[ 98 ]


WHEN we have got to the end
of this chapter (but not before)
we must all turn back to the two blank
chapters, on the account of which my
honour has lain bleeding this half hour
--   I stop it, by pulling off one of my
yellow slippers and throwing it with all
my violence to the opposite side of my
room, with a declaration at the heel of
it --  

    -- That whatever resemblance it
may bear to half the chapters which are
written in the world, or, for aught I
know, may be now writing in it -- that
it was as casual as the foam of Zeuxis
his horse : besides, I look upon a chapter

[ 99 ]

which has only nothing in it with re-
spect ; and considering what worse
things there are in the world   -- That
it is no way a proper subject for sa-
tire --    

    -- Why then was it left so? And
here, without staying for my reply, shall
I be called as many blockheads, num-
skulls, doddypoles, dunderheads, ninny-
hammers, goosecaps, joltheads, nincom-
poops, and sh--t-a-beds --   and other
unsavory appellations, as ever the cake-
bakers of Lerné, cast in the teeth of
King Gargantua's shepherds   -- And
I'll let them do it, as Bridget said, as
much as they please ; for how was it pos-
sible they should foresee the necessity I
.ra                     H 2              was


[ 100 ]

was under of writing the 25th chapter of
my book before the 18th, &c.

      -- So I don't take it amiss --  
All I wish is that it may be a lesson to
the world, `` to let people tell their stories
`` their own way.''

[ 101 ]

The Eighteenth Chapter

AS Mrs. Bridget opened the door
before the Corporal had well given
the rap, the interval betwixt that and
my uncle Toby's introduction into the
parlour was so short that Mrs. Wad-
man had but just time to get from be-
hind the curtain  --  lay a Bible upon
the table, and advance a step or two to-
wards the door to receive him.

  My uncle Toby saluted Mrs. Wad-
man, after the manner in which women
were saluted by men in the year of our
Lord God one thousand seven hundred
and thirteen -- then facing about,
he marched up abreast with her to the
             H 3              sopha,

[ 102 ]

sopha, and in three plain words --  
though not before he was sat down --  
nor after he was sat down --    
but as he was sitting down, told her,
`` he was in love''  --  so that my uncle
Toby strained himself more in the de-
claration than he needed.

  Mrs. Wadman naturally looked down,
upon a slit she had been darning up in
her apron, in expectation, every moment,
that my uncle Toby would go on ; but
having no talents for amplification, and
LOVE moreover of all others being a
subject of which he was the least a mas-
ter  --  When he had told Mrs. Wad-
man once that he loved her, he let it
alone, and left the matter to work after
its own way.

[ 103 ]

  My father was always in raptures with
this system of my uncle Toby's, as he
falsely called it, and would often say, that
could his brother Toby to his processe
have added but a pipe of tobacco --  
he had wherewithal to have found his
way, if there was faith in a Spanish pro-
verb, towards the hearts of half the
women upon the globe.

  My uncle Toby never understood
what my father meant ; nor will I pre-
sume to extract more from it than a
condemnation of an error which the
bulk of the world lie under  --  but the
French, every one of 'em to a man,
who believe in it, almost as much as
the REAL PRESENCE, `` That talking of
`` love, is making it.''
             H 4              --  I

[ 104 ]

    --   I would as soon set about
making a black-pudding by the same

  Let us go on : Mrs. Wadman sat in
expectation my uncle Toby would do so,
to almost the first pulsation of that mi-
nute, wherein silence on one side or
the other, generally becomes indecent : so
edging herself a little more towards him,
and raising up her eyes, sub-blushing, as
she did it  --  she took up the gauntlet
--   or the discourse (if you like it bet-
ter) and communed with my uncle
Toby, thus.

  The cares and disquietudes of the
marriage state, quoth Mrs. Wadman,

[ 105 ]

are very great. I suppose so -- said my
uncle Toby ; and therefore when a per-
son, continued Mrs. Wadman, is so much
at his ease as you are -- so happy, captain
Shandy, in yourself, your friends, and
your amusements -- I wonder what rea-
sons can incline you to the state --  

    -- They are written, quoth my un-
cle Toby, in the Common-Prayer Book.

  Thus far my uncle Toby went on
warily, and kept within his depth, leav-
ing Mrs. Wadman to sail upon the gulph
as she pleased.

   --  As for children -- said Mrs. Wad-
man -- though a principal end perhaps of
the institution, and the natural wish, I sup-
pose, of every parent -- yet do not we all
find they are certain sorrows, and very
             2              uncertain

[ 106 ]

uncertain comforts? and what is there,
dear sir, to pay one for the heart-aches --
what compensation for the many tender
and disquieting apprehensions of a suf-
fering and defenceless mother who brings
them into life? I declare, said my uncle
Toby, smit with pity, I know of none ;
unless it be the pleasure which it has
pleased God --  

    -- A fiddlestick! quoth she.

                          C H A P.

[ 107 ]

Chapter the Nineteenth

NOW there are such an infinitude
of notes, tunes, cants, chants,
airs, looks, and accents with which the
word fiddlestick may be pronounced in all
such causes as this, every one of 'em im-
pressing a sense and meaning as different
from the other, as dirt from cleanliness
-- That Casuists (for it is an affair of
conscience on that score) reckon up no
less than fourteen thousand in which you
may do either right or wrong.

  Mrs. Wadman hit upon the fiddlestick,
which summoned up all my uncle Toby's
modest blood into his cheeks -- so feeling
within himself that he had somehow or
other got beyond his depth, he stopt

[ 108 ]

short ; and without entering further either
into the pains or pleasures of matrimony,
he laid his hand upon his heart, and made
an offer to take them as they were, and
share them along with her.

  When my uncle Toby had said this,
he did not care to say it again ; so cast-
ing his eye upon the Bible which Mrs.
Wadman had laid upon the table, he
took it up ; and popping, dear soul!
upon a passage in it, of all others the
most interesting to him -- which was the
siege of Jericho -- he set himself to read
it over -- leaving his proposal of marriage,
as he had done his declaration of love,
to work with her after its own way.
Now it wrought neither as an astringent
or a loosener ; nor like opium, or bark,
or mercury, or buckthorn, or any one

[ 109 ]

drug which nature had bestowed upon
the world -- in short, it work'd not at
all in her ; and the cause of that was,
that there was something working there
before  --  Babbler that I am! I have
anticipated what it was a dozen times ;
but there is fire still in the subject --  

                          C H A P.

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