Page images
PDF
EPUB

* That on Lady-day, which was on the 25th of strangers to each other, it would not have been the same month in which I date my geniture, proper to have let you into too many circum

-my father set out upon his journey to stances relating to myself all at once.-You. London, with my eldest brother Bobby, to fix must have a little patience. I have undertaken, him at Westminster school;' and, as it appears you see, to write not only my life, but my from the same authority, "That he did not get opinions also; hoping and expecting that your down to his wife and family till the second week knowledge of my character, and of what kind. in May following,'—it brings the thing almost of a mortal I am, by the one, would give you a. to a certainty. However, what follows in the better relish for the other. As you proceed beginning of the next chapter puts it beyond all further with me, the slight acquaintance whicn possibility of doubt.

is now beginning betwixt us will grow into -But pray, sir, what was your father familiarity; and that, unless one of us is in doing all December, January, and February? fault, will terminate in friendship. - diem

- Why, madam, he was all that time afflicted præclarum !—then nothing which has touched with a sciatica.

me will be thought trifling in its nature, or

tedious in its telling. Therefore, my dear friend CHAPTER V.

and companion, if you should think me some

what sparing of my narrative on my first setting On the fifth day of November 1718, which, to out, bear with me, and let me go on, and tell the æra fixed on, was as near nine calendar my story my own way :-or, if I should seem months as any husband could in reason have now and then to trifle upon the road, or should expected, - --was I, Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, sometimes put on a fool's cap with a bell to it, brought forth into this scurvy and disastrous for a moment or two as we pass along, don't world of ours. - I wish I had been born in the fly off, but rather courteously give me credit moon, or in any of the planets (except Jupiter for a little more wisdom than appears upon my or Saturn, because I never could bear cold outside ;-and, as we jog on, either laugh with weather), for it could not well have fared worse me, or at me, or in short do anything, -only with me in any of them (though I will not keep your temper. answer for Venus) than it has in this vile, dirty planet of ours,—which o' my conscience, with

CHAPTER VII. reverence be it spoken, I take to be made up of the shreds and clippings of the rest;—not but In the same village where my father and my that the planet is well enough, provided a man mother dwelt, dwelt also a thin, upright, could be born in it to a great title or to a great motherly, notable, good old body of a midwife, estate; or could anyhow contrive to be called who, with the help of a little plain good sense, up to public charges, and employments of and some years' full employment in her business, dignity or power ;-but that is not my case; in which she had all along trusted little to her

-and therefore every man will speak of the own efforts, and a great deal to those of Dame fair as his own market has gone in it; ... for Nature, had acquired in her way no small de. which cause I affirm it over again to be one of gree of reputation in the world :

-by which the vilest worlds that ever was made ;- -for I word world, need I in this place inform your can truly say that, from the first hour I drew worship that I would be understood to mean my breath in it to this, I can now scarce draw it no more of it than a small circle described upon.

-for an asthma I got in skating against the circle of the great world, of four English the wind in Flanders :- I have been the con- miles diameter, or thereabouts, of which the tinual sport of what the world calls Fortune; cottage where the good old woman lived is supand though I will not wrong her by saying she posed to be the centre? She had been left, it has ever made me feel the weight of any great seems, a widow in great distress, with three or or signal evil, yet, with all the good temper in four small children, in her forty-seventh year; the world, I affirm it of her, that in every stage and as she was at that time a person of decent. of my life, and at every turn and corner where carriage, -grave deportment,-moreover, a woshe could get fairly at me, the ungracious man of few words, and withal an object of comduchess has pelted me with a set of as pitiful passion, whose distress, and silence under it, misadventures and cross accidents as ever small call out the louder for a friendly lift, the wife HERO sustained.

of the parson of the parish was touched with

pity; and often having lamented an inconveniCHAPTER VI.

ence to which her husband's flock had for many

years been exposed, inasmuch as there was no In the beginning of the last chapter, I informed such thing as a midwife, of any kind or degree, you exactly when I was born; but I did not to be got at, let the case have been ever so inform you how. No; that particular was re- urgent, within less than six or seven long miles' served entirely for a chapter by itself. Besides, riding; which said seven long miles, in dark sir, as you and I are in a manner perfect nights and dismal roads, the country thero

at all;

1

Socier.

[ocr errors]

abouts being nothing but a deep clay, was almost with any sort of grace, had I been an enemy to equal to fourteen; and that in effect was some- them at the bottom; for happening, at certain times next to having no midwife at all;-it came intervals and changes of the moon, to be both into her head that it would be doing as season- fiddler and painter, according as the fly stings, able a kindness to the whole parish as to the--be it known to you that I keep a couple of poor creature herself, to get her a little in- pads myself, upon which, in their turns (nor do structed in some of the plain principles of the I care who knows it), I frequently ride out and business, in order to set her up in it. As no take the air; though sometimes, to my shame woman thereabouts was better qualified to be it spoken, I take somewhat longer journeys execute the plan she had formed than herself, than what a wise man would think altogether the gentlewoman very charitably undertook it; right. But the truth is,- I am not a wise man ; and having great influence over the female part ---and besides am a mortal of so little conse

of the parish, she found no difficulty in effecting quence in the world, it is not much matter what ! it to the utmost of her wishes. In truth, the I do; so I seldom fret or fume at all about it :

parson joined his interest with his wife's in the nor does it much disturb my rest when I see whole affair; and in order to do things as they such great lords and tall personages as hereafter should be, and give the poor soul as good a title follow ;--such, for instance, as my Lord A, B, by law to practise as his wife had given by in-C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, and stitution, he cheerfully paid the fees for the so on, all of a row, mounted upon their several ordinary's licence himself, amounting in the horses ;-some with large stirrups, getting on in whole to the sum of eighteen shillings and four- a more grave and sober pace ;-others, on the pence; so that, betwixt them both, the good contrary, tucked up to their very chins, with woman was fully invested in the real and cor- whips across their mouths, scouring and scamporal possession of her office, together with all pering it away like so many little party-coloured its rights, members, and appurtenances what- devils astride a mortgage, and as if some of

them were resolved to break their necks.- So These last words, you must know, were not much the better, say I to myself; for, in case according to the old form in which such licences, the worst should happen, the world will make faculties, and powers usually ran, which in like a shift to do excellently well without them; cases had heretofore been granted to the sister and for the rest, —-why-God speed them hood. But it was according to a neat formula e'en let them ride on without opposition

of Didius's own devising, who, having a particu- from me; for, were their lordships unhorsed | lar turn for taking to pieces, and new framing this very night, 'tis ten to one but that many

over again, all kind of instruments in that way, of them would be worse mounted, by one-half, not only hit upon this dainty amendment, but before to-morrow morning. coaxed many of the old licensed matrons in the Not one of these instances therefore can be neighbourhood to open their faculties afresh, in said to break in upon my rest. — But there is order to have this whimwham of his inserted. an instance which I own puts me off my guard,

I own I never could envy Didius in these and that is when I see one born for great actions, kinds of fancies of his; but every man to his and what is still more for his honour, whose own taste. Did not Dr. Kunastrokius, that nature ever inclines him to good ones; when I great man, at his leisure hours, take the greatest behold such a one, my Lord, like yourself, whose delight imaginable in the combing of asses' tails, principles and conduct are as generous and noble and plucking the dead hairs out with his teeth, as his blood, and whom for that reason a corthough he had tweezers always in his pocket ? rupt world cannot spare one moment;—when Nay, if you come to that, sir, have not the I see such a one, my Lord, mounted, though it wisest of men in all ages, not excepting Solomon is but for a minute beyond the time which my himself, — have they not had their HOBBY- love to my country has prescribed to him, and Horses ; – their running-horses, -- their coins my zeal for his glory wishes, - then, my and their cockle-shells, their drums and their Lord, I cease to be a philosopher, and, in the trumpets, their fiddles, their pallets, -- their first transport of an honest impatience, I wish maggots and their butterflies ?–And so long as the HOBBY-HORSE, with all his fraternity, at a man rides his HOBBY-HORSE peaceably and the devil. quietly along the king's highway, and neither compels you nor me to get up behind him,- MY LORD, pray, sir, what have either you or I to do with 'I maintain this to be a dedication, notwithit?

standing its singularity in the three great

essentials of matter, form, and place. I beg, CHAPTER VIII.

therefore, you will accept it as such, and that

you will permit me to lay it, with the most re-De gustibus non est disputandum ; – that is, spectful humility, at your Lordship's feet, -when there is no disputing against HOBBY-HORSES; you are upon them, --which you can be when and, for my part, I seldom do; nor could I, you please ; and that is, my Lord, whenever

[ocr errors]

there is occasion for it, and I will add, to the sides, there is an air of originality in the tout best purposes too. I have the honour to be, ensemble. My Lord,

Be pleased, my good Lord, to order the sum Your Lordship’s most obedient,

to be paid into the hands of Mr. Dodsley, for and most devoted,

the benefit of the author; and in the next and most humble servant,

edition care shall be taken that this chapter be

expunged, and your dship's titles, distincTRISTRAH SHAXDT.'

tions, arms, and good actions, be placed at the

front of the preceding chapter: all which, from CHAPTER IX.

the words De gustibus non est disputandum, and

whatever else in this book relates to HOBBYI SOLEMNLY declare to all mankind, that the Horses, but no more, shall stand dedicated to above dedication was made for no one Prince, your Lordship.-The rest I dedicate to the Prelate, Pope, or Potentate,--Duke, Marquis, Moon, who, by the bye, of all the patrons, or Earl, Viscount, or Baron, of this or any other matrons, I can think of, has most power to set

realm in Christendom;- nor has it yet been my book a-going, and make the world run mad 1 hawked about, or offered publicly or privately, after it.

directly or indirectly, to any one person or per- Bright Goddess, sonage, great or small; but is honestly a true If thou art not too busy with Candid and Miss virgin dedication, untried on upon any soul CUNEGUND's affairs, take Tristram Shandy's living.

under thy protection also ! I labour this point so particularly merely to remove any offence or objection which might

CHAPTER X. arise against it from the manner in which I propose to make the most of it; which is the WHATEVER degree of small merit the act of putting of it up fairly to public sale, which I benignity in favour of the midwife might justly now do.

clain, or in whom that claim truly rested, at ---Every author has a way of liis own in first sight seems not very material to this hisbringing his points to bear ;--for my own part, tory ;-certain, however, it was that the gentleas I hate chaffering and higgling for a few woman, the parson's wife, did run away at that guineas in a dark entry, I resolved within my time with the whole of it: and yet, for my life, self, from the very beginning, to deal squarely I cannot help thinking but that the parson himand openly with your Great Folks in this affair, self, though he had not the good fortune to hit and try whether I should not come off the upon the design first,-yet, as he heartily conbetter.

curred in it the moment it was laid before him, If, therefore, there is any one Duke, Marquis, and as heartily parted with his money to carry Earl, Viscount, or Daron, in these His Majesty's it into execution, had a claim to some share of dominions, who stands in need of a tight, gen- it, if not to a full half of whatever honour was teel dedication, and whom the above will suit due to it. (for, by the bye, unless it suits in some degree, The world at that time was pleased to deterI will not part with it). it is much at lis | mine the matter otherwise. service, for fifty guineas ; — which I am posi- Lay down the book, and I will allow you half tive is twenty guineas less than it ought to be a day to give a probable guess at the grounds of afforded for, by any man of genius.

this procedure. My Lord, if you examine it over again, it is Be it known, then, that for about five years far from being a gross piece of daubing, as some before the date of the midwife's licence, of dedications are. The design, your Lordship which you have had so circumstantial an acsees, is good,--the colouring transparent,-the count, the parson we have to do with had «Irawing not amiss; or, to speak more like a made himself a country-talk by a breach of all man of science,--and measure my piece in the decorum, which he had committed against himpainter's scale, divided into 20,-I believe, my self, his station, and his office ; and that was in Lord, the outlines will turn out as 12,--the never appearing better, or otherwise, mounted, composition as 9,-the colouring as 6,—the ex- than upon a lean, sorry, jackass of a horse, pression 13 and a half,-and the design, if I value about one pound fifteen shillings; who, may be allowed, my Lord, to understand my to shorten all description of him, was full own design, and supposing absolute perfection brother to Rosinante, as far as similitude conin designing, to be as 20,-I think it cannot genial could make him ; for he answered his well fall short of 19. Besides all this, there description to a hair's breadth in everything, is keeping in it; and the dark strokes in the except that I do not remember 'tis anywhere HOBBY-HORSE (which is a secondary figure, and said that Rosinante was broken-winded; and a kind of background to the whole) give great that, moreover, Rosinante, as is the happiness force to the principal lights in your own figure, of most Spanish horses, fat or lean, was unand make it come off wonderfully ;--and bc- doubtedly a horse at all points.

your life,

I know very well that the Hero's horse was a love of money, and who therefore made the less horse of chaste deportment, which may have scruple in bantering the extravagance of his given grounds for the contrary opinion ; but it humour,-instead of giving the true cause,-he is as certain, at the same time, that Rosinante's chose rather to join in the laugh against himcontinency (as may be demonstrated from the self; and as he never carried one single ounce adventure of the Yanguesian carriers) proceeded of flesh upon his own bones, being altogether as from no bodily defect or cause whatsoever, but spare a figure as his beast, he would sometimes from the temperance and orderly current of his insist upon it that the horse was as good as the blood. —And let me tell you, madam, there is a rider deserved ;-that they were--centaur-like great deal of very good chastity in the world in both of a piece. At other times, and in other behalf of which you could not say more, for moods, when his spirits were above the tempta

tion of false wit, he would say he found himLet that be as it may, as my purpose is to do self going off fast in a consumption ; and, with exact justice to every creature brought upon great gravity, would pretend he could not bear the stage of this dramatic work, I could not the sight of a fat horse, without a dejection of stifle this distinction in favour of Don Quixote's heart, 'and a sensible alteration in his pulse ; horse ;--in all other points, the parson's horse, and that he had made choice of the lean one he I say, was just such another, for he was as lean, rode upon, not only to keep himself in counteand as lank, and as sorry a jade as Humility nance, but in spirits. herself could have bestrided.

At different times he would give fifty humoIn the estimation of here and there a man of rous and apposite reasons for riding a meekweak judgment, it was greatly in the parson's spirited jade of a broken-winded horse, preferpower to have helped the figure of this horse of ably to one of mettle ;—for on such a one he his,-for he was master of a very handsome could sit mechanically, and meditate as delightdemi-peak'd saddle, quilted on the seat with fully de vanitate mundi et fugâ sæculi as with green plush, garnished with a double row of the advantage of a death’s-head before him ;silverheaded studs, and a noble pair of shining that, in all other exercitations he could spend brass stirrups, with a housing altogether suit- his time, as he rode slowly along, to as much able, of grey superfine cloth, with an edging of account as in liis study ;-that he could draw black lace, terminating in a deep black silk up an argument in his sermon, or a hole in his fringe, poudre d'or ;-all which he had pur- | breeches, as steadily on the one as in the other; chased in the pride and prime of his life, to--that brisk trotting and slow argumentation, gether with a grand embossed bridle, orna- like wit and judgment, were two incompatible mented at all points as it should be.—But movements,--but that upon his steed he could not caring to banter his beast, he had hung all unite and reconcile everything ;-he could comthese ap behind his study door; and, in lieu of pose his sermon-he could compose his cough, them, had seriously befitted him with just such -and, in case nature gave a call that way, a bridle and such a saddle as the figure and he could likewise compose himself to sleep.-In value of such a steed might well and truly short, the parson, upon such encounters, would deserve.

assign any cause but the true cause ; and he In the several sallies about his parish, and in withheld the true one only out of a nicety of the neighbouring visits to the gentry who lived temper, because he thought it did honour to around him, --you will easily comprehend that him. the parson, so appointed, would both hear and But the truth of the story was as follows :see enough to keep his philosophy from rusting. In the first years of this gentleman's life, and To speak the truth, he never could enter a vil- about the time when the superb saddle and lage but he caught the attention of both old bridle were purchased by him, it had been his and young. -Labour stood still as he passed, - manner, or vanity, or call it what you will, to the bucket hung suspended in the middle of the run into the opposite extreme. In the language well,-the spinning-wheel forgot its round, - of the country where he dwelt, he was said to even chuck-farthing and shuffle-cap themselves have loved a good horse, and generally had one stood gaping till he had got out of sight; and of the best in the whole parish standing in his as his movement was not of the quickest, he stable always ready for saddling; and as the had generally time enough upon his hands to nearest midwife, as I told you, did not live make his observations,-to hear the groans of nearer to the village than seven miles, and in a the serious, and the laughter of the light- | vile country, it so fell out that the poor gentlehearted; all which he bore with excellent tran- man was scarce a whole week together without quillity. His character was--he loved a jest in some piteous application for his beast; and as his heart; and as he saw himself in the true he was not an unkind-hearted man, and every point of ridicule, he would say he could not be case was more pressing and more distressful angry with others for seeing him in a light in than the last, -much as he loved his beast, he which he so strongly saw himself; so that to had never a heart to refuse him ; the upshot of his friends, who knew his foible was not the which was generally this, that his horse was either clapped, or spavined, or greased; or he would have done the parson credit, the devil was twitter-boned, or broken-winded, or some- a soul could find it out. I suppose that his thing, in short, or other had befallen him which enemies would not, and that his friends could would let him carry no flesh ;--so that he had, not.- But no sooner did he bestir himself in every nine or ten months, a bad horse to get behalf of the midwife, and pay the expenses of rid of, and a good horse to purchase in his the ordinary's licence to set her up, but the stead.

whole secret came out: every horse

had lost, What the loss in such a balance might amount and two horses more than ever he had lost, with to, communibus annis, I would leave to a special all the circumstances of their destruction, were jury of sufferers in the same traffic to deter-known and distinctly remembered. The story mine ; but, let it be what it would, the honest ran like wildfire.—The parson had a returning gentleman bore it for many years without a fit of pride which had just seized him; and he murmur; till at length, by repeated ill acci- was going to be well mounted once again in his dents of the kind, he found it necessary to life; and if it was so, 'twas plain as the sun at take the thing under consideration; and, upon noon-day he would pocket the expense of the weighing the whole, and summing it up in his licence, ten times told, the very first year : so mind, he found it not only disproportioned to that everybody was left to judge what were his his other expenses, but withal so heavy an views in this act of charity.' article in itself, as to disable him from any other What were his views in this and in every act of generosity in his parish. Besides this, he other action of his life, or rather what were considered that, with half the sum thus galloped the opinions which floated in the brains of other away, he could do ten times as much good ;- people concerning it, was a thought which too and what still weighed more with him than all much floated in his own, and too often broke in other considerations put together was this, that upon his rest, when he should have been sound it confined all his charity into one particular asleep. channel, and where, as he fancied, it was the About ten years ago this gentleman had the least wanted, namely, to the child-bearing and good fortune to be made entirely easy upon child-getting part of his parish ; reserving that score, --it being just so long since he left nothing for the impotent,-nothing for the his parish and the world at the same time aged, -nothing for the many comfortless scenes behind him; and stands accountable to a Judge he was hourly called forth to visit, where of whom he will have no cause to complain. poverty, and sickness, and affliction dwelt to- But there is a fatality attends the actions of gether.

some men: order them as they will, they pass For these reasons he resolved to discontinue through a certain medium which so twists and the expense; and there appeared but two refracts them from their true directionspossible ways to extricate him clearly out of it; that, with all the titles to praise which a recti-and these were, either to make it an irre. tude of heart can give, the doers of them are vocable law never more to lend his steed upon nevertheless forced to live and die without it. any application whatever, or else be content to Of the truth of which, this gentleman was a ride the last poor devil, such as they had made painful example. But to know by what him, with all his aches and infirmities, to the means this came to pass, and to make that very end of the chapter.

knowledge of use to you, I insist upon it that As he dreaded his own constancy in the first, you read the two following chapters, which he very cheerfully betook himself to the contain such a sketch of his life and conversasecond; and though he could very well have tion as will carry its moral along with it. When explained it, as I said, to his honour, yet for this is done, if nothing stops us in our way, we that very reason he had a spirit above it ; choos- will go on with the midwife. ing rather to bear the contempt of his enemies, and the laugh of his friends, than undergo the

CHAPTER XI. pain of telling a story which might seem a panegyric upon himself.

YORICK was this parson's name, and, what is I have the highest idea of the spiritual and very remarkable in it (as appears from a most refined sentiments of this reverend gentleman, ancient account of the family, wrote upon strong from this single stroke in his character, which I vellum, and now in perfect preservation), it had think comes up to any of the honest refinements been exactly so spelt for near-I was within of the peerless knight of La Mancha, whom, by an ace of saying nine hundred years; but I the bye, with all his follies, I love more, and would not shake my credit in telling an improwould actually have gone farther to have paid a bable truth-however indisputable in itself; visit to, than the greatest hero of antiquity. -and therefore I shall content myself with

But this is not the moral of my story: the only saying—It had been exactly so spelt, thing I had in view was to show the temper of without the least variation or transposition of the world in the whole of this affair.-For you a single letter, for I do not know how long ; must know that, so long as this explanation which is more than I would venture to say of

« EelmineJätka »