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gressive skill, the merit of which has all along, within another, that the whole machine, in geI fear, been overlooked by my reader, not for neral, has been kept a-going ;
-and, what's want of penetration in him, but because it is an more, it shall be kept a-going these forty years, excellence seldom looked for, or expected indeed, if it pleases the Fountain of health to bless me in a digression; and it is this; That though so long with life and good spirits. my digressions are all fair, as you observe, and that I fly off from what I am about, as far, and as often too, as any writer in Great Britain;
CHAP. XXIII. yet I constantly take care to order affairs so, that my main business does not stand still in I have a strong propensity in me to begin my absence.
this chapter very nonsensically, and I will not I was just going, for example, to have given baulk my fancy:- Accordingly I set off thus. you the great outlines of my uncle Toby's most If the fixture of Momus's glass in the human whimsical character ; when my aunt Dinah breast, according to the proposed emendation of and the coachman came across us, and led us a that arch-critic, had taken place,—first, This yagary some millions of miles into the very foolish consequence would certainly have folheart of the planetary system : Notwithstanding lowed, That the very wisest and very gravest all this, you perceive, that the drawing of my of us all, in one coin or other, must have paid uncle Toby's character went on gently all the window-money every day of our lives. time; not the great contours of it,—that And, secondly, That had the said glass been was impossible, but some familiar strokes and there set up, nothing more would have been faint designations of it, were here and there wanting, in order to have taken a man's chatouched on, as we went along, so that you are racter, but to have taken a chair and gone soft, much better acquainted with my uncle Toby ly, as you would to a dioptrical bee-hive, and now than you was before.
looked in,-viewed the soul stark-naked;By this contrivance, the machinery of my observed all her motions,her machinations ; work is of a species by itself ; two contrary mo- traced all her maggots, from their first engentions are introduced into it, and reconciled, dering to their crawling forth;
-watched her which were thought to be at variance with loose in her frisks, her gambols, her capricios; each other. In a word, my work is digressive, and, after some notice of her more solemn deand it is progressive too and at the same time. portment, consequent upon such frisks, &c.
This, sir, is a very different story from that then taken your pen and ink, and set of the earth's moving round her axis, in her down nothing but what you had seen, and diurnal rotation, with
her progress in her ellip- could have sworn to:- But this is an advantic orbit, which brings about the year, and con- tage not to be had by the biographer in this stitutes that variety and vicissitude of seasons planet; in the planet Mercury (belike) it may we enjoy; though I own it suggested the be so; if not, better still for him :- -for there thought,—as I believe the greatest of our boast- the intense heat of the country, which is proved ed improvements and discoveries have come by computators, from its vicinity to the sun, to from such trifling hints.
be more than equal to that of red-hot iron,Digressions, incontestibly, are the sunshine, must, I think, long ago have vitrified the bothey are the life, the soul of reading :- -také dies of the inhabitants (as the efficient cause,) them out of this book, for instance, you might to suit them for the climate (which is the final as well take the book along with them; one cause ;) so that, betwixt them both, all the tecold eternal winter would reign in every page nements of their souls, from top to bottom, may of it: restore them to the writer,-he steps be nothing else, for aught the soundest philosoforth like a bridegroom,--bids All hail; brings phy can shew to the contrary, but one fine in variety, and forbids the appetite to fail. transparent body of clear glass (bating the um
All the dexterity is in the good cookery and bilical knot;). -so that, till the inhabitants management of them, so as to be not only for grow old, and tolerably wrinkled, whereby the the advantage of the reader, but also of the au- rays of light, in passing through them, become thor, whose distress in this matter is truly piti- so monstrously refracted, or return reflected able : For, if he begins a digression,—from from their surfaces in such transverse lines to that moment, I observe, his whole work stands the eye, that a man cannot be seen through ;stock still; and, if he goes on with his his soul might as well, unless for mere ceremomain work, then there is an end of his digres- ny,—or the trifling advantage which the umbision.
lical point gave her,-might, upon all other ac-This is vile work. -For which counts, I say, as well play the fool out o'doors reason, from the beginning of this, you see, I as in her own house. have constructed the main work and the ad- But this, as I said above, is not the case with ventitious parts of it with such intersections, the inhabitants of this earth;our minds shine and have so complicated and involved the di- not through the body, but are wrapt up here gressive and progressive movements, one wheel in a dark covering of uncrystallized flesh and
way to work.
blood; so that, if we would come to the speci- whatever ;- -nor shall my pencil be guided fic characters of them, we must go some other by any one wind instrument which ever was
blown upon, either on this, or the other side of Many, in good truth, are the ways which the Alps ;- -nor will I consider either his rehuman wit has been forced to take to do this pletions or his discharges,—or touch upon his thing with exactness.
-but, in a word, I will draw Some, for instance, draw all their characters my uncle Toby's character from his Hobbswith wind instruments.- -Virgil takes HORSE. notice of that way in the affair of Dido and Æneas ;--but it is as fallacious as the breath of fame,-and, moreover, bespeaks a narrow ge
CHAP. XXIV. nius. I am not ignorant that the Italians pretend to a mathematical exactness in their desig- IF I was not morally sure that the reader nations of one particular sort of characters must be out of all patience for my uncle Toby's among them, from the forte or piano of a cer- character, I would here previously have tain wind instrument they use, which they say convinced him, that there is no instrument so is infallible. I dare not mention the fit to draw such a thing with, as that which I name of the instrument in this place ;- -it is have pitched upon. sufficient we have it amongst us—but never A man and his Hobby-Horse, though I canthink of making a drawing by it;this is not say that they act and re-act exactly after enigmatical, and intended to be so, at least, ad the same manner in which the soul and body populum:And therefore, I beg, madam, do upon each other, yet, doubtless, there is a when you come here, that you read on as fast communication between them of some kind; as you can, and never stop to make any inquiry and my opinion rather is, that there is some about it.
thing in it more of the manner of electrified There are others again, who will draw a bodies; and that, by means of the heated man's character from no other helps in the parts of the rider, which come immediately inworld, but merely from his evacuations ;- to contact with the HOBBY-HORSE,-by long but this often gives a very incorrect outline, - journies, and much friction, it so happens, that unless, indeed, you take a sketch of his reple- the body of the rider is at length filled as full of tions too; and, by correcting one drawing from HOBBY-Horsical matter as it can hold ;the other, compound one good figure out of so that if you are able to give but a clear dethem both.
scription of the nature of the one, you may form I should have no objection to this method, a pretty exact notion of the genius and characbut that I think it must smell too strong of the ter of the other. lampy-and be rendered still more operose, by Now, the HOBBY-Horse which my uncle forcing you to have an eye to the rest of his Toby always rode upon, was, in my opinion, an Non-Naturals.- -Why the most natural ac- Hobby-Horse well worth giving a description tions of a man's life should be called his Non- of, if it was only upon the score of his great sinNaturals,—is another question.
gularity; for you might have travelled from There are others, fourthly, who disdain every York to Dover,-from Dover to Penzance, in one of these expedients ;- not from any fer- Cornwall,--and from Penzance to York back tility of their own, but from the various ways again, and not have seen such another upon the of doing it, which they have borrowed from the road; or, if you had seen such an one, whatever honourable devices which the Pentagraphic haste you had been in, you must infallibly have Brethren* of the brush have shewn in taking stopped to have taken a view of him. Indeed, copies.- -These, you must know, are your the gait and figure of him was so strange, and great historians.
so utterly unlike was he, from his head to his One of these you will see drawing a full- tail, to any one of the whole species, that it was length character against the light ;- -that's il- now and then made a matter of dispute,-wheliberal,—dishonest,--and hard upon the charac- ther he was really a Hobby-Horse or no:- -But ter of the man who sits.
as the Philosopher would use no other argument Others, to mend the matter, will make a to the sceptic, who disputed with him against drawing of you in the camera ; that is most the reality of motion, save that of rising up upunfair of all, because, there you are sure to be on his legs, and walking across the room ;-50 represented in some of your most ridiculous at would my uncle Toby use no other argument titudes.
to prove his HOBBY-Horse was a HOBBYTo avoid all and every one of these errors, in Horse indeed, but by getting upon his back, giving you my uncle Toby's character, I am and riding him about ;-leaving the world, afdetermined to draw it by 'no mechanical help ter that, to determine the point as it thought fit.
• Pentagraph, an instrument to copy prints and pictures mechanically, and in any proportion.
In good truth, my uncle Toby mounted him father thought my uncle Toby could no where with so much pleasure, and he carried my uncle be so well nursed and taken care of as in his Toby so well, that he troubled his head very own house, he assigned him the very best apartlittle with what the world either said or thought ment in it.- -And, what was a much more about it.
sincere mark of his affection still, he would It is now high time, however, that I give never suffer a friend or acquaintance to step inyou a description of him:But, to go on re- to the house on any occasion, but he would take gularly, I only beg you will give me leave to ac- him by the hand, and lead him up stairs to see quaint you, first, how my uncle Toby came by his brother Toby, and chat an hour by his bedhim.
The history of a soldier's wound beguiles the
pain of it-my uncle's visitors at least thought CHAP. XXV.
so, and, in their daily calls upon him, from the
courtesy arising out of that belief, they would The wound in my uncle Toby's groin, which frequently turn the discourse to that subject,he received at the siege of Namur, rendering and from that subject the discourse would gehim unfit for the service, it was thought expe- nerally roll on to the siege itself. dient he should return to England, in order, if These conversations were infinitely kind ; and possible, to be set to rights.
my uncle Toby received great relief from them, He was four years totally confined, -part of and would have received much more, but that it to his bed, and all of it to his room; and, in they brought him into some unforeseen perplexi, the course of his cure, which was all that time ties, which, for three months together, retarded in hand, suffered unspeakable miseries,-owing his cure greatly; and, if he had not hit upon to a successsion of exfoliations from the os an expedient to extricate himself out of them, pubis, and the outward edge of that part of the I verily believe would have laid him in his corendir called the os ilium,—both which bones grave. were dismally crushed, as much by the irregu. What these perplexities of my uncle Toby larity of the stone, which I told you was broke were, 'tis impossible for you to guess; off the parapet,
-as by its size(though it was could, I should blush; not as a relation, not pretty large ;) which inclined the surgeon all as a man,-nor even as a woman,—but I should along to think, that the great injury which it blush as an author ; inasmuch as I set no small had done my uncle Toby's groin, was more store by myself, upon this very account, that owing to the gravity of the stone itself, than to my reader has never yet been able to guess at the projectile force of it,—which, he would of- any thing. And in this
, sir, I am of so nice and ten tell him, was a great happiness.
singular a humour, that if I thought you was My father, at that time, was just beginning able to form the least judgment or probable conbusiness in London, and had taken a house; jecture to yourself, of what was to come in the and, as the truest friendship and cordiality sub- next page, — I would tear it out of my book. sisted between the two brothers, -and that my
LIFE AND OPINIONS
TRISTRAM SHANDY, Gent.
pany fully comprehend where and what he was
about. CHAP. I.
Writers themselves are too apt to confound these terms;
so that you will the less wonI have begun a new Book, on purpose that der, if, in his endeavours to explain them, and I might have room enough to explain the na- in opposition to many misconceptions, that my ture of the perplexities in which my uncle Toby uncle Toby did oft-times puzzle his visitors, was involved, from the many discourses and in- and sometimes himself too. terrogations about the siege of Namur, where To speak the truth, unless the company my he received his wound.
father led up stairs were tolerably clear-headed, I must remind the reader, in case he has read or my uncle Toby was in one of his explanatory the history of King William's wars ;-but if he moods, it was a difficult thing, do what he could, has not, -I then inform him, that one of the to keep the discourse free from obscurity. most memorable attacks in that siege, was that What rendered the account of this affair the which was made by the English and Dutch up- more intricate to my uncle Toby, was this,on the point of the advanced counterscarp, be- that in the attack of the counterscarp before the fore the gate of St Nicholas, which inclosed the gate of St Nicholas, extending itself from the great sluice or water-stop, where the English bank of the Maes, quite up the great waterwere terribly exposed to the shot of the counter- stop,—the ground was cut and cross-cut with guard and demi-bastion of St Roch. The issue such a multitude of dykes, drains, rivulets, and of which hot dispute, in three words, was this,- sluices, on all sides, and he would get so sadly That the Dutch lodged themselves upon the bewildered and set fast amongst them, that frecounter-guard,—and that the English made quently he could neither get backwards or forthemselves masters of the covered-way before wards, to save his life; and was oft-times obSt Nicholas's gate, notwithstanding the gallant- liged to give up the attack upon that very acry of the French officers, who exposed them- count only. upon the glacis sword in hand.
These perplexing rebuffs gave my uncle ToAs this was the principal attack of which my by Shandy more perturbations than you would uncle Toby was an eye-witness at Namur,-the imagine; and, as my futher's kindness to him army of the besiegers being cut off, by the con- was continually dragging up fresh friends, and fluence of the Maes and Sambre, from seeing fresh inquiries,-be had but a very uneasy task much of each other's operations, my uncle of it. Toby was generally more eloquent and particular No doubt, my uncle Toby had great comin his account of it; and the many perplexities mand of himself,—and could guard appearhe was in, arose out of the almost insurmount- ances, I believe, as well as most men; yet any able dificulties he found in telling his story in- one may imagine, that, when he could not retelligibly, and giving such clear ideas of the dif- treat out of the ravelin without getting into the ferences and distinctions between the scarp and half-moon, or get out of the covered-way withcounterscarp,—the glacis and covered-way,- out falling down the counterscarp, nor cross the the half-moon and ravelin, -as to make his com- dyke without danger of slipping into the ditch,
but that he must have fretted and fumed in- all court.-Gentlemen, I kiss your hands wardly :
-He did so:- and these little and I protest no company could give me half the hourly vexations, which may seem trifling and pleasure, ---by my soul I am glad to see you, of no account to the man who has not read Hip- I beg only you will make no strangers of yourpocrates, yet, whoever has read Hippocrates, or selves, but sit down without any ceremony, and Dr James M‘Kenzie, and has considered well fall on heartily. the effects which the passions and affections of I said I had left six places, and I was upon the mind have upon the digestion-Why not of the point of carrying my complaisance so far as a wound as well as of a dinner?--may easily to have left a seventh open for them,--and in conceive what sharp paroxysms and exacerba- this very spot I stand on ;
-but being told tions of his wound my uncle Toby must have by a critic (though not by occupation,-- but by undergone upon that score only.
nature,) that I had acquitted myself well enough, My uncle Toby could not philoso- I shall fill it up directly, hoping, in the meanphize upon it it was enough he felt it was so time, that I shall be able to make a great deal
and having sustained the pain and sorrows of more room next year. of it for three months together, he was resol
How, in the name of wonder! ved, some way or other, to extricate himself. could your uncle Toby, who, it seems, was a
He was one morning lying upon his back in military man, and whom you have represented his bed, the anguish and nature of the wound as no fool, -he at the same time such a conupon his groin suffering him to lie in no other fused, pudding-headed, muddle-headed fellow, position, when a thought came into his head, as -Go look. that if he could purchase such a thing, and So, Sir Critic, I could have replied; but I have it pasted down upon a board, as a large scorn it.- -It is language unurbane, and only map of the fortifications of the town and citadel befitting the man who cannot give clear and saof Namur, with its environs, it might be a means tisfactory accounts of things, or dive deep enough of giving him ease. I take notice of his into the first causes of human ignorance and desire to have the environs, along with the confusion. It is, moreover, the reply valiant, town and citadel, for this reason, because my - and therefore I reject it; for, though it might uncle Toby's wound was got in one of the tra- have suited my uncle Toby's character as a solverses, about thirty toises from the returning dier excellently well,--and had he not accusangle of the trench, opposite to the salient an- tomed himself, in such attacks, to whistle the gle of the demi-bastion of St Roch; so that Lillabullero, * -as he wanted no courage, 'tis the he was pretty confident he could stick a pin up- very answer he would have given ; yet it would on the identical spot of ground where he was by no means have done for me. You see as standing when the stone struck him.
plain as can be, that I write as a man of erudiAll this succeeded to his wishes, and not only tion; that even my similies, my allusions, freed him from a world of sad explanations, my illustrations, my metaphors, are erudite, but, in the end, it proved the happy means, as -and that I must sustain my character proyou will read, of procuring my uncle Toby his perly, and contrast it properly too,-else what HOBBY-HORSE.
would become of me?- -Why, sir, I should be undone ;-at this very moment that I am
going here to fill up one place against a critic, CHAP. II.
-I should have made an opening for a couple.
Therefore I answer thus:There is nothing so foolish, when you are Pray, sir, in all the reading which you have at the expense of making an entertainment of ever read, did you ever read such a book as this kind, as to order things so badly, as to let Locke's Essay upon the Human Understandyour critics and gentry of refined taste run it ing ?. -Don't answer me rashly, because down: nor is there any thing so likely to make many, I know, quote the book, who have not then do it, as that of leaving them out of the read it,-and many have read it who underparty, or, what is full as offensive, of bestowing stand it not: -If either of these is your case, your attention upon the rest of your guests in as I write to instruct, I will tell you in three so particular a way, as if there was no such words what the book is,- - It is a history. thing as a critic (by occupation) at table.'
A history ! of who? what? where? when? I guard against both ; for, in the first place, -Don't hurry yourself. It is a bistory I have left half a dozen places purposely open book, sir, (which may possibly recommend it for them; and, in the next place, I pay them to the world) of what passes in a man's own
The well-known tune of Lillabullero, composed in ridicule of King
James, and his Lieutenant in Ireland, lord Tyrconnel, was highly fashionable in King William's army, and hence become the favourite of uncle Toby.