Laurence Sterne, A Political Romance







I Have broke open my Letter to inform
you, that I miss'd the Opportunity of
sending it by the Messenger, who I ex-
pected would have called upon me in his
Return through this Village to York, so it
has laid a Week or ten Days by me.

—I am not sorry for the Disappoint-
ment, because something has since hap-
pened, in Continuation of this Affair,
which I am thereby enabled to transmit to
you, all under one Trouble.

When I finished the above Account, I
thought (as did every Soul in the Parish)
Trim had met with so thorough a Rebuff
from John the Parish-Clerk and the
Town's Folks, who all took against him,
that Trim would be glad to be quiet, and
let the Matter rest.

But, it seems, it is not half an Hour ago
since Trim sallied forth again; and, having
borrowed a Sow-Gelder's Horn, with hard
Blowing he got the whole Town round
him, and endeavoured to raise a Disturb-

             D             ance,


ance and fight the whole Battle over
again: —That he had been used in the last
Fray worse than a Dog;—not by John the
Parish-Clerk,—for I shou'd not, quoth
Trim, have valued him a Rush single
Hands: —But all the Town sided with him,
and twelve Men in Buckram set upon me
all at once, and kept me in Play at Sword's
Point for three Hours together. —Besides,
quoth Trim, there were two misbegotten
Knaves in Kendal Green, who lay all the
while in Ambush in John's own House,
and they all sixteen came upon my Back,
and let drive at me together. —A Plague,
says Trim, of all Cowards! —Trim repeated
this Story above a Dozen Times;—which
made some of the Neighbours pity him,
thinking the poor Fellow crack-brain'd,
and that he actually believed what he said.
After this Trim dropp'd the Affair of
the Breeches, and begun a fresh Dispute
about the Reading-Desk, which I told you
had occasioned some small Dispute be-
tween the I Parson and John, some
Years ago.

This Reading-Desk, as you will observe,
was but an Episode wove into the main
Story by the Bye;—for the main Affair



was the Battle of the Breeches and Great
Watch-Coat. However, Trim being at
last driven out of these two Citadels,—he
has seized hold, in his Retreat, of this
, with a View, as it seems,
to take Shelter behind it.

I cannot say but the Man has fought it
out obstinately enough;—and, had his
Cause been good, I should have really pi-
tied him. For when he was driven out
of the Great Watch-Coat,—you see, he
did not run away;—no,—he retreated be-
hind the Breeches ;—and, when he could
make nothing of it behind the Breeches, —
he got behind the Reading-Desk. —To what
other Hold Trim will next retreat, the
Politicians of this Village are not agreed. —
Some think his next Move will be towards
the Rear of the Parson's Boot;—but, as it
is thought he cannot make a long Stand
there,—others are of Opinion, That Trim
will once more in his Life get hold of the
Parson's Horse, and charge upon him, or
perhaps behind him. —But as the Horse
is not easy to be caught, the more general
Opinion is, That, when he is driven out
of the Reading-Desk, he will make his last
Retreat in such a Manner as, if possible,

            D2            to


to gain the Close-Stool, and defend him-
self behind it to the very last Drop. If
Trim should make this Movement, by my
Advice he should be left besides his Cita-
del, in full Possession of the Field of
Battle;— where, 'tis certain, he will keep
every Body a League off, and may pop by
himself till he is weary: Besides, as Trim
seems bent upon purging himself, and may
have Abundance of foul Humours to work
off, I think he cannot be better placed.

But this is all Matter of Speculation. —
Let me carry you back to Matter of Fact,
and tell you what Kind of a Stand Trim
has actually made behind the said Desk.

"Neighbours and Townsmen all, I will
be sworn before my Lord Mayor, That
John and his nineteen Men in Buckram,
have abused me worse than a Dog; for they
told you that I play'd fast and go-loose
with the late Parson and him, in that old
Dispute of theirs about the Reading-Desk;
and that I made Matters worse between
them, and not better."

Of this Charge, Trim declared he was
as innocent as the Child that was unborn:



he would be Book-sworn he had no
Hand in it. He produced a strong Wit-
ness; —and, moreover, insinuated, that
John himself, instead of being angry for
what he had done in it, had actually
thank'd him. Aye, Trim, says the
Wight in the Plush Breeches, but that
was, Trim, the Day before John found
thee out. —Besides, Trim, there is nothing
in that: —For, the very Year that thou
wast made Town's Pinder, thou knowest
well, that I both thank'd thee myself; and,
moreover, gave thee a good warm Supper
for turning John Lund's Cows and Horses
out of my Hard-Corn Close; which if
thou had'st not done, (as thou told'st me)
I should have lost my whole Crop:
Whereas, John Lund and Thomas Patt,
who are both here to testify, and will take
their Oaths on't, That thou thyself wast
the very Man who set the Gate open; and,
after all,—it was not thee, Trim,—'twas
the Blacksmith's poor Lad who turn'd
them out: So that a Man may be thank'd
and rewarded too for a good Turn which
he never did, nor ever did intend.

Trim could not sustain this unexpected
Stroke;—so Trim march'd off the Field,



without Colours flying, or his Horn soun-
ding, or any other Ensigns of Honour

Whether after this Trim intends to rally
a second Time,—or whether Trim may
not take it into his Head to claim the Vic-
tory, —no one but Trim himself can in-
form you:—However, the general Opi-
nion, upon the whole, is this,—That,
in three several pitch'd Battles, Trim has
been so trimm'd, as never disastrous Hero
was trimm'd before him.


previous section next section