concluded, that, in some one of these periods, he had taken a trip across the Archipelago into Asia; and that all this sailing affair with Aegina behind, and Megara before, and Pyraeus on the right hand, &c. &c. was nothing more than the true course of my father’s voyage and reflections. —’Twas certainly in his manner, and many an undertaking critic would have built two stories higher upon worse foundations. — And pray, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, laying the end of his pipe upon my father’s hand in a kindly way of interruption — but waiting till he finished the account — what year of our Lord was this? — ’Twas no year of our Lord, replied my father. — That’s impossible, cried my uncle Toby. — Simpleton! said my father — ’twas forty years before Christ was born.
My uncle Toby had but two things for it; either to suppose his brother to be the wandering Jew, or that his misfortunes had disordered his brain. — ‘May the Lord God of heaven and earth protect him and restore him!’ said my uncle Toby, praying silently for my father, and with tears in his eyes.
— My father placed the tears to a proper account, and went on with his harangue with great spirit.
‘There is not such great odds, brother Toby, betwixt good and evil, as the world imagines’—(this way of setting off, by the bye, was not likely to cure my uncle Toby’s suspicions). —‘Labour, sorrow, grief, sickness, want, and woe, are the sauces of life.’— Much good may do them — said my uncle Toby to himself. —
‘My son is dead! — so much the better; —’tis a shame in such a tempest to have but one anchor.
‘But he is gone for ever from us! — be it so. He is got from under the hands of his barber before he was bald — he is but risen from a feast before he was surfeited — from a banquet before he had got drunken.
‘The Thracians wept when a child was born,’—(and we were very near it, quoth my uncle Toby,)—‘and feasted and made merry when a man went out of the world; and with reason. — Death opens the gate of fame, and shuts the gate of envy after it — it unlooses the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman’s task into another man’s hands.
‘Shew me the man, who knows what life is, who dreads it, and I’ll shew thee a prisoner who dreads his liberty.’
Is it not better, my dear brother Toby, (for mark — our appetites are but diseases,)— is it not better not to hunger at all, than to eat? — not to thirst, than to take physic to cure it?
Is it not better to be freed from cares and agues, from love and melancholy, and the other hot and cold fits of life, than, like a galled traveller, who comes weary to his inn, to be bound to begin his journey afresh?
There is no terrour, brother Toby, in its looks, but what it borrows from groans and convulsions — and the blowing of noses and the wiping away of tears with the bottoms of curtains, in a dying man’s room. — Strip it of these, what is it? —’Tis better in battle than in bed, said my uncle Toby. — Take away its hearses, its mutes, and its mourning — its plumes, scutcheons, and other mechanic aids — What is it? — Better in battle! continued my father, smiling, for he had absolutely forgot my brother Bobby —’tis terrible no way — for consider, brother Toby — when we are — death is not; — and when death is — we are not. My uncle Toby laid down his pipe to consider the proposition; my father’s eloquence was too rapid to stay for any man — away it went — and hurried my uncle Toby’s ideas along with it. —
For this reason, continued my father, ’tis worthy to recollect, how little alteration, in great men, the approaches of death have made. — Vespasian died in a jest upon his close-stool — Galba with a sentence — Septimus Severus in a dispatch — Tiberius in dissimulation, and Caesar Augustus in a compliment. — I hope ’twas a sincere one — quoth my uncle Toby.
—’Twas to his wife — said my father.
— And lastly — for all the choice anecdotes which history can produce of this matter, continued my father — this, like the gilded dome which covers in the fabric — crowns all. —
’Tis of Cornelius Gallus, the praetor — which, I dare say, brother Toby, you have read. — I dare say I have not, replied my uncle. — He died, said my father as . . . — And if it was with his wife, said my uncle Toby — there could be no hurt in it. — That’s more than I know — replied my father.
My mother was going very gingerly in the dark along the passage which led to the parlour, as my uncle Toby pronounced the word wife. —’Tis a shrill penetrating sound of itself, and Obadiah had helped it by leaving the door a little a-jar, so that my mother heard enough of it to imagine herself the subject of the conversation; so laying the edge of her finger across her two lips — holding in her breath, and bending her head a little downwards, with a twist of her neck —(not towards the door, but from it, by which means her ear was brought to the chink)— she listened with all her powers:— the listening slave, with the Goddess of Silence at his back, could not have given a finer thought for an intaglio.
In this attitude I am determined to let her stand for five minutes: till I bring up the affairs of the kitchen (as Rapin does those of the church) to the same period.
Though in one sense, our family was certainly a simple machine, as it consisted of a few wheels; yet there was thus much to be said for it, that these wheels were set in motion by so many different springs, and acted one upon the other from such a variety of strange principles and impulses — that though it was a simple machine, it had all the honour and advantages of a complex one — and a number of as odd movements within it, as ever were beheld in the inside of a Dutch silk-mill.
Amongst these there was one, I am going to speak of, in which, perhaps, it was not altogether so singular, as in many others; and it was this, that whatever motion, debate, harangue, dialogue, project, or dissertation, was going forwards in the parlour, there was generally another at the same time, and upon the same subject, running parallel along with it in the kitchen.
Now to bring this about, whenever an extraordinary message, or letter, was delivered in the parlour — or a discourse suspended till a servant went out — or the lines of discontent were observed to hang upon the brows of my father or mother — or, in short, when any thing was supposed to be upon the tapis worth knowing or listening to, ’twas the rule to leave the door, not absolutely shut, but somewhat a-jar — as it stands just now — which, under covert of the bad hinge, (and that possibly might be one of the many reasons why it was never mended,) it was not difficult to manage; by which means, in all these cases, a passage was generally left, not indeed as wide as the Dardanelles, but wide enough, for all that, to carry on as much of this windward trade, as was sufficient to save my father the trouble of governing his house; — my mother at this moment stands profiting by it. — Obadiah did the same thing, as soon as he had left the letter upon the table which brought the news of my brother’s death, so that before my father had well got over his surprise, and entered upon his harangue — had Trim got upon his legs, to speak his sentiments upon the subject.
A curious observer of nature, had he been worth the inventory of all Job’s stock — though by the bye, your curious observers are seldom worth a groat — would have given the half of it, to have heard Corporal Trim and my father, two orators so contrasted by nature and education, haranguing over the same bier.
My father — a man of deep reading — prompt memory — with Cato, and Seneca, and Epictetus, at his fingers ends. —
The corporal — with nothing — to remember — of no deeper reading than his muster-roll — or greater names at his fingers end, than the contents of it.
The one proceeding from period to period, by metaphor and allusion, and striking the fancy as he went along (as men of wit and fancy do) with the entertainment and pleasantry of his pictures and images.
The other, without wit or antithesis, or point, or turn, this way or that; but leaving the images on one side, and the picture on the other, going straight forwards as nature could lead him, to the heart. O Trim! would to heaven thou had’st a better historian! — would! — thy historian had a better pair of breeches! — O ye critics! will nothing melt you?
— My young master in London is dead? said Obadiah. —
— A green sattin night-gown of my mother’s, which had been twice scoured, was the first idea which Obadiah’s exclamation brought into Susannah’s head. — Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words. — Then, quoth Susannah, we must all go into mourning. — But note a second time: the word mourning, notwithstanding Susannah made use of it herself — failed also of doing its office; it excited not one single idea, tinged either with grey or black — all was green. — The green sattin night-gown hung there still.
— O! ’twill be the death of my poor mistress, cried Susannah. — My mother’s whole wardrobe followed. — What a procession! her red damask — her orange tawney — her white and yellow lutestrings — her brown taffata — her bone-laced caps, her bed-gowns, and comfortable under-petticoats. — Not a rag was left behind. —‘No — she will never look up again,’ said Susannah.
We had a fat, foolish scullion — my father, I think, kept her for her simplicity; — she had been all autumn struggling with a dropsy. — He is dead, said Obadiah — he is certainly dead! — So am not I, said the foolish scullion.
— Here is sad news, Trim, cried Susannah, wiping her eyes as Trim stepp’d into the kitchen — master Bobby is dead and buried — the funeral was an interpolation of Susannah’s — we shall have all to go into mourning, said Susannah.
I hope not, said Trim. — You hope not! cried Susannah earnestly. — The mourning ran not in Trim’s head, whatever it did in Susannah’s. — I hope — said Trim, explaining himself, I hope in God the news is not true. I heard the letter read with my own ears, answered Obadiah; and we shall have a terrible piece of work of it in stubbing the ox-moor. — Oh! he’s dead, said Susannah. — As sure, said the scullion, as I’m alive.
I lament for him from my heart and my soul, said Trim, fetching a sigh. — Poor creature! — poor boy! — poor gentleman!
— He was alive last Whitsontide! said the coachman. — Whitsontide! alas! cried Trim, extending his right arm, and falling instantly into the same attitude in which he read the sermon — what is Whitsontide, Jonathan (for that was the coachman’s name), or Shrovetide, or any tide or time past, to this? Are we not here now, continued the corporal (striking the end of his stick perpendicularly upon the floor, so as to give an idea of health and stability)— and are we not —(dropping his hat upon the ground) gone! in a moment! —’Twas infinitely striking! Susannah burst into a flood of tears. — We are not stocks and stones. — Jonathan, Obadiah, the cook-maid, all melted. — The foolish fat scullion herself, who was scouring a fish-kettle upon her knees, was rous’d with it. — The whole kitchen crowded about the corporal.
Now, as I perceive plainly, that the preservation of our constitution in church and state — and possibly the preservation of the whole world — or what is the same thing, the distribution and balance of its property and power, may in time to come depend greatly upon the right understanding of this stroke of the corporal’s eloquence — I do demand your attention — your worships and reverences, for any ten pages together, take them where you will in any other part of the work, shall sleep for it at your ease.
I said, ‘we were not stocks and stones’—’tis very well. I should have added, nor are we angels, I wish we were — but men clothed with bodies, and governed by our imaginations; — and what a junketing piece of work of it there is, betwixt these and our seven senses, especially some of them, for my own part, I own it, I am ashamed to confess. Let it suffice to affirm, that of all the senses, the eye (for I absolutely deny the touch, though most of your Barbati, I know, are for it) has the quickest commerce with the soul — gives a smarter stroke, and leaves something more inexpressible upon the fancy, than words can either convey — or sometimes get rid of.
— I’ve gone a little about — no matter, ’tis for health — let us only carry it back in our mind to the mortality of Trim’s hat —‘Are we not here now — and gone in a moment?’— There was nothing in the sentence —’twas one of your self-evident truths we have the advantage of hearing every day; and if Trim had not trusted more to his hat than his head — he made nothing at all of it.
—‘Are we not here now;’ continued the corporal, ‘and are we not’— (dropping his hat plumb upon the ground — and pausing, before he pronounced the word)—‘gone! in a moment?’ The descent of the hat was as if a heavy lump of clay had been kneaded into the crown of it. — Nothing could have expressed the sentiment of mortality, of which it was the type and fore-runner, like it — his hand seemed to vanish from under it — it fell dead — the corporal’s eye fixed upon it, as upon a corpse — and Susannah burst into a flood of tears.
Now — Ten thousand, and ten thousand times ten thousand (for matter and motion are infinite) are the ways by which a hat may be dropped upon the ground, without any effect. — Had he flung it, or thrown it, or cast it, or skimmed it, or squirted it, or let it slip or fall in any possible direction under heaven — or in the best direction that could be given to it — had he dropped it like a goose — like a puppy — like an ass — or in doing it, or even after he had done, had he looked like a fool — like a ninny — like a nincompoop — it had fail’d, and the effect upon the heart had been lost.
Ye who govern this mighty world and its mighty concerns with the engines of eloquence — who heat it, and cool it, and melt it, and mollify it — and then harden it again to your purpose —
Ye who wind and turn the passions with this great windlass, and, having done it, lead the owners of them, whither ye think meet.
Ye, lastly, who drive — and why not, Ye also who are driven, like turkeys to market with a stick and a red clout — meditate — meditate, I beseech you, upon Trim’s hat.
Stay — I have a small account to settle with the reader before Trim can go on with his harangue. — It shall be done in two minutes.
Amongst many other book-debts, all of which I shall discharge in due time — I own myself a debtor to the world for two items — a chapter upon chamber-maids and button-holes, which, in the former part of my work, I promised and fully intended to pay off this year: but some of your worships and reverences telling me, that the two subjects, especially so connected together, might endanger the morals of the world — I pray the chapter upon chamber-maids and button-holes may be forgiven me — and that they will accept of the last chapter in lieu of it; which is nothing, an’t please your reverences, but a chapter of chamber-maids, green gowns, and old hats.
Trim took his hat off the ground — put it upon his head — and then went on with his oration upon death, in manner and form following.
— To us, Jonathan, who know not what want or care is — who live here in the service of two of the best of masters —(bating in my own case his majesty King William the Third, whom I had the honour to serve both in Ireland and Flanders)— I own it, that from Whitsontide to within three weeks of Christmas — ’tis not long —’tis like nothing; — but to those, Jonathan, who know what death is, and what havock and destruction he can make, before a man can well wheel about —’tis like a whole age. — O Jonathan! ‘twould make a good-natured man’s heart bleed, to consider, continued the corporal (standing perpendicularly), how low many a brave and upright fellow has been laid since that time! — And trust me, Susy, added the corporal, turning to Susannah, whose eyes were swimming in water — before that time comes round again — many a bright eye will be dim. — Susannah placed it to the right side of the page — she wept — but she court’sied too. — Are we not, continued Trim, looking still at Susannah — are we not like a flower of the field — a tear of pride stole in betwixt every two tears of humiliation — else no tongue could have described Susannah’s affliction — is not all flesh grass? — Tis clay — ’tis dirt. — They all looked directly at the scullion — the scullion had just been scouring a fish-kettle. — It was not fair. —
— What is the finest face that ever man looked at! — I could hear Trim talk so for ever, cried Susannah — what is it! (Susannah laid her hand upon Trim’s shoulder)— but corruption? — Susannah took it off.
Now I love you for this — and ’tis this delicious mixture within you which makes you dear creatures what you are — and he who hates you for it — all I can say of the matter is — That he has either a pumpkin for his head — or a pippin for his heart — and whenever he is dissected ’twill be found so.
Whether Susannah, by taking her hand too suddenly from off the corporal’s shoulder (by the whisking about of her passions)— broke a little the chain of his reflexions —
Or whether the corporal began to be suspicious, he had got into the doctor’s quarters, and was talking more like the chaplain than himself —
Or whether. . .Or whether — for in all such cases a man of invention and parts may with pleasure fill a couple of pages with suppositions — which of all these was the cause, let the curious physiologist, or the curious any body determine —’tis certain, at least, the corporal went on thus with his harangue.
For my own part, I declare it, that out of doors, I value not death at all:— not this. . .added the corporal, snapping his fingers — but with an air which no one but the corporal could have given to the sentiment. — In battle, I value death not this. . .and let him not take me cowardly, like poor Joe Gibbins, in scouring his gun. — What is he? A pull of a trigger — a push of a bayonet an inch this way or that — makes the difference. — Look along the line — to the right — see! Jack’s down! well — ’tis worth a regiment of horse to him. — No —’tis Dick. Then Jack’s no worse. — Never mind which — we pass on — in hot pursuit the wound itself which brings him is not felt — the best way is to stand up to him — the man who flies, is in ten times more danger than the man who marches up into his jaws. — I’ve look’d him, added the corporal, an hundred times in the face — and know what he is. — He’s nothing, Obadiah, at all in the field. — But he’s very frightful in a house, quoth Obadiah. — I never mind it myself, said Jonathan, upon a coach-box. — It must, in my opinion, be most natural in bed, replied Susannah. — And could I escape him by creeping into the worst calf’s skin that ever was made into a knapsack, I would do it there — said Trim — but that is nature.
— Nature is nature, said Jonathan. — And that is the reason, cried Susannah, I so much pity my mistress. — She will never get the better of it. — Now I pity the captain the most of any one in the family, answered Trim. — Madam will get ease of heart in weeping — and the Squire in talking about it — but my poor master will keep it all in silence to himself. — I shall hear him sigh in his bed for a whole month together, as he did for lieutenant Le Fever. An’ please your honour, do not sigh so piteously, I would say to him as I laid besides him. I cannot help it, Trim, my master would say — ’tis so melancholy an accident — I cannot get it off my heart. — Your honour fears not death yourself. — I hope, Trim, I fear nothing, he would say, but the doing a wrong thing. — Well, he would add, whatever betides, I will take care of Le Fever’s boy. — And with that, like a quieting draught, his honour would fall asleep.
I like to hear Trim’s stories about the captain, said Susannah. — He is a kindly-hearted gentleman, said Obadiah, as ever lived. — Aye, and as brave a one too, said the corporal, as ever stept before a platoon. — There never was a better officer in the king’s army — or a better man in God’s world; for he would march up to the mouth of a cannon, though he saw the lighted match at the very touch-hole — and yet, for all that, he has a heart as soft as a child for other people. — He would not hurt a chicken. — I would sooner, quoth Jonathan, drive such a gentleman for seven pounds a year — than some for eight. — Thank thee, Jonathan! for thy twenty shillings — as much, Jonathan, said the corporal, shaking him by the hand, as if thou hadst put the money into my own pocket. — I would serve him to the day of my death out of love. He is a friend and a brother to me — and could I be sure my poor brother Tom was dead — continued the corporal, taking out his handkerchief — was I worth ten thousand pounds, I would leave every shilling of it to the captain. — Trim could not refrain from tears at this testamentary proof he gave of his affection to his master. — The whole kitchen was affected. — Do tell us the story of the poor lieutenant, said Susannah. — With all my heart, answered the corporal.
Susannah, the cook, Jonathan, Obadiah, and corporal Trim, formed a circle about the fire; and as soon as the scullion had shut the kitchen door — the corporal begun.
I am a Turk if I had not as much forgot my mother, as if Nature had plaistered me up, and set me down naked upon the banks of the river Nile, without one. — Your most obedient servant, Madam — I’ve cost you a great deal of trouble — I wish it may answer; — but you have left a crack in my back — and here’s a great piece fallen off here before — and what must I do with this foot? — I shall never reach England with it.
For my own part, I never wonder at any thing; — and so often has my judgment deceived me in my life, that I always suspect it, right or wrong — at least I am seldom hot upon cold subjects. For all this, I reverence truth as much as any body; and when it has slipped us, if a man will but take me by the hand, and go quietly and search for it, as for a thing we have both lost, and can neither of us do well without — I’ll go to the world’s end with him:— But I hate disputes — and therefore (bating religious points, or such as touch society) I would almost subscribe to any thing which does not choak me in the first passage, rather than be drawn into one — But I cannot bear suffocation — and bad smells worst of all. — For which reasons, I resolved from the beginning, That if ever the army of martyrs was to be augmented — or a new one raised — I would have no hand in it, one way or t’other.
— But to return to my mother.
My uncle Toby’s opinion, Madam, ‘that there could be no harm in Cornelius Gallus, the Roman praetor’s lying with his wife;’— or rather the last word of that opinion — (for it was all my mother heard of it) caught hold of her by the weak part of the whole sex:— You shall not mistake me — I mean her curiosity — she instantly concluded herself the subject of the conversation, and with that prepossession upon her fancy, you will readily conceive every word my father said, was accommodated either to herself, or her family concerns.
— Pray, Madam, in what street does the lady live, who would not have done the same?
From the strange mode of Cornelius’s death, my father had made a transition to that of Socrates, and was giving my uncle Toby an abstract of his pleading before his judges; —’twas irresistible:— not the oration of Socrates — but my father’s temptation to it. — He had wrote the Life of Socrates (This book my father would never consent to publish; ’tis in manuscript, with some other tracts of his, in the family, all, or most of which will be printed in due time.) himself the year before he left off trade, which, I fear, was the means of hastening him out of it; — so that no one was able to set out with so full a sail, and in so swelling a tide of heroic loftiness upon the occasion, as my father was. Not a period in Socrates’s oration, which closed with a shorter word than transmigration, or annihilation — or a worse thought in the middle of it than to be — or not to be — the entering upon a new and untried state of things — or, upon a long, a profound and peaceful sleep, without dreams, without disturbance? — That we and our children were born to die — but neither of us born to be slaves. — No — there I mistake; that was part of Eleazer’s oration, as recorded by Josephus (de Bell. Judaic)— Eleazer owns he had it from the philosophers of India; in all likelihood Alexander the Great, in his irruption into India, after he had over-run Persia, amongst the many things he stole — stole that sentiment also; by which means it was carried, if not all the way by himself (for we all know he died at Babylon), at least by some of his maroders, into Greece — from Greece it got to Rome — from Rome to France — and from France to England:— So things come round. —
By land carriage, I can conceive no other way. —
By water the sentiment might easily have come down the Ganges into the Sinus Gangeticus, or Bay of Bengal, and so into the Indian Sea; and following the course of trade (the way from India by the Cape of Good Hope being then unknown), might be carried with other drugs and spices up the Red Sea to Joddah, the port of Mekka, or else to Tor or Sues, towns at the bottom of the gulf; and from thence by karrawans to Coptos, but three days journey distant, so down the Nile directly to Alexandria, where the Sentiment would be landed at the very foot of the great stair-case of the Alexandrian library — and from that store-house it would be fetched. — Bless me! what a trade was driven by the learned in those days!
— Now my father had a way, a little like that of Job’s (in case there ever was such a man — if not, there’s an end of the matter. —
Though, by the bye, because your learned men find some difficulty in fixing the precise aera in which so great a man lived; — whether, for instance, before or after the patriarchs, &c. — to vote, therefore, that he never lived at all, is a little cruel — ’tis not doing as they would be done by — happen that as it may)— My father, I say, had a way, when things went extremely wrong with him, especially upon the first sally of his impatience — of wondering why he was begot — wishing himself dead; — sometimes worse:— And when the provocation ran high, and grief touched his lips with more than ordinary powers — Sir, you scarce could have distinguished him from Socrates himself. — Every word would breathe the sentiments of a soul disdaining life, and careless about all its issues; for which reason, though my mother was a woman of no deep reading, yet the abstract of Socrates’s oration, which my father was giving my uncle Toby, was not altogether new to her. — She listened to it with composed intelligence, and would have done so to the end of the chapter, had not my father plunged (which he had no occasion to have done) into that part of the pleading where the great philosopher reckons up his connections, his alliances, and children; but renounces a security to be so won by working upon the passions of his judges. —‘I have friends — I have relations — I have three desolate children,’— says Socrates. —
— Then, cried my mother, opening the door — you have one more, Mr. Shandy, than I know of.
By heaven! I have one less — said my father, getting up and walking out of the room.
— They are Socrates’s children, said my uncle Toby. He has been dead a hundred years ago, replied my mother.
My uncle Toby was no chronologer — so not caring to advance one step but upon safe ground, he laid down his pipe deliberately upon the table, and rising up, and taking my mother most kindly by the hand, without saying another word, either good or bad, to her, he led her out after my father, that he might finish the ecclaircissement himself.
Had this volume been a farce, which, unless every one’s life and opinions are to be looked upon as a farce as well as mine, I see no reason to suppose — the last chapter, Sir, had finished the first act of it, and then this chapter must have set off thus.
Ptr. . .r. . .r. . .ing — twing — twang — prut — trut —’tis a cursed bad fiddle. — Do you know whether my fiddle’s in tune or no? — trut. . .prut . . . — They should be fifths. —’Tis wickedly strung — tr. . .a.e.i.o.u.-twang. — The bridge is a mile too high, and the sound post absolutely down — else — trut. . .prut — hark! tis not so bad a tone. — Diddle diddle, diddle diddle, diddle diddle, dum. There is nothing in playing before good judges — but there’s a man there — no — not him with the bundle under his arm — the grave man in black. —‘Sdeath! not the gentleman with the sword on. — Sir, I had rather play a Caprichio to Calliope herself, than draw my bow across my fiddle before that very man; and yet I’ll stake my Cremona to a Jew’s trump, which is the greatest musical odds that ever were laid, that I will this moment stop three hundred and fifty leagues out of tune upon my fiddle, without punishing one single nerve that belongs to him — Twaddle diddle, tweddle diddle — twiddle diddle — twoddle diddle — twuddle diddle — prut trut — krish — krash — krush. — I’ve undone you, Sir — but you see he’s no worse — and was Apollo to take his fiddle after me, he can make him no better.
Diddle diddle, diddle diddle, diddle diddle — hum — dum — drum.
— Your worships and your reverences love music — and God has made you all with good ears — and some of you play delightfully yourselves — trut-prut — prut-trut.
O! there is — whom I could sit and hear whole days — whose talents lie in making what he fiddles to be felt — who inspires me with his joys and hopes, and puts the most hidden springs of my heart into motion. — If you would borrow five guineas of me, Sir — which is generally ten guineas more than I have to spare — or you Messrs. Apothecary and Taylor, want your bills paying — that’s your time.
The first thing which entered my father’s head, after affairs were a little settled in the family, and Susanna had got possession of my mother’s green sattin night-gown — was to sit down coolly, after the example of Xenophon, and write a Tristra-paedia, or system of education for me; collecting first for that purpose his own scattered thoughts, counsels, and notions; and binding them together, so as to form an Institute for the government of my childhood and adolescence. I was my father’s last stake — he had lost my brother Bobby entirely — he had lost, by his own computation, full three-fourths of me — that is, he had been unfortunate in his three first great casts for me — my geniture, nose, and name — there was but this one left; and accordingly my father gave himself up to it with as much devotion as ever my uncle Toby had done to his doctrine of projectils. — The difference between them was, that my uncle Toby drew his whole knowledge of projectils from Nicholas Tartaglia — My father spun his, every thread of it, out of his own brain — or reeled and cross-twisted what all other spinners and spinsters had spun before him, that ’twas pretty near the same torture to him.
In about three years, or something more, my father had got advanced almost into the middle of his work. — Like all other writers, he met with disappointments. — He imagined he should be able to bring whatever he had to say, into so small a compass, that when it was finished and bound, it might be rolled up in my mother’s hussive. — Matter grows under our hands. — Let no man say — ‘Come — I’ll write a duodecimo.’
My father gave himself up to it, however, with the most painful diligence, proceeding step by step in every line, with the same kind of caution and circumspection (though I cannot say upon quite so religious a principle) as was used by John de la Casse, the lord archbishop of Benevento, in compassing his Galatea; in which his Grace of Benevento spent near forty years of his life; and when the thing came out, it was not of above half the size or the thickness of a Rider’s Almanack. — How the holy man managed the affair, unless he spent the greatest part of his time in combing his whiskers, or playing at primero with his chaplain — would pose any mortal not let into the true secret; — and therefore ’tis worth explaining to the world, was it only for the encouragement of those few in it, who write not so much to be fed — as to be famous.
I own had John de la Casse, the archbishop of Benevento, for whose memory (notwithstanding his Galatea,) I retain the highest veneration — had he been, Sir, a slender clerk — of dull wit — slow parts — costive head, and so forth — he and his Galatea might have jogged on together to the age of Methuselah for me — the phaenomenon had not been worth a parenthesis. —
But the reverse of this was the truth: John de la Casse was a genius of fine parts and fertile fancy; and yet with all these great advantages of nature, which should have pricked him forwards with his Galatea, he lay under an impuissance at the same time of advancing above a line and a half in the compass of a whole summer’s day: this disability in his Grace arose from an opinion he was afflicted with — which opinion was this — viz. that whenever a Christian was writing a book (not for his private amusement, but) where his intent and purpose was, bona fide, to print and publish it to the world, his first thoughts were always the temptations of the evil one. — This was the state of ordinary writers: but when a personage of venerable character and high station, either in church or state, once turned author — he maintained, that from the very moment he took pen in hand — all the devils in hell broke out of their holes to cajole him. —’Twas Term-time with them — every thought, first and last, was captious; — how specious and good soever — ’twas all one; — in whatever form or colour it presented itself to the imagination — ’twas still a stroke of one or other of ’em levell’d at him, and was to be fenced off. — So that the life of a writer, whatever he might fancy to the contrary, was not so much a state of composition, as a state of warfare; and his probation in it, precisely that of any other man militant upon earth — both depending alike, not half so much upon the degrees of his wit — as his Resistance.
My father was hugely pleased with this theory of John de la Casse, archbishop of Benevento; and (had it not cramped him a little in his creed) I believe would have given ten of the best acres in the Shandy estate, to have been the broacher of it. — How far my father actually believed in the devil, will be seen, when I come to speak of my father’s religious notions, in the progress of this work: ’tis enough to say here, as he could not have the honour of it, in the literal sense of the doctrine — he took up with the allegory of it; and would often say, especially when his pen was a little retrograde, there was as much good meaning, truth, and knowledge, couched under the veil of John de la Casse’s parabolical representation — as was to be found in any one poetic fiction or mystic record of antiquity. — Prejudice of education, he would say, is the devil — and the multitudes of them which we suck in with our mother’s milk — are the devil and all. — We are haunted with them, brother Toby, in all our lucubrations and researches; and was a man fool enough to submit tamely to what they obtruded upon him — what would his book be? Nothing — he would add, throwing his pen away with a vengeance — nothing but a farrago of the clack of nurses, and of the nonsense of the old women (of both sexes) throughout the kingdom.
This is the best account I am determined to give of the slow progress my father made in his Tristra-paedia; at which (as I said) he was three years, and something more, indefatigably at work, and, at last, had scarce completed, by this own reckoning, one half of his undertaking: the misfortune was, that I was all that time totally neglected and abandoned to my mother; and what was almost as bad, by the very delay, the first part of the work, upon which my father had spent the most of his pains, was rendered entirely useless — every day a page or two became of no consequence. —
— Certainly it was ordained as a scourge upon the pride of human wisdom, That the wisest of us all should thus outwit ourselves, and eternally forego our purposes in the intemperate act of pursuing them.
In short my father was so long in all his acts of resistance — or in other words — he advanced so very slow with his work, and I began to live and get forwards at such a rate, that if an event had not happened — which, when we get to it, if it can be told with decency, shall not be concealed a moment from the reader — I verily believe, I had put by my father, and left him drawing a sundial, for no better purpose than to be buried under ground.
—’Twas nothing — I did not lose two drops of blood by it —’twas not worth calling in a surgeon, had he lived next door to us — thousands suffer by choice, what I did by accident. — Doctor Slop made ten times more of it, than there was occasion:— some men rise, by the art of hanging great weights upon small wires — and I am this day (August the 10th, 1761) paying part of the price of this man’s reputation. — O ‘twould provoke a stone, to see how things are carried on in this world! — The chamber-maid had left no . . . . . . . . . . under the bed:— Cannot you contrive, master, quoth Susannah, lifting up the sash with one hand, as she spoke, and helping me up into the window-seat with the other — cannot you manage, my dear, for a single time, to . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . ..?
I was five years old. — Susannah did not consider that nothing was well hung in our family — so slap came the sash down like lightning upon us; — Nothing is left — cried Susannah — nothing is left — for me, but to run my country.-
My uncle Toby’s house was a much kinder sanctuary; and so Susannah fled to it.
When Susannah told the corporal the misadventure of the sash, with all the circumstances which attended the murder of me — (as she called it,)— the blood forsook his cheeks — all accessaries in murder being principals — Trim’s conscience told him he was as much to blame as Susannah — and if the doctrine had been true, my uncle Toby had as much of the bloodshed to answer for to heaven, as either of ’em; — so that neither reason or instinct, separate or together, could possibly have guided Susannah’s steps to so proper an asylum. It is in vain to leave this to the Reader’s imagination:— to form any kind of hypothesis that will render these propositions feasible, he must cudgel his brains sore — and to do it without — he must have such brains as no reader ever had before him. — Why should I put them either to trial or to torture? ’Tis my own affair: I’ll explain it myself.
’Tis a pity, Trim, said my uncle Toby, resting with his hand upon the corporal’s shoulder, as they both stood surveying their works — that we have not a couple of field-pieces to mount in the gorge of that new redoubt; —‘twould secure the lines all along there, and make the attack on that side quite complete:— get me a couple cast, Trim.
Your honour shall have them, replied Trim, before tomorrow morning.
It was the joy of Trim’s heart, nor was his fertile head ever at a loss for expedients in doing it, to supply my uncle Toby in his campaigns, with whatever his fancy called for; had it been his last crown, he would have sate down and hammered it into a paderero, to have prevented a single wish in his master. The corporal had already — what with cutting off the ends of my uncle Toby’s spouts — hacking and chiseling up the sides of his leaden gutters — melting down his pewter shaving-bason — and going at last, like Lewis the Fourteenth, on to the top of the church, for spare ends, &c. — he had that very campaign brought no less than eight new battering cannons, besides three demi-culverins, into the field; my uncle Toby’s demand for two more pieces for the redoubt, had set the corporal at work again; and no better resource offering, he had taken the two leaden weights from the nursery window: and as the sash pullies, when the lead was gone, were of no kind of use, he had taken them away also, to make a couple of wheels for one of their carriages.
He had dismantled every sash-window in my uncle Toby’s house long before, in the very same way — though not always in the same order; for sometimes the pullies have been wanted, and not the lead — so then he began with the pullies — and the pullies being picked out, then the lead became useless — and so the lead went to pot too.
— A great Moral might be picked handsomely out of this, but I have not time —’tis enough to say, wherever the demolition began, ’twas equally fatal to the sash window.
The corporal had not taken his measures so badly in this stroke of artilleryship, but that he might have kept the matter entirely to himself, and left Susannah to have sustained the whole weight of the attack, as she could; — true courage is not content with coming off so. — The corporal, whether as general or comptroller of the train — ’twas no matter — had done that, without which, as he imagined, the misfortune could never have happened — at least in Susannah’s hands; — How would your honours have behaved? — He determined at once, not to take shelter behind Susannah — but to give it; and with this resolution upon his mind, he marched upright into the parlour, to lay the whole manoeuvre before my uncle Toby.
My uncle Toby had just then been giving Yorick an account of the Battle of Steenkirk, and of the strange conduct of count Solmes in ordering the foot to halt, and the horse to march where it could not act; which was directly contrary to the king’s commands, and proved the loss of the day.
There are incidents in some families so pat to the purpose of what is going to follow — they are scarce exceeded by the invention of a dramatic writer; — I mean of ancient days. —
Trim, by the help of his fore-finger, laid flat upon the table, and the edge of his hand striking across it at right angles, made a shift to tell his story so, that priests and virgins might have listened to it; — and the story being told — the dialogue went on as follows.
— I would be picquetted to death, cried the corporal, as he concluded Susannah’s story, before I would suffer the woman to come to any harm — ’twas my fault, an’ please your honour — not her’s.
Corporal Trim, replied my uncle Toby, putting on his hat which lay upon the table — if any thing can be said to be a fault, when the service absolutely requires it should be done — ’tis I certainly who deserve the blame — you obeyed your orders.
Had count Solmes, Trim, done the same at the battle of Steenkirk, said Yorick, drolling a little upon the corporal, who had been run over by a dragoon in the retreat — he had saved thee; — Saved! cried Trim, interrupting Yorick, and finishing the sentence for him after his own fashion — he had saved five battalions, an’ please your reverence, every soul of them:— there was Cutt’s — continued the corporal, clapping the forefinger of his right hand upon the thumb of his left, and counting round his hand — there was Cutt’s — Mackay’s — Angus’s — Graham’s — and Leven’s, all cut to pieces; — and so had the English life-guards too, had it not been for some regiments upon the right, who marched up boldly to their relief, and received the enemy’s fire in their faces, before any one of their own platoons discharged a musket — they’ll go to heaven for it — added Trim. — Trim is right, said my uncle Toby, nodding to Yorick — he’s perfectly right. What signified his marching the horse, continued the corporal, where the ground was so strait, that the French had such a nation of hedges, and copses, and ditches, and fell’d trees laid this way and that to cover them (as they always have). — Count Solmes should have sent us — we would have fired muzzle to muzzle with them for their lives. — There was nothing to be done for the horse:— he had his foot shot off however for his pains, continued the corporal, the very next campaign at Landen. — Poor Trim got his wound there, quoth my uncle Toby. —’Twas owing, an’ please your honour, entirely to count Solmes — had he drubbed them soundly at Steenkirk, they would not have fought us at Landen. — Possibly not — Trim, said my uncle Toby; — though if they have the advantage of a wood, or you give them a moment’s time to intrench themselves, they are a nation which will pop and pop for ever at you. — There is no way but to march coolly up to them — receive their fire, and fall in upon them, pell-mell — Ding dong, added Trim. — Horse and foot, said my uncle Toby. — Helter Skelter, said Trim. — Right and left, cried my uncle Toby. — Blood an’ ounds, shouted the corporal; — the battle raged — Yorick drew his chair a little to one side for safety, and after a moment’s pause, my uncle Toby sinking his voice a note — resumed the discourse as follows.
King William, said my uncle Toby, addressing himself to Yorick, was so terribly provoked at count Solmes for disobeying his orders, that he would not suffer him to come into his presence for many months after. — I fear, answered Yorick, the squire will be as much provoked at the corporal, as the King at the count. — But ‘twould be singularly hard in this case, continued be, if corporal Trim, who has behaved so diametrically opposite to count Solmes, should have the fate to be rewarded with the same disgrace:— too oft in this world, do things take that train. — I would spring a mine, cried my uncle Toby, rising up — and blow up my fortifications, and my house with them, and we would perish under their ruins, ere I would stand by and see it. — Trim directed a slight — but a grateful bow towards his master — and so the chapter ends.
— Then, Yorick, replied my uncle Toby, you and I will lead the way abreast — and do you, corporal, follow a few paces behind us. — And Susannah, an’ please your honour, said Trim, shall be put in the rear. — ’Twas an excellent disposition — and in this order, without either drums beating, or colours flying, they marched slowly from my uncle Toby’s house to Shandy-hall.
— I wish, said Trim, as they entered the door — instead of the sash weights, I had cut off the church spout, as I once thought to have done. — You have cut off spouts enow, replied Yorick.
As many pictures as have been given of my father, how like him soever in different airs and attitudes — not one, or all of them, can ever help the reader to any kind of preconception of how my father would think, speak, or act, upon any untried occasion or occurrence of life. — There was that infinitude of oddities in him, and of chances along with it, by which handle he would take a thing — it baffled, Sir, all calculations. — The truth was, his road lay so very far on one side, from that wherein most men travelled — that every object before him presented a face and section of itself to his eye, altogether different from the plan and elevation of it seen by the rest of mankind. — In other words, ’twas a different object, and in course was differently considered:
This is the true reason, that my dear Jenny and I, as well as all the world besides us, have such eternal squabbles about nothing. — She looks at her outside — I, at her in. . .. How is it possible we should agree about her value?
’Tis a point settled — and I mention it for the comfort of Confucius, (Mr Shandy is supposed to mean. . ., Esq; member for . . . — and not the Chinese Legislator.) who is apt to get entangled in telling a plain story — that provided he keeps along the line of his story — he may go backwards and forwards as he will — ’tis still held to be no digression.
This being premised, I take the benefit of the act of going backwards myself.
Fifty thousand pannier loads of devils —(not of the Archbishop of Benevento’s — I mean of Rabelais’s devils), with their tails chopped off by their rumps, could not have made so diabolical a scream of it, as I did — when the accident befel me: it summoned up my mother instantly into the nursery — so that Susannah had but just time to make her escape down the back stairs, as my mother came up the fore.
Now, though I was old enough to have told the story myself — and young enough, I hope, to have done it without malignity; yet Susannah, in passing by the kitchen, for fear of accidents, had left it in short-hand with the cook — the cook had told it with a commentary to Jonathan, and Jonathan to Obadiah; so that by the time my father had rung the bell half a dozen times, to know what was the matter above — was Obadiah enabled to give him a particular account of it, just as it had happened. — I thought as much, said my father, tucking up his night-gown; — and so walked up stairs.
One would imagine from this —(though for my own part I somewhat question it)— that my father, before that time, had actually wrote that remarkable character in the Tristra-paedia, which to me is the most original and entertaining one in the whole book; — and that is the chapter upon sash-windows, with a bitter Philippick at the end of it, upon the forgetfulness of chamber-maids. — I have but two reasons for thinking otherwise.
First, Had the matter been taken into consideration, before the event happened, my father certainly would have nailed up the sash window for good an’ all; — which, considering with what difficulty he composed books — he might have done with ten times less trouble, than he could have wrote the chapter: this argument I foresee holds good against his writing a chapter, even after the event; but ’tis obviated under the second reason, which I have the honour to offer to the world in support of my opinion, that my father did not write the chapter upon sash-windows and chamber-pots, at the time supposed — and it is this.
— That, in order to render the Tristra-paedia complete — I wrote the chapter myself.
My father put on his spectacles — looked — took them off — put them into the case — all in less than a statutable minute; and without opening his lips, turned about and walked precipitately down stairs: my mother imagined he had stepped down for lint and basilicon; but seeing him return with a couple of folios under his arm, and Obadiah following him with a large reading-desk, she took it for granted ’twas an herbal, and so drew him a chair to the bedside, that he might consult upon the case at his ease.
— If it be but right done — said my father, turning to the Section — de sede vel subjecto circumcisionis — for he had brought up Spenser de Legibus Hebraeorum Ritualibus — and Maimonides, in order to confront and examine us altogether. —
— If it be but right done, quoth he:— only tell us, cried my mother, interrupting him, what herbs? — For that, replied my father, you must send for Dr. Slop.
My mother went down, and my father went on, reading the section as follows,
. . . — Very well — said my father, . . . — nay, if it has that convenience — and so without stopping a moment to settle it first in his mind, whether the Jews had it from the Egyptians, or the Egyptians from the Jews — he rose up, and rubbing his forehead two or three times across with the palm of his hand, in the manner we rub out the footsteps of care, when evil has trod lighter upon us than we foreboded — he shut the book, and walked down stairs. — Nay, said he, mentioning the name of a different great nation upon every step as he set his foot upon it — if the Egyptians — the Syrians — the Phoenicians — the Arabians — the Cappadocians — if the Colchi, and Troglodytes did it — if Solon and Pythagoras submitted — what is Tristram? — Who am I, that I should fret or fume one moment about the matter?
Dear Yorick, said my father smiling (for Yorick had broke his rank with my uncle Toby in coming through the narrow entry, and so had stept first into the parlour)— this Tristram of ours, I find, comes very hardly by all his religious rites. — Never was the son of Jew, Christian, Turk, or Infidel initiated into them in so oblique and slovenly a manner. — But he is no worse, I trust, said Yorick. — There has been certainly, continued my father, the deuce and all to do in some part or other of the ecliptic, when this offspring of mine was formed. — That, you are a better judge of than I, replied Yorick. — Astrologers, quoth my father, know better than us both:— the trine and sextil aspects have jumped awry — or the opposite of their ascendents have not hit it, as they should — or the lords of the genitures (as they call them) have been at bo-peep — or something has been wrong above, or below with us.
’Tis possible, answered Yorick. — But is the child, cried my uncle Toby, the worse? — The Troglodytes say not, replied my father. And your theologists, Yorick, tell us — Theologically? said Yorick — or speaking after the manner of apothecaries? (footnote in Greek Philo.)— statesmen? (footnote in Greek)— or washer-women? (footnote in Greek Bochart.)
— I’m not sure, replied my father — but they tell us, brother Toby, he’s the better for it. — Provided, said Yorick, you travel him into Egypt. — Of that, answered my father, he will have the advantage, when he sees the Pyramids. —
Now every word of this, quoth my uncle Toby, is Arabic to me. — I wish, said Yorick, ’twas so, to half the world.
— Ilus, (footnote in Greek Sanchuniatho.) continued my father, circumcised his whole army one morning. — Not without a court martial? cried my uncle Toby. — Though the learned, continued he, taking no notice of my uncle Toby’s remark, but turning to Yorick — are greatly divided still who Ilus was; — some say Saturn; — some the Supreme Being; — others, no more than a brigadier general under Pharaoh-neco. — Let him be who he will, said my uncle Toby, I know not by what article of war he could justify it.
The controvertists, answered my father, assign two-and-twenty different reasons for it:— others, indeed, who have drawn their pens on the opposite side of the question, have shewn the world the futility of the greatest part of them. — But then again, our best polemic divines — I wish there was not a polemic divine, said Yorick, in the kingdom; — one ounce of practical divinity — is worth a painted ship-load of all their reverences have imported these fifty years. — Pray, Mr. Yorick, quoth my uncle Toby — do tell me what a polemic divine is? — The best description, captain Shandy, I have ever read, is of a couple of ’em, replied Yorick, in the account of the battle fought single hands betwixt Gymnast and captain Tripet; which I have in my pocket. — I beg I may hear it, quoth my uncle Toby earnestly. — You shall, said Yorick. — And as the corporal is waiting for me at the door — and I know the description of a battle will do the poor fellow more good than his supper — I beg, brother, you’ll give him leave to come in. — With all my soul, said my father. — Trim came in, erect and happy as an emperor; and having shut the door, Yorick took a book from his right-hand coat-pocket, and read, or pretended to read, as follows.
—‘which words being heard by all the soldiers which were there, divers of them being inwardly terrified, did shrink back and make room for the assailant: all this did Gymnast very well remark and consider; and therefore, making as if he would have alighted from off his horse, as he was poising himself on the mounting side, he most nimbly (with his short sword by this thigh) shifting his feet in the stirrup, and performing the stirrup-leather feat, whereby, after the inclining of his body downwards, he forthwith launched himself aloft into the air, and placed both his feet together upon the saddle, standing upright, with his back turned towards his horse’s head — Now, (said he) my case goes forward. Then suddenly in the same posture wherein he was, he fetched a gambol upon one foot, and turning to the left-hand, failed not to carry his body perfectly round, just into his former position, without missing one jot. — Ha! said Tripet, I will not do that at this time — and not without cause. Well, said Gymnast, I have failed — I will undo this leap; then with a marvellous strength and agility, turning towards the right-hand, he fetched another striking gambol as before; which done, he set his right hand thumb upon the bow of the saddle, raised himself up, and sprung into the air, poising and upholding his whole weight upon the muscle and nerve of the said thumb, and so turned and whirled himself about three times: at the fourth, reversing his body, and overturning it upside down, and foreside back, without touching any thing, he brought himself betwixt the horse’s two ears, and then giving himself a jerking swing, he seated himself upon the crupper —’
(This can’t be fighting, said my uncle Toby. — The corporal shook his head at it. — Have patience, said Yorick.)
‘Then (Tripet) pass’d his right leg over his saddle, and placed himself en croup. — But, said he, ’twere better for me to get into the saddle; then putting the thumbs of both hands upon the crupper before him, and there-upon leaning himself, as upon the only supporters of his body, he incontinently turned heels over head in the air, and strait found himself betwixt the bow of the saddle in a tolerable seat; then springing into the air with a summerset, he turned him about like a wind-mill, and made above a hundred frisks, turns, and demi-pommadas.’— Good God! cried Trim, losing all patience — one home thrust of a bayonet is worth it all. — I think so too, replied Yorick. —
I am of a contrary opinion, quoth my father.
— No — I think I have advanced nothing, replied my father, making answer to a question which Yorick had taken the liberty to put to him — I have advanced nothing in the Tristra-paedia, but what is as clear as any one proposition in Euclid. — Reach me, Trim, that book from off the scrutoir:— it has oft-times been in my mind, continued my father, to have read it over both to you, Yorick, and to my brother Toby, and I think it a little unfriendly in myself, in not having done it long ago:— shall we have a short chapter or two now — and a chapter or two hereafter, as occasions serve; and so on, till we get through the whole? My uncle Toby and Yorick made the obeisance which was proper; and the corporal, though he was not included in the compliment, laid his hand upon his breast, and made his bow at the same time. — The company smiled. Trim, quoth my father, has paid the full price for staying out the entertainment. — He did not seem to relish the play, replied Yorick. —’Twas a Tom-fool-battle, an’ please your reverence, of captain Tripet’s and that other officer, making so many summersets, as they advanced; — the French come on capering now and then in that way — but not quite so much.
My uncle Toby never felt the consciousness of his existence with more complacency than what the corporal’s, and his own reflections, made him do at that moment; — he lighted his pipe — Yorick drew his chair closer to the table — Trim snuff’d the candle — my father stirr’d up the fire — took up the book — cough’d twice, and begun.
The first thirty pages, said my father, turning over the leaves — are a little dry; and as they are not closely connected with the subject — for the present we’ll pass them by: ’tis a prefatory introduction, continued my father, or an introductory preface (for I am not determined which name to give it) upon political or civil government; the foundation of which being laid in the first conjunction betwixt male and female, for procreation of the species — I was insensibly led into it. —’Twas natural, said Yorick.
The original of society, continued my father, I’m satisfied is, what Politian tells us, i. e. merely conjugal; and nothing more than the getting together of one man and one woman; — to which, (according to Hesiod) the philosopher adds a servant:— but supposing in the first beginning there were no men servants born — he lays the foundation of it, in a man — a woman — and a bull. — I believe ’tis an ox, quoth Yorick, quoting the passage (Greek)— A bull must have given more trouble than his head was worth. — But there is a better reason still, said my father (dipping his pen into his ink); for the ox being the most patient of animals, and the most useful withal in tilling the ground for their nourishment — was the properest instrument, and emblem too, for the new joined couple, that the creation could have associated with them. — And there is a stronger reason, added my uncle Toby, than them all for the ox. — My father had not power to take his pen out of his ink-horn, till he had heard my uncle Toby’s reason. — For when the ground was tilled, said my uncle Toby, and made worth inclosing, then they began to secure it by walls and ditches, which was the origin of fortification. — True, true, dear Toby, cried my father, striking out the bull, and putting the ox in his place.
My father gave Trim a nod, to snuff the candle, and resumed his discourse.
— I enter upon this speculation, said my father carelessly, and half shutting the book, as he went on, merely to shew the foundation of the natural relation between a father and his child; the right and jurisdiction over whom he acquires these several ways — 1st, by marriage. 2d, by adoption. 3d, by legitimation. And 4th, by procreation; all which I consider in their order.
I lay a slight stress upon one of them, replied Yorick — the act, especially where it ends there, in my opinion lays as little obligation upon the child, as it conveys power to the father. — You are wrong — said my father argutely, and for this plain reason. . .. — I own, added my father, that the offspring, upon this account, is not so under the power and jurisdiction of the mother. — But the reason, replied Yorick, equally holds good for her. — She is under authority herself, said my father:— and besides, continued my father, nodding his head, and laying his finger upon the side of his nose, as he assigned his reason — she is not the principal agent, Yorick. — In what, quoth my uncle Toby? stopping his pipe. — Though by all means, added my father (not attending to my uncle Toby), ‘The son ought to pay her respect,’ as you may read, Yorick, at large in the first book of the Institutes of Justinian, at the eleventh title and the tenth section. — I can read it as well, replied Yorick, in the Catechism.
Trim can repeat every word of it by heart, quoth my uncle Toby. — Pugh! said my father, not caring to be interrupted with Trim’s saying his Catechism. He can, upon my honour, replied my uncle Toby. — Ask him, Mr. Yorick, any question you please. —
— The fifth Commandment, Trim — said Yorick, speaking mildly, and with a gentle nod, as to a modest Catechumen. The corporal stood silent. — You don’t ask him right, said my uncle Toby, raising his voice, and giving it rapidly like the word of command:— The fifth — cried my uncle Toby. — I must begin with the first, an’ please your honour, said the corporal. —
— Yorick could not forbear smiling. — Your reverence does not consider, said the corporal, shouldering his stick like a musket, and marching into the middle of the room, to illustrate his position — that ’tis exactly the same thing, as doing one’s exercise in the field. —
‘Join your right-hand to your firelock,’ cried the corporal, giving the word of command, and performing the motion. —
‘Poise your firelock,’ cried the corporal, doing the duty still both of adjutant and private man.
‘Rest your firelock;’— one motion, an’ please your reverence, you see leads into another. — If his honour will begin but with the first —
The First — cried my uncle Toby, setting his hand upon his side —. . ..
The Second — cried my uncle Toby, waving his tobacco-pipe, as he would have done his sword at the head of a regiment. — The corporal went through his manual with exactness; and having honoured his father and mother, made a low bow, and fell back to the side of the room.
Every thing in this world, said my father, is big with jest, and has wit in it, and instruction too — if we can but find it out.
— Here is the scaffold work of Instruction, its true point of folly, without the Building behind it.
— Here is the glass for pedagogues, preceptors, tutors, governors, gerund-grinders, and bear-leaders to view themselves in, in their true dimensions. —
Oh! there is a husk and shell, Yorick, which grows up with learning, which their unskilfulness knows not how to fling away!
— Sciences May Be Learned by Rote But Wisdom Not.
Yorick thought my father inspired. — I will enter into obligations this moment, said my father, to lay out all my aunt Dinah’s legacy in charitable uses (of which, by the bye, my father had no high opinion), if the corporal has any one determinate idea annexed to any one word he has repeated. — Prithee, Trim, quoth my father, turning round to him — What dost thou mean, by ‘honouring thy father and mother?’
Allowing them, an’ please your honour, three halfpence a day out of my pay, when they grow old. — And didst thou do that, Trim? said Yorick. — He did indeed, replied my uncle Toby. — Then, Trim, said Yorick, springing out of his chair, and taking the corporal by the hand, thou art the best commentator upon that part of the Decalogue; and I honour thee more for it, corporal Trim, than if thou hadst had a hand in the Talmud itself.
O blessed health! cried my father, making an exclamation, as he turned over the leaves to the next chapter, thou art before all gold and treasure; ’tis thou who enlargest the soul — and openest all its powers to receive instruction and to relish virtue. — He that has thee, has little more to wish for; — and he that is so wretched as to want thee — wants every thing with thee.
I have concentrated all that can be said upon this important head, said my father, into a very little room, therefore we’ll read the chapter quite through.
My father read as follows:
‘The whole secret of health depending upon the due contention for mastery betwixt the radical heat and the radical moisture’— You have proved that matter of fact, I suppose, above, said Yorick. Sufficiently, replied my father.
In saying this, my father shut the book — not as if he resolved to read no more of it, for he kept his fore-finger in the chapter:— nor pettishly — for he shut the book slowly; his thumb resting, when he had done it, upon the upper-side of the cover, as his three fingers supported the lower side of it, without the least compressive violence. —
I have demonstrated the truth of that point, quoth my father, nodding to Yorick, most sufficiently in the preceding chapter.
Now could the man in the moon be told, that a man in the earth had wrote a chapter, sufficiently demonstrating, That the secret of all health depended upon the due contention for mastery betwixt the radical heat and the radical moisture — and that he had managed the point so well, that there was not one single word wet or dry upon radical heat or radical moisture, throughout the whole chapter — or a single syllable in it, pro or con, directly or indirectly, upon the contention betwixt these two powers in any part of the animal oeconomy —
‘O thou eternal Maker of all beings!’— he would cry, striking his breast with his right hand (in case he had one)—‘Thou whose power and goodness can enlarge the faculties of thy creatures to this infinite degree of excellence and perfection — What have we Moonites done?’
With two strokes, the one at Hippocrates, the other at Lord Verulam, did my father achieve it.
The stroke at the prince of physicians, with which he began, was no more than a short insult upon his sorrowful complaint of the Ars longa — and Vita brevis. — Life short, cried my father — and the art of healing tedious! And who are we to thank for both the one and the other, but the ignorance of quacks themselves — and the stage-loads of chymical nostrums, and peripatetic lumber, with which, in all ages, they have first flatter’d the world, and at last deceived it?
— O my lord Verulam! cried my father, turning from Hippocrates, and making his second stroke at him, as the principal of nostrum-mongers, and the fittest to be made an example of to the rest — What shall I say to thee, my great lord Verulam? What shall I say to thy internal spirit — thy opium, thy salt-petre — thy greasy unctions — thy daily purges — thy nightly clysters, and succedaneums?
— My father was never at a loss what to say to any man, upon any subject; and had the least occasion for the exordium of any man breathing: how he dealt with his lordship’s opinion — you shall see; — but when — I know not:— we must first see what his lordship’s opinion was.
‘The two great causes, which conspire with each other to shorten life, says lord Verulam, are first —
‘The internal spirit, which like a gentle flame wastes the body down to death:— And secondly, the external air, that parches the body up to ashes:— which two enemies attacking us on both sides of our bodies together, at length destroy our organs, and render them unfit to carry on the functions of life.’
This being the state of the case, the road to longevity was plain; nothing more being required, says his lordship, but to repair the waste committed by the internal spirit, by making the substance of it more thick and dense, by a regular course of opiates on one side, and by refrigerating the heat of it on the other, by three grains and a half of salt-petre every morning before you got up. —
Still this frame of ours was left exposed to the inimical assaults of the air without; — but this was fenced off again by a course of greasy unctions, which so fully saturated the pores of the skin, that no spicula could enter; — nor could any one get out. — This put a stop to all perspiration, sensible and insensible, which being the cause of so many scurvy distempers — a course of clysters was requisite to carry off redundant humours — and render the system complete.
What my father had to say to my lord of Verulam’s opiates, his salt-petre, and greasy unctions and clysters, you shall read — but not to-day — or to-morrow: time presses upon me — my reader is impatient — I must get forwards — You shall read the chapter at your leisure (if you chuse it), as soon as ever the Tristra-paedia is published. —
Sufficeth it, at present to say, my father levelled the hypothesis with the ground, and in doing that, the learned know, he built up and established his own. —
The whole secret of health, said my father, beginning the sentence again, depending evidently upon the due contention betwixt the radical heat and radical moisture within us; — the least imaginable skill had been sufficient to have maintained it, had not the school-men confounded the task, merely (as Van Helmont, the famous chymist, has proved) by all along mistaking the radical moisture for the tallow and fat of animal bodies.
Now the radical moisture is not the tallow or fat of animals, but an oily and balsamous substance; for the fat and tallow, as also the phlegm or watery parts, are cold; whereas the oily and balsamous parts are of a lively heat and spirit, which accounts for the observation of Aristotle, ‘Quod omne animal post coitum est triste.’
Now it is certain, that the radical heat lives in the radical moisture, but whether vice versa, is a doubt: however, when the one decays, the other decays also; and then is produced, either an unnatural heat, which causes an unnatural dryness — or an unnatural moisture, which causes dropsies. — So that if a child, as he grows up, can but be taught to avoid running into fire or water, as either of ’em threaten his destruction — ’twill be all that is needful to be done upon that head. —
The description of the siege of Jericho itself, could not have engaged the attention of my uncle Toby more powerfully than the last chapter; — his eyes were fixed upon my father throughout it; — he never mentioned radical heat and radical moisture, but my uncle Toby took his pipe out of his mouth, and shook his head; and as soon as the chapter was finished, he beckoned to the corporal to come close to his chair, to ask him the following question — aside. —. . .. It was at the siege of Limerick, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal, making a bow.
The poor fellow and I, quoth my uncle Toby, addressing himself to my father, were scarce able to crawl out of our tents, at the time the siege of Limerick was raised, upon the very account you mention. — Now what can have got into that precious noddle of thine, my dear brother Toby? cried my father, mentally. — By Heaven! continued he, communing still with himself, it would puzzle an Oedipus to bring it in point. —
I believe, an’ please your honour, quoth the corporal, that if it had not been for the quantity of brandy we set fire to every night, and the claret and cinnamon with which I plyed your honour off; — And the geneva, Trim, added my uncle Toby, which did us more good than all — I verily believe, continued the corporal, we had both, an’ please your honour, left our lives in the trenches, and been buried in them too. — The noblest grave, corporal! cried my uncle Toby, his eyes sparkling as he spoke, that a soldier could wish to lie down in. — But a pitiful death for him! an’ please your honour, replied the corporal.
All this was as much Arabick to my father, as the rites of the Colchi and Troglodites had been before to my uncle Toby; my father could not determine whether he was to frown or to smile.
my uncle Toby, turning are Yorick, resumed the case at Limerick, more intelligibly than he had begun it — and so settled the point for my father at once.
It was undoubtedly, said my uncle Toby, a great happiness for myself and the corporal, that we had all along a burning fever, attended with a most raging thirst, during the whole five-and-twenty days the flux was upon us in the camp; otherwise what my brother calls the radical moisture, must, as I conceive it, inevitably have got the better. — My father drew in his lungs top-full of air, and looking up, blew it forth again, as slowly as he possibly could. —
— It was Heaven’s mercy to us, continued my uncle Toby, which put it into the corporal’s head to maintain that due contention betwixt the radical heat and the radical moisture, by reinforceing the fever, as he did all along, with hot wine and spices; whereby the corporal kept up (as it were) a continual firing, so that the radical heat stood its ground from the beginning to the end, and was a fair match for the moisture, terrible as it was. — Upon my honour, added my uncle Toby, you might have heard the contention within our bodies, brother Shandy, twenty toises. — If there was no firing, said Yorick.
Well — said my father, with a full aspiration, and pausing a while after the word — Was I a judge, and the laws of the country which made me one permitted it, I would condemn some of the worst malefactors, provided they had had their clergy . . . — Yorick, foreseeing the sentence was likely to end with no sort of mercy, laid his hand upon my father’s breast, and begged he would respite it for a few minutes, till he asked the corporal a question. — Prithee, Trim, said Yorick, without staying for my father’s leave — tell us honestly — what is thy opinion concerning this self-same radical heat and radical moisture?
With humble submission to his honour’s better judgment, quoth the corporal, making a bow to my uncle Toby — Speak thy opinion freely, corporal, said my uncle Toby. — The poor fellow is my servant — not my slave — added my uncle Toby, turning to my father. —
The corporal put his hat under his left arm, and with his stick hanging upon the wrist of it, by a black thong split into a tassel about the knot, he marched up to the ground where he had performed his catechism; then touching his under-jaw with the thumb and fingers of his right hand before he opened his mouth — he delivered his notion thus.
Just as the corporal was humming, to begin — in waddled Dr. Slop. —’Tis not two-pence matter — the corporal shall go on in the next chapter, let who will come in. —
Well, my good doctor, cried my father sportively, for the transitions of his passions were unaccountably sudden — and what has this whelp of mine to say to the matter?
Had my father been asking after the amputation of the tail of a puppy-dog — he could not have done it in a more careless air: the system which Dr. Slop had laid down, to treat the accident by, no way allowed of such a mode of enquiry. — He sat down.
Pray, Sir, quoth my uncle Toby, in a manner which could not go unanswered — in what condition is the boy? —’Twill end in a phimosis, replied Dr. Slop.
I am no wiser than I was, quoth my uncle Toby — returning his pipe into his mouth. — Then let the corporal go on, said my father, with his medical lecture. — The corporal made a bow to his old friend, Dr. Slop, and then delivered his opinion concerning radical heat and radical moisture, in the following words.
The city of Limerick, the siege of which was begun under his majesty king William himself, the year after I went into the army — lies, an’ please your honours, in the middle of a devilish wet, swampy country. —’Tis quite surrounded, said my uncle Toby, with the Shannon, and is, by its situation, one of the strongest fortified places in Ireland. —
I think this is a new fashion, quoth Dr. Slop, of beginning a medical lecture. —’Tis all true, answered Trim. — Then I wish the faculty would follow the cut of it, said Yorick. —’Tis all cut through, an’ please your reverence, said the corporal, with drains and bogs; and besides, there was such a quantity of rain fell during the siege, the whole country was like a puddle — ’twas that, and nothing else, which brought on the flux, and which had like to have killed both his honour and myself; now there was no such thing, after the first ten days, continued the corporal, for a soldier to lie dry in his tent, without cutting a ditch round it, to draw off the water; — nor was that enough, for those who could afford it, as his honour could, without setting fire every night to a pewter dish full of brandy, which took off the damp of the air, and made the inside of the tent as warm as a stove. —
And what conclusion dost thou draw, corporal Trim, cried my father, from all these premises?
I infer, an’ please your worship, replied Trim, that the radical moisture is nothing in the world but ditch-water — and that the radical heat, of those who can go to the expence of it, is burnt brandy — the radical heat and moisture of a private man, an’ please your honour, is nothing but ditch-water — and a dram of geneva — and give us but enough of it, with a pipe of tobacco, to give us spirits, and drive away the vapours — we know not what it is to fear death.
I am at a loss, Captain Shandy, quoth Doctor Slop, to determine in which branch of learning your servant shines most, whether in physiology or divinity. — Slop had not forgot Trim’s comment upon the sermon. —
It is but an hour ago, replied Yorick, since the corporal was examined in the latter, and passed muster with great honour. —
The radical heat and moisture, quoth Doctor Slop, turning to my father, you must know, is the basis and foundation of our being — as the root of a tree is the source and principle of its vegetation. — It is inherent in the seeds of all animals, and may be preserved sundry ways, but principally in my opinion by consubstantials, impriments, and occludents. — Now this poor fellow, continued Dr. Slop, pointing to the corporal, has had the misfortune to have heard some superficial empiric discourse upon this nice point. — That he has — said my father. — Very likely, said my uncle. — I’m sure of it — quoth Yorick. —
Doctor Slop being called out to look at a cataplasm he had ordered, it gave my father an opportunity of going on with another chapter in the Tristra-paedia. — Come! cheer up, my lads; I’ll shew you land — for when we have tugged through that chapter, the book shall not be opened again this twelve-month. — Huzza! —
— Five years with a bib under his chin;
Four years in travelling from Christ-cross-row to Malachi;
A year and a half in learning to write his own name;
Seven long years and more (Greek)-ing it, at Greek and Latin;
Four years at his probations and his negations — the fine statue still lying in the middle of the marble block — and nothing done, but his tools sharpened to hew it out! —’Tis a piteous delay! — Was not the great Julius Scaliger within an ace of never getting his tools sharpened at all? — Forty-four years old was he before he could manage his Greek; — and Peter Damianus, lord bishop of Ostia, as all the world knows, could not so much as read, when he was of man’s estate. — And Baldus himself, as eminent as he turned out after, entered upon the law so late in life, that every body imagined he intended to be an advocate in the other world: no wonder, when Eudamidas, the son of Archidamas, heard Xenocrates at seventy-five disputing about wisdom, that he asked gravely — If the old man be yet disputing and enquiring concerning wisdom — what time will he have to make use of it?
Yorick listened to my father with great attention; there was a seasoning of wisdom unaccountably mixed up with his strangest whims, and he had sometimes such illuminations in the darkest of his eclipses, as almost atoned for them:— be wary, Sir, when you imitate him.
I am convinced, Yorick, continued my father, half reading and half discoursing, that there is a North-west passage to the intellectual world; and that the soul of man has shorter ways of going to work, in furnishing itself with knowledge and instruction, than we generally take with it. — But, alack! all fields have not a river or a spring running besides them; — every child, Yorick, has not a parent to point it out.
— The whole entirely depends, added my father, in a low voice, upon the auxiliary verbs, Mr. Yorick.
Had Yorick trod upon Virgil’s snake, he could not have looked more surprised. — I am surprised too, cried my father, observing it — and I reckon it as one of the greatest calamities which ever befel the republic of letters, That those who have been entrusted with the education of our children, and whose business it was to open their minds, and stock them early with ideas, in order to set the imagination loose upon them, have made so little use of the auxiliary verbs in doing it, as they have done — So that, except Raymond Lullius, and the elder Pelegrini, the last of which arrived to such perfection in the use of ’em, with his topics, that, in a few lessons, he could teach a young gentleman to discourse with plausibility upon any subject, pro and con, and to say and write all that could be spoken or written concerning it, without blotting a word, to the admiration of all who beheld him. — I should be glad, said Yorick, interrupting my father, to be made to comprehend this matter. You shall, said my father.
The highest stretch of improvement a single word is capable of, is a high metaphor — for which, in my opinion, the idea is generally the worse, and not the better; — but be that as it may — when the mind has done that with it — there is an end — the mind and the idea are at rest — until a second idea enters; — and so on.
Now the use of the Auxiliaries is, at once to set the soul a-going by herself upon the materials as they are brought her; and by the versability of this great engine, round which they are twisted, to open new tracts of enquiry, and make every idea engender millions.
You excite my curiosity greatly, said Yorick.
For my own part, quoth my uncle Toby, I have given it up. — The Danes, an’ please your honour, quoth the corporal, who were on the left at the siege of Limerick, were all auxiliaries. — And very good ones, said my uncle Toby. — But the auxiliaries, Trim, my brother is talking about — I conceive to be different things. —
— You do? said my father, rising up.
My father took a single turn across the room, then sat down, and finished the chapter.
The verbs auxiliary we are concerned in here, continued my father, are, am; was; have; had; do; did; make; made; suffer; shall; should; will; would; can; could; owe; ought; used; or is wont. — And these varied with tenses, present, past, future, and conjugated with the verb see — or with these questions added to them; — Is it? Was it? Will it be? Would it be? May it be? Might it be? And these again put negatively, Is it not? Was it not? Ought it not? — Or affirmatively — It is; It was; It ought to be. Or chronologically — Has it been always? Lately? How long ago? — Or hypothetically — If it was? If it was not? What would follow? — If the French should beat the English? If the Sun go out of the Zodiac?
Now, by the right use and application of these, continued my father, in which a child’s memory should be exercised, there is no one idea can enter his brain, how barren soever, but a magazine of conceptions and conclusions may be drawn forth from it. — Didst thou ever see a white bear? cried my father, turning his head round to Trim, who stood at the back of his chair:— No, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal. — But thou couldst discourse about one, Trim, said my father, in case of need? — How is it possible, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, if the corporal never saw one? — ’Tis the fact I want, replied my father — and the possibility of it is as follows.
A White Bear! Very well. Have I ever seen one? Might I ever have seen one? Am I ever to see one? Ought I ever to have seen one? Or can I ever see one?
Would I had seen a white bear! (for how can I imagine it?)
If I should see a white bear, what should I say? If I should never see a white bear, what then?
If I never have, can, must, or shall see a white bear alive; have I ever seen the skin of one? Did I ever see one painted? — described? Have I never dreamed of one?
Did my father, mother, uncle, aunt, brothers or sisters, ever see a white bear? What would they give? How would they behave? How would the white bear have behaved? Is he wild? Tame? Terrible? Rough? Smooth?
— Is the white bear worth seeing? —
— Is there no sin in it? —
Is it better than a Black One?
— We’ll not stop two moments, my dear Sir — only, as we have got through these five volumes (In the first edition, the sixth volume began with this chapter.), (do, Sir, sit down upon a set — they are better than nothing) let us just look back upon the country we have pass’d through. —
— What a wilderness has it been! and what a mercy that we have not both of us been lost, or devoured by wild beasts in it!
Did you think the world itself, Sir, had contained such a number of Jack Asses? — How they view’d and review’d us as we passed over the rivulet at the bottom of that little valley! — and when we climbed over that hill, and were just getting out of sight — good God! what a braying did they all set up together!
— Prithee, shepherd! who keeps all those Jack Asses?. . ..
— Heaven be their comforter — What! are they never curried? — Are they never taken in in winter? — Bray bray — bray. Bray on — the world is deeply your debtor; — louder still — that’s nothing:— in good sooth, you are ill-used:— Was I a Jack Asse, I solemnly declare, I would bray in G-sol-re-ut from morning, even unto night.
When my father had danced his white bear backwards and forwards through half a dozen pages, he closed the book for good an’ all — and in a kind of triumph redelivered it into Trim’s hand, with a nod to lay it upon the ‘scrutoire, where he found it. — Tristram, said he, shall be made to conjugate every word in the dictionary, backwards and forwards the same way; — every word, Yorick, by this means, you see, is converted into a thesis or an hypothesis; — every thesis and hypothesis have an off-spring of propositions; — and each proposition has its own consequences and conclusions; every one of which leads the mind on again, into fresh tracks of enquiries and doubtings. — The force of this engine, added my father, is incredible in opening a child’s head. —’Tis enough, brother Shandy, cried my uncle Toby, to burst it into a thousand splinters. —
I presume, said Yorick, smiling — it must be owing to this — (for let logicians say what they will, it is not to be accounted for sufficiently from the bare use of the ten predicaments)— That the famous Vincent Quirino, amongst the many other astonishing feats of his childhood, of which the Cardinal Bembo has given the world so exact a story — should be able to paste up in the public schools at Rome, so early as in the eighth year of his age, no less than four thousand five hundred and fifty different theses, upon the most abstruse points of the most abstruse theology; — and to defend and maintain them in such sort, as to cramp and dumbfound his opponents. — What is that, cried my father, to what is told us of Alphonsus Tostatus, who, almost in his nurse’s arms, learned all the sciences and liberal arts without being taught any one of them? — What shall we say of the great Piereskius? — That’s the very man, cried my uncle Toby, I once told you of, brother Shandy, who walked a matter of five hundred miles, reckoning from Paris to Shevling, and from Shevling back again, merely to see Stevinus’s flying chariot. — He was a very great man! added my uncle Toby (meaning Stevinus)— He was so, brother Toby, said my father (meaning Piereskius)— and had multiplied his ideas so fast, and increased his knowledge to such a prodigious stock, that, if we may give credit to an anecdote concerning him, which we cannot withhold here, without shaking the authority of all anecdotes whatever — at seven years of age, his father committed entirely to his care the education of his younger brother, a boy of five years old — with the sole management of all his concerns. — Was the father as wise as the son? quoth my uncle Toby:— I should think not, said Yorick:— But what are these, continued my father —(breaking out in a kind of enthusiasm)— what are these, to those prodigies of childhood in Grotius, Scioppius, Heinsius, Politian, Pascal, Joseph Scaliger, Ferdinand de Cordoue, and others — some of which left off their substantial forms at nine years old, or sooner, and went on reasoning without them; — others went through their classics at seven; — wrote tragedies at eight; — Ferdinand de Cordoue was so wise at nine — ’twas thought the Devil was in him; — and at Venice gave such proofs of his knowledge and goodness, that the monks imagined he was Antichrist, or nothing. — Others were masters of fourteen languages at ten — finished the course of their rhetoric, poetry, logic, and ethics, at eleven — put forth their commentaries upon Servius and Martianus Capella at twelve — and at thirteen received their degrees in philosophy, laws, and divinity:— but you forget the great Lipsius, quoth Yorick, who composed a work (Nous aurions quelque interet, says Baillet, de montrer qu’il n’a rien de ridicule s’il etoit veritable, au moins dans le sens enigmatique que Nicius Erythraeus a ta he de lui donner. Cet auteur dit que pour comprendre comme Lipse, il a pu composer un ouvrage le premier jour de sa vie, il faut s’imaginer, que ce premier jour n’est pas celui de sa naissance charnelle, mais celui au quel il a commence d’user de la raison; il veut que c’ait ete a l’age de neuf ans; et il nous veut persuader que ce fut en cet age, que Lipse fit un poeme. — Le tour est ingenieux, &c. &c.) the day he was born:— They should have wiped it up, said my uncle Toby, and said no more about it.
When the cataplasm was ready, a scruple of decorum had unseasonably rose up in Susannah’s conscience, about holding the candle, whilst Slop tied it on; Slop had not treated Susannah’s distemper with anodynes — and so a quarrel had ensued betwixt them.
— Oh! oh! — said Slop, casting a glance of undue freedom in Susannah’s face, as she declined the office; — then, I think I know you, madam — You know me, Sir! cried Susannah fastidiously, and with a toss of her head, levelled evidently, not at his profession, but at the doctor himself — you know me! cried Susannah again. — Doctor Slop clapped his finger and his thumb instantly upon his nostrils; — Susannah’s spleen was ready to burst at it; — ’Tis false, said Susannah. — Come, come, Mrs Modesty, said Slop, not a little elated with the success of his last thrust — If you won’t hold the candle, and look — you may hold it and shut your eyes:— That’s one of your popish shifts, cried Susannah:—’Tis better, said Slop, with a nod, than no shift at all, young woman; — I defy you, Sir, cried Susannah, pulling her shift sleeve below her elbow.
It was almost impossible for two persons to assist each other in a surgical case with a more splenetic cordiality.
Slop snatched up the cataplasm — Susannah snatched up the candle; — A little this way, said Slop; Susannah looking one way, and rowing another, instantly set fire to Slop’s wig, which being somewhat bushy and unctuous withal, was burnt out before it was well kindled. — You impudent whore! cried Slop — (for what is passion, but a wild beast?)— you impudent whore, cried Slop, getting upright, with the cataplasm in his hand; — I never was the destruction of any body’s nose, said Susannah — which is more than you can say:— Is it? cried Slop, throwing the cataplasm in her face; — Yes, it is, cried Susannah, returning the compliment with what was left in the pan.
Doctor Slop and Susannah filed cross-bills against each other in the parlour; which done, as the cataplasm had failed, they retired into the kitchen to prepare a fomentation for me; — and whilst that was doing, my father determined the point as you will read.
You see ’tis high time, said my father, addressing himself equally to my uncle Toby and Yorick, to take this young creature out of these women’s hands, and put him into those of a private governor. Marcus Antoninus provided fourteen governors all at once to superintend his son Commodus’s education — and in six weeks he cashiered five of them; — I know very well, continued my father, that Commodus’s mother was in love with a gladiator at the time of her conception, which accounts for a great many of Commodus’s cruelties when he became emperor; — but still I am of opinion, that those five whom Antoninus dismissed, did Commodus’s temper, in that short time, more hurt than the other nine were able to rectify all their lives long.
Now as I consider the person who is to be about my son, as the mirror in which he is to view himself from morning to night, by which he is to adjust his looks, his carriage, and perhaps the inmost sentiments of his heart; — I would have one, Yorick, if possible, polished at all points, fit for my child to look into. — This is very good sense, quoth my uncle Toby to himself.
— There is, continued my father, a certain mien and motion of the body and all its parts, both in acting and speaking, which argues a man well within; and I am not at all surprised that Gregory of Nazianzum, upon observing the hasty and untoward gestures of Julian, should foretel he would one day become an apostate; — or that St. Ambrose should turn his Amanuensis out of doors, because of an indecent motion of his head, which went backwards and forwards like a flail; — or that Democritus should conceive Protagoras to be a scholar, from seeing him bind up a faggot, and thrusting, as he did it, the small twigs inwards. — There are a thousand unnoticed openings, continued my father, which let a penetrating eye at once into a man’s soul; and I maintain it, added he, that a man of sense does not lay down his hat in coming into a room — or take it up in going out of it, but something escapes, which discovers him.
It is for these reasons, continued my father, that the governor I make choice of shall neither (Vid. Pellegrina.) lisp, or squint, or wink, or talk loud, or look fierce, or foolish; — or bite his lips, or grind his teeth, or speak through his nose, or pick it, or blow it with his fingers.-
He shall neither walk fast — or slow, or fold his arms — for that is laziness; — or hang them down — for that is folly; or hide them in his pocket, for that is nonsense. —
He shall neither strike, or pinch, or tickle — or bite, or cut his nails, or hawk, or spit, or snift, or drum with his feet or fingers in company; — nor (according to Erasmus) shall he speak to any one in making water — nor shall he point to carrion or excrement. — Now this is all nonsense again, quoth my uncle Toby to himself. —
I will have him, continued my father, cheerful, facete, jovial; at the same time, prudent, attentive to business, vigilant, acute, argute, inventive, quick in resolving doubts and speculative questions; — he shall be wise, and judicious, and learned:— And why not humble, and moderate, and gentle-tempered, and good? said Yorick:— And why not, cried my uncle Toby, free, and generous, and bountiful, and brave? — He shall, my dear Toby, replied my father, getting up and shaking him by his hand. — Then, brother Shandy, answered my uncle Toby, raising himself off the chair, and laying down his pipe to take hold of my father’s other hand — I humbly beg I may recommend poor Le Fever’s son to you; — a tear of joy of the first water sparkled in my uncle Toby’s eye, and another, the fellow to it, in the corporal’s, as the proposition was made; — you will see why when you read Le Fever’s story:— fool that I was! nor can I recollect (nor perhaps you) without turning back to the place, what it was that hindered me from letting the corporal tell it in his own words; — but the occasion is lost — I must tell it now in my own.
The Story of Le Fever.
It was some time in the summer of that year in which Dendermond was taken by the allies — which was about seven years before my father came into the country — and about as many, after the time, that my uncle Toby and Trim the privately decamped from my father’s house in town, in order to lay some of the finest sieges to some of the finest fortified cities in Europe — when my uncle Toby was one evening getting his supper, with Trim sitting behind him at a small sideboard — I say, sitting — for in consideration of the corporal’s lame knee (which sometimes gave him exquisite pain)— when my uncle Toby dined or supped alone, he would never suffer the corporal to stand; and the poor fellow’s veneration for his master was such, that, with a proper artillery, my uncle Toby could have taken Dendermond itself, with less trouble than he was able to gain this point over him; for many a time when my uncle Toby supposed the corporal’s leg was at rest, he would look back, and detect him standing behind him with the most dutiful respect: this bred more little squabbles betwixt them, than all other causes for five-and-twenty years together — But this is neither here nor there — why do I mention it? — Ask my pen — it governs me — I govern not it.
He was one evening sitting thus at his supper, when the landlord of a little inn in the village came into the parlour, with an empty phial in his hand, to beg a glass or two of sack; ’Tis for a poor gentleman — I think, of the army, said the landlord, who has been taken ill at my house four days ago, and has never held up his head since, or had a desire to taste any thing, till just now, that he has a fancy for a glass of sack and a thin toast — I think, says he, taking his hand from his forehead, it would comfort me. —
— If I could neither beg, borrow, or buy such a thing — added the landlord — I would almost steal it for the poor gentleman, he is so ill. — I hope in God he will still mend, continued he — we are all of us concerned for him.
Thou art a good-natured soul, I will answer for thee, cried my uncle Toby; and thou shalt drink the poor gentleman’s health in a glass of sack thyself — and take a couple of bottles with my service, and tell him he is heartily welcome to them, and to a dozen more if they will do him good.
Though I am persuaded, said my uncle Toby, as the landlord shut the door, he is a very compassionate fellow — Trim — yet I cannot help entertaining a high opinion of his guest too; there must be something more than common in him, that in so short a time should win so much upon the affections of his host; — And of his whole family, added the corporal, for they are all concerned for him,. — Step after him, said my uncle Toby — do Trim — and ask if he knows his name.
— I have quite forgot it truly, said the landlord, coming back into the parlour with the corporal — but I can ask his son again:— Has he a son with him then? said my uncle Toby. — A boy, replied the landlord, of about eleven or twelve years of age; — but the poor creature has tasted almost as little as his father; he does nothing but mourn and lament for him night and day:— He has not stirred from the bed-side these two days.
My uncle Toby laid down his knife and fork, and thrust his plate from before him, as the landlord gave him the account; and Trim, without being ordered, took away, without saying one word, and in a few minutes after brought him his pipe and tobacco.
— Stay in the room a little, said my uncle Toby.
Trim! — said my uncle Toby, after he lighted his pipe, and smoak’d about a dozen whiffs. — Trim came in front of his master, and made his bow; — my uncle Toby smoak’d on, and said no more. — Corporal! said my uncle Toby — the corporal made his bow. — My uncle Toby proceeded no farther, but finished his pipe.
Trim! said my uncle Toby, I have a project in my head, as it is a bad night, of wrapping myself up warm in my roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor gentleman. — Your honour’s roquelaure, replied the corporal, has not once been had on, since the night before your honour received your wound, when we mounted guard in the trenches before the gate of St. Nicholas; — and besides, it is so cold and rainy a night, that what with the roquelaure, and what with the weather, ’twill be enough to give your honour your death, and bring on your honour’s torment in your groin. I fear so, replied my uncle Toby; but I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since the account the landlord has given me. — I wish I had not known so much of this affair — added my uncle Toby — or that I had known more of it:— How shall we manage it? Leave it, an’t please your honour, to me, quoth the corporal; — I’ll take my hat and stick and go to the house and reconnoitre, and act accordingly; and I will bring your honour a full account in an hour. — Thou shalt go, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and here’s a shilling for thee to drink with his servant. — I shall get it all out of him, said the corporal, shutting the door.
My uncle Toby filled his second pipe; and had it not been, that he now and then wandered from the point, with considering whether it was not full as well to have the curtain of the tennaile a straight line, as a crooked one — he might be said to have thought of nothing else but poor Le Fever and his boy the whole time he smoaked it.
The Story of Le Fever Continued.
It was not till my uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe, that corporal Trim returned from the inn, and gave him the following account.
I despaired, at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back your honour any kind of intelligence concerning the poor sick lieutenant — Is he in the army, then? said my uncle Toby — He is, said the corporal — And in what regiment? said my uncle Toby — I’ll tell your honour, replied the corporal, every thing straight forwards, as I learnt it. — Then, Trim, I’ll fill another pipe, said my uncle Toby, and not interrupt thee till thou hast done; so sit down at thy ease, Trim, in the window-seat, and begin thy story again. The corporal made his old bow, which generally spoke as plain as a bow could speak it — Your honour is good:— And having done that, he sat down, as he was ordered — and begun the story to my uncle Toby over again in pretty near the same words.
I despaired at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back any intelligence to your honour, about the lieutenant and his son; for when I asked where his servant was, from whom I made myself sure of knowing every thing which was proper to be asked — That’s a right distinction, Trim, said my uncle Toby — I was answered, an’ please your honour, that he had no servant with him; — that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, upon finding himself unable to proceed (to join, I suppose, the regiment), he had dismissed the morning after he came. — If I get better, my dear, said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man — we can hire horses from hence. — But alas! the poor gentleman will never get from hence, said the landlady to me — for I heard the death-watch all night long; — and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with him; for he is broken-hearted already.
I was hearing this account, continued the corporal, when the youth came into the kitchen, to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of; — but I will do it for my father myself, said the youth. — Pray let my save you the trouble, young gentleman, said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my chair to sit down upon by the fire — whilst I did it. — I believe, Sir, said he, very modestly, I can please him best myself. — I am sure, said I, his honour will not like the toast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier. — The youth took hold of my hand, and instantly burst into tears. — Poor youth! said my uncle Toby — he has been bred up from an infant in the army, and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears like the name of a friend; — I wish I had him here.
— I never, in the longest march, said the corporal, had so great a mind to my dinner, as I had to cry with him for company:— What could be the matter with me, an’ please your honour? Nothing in the world, Trim, said my uncle Toby, blowing his nose — but that thou art a good-natured fellow.
When I gave him the toast, continued the corporal, I thought it was proper to tell him I was captain Shandy’s servant, and that your honour (though a stranger) was extremely concerned for his father; — and that if there was any thing in your house or cellar —(And thou might’st have added my purse too, said my uncle Toby) — he was heartily welcome to it:— He made a very low bow (which was meant to your honour), but no answer — for his heart was full — so he went up stairs with the toast; — I warrant you, my dear, said I, as I opened the kitchen-door, your father will be well again. — Mr. Yorick’s curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire — but said not a word good or bad to comfort the youth. — I thought it wrong; added the corporal — I think so too, said my uncle Toby.
When the lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast, he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen, to let me know, that in about ten minutes he should be glad if I would step up stairs. — I believe, said the landlord, he is going to say his prayers — for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bed-side, and as I shut the door, I saw his son take up a cushion.
I thought, said the curate, that you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, never said your prayers at all. — I heard the poor gentleman say his prayers last night, said the landlady, very devoutly, and with my own ears, or I could not have believed it. — Are you sure of it? replied the curate. — A soldier, an’ please your reverence, said I, prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson; — and when he is fighting for his king, and for his own life, and for his honour too, he has the most reason to pray to God of any one in the whole world —’Twas well said of thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby. — But when a soldier, said I, an’ please your reverence, has been standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in cold water — or engaged, said I, for months together in long and dangerous marches; — harassed, perhaps, in his rear to-day; — harassing others to-morrow; — detached here; — countermanded there; — resting this night out upon his arms; — beat up in his shirt the next; — benumbed in his joints; — perhaps without straw in his tent to kneel on; — must say his prayers how and when he can. — I believe, said I — for I was piqued, quoth the corporal, for the reputation of the army — I believe, an’ please your reverence, said I, that when a soldier gets time to pray — he prays as heartily as a parson — though not with all his fuss and hypocrisy. — Thou shouldst not have said that, Trim, said my uncle Toby — for God only knows who is a hypocrite, and who is not:— At the great and general review of us all, corporal, at the day of judgment (and not till then)— it will be seen who has done their duties in this world — and who has not; and we shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly. — I hope we shall, said Trim. — It is in the Scripture, said my uncle Toby; and I will shew it thee to-morrow:— In the mean time we may depend upon it, Trim, for our comfort, said my uncle Toby, that God Almighty is so good and just a governor of the world, that if we have but done our duties in it — it will never be enquired into, whether we have done them in a red coat or a black one:— I hope not, said the corporal — But go on, Trim, said my uncle Toby, with thy story.
When I went up, continued the corporal, into the lieutenant’s room, which I did not do till the expiration of the ten minutes — he was lying in his bed with his head raised upon his hand, with his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean white cambrick handkerchief beside it:— The youth was just stooping down to take up the cushion, upon which I supposed he had been kneeling — the book was laid upon the bed — and, as he rose, in taking up the cushion with one hand, he reached out his other to take it away at the same time. — Let it remain there, my dear, said the lieutenant.
He did not offer to speak to me, till I had walked up close to his bed-side:— If you are captain Shandy’s servant, said he, you must present my thanks to your master, with my little boy’s thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me; — if he was of Levens’s — said the lieutenant. — I told him your honour was — Then, said he, I served three campaigns with him in Flanders, and remember him — but ’tis most likely, as I had not the honour of any acquaintance with him, that he knows nothing of me. — You will tell him, however, that the person his good-nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fever, a lieutenant in Angus’s — but he knows me not — said he, a second time, musing; — possibly he may my story — added he — pray tell the captain, I was the ensign at Breda, whose wife was most unfortunately killed with a musket-shot, as she lay in my arms in my tent. — I remember the story, an’t please your honour, said I, very well. — Do you so? said he, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief — then well may I. — In saying this, he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black ribband about his neck, and kiss’d it twice — Here, Billy, said he — the boy flew across the room to the bed-side — and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in his hand, and kissed it too — then kissed his father, and sat down upon the bed and wept.
I wish, said my uncle Toby, with a deep sigh — I wish, Trim, I was asleep.
Your honour, replied the corporal, is too much concerned; — shall I pour your honour out a glass of sack to your pipe? — Do, Trim, said my uncle Toby.
I remember, said my uncle Toby, sighing again, the story of the ensign and his wife, with a circumstance his modesty omitted; — and particularly well that he, as well as she, upon some account or other (I forget what) was universally pitied by the whole regiment; — but finish the story thou art upon:—’Tis finished already, said the corporal — for I could stay no longer — so wished his honour a good night; young Le Fever rose from off the bed, and saw me to the bottom of the stairs; and as we went down together, told me, they had come from Ireland, and were on their route to join the regiment in Flanders. — But alas! said the corporal — the lieutenant’s last day’s march is over. — Then what is to become of his poor boy? cried my uncle Toby.
The Story of Le Fever Continued.
It was to my uncle Toby’s eternal honour — though I tell it only for the sake of those, who, when coop’d in betwixt a natural and a positive law, know not, for their souls, which way in the world to turn themselves — That notwithstanding my uncle Toby was warmly engaged at that time in carrying on the siege of Dendermond, parallel with the allies, who pressed theirs on so vigorously, that they scarce allowed him time to get his dinner — that nevertheless he gave up Dendermond, though he had already made a lodgment upon the counterscarp; — and bent his whole thoughts towards the private distresses at the inn; and except that he ordered the garden gate to be bolted up, by which he might be said to have turned the siege of Dendermond into a blockade — he left Dendermond to itself — to be relieved or not by the French king, as the French king thought good; and only considered how he himself should relieve the poor lieutenant and his son.
— That kind Being, who is a friend to the friendless, shall recompence thee for this.
Thou hast left this matter short, said my uncle Toby to the corporal, as he was putting him to bed — and I will tell thee in what, Trim. — In the first place, when thou madest an offer of my services to Le Fever — as sickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knowest he was but a poor lieutenant, with a son to subsist as well as himself out of his pay — that thou didst not make an offer to him of my purse; because, had he stood in need, thou knowest, Trim, he had been as welcome to it as myself. — Your honour knows, said the corporal, I had no orders; — True, quoth my uncle Toby — thou didst very right, Trim, as a soldier — but certainly very wrong as a man.
In the second place, for which, indeed, thou hast the same excuse, continued my uncle Toby — when thou offeredst him whatever was in my house — thou shouldst have offered him my house too:— A sick brother officer should have the best quarters, Trim, and if we had him with us — we could tend and look to him:— Thou art an excellent nurse thyself, Trim — and what with thy care of him, and the old woman’s and his boy’s, and mine together, we might recruit him again at once, and set him upon his legs. —
— In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, smiling — he might march. — He will never march; an’ please your honour, in this world, said the corporal:— He will march; said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off:— An’ please your honour, said the corporal, he will never march but to his grave:— He shall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advanceing an inch — he shall march to his regiment. — He cannot stand it, said the corporal; — He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby; — He’ll drop at last, said the corporal, and what will become of his boy? — He shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly. — A-well-o’day — do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point — the poor soul will die:— He shall not die, by G.., cried my uncle Toby.
— The Accusing Spirit, which flew up to heaven’s chancery with the oath, blush’d as he gave it in; — and the Recording Angel, as he wrote it down, dropp’d a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.
— My once Toby went to his bureau — put his purse into his breeches pocket, and having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician — he went to bed, and fell asleep.
The Story of Le Fever Continued.
The sun looked bright the morning after, to every eye in the village but Le Fever’s and his afflicted son’s; the hand of death pressed heavy upon his eye-lids — and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle — when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant’s room, and without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair by the bed-side, and, independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have done it, and asked him how he did — how he had rested in the night — what was his complaint — where was his pain — and what he could do to help him:— and without giving him time to answer any one of the enquiries, went on, and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal the night before for him. —
— You shall go home directly, Le Fever, said my uncle Toby, to my house — and we’ll send for a doctor to see what’s the matter — and we’ll have an apothecary — and the corporal shall be your nurse; — and I’ll be your servant, Le Fever.
There was a frankness in my uncle Toby — not the effect of familiarity — but the cause of it — which let you at once into his soul, and shewed you the goodness of his nature; to this there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him, so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. — The blood and spirits of Le Fever, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart — rallied back — the film forsook his eyes for a moment — he looked up wishfully in my uncle Toby’s face — then cast a look upon his boy — and that ligament, fine as it was — was never broken. —
Nature instantly ebb’d again — the film returned to its place — the pulse fluttered — stopp’d — went on — throbb’d — stopp’d again — moved — stopp’d — shall I go on? — No.
I am so impatient to return to my own story, that what remains of young Le Fever’s, that is, from this turn of his fortune, to the time my uncle Toby recommended him for my preceptor, shall be told in a very few words in the next chapter. — All that is necessary to be added to this chapter is as follows. —
That my uncle Toby, with young Le Fever in his hand, attended the poor lieutenant, as chief mourners, to his grave.
That the governor of Dendermond paid his obsequies all military honours — and that Yorick, not to be behind-hand — paid him all ecclesiastic — for he buried him in his chancel:— And it appears likewise, he preached a funeral sermon over him — I say it appears — for it was Yorick’s custom, which I suppose a general one with those of his profession, on the first leaf of every sermon which he composed, to chronicle down the time, the place, and the occasion of its being preached: to this, he was ever wont to add some short comment or stricture upon the sermon itself, seldom, indeed, much to its credit:— For instance, This sermon upon the Jewish dispensation — I don’t like it at all; — Though I own there is a world of Water-Landish knowledge in it; — but ’tis all tritical, and most tritically put together. — This is but a flimsy kind of a composition; what was in my head when I made it?
— N.B. The excellency of this text is, that it will suit any sermon — and of this sermon — that it will suit any text. —
— For this sermon I shall be hanged — for I have stolen the greatest part of it. Doctor Paidagunes found me out. > Set a thief to catch a thief. —
On the back of half a dozen I find written, So, so, and no more — and upon a couple Moderato; by which, as far as one may gather from Altieri’s Italian dictionary — but mostly from the authority of a piece of green whipcord, which seemed to have been the unravelling of Yorick’s whip-lash, with which he has left us the two sermons marked Moderato, and the half dozen of So, so, tied fast together in one bundle by themselves — one may safely suppose he meant pretty near the same thing.
There is but one difficulty in the way of this conjecture, which is this, that the moderato’s are five times better than the so, so’s; — show ten times more knowledge of the human heart; — have seventy times more wit and spirit in them; —(and, to rise properly in my climax)— discovered a thousand times more genius; — and to crown all, are infinitely more entertaining than those tied up with them:— for which reason, whene’er Yorick’s dramatic sermons are offered to the world, though I shall admit but one out of the whole number of the so, so’s, I shall, nevertheless, adventure to print the two moderato’s without any sort of scruple.
What Yorick could mean by the words lentamente — tenute — grave — and sometimes adagio — as applied to theological compositions, and with which he has characterised some of these sermons, I dare not venture to guess. — I am more puzzled still upon finding a l’octava alta! upon one; — Con strepito upon the back of another; — Scicilliana upon a third; — Alla capella upon a fourth; — Con l’arco upon this; — Senza l’arco upon that. — All I know is, that they are musical terms, and have a meaning; — and as he was a musical man, I will make no doubt, but that by some quaint application of such metaphors to the compositions in hand, they impressed very distinct ideas of their several characters upon his fancy — whatever they may do upon that of others.
Amongst these, there is that particular sermon which has unaccountably led me into this digression — The funeral sermon upon poor Le Fever, wrote out very fairly, as if from a hasty copy. — I take notice of it the more, because it seems to have been his favourite composition — It is upon mortality; and is tied length-ways and cross-ways with a yarn thrum, and then rolled up and twisted round with a half-sheet of dirty blue paper, which seems to have been once the cast cover of a general review, which to this day smells horribly of horse drugs. — Whether these marks of humiliation were designed — I something doubt; — because at the end of the sermon (and not at the beginning of it)— very different from his way of treating the rest, he had wrote — Bravo!
— Though not very offensively — for it is at two inches, at least, and a half’s distance from, and below the concluding line of the sermon, at the very extremity of the page, and in that right hand corner of it, which, you know, is generally covered with your thumb; and, to do it justice, it is wrote besides with a crow’s quill so faintly in a small Italian hand, as scarce to solicit the eye towards the place, whether your thumb is there or not — so that from the manner of it, it stands half excused; and being wrote moreover with very pale ink, diluted almost to nothing — ’tis more like a ritratto of the shadow of vanity, than of Vanity herself — of the two; resembling rather a faint thought of transient applause, secretly stirring up in the heart of the composer; than a gross mark of it, coarsely obtruded upon the world.
With all these extenuations, I am aware, that in publishing this, I do no service to Yorick’s character as a modest man; — but all men have their failings! and what lessens this still farther, and almost wipes it away, is this; that the word was struck through sometime afterwards (as appears from a different tint of the ink) with a line quite across it in this manner, BRAVO (crossed out)— as if he had retracted, or was ashamed of the opinion he had once entertained of it.
These short characters of his sermons were always written, excepting in this one instance, upon the first leaf of his sermon, which served as a cover to it; and usually upon the inside of it, which was turned towards the text; — but at the end of his discourse, where, perhaps, he had five or six pages, and sometimes, perhaps, a whole score to turn himself in — he took a large circuit, and, indeed, a much more mettlesome one; — as if he had snatched the occasion of unlacing himself with a few more frolicksome strokes at vice, than the straitness of the pulpit allowed. — These, though hussar-like, they skirmish lightly and out of all order, are still auxiliaries on the side of virtue; — tell me then, Mynheer Vander Blonederdondergewdenstronke, why they should not be printed together?
When my uncle Toby had turned every thing into money, and settled all accounts betwixt the agent of the regiment and Le Fever, and betwixt Le Fever and all mankind — there remained nothing more in my uncle Toby’s hands, than an old regimental coat and a sword; so that my uncle Toby found little or no opposition from the world in taking administration. The coat my uncle Toby gave the corporal; — Wear it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, as long as it will hold together, for the sake of the poor lieutenant — And this — said my uncle Toby, taking up the sword in his hand, and drawing it out of the scabbard as he spoke — and this, Le Fever, I’ll save for thee — ’tis all the fortune, continued my uncle Toby, hanging it up upon a crook, and pointing to it — ’tis all the fortune, my dear Le Fever, which God has left thee; but if he has given thee a heart to fight thy way with it in the world — and thou doest it like a man of honour — ’tis enough for us.
As soon as my uncle Toby had laid a foundation, and taught him to inscribe a regular polygon in a circle, he sent him to a public school, where, excepting Whitsontide and Christmas, at which times the corporal was punctually dispatched for him — he remained to the spring of the year, seventeen; when the stories of the emperor’s sending his army into Hungary against the Turks, kindling a spark of fire in his bosom, he left his Greek and Latin without leave, and throwing himself upon his knees before my uncle Toby, begged his father’s sword, and my uncle Toby’s leave along with it, to go and try his fortune under Eugene. — Twice did my uncle Toby forget his wound and cry out, Le Fever! I will go with thee, and thou shalt fight beside me — And twice he laid his hand upon his groin, and hung down his head in sorrow and disconsolation. —
My uncle Toby took down the sword from the crook, where it had hung untouched ever since the lieutenant’s death, and delivered it to the corporal to brighten up; — and having detained Le Fever a single fortnight to equip him, and contract for his passage to Leghorn — he put the sword into his hand. — If thou art brave, Le Fever, said my uncle Toby, this will not fail thee — but Fortune, said he (musing a little) — Fortune may — And if she does — added my uncle Toby, embracing him, come back again to me, Le Fever, and we will shape thee another course.
The greatest injury could not have oppressed the heart of Le Fever more than my uncle Toby’s paternal kindness; — he parted from my uncle Toby, as the best of sons from the best of fathers — both dropped tears — and as my uncle Toby gave him his last kiss, he slipped sixty guineas, tied up in an old purse of his father’s, in which was his mother’s ring, into his hand — and bid God bless him.
Le Fever got up to the Imperial army just time enough to try what metal his sword was made of, at the defeat of the Turks before Belgrade; but a series of unmerited mischances had pursued him from that moment, and trod close upon his heels for four years together after; he had withstood these buffetings to the last, till sickness overtook him at Marseilles, from whence he wrote my uncle Toby word, he had lost his time, his services, his health, and, in short, every thing but his sword; — and was waiting for the first ship to return back to him.
As this letter came to hand about six weeks before Susannah’s accident, Le Fever was hourly expected; and was uppermost in my uncle Toby’s mind all the time my father was giving him and Yorick a description of what kind of a person he would chuse for a preceptor to me: but as my uncle Toby thought my father at first somewhat fanciful in the accomplishments he required, he forbore mentioning Le Fever’s name — till the character, by Yorick’s inter-position, ending unexpectedly, in one, who should be gentle-tempered, and generous, and good, it impressed the image of Le Fever, and his interest, upon my uncle Toby so forcibly, he rose instantly off his chair; and laying down his pipe, in order to take hold of both my father’s hands — I beg, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby, I may recommend poor Le Fever’s son to you — I beseech you do, added Yorick — He has a good heart, said my uncle Toby — And a brave one too, an’ please your honour, said the corporal.
— The best hearts, Trim, are ever the bravest, replied my uncle Toby. — And the greatest cowards, an’ please your honour, in our regiment, were the greatest rascals in it. — There was serjeant Kumber, and ensign —
— We’ll talk of them, said my father, another time.
What a jovial and a merry world would this be, may it please your worships, but for that inextricable labyrinth of debts, cares, woes, want, grief, discontent, melancholy, large jointures, impositions, and lies!
Doctor Slop, like a son of a w. . ., as my father called him for it — to exalt himself — debased me to death — and made ten thousand times more of Susannah’s accident, than there was any grounds for; so that in a week’s time, or less, it was in every body’s mouth, That poor Master Shandy. . .entirely. — And Fame, who loves to double every thing — in three days more, had sworn, positively she saw it — and all the world, as usual, gave credit to her evidence —‘That the nursery window had not only. . .; — but that. . .‘s also.’
Could the world have been sued like a Body-Corporate — my father had brought an action upon the case, and trounced it sufficiently; but to fall foul of individuals about it — as every soul who had mentioned the affair, did it with the greatest pity imaginable; —’twas like flying in the very face of his best friends:— And yet to acquiesce under the report, in silence — was to acknowledge it openly — at least in the opinion of one half of the world; and to make a bustle again, in contradicting it — was to confirm it as strongly in the opinion of the other half. —
— Was ever poor devil of a country gentleman so hampered? said my father.
I would shew him publickly, said my uncle Toby, at the market cross.
—’Twill have no effect, said my father.
— I’ll put him, however, into breeches, said my father — let the world say what it will.
There are a thousand resolutions, Sir, both in church and state, as well as in matters, Madam, of a more private concern; — which, though they have carried all the appearance in the world of being taken, and entered upon in a hasty, hare-brained, and unadvised manner, were, notwithstanding this, (and could you or I have got into the cabinet, or stood behind the curtain, we should have found it was so) weighed, poized, and perpended — argued upon — canvassed through — entered into, and examined on all sides with so much coolness, that the Goddess of Coolness herself (I do not take upon me to prove her existence) could neither have wished it, or done it better.
Of the number of these was my father’s resolution of putting me into breeches; which, though determined at once — in a kind of huff, and a defiance of all mankind, had, nevertheless, been pro’d and conn’d, and judicially talked over betwixt him and my mother about a month before, in two several beds of justice, which my father had held for that purpose. I shall explain the nature of these beds of justice in my next chapter; and in the chapter following that, you shall step with me, Madam, behind the curtain, only to hear in what kind of manner my father and my mother debated between themselves, this affair of the breeches — from which you may form an idea, how they debated all lesser matters.
The ancient Goths of Germany, who (the learned Cluverius is positive) were first seated in the country between the Vistula and the Oder, and who afterwards incorporated the Herculi, the Bugians, and some other Vandallick clans to ’em — had all of them a wise custom of debating every thing of importance to their state, twice, that is — once drunk, and once sober:— Drunk — that their councils might not want vigour; — and sober — that they might not want discretion.
Now my father being entirely a water-drinker — was a long time gravelled almost to death, in turning this as much to his advantage, as he did every other thing which the ancients did or said; and it was not till the seventh year of his marriage, after a thousand fruitless experiments and devices, that he hit upon an expedient which answered the purpose; — and that was, when any difficult and momentous point was to be settled in the family, which required great sobriety, and great spirit too, in its determination — he fixed and set apart the first Sunday night in the month, and the Saturday night which immediately preceded it, to argue it over, in bed with my mother: By which contrivance, if you consider, Sir, with yourself,. . ..
These my father, humorously enough, called his beds of justice; — for from the two different counsels taken in these two different humours, a middle one was generally found out which touched the point of wisdom as well, as if he had got drunk and sober a hundred times.
I must not be made a secret of to the world, that this answers full as well in literary discussions, as either in military or conjugal; but it is not every author that can try the experiment as the Goths and Vandals did it — or, if he can, may it be always for his body’s health; and to do it, as my father did it — am I sure it would be always for his soul’s.
My way is this:—
In all nice and ticklish discussions — (of which, heaven knows, there are but too many in my book)— where I find I cannot take a step without the danger of having either their worships or their reverences upon my back — I write one-half full — and t’other fasting; — or write it all full — and correct it fasting; — or write it fasting — and correct it full, for they all come to the same thing:— So that with a less variation from my father’s plan, than my father’s from the Gothick — I feel myself upon a par with him in his first bed of justice — and no way inferior to him in his second. — These different and almost irreconcileable effects, flow uniformly from the wise and wonderful mechanism of nature — of which — be her’s the honour. — All that we can do, is to turn and work the machine to the improvement and better manufactory of the arts and sciences. —
Now, when I write full — I write as if I was never to write fasting again as long as I live; — that is, I write free from the cares as well as the terrors of the world. — I count not the number of my scars — nor does my fancy go forth into dark entries and bye-corners to ante-date my stabs. — In a word, my pen takes its course; and I write on as much from the fulness of my heart, as my stomach. —
But when, an’ please your honours, I indite fasting, ’tis a different history. — I pay the world all possible attention and respect — and have as great a share (whilst it lasts) of that under strapping virtue of discretion as the best of you. — So that betwixt both, I write a careless kind of a civil, nonsensical, good-humoured Shandean book, which will do all your hearts good —
— And all your heads too — provided you understand it.
We should begin, said my father, turning himself half round in bed, and shifting his pillow a little towards my mother’s, as he opened the debate — We should begin to think, Mrs. Shandy, of putting this boy into breeches. —
We should so — said my mother. — We defer it, my dear, quoth my father, shamefully. —
I think we do, Mr. Shandy — said my mother.
— Not but the child looks extremely well, said my father, in his vests and tunicks. —
He does look very well in them — replied my mother. —
— And for that reason it would be almost a sin, added my father, to take him out of ’em. —
— It would so — said my mother:— But indeed he is growing a very tall lad — rejoined my father.
— He is very tall for his age, indeed — said my mother. —
— I can not (making two syllables of it) imagine, quoth my father, who the deuce he takes after. —
I cannot conceive, for my life, said my mother. —
Humph! — said my father.
(The dialogue ceased for a moment.)
—(I am very short myself — continued my father gravely.
You are very short, Mr Shandy — said my mother.
Humph! quoth my father to himself, a second time: in muttering which, he plucked his pillow a little further from my mother’s — and turning about again, there was an end of the debate for three minutes and a half.
— When he gets these breeches made, cried my father in a higher tone, he’ll look like a beast in ’em.
He will be very awkward in them at first, replied my mother.
— And ’twill be lucky, if that’s the worst on’t, added my father.
It will be very lucky, answered my mother.
I suppose, replied my father — making some pause first — he’ll be exactly like other people’s children. —
Exactly, said my mother. —
— Though I shall be sorry for that, added my father: and so the debate stopp’d again. —
— They should be of leather, said my father, turning him about again. —
They will last him, said my mother, the longest.
But he can have no linings to ’em, replied my father. —
He cannot, said my mother.
’Twere better to have them of fustian, quoth my father.
Nothing can be better, quoth my mother. —
— Except dimity — replied my father:—’Tis best of all — replied my mother.
— One must not give him his death, however — interrupted my father.
By no means, said my mother:— and so the dialogue stood still again.
I am resolved, however, quoth my father, breaking silence the fourth time, he shall have no pockets in them. —
— There is no occasion for any, said my mother. —
I mean in his coat and waistcoat — cried my father.
— I mean so too — replied my mother.
— Though if he gets a gig or top — Poor souls! it is a crown and a sceptre to them — they should have where to secure it. —
Order it as you please, Mr. Shandy, replied my mother. —
— But don’t you think it right? added my father, pressing the point home to her.
Perfectly, said my mother, if it pleases you, Mr. Shandy. —
— There’s for you! cried my father, losing his temper — Pleases me! — You never will distinguish, Mrs. Shandy, nor shall I ever teach you to do it, betwixt a point of pleasure and a point of convenience. — This was on the Sunday night:— and further this chapter sayeth not.
After my father had debated the affair of the breeches with my mother — he consulted Albertus Rubenius upon it; and Albertus Rubenius used my father ten times worse in the consultation (if possible) than even my father had used my mother: For as Rubenius had wrote a quarto express, De re Vestiaria Veterum — it was Rubenius’s business to have given my father some lights. — On the contrary, my father might as well have thought of extracting the seven cardinal virtues out of a long beard — as of extracting a single word out of Rubenius upon the subject.
Upon every other article of ancient dress, Rubenius was very communicative to my father; — gave him a full satisfactory account of The Toga, or loose gown. The Chlamys. The Ephod. The Tunica, or Jacket. The Synthesis. The Paenula. The Lacema, with its Cucullus. The Paludamentum. The Praetexta. The Sagum, or soldier’s jerkin. The Trabea: of which, according to Suetonius, there was three kinds. —
— But what are all these to the breeches? said my father.
Rubenius threw him down upon the counter all kinds of shoes which had been in fashion with the Romans. —
There was, The open shoe. The close shoe. The slip shoe. The wooden shoe. The soc. The buskin. And The military shoe with hobnails in it, which Juvenal takes notice of.
There were, The clogs. The pattins. The pantoufles. The brogues. The sandals, with latchets to them.
There was, The felt shoe. The linen shoe. The laced shoe. The braided shoe. The calceus incisus. And The calceus rostratus.
Rubenius shewed my father how well they all fitted — in what manner they laced on — with what points, straps, thongs, latchets, ribbands, jaggs, and ends. —
— But I want to be informed about the breeches, said my father.
Albertus Rubenius informed my father that the Romans manufactured stuffs of various fabrics — some plain — some striped — others diapered throughout the whole contexture of the wool, with silk and gold — That linen did not begin to be in common use till towards the declension of the empire, when the Egyptians coming to settle amongst them, brought it into vogue.
— That persons of quality and fortune distinguished themselves by the fineness and whiteness of their clothes; which colour (next to purple, which was appropriated to the great offices) they most affected, and wore on their birth-days and public rejoicings. — That it appeared from the best historians of those times, that they frequently sent their clothes to the fuller, to be clean’d and whitened:— but that the inferior people, to avoid that expence, generally wore brown clothes, and of a something coarser texture — till towards the beginning of Augustus’s reign, when the slave dressed like his master, and almost every distinction of habiliment was lost, but the Latus Clavus.
And what was the Latus Clavus? said my father.
Rubenius told him, that the point was still litigating amongst the learned:— That Egnatius, Sigonius, Bossius Ticinensis, Bayfius Budaeus, Salmasius, Lipsius, Lazius, Isaac Casaubon, and Joseph Scaliger, all differed from each other — and he from them: That some took it to be the button — some the coat itself — others only the colour of it; — That the great Bayfuis in his Wardrobe of the Ancients, chap. 12 — honestly said, he knew not what it was — whether a tibula — a stud — a button — a loop — a buckle — or clasps and keepers. —
— My father lost the horse, but not the saddle — They are hooks and eyes, said my father — and with hooks and eyes he ordered my breeches to be made.
We are now going to enter upon a new scene of events. —
— Leave we then the breeches in the taylor’s hands, with my father standing over him with his cane, reading him as he sat at work a lecture upon the latus clavus, and pointing to the precise part of the waistband, where he was determined to have it sewed on. —
Leave we my mother —(truest of all the Poco-curante’s of her sex!)— careless about it, as about every thing else in the world which concerned her; — that is — indifferent whether it was done this way or that — provided it was but done at all. —
Leave we Slop likewise to the full profits of all my dishonours. —
Leave we poor Le Fever to recover, and get home from Marseilles as he can. — And last of all — because the hardest of all —
Let us leave, if possible, myself:— But ’tis impossible — I must go along with you to the end of the work.
If the reader has not a clear conception of the rood and the half of ground which lay at the bottom of my uncle Toby’s kitchen-garden, and which was the scene of so many of his delicious hours — the fault is not in me — but in his imagination; — for I am sure I gave him so minute a description, I was almost ashamed of it.
When Fate was looking forwards one afternoon, into the great transactions of future times — and recollected for what purposes this little plot, by a decree fast bound down in iron, had been destined — she gave a nod to Nature — ’twas enough — Nature threw half a spade full of her kindliest compost upon it, with just so much clay in it, as to retain the forms of angles and indentings — and so little of it too, as not to cling to the spade, and render works of so much glory, nasty in foul weather.
My uncle Toby came down, as the reader has been informed, with plans along with him, of almost every fortified town in Italy and Flanders; so let the duke of Marlborough, or the allies, have set down before what town they pleased, my uncle Toby was prepared for them.
His way, which was the simplest one in the world, was this; as soon as ever a town was invested —(but sooner when the design was known) to take the plan of it (let it be what town it would), and enlarge it upon a scale to the exact size of his bowling-green; upon the surface of which, by means of a large role of packthread, and a number of small piquets driven into the ground, at the several angles and redans, he transferred the lines from his paper; then taking the profile of the place, with its works, to determine the depths and slopes of the ditches — the talus of the glacis, and the precise height of the several banquets, parapets, &c. — he set the corporal to work — and sweetly went it on:— The nature of the soil — the nature of the work itself — and above all, the good-nature of my uncle Toby sitting by from morning to night, and chatting kindly with the corporal upon past-done deeds — left Labour little else but the ceremony of the name.
When the place was finished in this manner, and put into a proper posture of defence — it was invested — and my uncle Toby and the corporal began to run their first parallel. — I beg I may not be interrupted in my story, by being told, That the first parallel should be at least three hundred toises distant from the main body of the place — and that I have not left a single inch for it; — for my uncle Toby took the liberty of incroaching upon his kitchen-garden, for the sake of enlarging his works on the bowling-green, and for that reason generally ran his first and second parallels betwixt two rows of his cabbages and his cauliflowers; the conveniences and inconveniences of which will be considered at large in the history of my uncle Toby’s and the corporal’s campaigns, of which, this I’m now writing is but a sketch, and will be finished, if I conjecture right, in three pages (but there is no guessing)— The campaigns themselves will take up as many books; and therefore I apprehend it would be hanging too great a weight of one kind of matter in so flimsy a performance as this, to rhapsodize them, as I once intended, into the body of the work — surely they had better be printed apart — we’ll consider the affair — so take the following sketch of them in the mean time.
When the town, with its works, was finished, my uncle Toby and the corporal began to run their first parallel — not at random, or any how — but from the same points and distances the allies had begun to run theirs; and regulating their approaches and attacks, by the accounts my uncle Toby received from the daily papers — they went on, during the whole siege, step by step with the allies.
When the duke of Marlborough made a lodgment — my uncle Toby made a lodgment too. — And when the face of a bastion was battered down, or a defence ruined — the corporal took his mattock and did as much — and so on; — gaining ground, and making themselves masters of the works one after another, till the town fell into their hands.
To one who took pleasure in the happy state of others — there could not have been a greater sight in world, than on a post morning, in which a practicable breach had been made by the duke of Marlborough, in the main body of the place — to have stood behind the horn-beam hedge, and observed the spirit with which my uncle Toby, with Trim behind him, sallied forth; — the one with the Gazette in his hand — the other with a spade on his shoulder to execute the contents. — What an honest triumph in my uncle Toby’s looks as he marched up to the ramparts! What intense pleasure swimming in his eye as he stood over the corporal, reading the paragraph ten times over to him, as he was at work, lest, peradventure, he should make the breach an inch too wide — or leave it an inch too narrow. — But when the chamade was beat, and the corporal helped my uncle up it, and followed with the colours in his hand, to fix them upon the ramparts — Heaven! Earth! Sea! — but what avails apostrophes? — with all your elements, wet or dry, ye never compounded so intoxicating a draught.
In this track of happiness for many years, without one interruption to it, except now and then when the wind continued to blow due west for a week or ten days together, which detained the Flanders mail, and kept them so long in torture — but still ’twas the torture of the happy — In this track, I say, did my uncle Toby and Trim move for many years, every year of which, and sometimes every month, from the invention of either the one or the other of them, adding some new conceit or quirk of improvement to their operations, which always opened fresh springs of delight in carrying them on.
The first year’s campaign was carried on from beginning to end, in the plain and simple method I’ve related.
In the second year, in which my uncle Toby took Liege and Ruremond, he thought he might afford the expence of four handsome draw-bridges; of two of which I have given an exact description in the former part of my work.
At the latter end of the same year he added a couple of gates with port-cullises:— These last were converted afterwards into orgues, as the better thing; and during the winter of the same year, my uncle Toby, instead of a new suit of clothes, which he always had at Christmas, treated himself with a handsome sentry-box, to stand at the corner of the bowling-green, betwixt which point and the foot of the glacis, there was left a little kind of an esplanade for him and the corporal to confer and hold councils of war upon.
— The sentry-box was in case of rain.
All these were painted white three times over the ensuing spring, which enabled my uncle Toby to take the field with great splendour.
My father would often say to Yorick, that if any mortal in the whole universe had done such a thing except his brother Toby, it would have been looked upon by the world as one of the most refined satires upon the parade and prancing manner in which Lewis XIV. from the beginning of the war, but particularly that very year, had taken the field — But ’tis not my brother Toby’s nature, kind soul! my father would add, to insult any one.
— But let us go on.
I must observe, that although in the first year’s campaign, the word town is often mentioned — yet there was no town at that time within the polygon; that addition was not made till the summer following the spring in which the bridges and sentry-box were painted, which was the third year of my uncle Toby’s campaigns — when upon his taking Amberg, Bonn, and Rhinberg, and Huy and Limbourg, one after another, a thought came into the corporal’s head, that to talk of taking so many towns, without one Town to shew for it — was a very nonsensical way of going to work, and so proposed to my uncle Toby, that they should have a little model of a town built for them — to be run up together of slit deals, and then painted, and clapped within the interior polygon to serve for all.
My uncle Toby felt the good of the project instantly, and instantly agreed to it, but with the addition of two singular improvements, of which he was almost as proud as if he had been the original inventor of the project itself.
The one was, to have the town built exactly in the style of those of which it was most likely to be the representative:— with grated windows, and the gable ends of the houses, facing the streets, &c. &c. — as those in Ghent and Bruges, and the rest of the towns in Brabant and Flanders.
The other was, not to have the houses run up together, as the corporal proposed, but to have every house independent, to hook on, or off, so as to form into the plan of whatever town they pleased. This was put directly into hand, and many and many a look of mutual congratulation was exchanged between my uncle Toby and the corporal, as the carpenter did the work.
— It answered prodigiously the next summer — the town was a perfect Proteus — It was Landen, and Trerebach, and Santvliet, and Drusen, and Hagenau — and then it was Ostend and Menin, and Aeth and Dendermond.
— Surely never did any Town act so many parts, since Sodom and Gomorrah, as my uncle Toby’s town did.
In the fourth year, my uncle Toby thinking a town looked foolishly without a church, added a very fine one with a steeple. — Trim was for having bells in it; — my uncle Toby said, the metal had better be cast into cannon.
This led the way the next campaign for half a dozen brass field-pieces, to be planted three and three on each side of my uncle Toby’s sentry-box; and in a short time, these led the way for a train of somewhat larger — and so on —(as must always be the case in hobby-horsical affairs) from pieces of half an inch bore, till it came at last to my father’s jack boots.
The next year, which was that in which Lisle was besieged, and at the close of which both Ghent and Bruges fell into our hands — my uncle Toby was sadly put to it for proper ammunition; — I say proper ammunition — because his great artillery would not bear powder; and ’twas well for the Shandy family they would not — For so full were the papers, from the beginning to the end of the siege, of the incessant firings kept up by the besiegers — and so heated was my uncle Toby’s imagination with the accounts of them, that he had infallibly shot away all his estate.
Something therefore was wanting as a succedaneum, especially in one or two of the more violent paroxysms of the siege, to keep up something like a continual firing in the imagination — and this something, the corporal, whose principal strength lay in invention, supplied by an entire new system of battering of his own — without which, this had been objected to by military critics, to the end of the world, as one of the great desiderata of my uncle Toby’s apparatus.
This will not be explained the worse, for setting off, as I generally do, at a little distance from the subject.
With two or three other trinkets, small in themselves, but of great regard, which poor Tom, the corporal’s unfortunate brother, had sent him over, with the account of his marriage with the Jew’s widow — there was
A Montero-cap and two Turkish tobacco-pipes.
The Montero-cap I shall describe by and bye. — The Turkish tobacco-pipes had nothing particular in them, they were fitted up and ornamented as usual, with flexible tubes of Morocco leather and gold wire, and mounted at their ends, the one of them with ivory — the other with black ebony, tipp’d with silver.
My father, who saw all things in lights different from the rest of the world, would say to the corporal, that he ought to look upon these two presents more as tokens of his brother’s nicety, than his affection. — Tom did not care, Trim, he would say, to put on the cap, or to smoke in the tobacco-pipe of a Jew. — God bless your honour, the corporal would say (giving a strong reason to the contrary)— how can that be?
The Montero-cap was scarlet, of a superfine Spanish cloth, dyed in grain, and mounted all round with fur, except about four inches in the front, which was faced with a light blue, slightly embroidered — and seemed to have been the property of a Portuguese quarter-master, not of foot, but of horse, as the word denotes.
The corporal was not a little proud of it, as well for its own sake, as the sake of the giver, so seldom or never put it on but upon Gala-days; and yet never was a Montero-cap put to so many uses; for in all controverted points, whether military or culinary, provided the corporal was sure he was in the right — it was either his oath — his wager — or his gift.
—’Twas his gift in the present case.
I’ll be bound, said the corporal, speaking to himself, to give away my Montero-cap to the first beggar who comes to the door, if I do not manage this matter to his honour’s satisfaction.
The completion was no further off, than the very next morning; which was that of the storm of the counterscarp betwixt the Lower Deule, to the right, and the gate St. Andrew — and on the left, between St. Magdalen’s and the river.
As this was the most memorable attack in the whole war — the most gallant and obstinate on both sides — and I must add the most bloody too, for it cost the allies themselves that morning above eleven hundred men — my uncle Toby prepared himself for it with a more than ordinary solemnity.
The eve which preceded, as my uncle Toby went to bed, he ordered his ramallie wig, which had laid inside out for many years in the corner of an old campaigning trunk, which stood by his bedside, to be taken out and laid upon the lid of it, ready for the morning; — and the very first thing he did in his shirt, when he had stepped out of bed, my uncle Toby, after he had turned the rough side outwards — put it on:— This done, he proceeded next to his breeches, and having buttoned the waist-band, he forthwith buckled on his sword-belt, and had got his sword half way in — when he considered he should want shaving, and that it would be very inconvenient doing it with his sword on — so took it off:— In essaying to put on his regimental coat and waistcoat, my uncle Toby found the same objection in his wig — so that went off too:— So that what with one thing and what with another, as always falls out when a man is in the most haste — ’twas ten o’clock, which was half an hour later than his usual time, before my uncle Toby sallied out.
My uncle Toby had scarce turned the corner of his yew hedge, which separated his kitchen-garden from his bowling-green, when he perceived the corporal had begun the attack without him. —
Let me stop and give you a picture of the corporal’s apparatus; and of the corporal himself in the height of his attack, just as it struck my uncle Toby, as he turned towards the sentry-box, where the corporal was at work — for in nature there is not such another — nor can any combination of all that is grotesque and whimsical in her works produce its equal.
The corporal —
— Tread lightly on his ashes, ye men of genius — for he was your kinsman:
Weed his grave clean, ye men of goodness — for he was your brother. — Oh corporal! had I thee, but now — now, that I am able to give thee a dinner and protection — how would I cherish thee! thou should’st wear thy Montero-cap every hour of the day, and every day of the week. — and when it was worn out, I would purchase thee a couple like it:— But alas! alas! alas! now that I can do this in spite of their reverences — the occasion is lost — for thou art gone; — thy genius fled up to the stars from whence it came; — and that warm heart of thine, with all its generous and open vessels, compressed into a clod of the valley!
— But what — what is this, to that future and dreaded page, where I look towards the velvet pall, decorated with the military ensigns of thy master — the first — the foremost of created beings; — where, I shall see thee, faithful servant! laying his sword and scabbard with a trembling hand across his coffin, and then returning pale as ashes to the door, to take his mourning horse by the bridle, to follow his hearse, as he directed thee; — where — all my father’s systems shall be baffled by his sorrows; and, in spite of his philosophy, I shall behold him, as he inspects the lackered plate, twice taking his spectacles from off his nose, to wipe away the dew which nature has shed upon them — When I see him cast in the rosemary with an air of disconsolation, which cries through my ears — O Toby! in what corner of the world shall I seek thy fellow?
— Gracious powers! which erst have opened the lips of the dumb in his distress, and made the tongue of the stammerer speak plain — when I shall arrive at this dreaded page, deal not with me, then, with a stinted hand.
The corporal, who the night before had resolved in his mind to supply the grand desideratum, of keeping up something like an incessant firing upon the enemy during the heat of the attack — had no further idea in his fancy at that time, than a contrivance of smoking tobacco against the town, out of one of my uncle Toby’s six field-pieces, which were planted on each side of his sentry-box; the means of effecting which occurring to his fancy at the same time, though he had pledged his cap, he thought it in no danger from the miscarriage of his projects.
Upon turning it this way, and that, a little in his mind, he soon began to find out, that by means of his two Turkish tobacco-pipes, with the supplement of three smaller tubes of wash-leather at each of their lower ends, to be tagg’d by the same number of tin-pipes fitted to the touch-holes, and sealed with clay next the cannon, and then tied hermetically with waxed silk at their several insertions into the Morocco tube — he should be able to fire the six field-pieces all together, and with the same ease as to fire one. —
— Let no man say from what taggs and jaggs hints may not be cut out for the advancement of human knowledge. Let no man, who has read my father’s first and second beds of justice, ever rise up and say again, from collision of what kinds of bodies light may or may not be struck out, to carry the arts and sciences up to perfection. — Heaven! thou knowest how I love them; — thou knowest the secrets of my heart, and that I would this moment give my shirt — Thou art a fool, Shandy, says Eugenius, for thou hast but a dozen in the world — and ’twill break thy set. —
No matter for that, Eugenius; I would give the shirt off my back to be burnt into tinder, were it only to satisfy one feverish enquirer, how many sparks at one good stroke, a good flint and steel could strike into the tail of it. — Think ye not that in striking these in — he might, per-adventure, strike something out? as sure as a gun. —
— But this project, by the bye.
The corporal sat up the best part of the night, in bringing his to perfection; and having made a sufficient proof of his cannon, with charging them to the top with tobacco — he went with contentment to bed.
The corporal had slipped out about ten minutes before my uncle Toby, in order to fix his apparatus, and just give the enemy a shot or two before my uncle Toby came.
He had drawn the six field-pieces for this end, all close up together in front of my uncle Toby’s sentry-box, leaving only an interval of about a yard and a half betwixt the three, on the right and left, for the convenience of charging, &c. — and the sake possibly of two batteries, which he might think double the honour of one.
In the rear and facing this opening, with his back to the door of the sentry-box, for fear of being flanked, had the corporal wisely taken his post:— He held the ivory pipe, appertaining to the battery on the right, betwixt the finger and thumb of his right hand — and the ebony pipe tipp’d with silver, which appertained to the battery on the left, betwixt the finger and thumb of the other — and with his right knee fixed firm upon the ground, as if in the front rank of his platoon, was the corporal, with his Montero-cap upon his head, furiously playing off his two cross batteries at the same time against the counter-guard, which faced the counterscarp, where the attack was to be made that morning. His first intention, as I said, was no more than giving the enemy a single puff or two; — but the pleasure of the puffs, as well as the puffing, had insensibly got hold of the corporal, and drawn him on from puff to puff, into the very height of the attack, by the time my uncle Toby joined him.
’Twas well for my father, that my uncle Toby had not his will to make that day.
My uncle Toby took the ivory pipe out of the corporal’s hand — looked at it for half a minute, and returned it.
In less than two minutes, my uncle Toby took the pipe from the corporal again, and raised it half way to his mouth — then hastily gave it back a second time.
The corporal redoubled the attack — my uncle Toby smiled — then looked grave — then smiled for a moment — then looked serious for a long time; — Give me hold of the ivory pipe, Trim, said my uncle Toby — my uncle Toby put it to his lips — drew it back directly — gave a peep over the horn-beam hedge; — never did my uncle Toby’s mouth water so much for a pipe in his life. — My uncle Toby retired into the sentry-box with the pipe in his hand. —
— Dear uncle Toby! don’t go into the sentry-box with the pipe — there’s no trusting a man’s self with such a thing in such a corner.
I beg the reader will assist me here, to wheel off my uncle Toby’s ordnance behind the scenes — to remove his sentry-box, and clear the theatre, if possible, of horn-works and half moons, and get the rest of his military apparatus out of the way; — that done, my dear friend Garrick, we’ll snuff the candles bright — sweep the stage with a new broom — draw up the curtain, and exhibit my uncle Toby dressed in a new character, throughout which the world can have no idea how he will act: and yet, if pity be a-kin to love — and bravery no alien to it, you have seen enough of my uncle Toby in these, to trace these family likenesses, betwixt the two passions (in case there is one) to your heart’s content.
Vain science! thou assistest us in no case of this kind — and thou puzzlest us in every one.
There was, Madam, in my uncle Toby, a singleness of heart which misled him so far out of the little serpentine tracks in which things of this nature usually go on; you can — you can have no conception of it: with this, there was a plainness and simplicity of thinking, with such an unmistrusting ignorance of the plies and foldings of the heart of woman; — and so naked and defenceless did he stand before you, (when a siege was out of his head,) that you might have stood behind any one of your serpentine walks, and shot my uncle Toby ten times in a day, through his liver, if nine times in a day, Madam, had not served your purpose.
With all this, Madam — and what confounded every thing as much on the other hand, my uncle Toby had that unparalleled modesty of nature I once told you of, and which, by the bye, stood eternal sentry upon his feelings, that you might as soon — But where am I going? these reflections crowd in upon me ten pages at least too soon, and take up that time, which I ought to bestow upon facts.
Of the few legitimate sons of Adam whose breasts never felt what the sting of love was — (maintaining first, all mysogynists to be bastards,)— the greatest heroes of ancient and modern story have carried off amongst them nine parts in ten of the honour; and I wish for their sakes I had the key of my study, out of my draw-well, only for five minutes, to tell you their names — recollect them I cannot — so be content to accept of these, for the present, in their stead.
There was the great king Aldrovandus, and Bosphorus, and Cappadocius, and Dardanus, and Pontus, and Asius — to say nothing of the iron-hearted Charles the XIIth, whom the Countess of K. . . . . herself could make nothing of. — There was Babylonicus, and Mediterraneus, and Polixenes, and Persicus, and Prusicus, not one of whom (except Cappadocius and Pontus, who were both a little suspected) ever once bowed down his breast to the goddess — The truth is, they had all of them something else to do — and so had my uncle Toby — till Fate — till Fate I say, envying his name the glory of being handed down to posterity with Aldrovandus’s and the rest — she basely patched up the peace of Utrecht.
— Believe me, Sirs, ’twas the worst deed she did that year.
Amongst the many ill consequences of the treaty of Utrecht, it was within a point of giving my uncle Toby a surfeit of sieges; and though he recovered his appetite afterwards, yet Calais itself left not a deeper scar in Mary’s heart, than Utrecht upon my uncle Toby’s. To the end of his life he never could hear Utrecht mentioned upon any account whatever — or so much as read an article of news extracted out of the Utrecht Gazette, without fetching a sigh, as if his heart would break in twain.
My father, who was a great Motive-Monger, and consequently a very dangerous person for a man to sit by, either laughing or crying — for he generally knew your motive for doing both, much better than you knew it yourself — would always console my uncle Toby upon these occasions, in a way, which shewed plainly, he imagined my uncle Toby grieved for nothing in the whole affair, so much as the loss of his hobby-horse. — Never mind, brother Toby, he would say — by God’s blessing we shall have another war break out again some of these days; and when it does — the belligerent powers, if they would hang themselves, cannot keep us out of play. — I defy ’em, my dear Toby, he would add, to take countries without taking towns — or towns without sieges.
My uncle Toby never took this back-stroke of my father’s at his hobby-horse kindly. — He thought the stroke ungenerous; and the more so, because in striking the horse he hit the rider too, and in the most dishonourable part a blow could fall; so that upon these occasions, he always laid down his pipe upon the table with more fire to defend himself than common.
I told the reader, this time two years, that my uncle Toby was not eloquent; and in the very same page gave an instance to the contrary:— I repeat the observation, and a fact which contradicts it again. — He was not eloquent — it was not easy to my uncle Toby to make long harangues — and he hated florid ones; but there were occasions where the stream overflowed the man, and ran so counter to its usual course, that in some parts my uncle Toby, for a time, was at least equal to Tertullus — but in others, in my own opinion, infinitely above him.
My father was so highly pleased with one of these apologetical orations of my uncle Toby’s, which he had delivered one evening before him and Yorick, that he wrote it down before he went to bed.
I have had the good fortune to meet with it amongst my father’s papers, with here and there an insertion of his own, betwixt two crooks, thus (. . .), and is endorsed,
My Brother Toby’s Justification of His Own Principles and Conduct in Wishing to Continue the War.
I may safely say, I have read over this apologetical oration of my uncle Toby’s a hundred times, and think it so fine a model of defence — and shews so sweet a temperament of gallantry and good principles in him, that I give it the world, word for word (interlineations and all), as I find it.
My Uncle Toby’s Apologetical Oration.
I am not insensible, brother Shandy, that when a man whose profession is arms, wishes, as I have done, for war — it has an ill aspect to the world; — and that, how just and right soever his motives the intentions may be — he stands in an uneasy posture in vindicating himself from private views in doing it.
For this cause, if a soldier is a prudent man, which he may be without being a jot the less brave, he will be sure not to utter his wish in the hearing of an enemy; for say what he will, an enemy will not believe him. — He will be cautious of doing it even to a friend — lest he may suffer in his esteem:— But if his heart is overcharged, and a secret sigh for arms must have its vent, he will reserve it for the ear of a brother, who knows his character to the bottom, and what his true notions, dispositions, and principles of honour are: What, I hope, I have been in all these, brother Shandy, would be unbecoming in me to say:— much worse, I know, have I been than I ought — and something worse, perhaps, than I think: But such as I am, you, my dear brother Shandy, who have sucked the same breasts with me — and with whom I have been brought up from my cradle — and from whose knowledge, from the first hours of our boyish pastimes, down to this, I have concealed no one action of my life, and scarce a thought in it — Such as I am, brother, you must by this time know me, with all my vices, and with all my weaknesses too, whether of my age, my temper, my passions, or my understanding.
Tell me then, my dear brother Shandy, upon which of them it is, that when I condemned the peace of Utrecht, and grieved the war was not carried on with vigour a little longer, you should think your brother did it upon unworthy views; or that in wishing for war, he should be bad enough to wish more of his fellow-creatures slain — more slaves made, and more families driven from their peaceful habitations, merely for his own pleasure:— Tell me, brother Shandy, upon what one deed of mine do you ground it? (The devil a deed do I know of, dear Toby, but one for a hundred pounds, which I lent thee to carry on these cursed sieges.)
If, when I was a school-boy, I could not hear a drum beat, but my heart beat with it — was it my fault? — Did I plant the propensity there? — Did I sound the alarm within, or Nature?
When Guy, Earl of Warwick, and Parismus and Parismenus, and Valentine and Orson, and the Seven Champions of England, were handed around the school — were they not all purchased with my own pocket-money? Was that selfish, brother Shandy? When we read over the siege of Troy, which lasted ten years and eight months — though with such a train of artillery as we had at Namur, the town might have been carried in a week — was I not as much concerned for the destruction of the Greeks and Trojans as any boy of the whole school? Had I not three strokes of a ferula given me, two on my right hand, and one on my left, for calling Helena a bitch for it? Did any one of you shed more tears for Hector? And when king Priam came to the camp to beg his body, and returned weeping back to Troy without it — you know, brother, I could not eat my dinner. —
— Did that bespeak me cruel? Or because, brother Shandy, my blood flew out into the camp, and my heart panted for war — was it a proof it could not ache for the distresses of war too?
O brother! ’tis one thing for a soldier to gather laurels — and ’tis another to scatter cypress. —(Who told thee, my dear Toby, that cypress was used by the antients on mournful occasions?)
—’Tis one thing, brother Shandy, for a soldier to hazard his own life — to leap first down into the trench, where he is sure to be cut in pieces:— ’Tis one thing, from public spirit and a thirst of glory, to enter the breach the first man — to stand in the foremost rank, and march bravely on with drums and trumpets, and colours flying about his ears:—’Tis one thing, I say, brother Shandy, to do this — and ’tis another thing to reflect on the miseries of war; — to view the desolations of whole countries, and consider the intolerable fatigues and hardships which the soldier himself, the instrument who works them, is forced (for sixpence a day, if he can get it) to undergo.
Need I be told, dear Yorick, as I was by you, in Le Fever’s funeral sermon, That so soft and gentle a creature, born to love, to mercy, and kindness, as man is, was not shaped for this? — But why did you not add, Yorick — if not by Nature — that he is so by Necessity? — For what is war? what is it, Yorick, when fought as ours has been, upon principles of liberty, and upon principles of honour — what is it, but the getting together of quiet and harmless people, with their swords in their hands, to keep the ambitious and the turbulent within bounds? And heaven is my witness, brother Shandy, that the pleasure I have taken in these things — and that infinite delight, in particular, which has attended my sieges in my bowling-green, has arose within me, and I hope in the corporal too, from the consciousness we both had, that in carrying them on, we were answering the great ends of our creation.
I told the Christian reader — I say Christian — hoping he is one — and if he is not, I am sorry for it — and only beg he will consider the matter with himself, and not lay the blame entirely upon this book —
I told him, Sir — for in good truth, when a man is telling a story in the strange way I do mine, he is obliged continually to be going backwards and forwards to keep all tight together in the reader’s fancy — which, for my own part, if I did not take heed to do more than at first, there is so much unfixed and equivocal matter starting up, with so many breaks and gaps in it — and so little service do the stars afford, which, nevertheless, I hang up in some of the darkest passages, knowing that the world is apt to lose its way, with all the lights the sun itself at noon-day can give it — and now you see, I am lost myself! —
— But ’tis my father’s fault; and whenever my brains come to be dissected, you will perceive, without spectacles, that he has left a large uneven thread, as you sometimes see in an unsaleable piece of cambrick, running along the whole length of the web, and so untowardly, you cannot so much as cut out a. . ., (here I hang up a couple of lights again)— or a fillet, or a thumb-stall, but it is seen or felt. —
Quanto id diligentias in liberis procreandis cavendum, sayeth Cardan. All which being considered, and that you see ’tis morally impracticable for me to wind this round to where I set out —
I begin the chapter over again.
I told the Christian reader in the beginning of the chapter which preceded my uncle Toby’s apologetical oration — though in a different trope from what I should make use of now, That the peace of Utrecht was within an ace of creating the same shyness betwixt my uncle Toby and his hobby-horse, as it did betwixt the queen and the rest of the confederating powers.
There is an indignant way in which a man sometimes dismounts his horse, which, as good as says to him, ‘I’ll go afoot, Sir, all the days of my life before I would ride a single mile upon your back again.’ Now my uncle Toby could not be said to dismount his horse in this manner; for in strictness of language, he could not be said to dismount his horse at all — his horse rather flung him — and somewhat viciously, which made my uncle Toby take it ten times more unkindly. Let this matter be settled by state-jockies as they like. — It created, I say, a sort of shyness betwixt my uncle Toby and his hobby-horse. — He had no occasion for him from the month of March to November, which was the summer after the articles were signed, except it was now and then to take a short ride out, just to see that the fortifications and harbour of Dunkirk were demolished, according to stipulation.
The French were so backwards all that summer in setting about that affair, and Monsieur Tugghe, the deputy from the magistrates of Dunkirk, presented so many affecting petitions to the queen — beseeching her majesty to cause only her thunderbolts to fall upon the martial works, which might have incurred her displeasure — but to spare — to spare the mole, for the mole’s sake; which, in its naked situation, could be no more than an object of pity — and the queen (who was but a woman) being of a pitiful disposition — and her ministers also, they not wishing in their hearts to have the town dismantled, for these private reasons, . . . —. . .; so that the whole went heavily on with my uncle Toby; insomuch, that it was not within three full months, after he and the corporal had constructed the town, and put it in a condition to be destroyed, that the several commandants, commissaries, deputies, negociators, and intendants, would permit him to set about it. — Fatal interval of inactivity!
The corporal was for beginning the demolition, by making a breach in the ramparts, or main fortifications of the town — No — that will never do, corporal, said my uncle Toby, for in going that way to work with the town, the English garrison will not be safe in it an hour; because if the French are treacherous — They are as treacherous as devils, an’ please your honour, said the corporal — It gives me concern always when I hear it, Trim, said my uncle Toby; — for they don’t want personal bravery; and if a breach is made in the ramparts, they may enter it, and make themselves masters of the place when they please:— Let them enter it, said the corporal, lifting up his pioneer’s spade in both his hands, as if he was going to lay about him with it — let them enter, an’ please your honour, if they dare. — In cases like this, corporal, said my uncle Toby, slipping his right hand down to the middle of his cane, and holding it afterwards truncheon-wise with his fore-finger extended — ’tis no part of the consideration of a commandant, what the enemy dare — or what they dare not do; he must act with prudence. We will begin with the outworks both towards the sea and the land, and particularly with fort Louis, the most distant of them all, and demolish it first — and the rest, one by one, both on our right and left, as we retreat towards the town; — then we’ll demolish the mole — next fill up the harbour — then retire into the citadel, and blow it up into the air: and having done that, corporal, we’ll embark for England. — We are there, quoth the corporal, recollecting himself — Very true, said my uncle Toby — looking at the church.
A delusive, delicious consultation or two of this kind, betwixt my uncle Toby and Trim, upon the demolition of Dunkirk — for a moment rallied back the ideas of those pleasures, which were slipping from under him:— still — still all went on heavily — the magic left the mind the weaker — Stillness, with Silence at her back, entered the solitary parlour, and drew their gauzy mantle over my uncle Toby’s head; — and Listlessness, with her lax fibre and undirected eye, sat quietly down beside him in his arm-chair. — No longer Amberg and Rhinberg, and Limbourg, and Huy, and Bonn, in one year — and the prospect of Landen, and Trerebach, and Drusen, and Dendermond, the next — hurried on the blood:— No longer did saps, and mines, and blinds, and gabions, and palisadoes, keep out this fair enemy of man’s repose:— No more could my uncle Toby, after passing the French lines, as he eat his egg at supper, from thence break into the heart of France — cross over the Oyes, and with all Picardie open behind him, march up to the gates of Paris, and fall asleep with nothing but ideas of glory:— No more was he to dream, he had fixed the royal standard upon the tower of the Bastile, and awake with it streaming in his head.
— Softer visions — gentler vibrations stole sweetly in upon his slumbers; — the trumpet of war fell out of his hands — he took up the lute, sweet instrument! of all others the most delicate! the most difficult! — how wilt thou touch it, my dear uncle Toby?
Now, because I have once or twice said, in my inconsiderate way of talking, That I was confident the following memoirs of my uncle Toby’s courtship of widow Wadman, whenever I got time to write them, would turn out one of the most complete systems, both of the elementary and practical part of love and love-making, that ever was addressed to the world — are you to imagine from thence, that I shall set out with a description of what love is? whether part God and part Devil, as Plotinus will have it —
— Or by a more critical equation, and supposing the whole of love to be as ten — to determine with Ficinus, ‘How many parts of it — the one — and how many the other;’— or whether it is all of it one great Devil, from head to tail, as Plato has taken upon him to pronounce; concerning which conceit of his, I shall not offer my opinion:— but my opinion of Plato is this; that he appears, from this instance, to have been a man of much the same temper and way of reasoning with doctor Baynyard, who being a great enemy to blisters, as imagining that half a dozen of ’em at once, would draw a man as surely to his grave, as a herse and six — rashly concluded, that the Devil himself was nothing in the world, but one great bouncing Cantharidis. —
I have nothing to say to people who allow themselves this monstrous liberty in arguing, but what Nazianzen cried out (that is, polemically) to Philagrius —
‘(Greek)!’ O rare! ’tis fine reasoning, Sir indeed! —’(Greek)’ and most nobly do you aim at truth, when you philosophize about it in your moods and passions.
Nor is it to be imagined, for the same reason, I should stop to inquire, whether love is a disease — or embroil myself with Rhasis and Dioscorides, whether the seat of it is in the brain or liver; — because this would lead me on, to an examination of the two very opposite manners, in which patients have been treated — the one, of Aoetius, who always begun with a cooling clyster of hempseed and bruised cucumbers; — and followed on with thin potations of water-lilies and purslane — to which he added a pinch of snuff, of the herb Hanea; — and where Aoetius durst venture it — his topaz-ring.
— The other, that of Gordonius, who (in his cap. 15. de Amore) directs they should be thrashed, ‘ad putorem usque,’— till they stink again.
These are disquisitions which my father, who had laid in a great stock of knowledge of this kind, will be very busy with in the progress of my uncle Toby’s affairs: I must anticipate thus much, That from his theories of love, (with which, by the way, he contrived to crucify my uncle Toby’s mind, almost as much as his amours themselves,)— he took a single step into practice; — and by means of a camphorated cerecloth, which he found means to impose upon the taylor for buckram, whilst he was making my uncle Toby a new pair of breeches, he produced Gordonius’s effect upon my uncle Toby without the disgrace.
What changes this produced, will be read in its proper place: all that is needful to be added to the anecdote, is this — That whatever effect it had upon my uncle Toby — it had a vile effect upon the house; — and if my uncle Toby had not smoaked it down as he did, it might have had a vile effect upon my father too.
—’Twill come out of itself by and bye. — All I contend for is, that I am not obliged to set out with a definition of what love is; and so long as I can go on with my story intelligibly, with the help of the word itself, without any other idea to it, than what I have in common with the rest of the world, why should I differ from it a moment before the time? — When I can get on no further — and find myself entangled on all sides of this mystic labyrinth — my Opinion will then come in, in course — and lead me out.
At present, I hope I shall be sufficiently understood, in telling the reader, my uncle Toby fell in love:
— Not that the phrase is at all to my liking: for to say a man is fallen in love — or that he is deeply in love — or up to the ears in love — and sometimes even over head and ears in it — carries an idiomatical kind of implication, that love is a thing below a man:— this is recurring again to Plato’s opinion, which, with all his divinityship — I hold to be damnable and heretical:— and so much for that.
Let love therefore be what it will — my uncle Toby fell into it.
— And possibly, gentle reader, with such a temptation — so wouldst thou: For never did thy eyes behold, or thy concupiscence covet any thing in this world, more concupiscible than widow Wadman.
To conceive this right — call for pen and ink — here’s paper ready to your hand. — Sit down, Sir, paint her to your own mind — as like your mistress as you can — as unlike your wife as your conscience will let you —’tis all one to me — please but your own fancy in it.
— Was ever any thing in Nature so sweet! — so exquisite!
— Then, dear Sir, how could my uncle Toby resist it?
Thrice happy book! thou wilt have one page, at least, within thy covers, which Malice will not blacken, and which Ignorance cannot misrepresent.
As Susannah was informed by an express from Mrs. Bridget, of my uncle Toby’s falling in love with her mistress fifteen days before it happened — the contents of which express, Susannah communicated to my mother the next day — it has just given me an opportunity of entering upon my uncle Toby’s amours a fortnight before their existence.
I have an article of news to tell you, Mr. Shandy, quoth my mother, which will surprise you greatly. —
Now my father was then holding one of his second beds of justice, and was musing within himself about the hardships of matrimony, as my mother broke silence. —
‘— My brother Toby,’ quoth she, ‘is going to be married to Mrs. Wadman.’
— Then he will never, quoth my father, be able to lie diagonally in his bed again as long as he lives.
It was a consuming vexation to my father, that my mother never asked the meaning of a thing she did not understand.
— That she is not a woman of science, my father would say — is her misfortune — but she might ask a question. —
My mother never did. — In short, she went out of the world at last without knowing whether it turned round, or stood still. — My father had officiously told her above a thousand times which way it was — but she always forgot.
For these reasons, a discourse seldom went on much further betwixt them, than a proposition — a reply, and a rejoinder; at the end of which, it generally took breath for a few minutes (as in the affair of the breeches), and then went on again.
If he marries, ’twill be the worse for us — quoth my mother.
Not a cherry-stone, said my father — he may as well batter away his means upon that, as any thing else,
— To be sure, said my mother: so here ended the proposition — the reply — and the rejoinder, I told you of.
It will be some amusement to him, too — said my father.
A very great one, answered my mother, if he should have children. —
— Lord have mercy upon me — said my father to himself —. . ..
I am now beginning to get fairly into my work; and by the help of a vegetable diet, with a few of the cold seeds, I make no doubt but I shall be able to go on with my uncle Toby’s story, and my own, in a tolerable straight line. Now,
(four very squiggly lines across the page signed Inv.T.S and Scw.T.S)
These were the four lines I moved in through my first, second, third, and fourth volumes (Alluding to the first edition.)— In the fifth volume I have been very good — the precise line I have described in it being this:
(one very squiggly line across the page with loops marked A,B,C,C,C,C,C,D)
By which it appears, that except at the curve, marked A. where I took a trip to Navarre — and the indented curve B. which is the short airing when I was there with the Lady Baussiere and her page — I have not taken the least frisk of a digression, till John de la Casse’s devils led me the round you see marked D. — for as for C C C C C they are nothing but parentheses, and the common ins and outs incident to the lives of the greatest ministers of state; and when compared with what men have done — or with my own transgressions at the letters ABD— they vanish into nothing.
In this last volume I have done better still — for from the end of Le Fever’s episode, to the beginning of my uncle Toby’s campaigns — I have scarce stepped a yard out of my way.
If I mend at this rate, it is not impossible — by the good leave of his grace of Benevento’s devils — but I may arrive hereafter at the excellency of going on even thus:
(straight line across the page)
which is a line drawn as straight as I could draw it, by a writing-master’s ruler (borrowed for that purpose), turning neither to the right hand or to the left.
This right line — the path-way for Christians to walk in! say divines —
— The emblem of moral rectitude! says Cicero —
— The best line! say cabbage planters — is the shortest line, says Archimedes, which can be drawn from one given point to another. —
I wish your ladyships would lay this matter to heart, in your next birth-day suits!
— What a journey!
Pray can you tell me — that is, without anger, before I write my chapter upon straight lines — by what mistake — who told them so — or how it has come to pass, that your men of wit and genius have all along confounded this line, with the line of Gravitation?
No — I think, I said, I would write two volumes every year, provided the vile cough which then tormented me, and which to this hour I dread worse than the devil, would but give me leave — and in another place —(but where, I can’t recollect now) speaking of my book as a machine, and laying my pen and ruler down cross-wise upon the table, in order to gain the greater credit to it — I swore it should be kept a going at that rate these forty years, if it pleased but the fountain of life to bless me so long with health and good spirits.
Now as for my spirits, little have I to lay to their charge — nay so very little (unless the mounting me upon a long stick and playing the fool with me nineteen hours out of the twenty-four, be accusations) that on the contrary, I have much — much to thank ’em for: cheerily have ye made me tread the path of life with all the burthens of it (except its cares) upon my back; in no one moment of my existence, that I remember, have ye once deserted me, or tinged the objects which came in my way, either with sable, or with a sickly green; in dangers ye gilded my horizon with hope, and when Death himself knocked at my door — ye bad him come again; and in so gay a tone of careless indifference, did ye do it, that he doubted of his commission —
‘— There must certainly be some mistake in this matter,’ quoth he.
Now there is nothing in this world I abominate worse, than to be interrupted in a story — and I was that moment telling Eugenius a most tawdry one in my way, of a nun who fancied herself a shell-fish, and of a monk damn’d for eating a muscle, and was shewing him the grounds and justice of the procedure —
‘— Did ever so grave a personage get into so vile a scrape?’ quoth Death. Thou hast had a narrow escape, Tristram, said Eugenius, taking hold of my hand as I finished my story —
But there is no living, Eugenius, replied I, at this rate; for as this son of a whore has found out my lodgings —
— You call him rightly, said Eugenius — for by sin, we are told, he enter’d the world — I care not which way he enter’d, quoth I, provided he be not in such a hurry to take me out with him — for I have forty volumes to write, and forty thousand things to say and do which no body in the world will say and do for me, except thyself; and as thou seest he has got me by the throat (for Eugenius could scarce hear me speak across the table), and that I am no match for him in the open field, had I not better, whilst these few scatter’d spirits remain, and these two spider legs of mine (holding one of them up to him) are able to support me — had I not better, Eugenius, fly for my life? ’Tis my advice, my dear Tristram, said Eugenius — Then by heaven! I will lead him a dance he little thinks of — for I will gallop, quoth I, without looking once behind me, to the banks of the Garonne; and if I hear him clattering at my heels — I’ll scamper away to mount Vesuvius — from thence to Joppa, and from Joppa to the world’s end; where, if he follows me, I pray God he may break his neck —
— He runs more risk there, said Eugenius, than thou.
Eugenius’s wit and affection brought blood into the cheek from whence it had been some months banish’d —’twas a vile moment to bid adieu in; he led me to my chaise — Allons! said I; the post-boy gave a crack with his whip — off I went like a cannon, and in half a dozen bounds got into Dover.
Now hang it! quoth I, as I look’d towards the French coast — a man should know something of his own country too, before he goes abroad — and I never gave a peep into Rochester church, or took notice of the dock of Chatham, or visited St. Thomas at Canterbury, though they all three laid in my way —
— But mine, indeed, is a particular case —
So without arguing the matter further with Thomas o’Becket, or any one else — I skip’d into the boat, and in five minutes we got under sail, and scudded away like the wind.
Pray, captain, quoth I, as I was going down into the cabin, is a man never overtaken by Death in this passage?
Why, there is not time for a man to be sick in it, replied he — What a cursed lyar! for I am sick as a horse, quoth I, already — what a brain! — upside down! — hey-day! the cells are broke loose one into another, and the blood, and the lymph, and the nervous juices, with the fix’d and volatile salts, are all jumbled into one mass — good G..! every thing turns round in it like a thousand whirlpools — I’d give a shilling to know if I shan’t write the clearer for it —
Sick! sick! sick! sick! —
— When shall we get to land? captain — they have hearts like stones — O I am deadly sick! — reach me that thing, boy —’tis the most discomfiting sickness — I wish I was at the bottom — Madam! how is it with you? Undone! undone! un . . . — O! undone! sir — What the first time? — No, ’tis the second, third, sixth, tenth time, sir — hey-day! — what a trampling over head! — hollo! cabin boy! what’s the matter?
The wind chopp’d about! s’Death — then I shall meet him full in the face.
What luck! —’tis chopp’d about again, master — O the devil chop it —
Captain, quoth she, for heaven’s sake, let us get ashore.
It is a great inconvenience to a man in a haste, that there are three distinct roads between Calais and Paris, in behalf of which there is so much to be said by the several deputies from the towns which lie along them, that half a day is easily lost in settling which you’ll take.
First, the road by Lisle and Arras, which is the most about — but most interesting, and instructing.
The second, that by Amiens, which you may go, if you would see Chantilly —
And that by Beauvais, which you may go, if you will.
For this reason a great many chuse to go by Beauvais.
‘Now before I quit Calais,’ a travel-writer would say, ‘it would not be amiss to give some account of it.’— Now I think it very much amiss — that a man cannot go quietly through a town and let it alone, when it does not meddle with him, but that he must be turning about and drawing his pen at every kennel he crosses over, merely o’ my conscience for the sake of drawing it; because, if we may judge from what has been wrote of these things, by all who have wrote and gallop’d — or who have gallop’d and wrote, which is a different way still; or who, for more expedition than the rest, have wrote galloping, which is the way I do at present — from the great Addison, who did it with his satchel of school books hanging at his a. . ., and galling his beast’s crupper at every stroke — there is not a gallopper of us all who might not have gone on ambling quietly in his own ground (in case he had any), and have wrote all he had to write, dry-shod, as well as not.
For my own part, as heaven is my judge, and to which I shall ever make my last appeal — I know no more of Calais (except the little my barber told me of it as he was whetting his razor) than I do this moment of Grand Cairo; for it was dusky in the evening when I landed, and dark as pitch in the morning when I set out, and yet by merely knowing what is what, and by drawing this from that in one part of the town, and by spelling and putting this and that together in another — I would lay any travelling odds, that I this moment write a chapter upon Calais as long as my arm; and with so distinct and satisfactory a detail of every item, which is worth a stranger’s curiosity in the town — that you would take me for the town-clerk of Calais itself — and where, sir, would be the wonder? was not Democritus, who laughed ten times more than I— town-clerk of Abdera? and was not (I forget his name) who had more discretion than us both, town-clerk of Ephesus? — it should be penn’d moreover, sir, with so much knowledge and good sense, and truth, and precision —
— Nay — if you don’t believe me, you may read the chapter for your pains.
Calais, Calatium, Calusium, Calesium.
This town, if we may trust its archives, the authority of which I see no reason to call in question in this place — was once no more than a small village belonging to one of the first Counts de Guignes; and as it boasts at present of no less than fourteen thousand inhabitants, exclusive of four hundred and twenty distinct families in the basse ville, or suburbs — it must have grown up by little and little, I suppose, to its present size.
Though there are four convents, there is but one parochial church in the whole town; I had not an opportunity of taking its exact dimensions, but it is pretty easy to make a tolerable conjecture of ’em — for as there are fourteen thousand inhabitants in the town, if the church holds them all it must be considerably large — and if it will not —’tis a very great pity they have not another — it is built in form of a cross, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary; the steeple, which has a spire to it, is placed in the middle of the church, and stands upon four pillars elegant and light enough, but sufficiently strong at the same time — it is decorated with eleven altars, most of which are rather fine than beautiful. The great altar is a master-piece in its kind; ’tis of white marble, and, as I was told, near sixty feet high — had it been much higher, it had been as high as mount Calvary itself — therefore, I suppose it must be high enough in all conscience.
There was nothing struck me more than the great Square; tho’ I cannot say ’tis either well paved or well built; but ’tis in the heart of the town, and most of the streets, especially those in that quarter, all terminate in it; could there have been a fountain in all Calais, which it seems there cannot, as such an object would have been a great ornament, it is not to be doubted, but that the inhabitants would have had it in the very centre of this square — not that it is properly a square — because ’tis forty feet longer from east to west, than from north to south; so that the French in general have more reason on their side in calling them Places than Squares, which, strictly speaking, to be sure, they are not.
The town-house seems to be but a sorry building, and not to be kept in the best repair; otherwise it had been a second great ornament to this place; it answers however its destination, and serves very well for the reception of the magistrates, who assemble in it from time to time; so that ’tis presumable, justice is regularly distributed.
I have heard much of it, but there is nothing at all curious in the Courgain; ’tis a distinct quarter of the town, inhabited solely by sailors and fishermen; it consists of a number of small streets, neatly built and mostly of brick; ’tis extremely populous, but as that may be accounted for, from the principles of their diet — there is nothing curious in that neither. — A traveller may see it to satisfy himself — he must not omit however taking notice of la Tour de Guet, upon any account; ’tis so called from its particular destination, because in war it serves to discover and give notice of the enemies which approach the place, either by sea or land; — but ’tis monstrous high, and catches the eye so continually, you cannot avoid taking notice of it if you would.
It was a singular disappointment to me, that I could not have permission to take an exact survey of the fortifications, which are the strongest in the world, and which, from first to last, that is, for the time they were set about by Philip of France, Count of Bologne, to the present war, wherein many reparations were made, have cost (as I learned afterwards from an engineer in Gascony)— above a hundred millions of livres. It is very remarkable, that at the Tete de Gravelenes, and where the town is naturally the weakest, they have expended the most money; so that the outworks stretch a great way into the campaign, and consequently occupy a large tract of ground — However, after all that is said and done, it must be acknowledged that Calais was never upon any account so considerable from itself, as from its situation, and that easy entrance which it gave our ancestors, upon all occasions, into France: it was not without its inconveniences also; being no less troublesome to the English in those times, than Dunkirk has been to us, in ours; so that it was deservedly looked upon as the key to both kingdoms, which no doubt is the reason that there have arisen so many contentions who should keep it: of these, the siege of Calais, or rather the blockade (for it was shut up both by land and sea), was the most memorable, as it with-stood the efforts of Edward the Third a whole year, and was not terminated at last but by famine and extreme misery; the gallantry of Eustace de St. Pierre, who first offered himself a victim for his fellow-citizens, has rank’d his name with heroes. As it will not take up above fifty pages, it would be injustice to the reader, not to give him a minute account of that romantic transaction, as well as of the siege itself, in Rapin’s own words:
— But courage! gentle reader! — I scorn it —’tis enough to have thee in my power — but to make use of the advantage which the fortune of the pen has now gained over thee, would be too much — No —! by that all-powerful fire which warms the visionary brain, and lights the spirits through unworldly tracts! ere I would force a helpless creature upon this hard service, and make thee pay, poor soul! for fifty pages, which I have no right to sell thee — naked as I am, I would browse upon the mountains, and smile that the north wind brought me neither my tent or my supper.
— So put on, my brave boy! and make the best of thy way to Boulogne.
Boulogne! — hah! — so we are all got together — debtors and sinners before heaven; a jolly set of us — but I can’t stay and quaff it off with you — I’m pursued myself like a hundred devils, and shall be overtaken, before I can well change horses:— for heaven’s sake, make haste —’Tis for high-treason, quoth a very little man, whispering as low as he could to a very tall man, that stood next him — Or else for murder; quoth the tall man — Well thrown, Size-ace! quoth I. No; quoth a third, the gentleman has been committing —
A! ma chere fille! said I, as she tripp’d by from her matins — you look as rosy as the morning (for the sun was rising, and it made the compliment the more gracious)— No; it can’t be that, quoth a fourth —(she made a curt’sy to me — I kiss’d my hand) ’tis debt, continued he: ’Tis certainly for debt; quoth a fifth; I would not pay that gentleman’s debts, quoth Ace, for a thousand pounds; nor would I, quoth Size, for six times the sum — Well thrown, Size-ace, again! quoth I; — but I have no debt but the debt of Nature, and I want but patience of her, and I will pay her every farthing I owe her — How can you be so hard-hearted, Madam, to arrest a poor traveller going along without molestation to any one upon his lawful occasions? do stop that death-looking, long-striding scoundrel of a scare-sinner, who is posting after me — he never would have followed me but for you — if it be but for a stage or two, just to give me start of him, I beseech you, madam — do, dear lady —
— Now, in troth, ’tis a great pity, quoth mine Irish host, that all this good courtship should be lost; for the young gentlewoman has been after going out of hearing of it all along. —
— Simpleton! quoth I.
— So you have nothing else in Boulogne worth seeing?
— By Jasus! there is the finest Seminary for the Humanities —
— There cannot be a finer; quoth I.
When the precipitancy of a man’s wishes hurries on his ideas ninety times faster than the vehicle he rides in — woe be to truth! and woe be to the vehicle and its tackling (let ’em be made of what stuff you will) upon which he breathes forth the disappointment of his soul!
As I never give general characters either of men or things in choler, ‘the most haste the worse speed,’ was all the reflection I made upon the affair, the first time it happen’d; — the second, third, fourth, and fifth time, I confined it respectively to those times, and accordingly blamed only the second, third, fourth, and fifth post-boy for it, without carrying my reflections further; but the event continuing to befal me from the fifth, to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth time, and without one exception, I then could not avoid making a national reflection of it, which I do in these words;
That something is always wrong in a French post-chaise, upon first setting out.
Or the proposition may stand thus:
A French postilion has always to alight before he has got three hundred yards out of town.
What’s wrong now? — Diable! — a rope’s broke! — a knot has slipt! — a staple’s drawn! — a bolt’s to whittle! — a tag, a rag, a jag, a strap, a buckle, or a buckle’s tongue, want altering.
Now true as all this is, I never think myself impowered to excommunicate thereupon either the post-chaise, or its driver — nor do I take it into my head to swear by the living G.., I would rather go a-foot ten thousand times — or that I will be damn’d, if ever I get into another — but I take the matter coolly before me, and consider, that some tag, or rag, or jag, or bolt, or buckle, or buckle’s tongue, will ever be a wanting or want altering, travel where I will — so I never chaff, but take the good and the bad as they fall in my road, and get on:— Do so, my lad! said I; he had lost five minutes already, in alighting in order to get at a luncheon of black bread, which he had cramm’d into the chaise-pocket, and was remounted, and going leisurely on, to relish it the better. — Get on, my lad, said I, briskly — but in the most persuasive tone imaginable, for I jingled a four-and-twenty sous piece against the glass, taking care to hold the flat side towards him, as he look’d back: the dog grinn’d intelligence from his right ear to his left, and behind his sooty muzzle discovered such a pearly row of teeth, that Sovereignty would have pawn’d her jewels for them.
Just heaven! What masticators! — What bread! —
and so as he finished the last mouthful of it, we entered the town of Montreuil.
There is not a town in all France which, in my opinion, looks better in the map, than Montreuil; — I own, it does not look so well in the book of post-roads; but when you come to see it — to be sure it looks most pitifully.
There is one thing, however, in it at present very handsome; and that is, the inn-keeper’s daughter: She has been eighteen months at Amiens, and six at Paris, in going through her classes; so knits, and sews, and dances, and does the little coquetries very well. —
— A slut! in running them over within these five minutes that I have stood looking at her, she has let fall at least a dozen loops in a white thread stocking — yes, yes — I see, you cunning gipsy! —’tis long and taper — you need not pin it to your knee — and that ’tis your own — and fits you exactly. —
— That Nature should have told this creature a word about a statue’s thumb!
— But as this sample is worth all their thumbs — besides, I have her thumbs and fingers in at the bargain, if they can be any guide to me — and as Janatone withal (for that is her name) stands so well for a drawing — may I never draw more, or rather may I draw like a draught-horse, by main strength all the days of my life — if I do not draw her in all her proportions, and with as determined a pencil, as if I had her in the wettest drapery. —
— But your worships chuse rather that I give you the length, breadth, and perpendicular height of the great parish-church, or drawing of the facade of the abbey of Saint Austreberte which has been transported from Artois hither — every thing is just I suppose as the masons and carpenters left them — and if the belief in Christ continues so long, will be so these fifty years to come — so your worships and reverences may all measure them at your leisures — but he who measures thee, Janatone, must do it now — thou carriest the principles of change within thy frame; and considering the chances of a transitory life, I would not answer for thee a moment; ere twice twelve months are passed and gone, thou mayest grow out like a pumpkin, and lose thy shapes — or thou mayest go off like a flower, and lose thy beauty — nay, thou mayest go off like a hussy — and lose thyself. — I would not answer for my aunt Dinah, was she alive —‘faith, scarce for her picture — were it but painted by Reynolds.
But if I go on with my drawing, after naming that son of Apollo, I’ll be shot —
So you must e’en be content with the original; which, if the evening is fine in passing thro’ Montreuil, you will see at your chaise-door, as you change horses: but unless you have as bad a reason for haste as I have — you had better stop:— She has a little of the devote: but that, sir, is a terce to a nine in your favour —
-L . . . help me! I could not count a single point: so had been piqued and repiqued, and capotted to the devil.
All which being considered, and that Death moreover might be much nearer me than I imagined — I wish I was at Abbeville, quoth I, were it only to see how they card and spin — so off we set.
(Vid. Book of French post-roads, page 36. edition of 1762.) de Montreuil a Nampont — poste et demi de Nampont a Bernay —— poste de Bernay a Nouvion —— poste de Nouvion a Abbeville poste — but the carders and spinners were all gone to bed.
What a vast advantage is travelling! only it heats one; but there is a remedy for that, which you may pick out of the next chapter.
Was I in a condition to stipulate with Death, as I am this moment with my apothecary, how and where I will take his clyster — I should certainly declare against submitting to it before my friends; and therefore I never seriously think upon the mode and manner of this great catastrophe, which generally takes up and torments my thoughts as much as the catastrophe itself; but I constantly draw the curtain across it with this wish, that the Disposer of all things may so order it, that it happen not to me in my own house — but rather in some decent inn — at home, I know it — the concern of my friends, and the last services of wiping my brows, and smoothing my pillow, which the quivering hand of pale affection shall pay me, will so crucify my soul, that I shall die of a distemper which my physician is not aware of: but in an inn, the few cold offices I wanted, would be purchased with a few guineas, and paid me with an undisturbed, but punctual attention — but mark. This inn should not be the inn at Abbeville — if there was not another inn in the universe, I would strike that inn out of the capitulation: so
Let the horses be in the chaise exactly by four in the morning — Yes, by four, Sir — or by Genevieve! I’ll raise a clatter in the house shall wake the dead.
‘Make them like unto a wheel,’ is a bitter sarcasm, as all the learned know, against the grand tour, and that restless spirit for making it, which David prophetically foresaw would haunt the children of men in the latter days; and therefore, as thinketh the great bishop Hall, ’tis one of the severest imprecations which David ever utter’d against the enemies of the Lord — and, as if he had said, ‘I wish them no worse luck than always to be rolling about.’— So much motion, continues he (for he was very corpulent)— is so much unquietness; and so much of rest, by the same analogy, is so much of heaven.
Now, I (being very thin) think differently; and that so much of motion, is so much of life, and so much of joy — and that to stand still, or get on but slowly, is death and the devil —
Hollo! Ho! — the whole world’s asleep! — bring out the horses — grease the wheels — tie on the mail — and drive a nail into that moulding — I’ll not lose a moment —
Now the wheel we are talking of, and whereinto (but not whereonto, for that would make an Ixion’s wheel of it) he curseth his enemies, according to the bishop’s habit of body, should certainly be a post-chaise wheel, whether they were set up in Palestine at that time or not — and my wheel, for the contrary reasons, must as certainly be a cart-wheel groaning round its revolution once in an age; and of which sort, were I to turn commentator, I should make no scruple to affirm, they had great store in that hilly country.
I love the Pythagoreans (much more than ever I dare tell my dear Jenny) for their ‘(Greek)’—(their) ‘getting out of the body, in order to think well.’ No man thinks right, whilst he is in it; blinded as he must be, with his congenial humours, and drawn differently aside, as the bishop and myself have been, with too lax or too tense a fibre — Reason is, half of it, Sense; and the measure of heaven itself is but the measure of our present appetites and concoctions. —
— But which of the two, in the present case, do you think to be mostly in the wrong?
You, certainly: quoth she, to disturb a whole family so early.
— But she did not know I was under a vow not to shave my beard till I got to Paris; — yet I hate to make mysteries of nothing; —’tis the cold cautiousness of one of those little souls from which Lessius (lib. 13. de moribus divinis, cap. 24.) hath made his estimate, wherein he setteth forth, That one Dutch mile, cubically multiplied, will allow room enough, and to spare, for eight hundred thousand millions, which he supposes to be as great a number of souls (counting from the fall of Adam) as can possibly be damn’d to the end of the world.
From what he has made this second estimate — unless from the parental goodness of God — I don’t know — I am much more at a loss what could be in Franciscus Ribbera’s head, who pretends that no less a space than one of two hundred Italian miles multiplied into itself, will be sufficient to hold the like number — he certainly must have gone upon some of the old Roman souls, of which he had read, without reflecting how much, by a gradual and most tabid decline, in the course of eighteen hundred years, they must unavoidably have shrunk so as to have come, when he wrote, almost to nothing.
In Lessius’s time, who seems the cooler man, they were as little as can be imagined —
— We find them less now —
And next winter we shall find them less again; so that if we go on from little to less, and from less to nothing, I hesitate not one moment to affirm, that in half a century at this rate, we shall have no souls at all; which being the period beyond which I doubt likewise of the existence of the Christian faith, ’twill be one advantage that both of ’em will be exactly worn out together.
Blessed Jupiter! and blessed every other heathen god and goddess! for now ye will all come into play again, and with Priapus at your tails — what jovial times! — but where am I? and into what a delicious riot of things am I rushing? I— I who must be cut short in the midst of my days, and taste no more of ’em than what I borrow from my imagination — peace to thee, generous fool! and let me go on.
—‘So hating, I say, to make mysteries of nothing’— I intrusted it with the post-boy, as soon as ever I got off the stones; he gave a crack with his whip to balance the compliment; and with the thill-horse trotting, and a sort of an up and a down of the other, we danced it along to Ailly au clochers, famed in days of yore for the finest chimes in the world; but we danced through it without music — the chimes being greatly out of order —(as in truth they were through all France).
And so making all possible speed, from
Ailly au clochers, I got to Hixcourt, from Hixcourt I got to Pequignay, and from Pequignay, I got to Amiens, concerning which town I have nothing to inform you, but what I have informed you once before — and that was — that Janatone went there to school.
In the whole catalogue of those whiffling vexations which come puffing across a man’s canvass, there is not one of a more teasing and tormenting nature, than this particular one which I am going to describe — and for which (unless you travel with an avance-courier, which numbers do in order to prevent it)— there is no help: and it is this.
That be you in never so kindly a propensity to sleep — though you are passing perhaps through the finest country — upon the best roads, and in the easiest carriage for doing it in the world — nay, was you sure you could sleep fifty miles straight forwards, without once opening your eyes — nay, what is more, was you as demonstratively satisfied as you can be of any truth in Euclid, that you should upon all accounts be full as well asleep as awake — nay, perhaps better — Yet the incessant returns of paying for the horses at every stage — with the necessity thereupon of putting your hand into your pocket, and counting out from thence three livres fifteen sous (sous by sous), puts an end to so much of the project, that you cannot execute above six miles of it (or supposing it is a post and a half, that is but nine)— were it to save your soul from destruction.
— I’ll be even with ’em, quoth I, for I’ll put the precise sum into a piece of paper, and hold it ready in my hand all the way: ‘Now I shall have nothing to do,’ said I (composing myself to rest), ‘but to drop this gently into the post-boy’s hat, and not say a word.’— Then there wants two sous more to drink — or there is a twelve sous piece of Louis XIV. which will not pass — or a livre and some odd liards to be brought over from the last stage, which Monsieur had forgot; which altercations (as a man cannot dispute very well asleep) rouse him: still is sweet sleep retrievable; and still might the flesh weigh down the spirit, and recover itself of these blows — but then, by heaven! you have paid but for a single post — whereas ’tis a post and a half; and this obliges you to pull out your book of post-roads, the print of which is so very small, it forces you to open your eyes, whether you will or no: Then Monsieur le Cure offers you a pinch of snuff — or a poor soldier shews you his leg — or a shaveling his box — or the priestesse of the cistern will water your wheels — they do not want it — but she swears by her priesthood (throwing it back) that they do:— then you have all these points to argue, or consider over in your mind; in doing of which, the rational powers get so thoroughly awakened — you may get ’em to sleep again as you can.
It was entirely owing to one of these misfortunes, or I had pass’d clean by the stables of Chantilly —
— But the postillion first affirming, and then persisting in it to my face, that there was no mark upon the two sous piece, I open’d my eyes to be convinced — and seeing the mark upon it as plain as my nose — I leap’d out of the chaise in a passion, and so saw every thing at Chantilly in spite. — I tried it but for three posts and a half, but believe ’tis the best principle in the world to travel speedily upon; for as few objects look very inviting in that mood — you have little or nothing to stop you; by which means it was that I passed through St. Dennis, without turning my head so much as on one side towards the Abby —
— Richness of their treasury! stuff and nonsense! — bating their jewels, which are all false, I would not give three sous for any one thing in it, but Jaidas’s lantern — nor for that either, only as it grows dark, it might be of use.
Crack, crack — crack, crack — crack, crack — so this is Paris! quoth I (continuing in the same mood)— and this is Paris! — humph! — Paris! cried I, repeating the name the third time —
The first, the finest, the most brilliant —
The streets however are nasty.
But it looks, I suppose, better than it smells — crack, crack — crack, crack — what a fuss thou makest! — as if it concerned the good people to be informed, that a man with pale face and clad in black, had the honour to be driven into Paris at nine o’clock at night, by a postillion in a tawny yellow jerkin, turned up with red calamanco — crack, crack — crack, crack — crack, crack — I wish thy whip —
— But ’tis the spirit of thy nation; so crack — crack on.
Ha! — and no one gives the wall! — but in the School of Urbanity herself, if the walls are besh..t — how can you do otherwise?
And prithee when do they light the lamps? What? — never in the summer months! — Ho! ’tis the time of sallads. — O rare! sallad and soup — soup and sallad — sallad and soup, encore —
—’Tis too much for sinners.
Now I cannot bear the barbarity of it; how can that unconscionable coachman talk so much bawdy to that lean horse? don’t you see, friend, the streets are so villanously narrow, that there is not room in all Paris to turn a wheelbarrow? In the grandest city of the whole world, it would not have been amiss, if they had been left a thought wider; nay, were it only so much in every single street, as that a man might know (was it only for satisfaction) on which side of it he was walking.
One — two — three — four — five — six — seven — eight — nine — ten. — Ten cooks shops! and twice the number of barbers! and all within three minutes driving! one would think that all the cooks in the world, on some great merry-meeting with the barbers, by joint consent had said — Come, let us all go live at Paris: the French love good eating — they are all gourmands — we shall rank high; if their god is their belly — their cooks must be gentlemen: and forasmuch as the periwig maketh the man, and the periwig-maker maketh the periwig — ergo, would the barbers say, we shall rank higher still — we shall be above you all — we shall be Capitouls (Chief Magistrate in Toulouse, &c. &c. &c.) at least — pardi! we shall all wear swords —
— And so, one would swear, (that is, by candle-light — but there is no depending upon it,) they continued to do, to this day.
The French are certainly misunderstood:— but whether the fault is theirs, in not sufficiently explaining themselves; or speaking with that exact limitation and precision which one would expect on a point of such importance, and which, moreover, is so likely to be contested by us — or whether the fault may not be altogether on our side, in not understanding their language always so critically as to know ‘what they would be at’— I shall not decide; but ’tis evident to me, when they affirm, ‘That they who have seen Paris, have seen every thing,’ they must mean to speak of those who have seen it by day-light.
As for candle-light — I give it up — I have said before, there was no depending upon it — and I repeat it again; but not because the lights and shades are too sharp — or the tints confounded — or that there is neither beauty or keeping, &c.. . .for that’s not truth — but it is an uncertain light in this respect, That in all the five hundred grand Hotels, which they number up to you in Paris — and the five hundred good things, at a modest computation (for ’tis only allowing one good thing to a Hotel), which by candle-light are best to be seen, felt, heard, and understood (which, by the bye, is a quotation from Lilly)— the devil a one of us out of fifty, can get our heads fairly thrust in amongst them.
This is no part of the French computation: ’tis simply this,
That by the last survey taken in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, since which time there have been considerable augmentations, Paris doth contain nine hundred streets; (viz)
In the quarter called the City — there are fifty-three streets. In St. James of the Shambles, fifty-five streets. In St. Oportune, thirty-four streets. In the quarter of the Louvre, twenty-five streets. In the Palace Royal, or St. Honorius, forty-nine streets. In Mont. Martyr, forty-one streets. In St. Eustace, twenty-nine streets. In the Halles, twenty-seven streets. In St. Dennis, fifty-five streets. In St. Martin, fifty-four streets. In St. Paul, or the Mortellerie, twenty-seven streets. The Greve, thirty-eight streets. In St. Avoy, or the Verrerie, nineteen streets. In the Marais, or the Temple, fifty-two streets. In St. Antony’s, sixty-eight streets. In the Place Maubert, eighty-one streets. In St. Bennet, sixty streets. In St. Andrews de Arcs, fifty-one streets. In the quarter of the Luxembourg, sixty-two streets. And in that of St. Germain, fifty-five streets, into any of which you may walk; and that when you have seen them with all that belongs to them, fairly by day-light — their gates, their bridges, their squares, their statues. . .and have crusaded it moreover, through all their parish-churches, by no means omitting St. Roche and Sulpice. . .and to crown all, have taken a walk to the four palaces, which you may see, either with or without the statues and pictures, just as you chuse —
— Then you will have seen —
— but ’tis what no one needeth to tell you, for you will read of it yourself upon the portico of the Louvre, in these words,
Earth No Such Folks! — No Folks E’er Such A Town As Paris Is! — Sing, Derry, Derry, Down. (Non orbis gentem, non urbem gens habet ullam — ulla parem.)
The French have a gay way of treating every thing that is Great; and that is all can be said upon it.
In mentioning the word gay (as in the close of the last chapter) it puts one (i.e. an author) in mind of the word spleen — especially if he has any thing to say upon it: not that by any analysis — or that from any table of interest or genealogy, there appears much more ground of alliance betwixt them, than betwixt light and darkness, or any two of the most unfriendly opposites in nature — only ’tis an undercraft of authors to keep up a good understanding amongst words, as politicians do amongst men — not knowing how near they may be under a necessity of placing them to each other — which point being now gain’d, and that I may place mine exactly to my mind, I write it down here —
This, upon leaving Chantilly, I declared to be the best principle in the world to travel speedily upon; but I gave it only as matter of opinion. I still continue in the same sentiments — only I had not then experience enough of its working to add this, that though you do get on at a tearing rate, yet you get on but uneasily to yourself at the same time; for which reason I here quit it entirely, and for ever, and ’tis heartily at any one’s service — it has spoiled me the digestion of a good supper, and brought on a bilious diarrhoea, which has brought me back again to my first principle on which I set out — and with which I shall now scamper it away to the banks of the Garonne —
— No; — I cannot stop a moment to give you the character of the people — their genius — their manners — their customs — their laws — their religion — their government — their manufactures — their commerce — their finances, with all the resources and hidden springs which sustain them: qualified as I may be, by spending three days and two nights amongst them, and during all that time making these things the entire subject of my enquiries and reflections —
Still — still I must away — the roads are paved — the posts are short — the days are long —’tis no more than noon — I shall be at Fontainebleau before the king —
— Was he going there? not that I know —
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00