[ 20 ]

that I would be understood to mean no
more of it, than a small circle described
upon the circle of the great world, of
four English miles diameter, or there-
abouts, of which the cottage where the
good old woman lived, is supposed to be
the centre. ---- She had been left, it
seems, a widow in great distress, with
three or four small children, in her forty-
seventh year ; and as she was at that time
a person of decent carriage, -- grave de-
portment, ---- a woman moreover of few
words, and withall an object of compas-
sion, whose distress and silence under it
call'd out the louder for a friendly lift :
the wife of the parson of the parish was
touch'd with pity ; and having often la-
mented an inconvenience, to which her
husband's flock had for many years been
exposed, inasmuch, as there was no such
thing as a midwife, of any kind or de-

[ 21 ]

gree to be got at, let the case have been
never so urgent, within less than six or
seven long miles riding ; which said seven
long miles in dark nights and dismal
roads, the country thereabouts being no-
thing but a deep clay, was almost equal to
fourteen; and that in effect was sometimes
next to having no midwife at all ; it came
into her head, that it would be doing as
seasonable a kindness to the whole parish,
as to the poor creature herself, to get
her a little instructed in some of the plain
principles of the business, in order to set
her up in it. As no woman thereabouts
was better qualified to execute the plan
she had formed than herself, the Gentle-
woman very charitably undertook it ; and
having great influence over the female
part of the parish, she found no difficulty
in effecting it to the utmost of her wishes.
In truth, the parson join'd his interest
            B 3             with

[ 22 ]

with his wife's in the whole affair ; and
in order to do things as they should be,
and give the poor soul as good a title by
law to practise, as his wife had given by
institution, ---- he chearfully paid the
fees for the ordinaries licence himself,
amounting, in the whole, to the sum of
eighteen shillings and fourpence ; so that,
betwixt them both, the good woman
was fully invested in the real and corpo-
ral possession of her office, together with
all its rights, members, and appurtenances

  These last words, you must know,
were not according to the old form in
which such licences, faculties, and powers
usually ran, which in like cases had here-
tofore been granted to the sisterhood.
But it was according to a neat Formula
of Didius his own devising, who having

[ 23 ]

a particular turn for taking to pieces,
and new framing over again, all kind of
instruments in that way, not only hit
upon this dainty amendment, but coax'd
many of the old licensed matrons in the
neighbourhood, to open their faculties
afresh, in order to have this whim-wham
of his inserted.

  I own I never could envy Didius in
these kinds of fancies of his : -- But every
man to his own taste. -- Did not Dr. Ku-
, that great man, at his leisure
hours, take the greatest delight imagina-
ble in combing of asses tails, and plucking
the dead hairs out with his teeth, though
he had tweezers always in his pocket ?
Nay, if you come to that, Sir, have not
the wisest of men in all ages, not except-
ing Solomon himself, -- have they not had
their HOBBY-HORSES ; -- their running
             B 4              horses,

[ 24 ]

horses, -- their coins and their cockle-
shells, their drums and their trumpets,
their fiddles, their pallets, ---- their mag-
gots and their butterflies ? -- and so long
as a man rides his HOBBY-HORSE peace-
ably and quietly along the King's high-
way, and neither compels you or me to
get up behind him, ---- pray, Sir, what
have either you or I to do with it ?


  -- De gustibus non est disputandum; -- that
is, there is no disputing against HOBBY-
HORSES ; and, for my part, I seldom do ;
nor could I with any sort of grace, had
I been an enemy to them at the bot-
tom ; for happening, at certain intervals
and changes of the Moon, to be both
fiddler and painter, according as the fly
stings : -- Be it known to you, that I

[ 25 ]

keep a couple of pads myself, upon
which, in their turns, (nor do I care who
knows it) I frequently ride out and take
the air ; -- tho' sometimes, to my shame
be it spoken, I take somewhat longer
journies than what a wise man would
think altogether right. ---- But the truth
is, -- I am not a wise man ; ---- and be-
sides am a mortal of so little consequence
in the world, it is not much matter what
I do ; so I seldom fret or fume at all
about it : Nor does it much disturb my
rest when I see such great Lords and tall
Personages as hereafter follow ; -- such,
for instance, as my Lord A, B, C, D, E,
F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, and
so on, all of a row, mounted upon their
several horses ; -- some with large stirrups,
getting on in a more grave and sober
pace ; ---- others on the contrary, tuck'd
up to their very chins, with whips across
             4              their

[ 26 ]

their mouths, scouring and scampering
it away like so many little party-colour'd
devils astride a mortgage, ---- and as if
some of them were resolved to break
their necks. -- So much the better -- say
I to myself ; -- for in case the worst should
happen, the world will make a shift to do
excellently well without them ; -- and
for the rest, ---- why, ---- God speed
them, ---- e'en let them ride on without
any opposition from me ; for were their lord-
ships unhorsed this very night, ---- 'tis
ten to one but that many of them would
be worse mounted by one half before to-
morrow morning.

  Not one of these instances therefore
can be said to break in upon my rest. --
But there is an instance, which I own puts
me off my guard, and that is, when I see
one born for great actions, and, what is

[ 27 ]

still more for his honour, whose nature
ever inclines him to good ones ; ----
when I behold such a one, my Lord, like
yourself, whose principles and conduct
are as generous and noble as his blood,
and whom, for that reason, a corrupt
world cannot spare one moment; -- when
I see such a one, my Lord, mounted,
though it is but for a minute beyond the
time which my love to my country has
prescribed to him, and my zeal for his
glory wishes, -- then, my Lord, I cease
to be a philosopher, and in the first
transport of an honest impatience, I wish
the HOBBY-HORSE, with all his frater-
nity, at the Devil.

  ``My Lord,
``I Maintain this to be a dedication,
`` notwithstanding its singularity in
``the three great essentials of matter,

[ 28 ]

``form, and place : I beg, therefore, you
``will accept it as such, and that you will
``permit me to lay it, with the most re-
``spectful humility, at your Lordship's
``feet, -- when you are upon them, --
``which you can be when you please ; --
``and that is, my Lord, when ever there
``is occasion for it, and I will add, to the
``best purposes too. I have the honour
``to be,

            My Lord,

     Your Lordship's most obedient,

             and most devoted,

               and most humble servant,

                    TRISTRAM SHANDY.''

                        C H A P.

[ 29 ]

C H A P. IX.

I SOLEMNLY declare to all mankind, that
the above dedication was made for
no one Prince, Prelate, Pope, or Poten-
tate, -- Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount,
or Baron of this, or any other Realm in
Christendom ; ---- nor has it yet been
hawk'd about, or offered publickly or
privately, directly or indirectly, to any
one person or personage, great or small ;
but is honestly a true Virgin-Dedication
untried on, upon any soul living.

  I labour this point so particularly,
merely to remove any offence or objec-
tion which might arise against it, from
the manner in which I propose to make
the most of it ; -- which is the putting

[ 30 ]

it up fairly to publick sale ; which I now

  ---- Every author has a way of his
own, in bringing his points to bear ; -- for
my own part, as I hate chaffering and
higgling for a few guineas in a dark
entry ; -- I resolved within myself, from
the very beginning, to deal squarely and
openly with your Great Folks in this af-
fair, and try whether I should not come
off the better by it.

  If therefore there is any one Duke,
Marquis, Earl, Viscount, or Baron, in
these his Majesty's dominions, who stands
in need of a tight, genteel dedication,
and whom the above will suit, (for by
the bye, unless it suits in some degree, I
will not part with it) ---- it is much at
his service for fifty guineas ; ---- which

[ 31 ]

I am positive is twenty guineas less than
it ought to be afforded for, by any man
of genius.

  My Lord, if you examine it over
again, it is far from being a gross piece
of daubing, as some dedications are.
The design, your Lordship sees, is good,
the colouring transparent, -- the drawing
not amiss ; -- or to speak more like a man
of science, -- and measure my piece in the
painter's scale, divided into 20, -- I be-
lieve, my Lord, the out-lines will turn
out as 12, -- the composition as 9, -- the
colouring as 6, -- the expression 13 and
a half, -- and the design, -- if I may be al-
lowed, my Lord, to understand my own
design, and supposing absolute perfection
in designing, to be as 20, -- I think it
cannot well fall short of 19. Besides
all this, -- there is keeping in it, and

[ 32 ]

the dark strokes in the HOBBY-HORSE,
(which is a secondary figure, and a kind
of back-ground to the whole) give great
force to the principal lights in your own
figure, and make it come off wonder-
fully ; ---- and besides, there is an air of
originality in the tout ensemble.

  Be pleased, my good Lord, to order
the sum to be paid into the hands of Mr.
Dodsley, for the benefit of the author ;
and in the next edition care shall be ta-
ken that this chapter be expunged, and
your Lordship's titles, distinctions, arms
and good actions, be placed at the front
of the preceding chapter : All which,
from the words, De gustibus non est dispu-
, and whatever else in this book
relates to HOBBY-HORSES, but no more,
shall stand dedicated to your Lordship. --
The rest I dedicate to the MOON, who, by

[ 33 ]

the bye, of all the PATRONS or MATRONS
I can think of, has most power to set my
book a-going, and make the world run
mad after it.

   Bright Goddess,

  If thou art not too busy with CANDID
and Miss CUNEGUND's affairs, -- take Tri-
stram Shandy
's under thy protection also.

C H A P. X.

WHATEVER degree of small merit,
the act of benignity in favour of
the midwife, might justly claim, or in
whom that claim truly rested, -- at first
sight seems not very material to this hi-
story ; ---- certain however it was, that
the gentlewoman, the parson's wife, did
run away at that time with the whole
of it: And yet, for my life, I cannot help
thinking but that the parson himself,
  VOL I.       C           tho'

[ 34 ]

tho' he had not the good fortune to hit
upon the design first, -- yet, as he heartily
concurred in it the moment it was laid
before him, and as heartily parted with
his money to carry it into execution,
had a claim to some share of it, -- if not
to a full half of whatever honour was
due to it.

  The world at that time was pleased to
determine the matter otherwise.

  Lay down the book, and I will allow
you half a day to give a probable guess
at the grounds of this procedure.

  Be it known then, that, for about five
years before the date of the midwife's
licence, of which you have had so cir-
cumstantial an account, -- the parson we
have to do with, had made himself a

[ 35 ]

country-talk by a breach of all decorum,
which he had committed against himself,
his station, and his office ; ---- and that
was, in never appearing better, or other-
wise mounted, than upon a lean, sorry,
jack-ass of a horse, value about one
pound fifteen shillings ; who, to shorten
all description of him, was full brother to
Rosinante, as far as similitude congenial
could make him ; for he answered his
description to a hair-breadth in every
thing, -- except that I do not remember
'tis any where said, that Rosinante was
broken winded ; and that, moreover,
Rosinante, as is the happiness of most
Spanish horses, fat or lean, -- was un-
doubtedly a horse at all points.

  I know very well that the HERO's
horse was a horse of chaste deportment,
which may have given grounds for a
             C 2              con-

[ 36 ]

contrary opinion : But it is as certain at
the same time, that Rosinante's continen-
cy (as may be demonstrated from the ad-
venture of the Yanguesian carriers) pro-
ceeded from no bodily defect or cause
whatsoever, but from the temperance
and orderly current of his blood. -- And
let me tell you, Madam, there is a great
deal of very good chastity in the world,
in behalf of which you could not say
more for your life.

  Let that be as it may, as my purpose
is to do exact justice to every creature
brought upon the stage of this dramatic
work, -- I could not stifle this distinction
in favour of Don Quixote's horse ; ---- in
all other points the parson's horse, I say,
was just such another, ---- for he was as
lean, and as lank, and as sorry a jade, as
HUMILITY herself could have bestrided.

[ 37 ]

   In the estimation of here and there a
man of weak judgment, it was greatly
in the parson's power to have helped the
figure of this horse of his, -- for he was
master of a very handsome demi-peak'd
saddle, quilted on the seat with green
plush, garnished with a double row of
silver-headed studs, and a noble pair of
shining brass stirrups, with a housing al-
together suitable, of grey superfine cloth,
with an edging of black lace, termina-
ting in a deep, black, silk fringe, poudrè
, -- all which he had purchased in the
pride and prime of his life, together with
a grand embossed bridle, ornamented at
all points as it should be. ---- But not
caring to banter his beast, he had hung
all these up behind his study door; -- and,
in lieu of them, had seriously befitted
him with just such a bridle and such
             C 3              a

[ 38 ]

a saddle, as the figure and value of such
a steed might well and truly deserve.

  In the several sallies about his parish,
and in the neighbouring visits to the
gentry who lived around him, ---- you
will easily comprehend, that the parson,
so appointed, would both hear and see
enough to keep his philosophy from
rusting. To speak the truth, he never
could enter a village, but he caught the
attention of both old and young. ---- La-
bour stood still as he pass'd, -- the bucket
hung suspended in the middle of the
well, ---- the spinning-wheel forgot its
round, ------ even chuck-farthing and
shuffle-cap themselves stood gaping till
he had got out of sight ; and as his
movement was not of the quickest, he
had generally time enough upon his
hands to make his observations, -- to hear

[ 39 ]

the groans of the serious, ---- and the
laughter of the light-hearted ; -- all which
he bore with excellent tranquility. -- His
character was, ---- he loved a jest in his
heart -- and as he saw himself in the true
point of ridicule, he would say, he could
not be angry with others for seeing him
in a light, in which he so strongly saw
himself : So that to his friends, who
knew his foible was not the love of mo-
ney, and who therefore made the less
scruple in bantering the extravagance of
his humour, -- instead of giving the true
cause, ---- he chose rather to join in the
laugh against himself ; and as he never
carried one single ounce of flesh upon his
own bones, being altogether as spare a
figure as his beast, -- he would sometimes
insist upon it, that the horse was as good
as the rider deserved ; -- that they were,
centaur-like, -- both of a piece. At other
             C 4              times,