READ STUDY GUIDE: Volume 6
—We'll not stop two moments, my dear Sir,—only, as we have got through these five volumes (In the first edition, the sixth volume began with this chapter.), (do, Sir, sit down upon a set—they are better than nothing) let us just look back upon the country we have pass'd through.—
—What a wilderness has it been! and what a mercy that we have not both of us been lost, or devoured by wild beasts in it!
Did you think the world itself, Sir, had contained such a number of Jack Asses?—How they view'd and review'd us as we passed over the rivulet at the bottom of that little valley!—and when we climbed over that hill, and were just getting out of sight—good God! what a braying did they all set up together!
—Prithee, shepherd! who keeps all those Jack Asses?. . ..
—Heaven be their comforter—What! are they never curried?—Are they never taken in in winter?—Bray bray—bray. Bray on,—the world is deeply your debtor;—louder still—that's nothing:—in good sooth, you are ill-used:—Was I a Jack Asse, I solemnly declare, I would bray in G-sol-re-ut from morning, even unto night.
When my father had danced his white bear backwards and forwards through half a dozen pages, he closed the book for good an' all,—and in a kind of triumph redelivered it into Trim's hand, with a nod to lay it upon the 'scrutoire, where he found it.—Tristram, said he, shall be made to conjugate every word in the dictionary, backwards and forwards the same way;—every word, Yorick, by this means, you see, is converted into a thesis or an hypothesis;—every thesis and hypothesis have an off-spring of propositions;—and each proposition has its own consequences and conclusions; every one of which leads the mind on again, into fresh tracks of enquiries and doubtings.—The force of this engine, added my father, is incredible in opening a child's head.—'Tis enough, brother Shandy, cried my uncle Toby, to burst it into a thousand splinters.—
I presume, said Yorick, smiling,—it must be owing to this,—(for let logicians say what they will, it is not to be accounted for sufficiently from the bare use of the ten predicaments)—That the famous Vincent Quirino, amongst the many other astonishing feats of his childhood, of which the Cardinal Bembo has given the world so exact a story,—should be able to paste up in the public schools at Rome, so early as in the eighth year of his age, no less than four thousand five hundred and fifty different theses, upon the most abstruse points of the most abstruse theology;—and to defend and maintain them in such sort, as to cramp and dumbfound his opponents.—What is that, cried my father, to what is told us of Alphonsus Tostatus, who, almost in his nurse's arms, learned all the sciences and liberal arts without being taught any one of them?—What shall we say of the great Piereskius?—That's the very man, cried my uncle Toby, I once told you of, brother Shandy, who walked a matter of five hundred miles, reckoning from Paris to Shevling, and from Shevling back again, merely to see Stevinus's flying chariot.—He was a very great man! added my uncle Toby (meaning Stevinus)—He was so, brother Toby, said my father (meaning Piereskius)—and had multiplied his ideas so fast, and increased his knowledge to such a prodigious stock, that, if we may give credit to an anecdote concerning him, which we cannot withhold here, without shaking the authority of all anecdotes whatever—at seven years of age, his father committed entirely to his care the education of his younger brother, a boy of five years old,—with the sole management of all his concerns.—Was the father as wise as the son? quoth my uncle Toby:—I should think not, said Yorick:—But what are these, continued my father—(breaking out in a kind of enthusiasm)—what are these, to those prodigies of childhood in Grotius, Scioppius, Heinsius, Politian, Pascal, Joseph Scaliger, Ferdinand de Cordoue, and others—some of which left off their substantial forms at nine years old, or sooner, and went on reasoning without them;—others went through their classics at seven;—wrote tragedies at eight;—Ferdinand de Cordoue was so wise at nine,—'twas thought the Devil was in him;—and at Venice gave such proofs of his knowledge and goodness, that the monks imagined he was Antichrist, or nothing.—Others were masters of fourteen languages at ten,—finished the course of their rhetoric, poetry, logic, and ethics, at eleven,—put forth their commentaries upon Servius and Martianus Capella at twelve,—and at thirteen received their degrees in philosophy, laws, and divinity:—but you forget the great Lipsius, quoth Yorick, who composed a work (Nous aurions quelque interet, says Baillet, de montrer qu'il n'a rien de ridicule s'il etoit veritable, au moins dans le sens enigmatique que Nicius Erythraeus a ta he de lui donner. Cet auteur dit que pour comprendre comme Lipse, il a pu composer un ouvrage le premier jour de sa vie, il faut s'imaginer, que ce premier jour n'est pas celui de sa naissance charnelle, mais celui au quel il a commence d'user de la raison; il veut que c'ait ete a l'age de neuf ans; et il nous veut persuader que ce fut en cet age, que Lipse fit un poeme.—Le tour est ingenieux, &c. &c.) the day he was born:—They should have wiped it up, said my uncle Toby, and said no more about it.
When the cataplasm was ready, a scruple of decorum had unseasonably rose up in Susannah's conscience, about holding the candle, whilst Slop tied it on; Slop had not treated Susannah's distemper with anodynes,—and so a quarrel had ensued betwixt them.
—Oh! oh!—said Slop, casting a glance of undue freedom in Susannah's face, as she declined the office;—then, I think I know you, madam—You know me, Sir! cried Susannah fastidiously, and with a toss of her head, levelled evidently, not at his profession, but at the doctor himself,—you know me! cried Susannah again.—Doctor Slop clapped his finger and his thumb instantly upon his nostrils;—Susannah's spleen was ready to burst at it;—'Tis false, said Susannah.—Come, come, Mrs Modesty, said Slop, not a little elated with the success of his last thrust,—If you won't hold the candle, and look—you may hold it and shut your eyes:—That's one of your popish shifts, cried Susannah:—'Tis better, said Slop, with a nod, than no shift at all, young woman;—I defy you, Sir, cried Susannah, pulling her shift sleeve below her elbow.
It was almost impossible for two persons to assist each other in a surgical case with a more splenetic cordiality.
Slop snatched up the cataplasm—Susannah snatched up the candle;—A little this way, said Slop; Susannah looking one way, and rowing another, instantly set fire to Slop's wig, which being somewhat bushy and unctuous withal, was burnt out before it was well kindled.—You impudent whore! cried Slop,—(for what is passion, but a wild beast?)—you impudent whore, cried Slop, getting upright, with the cataplasm in his hand;—I never was the destruction of any body's nose, said Susannah,—which is more than you can say:—Is it? cried Slop, throwing the cataplasm in her face;—Yes, it is, cried Susannah, returning the compliment with what was left in the pan.
Doctor Slop and Susannah filed cross-bills against each other in the parlour; which done, as the cataplasm had failed, they retired into the kitchen to prepare a fomentation for me;—and whilst that was doing, my father determined the point as you will read.
You see 'tis high time, said my father, addressing himself equally to my uncle Toby and Yorick, to take this young creature out of these women's hands, and put him into those of a private governor. Marcus Antoninus provided fourteen governors all at once to superintend his son Commodus's education,—and in six weeks he cashiered five of them;—I know very well, continued my father, that Commodus's mother was in love with a gladiator at the time of her conception, which accounts for a great many of Commodus's cruelties when he became emperor;—but still I am of opinion, that those five whom Antoninus dismissed, did Commodus's temper, in that short time, more hurt than the other nine were able to rectify all their lives long.
Now as I consider the person who is to be about my son, as the mirror in which he is to view himself from morning to night, by which he is to adjust his looks, his carriage, and perhaps the inmost sentiments of his heart;—I would have one, Yorick, if possible, polished at all points, fit for my child to look into.—This is very good sense, quoth my uncle Toby to himself.
—There is, continued my father, a certain mien and motion of the body and all its parts, both in acting and speaking, which argues a man well within; and I am not at all surprised that Gregory of Nazianzum, upon observing the hasty and untoward gestures of Julian, should foretel he would one day become an apostate;—or that St. Ambrose should turn his Amanuensis out of doors, because of an indecent motion of his head, which went backwards and forwards like a flail;—or that Democritus should conceive Protagoras to be a scholar, from seeing him bind up a faggot, and thrusting, as he did it, the small twigs inwards.—There are a thousand unnoticed openings, continued my father, which let a penetrating eye at once into a man's soul; and I maintain it, added he, that a man of sense does not lay down his hat in coming into a room,—or take it up in going out of it, but something escapes, which discovers him.
It is for these reasons, continued my father, that the governor I make choice of shall neither (Vid. Pellegrina.) lisp, or squint, or wink, or talk loud, or look fierce, or foolish;—or bite his lips, or grind his teeth, or speak through his nose, or pick it, or blow it with his fingers.- -
He shall neither walk fast,—or slow, or fold his arms,—for that is laziness;—or hang them down,—for that is folly; or hide them in his pocket, for that is nonsense.—
He shall neither strike, or pinch, or tickle—or bite, or cut his nails, or hawk, or spit, or snift, or drum with his feet or fingers in company;—nor (according to Erasmus) shall he speak to any one in making water,—nor shall he point to carrion or excrement.—Now this is all nonsense again, quoth my uncle Toby to himself.—
I will have him, continued my father, cheerful, facete, jovial; at the same time, prudent, attentive to business, vigilant, acute, argute, inventive, quick in resolving doubts and speculative questions;—he shall be wise, and judicious, and learned:—And why not humble, and moderate, and , and good? said Yorick:—And why not, cried my uncle Toby, free, and generous, and bountiful, and brave?—He shall, my dear Toby, replied my father, getting up and shaking him by his hand.—Then, brother Shandy, answered my uncle Toby, raising himself off the chair, and laying down his pipe to take hold of my father's other hand,—I humbly beg I may recommend poor Le Fever's son to you;—a tear of joy of the first water sparkled in my uncle Toby's eye, and another, the fellow to it, in the corporal's, as the proposition was made;—you will see why when you read Le Fever's story:—fool that I was! nor can I recollect (nor perhaps you) without turning back to the place, what it was that hindered me from letting the corporal tell it in his own words;—but the occasion is lost,—I must tell it now in my own.
The Story of Le Fever.
It was some time in the summer of that year in which Dendermond was taken by the allies,—which was about seven years before my father came into the country,—and about as many, after the time, that my uncle Toby and Trim the privately decamped from my father's house in town, in order to lay some of the finest sieges to some of the finest fortified cities in Europe—when my uncle Toby was one evening getting his supper, with Trim sitting behind him at a small sideboard,—I say, sitting—for in consideration of the corporal's lame knee (which sometimes gave him exquisite pain)—when my uncle Toby dined or supped alone, he would never suffer the corporal to stand; and the poor fellow's veneration for his master was such, that, with a proper artillery, my uncle Toby could have taken Dendermond itself, with less trouble than he was able to gain this point over him; for many a time when my uncle Toby supposed the corporal's leg was at rest, he would look back, and detect him standing behind him with the most dutiful respect: this bred more little squabbles betwixt them, than all other causes for five-and-twenty years together—But this is neither here nor there—why do I mention it?—Ask my pen,—it governs me,—I govern not it.
He was one evening sitting thus at his supper, when the landlord of a little inn in the village came into the parlour, with an empty phial in his hand, to beg a glass or two of sack; 'Tis for a poor gentleman,—I think, of the army, said the landlord, who has been taken ill at my house four days ago, and has never held up his head since, or had a desire to taste any thing, till just now, that he has a fancy for a glass of sack and a thin toast,—I think, says he, taking his hand from his forehead, it would comfort me.—
—If I could neither beg, borrow, or buy such a thing—added the landlord,- -I would almost steal it for the poor gentleman, he is so ill.—I hope in God he will still mend, continued he,—we are all of us concerned for him.
Thou art a good-natured soul, I will answer for thee, cried my uncle Toby; and thou shalt drink the poor gentleman's health in a glass of sack thyself,—and take a couple of bottles with my service, and tell him he is heartily welcome to them, and to a dozen more if they will do him good.
Though I am persuaded, said my uncle Toby, as the landlord shut the door, he is a very compassionate fellow—Trim,—yet I cannot help entertaining a high opinion of his guest too; there must be something more than common in him, that in so short a time should win so much upon the affections of his host;—And of his whole family, added the corporal, for they are all concerned for him,.—Step after him, said my uncle Toby,—do Trim,—and ask if he knows his name.
—I have quite forgot it truly, said the landlord, coming back into the parlour with the corporal,—but I can ask his son again:—Has he a son with him then? said my uncle Toby.—A boy, replied the landlord, of about eleven or twelve years of age;—but the poor creature has tasted almost as little as his father; he does nothing but mourn and lament for him night and day:- -He has not stirred from the bed-side these two days.
My uncle Toby laid down his knife and fork, and thrust his plate from before him, as the landlord gave him the account; and Trim, without being ordered, took away, without saying one word, and in a few minutes after brought him his pipe and tobacco.
—Stay in the room a little, said my uncle Toby.
Trim!—said my uncle Toby, after he lighted his pipe, and smoak'd about a dozen whiffs.—Trim came in front of his master, and made his bow;—my uncle Toby smoak'd on, and said no more.—Corporal! said my uncle Toby—the corporal made his bow.—My uncle Toby proceeded no farther, but finished his pipe.
Trim! said my uncle Toby, I have a project in my head, as it is a bad night, of wrapping myself up warm in my roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor gentleman.—Your honour's roquelaure, replied the corporal, has not once been had on, since the night before your honour received your wound, when we mounted guard in the trenches before the gate of St. Nicholas;—and besides, it is so cold and rainy a night, that what with the roquelaure, and what with the weather, 'twill be enough to give your honour your death, and bring on your honour's torment in your groin. I fear so, replied my uncle Toby; but I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since the account the landlord has given me.—I wish I had not known so much of this affair,—added my uncle Toby,—or that I had known more of it:—How shall we manage it? Leave it, an't please your honour, to me, quoth the corporal;—I'll take my hat and stick and go to the house and reconnoitre, and act accordingly; and I will bring your honour a full account in an hour.—Thou shalt go, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and here's a shilling for thee to drink with his servant.—I shall get it all out of him, said the corporal, shutting the door.
My uncle Toby filled his second pipe; and had it not been, that he now and then wandered from the point, with considering whether it was not full as well to have the curtain of the tennaile a straight line, as a crooked one,—he might be said to have thought of nothing else but poor Le Fever and his boy the whole time he smoaked it.
The Story of Le Fever Continued.
It was not till my uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe, that corporal Trim returned from the inn, and gave him the following account.
I despaired, at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back your honour any kind of intelligence concerning the poor sick lieutenant—Is he in the army, then? said my uncle Toby—He is, said the corporal—And in what regiment? said my uncle Toby—I'll tell your honour, replied the corporal, every thing straight forwards, as I learnt it.—Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe, said my uncle Toby, and not interrupt thee till thou hast done; so sit down at thy ease, Trim, in the window-seat, and begin thy story again. The corporal made his old bow, which generally spoke as plain as a bow could speak it—Your honour is good:—And having done that, he sat down, as he was ordered,—and begun the story to my uncle Toby over again in pretty near the same words.
I despaired at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back any intelligence to your honour, about the lieutenant and his son; for when I asked where his servant was, from whom I made myself sure of knowing every thing which was proper to be asked,—That's a right distinction, Trim, said my uncle Toby—I was answered, an' please your honour, that he had no servant with him;—that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, upon finding himself unable to proceed (to join, I suppose, the regiment), he had dismissed the morning after he came.—If I get better, my dear, said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man,—we can hire horses from hence.—But alas! the poor gentleman will never get from hence, said the landlady to me,—for I heard the death-watch all night long;—and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with him; for he is already.
I was hearing this account, continued the corporal, when the youth came into the kitchen, to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of;—but I will do it for my father myself, said the youth.—Pray let my save you the trouble, young gentleman, said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my chair to sit down upon by the fire,—whilst I did it.—I believe, Sir, said he, very modestly, I can please him best myself.—I am sure, said I, his honour will not like the toast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier.—The youth took hold of my hand, and instantly burst into tears.—Poor youth! said my uncle Toby,—he has been bred up from an infant in the army, and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears like the name of a friend;—I wish I had him here.
—I never, in the longest march, said the corporal, had so great a mind to my dinner, as I had to cry with him for company:—What could be the matter with me, an' please your honour? Nothing in the world, Trim, said my uncle Toby, blowing his nose,—but that thou art a good-natured fellow.
When I gave him the toast, continued the corporal, I thought it was proper to tell him I was captain Shandy's servant, and that your honour (though a stranger) was extremely concerned for his father;—and that if there was any thing in your house or cellar—(And thou might'st have added my purse too, said my uncle Toby),—he was heartily welcome to it:—He made a very low bow (which was meant to your honour), but no answer—for his heart was full—so he went up stairs with the toast;—I warrant you, my dear, said I, as I opened the kitchen-door, your father will be well again.—Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire,—but said not a word good or bad to comfort the youth.—I thought it wrong; added the corporal—I think so too, said my uncle Toby.
When the lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast, he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen, to let me know, that in about ten minutes he should be glad if I would step up stairs.—I believe, said the landlord, he is going to say his prayers,—for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bed-side, and as I shut the door, I saw his son take up a cushion.
I thought, said the curate, that you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, never said your prayers at all.—I heard the poor gentleman say his prayers last night, said the landlady, very devoutly, and with my own ears, or I could not have believed it.—Are you sure of it? replied the curate.—A soldier, an' please your reverence, said I, prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson;—and when he is fighting for his king, and for his own life, and for his honour too, he has the most reason to pray to God of any one in the whole world—'Twas well said of thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby.—But when a soldier, said I, an' please your reverence, has been standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in cold water,—or engaged, said I, for months together in long and dangerous marches;—harassed, perhaps, in his rear to-day;—harassing others to-morrow;—detached here;—countermanded there;—resting this night out upon his arms;—beat up in his shirt the next;—benumbed in his joints;—perhaps without straw in his tent to kneel on;—must say his prayers how and when he can.—I believe, said I,—for I was piqued, quoth the corporal, for the reputation of the army,—I believe, an' please your reverence, said I, that when a soldier gets time to pray,—he prays as heartily as a parson,—though not with all his fuss and hypocrisy.—Thou shouldst not have said that, Trim, said my uncle Toby,—for God only knows who is a hypocrite, and who is not:—At the great and general review of us all, corporal, at the day of judgment (and not till then)—it will be seen who has done their duties in this world,—and who has not; and we shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly.—I hope we shall, said Trim.—It is in the Scripture, said my uncle Toby; and I will shew it thee to-morrow:—In the mean time we may depend upon it, Trim, for our comfort, said my uncle Toby, that God Almighty is so good and just a governor of the world, that if we have but done our duties in it,—it will never be enquired into, whether we have done them in a red coat or a black one:—I hope not, said the corporal—But go on, Trim, said my uncle Toby, with thy story.
When I went up, continued the corporal, into the lieutenant's room, which I did not do till the expiration of the ten minutes,—he was lying in his bed with his head raised upon his hand, with his elbow upon the pillow, and a clean white cambrick handkerchief beside it:—The youth was just stooping down to take up the cushion, upon which I supposed he had been kneeling,—the book was laid upon the bed,—and, as he rose, in taking up the cushion with one hand, he reached out his other to take it away at the same time.—Let it remain there, my dear, said the lieutenant.
He did not offer to speak to me, till I had walked up close to his :—If you are captain Shandy's servant, said he, you must present my thanks to your master, with my little boy's thanks along with them, for his courtesy to me;—if he was of Levens's—said the lieutenant.—I told him your honour was—Then, said he, I served three campaigns with him in Flanders, and remember him,—but 'tis most likely, as I had not the honour of any acquaintance with him, that he knows nothing of me.—You will tell him, however, that the person his good-nature has laid under obligations to him, is one Le Fever, a lieutenant in Angus's—but he knows me not,—said he, a second time, musing;—possibly he may my story—added he—pray tell the captain, I was the ensign at Breda, whose wife was most unfortunately killed with a musket-shot, as she lay in my arms in my tent.—I remember the story, an't please your honour, said I, very well.—Do you so? said he, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief—then well may I.—In saying this, he drew a little ring out of his bosom, which seemed tied with a black ribband about his neck, and kiss'd it twice—Here, Billy, said he,—the boy flew across the room to the bed-side,—and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in his hand, and kissed it too,—then kissed his father, and sat down upon the bed and wept.
I wish, said my uncle Toby, with a deep sigh,—I wish, Trim, I was asleep.
Your honour, replied the corporal, is too much concerned;—shall I pour your honour out a glass of sack to your pipe?—Do, Trim, said my uncle Toby.
I remember, said my uncle Toby, sighing again, the story of the ensign and his wife, with a circumstance his modesty omitted;—and particularly well that he, as well as she, upon some account or other (I forget what) was universally pitied by the whole regiment;—but finish the story thou art upon:—'Tis finished already, said the corporal,—for I could stay no longer,—so wished his honour a good night; young Le Fever rose from off the bed, and saw me to the bottom of the stairs; and as we went down together, told me, they had come from Ireland, and were on their route to join the regiment in Flanders.—But alas! said the corporal,—the lieutenant's last day's march is over.—Then what is to become of his poor boy? cried my uncle Toby.
The Story of Le Fever Continued.
It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honour,—though I tell it only for the sake of those, who, when coop'd in betwixt a natural and a positive law, know not, for their souls, which way in the world to turn themselves—That notwithstanding my uncle Toby was warmly engaged at that time in carrying on the siege of Dendermond, parallel with the allies, who pressed theirs on so vigorously, that they scarce allowed him time to get his dinner—that nevertheless he gave up Dendermond, though he had already made a lodgment upon the counterscarp;—and bent his whole thoughts towards the private distresses at the inn; and except that he ordered the garden gate to be bolted up, by which he might be said to have turned the siege of Dendermond into a blockade,—he left Dendermond to itself—to be relieved or not by the French king, as the French king thought good; and only considered how he himself should relieve the poor lieutenant and his son.
—That kind Being, who is a friend to the friendless, shall recompence thee for this.
Thou hast left this matter short, said my uncle Toby to the corporal, as he was putting him to bed,—and I will tell thee in what, Trim.—In the first place, when thou madest an offer of my services to Le Fever,—as sickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knowest he was but a poor lieutenant, with a son to subsist as well as himself out of his pay,—that thou didst not make an offer to him of my purse; because, had he stood in need, thou knowest, Trim, he had been as welcome to it as myself.—Your honour knows, said the corporal, I had no orders;—True, quoth my uncle Toby,—thou didst very right, Trim, as a soldier,—but certainly very wrong as a man.
In the second place, for which, indeed, thou hast the same excuse, continued my uncle Toby,—when thou offeredst him whatever was in my house,—thou shouldst have offered him my house too:—A sick brother officer should have the best quarters, Trim, and if we had him with us,—we could tend and look to him:—Thou art an excellent nurse thyself, Trim,—and what with thy care of him, and the old woman's and his boy's, and mine together, we might recruit him again at once, and set him upon his legs.—
—In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, smiling,—he might march.—He will never march; an' please your honour, in this world, said the corporal:—He will march; said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off:—An' please your honour, said the corporal, he will never march but to his grave:—He shall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advanceing an inch,—he shall march to his regiment.—He cannot stand it, said the corporal;—He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby;—He'll drop at last, said the corporal, and what will become of his boy?—He shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly.—A-well-o'day,—do what we can for him, said Trim, maintaining his point,—the poor soul will die:—He shall not die, by G.., cried my uncle Toby.
—The Accusing Spirit, which flew up to heaven's chancery with the oath, blush'd as he gave it in;—and the Recording Angel, as he wrote it down, dropp'd a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.
—My once Toby went to his bureau,—put his purse into his breeches pocket, and having ordered the corporal to go early in the morning for a physician,—he went to bed, and fell asleep.
The Story of Le Fever Continued.
The sun looked bright the morning after, to every eye in the village but Le Fever's and his afflicted son's; the hand of death pressed heavy upon his eye-lids,—and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle,—when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant's room, and without preface or apology, sat himself down upon the chair by the bed-side, and, independently of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have done it, and asked him how he did,—how he had rested in the night,—what was his complaint,—where was his pain,—and what he could do to help him:—and without giving him time to answer any one of the enquiries, went on, and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal the night before for him.—
—You shall go home directly, Le Fever, said my uncle Toby, to my house,—and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter,—and we'll have an apothecary,—and the corporal shall be your nurse;—and I'll be your servant, Le Fever.
There was a frankness in my uncle Toby,—not the effect of familiarity,—but the cause of it,—which let you at once into his soul, and shewed you the goodness of his nature; to this there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him, so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him.—The blood and spirits of Le Fever, which were waxing cold and slow within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart—rallied back,—the film forsook his eyes for a moment,—he looked up wishfully in my uncle Toby's face,—then cast a look upon his boy,—and that ligament, fine as it was,—was never broken.—
Nature instantly ebb'd again,—the film returned to its place,—the pulse fluttered—stopp'd—went on—throbb'd—stopp'd again—moved—stopp'd—shall I go on?—No.
I am so impatient to return to my own story, that what remains of young Le Fever's, that is, from this turn of his fortune, to the time my uncle Toby recommended him for my preceptor, shall be told in a very few words in the next chapter.—All that is necessary to be added to this chapter is as follows.—
That my uncle Toby, with young Le Fever in his hand, attended the poor lieutenant, as chief mourners, to his grave.
That the governor of Dendermond paid his obsequies all military honours,—and that Yorick, not to be behind-hand—paid him all ecclesiastic—for he buried him in his chancel:—And it appears likewise, he preached a funeral sermon over him—I say it appears,—for it was Yorick's custom, which I suppose a general one with those of his profession, on the first leaf of every sermon which he composed, to chronicle down the time, the place, and the occasion of its being preached: to this, he was ever wont to add some short comment or stricture upon the sermon itself, seldom, indeed, much to its credit:—For instance, This sermon upon the Jewish dispensation—I don't like it at all;—Though I own there is a world of Water-Landish knowledge in it;—but 'tis all tritical, and most tritically put together.- -This is but a flimsy kind of a composition; what was in my head when I made it?
—N.B. The excellency of this text is, that it will suit any sermon,—and of this sermon,—that it will suit any text.—
—For this sermon I shall be hanged,—for I have stolen the greatest part of it. Doctor Paidagunes found me out. > Set a thief to catch a thief.—
On the back of half a dozen I find written, So, so, and no more—and upon a couple Moderato; by which, as far as one may gather from Altieri's Italian dictionary,—but mostly from the authority of a piece of green whipcord, which seemed to have been the unravelling of Yorick's whip-lash, with which he has left us the two sermons marked Moderato, and the half dozen of So, so, tied fast together in one bundle by themselves,—one may safely suppose he meant pretty near the same thing.
There is but one difficulty in the way of this conjecture, which is this, that the moderato's are five times better than the so, so's;—show ten times more knowledge of the human heart;—have seventy times more wit and spirit in them;—(and, to rise properly in my climax)—discovered a thousand times more genius;—and to crown all, are infinitely more entertaining than those tied up with them:—for which reason, whene'er Yorick's dramatic sermons are offered to the world, though I shall admit but one out of the whole number of the so, so's, I shall, nevertheless, adventure to print the two moderato's without any sort of scruple.
What Yorick could mean by the words lentamente,—tenute,—grave,—and sometimes adagio,—as applied to theological compositions, and with which he has characterised some of these sermons, I dare not venture to guess.—I am more puzzled still upon finding a l'octava alta! upon one;—Con strepito upon the back of another;—Scicilliana upon a third;—Alla capella upon a fourth;—Con l'arco upon this;—Senza l'arco upon that.—All I know is, that they are musical terms, and have a meaning;—and as he was a musical man, I will make no doubt, but that by some quaint application of such metaphors to the compositions in hand, they impressed very distinct ideas of their several characters upon his fancy,—whatever they may do upon that of others.
Amongst these, there is that particular sermon which has unaccountably led me into this digression—The funeral sermon upon poor Le Fever, wrote out very fairly, as if from a hasty copy.—I take notice of it the more, because it seems to have been his favourite composition—It is upon mortality; and is tied length-ways and cross-ways with a yarn thrum, and then rolled up and twisted round with a half-sheet of dirty blue paper, which seems to have been once the cast cover of a general review, which to this day smells horribly of horse drugs.—Whether these marks of humiliation were designed,—I something doubt;—because at the end of the sermon (and not at the beginning of it)—very different from his way of treating the rest, he had wrote—Bravo!
—Though not very offensively,—for it is at two inches, at least, and a half's distance from, and below the concluding line of the sermon, at the very extremity of the page, and in that right hand corner of it, which, you know, is generally covered with your thumb; and, to do it justice, it is wrote besides with a crow's quill so faintly in a small Italian hand, as scarce to solicit the eye towards the place, whether your thumb is there or not,—so that from the manner of it, it stands half excused; and being wrote moreover with very pale ink, diluted almost to nothing,—'tis more like a ritratto of the shadow of vanity, than of Vanity herself—of the two; resembling rather a faint thought of transient applause, secretly stirring up in the heart of the composer; than a gross mark of it, coarsely obtruded upon the world.
With all these extenuations, I am aware, that in publishing this, I do no service to Yorick's character as a modest man;—but all men have their failings! and what lessens this still farther, and almost wipes it away, is this; that the word was struck through sometime afterwards (as appears from a different tint of the ink) with a line quite across it in this manner, BRAVO (crossed out)—as if he had retracted, or was ashamed of the opinion he had once entertained of it.
These short characters of his sermons were always written, excepting in this one instance, upon the first leaf of his sermon, which served as a cover to it; and usually upon the inside of it, which was turned towards the text;—but at the end of his discourse, where, perhaps, he had five or six pages, and sometimes, perhaps, a whole score to turn himself in,—he took a large circuit, and, indeed, a much more mettlesome one;—as if he had snatched the occasion of unlacing himself with a few more frolicksome strokes at vice, than the straitness of the pulpit allowed.—These, though hussar-like, they skirmish lightly and out of all order, are still auxiliaries on the side of virtue;—tell me then, Mynheer Vander Blonederdondergewdenstronke, why they should not be printed together?
When my uncle Toby had turned every thing into money, and settled all accounts betwixt the agent of the regiment and Le Fever, and betwixt Le Fever and all mankind,—there remained nothing more in my uncle Toby's hands, than an old regimental coat and a sword; so that my uncle Toby found little or no opposition from the world in taking administration. The coat my uncle Toby gave the corporal;—Wear it, Trim, said my uncle Toby, as long as it will hold together, for the sake of the poor lieutenant—And this,—said my uncle Toby, taking up the sword in his hand, and drawing it out of the scabbard as he spoke—and this, Le Fever, I'll save for thee,—'tis all the fortune, continued my uncle Toby, hanging it up upon a crook, and pointing to it,—'tis all the fortune, my dear Le Fever, which God has left thee; but if he has given thee a heart to fight thy way with it in the world,—and thou doest it like a man of honour,—'tis enough for us.
As soon as my uncle Toby had laid a foundation, and taught him to inscribe a regular polygon in a circle, he sent him to a public school, where, excepting Whitsontide and Christmas, at which times the corporal was punctually dispatched for him,—he remained to the spring of the year, seventeen; when the stories of the emperor's sending his army into Hungary against the Turks, kindling a spark of fire in his bosom, he left his Greek and Latin without leave, and throwing himself upon his knees before my uncle Toby, begged his father's sword, and my uncle Toby's leave along with it, to go and try his fortune under Eugene.—Twice did my uncle Toby forget his wound and cry out, Le Fever! I will go with thee, and thou shalt fight beside me—And twice he laid his hand upon his groin, and hung down his head in sorrow and disconsolation.—
My uncle Toby took down the sword from the crook, where it had hung untouched ever since the lieutenant's death, and delivered it to the corporal to brighten up;—and having detained Le Fever a single fortnight to equip him, and contract for his passage to Leghorn,—he put the sword into his hand.—If thou art brave, Le Fever, said my uncle Toby, this will not fail thee,—but Fortune, said he (musing a little),—Fortune may—And if she does,—added my uncle Toby, embracing him, come back again to me, Le Fever, and we will shape thee another course.
The greatest injury could not have oppressed the heart of Le Fever more than my uncle Toby's paternal kindness;—he parted from my uncle Toby, as the best of sons from the best of fathers—both dropped tears—and as my uncle Toby gave him his last kiss, he slipped sixty guineas, tied up in an old purse of his father's, in which was his mother's ring, into his hand,—and bid God bless him.
Le Fever got up to the Imperial army just time enough to try what metal his sword was made of, at the defeat of the Turks before Belgrade; but a series of unmerited mischances had pursued him from that moment, and trod close upon his heels for four years together after; he had withstood these buffetings to the last, till sickness overtook him at Marseilles, from whence he wrote my uncle Toby word, he had lost his time, his services, his health, and, in short, every thing but his sword;—and was waiting for the first ship to return back to him.
As this letter came to hand about six weeks before Susannah's accident, Le Fever was hourly expected; and was uppermost in my uncle Toby's mind all the time my father was giving him and Yorick a description of what kind of a person he would chuse for a preceptor to me: but as my uncle Toby thought my father at first somewhat fanciful in the accomplishments he required, he forbore mentioning Le Fever's name,—till the character, by Yorick's inter-position, ending unexpectedly, in one, who should be , and generous, and good, it impressed the image of Le Fever, and his interest, upon my uncle Toby so forcibly, he rose instantly off his chair; and laying down his pipe, in order to take hold of both my father's hands—I beg, brother Shandy, said my uncle Toby, I may recommend poor Le Fever's son to you—I beseech you do, added Yorick—He has a good heart, said my uncle Toby—And a brave one too, an' please your honour, said the corporal.
—The best hearts, Trim, are ever the bravest, replied my uncle Toby.—And the greatest cowards, an' please your honour, in our regiment, were the greatest rascals in it.—There was serjeant Kumber, and ensign—
—We'll talk of them, said my father, another time.
What a jovial and a merry world would this be, may it please your worships, but for that inextricable labyrinth of debts, cares, woes, want, grief, discontent, melancholy, large jointures, impositions, and lies!
Doctor Slop, like a son of a w. . ., as my father called him for it,—to exalt himself,—debased me to death,—and made ten thousand times more of Susannah's accident, than there was any grounds for; so that in a week's time, or less, it was in every body's mouth, That poor Master Shandy. . .entirely.—And Fame, who loves to double every thing,—in three days more, had sworn, positively she saw it,—and all the world, as usual, gave credit to her evidence—'That the nursery window had not only. . .;—but that. . .'s also.'
Could the world have been sued like a Body-Corporate,—my father had brought an action upon the case, and trounced it sufficiently; but to fall foul of individuals about it—as every soul who had mentioned the affair, did it with the greatest pity imaginable;—'twas like flying in the very face of his best friends:—And yet to acquiesce under the report, in silence—was to acknowledge it openly,—at least in the opinion of one half of the world; and to make a bustle again, in contradicting it,—was to confirm it as strongly in the opinion of the other half.—
—Was ever poor devil of a country gentleman so hampered? said my father.
I would shew him publickly, said my uncle Toby, at the market cross.
—'Twill have no effect, said my father.
—I'll put him, however, into breeches, said my father,—let the world say what it will.
There are a thousand resolutions, Sir, both in church and state, as well as in matters, Madam, of a more private concern;—which, though they have carried all the appearance in the world of being taken, and entered upon in a hasty, hare-brained, and unadvised manner, were, notwithstanding this, (and could you or I have got into the cabinet, or stood behind the curtain, we should have found it was so) weighed, poized, and perpended—argued upon—canvassed through—entered into, and examined on all sides with so much coolness, that the Goddess of Coolness herself (I do not take upon me to prove her existence) could neither have wished it, or done it better.
Of the number of these was my father's resolution of putting me into breeches; which, though determined at once,—in a kind of huff, and a defiance of all mankind, had, nevertheless, been pro'd and conn'd, and judicially talked over betwixt him and my mother about a month before, in two several beds of justice, which my father had held for that purpose. I shall explain the nature of these beds of justice in my next chapter; and in the chapter following that, you shall step with me, Madam, behind the curtain, only to hear in what kind of manner my father and my mother debated between themselves, this affair of the breeches,—from which you may form an idea, how they debated all lesser matters.
The ancient Goths of Germany, who (the learned Cluverius is positive) were first seated in the country between the Vistula and the Oder, and who afterwards incorporated the Herculi, the Bugians, and some other Vandallick clans to 'em—had all of them a wise custom of debating every thing of importance to their state, twice, that is,—once drunk, and once sober:—Drunk—that their councils might not want vigour;—and sober—that they might not want discretion.
Now my father being entirely a water-drinker,—was a long time gravelled almost to death, in turning this as much to his advantage, as he did every other thing which the ancients did or said; and it was not till the seventh year of his marriage, after a thousand fruitless experiments and devices, that he hit upon an expedient which answered the purpose;—and that was, when any difficult and momentous point was to be settled in the family, which required great sobriety, and great spirit too, in its determination,- -he fixed and set apart the first Sunday night in the month, and the Saturday night which immediately preceded it, to argue it over, in bed with my mother: By which contrivance, if you consider, Sir, with yourself,. . ..
These my father, humorously enough, called his beds of justice;—for from the two different counsels taken in these two different humours, a middle one was generally found out which touched the point of wisdom as well, as if he had got drunk and sober a hundred times.
I must not be made a secret of to the world, that this answers full as well in literary discussions, as either in military or conjugal; but it is not every author that can try the experiment as the Goths and Vandals did it—or, if he can, may it be always for his body's health; and to do it, as my father did it,—am I sure it would be always for his soul's.
My way is this:—
In all nice and ticklish discussions,—(of which, heaven knows, there are but too many in my book)—where I find I cannot take a step without the danger of having either their worships or their reverences upon my back—I write one-half full,—and t'other fasting;—or write it all full,—and correct it fasting;—or write it fasting,—and correct it full, for they all come to the same thing:—So that with a less variation from my father's plan, than my father's from the Gothick—I feel myself upon a par with him in his first bed of justice,—and no way inferior to him in his second.—These different and almost irreconcileable effects, flow uniformly from the wise and wonderful mechanism of nature,—of which,—be her's the honour.—All that we can do, is to turn and work the machine to the improvement and better manufactory of the arts and sciences.—
Now, when I write full,—I write as if I was never to write fasting again as long as I live;—that is, I write free from the cares as well as the terrors of the world.—I count not the number of my scars,—nor does my fancy go forth into dark entries and bye-corners to ante-date my stabs.—In a word, my pen takes its course; and I write on as much from the fulness of my heart, as my stomach.—
But when, an' please your honours, I indite fasting, 'tis a different history.—I pay the world all possible attention and respect,—and have as great a share (whilst it lasts) of that under strapping virtue of discretion as the best of you.—So that betwixt both, I write a careless kind of a civil, nonsensical, good-humoured Shandean book, which will do all your hearts good—
—And all your heads too,—provided you understand it.
We should begin, said my father, turning himself half round in bed, and shifting his pillow a little towards my mother's, as he opened the debate—We should begin to think, Mrs. Shandy, of putting this boy into breeches.—
We should so,—said my mother.—We defer it, my dear, quoth my father, shamefully.—
I think we do, Mr. Shandy,—said my mother.
—Not but the child looks extremely well, said my father, in his vests and tunicks.—
He does look very well in them,—replied my mother.—
—And for that reason it would be almost a sin, added my father, to take him out of 'em.—
—It would so,—said my mother:—But indeed he is growing a very tall lad,- -rejoined my father.
—He is very tall for his age, indeed,—said my mother.—
—I can not (making two syllables of it) imagine, quoth my father, who the deuce he takes after.—
I cannot conceive, for my life, said my mother.—
Humph!—said my father.
(The dialogue ceased for a moment.)
—(I am very short myself,—continued my father gravely.
You are very short, Mr Shandy,—said my mother.
Humph! quoth my father to himself, a second time: in muttering which, he plucked his pillow a little further from my mother's,—and turning about again, there was an end of the debate for three minutes and a half.
—When he gets these breeches made, cried my father in a higher tone, he'll look like a beast in 'em.
He will be very awkward in them at first, replied my mother.
—And 'twill be lucky, if that's the worst on't, added my father.
It will be very lucky, answered my mother.
I suppose, replied my father,—making some pause first,—he'll be exactly like other people's children.—
Exactly, said my mother.—
—Though I shall be sorry for that, added my father: and so the debate stopp'd again.—
—They should be of leather, said my father, turning him about again.—
They will last him, said my mother, the longest.
But he can have no linings to 'em, replied my father.—
He cannot, said my mother.
'Twere better to have them of fustian, quoth my father.
Nothing can be better, quoth my mother.—
—Except dimity,—replied my father:—'Tis best of all,—replied my mother.
—One must not give him his death, however,—interrupted my father.
By no means, said my mother:—and so the dialogue stood still again.
I am resolved, however, quoth my father, breaking silence the fourth time, he shall have no pockets in them.—
—There is no occasion for any, said my mother.—
I mean in his coat and waistcoat,—cried my father.
—I mean so too,—replied my mother.
—Though if he gets a gig or top—Poor souls! it is a crown and a sceptre to them,—they should have where to secure it.—
Order it as you please, Mr. Shandy, replied my mother.—
—But don't you think it right? added my father, pressing the point home to her.
Perfectly, said my mother, if it pleases you, Mr. Shandy.—
—There's for you! cried my father, losing his temper—Pleases me!—You never will distinguish, Mrs. Shandy, nor shall I ever teach you to do it, betwixt a point of pleasure and a point of convenience.—This was on the Sunday night:—and further this chapter sayeth not.
After my father had debated the affair of the breeches with my mother,—he consulted Albertus Rubenius upon it; and Albertus Rubenius used my father ten times worse in the consultation (if possible) than even my father had used my mother: For as Rubenius had wrote a quarto express, De re Vestiaria Veterum,—it was Rubenius's business to have given my father some lights.—On the contrary, my father might as well have thought of extracting the seven cardinal virtues out of a long beard,—as of extracting a single word out of Rubenius upon the subject.
|Upon every other article of ancient dress, Rubenius was very communicative|
|to my father;—gave him a full satisfactory account of|
|The Toga, or loose gown.|
|The Tunica, or Jacket.|
|The Lacema, with its Cucullus.|
|The Sagum, or soldier's jerkin.|
|The Trabea: of which, according to Suetonius, there was three kinds.—|
—But what are all these to the breeches? said my father.
Rubenius threw him down upon the counter all kinds of shoes which had been in fashion with the Romans.—
|The open shoe.|
|The close shoe.|
|The slip shoe.|
|The wooden shoe.|
|And The military shoe with hobnails in it, which Juvenal takes notice of.|
|The sandals, with latchets to them.|
|The felt shoe.|
|The linen shoe.|
|The laced shoe.|
|The braided shoe.|
|The calceus incisus.|
|And The calceus rostratus.|
Rubenius shewed my father how well they all fitted,—in what manner they laced on,—with what points, straps, thongs, latchets, ribbands, jaggs, and ends.—
—But I want to be informed about the breeches, said my father.
Albertus Rubenius informed my father that the Romans manufactured stuffs of various fabrics,—some plain,—some striped,—others diapered throughout the whole contexture of the wool, with silk and gold—That linen did not begin to be in common use till towards the declension of the empire, when the Egyptians coming to settle amongst them, brought it into vogue.
—That persons of quality and fortune distinguished themselves by the fineness and whiteness of their clothes; which colour (next to purple, which was appropriated to the great offices) they most affected, and wore on their birth-days and public rejoicings.—That it appeared from the best historians of those times, that they frequently sent their clothes to the fuller, to be clean'd and whitened:—but that the inferior people, to avoid that expence, generally wore brown clothes, and of a something coarser texture,—till towards the beginning of Augustus's reign, when the slave dressed like his master, and almost every distinction of habiliment was lost, but the Latus Clavus.
And what was the Latus Clavus? said my father.
Rubenius told him, that the point was still litigating amongst the learned:—That Egnatius, Sigonius, Bossius Ticinensis, Bayfius Budaeus, Salmasius, Lipsius, Lazius, Isaac Casaubon, and Joseph Scaliger, all differed from each other,—and he from them: That some took it to be the button,—some the coat itself,—others only the colour of it;—That the great Bayfuis in his Wardrobe of the Ancients, chap. 12—honestly said, he knew not what it was,—whether a tibula,—a stud,—a button,—a loop,—a buckle,—or clasps and keepers.—
—My father lost the horse, but not the saddle—They are hooks and eyes, said my father—and with hooks and eyes he ordered my breeches to be made.
We are now going to enter upon a new scene of events.—
—Leave we then the breeches in the taylor's hands, with my father standing over him with his cane, reading him as he sat at work a lecture upon the latus clavus, and pointing to the precise part of the waistband, where he was determined to have it sewed on.—
Leave we my mother—(truest of all the Poco-curante's of her sex!)—careless about it, as about every thing else in the world which concerned her;—that is,—indifferent whether it was done this way or that,—provided it was but done at all.—
Leave we Slop likewise to the full profits of all my dishonours.—
Leave we poor Le Fever to recover, and get home from Marseilles as he can.- -And last of all,—because the hardest of all—
Let us leave, if possible, myself:—But 'tis impossible,—I must go along with you to the end of the work.
If the reader has not a clear conception of the rood and the half of ground which lay at the bottom of my uncle Toby's kitchen-garden, and which was the scene of so many of his delicious hours,—the fault is not in me,—but in his imagination;—for I am sure I gave him so minute a description, I was almost ashamed of it.
When Fate was looking forwards one afternoon, into the great transactions of future times,—and recollected for what purposes this little plot, by a decree fast bound down in iron, had been destined,—she gave a nod to Nature,—'twas enough—Nature threw half a spade full of her kindliest compost upon it, with just so much clay in it, as to retain the forms of angles and indentings,—and so little of it too, as not to cling to the spade, and render works of so much glory, nasty in foul weather.
My uncle Toby came down, as the reader has been informed, with plans along with him, of almost every fortified town in Italy and Flanders; so let the duke of Marlborough, or the allies, have set down before what town they pleased, my uncle Toby was prepared for them.
His way, which was the simplest one in the world, was this; as soon as ever a town was invested—(but sooner when the design was known) to take the plan of it (let it be what town it would), and enlarge it upon a scale to the exact size of his bowling-green; upon the surface of which, by means of a large role of packthread, and a number of small piquets driven into the ground, at the several angles and redans, he transferred the lines from his paper; then taking the profile of the place, with its works, to determine the depths and slopes of the ditches,—the talus of the glacis, and the precise height of the several banquets, parapets, &c.—he set the corporal to work—and sweetly went it on:—The nature of the soil,—the nature of the work itself,—and above all, the good-nature of my uncle Toby sitting by from morning to night, and chatting kindly with the corporal upon deeds,—left Labour little else but the ceremony of the name.
When the place was finished in this manner, and put into a proper posture of defence,—it was invested,—and my uncle Toby and the corporal began to run their first parallel.—I beg I may not be interrupted in my story, by being told, That the first parallel should be at least three hundred toises distant from the main body of the place,—and that I have not left a single inch for it;—for my uncle Toby took the liberty of incroaching upon his kitchen-garden, for the sake of enlarging his works on the bowling-green, and for that reason generally ran his first and second parallels betwixt two rows of his cabbages and his cauliflowers; the conveniences and inconveniences of which will be considered at large in the history of my uncle Toby's and the corporal's campaigns, of which, this I'm now writing is but a sketch, and will be finished, if I conjecture right, in three pages (but there is no guessing)—The campaigns themselves will take up as many books; and therefore I apprehend it would be hanging too great a weight of one kind of matter in so flimsy a performance as this, to rhapsodize them, as I once intended, into the body of the work—surely they had better be printed apart,—we'll consider the affair—so take the following sketch of them in the mean time.
When the town, with its works, was finished, my uncle Toby and the corporal began to run their first parallel—not at random, or any how—but from the same points and distances the allies had begun to run theirs; and regulating their approaches and attacks, by the accounts my uncle Toby received from the daily papers,—they went on, during the whole siege, step by step with the allies.
When the duke of Marlborough made a lodgment,—my uncle Toby made a lodgment too.—And when the face of a bastion was battered down, or a defence ruined,—the corporal took his mattock and did as much,—and so on;—gaining ground, and making themselves masters of the works one after another, till the town fell into their hands.
To one who took pleasure in the happy state of others,—there could not have been a greater sight in world, than on a post morning, in which a practicable breach had been made by the duke of Marlborough, in the main body of the place,—to have stood behind the horn-beam hedge, and observed the spirit with which my uncle Toby, with Trim behind him, sallied forth;—the one with the Gazette in his hand,—the other with a spade on his shoulder to execute the contents.—What an honest triumph in my uncle Toby's looks as he marched up to the ramparts! What intense pleasure swimming in his eye as he stood over the corporal, reading the paragraph ten times over to him, as he was at work, lest, peradventure, he should make the breach an inch too wide,—or leave it an inch too narrow.—But when the chamade was beat, and the corporal helped my uncle up it, and followed with the colours in his hand, to fix them upon the ramparts—Heaven! Earth! Sea!—but what avails apostrophes?—with all your elements, wet or dry, ye never compounded so intoxicating a draught.
In this track of happiness for many years, without one interruption to it, except now and then when the wind continued to blow due west for a week or ten days together, which detained the Flanders mail, and kept them so long in torture,—but still 'twas the torture of the happy—In this track, I say, did my uncle Toby and Trim move for many years, every year of which, and sometimes every month, from the invention of either the one or the other of them, adding some new conceit or quirk of improvement to their operations, which always opened fresh springs of delight in carrying them on.
The first year's campaign was carried on from beginning to end, in the plain and simple method I've related.
In the second year, in which my uncle Toby took Liege and Ruremond, he thought he might afford the expence of four handsome draw-bridges; of two of which I have given an exact description in the former part of my work.
At the latter end of the same year he added a couple of gates with :—These last were converted afterwards into orgues, as the better thing; and during the winter of the same year, my uncle Toby, instead of a new suit of clothes, which he always had at Christmas, treated himself with a handsome sentry-box, to stand at the corner of the bowling-green, betwixt which point and the foot of the glacis, there was left a little kind of an esplanade for him and the corporal to confer and hold councils of war upon.
—The sentry-box was in case of rain.
All these were painted white three times over the ensuing spring, which enabled my uncle Toby to take the field with great splendour.
My father would often say to Yorick, that if any mortal in the whole universe had done such a thing except his brother Toby, it would have been looked upon by the world as one of the most refined satires upon the parade and prancing manner in which Lewis XIV. from the beginning of the war, but particularly that very year, had taken the field—But 'tis not my brother Toby's nature, kind soul! my father would add, to insult any one.
—But let us go on.
I must observe, that although in the first year's campaign, the word town is often mentioned,—yet there was no town at that time within the polygon; that addition was not made till the summer following the spring in which the bridges and sentry-box were painted, which was the third year of my uncle Toby's campaigns,—when upon his taking Amberg, Bonn, and Rhinberg, and Huy and Limbourg, one after another, a thought came into the corporal's head, that to talk of taking so many towns, without one Town to shew for it,—was a very nonsensical way of going to work, and so proposed to my uncle Toby, that they should have a little model of a town built for them,- -to be run up together of slit deals, and then painted, and clapped within the interior polygon to serve for all.
My uncle Toby felt the good of the project instantly, and instantly agreed to it, but with the addition of two singular improvements, of which he was almost as proud as if he had been the original inventor of the project itself.
The one was, to have the town built exactly in the style of those of which it was most likely to be the representative:—with grated windows, and the gable ends of the houses, facing the streets, &c. &c.—as those in Ghent and Bruges, and the rest of the towns in Brabant and Flanders.
The other was, not to have the houses run up together, as the corporal proposed, but to have every house independent, to hook on, or off, so as to form into the plan of whatever town they pleased. This was put directly into hand, and many and many a look of mutual congratulation was exchanged between my uncle Toby and the corporal, as the carpenter did the work.
—It answered prodigiously the next summer—the town was a perfect Proteus- -It was Landen, and Trerebach, and Santvliet, and Drusen, and Hagenau,—and then it was Ostend and Menin, and Aeth and Dendermond.
—Surely never did any Town act so many parts, since Sodom and Gomorrah, as my uncle Toby's town did.
In the fourth year, my uncle Toby thinking a town looked foolishly without a church, added a very fine one with a steeple.—Trim was for having bells in it;—my uncle Toby said, the metal had better be cast into cannon.
This led the way the next campaign for half a dozen brass field-pieces, to be planted three and three on each side of my uncle Toby's sentry-box; and in a short time, these led the way for a train of somewhat larger,—and so on—(as must always be the case in hobby-horsical affairs) from pieces of half an inch bore, till it came at last to my father's jack boots.
The next year, which was that in which Lisle was besieged, and at the close of which both Ghent and Bruges fell into our hands,—my uncle Toby was sadly put to it for proper ammunition;—I say proper ammunition—because his great artillery would not bear powder; and 'twas well for the Shandy family they would not—For so full were the papers, from the beginning to the end of the siege, of the incessant firings kept up by the besiegers,—and so heated was my uncle Toby's imagination with the accounts of them, that he had infallibly shot away all his estate.
Something therefore was wanting as a succedaneum, especially in one or two of the more violent paroxysms of the siege, to keep up something like a continual firing in the imagination,—and this something, the corporal, whose principal strength lay in invention, supplied by an entire new system of battering of his own,—without which, this had been objected to by military critics, to the end of the world, as one of the great desiderata of my uncle Toby's apparatus.
This will not be explained the worse, for setting off, as I generally do, at a little distance from the subject.
With two or three other trinkets, small in themselves, but of great regard, which poor Tom, the corporal's unfortunate brother, had sent him over, with the account of his marriage with the Jew's widow—there was
A Montero-cap and two Turkish tobacco-pipes.
The Montero-cap I shall describe by and bye.—The Turkish tobacco-pipes had nothing particular in them, they were fitted up and ornamented as usual, with flexible tubes of Morocco leather and gold wire, and mounted at their ends, the one of them with ivory,—the other with black ebony, tipp'd with silver.
My father, who saw all things in lights different from the rest of the world, would say to the corporal, that he ought to look upon these two presents more as tokens of his brother's nicety, than his affection.—Tom did not care, Trim, he would say, to put on the cap, or to smoke in the tobacco-pipe of a Jew.—God bless your honour, the corporal would say (giving a strong reason to the contrary)—how can that be?
The Montero-cap was scarlet, of a superfine Spanish cloth, dyed in grain, and mounted all round with fur, except about four inches in the front, which was faced with a light blue, slightly embroidered,—and seemed to have been the property of a Portuguese quarter-master, not of foot, but of horse, as the word denotes.
The corporal was not a little proud of it, as well for its own sake, as the sake of the giver, so seldom or never put it on but upon Gala-days; and yet never was a Montero-cap put to so many uses; for in all controverted points, whether military or culinary, provided the corporal was sure he was in the right,—it was either his oath,—his wager,—or his gift.
—'Twas his gift in the present case.
I'll be bound, said the corporal, speaking to himself, to give away my Montero-cap to the first beggar who comes to the door, if I do not manage this matter to his honour's satisfaction.
The completion was no further off, than the very next morning; which was that of the storm of the counterscarp betwixt the Lower Deule, to the right, and the gate St. Andrew,—and on the left, between St. Magdalen's and the river.
As this was the most memorable attack in the whole war,—the most gallant and obstinate on both sides,—and I must add the most bloody too, for it cost the allies themselves that morning above eleven hundred men,—my uncle Toby prepared himself for it with a more than ordinary solemnity.
The eve which preceded, as my uncle Toby went to bed, he ordered his ramallie wig, which had laid inside out for many years in the corner of an old campaigning trunk, which stood by his bedside, to be taken out and laid upon the lid of it, ready for the morning;—and the very first thing he did in his shirt, when he had stepped out of bed, my uncle Toby, after he had turned the rough side outwards,—put it on:—This done, he proceeded next to his breeches, and having buttoned the waist-band, he forthwith buckled on his sword-belt, and had got his sword half way in,—when he considered he should want shaving, and that it would be very inconvenient doing it with his sword on,—so took it off:—In essaying to put on his regimental coat and waistcoat, my uncle Toby found the same objection in his wig,—so that went off too:—So that what with one thing and what with another, as always falls out when a man is in the most haste,—'twas ten o'clock, which was half an hour later than his usual time, before my uncle Toby sallied out.
My uncle Toby had scarce turned the corner of his yew hedge, which separated his kitchen-garden from his bowling-green, when he perceived the corporal had begun the attack without him.—
Let me stop and give you a picture of the corporal's apparatus; and of the corporal himself in the height of his attack, just as it struck my uncle Toby, as he turned towards the sentry-box, where the corporal was at work,- -for in nature there is not such another,—nor can any combination of all that is grotesque and whimsical in her works produce its equal.
—Tread lightly on his ashes, ye men of genius,—for he was your kinsman:
Weed his grave clean, ye men of goodness,—for he was your brother.—Oh corporal! had I thee, but now,—now, that I am able to give thee a dinner and protection,—how would I cherish thee! thou should'st wear thy every hour of the day, and every day of the week.—and when it was worn out, I would purchase thee a couple like it:—But alas! alas! alas! now that I can do this in spite of their reverences—the occasion is lost—for thou art gone;—thy genius fled up to the stars from whence it came;—and that warm heart of thine, with all its generous and open vessels, compressed into a clod of the valley!
—But what—what is this, to that future and dreaded page, where I look towards the velvet pall, decorated with the military ensigns of thy master- -the first—the foremost of created beings;—where, I shall see thee, faithful servant! laying his sword and scabbard with a trembling hand across his coffin, and then returning pale as ashes to the door, to take his mourning horse by the bridle, to follow his hearse, as he directed thee;—where—all my father's systems shall be baffled by his sorrows; and, in spite of his philosophy, I shall behold him, as he inspects the lackered plate, twice taking his spectacles from off his nose, to wipe away the dew which nature has shed upon them—When I see him cast in the rosemary with an air of disconsolation, which cries through my ears,—O Toby! in what corner of the world shall I seek thy fellow?
—Gracious powers! which erst have opened the lips of the dumb in his distress, and made the tongue of the stammerer speak plain—when I shall arrive at this dreaded page, deal not with me, then, with a stinted hand.
The corporal, who the night before had resolved in his mind to supply the grand desideratum, of keeping up something like an incessant firing upon the enemy during the heat of the attack,—had no further idea in his fancy at that time, than a contrivance of smoking tobacco against the town, out of one of my uncle Toby's six field-pieces, which were planted on each side of his sentry-box; the means of effecting which occurring to his fancy at the same time, though he had pledged his cap, he thought it in no danger from the miscarriage of his projects.
Upon turning it this way, and that, a little in his mind, he soon began to find out, that by means of his two Turkish tobacco-pipes, with the supplement of three smaller tubes of wash-leather at each of their lower ends, to be tagg'd by the same number of tin-pipes fitted to the , and sealed with clay next the cannon, and then tied hermetically with waxed silk at their several insertions into the Morocco tube,—he should be able to fire the six field-pieces all together, and with the same ease as to fire one.—
—Let no man say from what taggs and jaggs hints may not be cut out for the advancement of human knowledge. Let no man, who has read my father's first and second beds of justice, ever rise up and say again, from collision of what kinds of bodies light may or may not be struck out, to carry the arts and sciences up to perfection.—Heaven! thou knowest how I love them;—thou knowest the secrets of my heart, and that I would this moment give my shirt—Thou art a fool, Shandy, says Eugenius, for thou hast but a dozen in the world,—and 'twill break thy set.—
No matter for that, Eugenius; I would give the shirt off my back to be burnt into tinder, were it only to satisfy one feverish enquirer, how many sparks at one good stroke, a good flint and steel could strike into the tail of it.—Think ye not that in striking these in,—he might, , strike something out? as sure as a gun.—
—But this project, by the bye.
The corporal sat up the best part of the night, in bringing his to perfection; and having made a sufficient proof of his cannon, with charging them to the top with tobacco,—he went with contentment to bed.
The corporal had slipped out about ten minutes before my uncle Toby, in order to fix his apparatus, and just give the enemy a shot or two before my uncle Toby came.
He had drawn the six field-pieces for this end, all close up together in front of my uncle Toby's sentry-box, leaving only an interval of about a yard and a half betwixt the three, on the right and left, for the convenience of charging, &c.—and the sake possibly of two batteries, which he might think double the honour of one.
In the rear and facing this opening, with his back to the door of the sentry-box, for fear of being flanked, had the corporal wisely taken his post:—He held the ivory pipe, appertaining to the battery on the right, betwixt the finger and thumb of his right hand,—and the ebony pipe tipp'd with silver, which appertained to the battery on the left, betwixt the finger and thumb of the other—and with his right knee fixed firm upon the ground, as if in the front rank of his platoon, was the corporal, with his Montero-cap upon his head, furiously playing off his two cross batteries at the same time against the counter-guard, which faced the counterscarp, where the attack was to be made that morning. His first intention, as I said, was no more than giving the enemy a single puff or two;—but the pleasure of the puffs, as well as the puffing, had insensibly got hold of the corporal, and drawn him on from puff to puff, into the very height of the attack, by the time my uncle Toby joined him.
'Twas well for my father, that my uncle Toby had not his will to make that day.
My uncle Toby took the ivory pipe out of the corporal's hand,—looked at it for half a minute, and returned it.
In less than two minutes, my uncle Toby took the pipe from the corporal again, and raised it half way to his mouth—then hastily gave it back a second time.
The corporal redoubled the attack,—my uncle Toby smiled,—then looked grave,—then smiled for a moment,—then looked serious for a long time;—Give me hold of the ivory pipe, Trim, said my uncle Toby—my uncle Toby put it to his lips,—drew it back directly,—gave a peep over the horn-beam hedge;—never did my uncle Toby's mouth water so much for a pipe in his life.—My uncle Toby retired into the sentry-box with the pipe in his hand.—
—Dear uncle Toby! don't go into the sentry-box with the pipe,—there's no trusting a man's self with such a thing in such a corner.
I beg the reader will assist me here, to wheel off my uncle Toby's ordnance behind the scenes,—to remove his sentry-box, and clear the theatre, if possible, of horn-works and half moons, and get the rest of his military apparatus out of the way;—that done, my dear friend Garrick, we'll snuff the candles bright,—sweep the stage with a new broom,—draw up the curtain, and exhibit my uncle Toby dressed in a new character, throughout which the world can have no idea how he will act: and yet, if pity be to love,—and bravery no alien to it, you have seen enough of my uncle Toby in these, to trace these family likenesses, betwixt the two passions (in case there is one) to your heart's content.
Vain science! thou assistest us in no case of this kind—and thou puzzlest us in every one.
There was, Madam, in my uncle Toby, a singleness of heart which misled him so far out of the little serpentine tracks in which things of this nature usually go on; you can—you can have no conception of it: with this, there was a plainness and simplicity of thinking, with such an unmistrusting ignorance of the plies and foldings of the heart of woman;—and so naked and defenceless did he stand before you, (when a siege was out of his head,) that you might have stood behind any one of your serpentine walks, and shot my uncle Toby ten times in a day, through his liver, if nine times in a day, Madam, had not served your purpose.
With all this, Madam,—and what confounded every thing as much on the other hand, my uncle Toby had that unparalleled modesty of nature I once told you of, and which, by the bye, stood eternal sentry upon his feelings, that you might as soon—But where am I going? these reflections crowd in upon me ten pages at least too soon, and take up that time, which I ought to bestow upon facts.
Of the few legitimate sons of Adam whose breasts never felt what the sting of love was,—(maintaining first, all mysogynists to be bastards,)—the greatest heroes of ancient and modern story have carried off amongst them nine parts in ten of the honour; and I wish for their sakes I had the key of my study, out of my draw-well, only for five minutes, to tell you their names—recollect them I cannot—so be content to accept of these, for the present, in their stead.
There was the great king Aldrovandus, and Bosphorus, and Cappadocius, and Dardanus, and Pontus, and Asius,—to say nothing of the iron-hearted Charles the XIIth, whom the Countess of K..... herself could make nothing of.—There was Babylonicus, and Mediterraneus, and Polixenes, and Persicus, and Prusicus, not one of whom (except Cappadocius and Pontus, who were both a little suspected) ever once bowed down his breast to the goddess—The truth is, they had all of them something else to do—and so had my uncle Toby—till Fate—till Fate I say, envying his name the glory of being handed down to posterity with Aldrovandus's and the rest,—she basely patched up the peace of Utrecht.
—Believe me, Sirs, 'twas the worst deed she did that year.
Amongst the many ill consequences of the treaty of Utrecht, it was within a point of giving my uncle Toby a surfeit of sieges; and though he recovered his appetite afterwards, yet Calais itself left not a deeper scar in Mary's heart, than Utrecht upon my uncle Toby's. To the end of his life he never could hear Utrecht mentioned upon any account whatever,—or so much as read an article of news extracted out of the Utrecht Gazette, without fetching a sigh, as if his heart would break in twain.
My father, who was a great Motive-Monger, and consequently a very dangerous person for a man to sit by, either laughing or crying,—for he generally knew your motive for doing both, much better than you knew it yourself—would always console my uncle Toby upon these occasions, in a way, which shewed plainly, he imagined my uncle Toby grieved for nothing in the whole affair, so much as the loss of his hobby-horse.—Never mind, brother Toby, he would say,—by God's blessing we shall have another war break out again some of these days; and when it does,—the belligerent powers, if they would hang themselves, cannot keep us out of play.—I defy 'em, my dear Toby, he would add, to take countries without taking towns,—or towns without sieges.
My uncle Toby never took this back-stroke of my father's at his hobby-horse kindly.—He thought the stroke ungenerous; and the more so, because in striking the horse he hit the rider too, and in the most dishonourable part a blow could fall; so that upon these occasions, he always laid down his pipe upon the table with more fire to defend himself than common.
I told the reader, this time two years, that my uncle Toby was not eloquent; and in the very same page gave an instance to the contrary:—I repeat the observation, and a fact which contradicts it again.—He was not eloquent,—it was not easy to my uncle Toby to make long harangues,—and he hated florid ones; but there were occasions where the stream overflowed the man, and ran so counter to its usual course, that in some parts my uncle Toby, for a time, was at least equal to Tertullus—but in others, in my own opinion, infinitely above him.
My father was so highly pleased with one of these apologetical orations of my uncle Toby's, which he had delivered one evening before him and Yorick, that he wrote it down before he went to bed.
I have had the good fortune to meet with it amongst my father's papers, with here and there an insertion of his own, betwixt two crooks, thus (. . .), and is endorsed,
My Brother Toby's Justification of His Own Principles and Conduct in Wishing to Continue the War.
I may safely say, I have read over this apologetical oration of my uncle Toby's a hundred times, and think it so fine a model of defence,—and shews so sweet a temperament of gallantry and good principles in him, that I give it the world, word for word (interlineations and all), as I find it.
My Uncle Toby's Apologetical Oration.
I am not insensible, brother Shandy, that when a man whose profession is arms, wishes, as I have done, for war,—it has an ill aspect to the world;- -and that, how just and right soever his motives the intentions may be,—he stands in an uneasy posture in vindicating himself from private views in doing it.
For this cause, if a soldier is a prudent man, which he may be without being a jot the less brave, he will be sure not to utter his wish in the hearing of an enemy; for say what he will, an enemy will not believe him.—He will be cautious of doing it even to a friend,—lest he may suffer in his esteem:—But if his heart is overcharged, and a secret sigh for arms must have its vent, he will reserve it for the ear of a brother, who knows his character to the bottom, and what his true notions, dispositions, and principles of honour are: What, I hope, I have been in all these, brother Shandy, would be unbecoming in me to say:—much worse, I know, have I been than I ought,—and something worse, perhaps, than I think: But such as I am, you, my dear brother Shandy, who have sucked the same breasts with me,- -and with whom I have been brought up from my cradle,—and from whose knowledge, from the first hours of our boyish pastimes, down to this, I have concealed no one action of my life, and scarce a thought in it—Such as I am, brother, you must by this time know me, with all my vices, and with all my weaknesses too, whether of my age, my temper, my passions, or my understanding.
Tell me then, my dear brother Shandy, upon which of them it is, that when I condemned the peace of Utrecht, and grieved the war was not carried on with vigour a little longer, you should think your brother did it upon unworthy views; or that in wishing for war, he should be bad enough to wish more of his fellow-creatures slain,—more slaves made, and more families driven from their peaceful habitations, merely for his own pleasure:—Tell me, brother Shandy, upon what one deed of mine do you ground it? (The devil a deed do I know of, dear Toby, but one for a hundred pounds, which I lent thee to carry on these cursed sieges.)
If, when I was a school-boy, I could not hear a drum beat, but my heart beat with it—was it my fault?—Did I plant the propensity there?—Did I sound the alarm within, or Nature?
When Guy, Earl of Warwick, and Parismus and Parismenus, and Valentine and Orson, and the Seven Champions of England, were handed around the school,—were they not all purchased with my own pocket-money? Was that selfish, brother Shandy? When we read over the siege of Troy, which lasted ten years and eight months,—though with such a train of artillery as we had at Namur, the town might have been carried in a week—was I not as much concerned for the destruction of the Greeks and Trojans as any boy of the whole school? Had I not three strokes of a ferula given me, two on my right hand, and one on my left, for calling Helena a bitch for it? Did any one of you shed more tears for Hector? And when king Priam came to the camp to beg his body, and returned weeping back to Troy without it,—you know, brother, I could not eat my dinner.—
—Did that bespeak me cruel? Or because, brother Shandy, my blood flew out into the camp, and my heart panted for war,—was it a proof it could not ache for the distresses of war too?
O brother! 'tis one thing for a soldier to gather laurels,—and 'tis another to scatter cypress.—(Who told thee, my dear Toby, that cypress was used by the antients on mournful occasions?)
—'Tis one thing, brother Shandy, for a soldier to hazard his own life—to leap first down into the trench, where he is sure to be cut in pieces:—'Tis one thing, from public spirit and a thirst of glory, to enter the breach the first man,—to stand in the foremost rank, and march bravely on with drums and trumpets, and colours flying about his ears:—'Tis one thing, I say, brother Shandy, to do this,—and 'tis another thing to reflect on the miseries of war;—to view the desolations of whole countries, and consider the intolerable fatigues and hardships which the soldier himself, the instrument who works them, is forced (for sixpence a day, if he can get it) to undergo.
Need I be told, dear Yorick, as I was by you, in Le Fever's funeral sermon, That so soft and gentle a creature, born to love, to mercy, and kindness, as man is, was not shaped for this?—But why did you not add, Yorick,—if not by Nature—that he is so by Necessity?—For what is war? what is it, Yorick, when fought as ours has been, upon principles of liberty, and upon principles of honour—what is it, but the getting together of quiet and harmless people, with their swords in their hands, to keep the ambitious and the turbulent within bounds? And heaven is my witness, brother Shandy, that the pleasure I have taken in these things,—and that infinite delight, in particular, which has attended my sieges in my bowling-green, has arose within me, and I hope in the corporal too, from the consciousness we both had, that in carrying them on, we were answering the great ends of our creation.
I told the Christian reader—I say Christian—hoping he is one—and if he is not, I am sorry for it—and only beg he will consider the matter with himself, and not lay the blame entirely upon this book—
I told him, Sir—for in good truth, when a man is telling a story in the strange way I do mine, he is obliged continually to be going backwards and forwards to keep all tight together in the reader's fancy—which, for my own part, if I did not take heed to do more than at first, there is so much unfixed and equivocal matter starting up, with so many breaks and gaps in it,—and so little service do the stars afford, which, nevertheless, I hang up in some of the darkest passages, knowing that the world is apt to lose its way, with all the lights the sun itself at noon-day can give it—and now you see, I am lost myself!—
—But 'tis my father's fault; and whenever my brains come to be dissected, you will perceive, without spectacles, that he has left a large uneven thread, as you sometimes see in an unsaleable piece of cambrick, running along the whole length of the web, and so untowardly, you cannot so much as cut out a. . ., (here I hang up a couple of lights again)—or a fillet, or a thumb-stall, but it is seen or felt.—
Quanto id diligentias in liberis procreandis cavendum, sayeth Cardan. All which being considered, and that you see 'tis morally impracticable for me to wind this round to where I set out—
I begin the chapter over again.
I told the Christian reader in the beginning of the chapter which preceded my uncle Toby's apologetical oration,—though in a different trope from what I should make use of now, That the peace of Utrecht was within an ace of creating the same shyness betwixt my uncle Toby and his hobby-horse, as it did betwixt the queen and the rest of the confederating powers.
There is an indignant way in which a man sometimes dismounts his horse, which, as good as says to him, 'I'll go afoot, Sir, all the days of my life before I would ride a single mile upon your back again.' Now my uncle Toby could not be said to dismount his horse in this manner; for in strictness of language, he could not be said to dismount his horse at all—his horse rather flung him—and somewhat viciously, which made my uncle Toby take it ten times more unkindly. Let this matter be settled by state-jockies as they like.—It created, I say, a sort of shyness betwixt my uncle Toby and his hobby-horse.—He had no occasion for him from the month of March to November, which was the summer after the articles were signed, except it was now and then to take a short ride out, just to see that the fortifications and harbour of Dunkirk were demolished, according to stipulation.
The French were so backwards all that summer in setting about that affair, and Monsieur Tugghe, the deputy from the magistrates of Dunkirk, presented so many affecting petitions to the queen,—beseeching her majesty to cause only her thunderbolts to fall upon the martial works, which might have incurred her displeasure,—but to spare—to spare the mole, for the mole's sake; which, in its naked situation, could be no more than an object of pity—and the queen (who was but a woman) being of a pitiful disposition,—and her ministers also, they not wishing in their hearts to have the town dismantled, for these private reasons,. . .—. . .; so that the whole went heavily on with my uncle Toby; insomuch, that it was not within three full months, after he and the corporal had constructed the town, and put it in a condition to be destroyed, that the several commandants, commissaries, deputies, negociators, and intendants, would permit him to set about it.—Fatal interval of inactivity!
The corporal was for beginning the demolition, by making a breach in the ramparts, or main fortifications of the town—No,—that will never do, corporal, said my uncle Toby, for in going that way to work with the town, the English garrison will not be safe in it an hour; because if the French are treacherous—They are as treacherous as devils, an' please your honour, said the corporal—It gives me concern always when I hear it, Trim, said my uncle Toby;—for they don't want personal bravery; and if a breach is made in the ramparts, they may enter it, and make themselves masters of the place when they please:—Let them enter it, said the corporal, lifting up his pioneer's spade in both his hands, as if he was going to lay about him with it,—let them enter, an' please your honour, if they dare.—In cases like this, corporal, said my uncle Toby, slipping his right hand down to the middle of his cane, and holding it afterwards truncheon-wise with his fore-finger extended,—'tis no part of the consideration of a commandant, what the enemy dare,—or what they dare not do; he must act with prudence. We will begin with the outworks both towards the sea and the land, and particularly with fort Louis, the most distant of them all, and demolish it first,—and the rest, one by one, both on our right and left, as we retreat towards the town;—then we'll demolish the mole,—next fill up the harbour,—then retire into the citadel, and blow it up into the air: and having done that, corporal, we'll embark for England.—We are there, quoth the corporal, recollecting himself—Very true, said my uncle Toby—looking at the church.
A delusive, delicious consultation or two of this kind, betwixt my uncle Toby and Trim, upon the demolition of Dunkirk,—for a moment rallied back the ideas of those pleasures, which were slipping from under him:—still—still all went on heavily—the magic left the mind the weaker—Stillness, with Silence at her back, entered the solitary parlour, and drew their gauzy mantle over my uncle Toby's head;—and Listlessness, with her lax fibre and undirected eye, sat quietly down beside him in his arm-chair.—No longer Amberg and Rhinberg, and Limbourg, and Huy, and Bonn, in one year,—and the prospect of Landen, and Trerebach, and Drusen, and Dendermond, the next,—hurried on the blood:—No longer did saps, and mines, and blinds, and gabions, and palisadoes, keep out this fair enemy of man's repose:—No more could my uncle Toby, after passing the French lines, as he eat his egg at supper, from thence break into the heart of France,—cross over the Oyes, and with all Picardie open behind him, march up to the gates of Paris, and fall asleep with nothing but ideas of glory:—No more was he to dream, he had fixed the royal standard upon the tower of the Bastile, and awake with it streaming in his head.
—Softer visions,—gentler vibrations stole sweetly in upon his slumbers;—the trumpet of war fell out of his hands,—he took up the lute, sweet instrument! of all others the most delicate! the most difficult!—how wilt thou touch it, my dear uncle Toby?
Now, because I have once or twice said, in my inconsiderate way of talking, That I was confident the following memoirs of my uncle Toby's courtship of widow Wadman, whenever I got time to write them, would turn out one of the most complete systems, both of the elementary and practical part of love and love-making, that ever was addressed to the world—are you to imagine from thence, that I shall set out with a description of what love is? whether part God and part Devil, as Plotinus will have it—
—Or by a more critical equation, and supposing the whole of love to be as ten—to determine with Ficinus, 'How many parts of it—the one,—and how many the other;'—or whether it is all of it one great Devil, from head to tail, as Plato has taken upon him to pronounce; concerning which conceit of his, I shall not offer my opinion:—but my opinion of Plato is this; that he appears, from this instance, to have been a man of much the same temper and way of reasoning with doctor Baynyard, who being a great enemy to blisters, as imagining that half a dozen of 'em at once, would draw a man as surely to his grave, as a herse and six—rashly concluded, that the Devil himself was nothing in the world, but one great bouncing Cantharidis.—
I have nothing to say to people who allow themselves this monstrous liberty in arguing, but what Nazianzen cried out (that is, polemically) to Philagrius—
'(Greek)!' O rare! 'tis fine reasoning, Sir indeed!—'(Greek)' and most nobly do you aim at truth, when you philosophize about it in your moods and passions.
Nor is it to be imagined, for the same reason, I should stop to inquire, whether love is a disease,—or embroil myself with Rhasis and Dioscorides, whether the seat of it is in the brain or liver;—because this would lead me on, to an examination of the two very opposite manners, in which patients have been treated—the one, of Aoetius, who always begun with a cooling clyster of hempseed and bruised cucumbers;—and followed on with thin potations of water-lilies and purslane—to which he added a pinch of snuff, of the herb Hanea;—and where Aoetius durst venture it,—his .
—The other, that of Gordonius, who (in his cap. 15. de Amore) directs they should be thrashed, 'ad putorem usque,'—till they stink again.
These are disquisitions which my father, who had laid in a great stock of knowledge of this kind, will be very busy with in the progress of my uncle Toby's affairs: I must anticipate thus much, That from his theories of love, (with which, by the way, he contrived to crucify my uncle Toby's mind, almost as much as his amours themselves,)—he took a single step into practice;—and by means of a camphorated cerecloth, which he found means to impose upon the taylor for buckram, whilst he was making my uncle Toby a new pair of breeches, he produced Gordonius's effect upon my uncle Toby without the disgrace.
What changes this produced, will be read in its proper place: all that is needful to be added to the anecdote, is this—That whatever effect it had upon my uncle Toby,—it had a vile effect upon the house;—and if my uncle Toby had not smoaked it down as he did, it might have had a vile effect upon my father too.
—'Twill come out of itself by and bye.—All I contend for is, that I am not obliged to set out with a definition of what love is; and so long as I can go on with my story intelligibly, with the help of the word itself, without any other idea to it, than what I have in common with the rest of the world, why should I differ from it a moment before the time?—When I can get on no further,—and find myself entangled on all sides of this mystic labyrinth,—my Opinion will then come in, in course,—and lead me out.
At present, I hope I shall be sufficiently understood, in telling the reader, my uncle Toby fell in love:
—Not that the phrase is at all to my liking: for to say a man is fallen in love,—or that he is deeply in love,—or up to the ears in love,—and sometimes even over head and ears in it,—carries an idiomatical kind of implication, that love is a thing below a man:—this is recurring again to Plato's opinion, which, with all his divinityship,—I hold to be damnable and heretical:—and so much for that.
Let love therefore be what it will,—my uncle Toby fell into it.
—And possibly, gentle reader, with such a temptation—so wouldst thou: For never did thy eyes behold, or thy concupiscence covet any thing in this world, more concupiscible than widow Wadman.
To conceive this right,—call for pen and ink—here's paper ready to your hand.—Sit down, Sir, paint her to your own mind—as like your mistress as you can—as unlike your wife as your conscience will let you—'tis all one to me—please but your own fancy in it.
—Was ever any thing in Nature so sweet!—so exquisite!
—Then, dear Sir, how could my uncle Toby resist it?
Thrice happy book! thou wilt have one page, at least, within thy covers, which Malice will not blacken, and which Ignorance cannot misrepresent.
As Susannah was informed by an express from Mrs. Bridget, of my uncle Toby's falling in love with her mistress fifteen days before it happened,—the contents of which express, Susannah communicated to my mother the next day,—it has just given me an opportunity of entering upon my uncle Toby's amours a fortnight before their existence.
I have an article of news to tell you, Mr. Shandy, quoth my mother, which will surprise you greatly.—
Now my father was then holding one of his second beds of justice, and was musing within himself about the hardships of matrimony, as my mother broke silence.—
'—My brother Toby,' quoth she, 'is going to be married to Mrs. Wadman.'
—Then he will never, quoth my father, be able to lie diagonally in his bed again as long as he lives.
It was a consuming vexation to my father, that my mother never asked the meaning of a thing she did not understand.
—That she is not a woman of science, my father would say—is her misfortune—but she might ask a question.—
My mother never did.—In short, she went out of the world at last without knowing whether it turned round, or stood still.—My father had officiously told her above a thousand times which way it was,—but she always forgot.
For these reasons, a discourse seldom went on much further betwixt them, than a proposition,—a reply, and a rejoinder; at the end of which, it generally took breath for a few minutes (as in the affair of the breeches), and then went on again.
If he marries, 'twill be the worse for us,—quoth my mother.
Not a cherry-stone, said my father,—he may as well batter away his means upon that, as any thing else,
—To be sure, said my mother: so here ended the proposition—the reply,—and the rejoinder, I told you of.
It will be some amusement to him, too,—said my father.
A very great one, answered my mother, if he should have children.—
—Lord have mercy upon me,—said my father to himself—. . ..
I am now beginning to get fairly into my work; and by the help of a vegetable diet, with a few of the cold seeds, I make no doubt but I shall be able to go on with my uncle Toby's story, and my own, in a tolerable straight line. Now,
(four very squiggly lines across the page signed Inv.T.S and Scw.T.S)
These were the four lines I moved in through my first, second, third, and fourth volumes (Alluding to the first edition.)—In the fifth volume I have been very good,—the precise line I have described in it being this:
(one very squiggly line across the page with loops marked A,B,C,C,C,C,C,D)
By which it appears, that except at the curve, marked A. where I took a trip to Navarre,—and the indented curve B. which is the short airing when I was there with the Lady Baussiere and her page,—I have not taken the least frisk of a digression, till John de la Casse's devils led me the round you see marked D.—for as for C C C C C they are nothing but parentheses, and the common ins and outs incident to the lives of the greatest ministers of state; and when compared with what men have done,—or with my own transgressions at the letters ABD—they vanish into nothing.
In this last volume I have done better still—for from the end of Le Fever's episode, to the beginning of my uncle Toby's campaigns,—I have scarce stepped a yard out of my way.
If I mend at this rate, it is not impossible—by the good leave of his grace of Benevento's devils—but I may arrive hereafter at the excellency of going on even thus:
(straight line across the page)
which is a line drawn as straight as I could draw it, by a writing-master's ruler (borrowed for that purpose), turning neither to the right hand or to the left.
This right line,—the path-way for Christians to walk in! say divines—
—The emblem of moral rectitude! says Cicero—
—The best line! say cabbage planters—is the shortest line, says Archimedes, which can be drawn from one given point to another.—
I wish your ladyships would lay this matter to heart, in your next suits!
—What a journey!
Pray can you tell me,—that is, without anger, before I write my chapter upon straight lines—by what mistake—who told them so—or how it has come to pass, that your men of wit and genius have all along confounded this line, with the line of Gravitation?