Non enim excursus hic ejus, sed opus ipsum est.
Plin. Lib. V. Epist. 6.
Si quid urbaniuscule lusum a nobis, per Musas et Charitas et omnium poetarum Numina, Oro te, ne me male capias.
Having, a priori, intended to dedicate The Amours of my Uncle Toby to Mr. . . . — I see more reasons, a posteriori, for doing it to Lord . . . . . . . .
I should lament from my soul, if this exposed me to the jealousy of their Reverences; because a posteriori, in Court-latin, signifies the kissing hands for preferment — or any thing else — in order to get it.
My opinion of Lord . . . . . . . is neither better nor worse, than it was of Mr. . . . . Honours, like impressions upon coin, may give an ideal and local value to a bit of base metal; but Gold and Silver will pass all the world over without any other recommendation than their own weight.
The same good-will that made me think of offering up half an hour’s amusement to Mr. . . . when out of place — operates more forcibly at present, as half an hour’s amusement will be more serviceable and refreshing after labour and sorrow, than after a philosophical repast.
Nothing is so perfectly amusement as a total change of ideas; no ideas are so totally different as those of Ministers, and innocent Lovers: for which reason, when I come to talk of Statesmen and Patriots, and set such marks upon them as will prevent confusion and mistakes concerning them for the future — I propose to dedicate that Volume to some gentle Shepherd,
Whose thoughts proud Science never taught to stray, Far as the Statesman’s walk or Patriot-way; Yet simple Nature to his hopes had given Out of a cloud-capp’d head a humbler heaven; Some untam’d World in depths of wood embraced — Some happier Island in the wat’ry-waste — And where admitted to that equal sky, His faithful Dogs should bear him company.
In a word, by thus introducing an entire new set of objects to his Imagination, I shall unavoidably give a Diversion to his passionate and love-sick Contemplations. In the mean time,
Now I hate to hear a person, especially if he be a traveller, complain that we do not get on so fast in France as we do in England; whereas we get on much faster, consideratis considerandis; thereby always meaning, that if you weigh their vehicles with the mountains of baggage which you lay both before and behind upon them — and then consider their puny horses, with the very little they give them —’tis a wonder they get on at all: their suffering is most unchristian, and ’tis evident thereupon to me, that a French post-horse would not know what in the world to do, was it not for the two words . . . . .. and . . . . .. in which there is as much sustenance, as if you give him a peck of corn: now as these words cost nothing, I long from my soul to tell the reader what they are; but here is the question — they must be told him plainly, and with the most distinct articulation, or it will answer no end — and yet to do it in that plain way — though their reverences may laugh at it in the bed-chamber — full well I wot, they will abuse it in the parlour: for which cause, I have been volving and revolving in my fancy some time, but to no purpose, by what clean device or facette contrivance I might so modulate them, that whilst I satisfy that ear which the reader chuses to lend me — I might not dissatisfy the other which he keeps to himself.
— My ink burns my finger to try — and when I have —’twill have a worse consequence — It will burn (I fear) my paper.
— No; — I dare not —
But if you wish to know how the abbess of Andouillets and a novice of her convent got over the difficulty (only first wishing myself all imaginable success)— I’ll tell you without the least scruple.
The abbess of Andouillets, which if you look into the large set of provincial maps now publishing at Paris, you will find situated amongst the hills which divide Burgundy from Savoy, being in danger of an Anchylosis or stiff joint (the sinovia of her knee becoming hard by long matins), and having tried every remedy — first, prayers and thanksgiving; then invocations to all the saints in heaven promiscuously — then particularly to every saint who had ever had a stiff leg before her — then touching it with all the reliques of the convent, principally with the thigh-bone of the man of Lystra, who had been impotent from his youth — then wrapping it up in her veil when she went to bed — then cross-wise her rosary — then bringing in to her aid the secular arm, and anointing it with oils and hot fat of animals — then treating it with emollient and resolving fomentations — then with poultices of marsh-mallows, mallows, bonus Henricus, white lillies and fenugreek — then taking the woods, I mean the smoak of ’em, holding her scapulary across her lap — then decoctions of wild chicory, water-cresses, chervil, sweet cecily and cochlearia — and nothing all this while answering, was prevailed on at last to try the hot-baths of Bourbon — so having first obtained leave of the visitor-general to take care of her existence — she ordered all to be got ready for her journey: a novice of the convent of about seventeen, who had been troubled with a whitloe in her middle finger, by sticking it constantly into the abbess’s cast poultices, &c. — had gained such an interest, that overlooking a sciatical old nun, who might have been set up for ever by the hot-baths of Bourbon, Margarita, the little novice, was elected as the companion of the journey.
An old calesh, belonging to the abbesse, lined with green frize, was ordered to be drawn out into the sun — the gardener of the convent being chosen muleteer, led out the two old mules, to clip the hair from the rump-ends of their tails, whilst a couple of lay-sisters were busied, the one in darning the lining, and the other in sewing on the shreds of yellow binding, which the teeth of time had unravelled — the under-gardener dress’d the muleteer’s hat in hot wine-lees — and a taylor sat musically at it, in a shed over-against the convent, in assorting four dozen of bells for the harness, whistling to each bell, as he tied it on with a thong. —
— The carpenter and the smith of Andouillets held a council of wheels; and by seven, the morning after, all look’d spruce, and was ready at the gate of the convent for the hot-baths of Bourbon — two rows of the unfortunate stood ready there an hour before.
The abbess of Andouillets, supported by Margarita the novice, advanced slowly to the calesh, both clad in white, with their black rosaries hanging at their breasts —
— There was a simple solemnity in the contrast: they entered the calesh; the nuns in the same uniform, sweet emblem of innocence, each occupied a window, and as the abbess and Margarita look’d up — each (the sciatical poor nun excepted)— each stream’d out the end of her veil in the air — then kiss’d the lilly hand which let it go: the good abbess and Margarita laid their hands saint-wise upon their breasts — look’d up to heaven — then to them — and look’d ‘God bless you, dear sisters.’
I declare I am interested in this story, and wish I had been there.
The gardener, whom I shall now call the muleteer, was a little, hearty, broad-set, good-natured, chattering, toping kind of a fellow, who troubled his head very little with the hows and whens of life; so had mortgaged a month of his conventical wages in a borrachio, or leathern cask of wine, which he had disposed behind the calesh, with a large russet-coloured riding-coat over it, to guard it from the sun; and as the weather was hot, and he not a niggard of his labours, walking ten times more than he rode — he found more occasions than those of nature, to fall back to the rear of his carriage; till by frequent coming and going, it had so happen’d, that all his wine had leak’d out at the legal vent of the borrachio, before one half of the journey was finish’d.
Man is a creature born to habitudes. The day had been sultry — the evening was delicious — the wine was generous — the Burgundian hill on which it grew was steep — a little tempting bush over the door of a cool cottage at the foot of it, hung vibrating in full harmony with the passions — a gentle air rustled distinctly through the leaves —‘Come — come, thirsty muleteer — come in.’
— The muleteer was a son of Adam, I need not say a word more. He gave the mules, each of ’em, a sound lash, and looking in the abbess’s and Margarita’s faces (as he did it)— as much as to say ‘here I am’— he gave a second good crack — as much as to say to his mules, ‘get on’— so slinking behind, he enter’d the little inn at the foot of the hill.
The muleteer, as I told you, was a little, joyous, chirping fellow, who thought not of to-morrow, nor of what had gone before, or what was to follow it, provided he got but his scantling of Burgundy, and a little chit-chat along with it; so entering into a long conversation, as how he was chief gardener to the convent of Andouillets, &c. &c. and out of friendship for the abbess and Mademoiselle Margarita, who was only in her noviciate, he had come along with them from the confines of Savoy, &c. &c. — and as how she had got a white swelling by her devotions — and what a nation of herbs he had procured to mollify her humours, &c. &c. and that if the waters of Bourbon did not mend that leg — she might as well be lame of both —&c. &c. &c. — He so contrived his story, as absolutely to forget the heroine of it — and with her the little novice, and what was a more ticklish point to be forgot than both — the two mules; who being creatures that take advantage of the world, inasmuch as their parents took it of them — and they not being in a condition to return the obligation downwards (as men and women and beasts are)— they do it side-ways, and long-ways, and back-ways — and up hill, and down hill, and which way they can. — Philosophers, with all their ethicks, have never considered this rightly — how should the poor muleteer, then in his cups, consider it at all? he did not in the least — ’tis time we do; let us leave him then in the vortex of his element, the happiest and most thoughtless of mortal men — and for a moment let us look after the mules, the abbess, and Margarita.
By virtue of the muleteer’s two last strokes the mules had gone quietly on, following their own consciences up the hill, till they had conquer’d about one half of it; when the elder of them, a shrewd crafty old devil, at the turn of an angle, giving a side glance, and no muleteer behind them —
By my fig! said she, swearing, I’ll go no further — And if I do, replied the other, they shall make a drum of my hide. —
And so with one consent they stopp’d thus —
— Get on with you, said the abbess.
— Wh . . . ysh — ysh — cried Margarita.
Sh . . . a — shu..u — shu..u — sh..aw — shaw’d the abbess.
— Whu — v — w — whew — w — w — whuv’d Margarita, pursing up her sweet lips betwixt a hoot and a whistle.
Thump — thump — thump — obstreperated the abbess of Andouillets with the end of her gold-headed cane against the bottom of the calesh —
The old mule let a f . . .
We are ruin’d and undone, my child, said the abbess to Margarita — we shall be here all night — we shall be plunder’d — we shall be ravished —
— We shall be ravish’d, said Margarita, as sure as a gun.
Sancta Maria! cried the abbess (forgetting the O!)— why was I govern’d by this wicked stiff joint? why did I leave the convent of Andouillets? and why didst thou not suffer thy servant to go unpolluted to her tomb?
O my finger! my finger! cried the novice, catching fire at the word servant — why was I not content to put it here, or there, any where rather than be in this strait?
Strait! said the abbess.
Strait — said the novice; for terror had struck their understandings — the one knew not what she said — the other what she answer’d.
O my virginity! virginity! cried the abbess.
. . . inity! . . . inity! said the novice, sobbing.
My dear mother, quoth the novice, coming a little to herself — there are two certain words, which I have been told will force any horse, or ass, or mule, to go up a hill whether he will or no; be he never so obstinate or ill-will’d, the moment he hears them utter’d, he obeys. They are words magic! cried the abbess in the utmost horror — No; replied Margarita calmly--but they are words sinful — What are they? quoth the abbess, interrupting her: They are sinful in the first degree, answered Margarita — they are mortal — and if we are ravished and die unabsolved of them, we shall both--but you may pronounce them to me, quoth the abbess of Andouillets — They cannot, my dear mother, said the novice, be pronounced at all; they will make all the blood in one’s body fly up into one’s face — But you may whisper them in my ear, quoth the abbess.
Heaven! hadst thou no guardian angel to delegate to the inn at the bottom of the hill? was there no generous and friendly spirit unemployed — no agent in nature, by some monitory shivering, creeping along the artery which led to his heart, to rouse the muleteer from his banquet? — no sweet minstrelsy to bring back the fair idea of the abbess and Margarita, with their black rosaries!
Rouse! rouse! — but ’tis too late — the horrid words are pronounced this moment —
— and how to tell them — Ye, who can speak of every thing existing, with unpolluted lips — instruct me — guide me —
All sins whatever, quoth the abbess, turning casuist in the distress they were under, are held by the confessor of our convent to be either mortal or venial: there is no further division. Now a venial sin being the slightest and least of all sins — being halved — by taking either only the half of it, and leaving the rest — or, by taking it all, and amicably halving it betwixt yourself and another person — in course becomes diluted into no sin at all.
Now I see no sin in saying, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, a hundred times together; nor is there any turpitude in pronouncing the syllable ger, ger, ger, ger, ger, were it from our matins to our vespers: Therefore, my dear daughter, continued the abbess of Andouillets — I will say bou, and thou shalt say ger; and then alternately, as there is no more sin in fou than in bou — Thou shalt say fou — and I will come in (like fa, sol, la, re, mi, ut, at our complines) with ter. And accordingly the abbess, giving the pitch note, set off thus:
Abbess,. . . . .) Bou . . . bou . . . bou.. Margarita,..) —-ger,..ger,..ger.
Margarita,..) Fou . . . fou . . . fou.. Abbess,. . . . .) —-ter,..ter,..ter.
The two mules acknowledged the notes by a mutual lash of their tails; but it went no further —’Twill answer by an’ by, said the novice.
Abbess,. . . . .) Bou. bou. bou. bou. bou. bou. Margarita,..) —-ger, ger, ger, ger, ger, ger.
Quicker still, cried Margarita. Fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou, fou.
Quicker still, cried Margarita. Bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou, bou.
Quicker still — God preserve me; said the abbess — They do not understand us, cried Margarita — But the Devil does, said the abbess of Andouillets.
What a tract of country have I run! — how many degrees nearer to the warm sun am I advanced, and how many fair and goodly cities have I seen, during the time you have been reading and reflecting, Madam, upon this story! There’s Fontainbleau, and Sens, and Joigny, and Auxerre, and Dijon the capital of Burgundy, and Challon, and Macon the capital of the Maconese, and a score more upon the road to Lyons — and now I have run them over — I might as well talk to you of so many market towns in the moon, as tell you one word about them: it will be this chapter at the least, if not both this and the next entirely lost, do what I will —
— Why, ’tis a strange story! Tristram.
Alas! Madam, had it been upon some melancholy lecture of the cross — the peace of meekness, or the contentment of resignation — I had not been incommoded: or had I thought of writing it upon the purer abstractions of the soul, and that food of wisdom and holiness and contemplation, upon which the spirit of man (when separated from the body) is to subsist for ever — You would have come with a better appetite from it —
— I wish I never had wrote it: but as I never blot any thing out — let us use some honest means to get it out of our heads directly.
— Pray reach me my fool’s cap — I fear you sit upon it, Madam —’tis under the cushion — I’ll put it on —
Bless me! you have had it upon your head this half hour. — There then let it stay, with a Fa-ra diddle di and a fa-ri diddle d and a high-dum — dye-dum fiddle. . .dumb-c.
And now, Madam, we may venture, I hope a little to go on.
— All you need say of Fontainbleau (in case you are ask’d) is, that it stands about forty miles (south something) from Paris, in the middle of a large forest — That there is something great in it — That the king goes there once every two or three years, with his whole court, for the pleasure of the chace — and that, during that carnival of sporting, any English gentleman of fashion (you need not forget yourself) may be accommodated with a nag or two, to partake of the sport, taking care only not to out-gallop the king —
Though there are two reasons why you need not talk loud of this to every one.
First, Because ’twill make the said nags the harder to be got; and
Secondly, ’Tis not a word of it true. — Allons!
As for Sens — you may dispatch — in a word —’’Tis an archiepiscopal see.’
— For Joigny — the less, I think, one says of it the better.
But for Auxerre — I could go on for ever: for in my grand tour through Europe, in which, after all, my father (not caring to trust me with any one) attended me himself, with my uncle Toby, and Trim, and Obadiah, and indeed most of the family, except my mother, who being taken up with a project of knitting my father a pair of large worsted breeches —(the thing is common sense)— and she not caring to be put out of her way, she staid at home, at Shandy Hall, to keep things right during the expedition; in which, I say, my father stopping us two days at Auxerre, and his researches being ever of such a nature, that they would have found fruit even in a desert — he has left me enough to say upon Auxerre: in short, wherever my father went — but ’twas more remarkably so, in this journey through France and Italy, than in any other stages of his life — his road seemed to lie so much on one side of that, wherein all other travellers have gone before him — he saw kings and courts and silks of all colours, in such strange lights — and his remarks and reasonings upon the characters, the manners, and customs of the countries we pass’d over, were so opposite to those of all other mortal men, particularly those of my uncle Toby and Trim —(to say nothing of myself)— and to crown all — the occurrences and scrapes which we were perpetually meeting and getting into, in consequence of his systems and opiniotry — they were of so odd, so mix’d and tragi-comical a contexture — That the whole put together, it appears of so different a shade and tint from any tour of Europe, which was ever executed — that I will venture to pronounce — the fault must be mine and mine only — if it be not read by all travellers and travel-readers, till travelling is no more — or which comes to the same point — till the world, finally, takes it into its head to stand still. —
— But this rich bale is not to be open’d now; except a small thread or two of it, merely to unravel the mystery of my father’s stay at Auxerre.
— As I have mentioned it —’tis too slight to be kept suspended; and when ’tis wove in, there is an end of it.
We’ll go, brother Toby, said my father, whilst dinner is coddling — to the abbey of Saint Germain, if it be only to see these bodies, of which Monsieur Sequier has given such a recommendation. — I’ll go see any body, quoth my uncle Toby; for he was all compliance through every step of the journey — Defend me! said my father — they are all mummies — Then one need not shave; quoth my uncle Toby — Shave! no — cried my father —’twill be more like relations to go with our beards on — So out we sallied, the corporal lending his master his arm, and bringing up the rear, to the abbey of Saint Germain.
Every thing is very fine, and very rich, and very superb, and very magnificent, said my father, addressing himself to the sacristan, who was a younger brother of the order of Benedictines — but our curiosity has led us to see the bodies, of which Monsieur Sequier has given the world so exact a description. — The sacristan made a bow, and lighting a torch first, which he had always in the vestry ready for the purpose; he led us into the tomb of St. Heribald — This, said the sacristan, laying his hand upon the tomb, was a renowned prince of the house of Bavaria, who under the successive reigns of Charlemagne, Louis le Debonnair, and Charles the Bald, bore a great sway in the government, and had a principal hand in bringing every thing into order and discipline —
Then he has been as great, said my uncle, in the field, as in the cabinet — I dare say he has been a gallant soldier — He was a monk — said the sacristan.
My uncle Toby and Trim sought comfort in each other’s faces — but found it not: my father clapped both his hands upon his cod-piece, which was a way he had when any thing hugely tickled him: for though he hated a monk and the very smell of a monk worse than all the devils in hell — yet the shot hitting my uncle Toby and Trim so much harder than him, ’twas a relative triumph; and put him into the gayest humour in the world.
— And pray what do you call this gentleman? quoth my father, rather sportingly: This tomb, said the young Benedictine, looking downwards, contains the bones of Saint Maxima, who came from Ravenna on purpose to touch the body —
— Of Saint Maximus, said my father, popping in with his saint before him — they were two of the greatest saints in the whole martyrology, added my father — Excuse me, said the sacristan —’twas to touch the bones of Saint Germain, the builder of the abbey — And what did she get by it? said my uncle Toby — What does any woman get by it? said my father — Martyrdome; replied the young Benedictine, making a bow down to the ground, and uttering the word with so humble, but decisive a cadence, it disarmed my father for a moment. ’Tis supposed, continued the Benedictine, that St. Maxima has lain in this tomb four hundred years, and two hundred before her canonization —’Tis but a slow rise, brother Toby, quoth my father, in this self-same army of martyrs. — A desperate slow one, an’ please your honour, said Trim, unless one could purchase — I should rather sell out entirely, quoth my uncle Toby — I am pretty much of your opinion, brother Toby, said my father.
— Poor St. Maxima! said my uncle Toby low to himself, as we turn’d from her tomb: She was one of the fairest and most beautiful ladies either of Italy or France, continued the sacristan — But who the duce has got lain down here, besides her? quoth my father, pointing with his cane to a large tomb as we walked on — It is Saint Optat, Sir, answered the sacristan — And properly is Saint Optat plac’d! said my father: And what is Saint Optat’s story? continued he. Saint Optat, replied the sacristan, was a bishop —
— I thought so, by heaven! cried my father, interrupting him — Saint Optat!--how should Saint Optat fail? so snatching out his pocket-book, and the young Benedictine holding him the torch as he wrote, he set it down as a new prop to his system of Christian names, and I will be bold to say, so disinterested was he in the search of truth, that had he found a treasure in Saint Optat’s tomb, it would not have made him half so rich: ’Twas as successful a short visit as ever was paid to the dead; and so highly was his fancy pleas’d with all that had passed in it — that he determined at once to stay another day in Auxerre.
— I’ll see the rest of these good gentry to-morrow, said my father, as we cross’d over the square — And while you are paying that visit, brother Shandy, quoth my uncle Toby — the corporal and I will mount the ramparts.
— Now this is the most puzzled skein of all — for in this last chapter, as far at least as it has help’d me through Auxerre, I have been getting forwards in two different journies together, and with the same dash of the pen — for I have got entirely out of Auxerre in this journey which I am writing now, and I am got half way out of Auxerre in that which I shall write hereafter — There is but a certain degree of perfection in every thing; and by pushing at something beyond that, I have brought myself into such a situation, as no traveller ever stood before me; for I am this moment walking across the market-place of Auxerre with my father and my uncle Toby, in our way back to dinner — and I am this moment also entering Lyons with my post-chaise broke into a thousand pieces — and I am moreover this moment in a handsome pavillion built by Pringello (The same Don Pringello, the celebrated Spanish architect, of whom my cousin Antony has made such honourable mention in a scholium to the Tale inscribed to his name. Vid. p.129, small edit.), upon the banks of the Garonne, which Mons. Sligniac has lent me, and where I now sit rhapsodising all these affairs.
— Let me collect myself, and pursue my journey.
I am glad of it, said I, settling the account with myself, as I walk’d into Lyons — my chaise being all laid higgledy-piggledy with my baggage in a cart, which was moving slowly before me — I am heartily glad, said I, that ’tis all broke to pieces; for now I can go directly by water to Avignon, which will carry me on a hundred and twenty miles of my journey, and not cost me seven livres — and from thence, continued I, bringing forwards the account, I can hire a couple of mules — or asses, if I like, (for nobody knows me,) and cross the plains of Languedoc for almost nothing — I shall gain four hundred livres by the misfortune clear into my purse: and pleasure! worth — worth double the money by it. With what velocity, continued I, clapping my two hands together, shall I fly down the rapid Rhone, with the Vivares on my right hand, and Dauphiny on my left, scarce seeing the ancient cities of Vienne, Valence, and Vivieres. What a flame will it rekindle in the lamp, to snatch a blushing grape from the Hermitage and Cote roti, as I shoot by the foot of them! and what a fresh spring in the blood! to behold upon the banks advancing and retiring, the castles of romance, whence courteous knights have whilome rescued the distress’d — and see vertiginous, the rocks, the mountains, the cataracts, and all the hurry which Nature is in with all her great works about her.
As I went on thus, methought my chaise, the wreck of which look’d stately enough at the first, insensibly grew less and less in its size; the freshness of the painting was no more — the gilding lost its lustre — and the whole affair appeared so poor in my eyes — so sorry! — so contemptible! and, in a word, so much worse than the abbess of Andouillets’ itself — that I was just opening my mouth to give it to the devil — when a pert vamping chaise-undertaker, stepping nimbly across the street, demanded if Monsieur would have his chaise refitted — No, no, said I, shaking my head sideways — Would Monsieur choose to sell it? rejoined the undertaker — With all my soul, said I— the iron work is worth forty livres — and the glasses worth forty more — and the leather you may take to live on.
What a mine of wealth, quoth I, as he counted me the money, has this post-chaise brought me in? And this is my usual method of book-keeping, at least with the disasters of life — making a penny of every one of ’em as they happen to me —
— Do, my dear Jenny, tell the world for me, how I behaved under one, the most oppressive of its kind, which could befal me as a man, proud as he ought to be of his manhood —
’Tis enough, saidst thou, coming close up to me, as I stood with my garters in my hand, reflecting upon what had not pass’d —’Tis enough, Tristram, and I am satisfied, saidst thou, whispering these words in my ear, . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . ..; —. . . . .. . . . — any other man would have sunk down to the centre —
— Every thing is good for something, quoth I.
— I’ll go into Wales for six weeks, and drink goat’s whey — and I’ll gain seven years longer life for the accident. For which reason I think myself inexcusable, for blaming Fortune so often as I have done, for pelting me all my life long, like an ungracious duchess, as I call’d her, with so many small evils: surely, if I have any cause to be angry with her, ’tis that she has not sent me great ones — a score of good cursed, bouncing losses, would have been as good as a pension to me.
— One of a hundred a year, or so, is all I wish — I would not be at the plague of paying land-tax for a larger.
To those who call vexations, Vexations, as knowing what they are, there could not be a greater, than to be the best part of a day at Lyons, the most opulent and flourishing city in France, enriched with the most fragments of antiquity — and not be able to see it. To be withheld upon any account, must be a vexation; but to be withheld by a vexation — must certainly be, what philosophy justly calls Vexation upon Vexation.
I had got my two dishes of milk coffee (which by the bye is excellently good for a consumption, but you must boil the milk and coffee together — otherwise ’tis only coffee and milk)— and as it was no more than eight in the morning, and the boat did not go off till noon, I had time to see enough of Lyons to tire the patience of all the friends I had in the world with it. I will take a walk to the cathedral, said I, looking at my list, and see the wonderful mechanism of this great clock of Lippius of Basil, in the first place —
Now, of all things in the world, I understand the least of mechanism — I have neither genius, or taste, or fancy — and have a brain so entirely unapt for every thing of that kind, that I solemnly declare I was never yet able to comprehend the principles of motion of a squirrel cage, or a common knife-grinder’s wheel — tho’ I have many an hour of my life look’d up with great devotion at the one — and stood by with as much patience as any christian ever could do, at the other —
I’ll go see the surprising movements of this great clock, said I, the very first thing I do: and then I will pay a visit to the great library of the Jesuits, and procure, if possible, a sight of the thirty volumes of the general history of China, wrote (not in the Tartarean, but) in the Chinese language, and in the Chinese character too.
Now I almost know as little of the Chinese language, as I do of the mechanism of Lippius’s clock-work; so, why these should have jostled themselves into the two first articles of my list — I leave to the curious as a problem of Nature. I own it looks like one of her ladyship’s obliquities; and they who court her, are interested in finding out her humour as much as I.
When these curiosities are seen, quoth I, half addressing myself to my valet de place, who stood behind me —’twill be no hurt if we go to the church of St. Irenaeus, and see the pillar to which Christ was tied — and after that, the house where Pontius Pilate lived —’Twas at the next town, said the valet de place — at Vienne; I am glad of it, said I, rising briskly from my chair, and walking across the room with strides twice as long as my usual pace —‘for so much the sooner shall I be at the Tomb of the two lovers.’
What was the cause of this movement, and why I took such long strides in uttering this — I might leave to the curious too; but as no principle of clock-work is concerned in it —’twill be as well for the reader if I explain it myself.
O! there is a sweet aera in the life of man, when (the brain being tender and fibrillous, and more like pap than any thing else)— a story read of two fond lovers, separated from each other by cruel parents, and by still more cruel destiny —
Amandus — He Amanda — She — each ignorant of the other’s course, He — east She — west Amandus taken captive by the Turks, and carried to the emperor of Morocco’s court, where the princess of Morocco falling in love with him, keeps him twenty years in prison for the love of the his Amanda. —
She —(Amanda) all the time wandering barefoot, and with dishevell’d hair, o’er rocks and mountains, enquiring for Amandus! — Amandus! Amandus! — making every hill and valley to echo back his name — Amandus! Amandus! at every town and city, sitting down forlorn at the gate — Has Amandus! — has my Amandus enter’d? — till — going round, and round, and round the world — chance unexpected bringing them at the same moment of the night, though by different ways, to the gate of Lyons, their native city, and each in well-known accents calling out aloud, Is Amandus Is my Amanda still alive? they fly into each other’s arms, and both drop down dead for joy.
There is a soft aera in every gentle mortal’s life, where such a story affords more pabulum to the brain, than all the Frusts, and Crusts, and Rusts of antiquity, which travellers can cook up for it.
—’Twas all that stuck on the right side of the cullender in my own, of what Spon and others, in their accounts of Lyons, had strained into it; and finding, moreover, in some Itinerary, but in what God knows — That sacred to the fidelity of Amandus and Amanda, a tomb was built without the gates, where, to this hour, lovers called upon them to attest their truths — I never could get into a scrape of that kind in my life, but this tomb of the lovers would, somehow or other, come in at the close — nay such a kind of empire had it establish’d over me, that I could seldom think or speak of Lyons — and sometimes not so much as see even a Lyons-waistcoat, but this remnant of antiquity would present itself to my fancy; and I have often said in my wild way of running on — tho’ I fear with some irreverence —‘I thought this shrine (neglected as it was) as valuable as that of Mecca, and so little short, except in wealth, of the Santa Casa itself, that some time or other, I would go a pilgrimage (though I had no other business at Lyons) on purpose to pay it a visit.’
In my list, therefore, of Videnda at Lyons, this, tho’ last — was not, you see, least; so taking a dozen or two of longer strides than usual cross my room, just whilst it passed my brain, I walked down calmly into the basse cour, in order to sally forth; and having called for my bill — as it was uncertain whether I should return to my inn, I had paid it — had moreover given the maid ten sous, and was just receiving the dernier compliments of Monsieur Le Blanc, for a pleasant voyage down the Rhone — when I was stopped at the gate —
—’Twas by a poor ass, who had just turned in with a couple of large panniers upon his back, to collect eleemosynary turnip-tops and cabbage-leaves; and stood dubious, with his two fore-feet on the inside of the threshold, and with his two hinder feet towards the street, as not knowing very well whether he was to go in or no.
Now, ’tis an animal (be in what hurry I may) I cannot bear to strike — there is a patient endurance of sufferings, wrote so unaffectedly in his looks and carriage, which pleads so mightily for him, that it always disarms me; and to that degree, that I do not like to speak unkindly to him: on the contrary, meet him where I will — whether in town or country — in cart or under panniers — whether in liberty or bondage — I have ever something civil to say to him on my part; and as one word begets another (if he has as little to do as I)— I generally fall into conversation with him; and surely never is my imagination so busy as in framing his responses from the etchings of his countenance — and where those carry me not deep enough — in flying from my own heart into his, and seeing what is natural for an ass to think — as well as a man, upon the occasion. In truth, it is the only creature of all the classes of beings below me, with whom I can do this: for parrots, jackdaws, &c. — I never exchange a word with them — nor with the apes, &c. for pretty near the same reason; they act by rote, as the others speak by it, and equally make me silent: nay my dog and my cat, though I value them both —(and for my dog he would speak if he could)— yet somehow or other, they neither of them possess the talents for conversation — I can make nothing of a discourse with them, beyond the proposition, the reply, and rejoinder, which terminated my father’s and my mother’s conversations, in his beds of justice — and those utter’d — there’s an end of the dialogue —
— But with an ass, I can commune for ever.
Come, Honesty! said I — seeing it was impracticable to pass betwixt him and the gate — art thou for coming in, or going out?
The ass twisted his head round to look up the street —
Well — replied I— we’ll wait a minute for thy driver:
— He turned his head thoughtful about, and looked wistfully the opposite way —
I understand thee perfectly, answered I— If thou takest a wrong step in this affair, he will cudgel thee to death — Well! a minute is but a minute, and if it saves a fellow-creature a drubbing, it shall not be set down as ill-spent.
He was eating the stem of an artichoke as this discourse went on, and in the little peevish contentions of nature betwixt hunger and unsavouriness, had dropt it out of his mouth half a dozen times, and pick’d it up again — God help thee, Jack! said I, thou hast a bitter breakfast on’t — and many a bitter day’s labour — and many a bitter blow, I fear, for its wages —’tis all — all bitterness to thee, whatever life is to others. — And now thy mouth, if one knew the truth of it, is as bitter, I dare say, as soot —(for he had cast aside the stem) and thou hast not a friend perhaps in all this world, that will give thee a macaroon. — In saying this, I pull’d out a paper of ’em, which I had just purchased, and gave him one — and at this moment that I am telling it, my heart smites me, that there was more of pleasantry in the conceit, of seeing how an ass would eat a macaroon — than of benevolence in giving him one, which presided in the act.
When the ass had eaten his macaroon, I press’d him to come in — the poor beast was heavy loaded — his legs seem’d to tremble under him — he hung rather backwards, and as I pull’d at his halter, it broke short in my hand--he look’d up pensive in my face —‘Don’t thrash me with it — but if you will, you may’— If I do, said I, I’ll be d. . . . d.
The word was but one-half of it pronounced, like the abbess of Andouillet’s —(so there was no sin in it)— when a person coming in, let fall a thundering bastinado upon the poor devil’s crupper, which put an end to the ceremony.
Out upon it! cried I— but the interjection was equivocal — and, I think, wrong placed too — for the end of an osier which had started out from the contexture of the ass’s panier, had caught hold of my breeches pocket, as he rush’d by me, and rent it in the most disastrous direction you can imagine — so that the
Out upon it! in my opinion, should have come in here — but this I leave to be settled by The Reviewers of My Breeches, which I have brought over along with me for that purpose.
When all was set to rights, I came down stairs again into the basse cour with my valet de place, in order to sally out towards the tomb of the two lovers, &c. — and was a second time stopp’d at the gate — not by the ass — but by the person who struck him; and who, by that time, had taken possession (as is not uncommon after a defeat) of the very spot of ground where the ass stood.
It was a commissary sent to me from the post-office, with a rescript in his hand for the payment of some six livres odd sous.
Upon what account? said I. —’Tis upon the part of the king, replied the commissary, heaving up both his shoulders —
— My good friend, quoth I— as sure as I am I— and you are you —
— And who are you? said he. — Don’t puzzle me; said I.
— But it is an indubitable verity, continued I, addressing myself to the commissary, changing only the form of my asseveration — that I owe the king of France nothing but my good will; for he is a very honest man, and I wish him all health and pastime in the world —
Pardonnez moi — replied the commissary, you are indebted to him six livres four sous, for the next post from hence to St. Fons, in your route to Avignon — which being a post royal, you pay double for the horses and postillion — otherwise ‘twould have amounted to no more than three livres two sous —
— But I don’t go by land; said I.
— You may if you please; replied the commissary —
Your most obedient servant — said I, making him a low bow —
The commissary, with all the sincerity of grave good breeding — made me one, as low again. — I never was more disconcerted with a bow in my life.
— The devil take the serious character of these people! quoth I—(aside) they understand no more of Irony than this —
The comparison was standing close by with his panniers — but something seal’d up my lips — I could not pronounce the name —
Sir, said I, collecting myself — it is not my intention to take post —
— But you may — said he, persisting in his first reply — you may take post if you chuse —
— And I may take salt to my pickled herring, said I, if I chuse —
— But I do not chuse —
— But you must pay for it, whether you do or no.
Aye! for the salt; said I (I know)—
— And for the post too; added he. Defend me! cried I—
I travel by water — I am going down the Rhone this very afternoon — my baggage is in the boat — and I have actually paid nine livres for my passage —
C’est tout egal —’tis all one; said he.
Bon Dieu! what, pay for the way I go! and for the way I do not go!
— C’est tout egal; replied the commissary —
— The devil it is! said I— but I will go to ten thousand Bastiles first —
O England! England! thou land of liberty, and climate of good sense, thou tenderest of mothers — and gentlest of nurses, cried I, kneeling upon one knee, as I was beginning my apostrophe.
When the director of Madam Le Blanc’s conscience coming in at that instant, and seeing a person in black, with a face as pale as ashes, at his devotions — looking still paler by the contrast and distress of his drapery--ask’d, if I stood in want of the aids of the church —
I go by Water — said I— and here’s another will be for making me pay for going by Oil.
As I perceived the commissary of the post-office would have his six livres four sous, I had nothing else for it, but to say some smart thing upon the occasion, worth the money:
And so I set off thus:—
— And pray, Mr. Commissary, by what law of courtesy is a defenceless stranger to be used just the reverse from what you use a Frenchman in this matter?
By no means; said he.
Excuse me; said I— for you have begun, Sir, with first tearing off my breeches-and now you want my pocket —
Whereas — had you first taken my pocket, as you do with your own people — and then left me bare a..‘d after — I had been a beast to have complain’d —
As it is —
—’Tis contrary to the law of nature.
—’Tis contrary to reason.
—’Tis contrary to the Gospel.
But not to this — said he — putting a printed paper into my hand,
Par le Roy.
—’Tis a pithy prolegomenon, quoth I— and so read on. . ..
— By all which it appears, quoth I, having read it over, a little too rapidly, that if a man sets out in a post-chaise from Paris — he must go on travelling in one, all the days of his life — or pay for it. — Excuse me, said the commissary, the spirit of the ordinance is this — That if you set out with an intention of running post from Paris to Avignon, &c. you shall not change that intention or mode of travelling, without first satisfying the fermiers for two posts further than the place you repent at — and ’tis founded, continued he, upon this, that the Revenues are not to fall short through your fickleness —
— O by heavens! cried I— if fickleness is taxable in France — we have nothing to do but to make the best peace with you we can —
And So the Peace Was Made;
— And if it is a bad one — as Tristram Shandy laid the corner-stone of it — nobody but Tristram Shandy ought to be hanged.
Though I was sensible I had said as many clever things to the commissary as came to six livres four sous, yet I was determined to note down the imposition amongst my remarks before I retired from the place; so putting my hand into my coat-pocket for my remarks —(which, by the bye, may be a caution to travellers to take a little more care of their remarks for the future) ‘my remarks were stolen’— Never did sorry traveller make such a pother and racket about his remarks as I did about mine, upon the occasion.
Heaven! earth! sea! fire! cried I, calling in every thing to my aid but what I should — My remarks are stolen! — what shall I do? — Mr. Commissary! pray did I drop any remarks, as I stood besides you? —
You dropp’d a good many very singular ones; replied he — Pugh! said I, those were but a few, not worth above six livres two sous — but these are a large parcel — He shook his head — Monsieur Le Blanc! Madam Le Blanc! did you see any papers of mine? — you maid of the house! run up stairs — Francois! run up after her —
— I must have my remarks — they were the best remarks, cried I, that ever were made — the wisest — the wittiest — What shall I do? — which way shall I turn myself?
Sancho Panca, when he lost his ass’s Furniture, did not exclaim more bitterly.
When the first transport was over, and the registers of the brain were beginning to get a little out of the confusion into which this jumble of cross accidents had cast them — it then presently occurr’d to me, that I had left my remarks in the pocket of the chaise — and that in selling my chaise, I had sold my remarks along with it, to the chaise-vamper. I leave this void space that the reader may swear into it any oath that he is most accustomed to — For my own part, if ever I swore a whole oath into a vacancy in my life, I think it was into that —. . . . . . . . ., said I— and so my remarks through France, which were as full of wit, as an egg is full of meat, and as well worth four hundred guineas, as the said egg is worth a penny — have I been selling here to a chaise-vamper — for four Louis d’Ors — and giving him a post-chaise (by heaven) worth six into the bargain; had it been to Dodsley, or Becket, or any creditable bookseller, who was either leaving off business, and wanted a post-chaise — or who was beginning it — and wanted my remarks, and two or three guineas along with them — I could have borne it — but to a chaise-vamper! — shew me to him this moment, Francois — said I— The valet de place put on his hat, and led the way — and I pull’d off mine, as I pass’d the commissary, and followed him.
When we arrived at the chaise-vamper’s house, both the house and the shop were shut up; it was the eighth of September, the nativity of the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God —
— Tantarra-ra-tan-tivi — the whole world was gone out a May-poling — frisking here — capering there — no body cared a button for me or my remarks; so I sat me down upon a bench by the door, philosophating upon my condition: by a better fate than usually attends me, I had not waited half an hour, when the mistress came in to take the papilliotes from off her hair, before she went to the May-poles —
The French women, by the bye, love May-poles, a la folie — that is, as much as their matins — give ’em but a May-pole, whether in May, June, July or September — they never count the times — down it goes —’tis meat, drink, washing, and lodging to ’em — and had we but the policy, an’ please your worships (as wood is a little scarce in France), to send them but plenty of May-poles —
The women would set them up; and when they had done, they would dance round them (and the men for company) till they were all blind.
The wife of the chaise-vamper stepp’d in, I told you, to take the papilliotes from off her hair — the toilet stands still for no man — so she jerk’d off her cap, to begin with them as she open’d the door, in doing which, one of them fell upon the ground — I instantly saw it was my own writing —
O Seigneur! cried I— you have got all my remarks upon your head, Madam! — J’en suis bien mortifiee, said she —’tis well, thinks I, they have stuck there — for could they have gone deeper, they would have made such confusion in a French woman’s noddle — She had better have gone with it unfrizled, to the day of eternity.
Tenez — said she — so without any idea of the nature of my suffering, she took them from her curls, and put them gravely one by one into my hat — one was twisted this way — another twisted that — ey! by my faith; and when they are published, quoth I —
They will be worse twisted still.
And now for Lippius’s clock! said I, with the air of a man, who had got thro’ all his difficulties — nothing can prevent us seeing that, and the Chinese history, &c. except the time, said Francois — for ’tis almost eleven — then we must speed the faster, said I, striding it away to the cathedral.
I cannot say, in my heart, that it gave me any concern in being told by one of the minor canons, as I was entering the west door — That Lippius’s great clock was all out of joints, and had not gone for some years — It will give me the more time, thought I, to peruse the Chinese history; and besides I shall be able to give the world a better account of the clock in its decay, than I could have done in its flourishing condition —
— And so away I posted to the college of the Jesuits.
Now it is with the project of getting a peep at the history of China in Chinese characters — as with many others I could mention, which strike the fancy only at a distance; for as I came nearer and nearer to the point — my blood cool’d — the freak gradually went off, till at length I would not have given a cherry-stone to have it gratified — The truth was, my time was short, and my heart was at the Tomb of the Lovers — I wish to God, said I, as I got the rapper in my hand, that the key of the library may be but lost; it fell out as well —
For all the Jesuits had got the cholic — and to that degree, as never was known in the memory of the oldest practitioner.
As I knew the geography of the Tomb of the Lovers, as well as if I had lived twenty years in Lyons, namely, that it was upon the turning of my right hand, just without the gate, leading to the Fauxbourg de Vaise — I dispatched Francois to the boat, that I might pay the homage I so long ow’d it, without a witness of my weakness — I walk’d with all imaginable joy towards the place — when I saw the gate which intercepted the tomb, my heart glowed within me —
— Tender and faithful spirits! cried I, addressing myself to Amandus and Amanda — long — long have I tarried to drop this tear upon your tomb — I come — I come —
When I came — there was no tomb to drop it upon.
What would I have given for my uncle Toby, to have whistled Lillo bullero!
No matter how, or in what mood — but I flew from the tomb of the lovers — or rather I did not fly from it —(for there was no such thing existing) and just got time enough to the boat to save my passage; — and ere I had sailed a hundred yards, the Rhone and the Saon met together, and carried me down merrily betwixt them.
But I have described this voyage down the Rhone, before I made it —
— So now I am at Avignon, and as there is nothing to see but the old house, in which the duke of Ormond resided, and nothing to stop me but a short remark upon the place, in three minutes you will see me crossing the bridge upon a mule, with Francois upon a horse with my portmanteau behind him, and the owner of both, striding the way before us, with a long gun upon his shoulder, and a sword under his arm, lest peradventure we should run away with his cattle. Had you seen my breeches in entering Avignon — Though you’d have seen them better, I think, as I mounted — you would not have thought the precaution amiss, or found in your heart to have taken it in dudgeon; for my own part, I took it most kindly; and determined to make him a present of them, when we got to the end of our journey, for the trouble they had put him to, of arming himself at all points against them.
Before I go further, let me get rid of my remark upon Avignon, which is this: That I think it wrong, merely because a man’s hat has been blown off his head by chance the first night he comes to Avignon — that he should therefore say, ‘Avignon is more subject to high winds than any town in all France:’ for which reason I laid no stress upon the accident till I had enquired of the master of the inn about it, who telling me seriously it was so — and hearing, moreover, the windiness of Avignon spoke of in the country about as a proverb — I set it down, merely to ask the learned what can be the cause — the consequence I saw — for they are all Dukes, Marquisses, and Counts, there — the duce a Baron, in all Avignon — so that there is scarce any talking to them on a windy day.
Prithee, friend, said I, took hold of my mule for a moment — for I wanted to pull off one of my jack-boots, which hurt my heel — the man was standing quite idle at the door of the inn, and as I had taken it into my head, he was someway concerned about the house or stable, I put the bridle into his hand — so begun with the boot:— when I had finished the affair, I turned about to take the mule from the man, and thank him —
— But Monsieur le Marquis had walked in —
I had now the whole south of France, from the banks of the Rhone to those of the Garonne, to traverse upon my mule at my own leisure — at my own leisure — for I had left Death, the Lord knows — and He only — how far behind me —‘I have followed many a man thro’ France, quoth he — but never at this mettlesome rate.’— Still he followed — and still I fled him — but I fled him cheerfully — still he pursued — but, like one who pursued his prey without hope — as he lagg’d, every step he lost, softened his looks — why should I fly him at this rate?
So notwithstanding all the commissary of the post-office had said, I changed the mode of my travelling once more; and, after so precipitate and rattling a course as I had run, I flattered my fancy with thinking of my mule, and that I should traverse the rich plains of Languedoc upon his back, as slowly as foot could fall.
There is nothing more pleasing to a traveller — or more terrible to travel-writers, than a large rich plain; especially if it is without great rivers or bridges; and presents nothing to the eye, but one unvaried picture of plenty: for after they have once told you, that ’tis delicious! or delightful! (as the case happens)— that the soil was grateful, and that nature pours out all her abundance, &c. . .they have then a large plain upon their hands, which they know not what to do with — and which is of little or no use to them but to carry them to some town; and that town, perhaps of little more, but a new place to start from to the next plain — and so on.
— This is most terrible work; judge if I don’t manage my plains better.
I had not gone above two leagues and a half, before the man with his gun began to look at his priming.
I had three several times loiter’d terribly behind; half a mile at least every time; once, in deep conference with a drum-maker, who was making drums for the fairs of Baucaira and Tarascone — I did not understand the principles —
The second time, I cannot so properly say, I stopp’d — for meeting a couple of Franciscans straitened more for time than myself, and not being able to get to the bottom of what I was about — I had turn’d back with them —
The third, was an affair of trade with a gossip, for a hand-basket of Provence figs for four sous; this would have been transacted at once; but for a case of conscience at the close of it; for when the figs were paid for, it turn’d out, that there were two dozen of eggs covered over with vine-leaves at the bottom of the basket — as I had no intention of buying eggs — I made no sort of claim of them — as for the space they had occupied — what signified it? I had figs enow for my money —
— But it was my intention to have the basket — it was the gossip’s intention to keep it, without which, she could do nothing with her eggs — and unless I had the basket, I could do as little with my figs, which were too ripe already, and most of ’em burst at the side: this brought on a short contention, which terminated in sundry proposals, what we should both do —
— How we disposed of our eggs and figs, I defy you, or the Devil himself, had he not been there (which I am persuaded he was), to form the least probable conjecture: You will read the whole of it — not this year, for I am hastening to the story of my uncle Toby’s amours — but you will read it in the collection of those which have arose out of the journey across this plain — and which, therefore, I call my
How far my pen has been fatigued, like those of other travellers, in this journey of it, over so barren a track — the world must judge — but the traces of it, which are now all set o’vibrating together this moment, tell me ’tis the most fruitful and busy period of my life; for as I had made no convention with my man with the gun, as to time — by stopping and talking to every soul I met, who was not in a full trot — joining all parties before me — waiting for every soul behind — hailing all those who were coming through cross-roads — arresting all kinds of beggars, pilgrims, fiddlers, friars — not passing by a woman in a mulberry-tree without commending her legs, and tempting her into conversation with a pinch of snuff — In short, by seizing every handle, of what size or shape soever, which chance held out to me in this journey — I turned my plain into a city — I was always in company, and with great variety too; and as my mule loved society as much as myself, and had some proposals always on his part to offer to every beast he met — I am confident we could have passed through Pall-Mall, or St. James’s-Street, for a month together, with fewer adventures — and seen less of human nature.
O! there is that sprightly frankness, which at once unpins every plait of a Languedocian’s dress — that whatever is beneath it, it looks so like the simplicity which poets sing of in better days — I will delude my fancy, and believe it is so.
’Twas in the road betwixt Nismes and Lunel, where there is the best Muscatto wine in all France, and which by the bye belongs to the honest canons of Montpellier — and foul befal the man who has drunk it at their table, who grudges them a drop of it.
— The sun was set — they had done their work; the nymphs had tied up their hair afresh — and the swains were preparing for a carousal — my mule made a dead point —’Tis the fife and tabourin, said I— I’m frighten’d to death, quoth he — They are running at the ring of pleasure, said I, giving him a prick — By saint Boogar, and all the saints at the backside of the door of purgatory, said he —(making the same resolution with the abbesse of Andouillets) I’ll not go a step further —’Tis very well, sir, said I— I never will argue a point with one of your family, as long as I live; so leaping off his back, and kicking off one boot into this ditch, and t’other into that — I’ll take a dance, said I— so stay you here.
A sun-burnt daughter of Labour rose up from the groupe to meet me, as I advanced towards them; her hair, which was a dark chesnut approaching rather to a black, was tied up in a knot, all but a single tress.
We want a cavalier, said she, holding out both her hands, as if to offer them — And a cavalier ye shall have; said I, taking hold of both of them.
Hadst thou, Nannette, been array’d like a duchesse!
— But that cursed slit in thy petticoat!
Nannette cared not for it.
We could not have done without you, said she, letting go one hand, with self-taught politeness, leading me up with the other.
A lame youth, whom Apollo had recompensed with a pipe, and to which he had added a tabourin of his own accord, ran sweetly over the prelude, as he sat upon the bank — Tie me up this tress instantly, said Nannette, putting a piece of string into my hand — It taught me to forget I was a stranger — The whole knot fell down — We had been seven years acquainted.
The youth struck the note upon the tabourin — his pipe followed, and off we bounded —‘the duce take that slit!’
The sister of the youth, who had stolen her voice from heaven, sung alternately with her brother —’twas a Gascoigne roundelay.
Viva la Joia! Fidon la Tristessa!
The nymphs join’d in unison, and their swains an octave below them —
I would have given a crown to have it sew’d up — Nannette would not have given a sous — Viva la joia! was in her lips — Viva la joia! was in her eyes. A transient spark of amity shot across the space betwixt us — She look’d amiable! — Why could I not live, and end my days thus? Just Disposer of our joys and sorrows, cried I, why could not a man sit down in the lap of content here — and dance, and sing, and say his prayers, and go to heaven with this nut-brown maid? Capriciously did she bend her head on one side, and dance up insidious — Then ’tis time to dance off, quoth I; so changing only partners and tunes, I danced it away from Lunel to Montpellier — from thence to Pescnas, Beziers — I danced it along through Narbonne, Carcasson, and Castle Naudairy, till at last I danced myself into Perdrillo’s pavillion, where pulling out a paper of black lines, that I might go on straight forwards, without digression or parenthesis, in my uncle Toby’s amours —
I begun thus —
— But softly — for in these sportive plains, and under this genial sun, where at this instant all flesh is running out piping, fiddling, and dancing to the vintage, and every step that’s taken, the judgment is surprised by the imagination, I defy, notwithstanding all that has been said upon straight lines (Vid. Vol. III.) in sundry pages of my book — I defy the best cabbage planter that ever existed, whether he plants backwards or forwards, it makes little difference in the account (except that he will have more to answer for in the one case than in the other)— I defy him to go on coolly, critically, and canonically, planting his cabbages one by one, in straight lines, and stoical distances, especially if slits in petticoats are unsew’d up — without ever and anon straddling out, or sidling into some bastardly digression — In Freeze-land, Fog-land, and some other lands I wot of — it may be done —
But in this clear climate of fantasy and perspiration, where every idea, sensible and insensible, gets vent — in this land, my dear Eugenius — in this fertile land of chivalry and romance, where I now sit, unskrewing my ink-horn to write my uncle Toby’s amours, and with all the meanders of Julia’s track in quest of her Diego, in full view of my study window — if thou comest not and takest me by the hand —
What a work it is likely to turn out!
Let us begin it.
It is with Love as with Cuckoldom —
But now I am talking of beginning a book, and have long had a thing upon my mind to be imparted to the reader, which, if not imparted now, can never be imparted to him as long as I live (whereas the Comparison may be imparted to him any hour in the day)— I’ll just mention it, and begin in good earnest.
The thing is this.
That of all the several ways of beginning a book which are now in practice throughout the known world, I am confident my own way of doing it is the best — I’m sure it is the most religious — for I begin with writing the first sentence — and trusting to Almighty God for the second.
‘Twould cure an author for ever of the fuss and folly of opening his street-door, and calling in his neighbours and friends, and kinsfolk, with the devil and all his imps, with their hammers and engines, &c. only to observe how one sentence of mine follows another, and how the plan follows the whole.
I wish you saw me half starting out of my chair, with what confidence, as I grasp the elbow of it, I look up — catching the idea, even sometimes before it half way reaches me —
I believe in my conscience I intercept many a thought which heaven intended for another man.
Pope and his Portrait (Vid. Pope’s Portrait.) are fools to me — no martyr is ever so full of faith or fire — I wish I could say of good works too — but I have no Zeal or Anger — or Anger or Zeal — And till gods and men agree together to call it by the same name — the errantest Tartuffe, in science — in politics — or in religion, shall never kindle a spark within me, or have a worse word, or a more unkind greeting, than what he will read in the next chapter.
— Bon jour! — good morrow! — so you have got your cloak on betimes! — but ’tis a cold morning, and you judge the matter rightly —’tis better to be well mounted, than go o’ foot — and obstructions in the glands are dangerous — And how goes it with thy concubine — thy wife — and thy little ones o’ both sides? and when did you hear from the old gentleman and lady — your sister, aunt, uncle, and cousins — I hope they have got better of their colds, coughs, claps, tooth-aches, fevers, stranguries, sciaticas, swellings, and sore eyes.
— What a devil of an apothecary! to take so much blood — give such a vile purge — puke — poultice — plaister — night-draught — clyster — blister? — And why so many grains of calomel? santa Maria! and such a dose of opium! peri-clitating, pardi! the whole family of ye, from head to tail — By my great-aunt Dinah’s old black velvet mask! I think there is no occasion for it.
Now this being a little bald about the chin, by frequently putting off and on, before she was got with child by the coachman — not one of our family would wear it after. To cover the Mask afresh, was more than the mask was worth — and to wear a mask which was bald, or which could be half seen through, was as bad as having no mask at all —
This is the reason, may it please your reverences, that in all our numerous family, for these four generations, we count no more than one archbishop, a Welch judge, some three or four aldermen, and a single mountebank —
In the sixteenth century, we boast of no less than a dozen alchymists.
‘It is with Love as with Cuckoldom’— the suffering party is at least the third, but generally the last in the house who knows any thing about the matter: this comes, as all the world knows, from having half a dozen words for one thing; and so long, as what in this vessel of the human frame, is Love — may be Hatred, in that — Sentiment half a yard higher — and Nonsense — no, Madam — not there — I mean at the part I am now pointing to with my forefinger — how can we help ourselves?
Of all mortal, and immortal men too, if you please, who ever soliloquized upon this mystic subject, my uncle Toby was the worst fitted, to have push’d his researches, thro’ such a contention of feelings; and he had infallibly let them all run on, as we do worse matters, to see what they would turn out — had not Bridget’s pre-notification of them to Susannah, and Susannah’s repeated manifestoes thereupon to all the world, made it necessary for my uncle Toby to look into the affair.
Why weavers, gardeners, and gladiators — or a man with a pined leg (proceeding from some ailment in the foot)— should ever have had some tender nymph breaking her heart in secret for them, are points well and duly settled and accounted for, by ancient and modern physiologists.
A water-drinker, provided he is a profess’d one, and does it without fraud or covin, is precisely in the same predicament: not that, at first sight, there is any consequence, or show of logic in it, ‘That a rill of cold water dribbling through my inward parts, should light up a torch in my Jenny’s —’
— The proposition does not strike one; on the contrary, it seems to run opposite to the natural workings of causes and effects —
But it shews the weakness and imbecility of human reason.
—‘And in perfect good health with it?’
— The most perfect — Madam, that friendship herself could wish me —
‘And drink nothing! — nothing but water?’
— Impetuous fluid! the moment thou pressest against the flood-gates of the brain — see how they give way! —
In swims Curiosity, beckoning to her damsels to follow — they dive into the center of the current —
Fancy sits musing upon the bank, and with her eyes following the stream, turns straws and bulrushes into masts and bow-sprits — And Desire, with vest held up to the knee in one hand, snatches at them, as they swim by her, with the other —
O ye water drinkers! is it then by this delusive fountain, that ye have so often governed and turn’d this world about like a mill-wheel — grinding the faces of the impotent — bepowdering their ribs — bepeppering their noses, and changing sometimes even the very frame and face of nature —
If I was you, quoth Yorick, I would drink more water, Eugenius — And, if I was you, Yorick, replied Eugenius, so would I.
Which shews they had both read Longinus —
For my own part, I am resolved never to read any book but my own, as long as I live.
I wish my uncle Toby had been a water-drinker; for then the thing had been accounted for, That the first moment Widow Wadman saw him, she felt something stirring within her in his favour — Something! — something.
— Something perhaps more than friendship — less than love — something — no matter what — no matter where — I would not give a single hair off my mule’s tail, and be obliged to pluck it off myself (indeed the villain has not many to spare, and is not a little vicious into the bargain), to be let by your worships into the secret —
But the truth is, my uncle Toby was not a water-drinker; he drank it neither pure nor mix’d, or any how, or any where, except fortuitously upon some advanced posts, where better liquor was not to be had — or during the time he was under cure; when the surgeon telling him it would extend the fibres, and bring them sooner into contact — my uncle Toby drank it for quietness sake.
Now as all the world knows, that no effect in nature can be produced without a cause, and as it is as well known, that my uncle Toby was neither a weaver — a gardener, or a gladiator — unless as a captain, you will needs have him one — but then he was only a captain of foot — and besides, the whole is an equivocation — There is nothing left for us to suppose, but that my uncle Toby’s leg — but that will avail us little in the present hypothesis, unless it had proceeded from some ailment in the foot — whereas his leg was not emaciated from any disorder in his foot — for my uncle Toby’s leg was not emaciated at all. It was a little stiff and awkward, from a total disuse of it, for the three years he lay confined at my father’s house in town; but it was plump and muscular, and in all other respects as good and promising a leg as the other.
I declare, I do not recollect any one opinion or passage of my life, where my understanding was more at a loss to make ends meet, and torture the chapter I had been writing, to the service of the chapter following it, than in the present case: one would think I took a pleasure in running into difficulties of this kind, merely to make fresh experiments of getting out of ’em — Inconsiderate soul that thou art! What! are not the unavoidable distresses with which, as an author and a man, thou art hemm’d in on every side of thee — are they, Tristram, not sufficient, but thou must entangle thyself still more?
Is it not enough that thou art in debt, and that thou hast ten cart-loads of thy fifth and sixth volumes (Alluding to the first edition.) still — still unsold, and art almost at thy wit’s ends, how to get them off thy hands?
To this hour art thou not tormented with the vile asthma that thou gattest in skating against the wind in Flanders? and is it but two months ago, that in a fit of laughter, on seeing a cardinal make water like a quirister (with both hands) thou brakest a vessel in thy lungs, whereby, in two hours, thou lost as many quarts of blood; and hadst thou lost as much more, did not the faculty tell thee — it would have amounted to a gallon? —
— But for heaven’s sake, let us not talk of quarts or gallons — let us take the story straight before us; it is so nice and intricate a one, it will scarce bear the transposition of a single tittle; and, somehow or other, you have got me thrust almost into the middle of it —
— I beg we may take more care.
My uncle Toby and the corporal had posted down with so much heat and precipitation, to take possession of the spot of ground we have so often spoke of, in order to open their campaign as early as the rest of the allies; that they had forgot one of the most necessary articles of the whole affair, it was neither a pioneer’s spade, a pickax, or a shovel —
— It was a bed to lie on: so that as Shandy-Hall was at that time unfurnished; and the little inn where poor Le Fever died, not yet built; my uncle Toby was constrained to accept of a bed at Mrs. Wadman’s, for a night or two, till corporal Trim (who to the character of an excellent valet, groom, cook, sempster, surgeon, and engineer, super-added that of an excellent upholsterer too), with the help of a carpenter and a couple of taylors, constructed one in my uncle Toby’s house.
A daughter of Eve, for such was widow Wadman, and ’tis all the character I intend to give of her —
—‘That she was a perfect woman —’ had better be fifty leagues off — or in her warm bed — or playing with a case-knife — or any thing you please — than make a man the object of her attention, when the house and all the furniture is her own.
There is nothing in it out of doors and in broad day-light, where a woman has a power, physically speaking, of viewing a man in more lights than one — but here, for her soul, she can see him in no light without mixing something of her own goods and chattels along with him — till by reiterated acts of such combination, he gets foisted into her inventory —
— And then good night.
But this is not matter of System; for I have delivered that above — nor is it matter of Breviary — for I make no man’s creed but my own — nor matter of Fact — at least that I know of; but ’tis matter copulative and introductory to what follows.
I do not speak it with regard to the coarseness or cleanness of them — or the strength of their gussets — but pray do not night-shifts differ from day-shifts as much in this particular, as in any thing else in the world; that they so far exceed the others in length, that when you are laid down in them, they fall almost as much below the feet, as the day-shifts fall short of them?
Widow Wadman’s night-shifts (as was the mode I suppose in King William’s and Queen Anne’s reigns) were cut however after this fashion; and if the fashion is changed (for in Italy they are come to nothing)— so much the worse for the public; they were two Flemish ells and a half in length, so that allowing a moderate woman two ells, she had half an ell to spare, to do what she would with.
Now from one little indulgence gained after another, in the many bleak and decemberley nights of a seven years widow-hood, things had insensibly come to this pass, and for the two last years had got establish’d into one of the ordinances of the bed-chamber — That as soon as Mrs. Wadman was put to bed, and had got her legs stretched down to the bottom of it, of which she always gave Bridget notice — Bridget, with all suitable decorum, having first open’d the bed-clothes at the feet, took hold of the half-ell of cloth we are speaking of, and having gently, and with both her hands, drawn it downwards to its furthest extension, and then contracted it again side-long by four or five even plaits, she took a large corking-pin out of her sleeve, and with the point directed towards her, pinn’d the plaits all fast together a little above the hem; which done, she tuck’d all in tight at the feet, and wish’d her mistress a good night.
This was constant, and without any other variation than this; that on shivering and tempestuous nights, when Bridget untuck’d the feet of the bed, &c. to do this — she consulted no thermometer but that of her own passions; and so performed it standing — kneeling — or squatting, according to the different degrees of faith, hope, and charity, she was in, and bore towards her mistress that night. In every other respect, the etiquette was sacred, and might have vied with the most mechanical one of the most inflexible bed-chamber in Christendom.
The first night, as soon as the corporal had conducted my uncle Toby up stairs, which was about ten — Mrs. Wadman threw herself into her arm-chair, and crossing her left knee with her right, which formed a resting-place for her elbow, she reclin’d her cheek upon the palm of her hand, and leaning forwards, ruminated till midnight upon both sides of the question.
The second night she went to her bureau, and having ordered Bridget to bring her up a couple of fresh candles and leave them upon the table, she took out her marriage-settlement, and read it over with great devotion: and the third night (which was the last of my uncle Toby’s stay) when Bridget had pull’d down the night-shift, and was assaying to stick in the corking pin —
— With a kick of both heels at once, but at the same time the most natural kick that could be kick’d in her situation — for supposing . . . . . . . . . to be the sun in its meridian, it was a north-east kick — she kick’d the pin out of her fingers — the etiquette which hung upon it, down — down it fell to the ground, and was shiver’d into a thousand atoms.
From all which it was plain that widow Wadman was in love with my uncle Toby.
My uncle Toby’s head at that time was full of other matters, so that it was not till the demolition of Dunkirk, when all the other civilities of Europe were settled, that he found leisure to return this.
This made an armistice (that is, speaking with regard to my uncle Toby — but with respect to Mrs. Wadman, a vacancy)— of almost eleven years. But in all cases of this nature, as it is the second blow, happen at what distance of time it will, which makes the fray — I chuse for that reason to call these the amours of my uncle Toby with Mrs. Wadman, rather than the amours of Mrs. Wadman with my uncle Toby.
This is not a distinction without a difference.
It is not like the affair of an old hat cock’d — and a cock’d old hat, about which your reverences have so often been at odds with one another — but there is a difference here in the nature of things —
And let me tell you, gentry, a wide one too.
Now as widow Wadman did love my uncle Toby — and my uncle Toby did not love widow Wadman, there was nothing for widow Wadman to do, but to go on and love my uncle Toby — or let it alone.
Widow Wadman would do neither the one or the other.
— Gracious heaven! — but I forget I am a little of her temper myself; for whenever it so falls out, which it sometimes does about the equinoxes, that an earthly goddess is so much this, and that, and t’other, that I cannot eat my breakfast for her — and that she careth not three halfpence whether I eat my breakfast or no —
— Curse on her! and so I send her to Tartary, and from Tartary to Terra del Fuogo, and so on to the devil: in short, there is not an infernal nitch where I do not take her divinityship and stick it.
But as the heart is tender, and the passions in these tides ebb and flow ten times in a minute, I instantly bring her back again; and as I do all things in extremes, I place her in the very center of the milky-way —
Brightest of stars! thou wilt shed thy influence upon some one —
— The duce take her and her influence too — for at that word I lose all patience — much good may it do him! — By all that is hirsute and gashly! I cry, taking off my furr’d cap, and twisting it round my finger — I would not give sixpence for a dozen such!
— But ’tis an excellent cap too (putting it upon my head, and pressing it close to my ears)— and warm — and soft; especially if you stroke it the right way — but alas! that will never be my luck —(so here my philosophy is shipwreck’d again.)
— No; I shall never have a finger in the pye (so here I break my metaphor)-
Crust and Crumb Inside and out Top and bottom — I detest it, I hate it, I repudiate it — I’m sick at the sight of it —
’Tis all pepper, garlick, staragen, salt, and devil’s dung — by the great arch-cooks of cooks, who does nothing, I think, from morning to night, but sit down by the fire-side and invent inflammatory dishes for us, I would not touch it for the world —
— O Tristram! Tristram! cried Jenny.
O Jenny! Jenny! replied I, and so went on with the thirty-sixth chapter.
—‘Not touch it for the world,’ did I say —
Lord, how I have heated my imagination with this metaphor!
Which shews, let your reverences and worships say what you will of it (for as for thinking — all who do think — think pretty much alike both upon it and other matters)— Love is certainly, at least alphabetically speaking, one of the most A gitating B ewitching C onfounded D evilish affairs of life — the most E xtravagant F utilitous G alligaskinish H andy-dandyish I racundulous (there is no K to it) and L yrical of all human passions: at the same time, the most M isgiving N innyhammering O bstipating P ragmatical S tridulous R idiculous — though by the bye the R should have gone first — But in short ’tis of such a nature, as my father once told my uncle Toby upon the close of a long dissertation upon the subject —‘You can scarce,’ said he, ‘combine two ideas together upon it, brother Toby, without an hypallage’— What’s that? cried my uncle Toby.
The cart before the horse, replied my father —
— And what is he to do there? cried my uncle Toby.
Nothing, quoth my father, but to get in — or let it alone.
Now widow Wadman, as I told you before, would do neither the one or the other.
She stood however ready harnessed and caparisoned at all points, to watch accidents.
The Fates, who certainly all fore-knew of these amours of widow Wadman and my uncle Toby, had, from the first creation of matter and motion (and with more courtesy than they usually do things of this kind), established such a chain of causes and effects hanging so fast to one another, that it was scarce possible for my uncle Toby to have dwelt in any other house in the world, or to have occupied any other garden in Christendom, but the very house and garden which join’d and laid parallel to Mrs. Wadman’s; this, with the advantage of a thickset arbour in Mrs. Wadman’s garden, but planted in the hedge-row of my uncle Toby’s, put all the occasions into her hands which Love-militancy wanted; she could observe my uncle Toby’s motions, and was mistress likewise of his councils of war; and as his unsuspecting heart had given leave to the corporal, through the mediation of Bridget, to make her a wicker-gate of communication to enlarge her walks, it enabled her to carry on her approaches to the very door of the sentry-box; and sometimes out of gratitude, to make an attack, and endeavour to blow my uncle Toby up in the very sentry-box itself.
It is a great pity — but ’tis certain from every day’s observation of man, that he may be set on fire like a candle, at either end — provided there is a sufficient wick standing out; if there is not — there’s an end of the affair; and if there is — by lighting it at the bottom, as the flame in that case has the misfortune generally to put out itself — there’s an end of the affair again.
For my part, could I always have the ordering of it which way I would be burnt myself — for I cannot bear the thoughts of being burnt like a beast — I would oblige a housewife constantly to light me at the top; for then I should burn down decently to the socket; that is, from my head to my heart, from my heart to my liver, from my liver to my bowels, and so on by the meseraick veins and arteries, through all the turns and lateral insertions of the intestines and their tunicles to the blind gut —
— I beseech you, doctor Slop, quoth my uncle Toby, interrupting him as he mentioned the blind gut, in a discourse with my father the night my mother was brought to bed of me — I beseech you, quoth my uncle Toby, to tell me which is the blind gut; for, old as I am, I vow I do not know to this day where it lies.
The blind gut, answered doctor Slop, lies betwixt the Ilion and Colon —
In a man? said my father.
—’Tis precisely the same, cried doctor Slop, in a woman. —
That’s more than I know; quoth my father.
— And so to make sure of both systems, Mrs. Wadman predetermined to light my uncle Toby neither at this end or that; but, like a prodigal’s candle, to light him, if possible, at both ends at once.
Now, through all the lumber rooms of military furniture, including both of horse and foot, from the great arsenal of Venice to the Tower of London (exclusive), if Mrs. Wadman had been rummaging for seven years together, and with Bridget to help her, she could not have found any one blind or mantelet so fit for her purpose, as that which the expediency of my uncle Toby’s affairs had fix’d up ready to her hands.
I believe I have not told you — but I don’t know — possibly I have — be it as it will, ’tis one of the number of those many things, which a man had better do over again, than dispute about it — That whatever town or fortress the corporal was at work upon, during the course of their campaign, my uncle Toby always took care, on the inside of his sentry-box, which was towards his left hand, to have a plan of the place, fasten’d up with two or three pins at the top, but loose at the bottom, for the conveniency of holding it up to the eye, &c. . .as occasions required; so that when an attack was resolved upon, Mrs. Wadman had nothing more to do, when she had got advanced to the door of the sentry-box, but to extend her right hand; and edging in her left foot at the same movement, to take hold of the map or plan, or upright, or whatever it was, and with out-stretched neck meeting it half way — to advance it towards her; on which my uncle Toby’s passions were sure to catch fire — for he would instantly take hold of the other corner of the map in his left hand, and with the end of his pipe in the other, begin an explanation.
When the attack was advanced to this point; — the world will naturally enter into the reasons of Mrs. Wadman’s next stroke of generalship — which was, to take my uncle Toby’s tobacco-pipe out of his hand as soon as she possibly could; which, under one pretence or other, but generally that of pointing more distinctly at some redoubt or breastwork in the map, she would effect before my uncle Toby (poor soul!) had well march’d above half a dozen toises with it.
— It obliged my uncle Toby to make use of his forefinger.
The difference it made in the attack was this; That in going upon it, as in the first case, with the end of her fore-finger against the end of my uncle Toby’s tobacco-pipe, she might have travelled with it, along the lines, from Dan to Beersheba, had my uncle Toby’s lines reach’d so far, without any effect: For as there was no arterial or vital heat in the end of the tobacco-pipe, it could excite no sentiment — it could neither give fire by pulsation — or receive it by sympathy —’twas nothing but smoke.
Whereas, in following my uncle Toby’s forefinger with hers, close thro’ all the little turns and indentings of his works — pressing sometimes against the side of it — then treading upon its nail — then tripping it up — then touching it here — then there, and so on — it set something at least in motion.
This, tho’ slight skirmishing, and at a distance from the main body, yet drew on the rest; for here, the map usually falling with the back of it, close to the side of the sentry-box, my uncle Toby, in the simplicity of his soul, would lay his hand flat upon it, in order to go on with his explanation; and Mrs. Wadman, by a manoeuvre as quick as thought, would as certainly place her’s close beside it; this at once opened a communication, large enough for any sentiment to pass or re-pass, which a person skill’d in the elementary and practical part of love-making, has occasion for —
By bringing up her forefinger parallel (as before) to my uncle Toby’s — it unavoidably brought the thumb into action — and the forefinger and thumb being once engaged, as naturally brought in the whole hand. Thine, dear uncle Toby! was never now in ‘ts right place — Mrs. Wadman had it ever to take up, or, with the gentlest pushings, protrusions, and equivocal compressions, that a hand to be removed is capable of receiving — to get it press’d a hair breadth of one side out of her way.
Whilst this was doing, how could she forget to make him sensible, that it was her leg (and no one’s else) at the bottom of the sentry-box, which slightly press’d against the calf of his — So that my uncle Toby being thus attack’d and sore push’d on both his wings — was it a wonder, if now and then, it put his centre into disorder? —
— The duce take it! said my uncle Toby.
These attacks of Mrs. Wadman, you will readily conceive to be of different kinds; varying from each other, like the attacks which history is full of, and from the same reasons. A general looker-on would scarce allow them to be attacks at all — or if he did, would confound them all together — but I write not to them: it will be time enough to be a little more exact in my descriptions of them, as I come up to them, which will not be for some chapters; having nothing more to add in this, but that in a bundle of original papers and drawings which my father took care to roll up by themselves, there is a plan of Bouchain in perfect preservation (and shall be kept so, whilst I have power to preserve any thing), upon the lower corner of which, on the right hand side, there is still remaining the marks of a snuffy finger and thumb, which there is all the reason in the world to imagine, were Mrs. Wadman’s; for the opposite side of the margin, which I suppose to have been my uncle Toby’s, is absolutely clean: This seems an authenticated record of one of these attacks; for there are vestigia of the two punctures partly grown up, but still visible on the opposite corner of the map, which are unquestionably the very holes, through which it has been pricked up in the sentry-box —
By all that is priestly! I value this precious relick, with its stigmata and pricks, more than all the relicks of the Romish church — always excepting, when I am writing upon these matters, the pricks which entered the flesh of St. Radagunda in the desert, which in your road from Fesse to Cluny, the nuns of that name will shew you for love.
I think, an’ please your honour, quoth Trim, the fortifications are quite destroyed — and the bason is upon a level with the mole — I think so too; replied my uncle Toby with a sigh half suppress’d — but step into the parlour, Trim, for the stipulation — it lies upon the table.
It has lain there these six weeks, replied the corporal, till this very morning that the old woman kindled the fire with it —
— Then, said my uncle Toby, there is no further occasion for our services. The more, an’ please your honour, the pity, said the corporal; in uttering which he cast his spade into the wheel-barrow, which was beside him, with an air the most expressive of disconsolation that can be imagined, and was heavily turning about to look for his pickax, his pioneer’s shovel, his picquets, and other little military stores, in order to carry them off the field — when a heigh-ho! from the sentry-box, which being made of thin slit deal, reverberated the sound more sorrowfully to his ear, forbad him.
— No; said the corporal to himself, I’ll do it before his honour rises to-morrow morning; so taking his spade out of the wheel-barrow again, with a little earth in it, as if to level something at the foot of the glacis — but with a real intent to approach nearer to his master, in order to divert him — he loosen’d a sod or two — pared their edges with his spade, and having given them a gentle blow or two with the back of it, he sat himself down close by my uncle Toby’s feet and began as follows.
It was a thousand pities — though I believe, an’ please your honour, I am going to say but a foolish kind of a thing for a soldier —
A soldier, cried my uncle Toby, interrupting the corporal, is no more exempt from saying a foolish thing, Trim, than a man of letters — But not so often, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal — my uncle Toby gave a nod.
It was a thousand pities then, said the corporal, casting his eye upon Dunkirk, and the mole, as Servius Sulpicius, in returning out of Asia (when he sailed from Aegina towards Megara), did upon Corinth and Pyreus —
—‘It was a thousand pities, an’ please your honour, to destroy these works — and a thousand pities to have let them stood.’—
— Thou art right, Trim, in both cases; said my uncle Toby. — This, continued the corporal, is the reason, that from the beginning of their demolition to the end — I have never once whistled, or sung, or laugh’d, or cry’d, or talk’d of past done deeds, or told your honour one story good or bad —
— Thou hast many excellencies, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and I hold it not the least of them, as thou happenest to be a story-teller, that of the number thou hast told me, either to amuse me in my painful hours, or divert me in my grave ones — thou hast seldom told me a bad one —
— Because, an’ please your honour, except one of a King of Bohemia and his seven castles — they are all true; for they are about myself —
I do not like the subject the worse, Trim, said my uncle Toby, on that score: But prithee what is this story? thou hast excited my curiosity.
I’ll tell it your honour, quoth the corporal, directly — Provided, said my uncle Toby, looking earnestly towards Dunkirk and the mole again — provided it is not a merry one; to such, Trim, a man should ever bring one half of the entertainment along with him; and the disposition I am in at present would wrong both thee, Trim, and thy story — It is not a merry one by any means, replied the corporal — Nor would I have it altogether a grave one, added my uncle Toby — It is neither the one nor the other, replied the corporal, but will suit your honour exactly — Then I’ll thank thee for it with all my heart, cried my uncle Toby; so prithee begin it, Trim.
The corporal made his reverence; and though it is not so easy a matter as the world imagines, to pull off a lank Montero-cap with grace — or a whit less difficult, in my conceptions, when a man is sitting squat upon the ground, to make a bow so teeming with respect as the corporal was wont; yet by suffering the palm of his right hand, which was towards his master, to slip backwards upon the grass, a little beyond his body, in order to allow it the greater sweep — and by an unforced compression, at the same time, of his cap with the thumb and the two forefingers of his left, by which the diameter of the cap became reduced, so that it might be said, rather to be insensibly squeez’d — than pull’d off with a flatus — the corporal acquitted himself of both in a better manner than the posture of his affairs promised; and having hemmed twice, to find in what key his story would best go, and best suit his master’s humour — he exchanged a single look of kindness with him, and set off thus.
The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles.
There was a certain king of Bo..he-
As the corporal was entering the confines of Bohemia, my uncle Toby obliged him to halt for a single moment; he had set out bare-headed, having, since he pull’d off his Montero-cap in the latter end of the last chapter, left it lying beside him on the ground.
— The eye of Goodness espieth all things — so that before the corporal had well got through the first five words of his story, had my uncle Toby twice touch’d his Montero-cap with the end of his cane, interrogatively — as much as to say, Why don’t you put it on, Trim? Trim took it up with the most respectful slowness, and casting a glance of humiliation as he did it, upon the embroidery of the fore-part, which being dismally tarnish’d and fray’d moreover in some of the principal leaves and boldest parts of the pattern, he lay’d it down again between his two feet, in order to moralize upon the subject.
—’Tis every word of it but too true, cried my uncle Toby, that thou art about to observe —
‘Nothing in this world, Trim, is made to last for ever.’
— But when tokens, dear Tom, of thy love and remembrance wear out, said Trim, what shall we say?
There is no occasion, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, to say any thing else; and was a man to puzzle his brains till Doom’s day, I believe, Trim, it would be impossible.
The corporal, perceiving my uncle Toby was in the right, and that it would be in vain for the wit of man to think of extracting a purer moral from his cap, without further attempting it, he put it on; and passing his hand across his forehead to rub out a pensive wrinkle, which the text and the doctrine between them had engender’d, he return’d, with the same look and tone of voice, to his story of the king of Bohemia and his seven castles.
The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles, Continued.
There was a certain king of Bohemia, but in whose reign, except his own, I am not able to inform your honour —
I do not desire it of thee, Trim, by any means, cried my uncle Toby.
— It was a little before the time, an’ please your honour, when giants were beginning to leave off breeding:— but in what year of our Lord that was —
I would not give a halfpenny to know, said my uncle Toby.
— Only, an’ please your honour, it makes a story look the better in the face —
—’Tis thy own, Trim, so ornament it after thy own fashion; and take any date, continued my uncle Toby, looking pleasantly upon him — take any date in the whole world thou chusest, and put it to — thou art heartily welcome —
The corporal bowed; for of every century, and of every year of that century, from the first creation of the world down to Noah’s flood; and from Noah’s flood to the birth of Abraham; through all the pilgrimages of the patriarchs, to the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt — and throughout all the Dynasties, Olympiads, Urbeconditas, and other memorable epochas of the different nations of the world, down to the coming of Christ, and from thence to the very moment in which the corporal was telling his story — had my uncle Toby subjected this vast empire of time and all its abysses at his feet; but as Modesty scarce touches with a finger what Liberality offers her with both hands open — the corporal contented himself with the very worst year of the whole bunch; which, to prevent your honours of the Majority and Minority from tearing the very flesh off your bones in contestation, ‘Whether that year is not always the last cast-year of the last cast-almanack’— I tell you plainly it was; but from a different reason than you wot of —
— It was the year next him — which being the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and twelve, when the Duke of Ormond was playing the devil in Flanders — the corporal took it, and set out with it afresh on his expedition to Bohemia.
The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles, Continued.
In the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve, there was, an’ please your honour —
— To tell thee truly, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, any other date would have pleased me much better, not only on account of the sad stain upon our history that year, in marching off our troops, and refusing to cover the siege of Quesnoi, though Fagel was carrying on the works with such incredible vigour — but likewise on the score, Trim, of thy own story; because if there are — and which, from what thou hast dropt, I partly suspect to be the fact — if there are giants in it —
There is but one, an’ please your honour —
—’Tis as bad as twenty, replied my uncle Toby — thou should’st have carried him back some seven or eight hundred years out of harm’s way, both of critics and other people: and therefore I would advise thee, if ever thou tellest it again —
— If I live, an’ please your honour, but once to get through it, I will never tell it again, quoth Trim, either to man, woman, or child — Poo — poo! said my uncle Toby — but with accents of such sweet encouragement did he utter it, that the corporal went on with his story with more alacrity than ever.
The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles, Continued.
There was, an’ please your honour, said the corporal, raising his voice and rubbing the palms of his two hands cheerily together as he begun, a certain king of Bohemia —
— Leave out the date entirely, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, leaning forwards, and laying his hand gently upon the corporal’s shoulder to temper the interruption — leave it out entirely, Trim; a story passes very well without these niceties, unless one is pretty sure of ’em — Sure of ’em! said the corporal, shaking his head —
Right; answered my uncle Toby, it is not easy, Trim, for one, bred up as thou and I have been to arms, who seldom looks further forward than to the end of his musket, or backwards beyond his knapsack, to know much about this matter — God bless your honour! said the corporal, won by the manner of my uncle Toby’s reasoning, as much as by the reasoning itself, he has something else to do; if not on action, or a march, or upon duty in his garrison — he has his firelock, an’ please your honour, to furbish — his accoutrements to take care of — his regimentals to mend — himself to shave and keep clean, so as to appear always like what he is upon the parade; what business, added the corporal triumphantly, has a soldier, an’ please your honour, to know any thing at all of geography?
— Thou would’st have said chronology, Trim, said my uncle Toby; for as for geography, ’tis of absolute use to him; he must be acquainted intimately with every country and its boundaries where his profession carries him; he should know every town and city, and village and hamlet, with the canals, the roads, and hollow ways which lead up to them; there is not a river or a rivulet he passes, Trim, but he should be able at first sight to tell thee what is its name — in what mountains it takes its rise — what is its course — how far it is navigable — where fordable — where not; he should know the fertility of every valley, as well as the hind who ploughs it; and be able to describe, or, if it is required, to give thee an exact map of all the plains and defiles, the forts, the acclivities, the woods and morasses, thro’ and by which his army is to march; he should know their produce, their plants, their minerals, their waters, their animals, their seasons, their climates, their heats and cold, their inhabitants, their customs, their language, their policy, and even their religion.
Is it else to be conceived, corporal, continued my uncle Toby, rising up in his sentry-box, as he began to warm in this part of his discourse — how Marlborough could have marched his army from the banks of the Maes to Belburg; from Belburg to Kerpenord —(here the corporal could sit no longer) from Kerpenord, Trim, to Kalsaken; from Kalsaken to Newdorf; from Newdorf to Landenbourg; from Landenbourg to Mildenheim; from Mildenheim to Elchingen; from Elchingen to Gingen; from Gingen to Balmerchoffen; from Balmerchoffen to Skellenburg, where he broke in upon the enemy’s works; forced his passage over the Danube; cross’d the Lech — push’d on his troops into the heart of the empire, marching at the head of them through Fribourg, Hokenwert, and Schonevelt, to the plains of Blenheim and Hochstet? — Great as he was, corporal, he could not have advanced a step, or made one single day’s march without the aids of Geography. — As for Chronology, I own, Trim, continued my uncle Toby, sitting down again coolly in his sentry-box, that of all others, it seems a science which the soldier might best spare, was it not for the lights which that science must one day give him, in determining the invention of powder; the furious execution of which, renversing every thing like thunder before it, has become a new aera to us of military improvements, changing so totally the nature of attacks and defences both by sea and land, and awakening so much art and skill in doing it, that the world cannot be too exact in ascertaining the precise time of its discovery, or too inquisitive in knowing what great man was the discoverer, and what occasions gave birth to it.
I am far from controverting, continued my uncle Toby, what historians agree in, that in the year of our Lord 1380, under the reign of Wencelaus, son of Charles the Fourth — a certain priest, whose name was Schwartz, shew’d the use of powder to the Venetians, in their wars against the Genoese; but ’tis certain he was not the first; because if we are to believe Don Pedro, the bishop of Leon — How came priests and bishops, an’ please your honour, to trouble their heads so much about gun-powder? God knows, said my uncle Toby — his providence brings good out of every thing — and he avers, in his chronicle of King Alphonsus, who reduced Toledo, That in the year 1343, which was full thirty-seven years before that time, the secret of powder was well known, and employed with success, both by Moors and Christians, not only in their sea-combats, at that period, but in many of their most memorable sieges in Spain and Barbary — And all the world knows, that Friar Bacon had wrote expressly about it, and had generously given the world a receipt to make it by, above a hundred and fifty years before even Schwartz was born — And that the Chinese, added my uncle Toby, embarrass us, and all accounts of it, still more, by boasting of the invention some hundreds of years even before him —
They are a pack of liars, I believe, cried Trim —
— They are somehow or other deceived, said my uncle Toby, in this matter, as is plain to me from the present miserable state of military architecture amongst them; which consists of nothing more than a fosse with a brick wall without flanks — and for what they gave us as a bastion at each angle of it, ’tis so barbarously constructed, that it looks for all the world — Like one of my seven castles, an’ please your honour, quoth Trim.
My uncle Toby, tho’ in the utmost distress for a comparison, most courteously refused Trim’s offer — till Trim telling him, he had half a dozen more in Bohemia, which he knew not how to get off his hands — my uncle Toby was so touch’d with the pleasantry of heart of the corporal — that he discontinued his dissertation upon gun-powder — and begged the corporal forthwith to go on with his story of the King of Bohemia and his seven castles.
The Story of the King of Bohemia and His Seven Castles, Continued.
This unfortunate King of Bohemia, said Trim — Was he unfortunate, then? cried my uncle Toby, for he had been so wrapt up in his dissertation upon gun-powder, and other military affairs, that tho’ he had desired the corporal to go on, yet the many interruptions he had given, dwelt not so strong upon his fancy as to account for the epithet — Was he unfortunate, then, Trim? said my uncle Toby, pathetically — The corporal, wishing first the word and all its synonimas at the devil, forthwith began to run back in his mind, the principal events in the King of Bohemia’s story; from every one of which, it appearing that he was the most fortunate man that ever existed in the world — it put the corporal to a stand: for not caring to retract his epithet — and less to explain it — and least of all, to twist his tale (like men of lore) to serve a system — he looked up in my uncle Toby’s face for assistance — but seeing it was the very thing my uncle Toby sat in expectation of himself — after a hum and a haw, he went on —
The King of Bohemia, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal, was unfortunate, as thus — That taking great pleasure and delight in navigation and all sort of sea affairs — and there happening throughout the whole kingdom of Bohemia, to be no sea-port town whatever —
How the duce should there — Trim? cried my uncle Toby; for Bohemia being totally inland, it could have happen’d no otherwise — It might, said Trim, if it had pleased God —
My uncle Toby never spoke of the being and natural attributes of God, but with diffidence and hesitation —
— I believe not, replied my uncle Toby, after some pause — for being inland, as I said, and having Silesia and Moravia to the east; Lusatia and Upper Saxony to the north; Franconia to the west; and Bavaria to the south; Bohemia could not have been propell’d to the sea without ceasing to be Bohemia — nor could the sea, on the other hand, have come up to Bohemia, without overflowing a great part of Germany, and destroying millions of unfortunate inhabitants who could make no defence against it — Scandalous! cried Trim — Which would bespeak, added my uncle Toby, mildly, such a want of compassion in him who is the father of it — that, I think, Trim — the thing could have happen’d no way.
The corporal made the bow of unfeign’d conviction; and went on.
Now the King of Bohemia with his queen and courtiers happening one fine summer’s evening to walk out — Aye! there the word happening is right, Trim, cried my uncle Toby; for the King of Bohemia and his queen might have walk’d out or let it alone:—’twas a matter of contingency, which might happen, or not, just as chance ordered it.
King William was of an opinion, an’ please your honour, quoth Trim, that every thing was predestined for us in this world; insomuch, that he would often say to his soldiers, that ‘every ball had its billet.’ He was a great man, said my uncle Toby — And I believe, continued Trim, to this day, that the shot which disabled me at the battle of Landen, was pointed at my knee for no other purpose, but to take me out of his service, and place me in your honour’s, where I should be taken so much better care of in my old age — It shall never, Trim, be construed otherwise, said my uncle Toby.
The heart, both of the master and the man, were alike subject to sudden over-flowings; — a short silence ensued.
Besides, said the corporal, resuming the discourse — but in a gayer accent — if it had not been for that single shot, I had never, ‘an please your honour, been in love —
So, thou wast once in love, Trim! said my uncle Toby, smiling —
Souse! replied the corporal — over head and ears! an’ please your honour. Prithee when? where? — and how came it to pass? — I never heard one word of it before; quoth my uncle Toby:— I dare say, answered Trim, that every drummer and serjeant’s son in the regiment knew of it — It’s high time I should — said my uncle Toby.
Your honour remembers with concern, said the corporal, the total rout and confusion of our camp and army at the affair of Landen; every one was left to shift for himself; and if it had not been for the regiments of Wyndham, Lumley, and Galway, which covered the retreat over the bridge Neerspeeken, the king himself could scarce have gained it — he was press’d hard, as your honour knows, on every side of him —
Gallant mortal! cried my uncle Toby, caught up with enthusiasm — this moment, now that all is lost, I see him galloping across me, corporal, to the left, to bring up the remains of the English horse along with him to support the right, and tear the laurel from Luxembourg’s brows, if yet ’tis possible — I see him with the knot of his scarfe just shot off, infusing fresh spirits into poor Galway’s regiment — riding along the line — then wheeling about, and charging Conti at the head of it — Brave, brave, by heaven! cried my uncle Toby — he deserves a crown — As richly, as a thief a halter; shouted Trim.
My uncle Toby knew the corporal’s loyalty; — otherwise the comparison was not at all to his mind — it did not altogether strike the corporal’s fancy when he had made it — but it could not be recall’d — so he had nothing to do, but proceed.
As the number of wounded was prodigious, and no one had time to think of any thing but his own safety — Though Talmash, said my uncle Toby, brought off the foot with great prudence — But I was left upon the field, said the corporal. Thou wast so; poor fellow! replied my uncle Toby — So that it was noon the next day, continued the corporal, before I was exchanged, and put into a cart with thirteen or fourteen more, in order to be convey’d to our hospital.
There is no part of the body, an’ please your honour, where a wound occasions more intolerable anguish than upon the knee —
Except the groin; said my uncle Toby. An’ please your honour, replied the corporal, the knee, in my opinion, must certainly be the most acute, there being so many tendons and what-d’ye-call-‘ems all about it.
It is for that reason, quoth my uncle Toby, that the groin is infinitely more sensible — there being not only as many tendons and what-d’ye-call-‘ems (for I know their names as little as thou dost)— about it — but moreover . . . —
Mrs. Wadman, who had been all the time in her arbour — instantly stopp’d her breath — unpinn’d her mob at the chin, and stood upon one leg —
The dispute was maintained with amicable and equal force betwixt my uncle Toby and Trim for some time; till Trim at length recollecting that he had often cried at his master’s sufferings, but never shed a tear at his own — was for giving up the point, which my uncle Toby would not allow —’Tis a proof of nothing, Trim, said he, but the generosity of thy temper —
So that whether the pain of a wound in the groin (caeteris paribus) is greater than the pain of a wound in the knee — or
Whether the pain of a wound in the knee is not greater than the pain of a wound in the groin — are points which to this day remain unsettled.
The anguish of my knee, continued the corporal, was excessive in itself; and the uneasiness of the cart, with the roughness of the roads, which were terribly cut up — making bad still worse — every step was death to me: so that with the loss of blood, and the want of care-taking of me, and a fever I felt coming on besides —(Poor soul! said my uncle Toby)— all together, an’ please your honour, was more than I could sustain.
I was telling my sufferings to a young woman at a peasant’s house, where our cart, which was the last of the line, had halted; they had help’d me in, and the young woman had taken a cordial out of her pocket and dropp’d it upon some sugar, and seeing it had cheer’d me, she had given it me a second and a third time — So I was telling her, an’ please your honour, the anguish I was in, and was saying it was so intolerable to me, that I had much rather lie down upon the bed, turning my face towards one which was in the corner of the room — and die, than go on — when, upon her attempting to lead me to it, I fainted away in her arms. She was a good soul! as your honour, said the corporal, wiping his eyes, will hear.
I thought love had been a joyous thing, quoth my uncle Toby.
’Tis the most serious thing, an’ please your honour (sometimes), that is in the world.
By the persuasion of the young woman, continued the corporal, the cart with the wounded men set off without me: she had assured them I should expire immediately if I was put into the cart. So when I came to myself — I found myself in a still quiet cottage, with no one but the young woman, and the peasant and his wife. I was laid across the bed in the corner of the room, with my wounded leg upon a chair, and the young woman beside me, holding the corner of her handkerchief dipp’d in vinegar to my nose with one hand, and rubbing my temples with the other.
I took her at first for the daughter of the peasant (for it was no inn)— so had offer’d her a little purse with eighteen florins, which my poor brother Tom (here Trim wip’d his eyes) had sent me as a token, by a recruit, just before he set out for Lisbon —
— I never told your honour that piteous story yet — here Trim wiped his eyes a third time.
The young woman call’d the old man and his wife into the room, to shew them the money, in order to gain me credit for a bed and what little necessaries I should want, till I should be in a condition to be got to the hospital — Come then! said she, tying up the little purse — I’ll be your banker — but as that office alone will not keep me employ’d, I’ll be your nurse too.
I thought by her manner of speaking this, as well as by her dress, which I then began to consider more attentively — that the young woman could not be the daughter of the peasant.
She was in black down to her toes, with her hair conceal’d under a cambric border, laid close to her forehead: she was one of those kind of nuns, an’ please your honour, of which, your honour knows, there are a good many in Flanders, which they let go loose — By thy description, Trim, said my uncle Toby, I dare say she was a young Beguine, of which there are none to be found any where but in the Spanish Netherlands — except at Amsterdam — they differ from nuns in this, that they can quit their cloister if they choose to marry; they visit and take care of the sick by profession — I had rather, for my own part, they did it out of good-nature.
— She often told me, quoth Trim, she did it for the love of Christ — I did not like it. — I believe, Trim, we are both wrong, said my uncle Toby — we’ll ask Mr. Yorick about it to-night at my brother Shandy’s — so put me in mind; added my uncle Toby.
The young Beguine, continued the corporal, had scarce given herself time to tell me ‘she would be my nurse,’ when she hastily turned about to begin the office of one, and prepare something for me — and in a short time — though I thought it a long one — she came back with flannels, &c. &c. and having fomented my knee soundly for a couple of hours, &c. and made me a thin bason of gruel for my supper — she wish’d me rest, and promised to be with me early in the morning. — She wish’d me, an’ please your honour, what was not to be had. My fever ran very high that night — her figure made sad disturbance within me — I was every moment cutting the world in two — to give her half of it — and every moment was I crying, That I had nothing but a knapsack and eighteen florins to share with her — The whole night long was the fair Beguine, like an angel, close by my bed-side, holding back my curtain and offering me cordials — and I was only awakened from my dream by her coming there at the hour promised, and giving them in reality. In truth, she was scarce ever from me; and so accustomed was I to receive life from her hands, that my heart sickened, and I lost colour when she left the room: and yet, continued the corporal (making one of the strangest reflections upon it in the world)——‘It was not love’— for during the three weeks she was almost constantly with me, fomenting my knee with her hand, night and day — I can honestly say, an’ please your honour — that. . .once.
That was very odd, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby.
I think so too — said Mrs. Wadman.
It never did, said the corporal.
— But ’tis no marvel, continued the corporal — seeing my uncle Toby musing upon it — for Love, an’ please your honour, is exactly like war, in this; that a soldier, though he has escaped three weeks complete o’Saturday night — may nevertheless be shot through his heart on Sunday morning — It happened so here, an’ please your honour, with this difference only — that it was on Sunday in the afternoon, when I fell in love all at once with a sisserara — It burst upon me, an’ please your honour, like a bomb — scarce giving me time to say, ‘God bless me.’
I thought, Trim, said my uncle Toby, a man never fell in love so very suddenly.
Yes, an’ please your honour, if he is in the way of it — replied Trim.
I prithee, quoth my uncle Toby, inform me how this matter happened.
— With all pleasure, said the corporal, making a bow.
I had escaped, continued the corporal, all that time from falling in love, and had gone on to the end of the chapter, had it not been predestined otherwise — there is no resisting our fate.
It was on a Sunday, in the afternoon, as I told your honour.
The old man and his wife had walked out —
Every thing was still and hush as midnight about the house —
There was not so much as a duck or a duckling about the yard —
— When the fair Beguine came in to see me.
My wound was then in a fair way of doing well — the inflammation had been gone off for some time, but it was succeeded with an itching both above and below my knee, so insufferable, that I had not shut my eyes the whole night for it.
Let me see it, said she, kneeling down upon the ground parallel to my knee, and laying her hand upon the part below it — it only wants rubbing a little, said the Beguine; so covering it with the bed-clothes, she began with the fore-finger of her right hand to rub under my knee, guiding her fore-finger backwards and forwards by the edge of the flannel which kept on the dressing.
In five or six minutes I felt slightly the end of her second finger — and presently it was laid flat with the other, and she continued rubbing in that way round and round for a good while; it then came into my head, that I should fall in love — I blush’d when I saw how white a hand she had — I shall never, an’ please your honour, behold another hand so white whilst I live —
— Not in that place, said my uncle Toby —
Though it was the most serious despair in nature to the corporal — he could not forbear smiling.
The young Beguine, continued the corporal, perceiving it was of great service to me — from rubbing for some time, with two fingers — proceeded to rub at length, with three — till by little and little she brought down the fourth, and then rubb’d with her whole hand: I will never say another word, an’ please your honour, upon hands again — but it was softer than sattin —
— Prithee, Trim, commend it as much as thou wilt, said my uncle Toby; I shall hear thy story with the more delight — The corporal thank’d his master most unfeignedly; but having nothing to say upon the Beguine’s hand but the same over again — he proceeded to the effects of it.
The fair Beguine, said the corporal, continued rubbing with her whole hand under my knee — till I fear’d her zeal would weary her —‘I would do a thousand times more,’ said she, ‘for the love of Christ’— In saying which, she pass’d her hand across the flannel, to the part above my knee, which I had equally complain’d of, and rubb’d it also.
I perceiv’d, then, I was beginning to be in love —
As she continued rub-rub-rubbing — I felt it spread from under her hand, an’ please your honour, to every part of my frame —
The more she rubb’d, and the longer strokes she took — the more the fire kindled in my veins — till at length, by two or three strokes longer than the rest — my passion rose to the highest pitch — I seiz’d her hand —
— And then thou clapped’st it to thy lips, Trim, said my uncle Toby — and madest a speech.
Whether the corporal’s amour terminated precisely in the way my uncle Toby described it, is not material; it is enough that it contained in it the essence of all the love romances which ever have been wrote since the beginning of the world.
As soon as the corporal had finished the story of his amour — or rather my uncle Toby for him — Mrs. Wadman silently sallied forth from her arbour, replaced the pin in her mob, pass’d the wicker gate, and advanced slowly towards my uncle Toby’s sentry-box: the disposition which Trim had made in my uncle Toby’s mind, was too favourable a crisis to be let slipp’d —
— The attack was determin’d upon: it was facilitated still more by my uncle Toby’s having ordered the corporal to wheel off the pioneer’s shovel, the spade, the pick-axe, the picquets, and other military stores which lay scatter’d upon the ground where Dunkirk stood — The corporal had march’d — the field was clear.
Now, consider, sir, what nonsense it is, either in fighting, or writing, or any thing else (whether in rhyme to it, or not) which a man has occasion to do — to act by plan: for if ever Plan, independent of all circumstances, deserved registering in letters of gold (I mean in the archives of Gotham)— it was certainly the Plan of Mrs. Wadman’s attack of my uncle Toby in his sentry-box, By Plan — Now the plan hanging up in it at this juncture, being the Plan of Dunkirk — and the tale of Dunkirk a tale of relaxation, it opposed every impression she could make: and besides, could she have gone upon it — the manoeuvre of fingers and hands in the attack of the sentry-box — was so outdone by that of the fair Beguine’s, in Trim’s story — that just then, that particular attack, however successful before — became the most heartless attack that could be made —
O! let woman alone for this. Mrs. Wadman had scarce open’d the wicker-gate, when her genius sported with the change of circumstances.
— She formed a new attack in a moment.
— I am half distracted, captain Shandy, said Mrs. Wadman, holding up her cambrick handkerchief to her left eye, as she approach’d the door of my uncle Toby’s sentry-box — a mote — or sand — or something — I know not what, has got into this eye of mine — do look into it — it is not in the white —
In saying which, Mrs. Wadman edged herself close in beside my uncle Toby, and squeezing herself down upon the corner of his bench, she gave him an opportunity of doing it without rising up — Do look into it — said she.
Honest soul! thou didst look into it with as much innocency of heart, as ever child look’d into a raree-shew-box; and ’twere as much a sin to have hurt thee.
— If a man will be peeping of his own accord into things of that nature — I’ve nothing to say to it —
My uncle Toby never did: and I will answer for him, that he would have sat quietly upon a sofa from June to January (which, you know, takes in both the hot and cold months), with an eye as fine as the Thracian Rodope’s (Rodope Thracia tam inevitabili fascino instructa, tam exacte oculus intuens attraxit, ut si in illam quis incidisset, fieri non posset, quin caperetur. — I know not who.) besides him, without being able to tell, whether it was a black or blue one.
The difficulty was to get my uncle Toby, to look at one at all.
’Tis surmounted. And
I see him yonder with his pipe pendulous in his hand, and the ashes falling out of it — looking — and looking — then rubbing his eyes — and looking again, with twice the good-nature that ever Galileo look’d for a spot in the sun.
— In vain! for by all the powers which animate the organ — Widow Wadman’s left eye shines this moment as lucid as her right — there is neither mote, or sand, or dust, or chaff, or speck, or particle of opake matter floating in it — There is nothing, my dear paternal uncle! but one lambent delicious fire, furtively shooting out from every part of it, in all directions, into thine —
— If thou lookest, uncle Toby, in search of this mote one moment longer — thou art undone.
An eye is for all the world exactly like a cannon, in this respect; That it is not so much the eye or the cannon, in themselves, as it is the carriage of the eye — and the carriage of the cannon, by which both the one and the other are enabled to do so much execution. I don’t think the comparison a bad one: However, as ’tis made and placed at the head of the chapter, as much for use as ornament, all I desire in return, is, that whenever I speak of Mrs. Wadman’s eyes (except once in the next period), that you keep it in your fancy.
I protest, Madam, said my uncle Toby, I can see nothing whatever in your eye.
It is not in the white; said Mrs Wadman: my uncle Toby look’d with might and main into the pupil —
Now of all the eyes which ever were created — from your own, Madam, up to those of Venus herself, which certainly were as venereal a pair of eyes as ever stood in a head — there never was an eye of them all, so fitted to rob my uncle Toby of his repose, as the very eye, at which he was looking — it was not, Madam a rolling eye — a romping or a wanton one — nor was it an eye sparkling — petulant or imperious — of high claims and terrifying exactions, which would have curdled at once that milk of human nature, of which my uncle Toby was made up — but ’twas an eye full of gentle salutations — and soft responses — speaking — not like the trumpet stop of some ill-made organ, in which many an eye I talk to, holds coarse converse — but whispering soft — like the last low accent of an expiring saint —‘How can you live comfortless, captain Shandy, and alone, without a bosom to lean your head on — or trust your cares to?’
It was an eye —
But I shall be in love with it myself, if I say another word about it.
— It did my uncle Toby’s business.
There is nothing shews the character of my father and my uncle Toby, in a more entertaining light, than their different manner of deportment, under the same accident — for I call not love a misfortune, from a persuasion, that a man’s heart is ever the better for it — Great God! what must my uncle Toby’s have been, when ’twas all benignity without it.
My father, as appears from many of his papers, was very subject to this passion, before he married — but from a little subacid kind of drollish impatience in his nature, whenever it befell him, he would never submit to it like a christian; but would pish, and huff, and bounce, and kick, and play the Devil, and write the bitterest Philippicks against the eye that ever man wrote — there is one in verse upon somebody’s eye or other, that for two or three nights together, had put him by his rest; which in his first transport of resentment against it, he begins thus:
‘A Devil ’tis — and mischief such doth work As never yet did Pagan, Jew, or Turk.’ (This will be printed with my father’s Life of Socrates, &c. &c.)
In short, during the whole paroxism, my father was all abuse and foul language, approaching rather towards malediction — only he did not do it with as much method as Ernulphus — he was too impetuous; nor with Ernulphus’s policy — for tho’ my father, with the most intolerant spirit, would curse both this and that, and every thing under heaven, which was either aiding or abetting to his love — yet never concluded his chapter of curses upon it, without cursing himself in at the bargain, as one of the most egregious fools and cox-combs, he would say, that ever was let loose in the world.
My uncle Toby, on the contrary, took it like a lamb — sat still and let the poison work in his veins without resistance — in the sharpest exacerbations of his wound (like that on his groin) he never dropt one fretful or discontented word — he blamed neither heaven nor earth — or thought or spoke an injurious thing of any body, or any part of it; he sat solitary and pensive with his pipe — looking at his lame leg — then whiffing out a sentimental heigh ho! which mixing with the smoke, incommoded no one mortal.
He took it like a lamb — I say.
In truth he had mistook it at first; for having taken a ride with my father, that very morning, to save if possible a beautiful wood, which the dean and chapter were hewing down to give to the poor (Mr Shandy must mean the poor in spirit; inasmuch as they divided the money amongst themselves.); which said wood being in full view of my uncle Toby’s house, and of singular service to him in his description of the battle of Wynnendale — by trotting on too hastily to save it — upon an uneasy saddle — worse horse, &c. &c. . .it had so happened, that the serous part of the blood had got betwixt the two skins, in the nethermost part of my uncle Toby — the first shootings of which (as my uncle Toby had no experience of love) he had taken for a part of the passion — till the blister breaking in the one case — and the other remaining — my uncle Toby was presently convinced, that his wound was not a skin-deep wound — but that it had gone to his heart.
The world is ashamed of being virtuous — my uncle Toby knew little of the world; and therefore when he felt he was in love with widow Wadman, he had no conception that the thing was any more to be made a mystery of, than if Mrs. Wadman had given him a cut with a gap’d knife across his finger: Had it been otherwise — yet as he ever look’d upon Trim as a humble friend; and saw fresh reasons every day of his life, to treat him as such — it would have made no variation in the manner in which he informed him of the affair.
‘I am in love, corporal!’ quoth my uncle Toby.
In love! — said the corporal — your honour was very well the day before yesterday, when I was telling your honour of the story of the King of Bohemia — Bohemia! said my uncle Toby. . .musing a long time. . .What became of that story, Trim?
— We lost it, an’ please your honour, somehow betwixt us — but your honour was as free from love then, as I am —’twas just whilst thou went’st off with the wheel-barrow — with Mrs. Wadman, quoth my uncle Toby — She has left a ball here — added my uncle Toby — pointing to his breast —
— She can no more, an’ please your honour, stand a siege, than she can fly — cried the corporal —
— But as we are neighbours, Trim — the best way I think is to let her know it civilly first — quoth my uncle Toby.
Now if I might presume, said the corporal, to differ from your honour —
— Why else do I talk to thee, Trim? said my uncle Toby, mildly —
— Then I would begin, an’ please your honour, with making a good thundering attack upon her, in return — and telling her civilly afterwards — for if she knows any thing of your honour’s being in love, before hand — L..d help her! — she knows no more at present of it, Trim, said my uncle Toby — than the child unborn —
Precious souls! —
Mrs. Wadman had told it, with all its circumstances, to Mrs. Bridget twenty-four hours before; and was at that very moment sitting in council with her, touching some slight misgivings with regard to the issue of the affairs, which the Devil, who never lies dead in a ditch, had put into her head — before he would allow half time, to get quietly through her Te Deum.
I am terribly afraid, said widow Wadman, in case I should marry him, Bridget — that the poor captain will not enjoy his health, with the monstrous wound upon his groin —
It may not, Madam, be so very large, replied Bridget, as you think — and I believe, besides, added she — that ’tis dried up —
— I could like to know — merely for his sake, said Mrs. Wadman —
— We’ll know and long and the broad of it, in ten days — answered Mrs. Bridget, for whilst the captain is paying his addresses to you — I’m confident Mr. Trim will be for making love to me — and I’ll let him as much as he will — added Bridget — to get it all out of him —
The measures were taken at once — and my uncle Toby and the corporal went on with theirs.
Now, quoth the corporal, setting his left hand a-kimbo, and giving such a flourish with his right, as just promised success — and no more — if your honour will give me leave to lay down the plan of this attack —
— Thou wilt please me by it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, exceedingly — and as I foresee thou must act in it as my aid de camp, here’s a crown, corporal, to begin with, to steep thy commission.
Then, an’ please your honour, said the corporal (making a bow first for his commission)— we will begin with getting your honour’s laced clothes out of the great campaign-trunk, to be well air’d, and have the blue and gold taken up at the sleeves — and I’ll put your white ramallie-wig fresh into pipes — and send for a taylor, to have your honour’s thin scarlet breeches turn’d —
— I had better take the red plush ones, quoth my uncle Toby — They will be too clumsy — said the corporal.
— Thou wilt get a brush and a little chalk to my sword —’Twill be only in your honour’s way, replied Trim.
— But your honour’s two razors shall be new set — and I will get my Montero cap furbish’d up, and put on poor lieutenant Le Fever’s regimental coat, which your honour gave me to wear for his sake — and as soon as your honour is clean shaved — and has got your clean shirt on, with your blue and gold, or your fine scarlet — sometimes one and sometimes t’other — and every thing is ready for the attack — we’ll march up boldly, as if ’twas to the face of a bastion; and whilst your honour engages Mrs. Wadman in the parlour, to the right — I’ll attack Mrs. Bridget in the kitchen, to the left; and having seiz’d the pass, I’ll answer for it, said the corporal, snapping his fingers over his head — that the day is our own.
I wish I may but manage it right; said my uncle Toby — but I declare, corporal, I had rather march up to the very edge of a trench —
— A woman is quite a different thing — said the corporal.
— I suppose so, quoth my uncle Toby.
If any thing in this world, which my father said, could have provoked my uncle Toby, during the time he was in love, it was the perverse use my father was always making of an expression of Hilarion the hermit; who, in speaking of his abstinence, his watchings, flagellations, and other instrumental parts of his religion — would say — tho’ with more facetiousness than became an hermit —‘That they were the means he used, to make his ass (meaning his body) leave off kicking.’
It pleased my father well; it was not only a laconick way of expressing — but of libelling, at the same time, the desires and appetites of the lower part of us; so that for many years of my father’s life, ’twas his constant mode of expression — he never used the word passions once — but ass always instead of them — So that he might be said truly, to have been upon the bones, or the back of his own ass, or else of some other man’s, during all that time.
I must here observe to you the difference betwixt My father’s ass and my hobby-horse — in order to keep characters as separate as may be, in our fancies as we go along.
For my hobby-horse, if you recollect a little, is no way a vicious beast; he has scarce one hair or lineament of the ass about him —’Tis the sporting little filly-folly which carries you out for the present hour — a maggot, a butterfly, a picture, a fiddlestick — an uncle Toby’s siege — or an any thing, which a man makes a shift to get a-stride on, to canter it away from the cares and solicitudes of life —’Tis as useful a beast as is in the whole creation — nor do I really see how the world could do without it —
— But for my father’s ass — oh! mount him — mount him — mount him —(that’s three times, is it not?)— mount him not:—’tis a beast concupiscent — and foul befal the man, who does not hinder him from kicking.
Well! dear brother Toby, said my father, upon his first seeing him after he fell in love — and how goes it with your Asse?
Now my uncle Toby thinking more of the part where he had had the blister, than of Hilarion’s metaphor — and our preconceptions having (you know) as great a power over the sounds of words as the shapes of things, he had imagined, that my father, who was not very ceremonious in his choice of words, had enquired after the part by its proper name: so notwithstanding my mother, doctor Slop, and Mr. Yorick, were sitting in the parlour, he thought it rather civil to conform to the term my father had made use of than not. When a man is hemm’d in by two indecorums, and must commit one of ’em — I always observe — let him chuse which he will, the world will blame him — so I should not be astonished if it blames my uncle Toby.
My A..e, quoth my uncle Toby, is much better — brother Shandy — My father had formed great expectations from his Asse in this onset; and would have brought him on again; but doctor Slop setting up an intemperate laugh — and my mother crying out L . . . bless us! — it drove my father’s Asse off the field — and the laugh then becoming general — there was no bringing him back to the charge, for some time —
And so the discourse went on without him.
Every body, said my mother, says you are in love, brother Toby — and we hope it is true.
I am as much in love, sister, I believe, replied my uncle Toby, as any man usually is — Humph! said my father — and when did you know it? quoth my mother —
— When the blister broke; replied my uncle Toby.
My uncle Toby’s reply put my father into good temper — so he charg’d o’ foot.
As the ancients agree, brother Toby, said my father, that there are two different and distinct kinds of love, according to the different parts which are affected by it — the Brain or Liver — I think when a man is in love, it behoves him a little to consider which of the two he is fallen into.
What signifies it, brother Shandy, replied my uncle Toby, which of the two it is, provided it will but make a man marry, and love his wife, and get a few children?
— A few children! cried my father, rising out of his chair, and looking full in my mother’s face, as he forced his way betwixt her’s and doctor Slop’s — a few children! cried my father, repeating my uncle Toby’s words as he walk’d to and fro —
— Not, my dear brother Toby, cried my father, recovering himself all at once, and coming close up to the back of my uncle Toby’s chair — not that I should be sorry hadst thou a score — on the contrary, I should rejoice — and be as kind, Toby, to every one of them as a father —
My uncle Toby stole his hand unperceived behind his chair, to give my father’s a squeeze —
— Nay, moreover, continued he, keeping hold of my uncle Toby’s hand — so much dost thou possess, my dear Toby, of the milk of human nature, and so little of its asperities —’tis piteous the world is not peopled by creatures which resemble thee; and was I an Asiatic monarch, added my father, heating himself with his new project — I would oblige thee, provided it would not impair thy strength — or dry up thy radical moisture too fast — or weaken thy memory or fancy, brother Toby, which these gymnics inordinately taken are apt to do — else, dear Toby, I would procure thee the most beautiful woman in my empire, and I would oblige thee, nolens, volens, to beget for me one subject every month —
As my father pronounced the last word of the sentence — my mother took a pinch of snuff.
Now I would not, quoth my uncle Toby, get a child, nolens, volens, that is, whether I would or no, to please the greatest prince upon earth —
— And ‘twould be cruel in me, brother Toby, to compel thee; said my father — but ’tis a case put to shew thee, that it is not thy begetting a child — in case thou should’st be able — but the system of Love and Marriage thou goest upon, which I would set thee right in —
There is at least, said Yorick, a great deal of reason and plain sense in captain Shandy’s opinion of love; and ’tis amongst the ill-spent hours of my life, which I have to answer for, that I have read so many flourishing poets and rhetoricians in my time, from whom I never could extract so much-
I wish, Yorick, said my father, you had read Plato; for there you would have learnt that there are two Loves — I know there were two Religions, replied Yorick, amongst the ancients — one — for the vulgar, and another for the learned; — but I think One Love might have served both of them very well —
I could not; replied my father — and for the same reasons: for of these Loves, according to Ficinus’s comment upon Velasius, the one is rational —
— the other is natural — the first ancient — without mother — where Venus had nothing to do: the second, begotten of Jupiter and Dione —
— Pray, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, what has a man who believes in God to do with this? My father could not stop to answer, for fear of breaking the thread of his discourse —
This latter, continued he, partakes wholly of the nature of Venus.
The first, which is the golden chain let down from heaven, excites to love heroic, which comprehends in it, and excites to the desire of philosophy and truth — the second, excites to desire, simply —
— I think the procreation of children as beneficial to the world, said Yorick, as the finding out the longitude —
— To be sure, said my mother, love keeps peace in the world —
— In the house — my dear, I own —
— It replenishes the earth; said my mother —
But it keeps heaven empty — my dear; replied my father.
—’Tis Virginity, cried Slop, triumphantly, which fills paradise.
Well push’d nun! quoth my father.
My father had such a skirmishing, cutting kind of a slashing way with him in his disputations, thrusting and ripping, and giving every one a stroke to remember him by in his turn — that if there were twenty people in company — in less than half an hour he was sure to have every one of ’em against him.
What did not a little contribute to leave him thus without an ally, was, that if there was any one post more untenable than the rest, he would be sure to throw himself into it; and to do him justice, when he was once there, he would defend it so gallantly, that ‘twould have been a concern, either to a brave man or a good-natured one, to have seen him driven out.
Yorick, for this reason, though he would often attack him — yet could never bear to do it with all his force.
Doctor Slop’s Virginity, in the close of the last chapter, had got him for once on the right side of the rampart; and he was beginning to blow up all the convents in Christendom about Slop’s ears, when corporal Trim came into the parlour to inform my uncle Toby, that his thin scarlet breeches, in which the attack was to be made upon Mrs. Wadman, would not do; for that the taylor, in ripping them up, in order to turn them, had found they had been turn’d before — Then turn them again, brother, said my father, rapidly, for there will be many a turning of ’em yet before all’s done in the affair — They are as rotten as dirt, said the corporal — Then by all means, said my father, bespeak a new pair, brother — for though I know, continued my father, turning himself to the company, that widow Wadman has been deeply in love with my brother Toby for many years, and has used every art and circumvention of woman to outwit him into the same passion, yet now that she has caught him — her fever will be pass’d its height —
— She has gained her point.
In this case, continued my father, which Plato, I am persuaded, never thought of — Love, you see, is not so much a Sentiment as a Situation, into which a man enters, as my brother Toby would do, into a corps — no matter whether he loves the service or no — being once in it — he acts as if he did; and takes every step to shew himself a man of prowesse.
The hypothesis, like the rest of my father’s, was plausible enough, and my uncle Toby had but a single word to object to it — in which Trim stood ready to second him — but my father had not drawn his conclusion —
For this reason, continued my father (stating the case over again)— notwithstanding all the world knows, that Mrs. Wadman affects my brother Toby — and my brother Toby contrariwise affects Mrs. Wadman, and no obstacle in nature to forbid the music striking up this very night, yet will I answer for it, that this self-same tune will not be play’d this twelvemonth.
We have taken our measures badly, quoth my uncle Toby, looking up interrogatively in Trim’s face.
I would lay my Montero-cap, said Trim — Now Trim’s Montero-cap, as I once told you, was his constant wager; and having furbish’d it up that very night, in order to go upon the attack — it made the odds look more considerable — I would lay, an’ please your honour, my Montero-cap to a shilling — was it proper, continued Trim (making a bow), to offer a wager before your honours —
— There is nothing improper in it, said my father —’tis a mode of expression; for in saying thou would’st lay thy Montero-cap to a shilling — all thou meanest is this — that thou believest —
— Now, What do’st thou believe?
That widow Wadman, an’ please your worship, cannot hold it out ten days —
And whence, cried Slop, jeeringly, hast thou all this knowledge of woman, friend?
By falling in love with a popish clergy-woman; said Trim.
’Twas a Beguine, said my uncle Toby.
Doctor Slop was too much in wrath to listen to the distinction; and my father taking that very crisis to fall in helter-skelter upon the whole order of Nuns and Beguines, a set of silly, fusty, baggages — Slop could not stand it — and my uncle Toby having some measures to take about his breeches — and Yorick about his fourth general division — in order for their several attacks next day — the company broke up: and my father being left alone, and having half an hour upon his hands betwixt that and bed-time; he called for pen, ink, and paper, and wrote my uncle Toby the following letter of instructions:
My dear brother Toby,
What I am going to say to thee is upon the nature of women, and of love-making to them; and perhaps it is as well for thee — tho’ not so well for me — that thou hast occasion for a letter of instructions upon that head, and that I am able to write it to thee.
Had it been the good pleasure of him who disposes of our lots — and thou no sufferer by the knowledge, I had been well content that thou should’st have dipp’d the pen this moment into the ink, instead of myself; but that not being the case — Mrs Shandy being now close beside me, preparing for bed — I have thrown together without order, and just as they have come into my mind, such hints and documents as I deem may be of use to thee; intending, in this, to give thee a token of my love; not doubting, my dear Toby, of the manner in which it will be accepted.
In the first place, with regard to all which concerns religion in the affair — though I perceive from a glow in my cheek, that I blush as I begin to speak to thee upon the subject, as well knowing, notwithstanding thy unaffected secrecy, how few of its offices thou neglectest — yet I would remind thee of one (during the continuance of thy courtship) in a particular manner, which I would not have omitted; and that is, never to go forth upon the enterprize, whether it be in the morning or the afternoon, without first recommending thyself to the protection of Almighty God, that he may defend thee from the evil one.
Shave the whole top of thy crown clean once at least every four or five days, but oftner if convenient; lest in taking off thy wig before her, thro’ absence of mind, she should be able to discover how much has been cut away by Time — how much by Trim.
—’Twere better to keep ideas of baldness out of her fancy.
Always carry it in thy mind, and act upon it as a sure maxim, Toby —
‘That women are timid:’ And ’tis well they are — else there would be no dealing with them.
Let not thy breeches be too tight, or hang too loose about thy thighs, like the trunk-hose of our ancestors.
— A just medium prevents all conclusions.
Whatever thou hast to say, be it more or less, forget not to utter it in a low soft tone of voice. Silence, and whatever approaches it, weaves dreams of midnight secrecy into the brain: For this cause, if thou canst help it, never throw down the tongs and poker.
Avoid all kinds of pleasantry and facetiousness in thy discourse with her, and do whatever lies in thy power at the same time, to keep her from all books and writings which tend thereto: there are some devotional tracts, which if thou canst entice her to read over — it will be well: but suffer her not to look into Rabelais, or Scarron, or Don Quixote —
— They are all books which excite laughter; and thou knowest, dear Toby, that there is no passion so serious as lust.
Stick a pin in the bosom of thy shirt, before thou enterest her parlour.
And if thou art permitted to sit upon the same sopha with her, and she gives thee occasion to lay thy hand upon hers — beware of taking it — thou canst not lay thy hand on hers, but she will feel the temper of thine. Leave that and as many other things as thou canst, quite undetermined; by so doing, thou wilt have her curiosity on thy side; and if she is not conquered by that, and thy Asse continues still kicking, which there is great reason to suppose — Thou must begin, with first losing a few ounces of blood below the ears, according to the practice of the ancient Scythians, who cured the most intemperate fits of the appetite by that means.
Avicenna, after this, is for having the part anointed with the syrup of hellebore, using proper evacuations and purges — and I believe rightly. But thou must eat little or no goat’s flesh, nor red deer — nor even foal’s flesh by any means; and carefully abstain — that is, as much as thou canst, from peacocks, cranes, coots, didappers, and water-hens —
As for thy drink — I need not tell thee, it must be the infusion of Vervain and the herb Hanea, of which Aelian relates such effects — but if thy stomach palls with it — discontinue it from time to time, taking cucumbers, melons, purslane, water-lillies, woodbine, and lettice, in the stead of them.
There is nothing further for thee, which occurs to me at present —
— Unless the breaking out of a fresh war — So wishing every thing, dear Toby, for best,
I rest thy affectionate brother,
Whilst my father was writing his letter of instructions, my uncle Toby and the corporal were busy in preparing every thing for the attack. As the turning of the thin scarlet breeches was laid aside (at least for the present), there was nothing which should put it off beyond the next morning; so accordingly it was resolv’d upon, for eleven o’clock.
Come, my dear, said my father to my mother —’twill be but like a brother and sister, if you and I take a walk down to my brother Toby’s — to countenance him in this attack of his.
My uncle Toby and the corporal had been accoutred both some time, when my father and mother enter’d, and the clock striking eleven, were that moment in motion to sally forth — but the account of this is worth more than to be wove into the fag end of the eighth (Alluding to the first edition.) volume of such a work as this. — My father had no time but to put the letter of instructions into my uncle Toby’s coat-pocket — and join with my mother in wishing his attack prosperous.
I could like, said my mother, to look through the key-hole out of curiosity — Call it by its right name, my dear, quoth my father —
And look through the key-hole as long as you will.
I call all the powers of time and chance, which severally check us in our careers in this world, to bear me witness, that I could never yet get fairly to my uncle Toby’s amours, till this very moment, that my mother’s curiosity, as she stated the affair — or a different impulse in her, as my father would have it — wished her to take a peep at them through the key-hole.
‘Call it, my dear, by its right name, quoth my father, and look through the key-hole as long as you will.’
Nothing but the fermentation of that little subacid humour, which I have often spoken of, in my father’s habit, could have vented such an insinuation — he was however frank and generous in his nature, and at all times open to conviction; so that he had scarce got to the last word of this ungracious retort, when his conscience smote him.
My mother was then conjugally swinging with her left arm twisted under his right, in such wise, that the inside of her hand rested upon the back of his — she raised her fingers, and let them fall — it could scarce be call’d a tap; or if it was a tap —‘twould have puzzled a casuist to say, whether ’twas a tap of remonstrance, or a tap of confession: my father, who was all sensibilities from head to foot, class’d it right — Conscience redoubled her blow — he turn’d his face suddenly the other way, and my mother supposing his body was about to turn with it in order to move homewards, by a cross movement of her right leg, keeping her left as its centre, brought herself so far in front, that as he turned his head, he met her eye — Confusion again! he saw a thousand reasons to wipe out the reproach, and as many to reproach himself — a thin, blue, chill, pellucid chrystal with all its humours so at rest, the least mote or speck of desire might have been seen, at the bottom of it, had it existed — it did not — and how I happen to be so lewd myself, particularly a little before the vernal and autumnal equinoxes — Heaven above knows — My mother — madam — was so at no time, either by nature, by institution, or example.
A temperate current of blood ran orderly through her veins in all months of the year, and in all critical moments both of the day and night alike; nor did she superinduce the least heat into her humours from the manual effervescencies of devotional tracts, which having little or no meaning in them, nature is oft-times obliged to find one — And as for my father’s example! ’twas so far from being either aiding or abetting thereunto, that ’twas the whole business of his life, to keep all fancies of that kind out of her head — Nature had done her part, to have spared him this trouble; and what was not a little inconsistent, my father knew it — And here am I sitting, this 12th day of August 1766, in a purple jerkin and yellow pair of slippers, without either wig or cap on, a most tragicomical completion of his prediction, ‘That I should neither think, nor act like any other man’s child, upon that very account.’
The mistake in my father, was in attacking my mother’s motive, instead of the act itself; for certainly key-holes were made for other purposes; and considering the act, as an act which interfered with a true proposition, and denied a key-hole to be what it was — it became a violation of nature; and was so far, you see, criminal.
It is for this reason, an’ please your Reverences, That key-holes are the occasions of more sin and wickedness, than all other holes in this world put together.
— which leads me to my uncle Toby’s amours.
Though the corporal had been as good as his word in putting my uncle Toby’s great ramallie-wig into pipes, yet the time was too short to produce any great effects from it: it had lain many years squeezed up in the corner of his old campaign trunk; and as bad forms are not so easy to be got the better of, and the use of candle-ends not so well understood, it was not so pliable a business as one would have wished. The corporal with cheary eye and both arms extended, had fallen back perpendicular from it a score times, to inspire it, if possible, with a better air — had Spleen given a look at it, ‘twould have cost her ladyship a smile — it curl’d every where but where the corporal would have it; and where a buckle or two, in his opinion, would have done it honour, he could as soon have raised the dead.
Such it was — or rather such would it have seem’d upon any other brow; but the sweet look of goodness which sat upon my uncle Toby’s, assimilated every thing around it so sovereignly to itself, and Nature had moreover wrote Gentleman with so fair a hand in every line of his countenance, that even his tarnish’d gold-laced hat and huge cockade of flimsy taffeta became him; and though not worth a button in themselves, yet the moment my uncle Toby put them on, they became serious objects, and altogether seem’d to have been picked up by the hand of Science to set him off to advantage.
Nothing in this world could have co-operated more powerfully towards this, than my uncle Toby’s blue and gold — had not Quantity in some measure been necessary to Grace: in a period of fifteen or sixteen years since they had been made, by a total inactivity in my uncle Toby’s life, for he seldom went further than the bowling-green — his blue and gold had become so miserably too straight for him, that it was with the utmost difficulty the corporal was able to get him into them; the taking them up at the sleeves, was of no advantage. — They were laced however down the back, and at the seams of the sides, &c. in the mode of King William’s reign; and to shorten all description, they shone so bright against the sun that morning, and had so metallick and doughty an air with them, that had my uncle Toby thought of attacking in armour, nothing could have so well imposed upon his imagination.
As for the thin scarlet breeches, they had been unripp’d by the taylor between the legs, and left at sixes and sevens —
— Yes, Madam — but let us govern our fancies. It is enough they were held impracticable the night before, and as there was no alternative in my uncle Toby’s wardrobe, he sallied forth in the red plush.
The corporal had array’d himself in poor Le Fever’s regimental coat; and with his hair tuck’d up under his Montero-cap, which he had furbish’d up for the occasion, march’d three paces distant from his master: a whiff of military pride had puff’d out his shirt at the wrist; and upon that in a black leather thong clipp’d into a tassel beyond the knot, hung the corporal’s stick — my uncle Toby carried his cane like a pike.
— It looks well at least; quoth my father to himself.
My uncle Toby turn’d his head more than once behind him, to see how he was supported by the corporal; and the corporal as oft as he did it, gave a slight flourish with his stick — but not vapouringly; and with the sweetest accent of most respectful encouragement, bid his honour ‘never fear.’
Now my uncle Toby did fear; and grievously too; he knew not (as my father had reproach’d him) so much as the right end of a Woman from the wrong, and therefore was never altogether at his ease near any one of them — unless in sorrow or distress; then infinite was his pity; nor would the most courteous knight of romance have gone further, at least upon one leg, to have wiped away a tear from a woman’s eye; and yet excepting once that he was beguiled into it by Mrs. Wadman, he had never looked stedfastly into one; and would often tell my father in the simplicity of his heart, that it was almost (if not about) as bad as taking bawdy. —
— And suppose it is? my father would say.
She cannot, quoth my uncle Toby, halting, when they had march’d up to within twenty paces of Mrs. Wadman’s door — she cannot, corporal, take it amiss. —
— She will take it, an’ please your honour, said the corporal, just as the Jew’s widow at Lisbon took it of my brother Tom. —
— And how was that? quoth my uncle Toby, facing quite about to the corporal.
Your honour, replied the corporal, knows of Tom’s misfortunes; but this affair has nothing to do with them any further than this, That if Tom had not married the widow — or had it pleased God after their marriage, that they had but put pork into their sausages, the honest soul had never been taken out of his warm bed, and dragg’d to the inquisition —’Tis a cursed place — added the corporal, shaking his head — when once a poor creature is in, he is in, an’ please your honour, for ever.
’Tis very true; said my uncle Toby, looking gravely at Mrs. Wadman’s house, as he spoke.
Nothing, continued the corporal, can be so sad as confinement for life — or so sweet, an’ please your honour, as liberty.
Nothing, Trim — said my uncle Toby, musing —
Whilst a man is free — cried the corporal, giving a flourish with his stick thus —
(squiggly line diagonally across the page)
A thousand of my father’s most subtle syllogisms could not have said more for celibacy.
My uncle Toby look’d earnestly towards his cottage and his bowling-green.
The corporal had unwarily conjured up the Spirit of calculation with his wand; and he had nothing to do, but to conjure him down again with his story, and in this form of Exorcism, most un-ecclesiastically did the corporal do it.
As Tom’s place, an’ please your honour, was easy — and the weather warm — it put him upon thinking seriously of settling himself in the world; and as it fell out about that time, that a Jew who kept a sausage shop in the same street, had the ill luck to die of a strangury, and leave his widow in possession of a rousing trade — Tom thought (as every body in Lisbon was doing the best he could devise for himself) there could be no harm in offering her his service to carry it on: so without any introduction to the widow, except that of buying a pound of sausages at her shop — Tom set out — counting the matter thus within himself, as he walk’d along; that let the worst come of it that could, he should at least get a pound of sausages for their worth — but, if things went well, he should be set up; inasmuch as he should get not only a pound of sausages — but a wife and — a sausage shop, an’ please your honour, into the bargain.
Every servant in the family, from high to low, wish’d Tom success; and I can fancy, an’ please your honour, I see him this moment with his white dimity waist-coat and breeches, and hat a little o’ one side, passing jollily along the street, swinging his stick, with a smile and a chearful word for every body he met:— But alas! Tom! thou smilest no more, cried the corporal, looking on one side of him upon the ground, as if he apostrophised him in his dungeon.
Poor fellow! said my uncle Toby, feelingly.
He was an honest, light-hearted lad, an’ please your honour, as ever blood warm’d —
— Then he resembled thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby, rapidly.
The corporal blush’d down to his fingers ends — a tear of sentimental bashfulness — another of gratitude to my uncle Toby — and a tear of sorrow for his brother’s misfortunes, started into his eye, and ran sweetly down his cheek together; my uncle Toby’s kindled as one lamp does at another; and taking hold of the breast of Trim’s coat (which had been that of Le Fever’s) as if to ease his lame leg, but in reality to gratify a finer feeling — he stood silent for a minute and a half; at the end of which he took his hand away, and the corporal making a bow, went on with his story of his brother and the Jew’s widow.
When Tom, an’ please your honour, got to the shop, there was nobody in it, but a poor negro girl, with a bunch of white feathers slightly tied to the end of a long cane, flapping away flies — not killing them. —’Tis a pretty picture! said my uncle Toby — she had suffered persecution, Trim, and had learnt mercy —
— She was good, an’ please your honour, from nature, as well as from hardships; and there are circumstances in the story of that poor friendless slut, that would melt a heart of stone, said Trim; and some dismal winter’s evening, when your honour is in the humour, they shall be told you with the rest of Tom’s story, for it makes a part of it —
Then do not forget, Trim, said my uncle Toby.
A negro has a soul? an’ please your honour, said the corporal (doubtingly).
I am not much versed, corporal, quoth my uncle Toby, in things of that kind; but I suppose, God would not leave him without one, any more than thee or me —
— It would be putting one sadly over the head of another, quoth the corporal.
It would so; said my uncle Toby. Why then, an’ please your honour, is a black wench to be used worse than a white one?
I can give no reason, said my uncle Toby —
— Only, cried the corporal, shaking his head, because she has no one to stand up for her —
—’Tis that very thing, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby — which recommends her to protection — and her brethren with her; ’tis the fortune of war which has put the whip into our hands now — where it may be hereafter, heaven knows! — but be it where it will, the brave, Trim! will not use it unkindly.
— God forbid, said the corporal.
Amen, responded my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon his heart.
The corporal returned to his story, and went on — but with an embarrassment in doing it, which here and there a reader in this world will not be able to comprehend; for by the many sudden transitions all along, from one kind and cordial passion to another, in getting thus far on his way, he had lost the sportable key of his voice, which gave sense and spirit to his tale: he attempted twice to resume it, but could not please himself; so giving a stout hem! to rally back the retreating spirits, and aiding nature at the same time with his left arm a kimbo on one side, and with his right a little extended, supporting her on the other — the corporal got as near the note as he could; and in that attitude, continued his story.
As Tom, an’ please your honour, had no business at that time with the Moorish girl, he passed on into the room beyond, to talk to the Jew’s widow about love — and this pound of sausages; and being, as I have told your honour, an open cheary-hearted lad, with his character wrote in his looks and carriage, he took a chair, and without much apology, but with great civility at the same time, placed it close to her at the table, and sat down.
There is nothing so awkward, as courting a woman, an’ please your honour, whilst she is making sausages — So Tom began a discourse upon them; first, gravely — ‘as how they were made — with what meats, herbs, and spices.’— Then a little gayly — as, ‘With what skins — and if they never burst — Whether the largest were not the best?’— and so on — taking care only as he went along, to season what he had to say upon sausages, rather under than over; — that he might have room to act in —
It was owing to the neglect of that very precaution, said my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon Trim’s shoulder, that Count De la Motte lost the battle of Wynendale: he pressed too speedily into the wood; which if he had not done, Lisle had not fallen into our hands, nor Ghent and Bruges, which both followed her example; it was so late in the year, continued my uncle Toby, and so terrible a season came on, that if things had not fallen out as they did, our troops must have perish’d in the open field. —
— Why, therefore, may not battles, an’ please your honour, as well as marriages, be made in heaven? — my uncle Toby mused —
Religion inclined him to say one thing, and his high idea of military skill tempted him to say another; so not being able to frame a reply exactly to his mind — my uncle Toby said nothing at all; and the corporal finished his story.
As Tom perceived, an’ please your honour, that he gained ground, and that all he had said upon the subject of sausages was kindly taken, he went on to help her a little in making them,. — First, by taking hold of the ring of the sausage whilst she stroked the forced meat down with her hand — then by cutting the strings into proper lengths, and holding them in his hand, whilst she took them out one by one — then, by putting them across her mouth, that she might take them out as she wanted them — and so on from little to more, till at last he adventured to tie the sausage himself, whilst she held the snout. —
— Now a widow, an’ please your honour, always chuses a second husband as unlike the first as she can: so the affair was more than half settled in her mind before Tom mentioned it.
She made a feint however of defending herself, by snatching up a sausage:— Tom instantly laid hold of another —
But seeing Tom’s had more gristle in it —
She signed the capitulation — and Tom sealed it; and there was an end of the matter.
All womankind, continued Trim, (commenting upon his story) from the highest to the lowest, an’ please your honour, love jokes; the difficulty is to know how they chuse to have them cut; and there is no knowing that, but by trying, as we do with our artillery in the field, by raising or letting down their breeches, till we hit the mark. —
— I like the comparison, said my uncle Toby, better than the thing itself —
— Because your honour, quoth the corporal, loves glory, more than pleasure.
I hope, Trim, answered my uncle Toby, I love mankind more than either; and as the knowledge of arms tends so apparently to the good and quiet of the world — and particularly that branch of it which we have practised together in our bowling-green, has no object but to shorten the strides of Ambition, and intrench the lives and fortunes of the few, from the plunderings of the many — whenever that drum beats in our ears, I trust, corporal, we shall neither of us want so much humanity and fellow-feeling, as to face about and march.
In pronouncing this, my uncle Toby faced about, and march’d firmly as at the head of his company — and the faithful corporal, shouldering his stick, and striking his hand upon his coat-skirt as he took his first step — march’d close behind him down the avenue.
— Now what can their two noddles be about? cried my father to my mother — by all that’s strange, they are besieging Mrs. Wadman in form, and are marching round her house to mark out the lines of circumvallation.
I dare say, quoth my mother — But stop, dear Sir — for what my mother dared to say upon the occasion — and what my father did say upon it — with her replies and his rejoinders, shall be read, perused, paraphrased, commented, and descanted upon — or to say it all in a word, shall be thumb’d over by Posterity in a chapter apart — I say, by Posterity — and care not, if I repeat the word again — for what has this book done more than the Legation of Moses, or the Tale of a Tub, that it may not swim down the gutter of Time along with them?
I will not argue the matter: Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen: the days and hours of it, more precious, my dear Jenny! than the rubies about thy neck, are flying over our heads like light clouds of a windy day, never to return more — every thing presses on — whilst thou art twisting that lock — see! it grows grey; and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, and every absence which follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation which we are shortly to make. —
— Heaven have mercy upon us both!
Now, for what the world thinks of that ejaculation — I would not give a groat.
My mother had gone with her left arm twisted in my father’s right, till they had got to the fatal angle of the old garden wall, where Doctor Slop was overthrown by Obadiah on the coach-horse: as this was directly opposite to the front of Mrs. Wadman’s house, when my father came to it, he gave a look across; and seeing my uncle Toby and the corporal within ten paces of the door, he turn’d about —‘Let us just stop a moment, quoth my father, and see with what ceremonies my brother Toby and his man Trim make their first entry — it will not detain us, added my father, a single minute:’
— No matter, if it be ten minutes, quoth my mother.
— It will not detain us half one; said my father.
The corporal was just then setting in with the story of his brother Tom and the Jew’s widow: the story went on — and on — it had episodes in it — it came back, and went on — and on again; there was no end of it — the reader found it very long —
— G.. help my father! he pish’d fifty times at every new attitude, and gave the corporal’s stick, with all its flourishings and danglings, to as many devils as chose to accept of them.
When issues of events like these my father is waiting for, are hanging in the scales of fate, the mind has the advantage of changing the principle of expectation three times, without which it would not have power to see it out.
Curiosity governs the first moment; and the second moment is all oeconomy to justify the expence of the first — and for the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth moments, and so on to the day of judgment —’tis a point of Honour.
I need not be told, that the ethic writers have assigned this all to Patience; but that Virtue, methinks, has extent of dominion sufficient of her own, and enough to do in it, without invading the few dismantled castles which Honour has left him upon the earth.
My father stood it out as well as he could with these three auxiliaries to the end of Trim’s story; and from thence to the end of my uncle Toby’s panegyrick upon arms, in the chapter following it; when seeing, that instead of marching up to Mrs. Wadman’s door, they both faced about and march’d down the avenue diametrically opposite to his expectation — he broke out at once with that little subacid soreness of humour, which, in certain situations, distinguished his character from that of all other men.
—‘Now what can their two noddles be about?’ cried my father. . .&c. . ..
I dare say, said my mother, they are making fortifications —
— Not on Mrs. Wadman’s premises! cried my father, stepping back —
I suppose not: quoth my mother.
I wish, said my father, raising his voice, the whole science of fortification at the devil, with all its trumpery of saps, mines, blinds, gabions, fausse-brays and cuvetts —
— They are foolish things — said my mother.
Now she had a way, which, by the bye, I would this moment give away my purple jerkin, and my yellow slippers into the bargain, if some of your reverences would imitate — and that was, never to refuse her assent and consent to any proposition my father laid before her, merely because she did not understand it, or had no ideas of the principal word or term of art, upon which the tenet or proposition rolled. She contented herself with doing all that her godfathers and godmothers promised for her — but no more; and so would go on using a hard word twenty years together — and replying to it too, if it was a verb, in all its moods and tenses, without giving herself any trouble to enquire about it.
This was an eternal source of misery to my father, and broke the neck, at the first setting out, of more good dialogues between them, than could have done the most petulant contradiction — the few which survived were the better for the cuvetts —
—‘They are foolish things;’ said my mother.
— Particularly the cuvetts; replied my father.
’Tis enough — he tasted the sweet of triumph — and went on.
— Not that they are, properly speaking, Mrs. Wadman’s premises, said my father, partly correcting himself — because she is but tenant for life —
— That makes a great difference — said my mother —
— In a fool’s head, replied my father —
Unless she should happen to have a child — said my mother —
— But she must persuade my brother Toby first to get her one —
To be sure, Mr. Shandy, quoth my mother.
— Though if it comes to persuasion — said my father — Lord have mercy upon them.
Amen: said my mother, piano.
Amen: cried my father, fortissime.
Amen: said my mother again — but with such a sighing cadence of personal pity at the end of it, as discomfited every fibre about my father — he instantly took out his almanack; but before he could untie it, Yorick’s congregation coming out of church, became a full answer to one half of his business with it — and my mother telling him it was a sacrament day — left him as little in doubt, as to the other part — He put his almanack into his pocket.
The first Lord of the Treasury thinking of ways and means, could not have returned home with a more embarrassed look.
Upon looking back from the end of the last chapter, and surveying the texture of what has been wrote, it is necessary, that upon this page and the three following, a good quantity of heterogeneous matter be inserted to keep up that just balance betwixt wisdom and folly, without which a book would not hold together a single year: nor is it a poor creeping digression (which but for the name of, a man might continue as well going on in the king’s highway) which will do the business — no; if it is to be a digression, it must be a good frisky one, and upon a frisky subject too, where neither the horse or his rider are to be caught, but by rebound.
The only difficulty, is raising powers suitable to the nature of the service: Fancy is capricious — Wit must not be searched for — and Pleasantry (good-natured slut as she is) will not come in at a call, was an empire to be laid at her feet.
— The best way for a man, is to say his prayers —
Only if it puts him in mind of his infirmities and defects as well ghostly as bodily — for that purpose, he will find himself rather worse after he has said them than before — for other purposes, better.
For my own part, there is not a way either moral or mechanical under heaven that I could think of, which I have not taken with myself in this case: sometimes by addressing myself directly to the soul herself, and arguing the point over and over again with her upon the extent of her own faculties —
— I never could make them an inch the wider —
Then by changing my system, and trying what could be made of it upon the body, by temperance, soberness, and chastity: These are good, quoth I, in themselves — they are good, absolutely; — they are good, relatively; — they are good for health — they are good for happiness in this world — they are good for happiness in the next —
In short, they were good for every thing but the thing wanted; and there they were good for nothing, but to leave the soul just as heaven made it: as for the theological virtues of faith and hope, they give it courage; but then that snivelling virtue of Meekness (as my father would always call it) takes it quite away again, so you are exactly where you started.
Now in all common and ordinary cases, there is nothing which I have found to answer so well as this —
— Certainly, if there is any dependence upon Logic, and that I am not blinded by self-love, there must be something of true genius about me, merely upon this symptom of it, that I do not know what envy is: for never do I hit upon any invention or device which tendeth to the furtherance of good writing, but I instantly make it public; willing that all mankind should write as well as myself.
— Which they certainly will, when they think as little.
Now in ordinary cases, that is, when I am only stupid, and the thoughts rise heavily and pass gummous through my pen —
Or that I am got, I know not how, into a cold unmetaphorical vein of infamous writing, and cannot take a plumb-lift out of it for my soul; so must be obliged to go on writing like a Dutch commentator to the end of the chapter, unless something be done —
— I never stand conferring with pen and ink one moment; for if a pinch of snuff, or a stride or two across the room will not do the business for me — I take a razor at once; and having tried the edge of it upon the palm of my hand, without further ceremony, except that of first lathering my beard, I shave it off; taking care only if I do leave a hair, that it be not a grey one: this done, I change my shirt — put on a better coat — send for my last wig — put my topaz ring upon my finger; and in a word, dress myself from one end to the other of me, after my best fashion.
Now the devil in hell must be in it, if this does not do: for consider, Sir, as every man chuses to be present at the shaving of his own beard (though there is no rule without an exception), and unavoidably sits over-against himself the whole time it is doing, in case he has a hand in it — the Situation, like all others, has notions of her own to put into the brain. —
— I maintain it, the conceits of a rough-bearded man, are seven years more terse and juvenile for one single operation; and if they did not run a risk of being quite shaved away, might be carried up by continual shavings, to the highest pitch of sublimity — How Homer could write with so long a beard, I don’t know — and as it makes against my hypothesis, I as little care — But let us return to the Toilet.
Ludovicus Sorbonensis makes this entirely an affair of the body (Greek) as he calls it — but he is deceived: the soul and body are joint-sharers in every thing they get: A man cannot dress, but his ideas get cloth’d at the same time; and if he dresses like a gentleman, every one of them stands presented to his imagination, genteelized along with him — so that he has nothing to do, but take his pen, and write like himself.
For this cause, when your honours and reverences would know whether I writ clean and fit to be read, you will be able to judge full as well by looking into my Laundress’s bill, as my book: there is one single month in which I can make it appear, that I dirtied one and thirty shirts with clean writing; and after all, was more abus’d, cursed, criticis’d, and confounded, and had more mystic heads shaken at me, for what I had wrote in that one month, than in all the other months of that year put together.
— But their honours and reverences had not seen my bills.
As I never had any intention of beginning the Digression, I am making all this preparation for, till I come to the 74th chapter — I have this chapter to put to whatever use I think proper — I have twenty this moment ready for it — I could write my chapter of Button-holes in it —
Or my chapter of Pishes, which should follow them —
Or my chapter of Knots, in case their reverences have done with them — they might lead me into mischief: the safest way is to follow the track of the learned, and raise objections against what I have been writing, tho’ I declare before-hand, I know no more than my heels how to answer them.
And first, it may be said, there is a pelting kind of thersitical satire, as black as the very ink ’tis wrote with —(and by the bye, whoever says so, is indebted to the muster-master general of the Grecian army, for suffering the name of so ugly and foul-mouth’d a man as Thersites to continue upon his roll — for it has furnish’d him with an epithet)— in these productions he will urge, all the personal washings and scrubbings upon earth do a sinking genius no sort of good — but just the contrary, inasmuch as the dirtier the fellow is, the better generally he succeeds in it.
To this, I have no other answer — at least ready — but that the Archbishop of Benevento wrote his nasty Romance of the Galatea, as all the world knows, in a purple coat, waistcoat, and purple pair of breeches; and that the penance set him of writing a commentary upon the book of the Revelations, as severe as it was look’d upon by one part of the world, was far from being deem’d so, by the other, upon the single account of that Investment.
Another objection, to all this remedy, is its want of universality; forasmuch as the shaving part of it, upon which so much stress is laid, by an unalterable law of nature excludes one half of the species entirely from its use: all I can say is, that female writers, whether of England, or of France, must e’en go without it —
As for the Spanish ladies — I am in no sort of distress —
The seventy-fourth chapter is come at last; and brings nothing with it but a sad signature of ‘How our pleasures slip from under us in this world!’
For in talking of my digression — I declare before heaven I have made it! What a strange creature is mortal man! said she.
’Tis very true, said I— but ’twere better to get all these things out of our heads, and return to my uncle Toby.
When my uncle Toby and the corporal had marched down to the bottom of the avenue, they recollected their business lay the other way; so they faced about and marched up straight to Mrs. Wadman’s door.
I warrant your honour; said the corporal, touching his Montero-cap with his hand, as he passed him in order to give a knock at the door — My uncle Toby, contrary to his invariable way of treating his faithful servant, said nothing good or bad: the truth was, he had not altogether marshal’d his ideas; he wish’d for another conference, and as the corporal was mounting up the three steps before the door — he hem’d twice — a portion of my uncle Toby’s most modest spirits fled, at each expulsion, towards the corporal; he stood with the rapper of the door suspended for a full minute in his hand, he scarce knew why. Bridget stood perdue within, with her finger and her thumb upon the latch, benumb’d with expectation; and Mrs Wadman, with an eye ready to be deflowered again, sat breathless behind the window-curtain of her bed-chamber, watching their approach.
Trim! said my uncle Toby — but as he articulated the word, the minute expired, and Trim let fall the rapper.
My uncle Toby perceiving that all hopes of a conference were knock’d on the head by it — whistled Lillabullero.
As Mrs. Bridget’s finger and thumb were upon the latch, the corporal did not knock as often as perchance your honour’s taylor — I might have taken my example something nearer home; for I owe mine, some five and twenty pounds at least, and wonder at the man’s patience —
— But this is nothing at all to the world: only ’tis a cursed thing to be in debt; and there seems to be a fatality in the exchequers of some poor princes, particularly those of our house, which no Economy can bind down in irons: for my own part, I’m persuaded there is not any one prince, prelate, pope, or potentate, great or small upon earth, more desirous in his heart of keeping straight with the world than I am — or who takes more likely means for it. I never give above half a guinea — or walk with boots — or cheapen tooth-picks — or lay out a shilling upon a band-box the year round; and for the six months I’m in the country, I’m upon so small a scale, that with all the good temper in the world, I outdo Rousseau, a bar length — for I keep neither man or boy, or horse, or cow, or dog, or cat, or any thing that can eat or drink, except a thin poor piece of a Vestal (to keep my fire in), and who has generally as bad an appetite as myself — but if you think this makes a philosopher of me — I would not, my good people! give a rush for your judgments.
True philosophy — but there is no treating the subject whilst my uncle is whistling Lillabullero.
— Let us go into the house.
—(two blank paragraphs)—
— You shall see the very place, Madam; said my uncle Toby.
Mrs. Wadman blush’d — look’d towards the door — turn’d pale — blush’d slightly again — recover’d her natural colour — blush’d worse than ever; which, for the sake of the unlearned reader, I translate thus —
‘L..d! I cannot look at it —
‘What would the world say if I look’d at it?
‘I should drop down, if I look’d at it —
‘I wish I could look at it —
‘There can be no sin in looking at it.
—‘I will look at it.’
Whilst all this was running through Mrs. Wadman’s imagination, my uncle Toby had risen from the sopha, and got to the other side of the parlour door, to give Trim an order about it in the passage —
. . . — I believe it is in the garret, said my uncle Toby — I saw it there, an’ please your honour, this morning, answered Trim — Then prithee, step directly for it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and bring it into the parlour.
The corporal did not approve of the orders, but most cheerfully obeyed them. The first was not an act of his will — the second was; so he put on his Montero-cap, and went as fast as his lame knee would let him. My uncle Toby returned into the parlour, and sat himself down again upon the sopha.
— You shall lay your finger upon the place — said my uncle Toby. — I will not touch it, however, quoth Mrs. Wadman to herself.
This requires a second translation:— it shews what little knowledge is got by mere words — we must go up to the first springs.
Now in order to clear up the mist which hangs upon these three pages, I must endeavour to be as clear as possible myself.
Rub your hands thrice across your foreheads — blow your noses — cleanse your emunctories — sneeze, my good people! — God bless you —
Now give me all the help you can.
As there are fifty different ends (counting all ends in — as well civil as religious) for which a woman takes a husband, the first sets about and carefully weighs, then separates and distinguishes in her mind, which of all that number of ends is hers; then by discourse, enquiry, argumentation, and inference, she investigates and finds out whether she has got hold of the right one — and if she has — then, by pulling it gently this way and that way, she further forms a judgment, whether it will not break in the drawing.
The imagery under which Slawkenbergius impresses this upon the reader’s fancy, in the beginning of his third Decad, is so ludicrous, that the honour I bear the sex, will not suffer me to quote it — otherwise it is not destitute of humour.
‘She first, saith Slawkenbergius, stops the asse, and holding his halter in her left hand (lest he should get away) she thrusts her right hand into the very bottom of his pannier to search for it — For what? — you’ll not know the sooner, quoth Slawkenbergius, for interrupting me —
‘I have nothing, good Lady, but empty bottles;’ says the asse.
‘I’m loaded with tripes;’ says the second.
— And thou art little better, quoth she to the third; for nothing is there in thy panniers but trunk-hose and pantofles — and so to the fourth and fifth, going on one by one through the whole string, till coming to the asse which carries it, she turns the pannier upside down, looks at it — considers it — samples it — measures it — stretches it — wets it — dries it — then takes her teeth both to the warp and weft of it.
— Of what? for the love of Christ!
I am determined, answered Slawkenbergius, that all the powers upon earth shall never wring that secret from my breast.
We live in a world beset on all sides with mysteries and riddles — and so ’tis no matter — else it seems strange, that Nature, who makes every thing so well to answer its destination, and seldom or never errs, unless for pastime, in giving such forms and aptitudes to whatever passes through her hands, that whether she designs for the plough, the caravan, the cart — or whatever other creature she models, be it but an asse’s foal, you are sure to have the thing you wanted; and yet at the same time should so eternally bungle it as she does, in making so simple a thing as a married man.
Whether it is in the choice of the clay — or that it is frequently spoiled in the baking; by an excess of which a husband may turn out too crusty (you know) on one hand — or not enough so, through defect of heat, on the other — or whether this great Artificer is not so attentive to the little Platonic exigences of that part of the species, for whose use she is fabricating this — or that her Ladyship sometimes scarce knows what sort of a husband will do — I know not: we will discourse about it after supper.
It is enough, that neither the observation itself, or the reasoning upon it, are at all to the purpose — but rather against it; since with regard to my uncle Toby’s fitness for the marriage state, nothing was ever better: she had formed him of the best and kindliest clay — had temper’d it with her own milk, and breathed into it the sweetest spirit — she had made him all gentle, generous, and humane — she had filled his heart with trust and confidence, and disposed every passage which led to it, for the communication of the tenderest offices — she had moreover considered the other causes for which matrimony was ordained —
And accordingly. . ..
The Donation was not defeated by my uncle Toby’s wound.
Now this last article was somewhat apocryphal; and the Devil, who is the great disturber of our faiths in this world, had raised scruples in Mrs. Wadman’s brain about it; and like a true devil as he was, had done his own work at the same time, by turning my uncle Toby’s Virtue thereupon into nothing but empty bottles, tripes, trunk-hose, and pantofles.
Mrs. Bridget had pawn’d all the little stock of honour a poor chamber-maid was worth in the world, that she would get to the bottom of the affair in ten days; and it was built upon one of the most concessible postulata in nature: namely, that whilst my uncle Toby was making love to her mistress, the corporal could find nothing better to do, than make love to her —‘And I’ll let him as much as he will, said Bridget, to get it out of him.’
Friendship has two garments; an outer and an under one. Bridget was serving her mistress’s interests in the one — and doing the thing which most pleased herself in the other: so had as many stakes depending upon my uncle Toby’s wound, as the Devil himself — Mrs. Wadman had but one — and as it possibly might be her last (without discouraging Mrs. Bridget, or discrediting her talents) was determined to play her cards herself.
She wanted not encouragement: a child might have look’d into his hand — there was such a plainness and simplicity in his playing out what trumps he had — with such an unmistrusting ignorance of the ten-ace — and so naked and defenceless did he sit upon the same sopha with widow Wadman, that a generous heart would have wept to have won the game of him.
Let us drop the metaphor.
— And the story too — if you please: for though I have all along been hastening towards this part of it, with so much earnest desire, as well knowing it to be the choicest morsel of what I had to offer to the world, yet now that I am got to it, any one is welcome to take my pen, and go on with the story for me that will — I see the difficulties of the descriptions I’m going to give — and feel my want of powers.
It is one comfort at least to me, that I lost some fourscore ounces of blood this week in a most uncritical fever which attacked me at the beginning of this chapter; so that I have still some hopes remaining, it may be more in the serous or globular parts of the blood, than in the subtile aura of the brain — be it which it will — an Invocation can do no hurt — and I leave the affair entirely to the invoked, to inspire or to inject me according as he sees good.
Gentle Spirit of sweetest humour, who erst did sit upon the easy pen of my beloved Cervantes; Thou who glidedst daily through his lattice, and turned’st the twilight of his prison into noon-day brightness by thy presence — tinged’st his little urn of water with heaven-sent nectar, and all the time he wrote of Sancho and his master, didst cast thy mystic mantle o’er his wither’d stump (He lost his hand at the battle of Lepanto.), and wide extended it to all the evils of his life —
— Turn in hither, I beseech thee! — behold these breeches! — they are all I have in world — that piteous rent was given them at Lyons —
My shirts! see what a deadly schism has happen’d amongst ’em — for the laps are in Lombardy, and the rest of ’em here — I never had but six, and a cunning gypsey of a laundress at Milan cut me off the fore-laps of five — To do her justice, she did it with some consideration — for I was returning out of Italy.
And yet, notwithstanding all this, and a pistol tinder-box which was moreover filch’d from me at Sienna, and twice that I pay’d five Pauls for two hard eggs, once at Raddicoffini, and a second time at Capua — I do not think a journey through France and Italy, provided a man keeps his temper all the way, so bad a thing as some people would make you believe: there must be ups and downs, or how the duce should we get into vallies where Nature spreads so many tables of entertainment. —’Tis nonsense to imagine they will lend you their voitures to be shaken to pieces for nothing; and unless you pay twelve sous for greasing your wheels, how should the poor peasant get butter to his bread? — We really expect too much — and for the livre or two above par for your suppers and bed — at the most they are but one shilling and ninepence halfpenny — who would embroil their philosophy for it? for heaven’s and for your own sake, pay it — pay it with both hands open, rather than leave Disappointment sitting drooping upon the eye of your fair Hostess and her Damsels in the gate-way, at your departure — and besides, my dear Sir, you get a sisterly kiss of each of ’em worth a pound — at least I did —
— For my uncle Toby’s amours running all the way in my head, they had the same effect upon me as if they had been my own — I was in the most perfect state of bounty and good-will; and felt the kindliest harmony vibrating within me, with every oscillation of the chaise alike; so that whether the roads were rough or smooth, it made no difference; every thing I saw or had to do with, touch’d upon some secret spring either of sentiment or rapture.
— They were the sweetest notes I ever heard; and I instantly let down the fore-glass to hear them more distinctly —’Tis Maria; said the postillion, observing I was listening — Poor Maria, continued he (leaning his body on one side to let me see her, for he was in a line betwixt us), is sitting upon a bank playing her vespers upon her pipe, with her little goat beside her.
The young fellow utter’d this with an accent and a look so perfectly in tune to a feeling heart, that I instantly made a vow, I would give him a four-and-twenty sous piece, when I got to Moulins —
— And who is poor Maria? said I.
The love and piety of all the villages around us; said the postillion — it is but three years ago, that the sun did not shine upon so fair, so quick-witted and amiable a maid; and better fate did Maria deserve, than to have her Banns forbid, by the intrigues of the curate of the parish who published them —
He was going on, when Maria, who had made a short pause, put the pipe to her mouth, and began the air again — they were the same notes; — yet were ten times sweeter: It is the evening service to the Virgin, said the young man — but who has taught her to play it — or how she came by her pipe, no one knows; we think that heaven has assisted her in both; for ever since she has been unsettled in her mind, it seems her only consolation — she has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service upon it almost night and day.
The postillion delivered this with so much discretion and natural eloquence, that I could not help decyphering something in his face above his condition, and should have sifted out his history, had not poor Maria taken such full possession of me.
We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was sitting: she was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but two tresses, drawn up into a silk-net, with a few olive leaves twisted a little fantastically on one side — she was beautiful; and if ever I felt the full force of an honest heart-ache, it was the moment I saw her —
— God help her! poor damsel! above a hundred masses, said the postillion, have been said in the several parish churches and convents around, for her — but without effect; we have still hopes, as she is sensible for short intervals, that the Virgin at last will restore her to herself; but her parents, who know her best, are hopeless upon that score, and think her senses are lost for ever.
As the postillion spoke this, Maria made a cadence so melancholy, so tender and querulous, that I sprung out of the chaise to help her, and found myself sitting betwixt her and her goat before I relapsed from my enthusiasm.
Maria look’d wistfully for some time at me, and then at her goat — and then at me — and then at her goat again, and so on, alternately —
— Well, Maria, said I softly — What resemblance do you find?
I do entreat the candid reader to believe me, that it was from the humblest conviction of what a Beast man is — that I asked the question; and that I would not have let fallen an unseasonable pleasantry in the venerable presence of Misery, to be entitled to all the wit that ever Rabelais scatter’d — and yet I own my heart smote me, and that I so smarted at the very idea of it, that I swore I would set up for Wisdom, and utter grave sentences the rest of my days — and never — never attempt again to commit mirth with man, woman, or child, the longest day I had to live.
As for writing nonsense to them — I believe there was a reserve — but that I leave to the world.
Adieu, Maria! — adieu, poor hapless damsel! — some time, but not now, I may hear thy sorrows from thy own lips — but I was deceived; for that moment she took her pipe and told me such a tale of woe with it, that I rose up, and with broken and irregular steps walk’d softly to my chaise.
— What an excellent inn at Moulins!
When we have got to the end of this chapter (but not before) we must all turn back to the two blank chapters, on the account of which my honour has lain bleeding this half hour — I stop it, by pulling off one of my yellow slippers and throwing it with all my violence to the opposite side of my room, with a declaration at the heel of it —
— That whatever resemblance it may bear to half the chapters which are written in the world, or for aught I know may be now writing in it — that it was as casual as the foam of Zeuxis his horse; besides, I look upon a chapter which has only nothing in it, with respect; and considering what worse things there are in the world — That it is no way a proper subject for satire —
— Why then was it left so? And here without staying for my reply, shall I be called as many blockheads, numsculs, doddypoles, dunderheads, ninny-hammers, goosecaps, joltheads, nincompoops, and sh..t-a-beds — and other unsavoury appellations, as ever the cake-bakers of Lerne cast in the teeth of King Garangantan’s shepherds — And I’ll let them do it, as Bridget said, as much as they please; for how was it possible they should foresee the necessity I was under of writing the 84th chapter of my book, before the 77th, &c?
— So I don’t take it amiss — All I wish is, that it may be a lesson to the world, ‘to let people tell their stories their own way.’
The Seventy-seventh Chapter.
As Mrs. Bridget opened the door before the corporal had well given the rap, the interval betwixt that and my uncle Toby’s introduction into the parlour, was so short, that Mrs. Wadman had but just time to get from behind the curtain — lay a Bible upon the table, and advance a step or two towards the door to receive him.
My uncle Toby saluted Mrs. Wadman, after the manner in which women were saluted by men in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and thirteen — then facing about, he march’d up abreast with her to the sopha, and in three plain words — though not before he was sat down — nor after he was sat down — but as he was sitting down, told her, ‘he was in love’— so that my uncle Toby strained himself more in the declaration than he needed.
Mrs. Wadman naturally looked down, upon a slit she had been darning up in her apron, in expectation every moment, that my uncle Toby would go on; but having no talents for amplification, and Love moreover of all others being a subject of which he was the least a master — When he had told Mrs. Wadman once that he loved her, he let it alone, and left the matter to work after its own way.
My father was always in raptures with this system of my uncle Toby’s, as he falsely called it, and would often say, that could his brother Toby to his processe have added but a pipe of tobacco — he had wherewithal to have found his way, if there was faith in a Spanish proverb, towards the hearts of half the women upon the globe.
My uncle Toby never understood what my father meant; nor will I presume to extract more from it, than a condemnation of an error which the bulk of the world lie under — but the French, every one of ’em to a man, who believe in it, almost as much as the Real Presence, ‘That talking of love, is making it.’
— I would as soon set about making a black-pudding by the same receipt.
Let us go on: Mrs. Wadman sat in expectation my uncle Toby would do so, to almost the first pulsation of that minute, wherein silence on one side or the other, generally becomes indecent: so edging herself a little more towards him, and raising up her eyes, sub blushing, as she did it — she took up the gauntlet — or the discourse (if you like it better) and communed with my uncle Toby, thus:
The cares and disquietudes of the marriage state, quoth Mrs. Wadman, are very great. I suppose so — said my uncle Toby: and therefore when a person, continued Mrs. Wadman, is so much at his ease as you are — so happy, captain Shandy, in yourself, your friends and your amusements — I wonder, what reasons can incline you to the state —
— They are written, quoth my uncle Toby, in the Common-Prayer Book.
Thus far my uncle Toby went on warily, and kept within his depth, leaving Mrs. Wadman to sail upon the gulph as she pleased.
— As for children — said Mrs. Wadman — though a principal end perhaps of the institution, and the natural wish, I suppose, of every parent — yet do not we all find, they are certain sorrows, and very uncertain comforts? and what is there, dear sir, to pay one for the heart-achs — what compensation for the many tender and disquieting apprehensions of a suffering and defenceless mother who brings them into life? I declare, said my uncle Toby, smit with pity, I know of none; unless it be the pleasure which it has pleased God!
A fiddlestick! quoth she.
Now there are such an infinitude of notes, tunes, cants, chants, airs, looks, and accents with which the word fiddlestick may be pronounced in all such causes as this, every one of ’em impressing a sense and meaning as different from the other, as dirt from cleanliness — That Casuists (for it is an affair of conscience on that score) reckon up no less than fourteen thousand in which you may do either right or wrong.
Mrs. Wadman hit upon the fiddlestick, which summoned up all my uncle Toby’s modest blood into his cheeks — so feeling within himself that he had somehow or other got beyond his depth, he stopt short; and without entering further either into the pains or pleasures of matrimony, he laid his hand upon his heart, and made an offer to take them as they were, and share them along with her.
When my uncle Toby had said this, he did not care to say it again; so casting his eye upon the Bible which Mrs. Wadman had laid upon the table, he took it up; and popping, dear soul! upon a passage in it, of all others the most interesting to him — which was the siege of Jericho — he set himself to read it over — leaving his proposal of marriage, as he had done his declaration of love, to work with her after its own way. Now it wrought neither as an astringent or a loosener; nor like opium, or bark, or mercury, or buckthorn, or any one drug which nature had bestowed upon the world — in short, it work’d not at all in her; and the cause of that was, that there was something working there before — Babbler that I am! I have anticipated what it was a dozen times; but there is fire still in the subject — allons.
It is natural for a perfect stranger who is going from London to Edinburgh, to enquire before he sets out, how many miles to York; which is about the half way — nor does any body wonder, if he goes on and asks about the corporation, &c. . ..
It was just as natural for Mrs. Wadman, whose first husband was all his time afflicted with a Sciatica, to wish to know how far from the hip to the groin; and how far she was likely to suffer more or less in her feelings, in the one case than in the other.
She had accordingly read Drake’s anatomy from one end to the other. She had peeped into Wharton upon the brain, and borrowed Graaf (This must be a mistake in Mr. Shandy; for Graaf wrote upon the pancreatick juice, and the parts of generation.) upon the bones and muscles; but could make nothing of it.
She had reason’d likewise from her own powers — laid down theorems — drawn consequences, and come to no conclusion.
To clear up all, she had twice asked Doctor Slop, ‘if poor captain Shandy was ever likely to recover of his wound —?’
— He is recovered, Doctor Slop would say —
Quite: madam —
But what do you mean by a recovery? Mrs. Wadman would say.
Doctor Slop was the worst man alive at definitions; and so Mrs. Wadman could get no knowledge: in short, there was no way to extract it, but from my uncle Toby himself.
There is an accent of humanity in an enquiry of this kind which lulls Suspicion to rest — and I am half persuaded the serpent got pretty near it, in his discourse with Eve; for the propensity in the sex to be deceived could not be so great, that she should have boldness to hold chat with the devil, without it — But there is an accent of humanity — how shall I describe it? —’tis an accent which covers the part with a garment, and gives the enquirer a right to be as particular with it, as your body-surgeon.
‘— Was it without remission? —
‘— Was it more tolerable in bed?
‘— Could he lie on both sides alike with it?
‘— Was he able to mount a horse?
‘— Was motion bad for it?’ et caetera, were so tenderly spoke to, and so directed towards my uncle Toby’s heart, that every item of them sunk ten times deeper into it than the evils themselves — but when Mrs. Wadman went round about by Namur to get at my uncle Toby’s groin; and engaged him to attack the point of the advanced counterscarp, and pele mele with the Dutch to take the counterguard of St. Roch sword in hand — and then with tender notes playing upon his ear, led him all bleeding by the hand out of the trench, wiping her eye, as he was carried to his tent — Heaven! Earth! Sea! — all was lifted up — the springs of nature rose above their levels — an angel of mercy sat besides him on the sopha — his heart glow’d with fire — and had he been worth a thousand, he had lost every heart of them to Mrs. Wadman.
— And whereabouts, dear sir, quoth Mrs. Wadman, a little categorically, did you receive this sad blow? — In asking this question, Mrs. Wadman gave a slight glance towards the waistband of my uncle Toby’s red plush breeches, expecting naturally, as the shortest reply to it, that my uncle Toby would lay his fore-finger upon the place — It fell out otherwise — for my uncle Toby having got his wound before the gate of St. Nicolas, in one of the traverses of the trench opposite to the salient angle of the demibastion of St. Roch; he could at any time stick a pin upon the identical spot of ground where he was standing when the stone struck him: this struck instantly upon my uncle Toby’s sensorium — and with it, struck his large map of the town and citadel of Namur and its environs, which he had purchased and pasted down upon a board, by the corporal’s aid, during his long illness — it had lain with other military lumber in the garret ever since, and accordingly the corporal was detached to the garret to fetch it.
My uncle Toby measured off thirty toises, with Mrs. Wadman’s scissars, from the returning angle before the gate of St. Nicolas; and with such a virgin modesty laid her finger upon the place, that the goddess of Decency, if then in being — if not, ’twas her shade — shook her head, and with a finger wavering across her eyes — forbid her to explain the mistake.
Unhappy Mrs. Wadman!
— For nothing can make this chapter go off with spirit but an apostrophe to thee — but my heart tells me, that in such a crisis an apostrophe is but an insult in disguise, and ere I would offer one to a woman in distress — let the chapter go to the devil; provided any damn’d critic in keeping will be but at the trouble to take it with him.
My uncle Toby’s Map is carried down into the kitchen.
— And here is the Maes — and this is the Sambre; said the corporal, pointing with his right hand extended a little towards the map, and his left upon Mrs. Bridget’s shoulder — but not the shoulder next him — and this, said he, is the town of Namur — and this the citadel — and there lay the French — and here lay his honour and myself — and in this cursed trench, Mrs. Bridget, quoth the corporal, taking her by the hand, did he receive the wound which crush’d him so miserably here. — In pronouncing which, he slightly press’d the back of her hand towards the part he felt for — and let it fall.
We thought, Mr. Trim, it had been more in the middle — said Mrs. Bridget —
That would have undone us for ever — said the corporal.
— And left my poor mistress undone too, said Bridget.
The corporal made no reply to the repartee, but by giving Mrs. Bridget a kiss.
Come — come — said Bridget — holding the palm of her left hand parallel to the plane of the horizon, and sliding the fingers of the other over it, in a way which could not have been done, had there been the least wart or protruberance —’Tis every syllable of it false, cried the corporal, before she had half finished the sentence —
— I know it to be fact, said Bridget, from credible witnesses.
— Upon my honour, said the corporal, laying his hand upon his heart, and blushing, as he spoke, with honest resentment —’tis a story, Mrs. Bridget, as false as hell — Not, said Bridget, interrupting him, that either I or my mistress care a halfpenny about it, whether ’tis so or no — only that when one is married, one would chuse to have such a thing by one at least —
It was somewhat unfortunate for Mrs. Bridget, that she had begun the attack with her manual exercise; for the corporal instantly. . ..
It was like the momentary contest in the moist eye-lids of an April morning, ‘Whether Bridget should laugh or cry.’
She snatch’d up a rolling-pin —’twas ten to one, she had laugh’d —
She laid it down — she cried; and had one single tear of ’em but tasted of bitterness, full sorrowful would the corporal’s heart have been that he had used the argument; but the corporal understood the sex, a quart major to a terce at least, better than my uncle Toby, and accordingly he assailed Mrs. Bridget after this manner.
I know, Mrs. Bridget, said the corporal, giving her a most respectful kiss, that thou art good and modest by nature, and art withal so generous a girl in thyself, that, if I know thee rightly, thou would’st not wound an insect, much less the honour of so gallant and worthy a soul as my master, wast thou sure to be made a countess of — but thou hast been set on, and deluded, dear Bridget, as is often a woman’s case, ‘to please others more than themselves —’
Bridget’s eyes poured down at the sensations the corporal excited.
— Tell me — tell me, then, my dear Bridget, continued the corporal, taking hold of her hand, which hung down dead by her side — and giving a second kiss — whose suspicion has misled thee?
Bridget sobb’d a sob or two — then open’d her eyes — the corporal wiped ’em with the bottom of her apron — she then open’d her heart and told him all.
My uncle Toby and the corporal had gone on separately with their operations the greatest part of the campaign, and as effectually cut off from all communication of what either the one or the other had been doing, as if they had been separated from each other by the Maes or the Sambre.
My uncle Toby, on his side, had presented himself every afternoon in his red and silver, and blue and gold alternately, and sustained an infinity of attacks in them, without knowing them to be attacks — and so had nothing to communicate —
The corporal, on his side, in taking Bridget, by it had gain’d considerable advantages — and consequently had much to communicate — but what were the advantages — as well as what was the manner by which he had seiz’d them, required so nice an historian, that the corporal durst not venture upon it; and as sensible as he was of glory, would rather have been contented to have gone bareheaded and without laurels for ever, than torture his master’s modesty for a single moment —
— Best of honest and gallant servants! — But I have apostrophiz’d thee, Trim! once before — and could I apotheosize thee also (that is to say) with good company — I would do it without ceremony in the very next page.
Now my uncle Toby had one evening laid down his pipe upon the table, and was counting over to himself upon his finger ends (beginning at his thumb) all Mrs. Wadman’s perfections one by one; and happening two or three times together, either by omitting some, or counting others twice over, to puzzle himself sadly before he could get beyond his middle finger — Prithee, Trim! said he, taking up his pipe again — bring me a pen and ink: Trim brought paper also.
Take a full sheet — Trim! said my uncle Toby, making a sign with his pipe at the same time to take a chair and sit down close by him at the table. The corporal obeyed — placed the paper directly before him — took a pen, and dipp’d it in the ink.
— She has a thousand virtues, Trim! said my uncle Toby —
Am I to set them down, an’ please your honour? quoth the corporal.
— But they must be taken in their ranks, replied my uncle Toby; for of them all, Trim, that which wins me most, and which is a security for all the rest, is the compassionate turn and singular humanity of her character — I protest, added my uncle Toby, looking up, as he protested it, towards the top of the ceiling — That was I her brother, Trim, a thousand fold, she could not make more constant or more tender enquiries after my sufferings — though now no more.
The corporal made no reply to my uncle Toby’s protestation, but by a short cough — he dipp’d the pen a second time into the inkhorn; and my uncle Toby, pointing with the end of his pipe as close to the top of the sheet at the left hand corner of it, as he could get it — the corporal wrote down the word HUMANITY. . .thus.
Prithee, corporal, said my uncle Toby, as soon as Trim had done it — how often does Mrs. Bridget enquire after the wound on the cap of thy knee, which thou received’st at the battle of Landen?
She never, an’ please your honour, enquires after it at all.
That, corporal, said my uncle Toby, with all the triumph the goodness of his nature would permit — That shews the difference in the character of the mistress and maid — had the fortune of war allotted the same mischance to me, Mrs. Wadman would have enquired into every circumstance relating to it a hundred times — She would have enquired, an’ please your honour, ten times as often about your honour’s groin — The pain, Trim, is equally excruciating — and Compassion has as much to do with the one as the other —
— God bless your honour! cried the corporal — what has a woman’s compassion to do with a wound upon the cap of a man’s knee? had your honour’s been shot into ten thousand splinters at the affair of Landen, Mrs. Wadman would have troubled her head as little about it as Bridget; because, added the corporal, lowering his voice, and speaking very distinctly, as he assigned his reason —
‘The knee is such a distance from the main body — whereas the groin, your honour knows, is upon the very curtain of the place.’
My uncle Toby gave a long whistle — but in a note which could scarce be heard across the table.
The corporal had advanced too far to retire — in three words he told the rest —
My uncle Toby laid down his pipe as gently upon the fender, as if it had been spun from the unravellings of a spider’s web —
— Let us go to my brother Shandy’s, said he.
There will be just time, whilst my uncle Toby and Trim are walking to my father’s, to inform you that Mrs. Wadman had, some moons before this, made a confident of my mother; and that Mrs. Bridget, who had the burden of her own, as well as her mistress’s secret to carry, had got happily delivered of both to Susannah behind the garden-wall.
As for my mother, she saw nothing at all in it, to make the least bustle about — but Susannah was sufficient by herself for all the ends and purposes you could possibly have, in exporting a family secret; for she instantly imparted it by signs to Jonathan — and Jonathan by tokens to the cook as she was basting a loin of mutton; the cook sold it with some kitchen-fat to the postillion for a groat, who truck’d it with the dairy maid for something of about the same value — and though whisper’d in the hay-loft, Fame caught the notes with her brazen trumpet, and sounded them upon the house-top — In a word, not an old woman in the village or five miles round, who did not understand the difficulties of my uncle Toby’s siege, and what were the secret articles which had delayed the surrender. —
My father, whose way was to force every event in nature into an hypothesis, by which means never man crucified Truth at the rate he did — had but just heard of the report as my uncle Toby set out; and catching fire suddenly at the trespass done his brother by it, was demonstrating to Yorick, notwithstanding my mother was sitting by — not only, ‘That the devil was in women, and that the whole of the affair was lust;’ but that every evil and disorder in the world, of what kind or nature soever, from the first fall of Adam, down to my uncle Toby’s (inclusive), was owing one way or other to the same unruly appetite.
Yorick was just bringing my father’s hypothesis to some temper, when my uncle Toby entering the room with marks of infinite benevolence and forgiveness in his looks, my father’s eloquence re-kindled against the passion — and as he was not very nice in the choice of his words when he was wroth — as soon as my uncle Toby was seated by the fire, and had filled his pipe, my father broke out in this manner.
— That provision should be made for continuing the race of so great, so exalted and godlike a Being as man — I am far from denying — but philosophy speaks freely of every thing; and therefore I still think and do maintain it to be a pity, that it should be done by means of a passion which bends down the faculties, and turns all the wisdom, contemplations, and operations of the soul backwards — a passion, my dear, continued my father, addressing himself to my mother, which couples and equals wise men with fools, and makes us come out of our caverns and hiding-places more like satyrs and four-footed beasts than men.
I know it will be said, continued my father (availing himself of the Prolepsis), that in itself, and simply taken — like hunger, or thirst, or sleep —’tis an affair neither good or bad — or shameful or otherwise. — Why then did the delicacy of Diogenes and Plato so recalcitrate against it? and wherefore, when we go about to make and plant a man, do we put out the candle? and for what reason is it, that all the parts thereof — the congredients — the preparations — the instruments, and whatever serves thereto, are so held as to be conveyed to a cleanly mind by no language, translation, or periphrasis whatever?
— The act of killing and destroying a man, continued my father, raising his voice — and turning to my uncle Toby — you see, is glorious — and the weapons by which we do it are honourable — We march with them upon our shoulders — We strut with them by our sides — We gild them — We carve them — We in-lay them — We enrich them — Nay, if it be but a scoundrel cannon, we cast an ornament upon the breach of it. —
— My uncle Toby laid down his pipe to intercede for a better epithet — and Yorick was rising up to batter the whole hypothesis to pieces —
— When Obadiah broke into the middle of the room with a complaint, which cried out for an immediate hearing.
The case was this:
My father, whether by ancient custom of the manor, or as impropriator of the great tythes, was obliged to keep a Bull for the service of the Parish, and Obadiah had led his cow upon a pop-visit to him one day or other the preceding summer — I say, one day or other — because as chance would have it, it was the day on which he was married to my father’s house-maid — so one was a reckoning to the other. Therefore when Obadiah’s wife was brought to bed — Obadiah thanked God —
— Now, said Obadiah, I shall have a calf: so Obadiah went daily to visit his cow.
She’ll calve on Monday — on Tuesday — on Wednesday at the farthest —
The cow did not calve — no — she’ll not calve till next week — the cow put it off terribly — till at the end of the sixth week Obadiah’s suspicions (like a good man’s) fell upon the Bull.
Now the parish being very large, my father’s Bull, to speak the truth of him, was no way equal to the department; he had, however, got himself, somehow or other, thrust into employment — and as he went through the business with a grave face, my father had a high opinion of him.
— Most of the townsmen, an’ please your worship, quoth Obadiah, believe that ’tis all the Bull’s fault —
— But may not a cow be barren? replied my father, turning to Doctor Slop.
It never happens: said Dr. Slop, but the man’s wife may have come before her time naturally enough — Prithee has the child hair upon his head? — added Dr. Slop —
— It is as hairy as I am; said Obadiah. — Obadiah had not been shaved for three weeks — Wheu. . .u. . .u. . .cried my father; beginning the sentence with an exclamatory whistle — and so, brother Toby, this poor Bull of mine, who is as good a Bull as ever p..ss’d, and might have done for Europa herself in purer times — had he but two legs less, might have been driven into Doctors Commons and lost his character — which to a Town Bull, brother Toby, is the very same thing as his life —
L..d! said my mother, what is all this story about? —
A Cock and a Bull, said Yorick — And one of the best of its kind, I ever heard.
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54