[ 200 ]

but justified his intention to his father
by the argument drawn from the law
of retaliation ---- `` You lay'd, Sir,
`` with my mother, said the lad -- why
`` may not I lay with yours ?'' ---- 'Tis
the Argumentum commune, added Yorick.
-- 'Tis as good, replied Eugenius, taking
down his hat, as they deserve.

  The company broke up ----


-- AND pray, said my uncle Toby,
leaning upon Yorick, as he
and my father were helping him leisurely
down the stairs -- don't be terrified, ma-
dam, this stair-case conversation is not
so long as the last -- And pray, Yorick,
said my uncle Toby, which way is this

[ 201 ]

said affair of Tristram at length settled
by these learned men ? Very satisfactorily,
replied Yorick ; no mortal, Sir, has any
concern with it -- for Mrs. Shandy the
mother is nothing at all akin to him --
and as the mother's in the surest side --
Mr. Shandy, in course, is still less than
nothing -- In short, he is not as much
akin to him, Sir, as I am --

  -- That may well be, said my father,
shaking his head.

  -- Let the learned say what they will,
there must certainly, quoth my uncle
Toby, have been some sort of consan-
guinity betwixt the duchess of Suffolk
and her son --

  The vulgar are of the same opinion,
quoth Yorick, to this hour.
                          C H A P.

[ 202 ]


THOUGH my father was hugely
tickled with the subtleties of these
learned discourses -- 'twas still but like
the anointing of a broken bone -- The
moment he got home, the weight of
his afflictions returned upon him but so
much the heavier, as is ever the case
when the staff we lean on slips from
under us -- He became pensive -- walked
frequently forth to the fish-pond -- let
down one loop of his hat -- sigh'd often
-- forbore to snap -- and, as the hasty
sparks of temper, which occasion snap-
ping, so much assist perspiration and
digestion, as Hippocrates tells us -- he
had certainly fallen ill with the extinction of
them, had not his thoughts been criti-
  VOL. IV.        O            cally

[ 203 ]

cally drawn off, and his health rescued
by a fresh train of disquietudes left him,
with a legacy of a thousand pounds by
my aunt Dinah --

  My father had scarce read the letter,
when taking the thing by the right end,
he instantly begun to plague and puzzle
his head how to lay it out mostly to
the honour of his family -- A hundred
and fifty odd projects took possession
of his brains by turns -- he would do
this, and that, and t'other -- He would
go to Rome -- he would go to law -- he
would buy stock -- he would buy John
's farm -- he would new fore-front
his house, and add a new wing to make
it even -- There was a fine water-mill on
this side, and he would build a wind-
mill on the other side of the river in
full view to answer it -- But above all

[ 204 ]

things in the world, he would inclose the
great Ox-moor, and send out my brother
Bobby immediately upon his travels.

  But as the sum was finite, and conse-
quently could not do every thing -- and
in truth very few of these to any pur-
pose, -- of all the projects which offered
themselves upon this occasion, the two
last seemed to make the deepest impres-
sion ; and he would infallibly have de-
termined upon both at once, but for
the small inconvenience hinted at above,
which absolutely put him under a ne-
cessity of deciding in favour either of
the one or the other.

  This was not altogether so easy to be
done ; for though 'tis certain my father
had long before set his heart upon this
necessary part of my brother's education,
             O 2              and

[ 205 ]

and like a prudent man had actually
determined to carry it into execution,
with the first money that returned from
the second creation of actions in the
Missisippi-scheme, in which he was an
adventurer -- yet the Ox-moor, which was
a fine, large, whinny, undrained, unim-
proved common, belonging to the Shandy-
estate, had almost as old a claim upon
him : He had long and affectionately set
his heart upon turning it likewise to some

  But having never hitherto been pressed
with such a conjuncture of things, as
made it necessary to settle either the
priority or justice of their claims, -- like
a wise man he had refrained entering
into any nice or critical examination
about them : So that upon the dismission
of every other project at this crisis, ----

[ 206 ]

the two old projects, the OX-MOOR and
my BROTHER, divided him again ; and so
equal a match were they for each other,
as to become the occasion of no small
contest in the old gentleman's mind, --
which of the two should be set o'going

  -- People may laugh as they will ----
but the case was this.

  It had ever been the custom of the
family, and by length of time was al-
most become a matter of common right,
that the eldest son of it should have free
ingress, egress, and regress into foreign
parts before marriage, -- not only for the
sake of bettering his own private parts,
by the benefit of exercise and change of
so much air -- but simply for the mere
delectation of his fancy, by the feather
             O 3              put

[ 207 ]

put into his cap, of having been abroad
-- tantum valet, my father would say,
quantum sonat.

  Now as this was a reasonable, and in
course a most christian indulgence -- to
deprive him of it, without why or
wherefore, -- and thereby make an ex-
ample of him, as the first Shandy un-
whirl'd about Europe in a post-chaise,
and only because he was a heavy lad --
would be using him ten times worse than
a Turk.

  On the other hand, the case of the
Ox-moor was full as hard.

  Exclusive of the original purchase-
money, which was eight hundred pounds
-- it had cost the family eight hundred
pounds more in a law-suit about fifteen

[ 208 ]

years before -- besides the Lord knows
what trouble and vexation.

  It had been moreover in possession of
the Shandy-family ever since the middle
of the last century ; and though it lay
full in view before the house, bounded
on one extremity by the water-mill,
and on the other by the projected wind-
mill spoken of above, -- and for all these
reasons seemed to have the fairest title
of any part of the estate to the care and
protection of the family -- yet by an un-
accountable fatality, common to men,
as well as the ground they tread on, -- it
had all along most shamefully been over-
look'd ; and to speak the truth of it,
had suffered so much by it, that it
would have made any man's heart have
bled ( Obadiah said ) who understood
the value of land, to have rode over
             O 4              it,

[ 209 ]

it, and only seen the condition it was

  However, as neither the purchasing
this tract of ground -- nor indeed the
placing of it where it lay, were either of
them, properly speaking, of my father's
doing -- he had never thought himself
any way concerned in the affair -- till the
fifteen years before, when the breaking
out of that cursed law-suit mentioned
above (and which had arose about its
boundaries) -- which being altogether my
father's own act and deed, it naturally
awakened every other argument in its
favour ; and upon summing them all up
together, he saw, not merely in interest,
but in honour, he was bound to do
something for it -- and that now or never
was the time.
                          I think

[ 210 ]

  I think there must certainly have been
a mixture of ill-luck in it, that the rea-
sons on both sides should happen to be
so equally balanced by each other ; for
though my father weigh'd them in all
humours and conditions -- spent many an
anxious hour in the most profound and
abstracted meditation upon what was
best to be done ---- reading books of
farming one day -- books of travels an-
other -- laying aside all passlon whatever
-- viewing the arguments on both sides
in all their lights and circumstances ---
communing every day with my uncle
Toby -- arguing with Yorick, and talking
over the whole affair of the Ox-moor
with Obadiah -- yet nothing in all that
time appeared so strongly in behalf of
the one, which was not either strictly
applicable to the other, or at least so
far counterbalanced by some considera-

[ 211 ]

tion of equal weight, as to keep the
scales even.

  For to be sure, with proper helps,
and in the hands of some people, tho'
the Ox-moor would undoubtedly have
made a different appearance in the world
from what it did, or ever would do in
the condition it lay -- yet every tittle of
this was true, with regard to my bro-
ther Bobby -- let Obadiah say what he
would. ----

  In point of interest -- the contest,
I own, at first sight, did not appear so
undecisive betwixt them ; for whenever
my father took pen and ink in hand,
and set about calculating the simple ex-
pence of paring and burning, and fence-
ing in the Ox-moor, &c. &c. -- with the
certain profit it would bring him in
             1              return

[ 212 ]

return -- the latter turned out so prodi-
giously in his way of working the ac-
count, that you would have sworn the
Ox-moor would have carried all before
it. For it was plain he should reap
a hundred lasts of rape, at twenty
pounds a last, the very first year -- be-
sides an excellent crop of wheat the
year following -- and the year after that,
to speak within bounds, a hundred ----
but, in all likelihood, a hundred and
fifty -- if not two hundred quarters of
pease and beans -- besides potatoes with-
out end -- But then, to think he was all
this while breeding up my brother like
a hog to eat them -- knocked all on the
head again, and generally left the old
gentleman in such a state of suspence --
that, as he often declared to my uncle
Toby -- he knew no more than his heels
what to do.

[ 213 ]

  No body, but he who has felt it, can
conceive what a plaguing thing it is to
have a man's mind torn asunder by two
projects of equal strength, both obsti-
nately pulling in a contrary direction at
the same time : For to say nothing of
the havock, which by a certain conse-
quence is unavoidably made by it all
over the finer system of the nerves,
which you know convey the animal
spirits and more subtle juices from the
heart to the head, and so on ---- It is
not to be told in what a degree such a
wayward kind of friction works upon
the more gross and solid parts, wasting
the fat and impairing the strength of a
man every time as it goes backwards
and forwards.

  My father had certainly sunk under
this evil, as certainly as he had done

[ 214 ]

under that of my CHRISTIAN NAME --
had he not been rescued out of it as
he was out of that, by a fresh evil --
the misfortune of my brother Bobby's

  What is the life of man ! Is it not to
shift from side to side ? -- from sorrow to
sorrow ? ---- to button up one cause of
vexation ! -- and unbutton another !


FROM this moment I am to be
considered as heir-apparent to the
Shandy family -- and it is from this point
properly, that the story of my LIFE
and my OPINIONS sets out ; with all
my hurry and precipitation I have but

[ 215 ]

been clearing the ground to raise the
building ---- and such a building do I
foresee it will turn out, as never was
planned, and as never was executed since
Adam. In less than five minutes I shall
have thrown my pen into the fire, and
the little drop of thick ink which is left
remaining at the bottom of my ink-
horn, after it -- I have but half a score
things to do in the time ---- I have a
thing to name -- a thing to lament -- a
thing to hope -- a thing to promise, and
a thing to threaten -- I have a thing to
suppose -- a thing to declare -- a thing
to conceal -- a thing to chuse, and a
thing to pray for. -- This chapter, there-
fore, I name the chapter of THINGS --
and my next chapter to it, that is, the
first chapter of my next volume, if I live,
shall be my chapter upon WHISKERS,

[ 216 ]

in order to keep up some sort of con-
nection in my works.

  The thing I lament is, that things
have crowded in so thick upon me,
that I have not been able to get into
that part of my work, towards which,
I have all the way, looked forwards,
with so much earnest desire ; and that is
the campaigns, but especially the amours
of my uncle Toby, the events of which
are of so singular a nature, and so Cer-
vantick a cast, that if I can so manage
it, as to convey but the same impressions
to every other brain, which the occur-
rences themselves excite in my own ----
I will answer for it the book shall make
its way in the world, much better
than its master has done before it ----
Oh Tristram ! Tristram ! can this but
be once brought about ---- the credit,

[ 217 ]

which will attend thee as an author,
shall counterbalance the many evils which
have befallen thee as a man -- thou wilt
feast upon the one -- when thou hast
lost all sense and remembrance of the
other ! ----

  No wonder I itch so much as I do,
to get at these amours -- They are the
choicest morsel of my whole story ! and
when I do get at 'em -- assure yourselves,
good folks, -- (nor do I value whose
squeamish stomach takes offence at it)
I shall not be at all nice in the choice of
my words ; ---- and that's the thing I
have to declare. -- I shall never get all
through in five minutes, that I fear --
and the thing I hope is, that your wor-
ships and reverences are not offended --
if you are, depend upon't I'll give you
something, my good gentry, next year,
             2              to

[ 218 ]

to be offended at ---- that's my dear
Jenny's way -- but who my Jenny is --
and which is the right and which the
wrong end of a woman, is the thing
to be concealed -- it shall be told you
the next chapter but one, to my chapter
of button-holes, -- and not one chapter

  And now that you have just got to
the end of these four volumes ---- the
thing I have to ask is, how you feel
your heads ? my own akes dismally --
as for your healths, I know, they are
much better ---- True Shandeism, think
what you will against it, opens the
heart and lungs, and like all those af-
fections which partake of its nature, it
forces the blood and other vital fluids of
the body to run freely thro' its channels,
  VOL. IV.        P            and

[ 219 ]

and makes the wheel of life run long
and chearfully round.

  Was I left like Sancho Pança, to
chuse my kingdom, it should not be
maritime -- or a kingdom of blacks to
make a penny of ---- no, it should
be a kingdom of hearty laughing sub-
jects : And as the bilious and more sa-
turnine passions, by creating disorders
in the blood and humours, have as bad
an influence, I see, upon the body politick
as body natural -- and as nothing but a
habit of virtue can fully govern those
passions, and subject them to reason -- I
should add to my prayer -- that God
would give my subjects grace to be as
WISE as they were MERRY ; and then
should I be the happiest monarch, and
they the happiest people under heaven --
             3              And

[ 220 ]

  And so, with this moral for the pre-
sent, may it please your worships and
your reverences, I take my leave of you
till this time twelve-month, when (unless
this vile cough kills me in the mean
time) I'll have another pluck at your
beards, and lay open a story to the
world you little dream of.

F  I  N  I  S.