[ 100 ]

like ; -- when we cannot get at the very
thing we wish, ---- never to take up
with the next best in degree to it ; -- no ;
that's pitiful beyond description ; -- it is
no more than a week from this very day,
in which I am now writing this book for
the edification of the world, -- which is
March 9, 1759, ---- that my dear, dear
Jenny observing I look'd a little grave,
as she stood cheapening a silk of five-and-
twenty shillings a yard, -- told the mer-
cer, she was sorry she had given him so
much trouble ; -- and immediately went
and bought herself a yard-wide stuff of
ten-pence a yard. -- 'Tis the duplication
of one and the same greatness of soul ;
only what lessen'd the honour of it some-
what, in my mother's case, was, that she
could not heroine it into so violent and
hazardous an extream, as one in her
situation might have wish'd, because the
             4              old

[ 101 ]

old midwife had really some little claim
to be depended upon, -- as much, at least,
as success could give her ; having, in the
course of her practice of near twenty
years in the parish, brought every mo-
ther's son of them into the world with-
out any one slip or accident which could
fairly be laid to her account.

  These facts, tho' they had their weight,
yet did not altogether satisfy some few
scruples and uneasinesses which hung
upon my father's spirits in relation to this
choice. -- To say nothing of the natural
workings of humanity and justice, -- or of
the yearnings of parental and connubial
love, all which prompted him to leave
as little to hazard as possible in a case of
this kind ; ---- he felt himself concern'd
in a particular manner, that all should
go right in the present case ; -- from the
             G 3              ac-

[ 102 ]

accumulated sorrow he lay open to,
should any evil betide his wife and child
in lying-in at Shandy-Hall. ---- He knew
the world judged by events, and would
add to his afflictions in such a misfortune,
by loading him with the whole blame of
it. ---- `` Alas o'day ! -- had Mrs. Shandy,
``poor gentlewoman ! had but her wish
``in going up to town just to lye-in and
``come down again ; -- which, they say,
``she begg'd and pray'd for upon her
``bare knees, ---- and which, in my opi-
``nion, considering the fortune which
``Mr. Shandy got with her, -- was no such
``mighty matter to have complied with,
``the lady and her babe might both of
``'em have been alive at this hour.''

  This exclamation, my father knew
was unanswerable ; ---- and yet, it was
not merely to shelter himself, -- nor was

[ 103 ]

it altogether for the care of his offspring
and wife that he seem'd so extremely
anxious about this point ; -- my father
had extensive views of things, ---- and
stood, moreover, as he thought, deeply
concern'd in it for the publick good,
from the dread he entertained of the
bad uses an ill-fated instance might be
put to.

   He was very sensible that all political
writers upon the subject had unanimously
agreed and lamented, from the begin-
ning of Queen Elizabeth's reign down
to his own time, that the current of men
and money towards the metropolis, up-
on one frivolous errand or another, --
set in so strong, -- as to become dange-
rous to our civil rights ; -- tho', by the
bye, ---- a current was not the image he
took most delight in, -- a distemper was
             G 4              here

[ 104 ]

here his favourite metaphor, and he
would run it down into a perfect allego-
ry, by maintaining it was identically the
same in the body national as in the body
natural, where blood and spirits were
driven up into the head faster than they
could find their ways down ; ---- a stop-
page of circulation must ensue, which
was death in both cases.

  There was little danger, he would say,
of losing our liberties by French politicks
or French invasions ; ---- nor was he so
much in pain of a consumption from
the mass of corrupted matter and ulce-
rated humours in our constitution, --
which he hoped was not so bad as it was
imagined ; -- but he verily feared, that
in some violent push, we should go off,
all at once, in a state-apoplexy ; -- and

[ 105 ]

then he would say, The Lord have mercy
upon us all

  My father was never able to give the
history of this distemper, -- without the
remedy along with it.

  ``Was I an absolute prince, he would
say, pulling up his breeches with both
his hands, as he rose from his arm-chair,
``I would appoint able judges, at every
``avenue of my metropolis, who should
``take cognizance of every fool's busi-
`.ness who came there ; -- and if, upon
``a fair and candid hearing, it appeared
``not of weight sufficient to leave his
``own home, and come up, bag and
``baggage, with his wife and children,
``farmers sons, &c. &c. at his backside,
``they should be all sent back, from
``constable to constable, like vagrants

[ 106 ]

``as they were, to the place of their le-
``gal settlements. By this means, I shall
``take care, that my metropolis totter'd
``not thro' its own weight ; -- that the
``head be no longer too big for the bo-
``dy ; -- that the extreams, now wasted
``and pin'd in, be restored to their due
``share of nourishment, and regain, with
``it, their natural strength and beauty : --
``I would effectually provide, That the
``meadows and corn-fields, of my do-
``minions, should laugh and sing ; --
``that good chear and hospitality flou-
``rish once more ; -- and that such weight
``and influence be put thereby into the
``hands of the Squirality of my king-
``dom, as should counterpoise what I
``perceive my Nobility are now taking
``from them.

                          `` Why

[ 107 ]

   ``Why are there so few palaces and
``gentlemen's seats, he would ask, with
some emotion, as he walked a-cross the
room, `` throughout so many delicious
``provinces in France ? Whence is it that
``the few remaining Chateaus amongst
``them are so dismantled, -- so unfurnish-
``ed, and in so ruinous and desolate a
``condition ? -- Because, Sir, (he would
say) ``in that kingdom no man has any
``country-interest to support ; -- the little
``interest of any kind, which any man
``has any where in it, is concentrated in
``the court, and the looks of the Grand
``Monarch ; by the sun-shine of whose
``countenance, or the clouds which pass
``a-cross it, every French man lives or

  Another political reason which prompt-
ed my father so strongly to guard against
             5              the

[ 108 ]

the least evil accident in my mother's
lying-in in the country, ---- was, That
any such instance would infallibly throw
a balance of power, too great already,
into the weaker vessels of the gentry, in
his own, or higher stations ; ---- which,
with the many other usurped rights
which that part of the constitution was
hourly establishing, -- would, in the end,
prove fatal to the monarchical system of
domestick government established in the
first creation of things by God.

  In this point he was entirely of Sir
Robert Filmer's opinion, That the plans
and institutions of the greatest mo-
narchies in the eastern parts of the world,
were, originally, all stolen from that ad-
mirable pattern and prototype of this
houshold and paternal power ; -- which,
for a century, he said, and more, had

[ 109 ]

gradually been degenerating away into
a mix'd government ; ---- the form of
which, however desirable in great com-
binations of the species, ---- was very
troublesome in small ones, -- and seldom
produced any thing, that he saw, but
sorrow and confusion.

  For all these reasons, private and pub-
lick, put together, -- my father was for
having the man-midwise by all means,
-- my mother by no means. My father
begg'd and intreated, she would for once
recede from her prerogative in this mat-
ter, and suffer him to choose for her ; --
my mother, on the contrary, insisted up-
on her privilege in this matter, to choose
for herself, -- and have no mortal's help
but the old woman's. -- What could my
father do ? He was almost at his wit's
end; ---- talked it over with her in all
                          moods ;

[ 110 ]

moods ; -- placed his arguments in all
lights ; -- argued the matter with her
like a Christian, -- like a heathen, -- like
a husband, -- like a father, -- like a pa-
triot, -- like a man : -- My mother an-
swered every thing only like a woman ;
which was a little hard upon her ; -- for
as she could not assume and fight it out
behind such a variety of characters, --
'twas no fair match ; -- 'twas seven to
one. -- What could my mother do ? ----
She had the advantage (otherwise she
had been certainly overpowered) of a
small reinforcement of chagrine personal
at the bottom which bore her up, and
enabled her to dispute the affair with my
father with so equal an advantage, ----
that both sides sung Te Deum. In a
word, my mother was to have the old
woman, -- and the operator was to have
licence to drink a bottle of wine with

[ 111 ]

my father and my uncle Toby Shandy in
the back parlour, -- for which he was to
be paid five guineas.

  I must beg leave, before I finish this
chapter, to enter a caveat in the breast
of my fair reader ; -- and it is this : ----
Not to take it absolutely for granted
from an unguarded word or two which
I have dropp'd in it, ---- ``That I am a
married man.'' -- I own the tender appel-
lation of my dear, dear Jenny, ---- with
some other strokes of conjugal know-
ledge, interspersed here and there, might,
naturally enough, have misled the most
candid judge in the world into such a
determination against me. -- All I plead
for, in this case, Madam, is strict justice,
and that you do so much of it, to me as
well as to yourself, -- as not to prejudge
or receive such an impression of me, till

[ 112 ]

you have better evidence, than I am
positive, at present, can be produced
against me : -- Not that I can be so vain
or unreasonable, Madam, as to desire
you should therefore think, that my dear,
dear Jenny is my kept mistress ; -- no, --
that would be flattering my character in
the other extream, and giving it an air
of freedom, which, perhaps, it has no
kind of right to. All I contend for, is
the utter impossibility for some volumes,
that you, or the most penetrating spirit
upon earth, should know how this mat-
ter really stands. ---- It is not impossible,
but that my dear, dear Jenny ! tender as
the appellation is, may be my child, ----
Consider, -- I was born in the year eigh-
teen. -- Nor is there any thing unnatural
or extravagant in the supposition, that
my dear Jenny may be my friend. ----
Friend ! -- My friend. -- Surely, Madam,

[ 113 ]

a friendship between the two sexes may
subsist, and be supported without ------
Fy ! Mr. Shandy : -- Without any thing,
Madam, but that tender and delicious
sentiment, which ever mixes in friend-
ship, where there is a difference of sex.
Let me intreat you to study the pure
and sentimental parts of the best French
Romances ; ---- it will really, Madam,
astonish you to see with what a variety
of chaste expression this delicious senti-
ment, which I have the honour to speak
of, is dress'd out.


I WOULD sooner undertake to explain
the hardest problem in Geometry,
than pretend to account for it, that a
gentleman of my father's great good
   VOL. I.        H           sense,

[ 114 ]

sense, ---- knowing, as the reader must
have observed him, and curious too, in
philosophy, -- wise also in political rea-
soning, -- and in polemical (as he will
find) no way ignorant, -- could be capa-
ble of entertaining a notion in his head,
so out of the common track, -- that I fear
the reader, when I come to mention it to
him, if he is the least of a cholerick tem-
per, will immediately throw the book by ;
if mercurial, he will laugh most heartily
at it ; -- and if he is of a grave and sa-
turnine cast, he will, at first sight, abso-
lutely condemn as fanciful and extrava-
gant ; and that was in respect to the
choice and imposition of Christian names,
on which he thought a great deal more
depended than what superficial minds
were capable of conceiving.
             5              His

[ 115 ]

   His opinion, in this matter, was, That
there was a strange kind of magick bias,
which good or bad names, as he called
them, irresistibly impress'd upon our cha-
racters and conduct.

  The Hero of Cervantes argued not the
point with more seriousness, ---- nor had
he more faith, ---- or more to say on the
powers of Necromancy in dishonouring
his deeds, -- or on DULCINEA's name, in
shedding lustre upon them, than my
father had on those of TRISMEGISTUS or
ARCHIMEDES, on the one hand, -- or of
NYKY and SIMKIN on the other. How
many CÆSARS and POMPEYS, he would
say, by mere inspiration of the names,
have been render'd worthy of them ?
And how many, he would add, are there
who might have done exceeding well in
the world, had not their characters and
             H 2              spirits

[ 116 ]

spirits been totally depress'd and NICO-
into nothing.

  I see plainly, Sir, by your looks, (or
as the case happen'd) my father would
say, -- that you do not heartily subscribe
to this opinion of mine, -- which, to those,
he would add, who have not carefully
sifted it to the bottom, -- I own has an
air more of fancy than of solid reasoning
in it ; ---- and yet, my dear Sir, if I may
presume to know your character, I am
morally assured, I should hazard little in
stating a case to you, -- not as a party in
the dispute, -- but as a judge, and trust-
ing my appeal upon it to your own good
sense and candid disquisition in this mat-
ter ; ---- you are a person free from as
many narrow prejudices of education as
most men ; -- and, if I may presume to
penetrate further into you, -- of a libe-

[ 117 ]

rality of genius above bearing down an
opinion, merely because it wants friends.
Your son ! -- your dear son, -- from whose
sweet and open temper you have so much
to expect. -- Your BILLY, Sir ! -- would
you, for the world, have called him
JUDAS ? -- Would you, my dear Sir, he
would say, laying his hand upon your
breast, with the genteelest address, -- and
in that soft and irresistible piano of voice,
which the nature of the argumentum ad
absolutely requires, -- Would
you, Sir, if a Jew of a godfather had
proposed the name for your child, and
offered you his purse along with it, would
you have consented to such a desecration
of him ? ---- O my God ! he would say,
looking up, if I know your temper right,
Sir, -- you are incapable of it ; ---- you
would have trampled upon the offer ; --
             H 3              you

[ 118 ]

you would have thrown the temptation
at the tempter's head with abhorrence.

  Your greatness of mind in this action,
which I admire, with that generous con-
tempt of money which you shew me in
the whole transaction, is really noble ; --
and what renders it more so, is the prin-
ciple of it ; -- the workings of a parent's
love upon the truth and conviction of
this very hypothesis, namely, That was
your son called JUDAS, -- the sordid and
treacherous idea, so inseparable from the
name, would have accompanied him
thro' life like his shadow, and, in the
end, made a miser and a rascal of him,
in spight, Sir, of your example.

  I never knew a man able to answer
this argument. ---- But, indeed, to speak
of my father as he was ; -- he was cer-

[ 119 ]

tainly irresistible, both in his orations and
disputations ; -- he was born an orator ; --
Theodidaktos. -- Persuasion hung upon his
lips, and the elements of Logick and
Rhetorick were so blended up in him, --
and, withall, he had so shrewd guess at
the weaknesses and passions of his re-
spondent, ---- that NATURE might have
stood up and said, -- ``This man is elo-
quent.'' In short, whether he was on
the weak or the strong side of the que-
stion, 'twas hazardous in either case to
attack him : -- And yet, 'tis strange, he
had never read Cicero nor Quintilian de
, nor Isocrates, nor Aristotle, nor
Longinus amongst the antients ; ---- nor
Vossius, nor Skioppius, nor Ramus, nor
amongst the moderns ; -- and
what is more astonishing, he had never in
his whole life the least light or spark of
subtilty struck into his mind, by one single