WHATEVER doubts may exist as to the fact of Shakspere ever having served as a soldier, there can be none as to the source from which Sterne has derived many of the military opinions, criticisms, and habits of thought eliminated in "Tristram Shandy." It is therefore proposed to select such passages as will illustrate these peculiarities, as it is conceived they express the opinions of officers then serving regarding the battles and sieges of the time of King William III. and Marlborough; for it will be remembered that the father of Sterne had shared in the campaigns of the period, and his son Laurence, until he was ten years of age, saw much of the soldier's life, being brought up amongst the veterans of Blenheim and Ramillies and the other actions of that era. Their recitals doubtless sank deep into the mind of the embryo novelist, and were reproduced with all the touches of matured genius, when Sterne composed his celebrated work, which was not commenced until he reached the age of forty-five. The first two volumes were published in 1760, and took the town by storm. Horace Walpole, in one of his letters, calls it a very insipid and tedious performance. The characters in the "Castle of Otranto were, like its gigantic helmet, at once seen to be impossibilities; they belong to the artificial school, but Sterne's

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creations are real personages, and, like those of Shakspere, Scott, Thackeray, and Dickens, when once known, become fixed in the memory, always receiving the welcome of old acquaintances whenever their society is renewed.


These "Military Studies are confined to Uncle Toby and his servant, Corporal Trim. The former was doubtless the reflex of Sterne's father; Trim is the counterpart of his master, who was wounded at the siege of Namur, the only success of William III., by a piece of splintered stone from the fortress. Uncle Toby is induced to reside at his brother's, at Shandy Hall. Both Tristram and his brother Toby ride their hobby-horses, and naturally come into collision when in any demonstration of the elder Shandy there is the least allusion, real or otherwise, to military matters, for then Uncle Toby at once breaks out into a professional speech, to be again interrupted by the elder brother's remarks. Two characters so opposite in their natures, and yet marked with such truthful touches, are nearly unequalled in the world of fiction. It must be premised that Mr. Shandy had been a Turkey merchant, and from reading out-of-the-way books had become full of the strangest fancies. The other characters not being within the scope of these "Military Studies," will not pass under review, and the reader (if he has not had that gratification) is recommended to study the whole of "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy."

With what art are the characters of the two

brothers brought out in the following passages, and what a charm is cast around the bed of the invalid officer. These and the accompanying selections, which

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occur at intervals in the work, are here arranged in groups, so that the reader, if he has not made acquaintance with Sterne, may have a clear idea of the characters chosen for "Military Studies."

"My father, at that time, was just beginning business in London, and had taken a house; and as the truest friendship and cordiality subsisted between the two brothers,—and that my father thought my uncle Toby could no where be so well nursed and taken care of as in his own house,-he assigned him the very best apartment in it. And, what was a much more sincere mark of his affection still, he would never suffer a friend or an acquaintance to step into the house, on any occasion, but he would take him by the hand, and lead him up-stairs to see his brother Toby, and chat an hour by his bedside.

"The history of a soldier's wound beguiles the pain of itmy uncle's visitors, at least, thought so, and, in their daily calls upon him, from the courtesy arising out of that belief, they would frequently turn the discourse to that subject, and from that subject the discourse would generally roll on to the siege itself.

"These conversations were infinitely kind; and my uncle Toby received great relief from them, and would have received much more, but that they brought him into some unforeseen perplexities, which, for three months together, retarded his cure greatly; and, if he had not hit upon an expedient to extricate himself out of them, I verily believe they would have laid him in his grave.

"I must remind the reader, in case he has read the history of King William's wars ;-but if he has not, I then inform him that one of the most memorable attacks in that siege was that which was made by the English and Dutch upon the point of the advanced counterscarp, before the gate of St. Nicholas, which inclosed the great sluice or water-stop, where the English were terribly exposed to the shot of the counter-guard and demi-bastion of St. Roch: the issue of which hot dispute, in three words, was this, that the Dutch lodged themselves upon the counter-guard, and that the English made themselves masters of the covered way before St. Nicholas's gate, notwithstanding the gallantry of

the French officers, who exposed themselves upon the glacis sword in hand.

"As this was the principal attack of which my uncle Toby was an eye-witness at Namur,*--the army of the besiegers being cut off, by the confluence of the Maes and Sambre, from seeing each other's operations, my uncle Toby was generally more eloquent and particular in his account of it; and the many perplexities he was in arose out of the almost insurmountable difficulties he found in telling his story intelligibly, and giving such clear ideas of the differences and distinctions between the scarp and counterscarp,-the glacis and covered-way, the halfmoon and ravelin,- -as to make his company fully comprehend

where and what he was about.

"Writers themselves are too apt to confound these terms; so that you will the less wonder if, in his endeavours to explain them, and in opposition to many misconceptions, that my uncle Toby did ofttimes puzzle his visitors, and sometimes himself too.

"To speak the truth, unless the company my father led upstairs were tolerably clear-headed, or my uncle Toby was in one of his explanatory moods, it was a difficult thing, do what he could, to keep the discourse free from obscurity.

"What rendered the account of this affair the more intricate to my uncle Toby was this, that in the attack of the counterscarp before the gate of St. Nicholas, extending itself from the bank of the Maes, quite up the great water-stop, the ground was cut and cross-cut with such a multitude of dykes, drains, rivulets, and sluices, on all sides, and he would get so sadly bewildered and set fast amongst them, that frequently he could neither get backwards nor forwards, to save his life, and was ofttimes obliged to give up the attack upon that very account only.

*The following remarkable incident occurred during the siege of Namur. The Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Mr. Godfrey, nearly related to Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, whose death caused such excitement in Charles II.'s time, was killed by a shot in the trenches before Namur in 1695, while standing near King William III. His visit to head-quarters in order to make arrangements regarding an advance of money for the payment of the army thus cost him his life..

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"These perplexing rebuffs gave my uncle Toby Shandy more perturbations than you would imagine; and, as my father's kindness to him was continually dragging up fresh friends, and fresh inquiries, he had but a very uneasy task of it.

"No doubt, my uncle Toby had great command of himself, and could guard appearances, I believe, as well as most men ; yet anyone may imagine that, when he could not retreat out of the ravelin without getting into the half-moon, or get out of the covered-way without falling down the counterscarp, nor cross the dyke without danger of slipping into the ditch, but that he must have fretted and fumed inwardly. He did so, and the little and hourly vexations, which may seem trifling and of no account to the man who has not read Hippocrates, yet, whoever has read Hippocrates or Dr. James M'Kenzie, and has considered well the effects which the passions and affections of the mind have upon the digestion (why not of a wound, as well as of a dinner?) may easily conceive what sharp paroxysms and exacerbations of his wound my uncle Toby must have undergone upon that score only.

"My uncle Toby could not philosophize upon it; it was enough he felt it was so, and, having sustained the pain and sorrows of it for three months together, he was resolved, some way or other, to extricate himself.

"He was one morning lying upon his back in his bed, the anguish and nature of the wound upon his groin suffering him to lie in no other position, when a thought came into his head, that if he could purchase such a thing, and have it pasted down upon a board, as a large map of the fortifications of the town and citadel of Namur with its environs, it might be a means of giving him ease. I take notice of his desire to have the environs, along with the town and citadel, for this reason, because my uncle Toby's wound was got in one of the traverses, about thirty toises from the returning angle of the trench, opposite to the salient angle of the demi-bastion of St. Roch; so that he was pretty confident he could stick a pin upon the identical spot of ground where he was standing when the stone struck him."

Like his master, Trim had also been wounded; but he cannot be better introduced than in the author's own words :


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