T  H  E

L   I   F   E

A  N  D



G E N T L E M A N.

Tarassei tous Anthropous ou ta Pragmata,
alla ta peri ton Pragmaton, Dogmata.

V O L. I.


L O N D O N :

Printed for R. and J. DODSLEY in Pall-Mall.

To the Right Honourable

Mr.  P I T T.

  S I R,

N E V E R poor Wight of a De-
dicator had less hopes from
his Dedication, than I have from
this of mine; for it is written in
a bye corner of the kingdom, and
in a retired thatch'd house, where
I live in a constant endeavour to
fence against the infirmities of ill
health, and other evils of life, by


mirth; being firmly persuaded that
every time a man smiles, -- but
much more so, when he laughs,
that it adds something to this Frag-
ment of Life.

  I humbly beg, Sir, that you
will honour this book by taking
it ---- (not under your Protection,
---- it must protect itself, but) --
into the country with you; where,
if I am ever told it has made
you smile, or can conceive it has
beguiled you of one moment's
pain ---- I shall think myself as
happy as a minister of state; ----
perhaps much happier than any


one (one only excepted) that I have
ever read or heard of.

      I am, great Sir,

(and what is more to your Honour)

        I am, good Sir,

      Your Well-wisher, and

    most humble Fellow-Subject,

              T H E  A U T H O R.


L I F E  and  O P I N I O N S


T R I S T R A M S H A N D Y, Gent.


C H A P. I.

I WISH either my father or my mother,
or indeed both of them, as they
were in duty both equally bound to it,
had minded what they were about when
they begot me; had they duly consider'd
how much depended upon what they
were then doing; -- that not only the
production of a rational Being was con-
cern'd in it, but that possibly the happy
formation and temperature of his body,
  VOL. I.       A           per-

[ 2 ]

perhaps his genius and the very cast of
his mind ; -- and, for aught they knew
to the contrary, even the fortunes of his
whole house might take their turn from
the humours and dispositions which were
then uppermost : ---- Had they duly
weighed and considered all this, and
proceeded accordingly, ---- I am verily
persuaded I should have made a quite
different figure in the world, from that,
in which the reader is likely to see me. --
Believe me, good folks, this is not so
inconsiderable a thing as many of you
may think it ; -- you have all, I dare say,
heard of the animal spirits, as how they are
transfused from father to son, &c. &c.--
and a great deal to that purpose : -- Well,
you may take my word, that nine parts
in ten of a man's sense or his nonsense,
his successes and miscarriages in this
world depend upon their motions and ac-

[ 3 ]

tivity, and the different tracks and trains
you put them into ; so that when they
are once set a-going, whether right or
wrong, 'tis not a halfpenny matter, -- away
they go cluttering like hey-go-mad; and
by treading the same steps over and over
again, they presently make a road of it,
as plain and as smooth as a garden-walk,
which, when they are once used to, the
Devil himself sometimes shall not be able
to drive them off it.

  Pray, my dear, quoth my mother, have
you 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 time, ---- Did ever
woman, since the creation of the world, in-
terrupt a man with such a silly question?

Pray, what was your father saying ? ----
            A 2             CHAP.

[ 4 ]


  ---- Then, positively, there is nothing
in the question, that I can see, either good
or bad. ---- Then let me tell you, Sir,
it was a very unseasonable question at
least, -- because it scattered and dispersed
the animal spirits, whose business it was
to have escorted and gone hand-in-hand
with the HOMUNCULUS, and con-
ducted him safe to the place destined for
his reception.

  The HOMUNCULUS, Sir, in how-ever
low and ludicrous a light he may appear,
in this age of levity, to the eye of folly
or prejudice ; -- to the eye of reason in
scientifick research, he stands confess'd --
a BEING guarded and circumscribed with
rights : ---- The minutest philosophers,

[ 5 ]

who, by the bye, have the most enlarged
understandings, (their souls being in-
versely as their enquiries) shew us incon-
testably, That the HOMUNCULUS is
created by the same hand, -- engender'd
in the same course of nature,-- endowed
with the same loco-motive powers and
faculties with us : ---- That he consists,
as we do, of skin, hair, fat, flesh, veins,
arteries, ligaments, nerves, cartileges,
bones, marrow, brains, glands, genitals,
humours, and articulations ; ---- is a Be-
ing of as much activity, ---- and, in all
senses of the word, as much and as truly
our fellow-creature as my Lord Chancel-
lor of England. -- He may be benefited,
he may be injured, -- he may obtain re-
dress ; -- in a word, he has all the claims
and rights of humanity, which Tully,
Puffendorff, or the best ethick writers
            A 3             allow

[ 6 ]

allow to arise out of that state and rela-

  Now, dear Sir, what if any accident
had befallen him in his way alone ? ----
or that, thro' terror of it, natural to so
young a traveller, my little gentleman
had got to his journey's end miserably
spent ; ---- his muscular strength and
virility worn down to a thread ; -- his
own animal spirits ruffled beyond de-
scription, -- and that in this sad disorder'd
state of nerves, he had laid down a prey
to sudden starts, or a series of melan-
choly dreams and fancies for nine long,
long months together . ---- I tremble to
think what a foundation had been laid
for a thousand weaknesses both of body
and mind, which no skill of the physi-
cian or the philosopher could ever after-
wards have set thoroughly to rights.
            5             C H A P.

[ 7 ]


TO my uncle Mr. Toby Shandy do I
stand indebted for the preceding
anecdote, to whom my father, who was
an excellent natural philosopher, and
much given to close reasoning upon the
smallest matters, had oft, and heavily,
complain'd of the injury ; but once more
particularly, as my uncle Toby well re-
member'd, upon his observing a most
unaccountable obliquity, (as he call'd it)
in my manner of setting up my top, and
justifying the principles upon which I
had done it, -- the old gentleman shook
his head, and in a tone more expressive
by half of sorrow than reproach, -- he said
his heart all along foreboded, and he
saw it verified in this, and from a thou-
sand other observations he had made up-
            A 4             on

[ 8 ]

on me, That I should neither think nor
act like any other man's child : ---- But
alas !
continued he, shaking his head a
second time, and wiping away a tear
which was trickling down his cheeks,
My Tristram's misfortunes began nine months
before ever he came into the world.

  ---- My mother, who was sitting by,
look'd up, -- but she knew no more than
her backside what my father meant, -- but
my uncle, Mr. Toby Shandy, who had been
often informed of the affair, -- understood
him very well.

C H A P. IV.

I KNOW there are readers in the world,
as well as many other good people
in it, who are no readers at all, -- who

[ 9 ]

find themselves ill at ease, unless they are
let into the whole secret from first to last,
of every thing which concerns you.

  It is in pure compliance with this hu-
mour of theirs, and from a backwardness
in my nature to disappoint any one soul
living, that I have been so very particu-
lar already. As my life and opinions are
likely to make some noise in the world,
and, if I conjecture right, will take in all
ranks, professions, and denominations of
men whatever, -- be no less read than the
Pilgrim's Progress itself -- and, in the end,
prove the very thing which Montaigne
dreaded his essays should turn out, that
is, a book for a parlour-window ; -- I find
it necessary to consult every one a little
in his turn ; and therefore must beg par-
don for going on a little further in the
same way : For which cause, right glad

[ 10 ]

I am, that I have begun the history of
myself in the way I have done ; and
that I am able to go on tracing every
thing in it, as Horace says, ab Ovo.

  Horace, I know, does not recommend
this fashion altogether : But that gentle-
man is speaking only of an epic poem or
a tragedy ; -- (I forget which) -- besides,
if it was not so, I should beg Mr. Horace's
pardon ; -- for in writing what I have set
about, I shall confine myself neither to
his rules, nor to any man's rules that ever

  To such, however, as do not choose to
go so far back into these things, I can
give no better advice, than that they
skip over the remaining part of this
Chapter ; for I declare before hand, 'tis

[ 11 ]

wrote only for the curious and inquisi-

  ---------- Shut the door. --------
I was begot in the night, betwixt the first
Sunday and the first Monday in the month
of March, in the year of our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and eighteen.
I am positive I was. -- But how I came
to be so very particular in my account
of a thing which happened before I was
born, is owing to another small anecdote
known only in our own family, but now
made public for the better clearing up
this point.

  My father, you must know, who was
originally a Turky merchant, but had left
off business for some years, in order to
retire to, and die upon, his paternal estate
in the county of ------ , was, I believe,

[ 12 ]

one of the most regular men in every
thing he did, whether 'twas matter of
business, or matter of amusement, that
ever lived. As a small specimen of this
extreme exactness of his, to which he
was in truth a slave, -- he had made it a
rule for many years of his life, -- on the
first Sunday night of every month through-
out the whole year, -- as certain as ever
the Sunday night came, ---- to wind up a
large house-clock which we had standing
upon the back-stairs head, with his own
hands: -- And being somewhere between
fifty and sixty years of age, at the time I
have been speaking of,-- he had likewise
gradually brought some other little fa-
mily concernments to the same period,
in order, as he would often say to my
uncle Toby, to get them all out of the
way at one time, and be no more plagued
            4             and

[ 13 ]

and pester'd with them the rest of the

  It was attended but with one misfor-
tune, which, in a great measure, fell upon
myself, and the effects of which I fear
I shall carry with me to my grave ;
namely, that, from an unhappy association
of ideas which have no connection in na-
ture, it so fell out at length, that my
poor mother could never hear the said
clock wound up, -- but the thoughts of
some other things unavoidably popp'd
into her head, -- & vice versâ : -- which
strange combination of ideas, the saga-
cious Locke, who certainly understood
the nature of these things better than
most men, affirms to have produced
more wry actions than all other sources
of prejudice whatsoever.
  But this by the bye.

[ 14 ]

  Now it appears, by a memorandum in
my father's pocket-book, which now lies
upon the table, ``That on Lady-Day,
which was on the 25th of the same month
in which I date my geniture, -- my father
set out upon his journey to London with
my eldest brother Bobby, to fix him at
Westminster school ;" and, as it appears
from the same authority, ``That he did
not get down to his wife and family till
the second week in May following," -- it
brings the thing almost to a certainty.
However, what follows in the beginning
of the next chapter puts it beyond all
possibility of doubt.

  ------ But pray, Sir, What was your
father doing all December, -- January, and
February ? ---- Why, Madam, -- he was
all that time afflicted with a Sciatica.

                        C H A P.

[ 15 ]

C H A P. V.

ON the fifth day of November, 1718,
which to the æra fixed on, was as
near nine kalendar months as any husband
could in reason have expected, -- was I
Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, brought
forth into this scurvy and disasterous
world of ours. -- I wish I had been born
in the Moon, or in any of the planets,
(except Jupiter or Saturn, because I never
could bear cold weather) for it could
not well have fared worse with me in
any of them (tho' I will not answer for
Venus) than it has in this vile, dirty pla-
net of ours, -- which o' my conscience,
with reverence be it spoken, I take to be
made up of the shreds and clippings of
the rest ; ---- not but the planet is well
enough, provided a man could be born

[ 16 ]

in it to a great title or to a great estate;
or could any how contrive to be called
up to publick charges, and employments
of dignity or power ; -- but that is not
my case ; ---- and therefore every man
will speak of the fair as his own market
has gone in it ; -- for which cause I affirm
it over again to be one of the vilest
worlds that ever was made ; -- for I can
truly say, that from the first hour I drew
my breath in it, to this, that I can now
scarce draw it at all, for an asthma I got
in scating against the wind in Flanders; --
I have been the continual sport of what
the world calls Fortune ; and though I
will not wrong her by saying, She has
ever made me feel the weight of any
great or signal evil ; -- yet with all the
good temper in the world, I affirm it of
her, That in every stage of my life, and
at every turn and corner where she could

[ 17 ]

get fairly at me, the ungracious Duchess
has pelted me with a set of as pitiful
misadventures and cross accidents as ever
small HERO sustained.

C H A P. VI.

IN the beginning of the last chapter,
I inform'd you exactly when I was
born ; -- but I did not inform you, how.
; that particular was reserved entirely
for a chapter by itself ; -- besides, Sir, as
you and I are in a manner perfect stran-
gers to each other, it would not have been
proper to have let you into too many
circumstances relating to myself all at
once. -- You must have a little patience.
I have undertaken, you see, to write not
only my life, but my opinions also ; ho-
ping and expecting that your knowledge
  VOL. I.        B           of

[ 18 ]

of my character, and of what kind of a
mortal I am, by the one, would give you
a better relish for the other : As you
proceed further with me, the slight ac-
quaintance which is now beginning be-
twixt us, will grow into familiarity ; and
that, unless one of us is in fault, will
terminate in friendship. ---- O diem præ-
clarum !
---- then nothing which has
touched me will be thought trifling in
its nature, or tedious in its telling.
Therefore, my dear friend and compa-
nion, if you should think me somewhat
sparing of my narrative on my first setting
out, -- bear with me, -- and let me go on,
and tell my story my own way : ---- or
if I should seem now and then to trifle
upon the road, ---- or should sometimes
put on a fool's cap with a bell to it, for a
moment or two as we pass along, -- don't
fly off, -- but rather courteously give me

[ 19 ]

credit for a little more wisdom than ap-
pears upon my outside ; -- and as we jogg
on, either laugh with me, or at me, or
in short, do any thing, ---- only keep your


IN the same village where my father
and my mother dwelt, dwelt also a
thin, upright, motherly, notable, good
old body of a midwife, who, with the
help of a little plain good sense, and
some years full employment in her busi-
ness, in which she had all along trusted
little to her own efforts, and a great deal
to those of dame nature, -- had acquired,
in her way, no small degree of reputati-
on in the world; -- by which word world,
need I in this place inform your worship,
            B 2             that