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LIFE AND OPINIONS
TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENT.
Pray, my dear, quoth my mother, have you CHAP. I.
not forgot to wind up the clock? Good G-! cried my father, making an exclamation, but
taking care to moderate his voice at the same 1 wish either my father or my mother, or in- time, Did ever woman, since the creation of deed both of them, as they were in duty both the world, interrupt a man with such a silly quesequally bound to it, had minded what they were tion? Pray, what was your father saying? about when they begot me. Had they duly con. Nothing. sidered how much depended upon what they were then doing ;--that not only the production of a rational being was concerned in it,
CHAP. II. but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the - THEN, positively, there is nothing in very cast of his mind;-and, for aught they the question that I can see, either good or bad. knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his Then, let me tell you, sir, it was a very whole house, might take their turn from the unseasonable question at least,-because it scathumours and dispositions which were then up- tered and dispersed the animal spirits, whose permost ;-Had they duly weighed and consi- business it was to have escorted and gone hand dered all this, and proceeded accordingly, I in hand with the HOMUNCULUS, and conam verily persuaded I should have made a quite ducted him safe to the place destined for his redifferent figure in the world, from that in which ception. the reader is likely to see me.-Believe me, The HomuNCULUS, sir, in however low and good folks, this is not so inconsiderable a thing ludicrous a light he may appear, in this age of as many of you may think it ;-you have all, I levity, to the eye of folly or prejudice ;-to the dare say, heard of the animal spirits, as how eye of reason in scientific research, he stands they are transfused from father to son, &c. &c. confessed-a Being guarded and circumscribed -and a great deal to that purpose ;-Well, you with rights The minutest philosophers, who, may take my word, that nine parts in ten of a by the bye, have the most enlarged understandman's sense or his nonsense, his successes and ings, (their souls being inversely as their inmiscarriages in this world, depend upon their quiries) shew us incontestibly, that the Homotions and activity, and the different tracks MUNCULUS is created by the same hand, -enand trains you put them into, so that when they gendered in the same course of nature,-endowed are once set a-going whether right or wrong with the same locomotive powers and faculties 'tis not a halfpenny matter,-away they go clut with us:-Tbat he consists, as we do, of skin, tering like hey-go mad; and by treading the hair, fat, flesh, veins, arteries, ligaments, nerves, same steps over and over again, they presently cartilages, bones, marrow, brains, glands, genimake a road of it, as plain and as smooth as a tals, humours, and articulations;—is a Being garden walk, which when they are once used of as much activity,-and, in all senses of the to, the Devil himself sometimes shall not be word, as much and as truly our fellow-creature able to drive them off it.
as my Lord Chancellor of England. He may be benefited,-he may be injured, he may obe nions are likely to make some noise in the world, tain redress; in a word, he has all the claims and, if I conjecture right, will take in all ranks, and rights of humanity, which Tully, Puffen- professions, and denominations of men whatdorf, or the best ethic writers allow to arise out ever,-be no less read than the Pilgrim's Proof that state and relation.
gress itself-and, in the end, prove the very Now, dear sir, what if any accident had be thing which Montaigne dreaded his Essays fallen him in his way alone !-or that through should turn out, that is, a book for a parlourterror of it, natural to so young a traveller, my window ;-I find it necessary to consult every little gentleman had got to his journey's end one a little in his turn; and, therefore, must miserably spent ;-his muscular strength and beg pardon for going on a little farther in the virility worn down to a thread ;-his own anic same way: for which cause, right glad I am, mal spirits ruffled beyond description,--and that that I have begun the history of myself in the in this sad disorder'd state of nerves, he had lain way I have done ; and that I am able to go on, down a prey to sudden starts, or a series of me- tracing every thing in it, as Horace says, ab ovo. lancholy dreams and fancies, for nine long, long Horace, I know, does not recommend this months together.-I tremble to think what a fashion altogether: But that gentleman is speakfoundation had been laid for a thousand weak, ing only of an epic poemn or a tragedy-(i fornesses both of body and mind, which no skill get which ;)-besides, if it was not so, I should of the physician or the philosopher could ever beg Mr Horace's pardon ;-for in writing what afterwards have set thoroughly to rights. I have set about, I shall confine myself neither
to his rules, nor to any man's rules that ever
lived. CHAP. III.
To such, however, as do not choose to go so
far back into these things, I can give no better To my uncle, Mr Toby Shandy, do I stand advice than that they skip over the remaining indebted for the preceding anecdote, to whom part of this chapter ; for I declare beforehand, my father, who was an excellent natural pbilo- 'tis wrote only for the curious and inquisitive. sopher, and much given to close reasoning upon
Shut the door. the smallest matters, had oft and heavily com- was begot in the night betwixt the first Sunday plained of the injury; but once more particu- and the first Monday in the month of March, in larly, as my uncle Toby well remembered, upon the year of our Lord one thousand seven hunhis observing a most unaccountable obliquity, dred and eighteen. I am positive I was.-But (as he called it in my manner of setting up my how I came to be so very particular in my actop, and justifying the principles upon which I count of a thing which happened before I was had done it,--the old gentleman shook his head, born, is owing to another small anecdote known and in a tone more expressive by half of sorrow only in our own family, but now made public than reproach, he said his heart all along fore- for the better clearing up this point. boded, and he saw it verified in this, and from My father, you must know, who was origia thousand other observations he had made upon nally a Turkey merchant, but had left off business me, That I should neither think nor act like for some years, in order to retire to, and die any other man's child :-But, alus ! continued upon, his paternal estate in the county of he, shaking his head a second time, and wiping was, I believe, one of the most regular men in away a tear which was trickling down his cheeks, every thing he did, whether 'twas matter of My Tristram's misfortunes began nine months business, or matter of amusement, that ever before ever he came into the world.
lived. As a small specimen of this extreme ex- My mother, who was sitting by, looked up, actness of his, to which he was in truth a slave, but she knew no more than her backside what he had made it a rule for many years of his my father meant,- but my uncle, Mr Toby life, on the first Sunday night of every month Shandy, who had been often informed of the throughout the whole year,-as certain as ever affair, - understood him very well.
the Sunday night camne, to wind up a large house-clock, which we had standing on the back
stairs head, with his own hands:-And being CHAP. IV.
somewhere between fifty and sixty years of age
at the time I have been speaking of -he had I know there are readers in the world, as well likewise gradually brought some other little faas many other good people in it, who are no read- mily concernments to the same period, in order, ers at all,who find themselves ill at ease, un- as he would often say to my uncle Toby, to get less they are let into the whole secret from first them all out of the way at one time, and be no to last, of every thing which concerns you. more plagued and pestered with them the rest
It is in pure compliance with this humour of of the month.. theirs, and from a backwardness in my nature to It was attended but with one misfortune, disappoint any one soul living, that I have been which, in a great measure, fell upon myself, and so very particular already. As my life and opin the effects of which, I fear, I shall carry with me to my grave; namely, that from an unhappy any great or signal evil ; yet, with all the association of ideas, which have no connection good temper in the world, I affirm it of her, in nature, it so fell out at length, that my poor that in every stage of my life, and at every turn mother could never hear the said clock wound and corner where she could get fairly at me, the up, but the thoughts of some other things ungracious duchess has pelted me with a set of unavoidably popped into her head-& vice ver as pitiful misadventures and cross accidents as sâ: which strange combination of ideas, the ever small HERO sustained. sagacious Locke, who certainly understood the nature of these things better than most men, affirms to have produced more wry actions than
CHAP. VI. all other sources of prejudice whatsoever. But this by the bye.
In the beginning of the last chapter, I in. Now it appears by a memorandum in my fa- formed you when I was born ; but I did not inther's pocket-book, which now lies upon the form you how. No; that particular was resertable, « That on Lady-day, which was on the ved entirely for a chapter by itself ;-besides, 25th of the same month in which I date my sir, as you and I are in a manner perfect strangeniture,- my father set out upon his jour. gers to each other, it would not have been proney to London, with my eldest brother Bobby, per to have let you into too many circumstances to fix him at Westminster school ;” and, as it relating to myself all at once.-You must have appears from the same authority, " That he did a little patience. I have undertaken, you see, not get down to his wife and family till the se- to write not only my life, but my opinions also; cond week in May following,”-it brings the hoping and expecting that your knowledge of thing almost to a certainty. However, what my character, and of what kind of a mortal I follows in the beginning of the next chapter, am, by the one, would give you a better relish puts it beyond all possibility of doubt.
for the other: As you proceed farther with me, But pray, sir, What was your father the slight acquaintance, which is now beginning doing all December,January, and February betwixt us, will grow into familiarity; and that, Why, madam,-he was all that time afflicted unless one of us is in fault, will terminate in with a sciatica.
friendship.- diem præclarum!-then nothing which has touched me will be thought trifling
in its nature, or tedious in its telling. ThereCHAP. V.
fore, my dear friend and companion, if you
should think me somewhat sparing of my narOn the fifth day of November, 1718, which, rative on my first setting out-bear with me,to the æra fixed on, was as near nine calendar and let me go on, and tell my story my own months as any husband could in reason have ex. way :-Or, if I should seem now and then to pected, was I, Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, trifle upon the road, or should sometimes put brought forth into this scurvy and disastrous on a fool's cap with a bell to it, for a moment world of ours. I wish I had been born in or two as we pass along, don't fly off, but rathe Moon, or in any of the planets, (except ther courteously give me credit for a little more Jupiter or Saturn, because I never could bear wisdom than appears upon my outside ;-and cold weather) for it could not well have fared as we jog on, either laugh with me, or at me, or worse with me in any of them (though I will in short do any thing, -only keep your temper. not answer for Venus) than it has in this vile, dirty planet of ours,—which o'my conscience, with reverence be it spoken, I take to be made
CHAP. VII. up of the shreds and clippings of the rest ;-not but the planet is well enough, provided a In the same village where my father and my man could be born in it to a great title or to a mother dwelt, dwelt also a thin, upright, mogreat estate ; or could any how contrive to be therly, notable, good old body of a midwife, called up to public charges, and employments who with the help of a little plain good sense, of dignity or power ; but that is not my and some years full employment in her business, case; and therefore, every man will speak in which she had all along trusted little to her of the fair as his own market has gone in it; own efforts, and a great deal to those of dame
for which cause I affirm it over again to Nature,-had acquired, in her way, no small be one of the vilest worlds that ever was made; degree of reputation in the world : by which —for I can truly say, that from the first hour word world, need I in this place inform your I drew my breath in it, to this, that I can now worship, that I would be understood to mean scarce draw it at all, for an asthma I got in sca- no more of it than a small circle described upon ting against the wind in Flanders ;-I have been the circle of the great world, of four English the continual sport of what the world calls For- miles diameter, or thereabouts, of which the tune; and though I will not wrong her by say- cottage where the good old woman lived is suping, she has ever made me feel the weight of posed to be the centre 1-She had been left, it seems, a widow in great distress, with three or himself, have they not had their Hobbre four small children, in her forty-seventh year; HORSES ;--their running horses, their coins and as she was at that time a person of decent and their cockle-shells, their drums and their carriage,-grave deportment,--a woman more- trumpets, their fiddles, their pallets,—their over of few words, and withal an object of com- maggots and their butterflies ?-and so long as passion, whose distress, and silence under it, call a man rides his HOBBY-HORSE peaceably and out the louder for a friendly lift : the wife of quietly along the King's highway, and neither the parson of the parish was touched with pity; compels you or me to get up behind him, and having often lamented an inconvenience pray, sir, what have either you or I to do with to which her husband's flock had for many years it ? been exposed, inasmuch as there was no such thing as a midwife, of any kind or degree, to be got at, let the case have been ever so urgent,
CHAP. VIII. within less than six or seven long miles riding; which said seven long miles in dark nights and -De gustibus non est disputandum ; that is, dismal roads, the country thereabouts being now there is no disputing against HOBBY-HORSES; thing but a deep clay, was almost equal to four- and for my part, I seldom do; nor could I with teen; and that in effect, was sometimes next to any sort of grace, had I been an enemy to them having no midwife at all ; it came into her head, at the bottom; for happening, at certain interthat it would be doing as seasonable a kindness vals and changes of the moon, to be both fiddler to the whole parish, as to the poor creature here and painter, according as the fly stings,- be it self, to get her a little instructed in some of the known to you, that I keep a couple of pads myplaiu principles of the business, in order to set self, upon which, in their turns, (nor do I care her up in it. As no woman thereabouts was who knows it) I frequently ride out and take better qualified to execute the plan she had the air ;-though sometimes, to my shame be it formed than herself, the gentlewoman very cha- spoken, I take somewhat longer journies than ritably undertook it ; and having great influ- what a wise man would think altogether right. ence over the female part of the parish, she —But the truth is,- I am not a wise man ;found no difficulty in effecting it to the utmost and besides am a mortal of so little consequence of her wishes. In truth, the parson joined his in the world, it is not much matter what I do: interest with his wife's in the whole affair ; and so I seldom fret or fume at all about it: nor does in order to do things as they should be, and give it much disturb my rest, when I see such great the poor soul as good a title by law to practise, Lords and tall Personages as hereafter follow; as his wife had given by institution,--he cheer- such, for instance, as my Lord A, B, C, D, E, fully paid the fees for the ordinary's licence F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, and so on, himself, amounting in the whole, to the sum of all of a row, mounted upon their several horses; eighteen shillings and fourpence; so that be- -some with large stirrups, getting on in a more twixt them both, the good woman was fully in- grave and sober pace; others, on the contravested in the real and corporal possession of her ry, tucked up to their very chins, with whips office, together with all its rights, members, and across their mouths, scouring and scampering it appurtenances whatsoever.
away like so many party-coloured devils astride These last words, you must know, were not a mortgage, and as if some of them were reaccording to the old form in which such licen- solved to break their necks. So much the ces, faculties, and powers usually ran, which in better-say I to myself;—for in case the worst like cases had heretofore been granted to the should happen, the world will make a shift to sisterhood. But it was according to a neat for- do excellently well without them; and for the mula of Didius his own devising, who having a rest, why- God speed them een let particular turn for taking to pieces, and new them ride on without opposition from me; for framing over again, all kind of instruments in were their lordships unhorsed this very nightthat way, not only hit upon this dainty amend- 'tis ten to one but that many of them would be ment, but coaxed many of the old licensed ma- worse mounted, by one half, before to-morrow trons in the neighbourhood, to open their facul- morning. ties afresh, in order to have this whim-wham of Not one of these instances therefore can be his inserted. :
said to break in upon my rest. But there is I own I never could envy Didius in these an instance, which I own puts me off my guard, kinds of fancies of bis :--but every man to his and that is, when I see one born for great aeown taste. Did not Dr Kunastrokius, that great tions, and what is still more for his honour, man, at his leisure hours, take the greatest de- whose nature ever inclines him to good ones; light imaginable in combing of asses' tails, and when I behold such a one, my Lord, like plucking the dead hairs out with his teeth, yourself, whose principles and conduct are as though he had tweezers always in his pocket ? generous and noble as his blood, and whom, for Nay, if you come to that, sir, have not the that reason, a corrupt world cannot spare one wisest of men in all ages, not excepting Solomon moment;-when I see such a one, my Lord,