[ 40 ]

`` us, added my father, a single minute :''
---- No matter if it be ten minutes,
quoth my mother.

  ---- It will not detain us half a one,
said my father.

  The Corporal was just then setting in
with the story of his brother Tom and
the Jew's widow : the story went on --
and on ---- it had episodes in it ----
it came back, and went on ---- and on
again ; there was no end of it ---- the
reader found it very long ----

  ---- G-- help my father! he pish'd
fifty times at every new attitude, and
gave the corporal's stick, with all its
flourishings and danglings, to as many
devils as chose to accept of them.

[ 41 ]

  When issues of events like these my
father is waiting for are hanging in the
scales of fate, the mind has the advan-
tage of changing the principle of expec-
tation three times, without which it
would not have power to see it out.

  Curiosity governs the first moment ;
and the second moment is all economy
to justify the expense of the first ----
and for the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth
moments, and so on to the day of judg-
ment -- 'tis a point of HONOUR.

  I need not be told, that the ethic writers
have assigned this all to Patience ; but
that VIRTUE, methinks, has extent of
dominion sufficient of her own, and
enough to do in it, without invading the

[ 42 ]

few dismantled castles which HONOUR has
left him upon the earth.

  My father stood it out as well as he
could with these three auxiliaries to the
end of Trim's story ; and from thence to
the end of my uncle Toby's panegyric
upon arms, in the chapter following it ;
when seeing that instead of marching
up to Mrs. Wadman's door, they both
faced about and march'd down the ave-
nue diametrically opposite to his expecta-
tion -- he broke out at once with that
little subacid soreness of humour which, in
certain situations, distinguished his cha-
racter from that of all other men.

             4              C H A P.

[ 43 ]


---- ``NOW what can their two
noddles be about?'' cried
my father - - &c. - - - -

  I dare say, said my mother, they are
making fortifications ----
  ---- Not on Mrs. Wadman's premis-
es! cried my father, stepping back ----

  I suppose not : quoth my mother.

  I wish, said my father, raising his voice,
the whole science of fortification at the
devil, with all its trumpery of saps,
mines, blinds, gabions, fausse-brayes, and
cuvettes ------

  ---- They are foolish things ---- said
my mother.

[ 44 ]

  Now she had a way, which by the bye,
I would this moment give away my pur-
ple jerkin, and my yellow slippers into
the bargain, if some of your reverences
would imitate -- and that was never to re-
fuse her assent and consent to any propo-
sition my father laid before her, merely
because she did not understand it, or
had no ideas to the principal word, or
term of art, upon which the tenet or
proposition rolled. She contented her-
self with doing all that her godfathers
and godmothers promised for her -- but no
more ; and so would go on using a hard
word twenty years together -- and reply-
ing to it too, if it was a verb, in all its
moods and tenses, without giving herself
any trouble to enquire about it.

             3              This

[ 45 ]

  This was an eternal source of misery
to my father, and broke the neck, at the
first setting out, of more good dialogues
between them, than could have done the
most petulant contradiction ---- the few
which survived were the better for the
cuvetts ----

  -- ``They are foolish things;'' said
my mother.

  ---- Particularly the cuvetts ; replied
my father.

  'Twas enough -- he tasted the sweet of
triumph -- and went on.

  -- Not that they are, properly speak-
ing, Mrs. Wadman's premises, said my
father, partly correcting himself -- because
she is but tenant for life ----
                          ---- That

[ 46 ]

  ---- That makes a great difference --
said my mother ----

  -- In a fool's head, replied my fa-
ther ----

  Unless she should happen to have a
child -- said my mother ----

  ---- But she must persuade my brother
Toby first to get her one --

  ---- To be sure, Mr. Shandy, quoth
my mother.

  ---- Though if it comes to persuasion
--- said my father -- Lord have mercy up-
on them.

  Amen : said my mother, piano.

  Amen : cried my father, fortissimè.
                          Amen :

[ 47 ]

  Amen : said my mother again --- but
with such a sighing cadence of personal
pity at the end of it, as discomfited every
fibre about my father -- he instantly took
out his almanac ; but before he could
untie it, Yorick's congregation coming
out of church became a full answer to
one half of his business with it -- and my
mother telling him it was a sacrament
day -- left him as little in doubt as to
the other part -- He put his almanac into
his pocket.

  The first Lord of the Treasury, think-
ing of ways and means, could not have
returned home, with a more embarrassed

                          C H A P.

[ 48 ]


UPON looking back from the end
of the last chapter and surveying
the texture of what has been wrote, it is
necessary, that upon this page and the
five following, a good quantity of hete-
rogeneous matter be inserted, to keep up
that just balance betwixt wisdom and
folly without which a book would not
hold together a single year : nor is it a
poor creeping digression (which but for
the name of, a man might continue as
well going on in the king's highway)
which will do the business ---- no ; if it
is to be a digression, it must be a good
frisky one, and upon a frisky subject too,
where neither the horse or his rider are
to be caught, but by rebound.

[ 49 ]

  The only difficulty is raising powers
suitable to the nature of the service :
FANCY is capricious -- WIT must not be
searched for -- and PLEASANTRY (good-
natured slut as she is) will not come in
at a call, was an empire to be laid at her

  ---- The best way for a man is to
say his prayers ----

  Only if it puts him in mind of his in-
firmities and defects as well ghostly as
bodily -- for that purpose, he will find
himself rather worse after he has said
them than before -- for other purposes,

  For my own part there is not a way
either moral or mechanical under heaven

[ 50 ]

that I could think of, which I have not
taken with myself in this case : some-
times by ad-dressing myself directly to the
soul herself, and arguing the point over
and over again with her upon the extent of her
own faculties ----

  ---- I never could make them an inch
the wider ----

  Then by changing my system, and
trying what could be made of it upon
the body, by temperance, soberness, and
chastity : These are good,quoth I,in them-
selves -- they are good, absolutely ; -- they
are good, relatively ; -- they are good for
health -- they are good for happiness in
this world -- they are good for happiness
in the next ----


[ 51 ]

  In short, they were good for every
thing but the thing wanted ; and there they
were good for nothing, but to leave
the soul just as heaven made it : as for
the theological virtues of faith and hope,
they give it courage ; but then that snive-
ling virtue of Meekness (as my father
would always call it) takes it quite away
again, so you are exactly where you

  Now in all common and ordinary cases,
there is nothing which I have found to
answer so well as this ----

  ---- Certainly, if there is any depend-
ence upon Logic, and that I am not
blinded by self-love, there must be
something of true genius about me,
merely upon this symptom of it, that I
do not know what envy is : for never do
             E 2              I hit

[ 52 ]

I hit upon any invention or device which
tendeth to the furtherance of good writ-
ing, but I instantly make it public ;
willing that all mankind should write as
well as myself.

  ---- Which they certainly will, when
they think as little.

                          C H A P.

[ 53 ]


NOW in ordinary cases, that is,
when I am only stupid, and the
thoughts rise heavily and pass gummous
through my pen ----

  Or that I am got, I know not how,
into a cold unmetaphorical vein of infa-
mous writing, and cannot take a plumb-
lift out of it for my soul ; so must be
obliged to go on writing like a Dutch
commentator to the end of the chapter,
unless something be done ----

  ---- I never stand conferring with pen
and ink one moment ; for if a pinch of
snuff or a stride or two across the room
will not do the business for me -- I take a
razor at once ; and having tried the edge
             E 3              of

[ 54 ]

of it upon the palm of my hand, with-
out further ceremony, except that of first
lathering my beard, I shave it off ; tak-
ing care only if I do leave a hair, that it
be not a grey one : this done, I change
my shirt -- put on a better coat -- send for
my last wig -- put my topaz ring upon
my finger ; and in a word, dress myself
from one end to the other of me, after
my best fashion.

  Now the devil in hell must be in it, if
this does not do : for consider, Sir, as
every man chooses to be present at the
shaving of his own beard (though there
is no rule without an exception) and un-
avoidably sits over against himself the
whole time it is doing, in case he has a
hand in it -- the Situation, like all others,

[ 55 ]

has notions of her own to put into the
brain. ----

  ---- I maintain it, the conceits of a
rough-bearded man are seven years more
terse and juvenile for one single opera-
tion ; and if they did not run a risk of
being quite shaved away, might be
carried up by continual shavings to the
highest pitch of sublimity -- How Homer
could write with so long a beard, I don't
know ---- and as it makes against my
hypothesis, I as little care ---- But let
us return to the Toilet.

  Ludovicus Sorbonensis makes this en-
tirely an affair of the body (exoterike
) as he calls it ---- but he is de-
ceived : the soul and body are joint-
             E 4              sharers

[ 56 ]

sharers in everything they get : A man
cannot dress, but his ideas get cloath'd
at the same time ; and if he dresses like
a gentleman, every one of them stands
presented to his imagination, genteelized
along with him -- so that he has nothing
to do but take his pen, and write like

  For this cause, when your honours
and reverences would know whether I
writ clean and fit to be read, you will
be able to judge full as well by looking
into my Laundress's bill, as my book :
there was one single month in which I
can make it appear that I dirtied one
and thirty shirts with clean writing ; and
after all, was more abus'd, curs'd, cri-
ticis'd and confounded, and had more

[ 57 ]

mystic heads shaken at me, for what I
had wrote in that one month, than in
all the other months of that year put to-

  ---- But their honours and reverences
had not seen my bills.

                          C H A P.

[ 58 ]


AS I ever had any intention of be-
ginning the Digression, I am
making all this preparation for, till I
come to the 15th chapter ---- I have this
chapter to put to whatever use I think
proper ---- I have twenty this moment
ready for it ---- I could write my chapter
of Button-holes in it ----

  Or my chapter of Pishes, which should
follow them ----

  Or my chapter of Knots, in case their
reverences have done with them ----
they might lead me into mischief : the
safest way is to follow the tract of the

[ 59 ]

learned, and raise objections against what
I have been writing, tho'I declare before-
hand, I know no more than my heels
how to answer them.

  And first, it may be said, there is a
pelting kind of thersitical satire, as black
as the very ink 'tis wrote with ---- (and
by the bye, whoever says so is indebted
to the muster-master general of the Gre-
cian army, for suffering the name of
so ugly and foul-mouth'd a man as
Thersites to continue upon his roll ----
for it has furnished him with an epithet)
---- in these productions, he will urge,
all the personal washings and scrubbings
upon earth do a sinking genius no sort
of good ---- but just the contrary, inas-
             4              much