[ 160 ]

and fifty pages ago, but that I foresaw then
'twould come in pat hereafter, and be of
more advantage here than elsewhere. --
Writers had need look before them to
keep up the spirit and connection of what
they have in hand.

  When these two things are done, -- the
curtain shall be drawn up again, and my
uncle Toby, my father, and Dr. Slop shall
go on with their discourse, without any
more interruption.

  First, then, the matter which I have
to remind you of, is this ; -- that from
the specimens of singularity in my father's
notions in the point of Christian-names,
and that other point previous thereto, --
you was led, I think, into an opinion,
(and I am sure I said as much) that my
father was a gentleman altogether as odd

[ 161 ]

and whimsical in fifty other opinions. In
truth, there was not a stage in the life of
man, from the very first act of his be-
getting, -- down to the lean and slipper'd
pantaloon in his second childishness, but
he had some favourite notion to himself,
springing out of it, as sceptical, and as
far out of the high-way of thinking, as
these two which have been explained.

   -- Mr. Shandy, my father, Sir, would
see nothing in the light in which others
placed it ; -- he placed things in his own
light ; -- he would weigh nothing in com-
mon scales ; -- no, -- he was too refined a
researcher to lay open to so gross an im-
position. -- To come at the exact weight
of things in the scientific steel-yard, the
fulcrum, he would say, should be almost
invisible, to avoid all friction from po-
pular tenets ; -- without this the minutiæ
             L 2              of

[ 162 ]

of philosophy, which should always turn
the balance, will have no weight at all. --
Knowledge, like matter, he would affirm,
was divisible in infinitum ; -- that the grains
and scruples were as much a part of it, as
the gravitation of the whole world. --
In a word, he would say, error was error, --
no matter where it fell, -- whether in a
fraction, -- or a pound, -- 'twas alike fatal
to truth, and she was kept down at the
bottom of her well as inevitably by a
mistake in the dust of a butterfly's wing,
-- as in the disk of the sun, the moon, and
all the stars of heaven put together.

  He would often lament that it was for
want of considering this properly, and of
applying it skilfully to civil matters, as
well as to speculative truths, that so many
things in this world were out of joint; --
that the political arch was giving way ; --

[ 163 ]

and that the very foundations of our ex-
cellent constitution in church and state,
were so sapp'd as estimators had reported.

  You cry out, he would say, we are a
ruined, undone people. -- Why ? -- he would
ask, making use of the sorites or syllogism
of Zeno and Chrysippus, without knowing
it belonged to them. -- Why ? why are we
a ruined people ? -- Because we are corrup-
ted. -- Whence is it, dear Sir, that we are
corrupted ? -- Because we are needy ; -- our
poverty, and not our wills, consent. --
And wherefore, he would add, -- are we
needy ? -- From the neglect, he would an-
swer, of our pence and our halfpence : --
Our bank-notes, Sir, our guineas, -- nay
our shillings, take care of themselves.

  'Tis the same, he would say, through-
out the whole circle of the sciences ; --
             L 3              the

[ 164 ]

the great, the established points of them,
are not to be broke in upon. -- The laws
of nature will defend themselves ; -- but
error -- (he would add, looking earnestly
at my mother) -- error, Sir, creeps in thro'
the minute-holes, and small crevices, which
human nature leaves unguarded.

  This turn of thinking in my father, is
what I had to remind you of : -- The point
you are to be informed of, and which I
have reserved for this place, is as follows :

  Amongst the many and excellent rea-
sons, with which my father had urged
my mother to accept of Dr. Slop's assist-
ance preferably to that of the old wo-
man, -- there was one of a very singular
nature ; which, when he had done ar-
guing the matter with her as a Christian,
and came to argue it over again with her
             4              as

[ 165 ]

as a philosopher, ---- he had put his whole
strength to, depending indeed upon it as
his sheet anchor. ---- It failed him ; tho'
from no defect in the argument itself ;
but that, do what he could, he was not
able for his soul to make her comprehend
the drift of it. -- Cursed luck ! -- said he
to himself, one afternoon, as he walk'd
out of the room, after he had been sta-
ting it for an hour and a half to her, to
no manner of purpose; -- cursed luck !
said he, biting his lip as he shut the door,
-- for a man to be master of one of the
finest chains of reasoning in nature, ----
and have a wife at the same time with
such a head-piece, that he cannot hang
up a single inference within side of it, to
save his soul from destruction.

  This argument, though it was intirely lost
upon my mother, -- had more weight with
             L 4              him,

[ 166 ]

him, than all his other arguments joined
together : -- I will therefore endeavour to
do it justice, -- and set it forth with all the
perspicuity I am master of.

  My father set out upon the strength of
these two following axioms :

  First, That an ounce of a man's own wit,
was worth a tun of other people's ; and,

  Secondly, (Which, by the bye, was the
ground-work of the first axiom, -- tho' it
comes last) -- That every man's wit must
come from every man's own soul, -- and
no other body's.

  Now, as it was plain to my father, that
all souls were by nature equal, -- and that
the great difference between the most
acute and the most obtuse understanding,
                          -- was

[ 167 ]

---- was from no original sharpness or
bluntness of one thinking substance above
or below another, ---- but arose merely from
the lucky or unlucky organization of the
body, in that part where the soul princi-
pally took up her residence, -- he had made it
the subject of his enquiry to find
out the identical place.

  Now, from the best accounts he had
been able to get of this matter, he was
satisfied it could not be where Des Cartes
had fixed it, upon the top of the pineal
gland of the brain ; which, as he philo-
sophised, form'd a cushion for her about
the size of a marrow pea; -- tho', to speak
the truth, as so many nerves did terminate
all in that one place, -- 'twas no bad con-
jecture ; -- and my father had certainly
fallen with that great philosopher plumb
into the center of the mistake, had it not

[ 168 ]

been for my uncle Toby, who rescued
him out of it, by a story he told him of
a Walloon Officer at the battle of Landen,
who had one part of his brain shot away
by a musket-ball, -- and another part of
it taken out after by a French Surgeon ;
and, after all, recovered, and did his duty
very well without it.

  If death, said my father, reasoning with
himself, is nothing but the separation of
the soul from the body ; -- and if it is true
that people can walk about and do their
business without brains, -- then certes the
soul does not inhabit there. Q. E. D.

  As for that certain very thin, subtle,
and very fragrant juice which Coglionissimo
, the great Milaneze physician, af-
firms, in a letter to Bartholine, to have dis-
covered in the cellulæ of the occipital parts

[ 169 ]

of the cerebellum, and which he likewise
affirms to be the principal seat of the rea-
sonable soul (for, you must know, in these
latter and more enlightened ages, there
are two souls in every man living, -- the
one according to the great Metheglingius,
being called the Animus, the other the
Anima) ; -- as for this opinion, I say, of
Borri, -- my father could never subscribe
to it by any means ; the very idea of so
noble, so refined, so immaterial, and so ex-
alted a being as the Anima, or even the Ani-
, taking up her residence, and sitting
dabbling, like a tad-pole, all day long, both
summer and winter, in a puddle, -- or in a
liquid of any kind, how thick or thin soever,
he would say, shock'd his imagination ; he
would scarce give the doctrine a hearing.

  What, therefore, seem'd the least liable
to objections of any, was, that the chief

[ 170 ]

sensorium, or head-quarters of the soul,
and to which place all intelligences were
referred, and from whence all her man-
dates were issued, -- was in, or near, the
cerebellum, -- or rather some-where about
the medulla oblongata, wherein it was ge-
nerally agreed by Dutch anatomists, that
all the minute nerves from all the organs
of the seven senses concentered, like streets
and winding alleys, into a square.

  So far there was nothing singular in
my father's opinion, -- he had the best of
philosophers, of all ages and climates, to
go along with him. -- But here he took a
road of his own, setting up another Shan-
hypothesis upon these corner-stones
they had laid for him ; -- and which said
hypothesis equally stood its ground ; whe-
ther the subtilty and fineness of the soul
depended upon the temperature and clear-

[ 171 ]

ness of the said liquor, or of the finer
net-work and texture in the cerebellum
itself ; which opinion he favoured.

  He maintained, that next to the due
care to be taken in the act of propaga-
tion of each individual, which required
all the thought in the world, as it laid
the foundation of this incomprehensible
contexture in which wit, memory, fancy,
eloquence, and what is usually meant by
the name of good natural parts, do con-
sist ; -- that next to this and his Christian-
name, which were the two original and
most efficacious causes of all ; -- that the
third cause, or rather what logicians call
the Causa sine quâ non, and without which
all that was done was of no manner of
significance, -- was the preservation of this
delicate and fine-spun web, from the ha-
vock which was generally made in it by

[ 172 ]

the violent compression and crush which
the head was made to undergo, by the
nonsensical method of bringing us into
the world by that part foremost.

   ---- This requires explanation.

  My father, who dipp'd into all kinds
of books, upon looking into Lithopædus
Senonesis de Partu difficili
*, published by

  * The author is here twice mistaken ; ------ for
Lithopædus should be wrote thus, Lithopædii Seno-
nensis Icon
. The second mistake is, that this Li-
is not an author, but a drawing of a
petrified child. The account of this, published
by Albosius, 1580, may be seen at the end of
Cordæus's works in Spachius. Mr. Tristram Shandy
has been led into this error, either from seeing
Lithopædus's name of late in a catalogue of lear-
ned writers in Dr. ---- , or by mistaking Li-
for Trinecavellius, -- from the too great
similitude of the names.

[ 173 ]

Adrianus Smelvgot, had found out, That
the lax and pliable state of a child's
head in parturition, the bones of the
cranium having no sutures at that time,
was such, -- that by force of the woman's
efforts, which, in strong labour-pains,
was equal, upon an average, to a weight
of 470 pounds averdupoise acting per-
pendicularly upon it ; -- it so happened
that, in 49 instances out of 50, the said
head was compressed and moulded into
the shape of an oblong conical piece of
dough, such as a pastry-cook generally
rolls up in order to make a pye of. ----
Good God ! cried my father, what ha-
vock and destruction must this make in
the infinitely fine and tender texture of
the cerebellum ! -- Or if there is such a
juice as Borri pretends, -- is it not enough
to make the clearest liquor in the world
both feculent and mothery?

[ 174 ]

  But how great was his apprehension,
when he further understood, that this
force, acting upon the very vertex of
the head, not only injured the brain itself
or cerebrum, ---- but that it necessarily
squeez'd and propell'd the cerebrum to-
wards the cerebellum, which was the im-
mediate seat of the understanding. ----
Angels and Ministers of grace defend us !
cried my father, -- can any soul withstand
this shock ? -- No wonder the intellectual
web is so rent and tatter'd as we see it ;
and that so many of our best heads are
no better than a puzzled skein of silk, -- all
perplexity, -- all confusion within side.

  But when my father read on, and was
let into the secret, that when a child was
turn'd topsy-turvy, which was easy for
an operator to do, and was extracted by
the feet ; -- that instead of the cerebrum

[ 175 ]

being propell'd towards the cerebellum,
the cerebellum, on the contrary, was pro-
pell'd simply towards the cerebrum where
it could do no manner of hurt : -- By
heavens ! cried he, the world is in a con-
spiracy to drive out what little wit God
has given us, -- and the professors of the
obstetrick art are listed into the same con-
spiracy. -- What is it to me which end
of my son comes foremost into the world,
provided all goes right after, and his ce-
rebellum escapes uncrushed ?

  It is the nature of an hypothesis, when
once a man has conceived it, that it assi-
mulates every thing to itself as proper
nourishment ; and, from the first moment
of your begetting it, it generally grows
the stronger by every thing you see, hear,
read, or understand. This is of great
   VOL. II        M            When

[ 176 ]

  When my father was gone with this
about a month, there was scarce a phæ-
nomenon of stupidity or of genius, which
he could not readily solve by it ; -- it ac-
counted for the eldest son being the great-
est blockhead in the family. -- Poor Devil,
he would say, -- he made way for the capa-
city of his younger brothers. -- It unriddled
the observation of drivellers and monstrous
heads, -- shewing, a priori, it could not be
otherwise, - - unless * * * * I don't know
what. It wonderfully explain'd and ac-
counted for the acumen of the Asiatick ge-
nius, and that sprightlier turn, and a
more penetrating intuition of minds, in
warmer climates ; not from the loose and
common-place solution of a clearer sky,
and a more perpetual sun-shine, &c. --
which, for aught he knew, might as well
rarify and dilute the faculties of the soul
into nothing, by one extreme, -- as they

[ 177 ]

are condensed in colder climates by the
other ; -- but he traced the affair up to its
spring-head ; -- shew'd that, in warmer
climates, nature had laid a lighter tax
upon the fairest parts of the creation ; --
their pleasures more ; -- the necessity of
their pains less, insomuch that the pres-
sure and resistance upon the vertex was
so slight, that the whole organization of
the cerebellum was preserved ; -- nay, he
did not believe, in natural births, that so
much as a single thread of the net-work
was broke or displaced, -- so that the soul
might just act as she liked.

  When my father had got so far, --
what a blaze of light did the accounts of
the Cæsarian section, and of the towering
geniuses who had come safe into the
world by it, cast upon this hypothesis ?
Here you see, he would say, there was no
injury done to the sensorium ; -- no pres-
             M 2              sure

[ 178 ]

sure of the head against the pelvis ; -- no
propulsion of the cerebrum towards the
cerebellum, either by the oss pubis on this
side, or the oss coxcygis on that ; -- and,
pray, what were the happy consequences ?
Why, Sir, your Julius Cæsar, who gave
the operation a name ; -- and your Her-
mes Trismegistus
, who was born so before
ever the operation had a name ; -- your
Scipio Africanus ; your Manlius Torquatus ;
our Edward the sixth, -- who, had he lived,
would have done the same honour to the
hypothesis : -- These, and many more, who
figur'd high in the annals of fame, -- all
came side-way, Sir, into the world.

  This incision of the abdomen and ute-
, ran for six weeks together in my fa-
ther's head ; -- he had read, and was satis-
fied, that wounds in the epigastrium, and
those in the matrix, were not mortal ; --
so that the belly of the mother might be

[ 179 ]

opened extremely well to give a passage
to the child. -- He mentioned the thing
one afternoon to my mother, -- merely as
a matter of fact ; -- but seeing her turn as
pale as ashes at the very mention of it,
as much as the operation flattered his
hopes, -- he thought it as well to say no
more of it, -- contenting himself with ad-
miring -- what he thought was to no pur-
pose to propose.

  This was my father Mr. Shandy's hypo-
thesis ; concerning which I have only to
add, that my brother Bobby did as great
honour to it (whatever he did to the fa-
mily) as any one of the great heroes we
spoke of : -- For happening not only to be
christen'd, as I told you, but to be born
too, when my father was at Epsom, --
being moreover my mother's first child,
-- coming into the world with his head
foremost, -- and turning out afterwards a

[ 180 ]

lad of wonderful slow parts, -- my father
spelt all these together into his opinion ;
and as he had failed at one end, -- he was
determined to try the other.

  This was not to be expected from one
of the sisterhood, who are not easily to be
put out of their way, -- and was therefore
one of my father's great reasons in favour
of a man of science, whom he could bet-
ter deal with.

  Of all men in the world, Dr. Slop was
the fittest for my father's purpose ; -- for
tho' his new-invented forceps was the
armour he had proved, and what he
maintained, to be the safest instrument of
deliverance, -- yet, it seems, he had scat-
tered a word or two in his book, in fa-
vour of the very thing which ran in my
father's fancy ; -- tho' not with a view to
the soul's good in extracting by the feet,

[ 181 ]

as was my father's system, -- but for rea-
sons merely obstetrical.

  This will account for the coallition
betwixt my father and Dr. Slop, in the en-
suing discourse, which went a little hard
against my uncle Toby. -- In what manner
a plain man, with nothing but common
sense, could bear up against two such
allies in science, -- is hard to conceive. --
You may conjecture upon it, if you please,
-- and whilst your imagination is in mo-
tion, you may encourage it to go on, and
discover by what causes and effects in
nature it could come to pass, that my
uncle Toby got his modesty by the wound
he received upon his groin. -- You may
raise a system to account for the loss of
my nose by marriage articles, -- and shew
the world how it could happen, that I
should have the misfortune to be called
TRISTRAM, in opposition to my father's

[ 182 ]

hypothesis, and the wish of the whole
family, God-fathers and God-mothers
not excepted. -- These, with fifty other
points left yet unravelled, you may en-
deavour to solve if you have time; -- but
I tell you before-hand it will be in vain,
-- for not the sage Alquife, the magician
in Don Belianis of Greece, nor the no less
famous Urganda, the sorceress his wife,
(were they alive) could pretend to come
within a league of the truth.

  The reader will be content to wait for
a full explanation of these matters till
the next year, -- when a series of things
will be laid open which he little expects.