Imágenes de páginas

virtue of an indenture of bargain and sale, for ticles, to have my nose squeezed as flat to my a year, to them the said John Dixon and James face as if the destinies had actually spun me Turner, Esquires, by him the said Walter Shan- without one. dy, merchant, thereof made; which said bar- How this event came about, and what a gain and sale for a year, bears date the day next train of vexatious disappointments, in one stage before the date of these presents, and by force or other of my life, have pursued me, from the and virtue of the statute for transferring of uses mere loss, or rather compression, of this one sininto possession,—ALL that the manor and gle member--shall be laid before the reader all lordship of Shandy, in the county of - in due time. with all the rights, members, and appurtenances thereof; and all and every the messuages, houses, buildings, barns, stables, orchards, gar

CHAP. XVI. dens, backsides, tofts, crofts, garths, cottages, lands, meadows, feedings, pastures, marshes, My father, as any body may naturally imacommons, woods, underwoods, drains, fisheries, gine, came down with my mother into the counwaters, and watercourses, together with all try, in but a pettish kind of a humour. The rents, reversions, services, annuities, fee-farms, first twenty or five-and-twenty miles he did knights' fees, views of frank-pledge, escheats, nothing in the world but fret and teaze himself, reliefs, mines, quarries, goods and chattels of and indeed, my mother too, about the cursed felons and fugitives, felons of themselves, and expense, which, he said, might every shilling of put in exigent, deodands, fee-warrens, and all it have been saved ;-then, what vexed him other royalties and seignories, rights and juris- more than every thing else, was the provoking dictions, privileges and hereditaments whatso- time of the year,—which, as I told you, was toever. -AND ALSO, the advowson, dona- wards the end of September, when his wall-fruit, tion, presentation and free disposition of the and green gages especially, in which he was very rectory or parsonage of Shandy aforesaid, and curious, were just ready for pulling:

-“ Had all and every the tenths, tithes, glebe-lands” he been whistled up to London, upon a Tom

In three words my mother was to Fool's errand in any other month of the whole ly-in (if she chose it) in London.

year, he should not have said three words about But in order to put a stop to the practice of it.” any unfair play on the part of my mother, which For the next two whole stages, no subject a marriage article of this nature too manifestly would go down, but the heavy blow he had susopened a door to, and which, indeed, had never tained from the loss of a son, whom, it seems, been thought of at all, but for my uncle Toby he had fully reckoned upon in his mind, and reShandy;a clause was added in security of gistered down in his pocket book, as a second my father, which was this: That in case staff for his old age, in case Bobby should fail my mother hereafter should, at any time, put him. “ The disappointment of this, he said, my father to the trouble and expense of a Lon- was ten times more to a wise man, than all the don journey, upon false cries and tokens ;-that money which the journey, &c. had cost him, for every such instance, she should forfeit all the put together- -Rot the hundred and twenty right and title which the covenant gave her to pounds, he did not mind it a rush.” the next turn;-but to no more,--and so on, From Stilton all the way to Grantham, nototies quoties, in as effectual a manner as if such thing in the whole affair provoked him so much a covenant betwixt them had not been made.” as the condolences of his friends, and the foolish

- This, by the way, was no more than what figure they should both make at church the first was reasonable ; and yet, as reasonable as it Sunday,- of which, in the satirical vehemence was, I have ever thought it hard, that the whole of his wit, now sharpened a little by vexation, weight of the article should have fallen entirely, he would give so many humorous and provoas it did, upon myself.

king descriptions--and place his rib and self in But I was begot and born to misfortunes; so many tormenting lights and attitudes, in the

for my poor mother, whether it was wind, face of the whole congregation,--that my moor water, or a compound of both,—or neither; ther declared these two stages were so truly tra- or whether it was simply the mere swell of giecomical, that she did nothing but laugh and imagination and fancy in her ;-r how far a cry in a breath, from one end to the other of strong wish and desire to have it so, might mis-' them all the way. lead her judgment ;-in short, whether she From Grantham, till they had crossed the was deceived, or deceiving in this matter, it no Trent, my father was out of all kind of patience way becomes me to decide. The fact was this, at the vile trick and imposition which he fanthat in the latter end of September 1717, which cied my mother had put upon him in this afwas the year before I was born, my mother ha- fair. Certainly,” he would say to himself, ving carried my father up to town, much against over and over again, “ the woman could not be the grain,--he peremptorily insisted upon the deceived herself ;--if she could,--what weakclause ; so that I was doomed, by marriage-ara ness!"--Tormenting word ! which led his imagination a thorny dance, and, before all was over, the week was well got round, as the famous Dr played the deuce and all with him ;- -for, sure Maningham was not to be had, she had come to as ever the word weakness was uttered, and a final determination in her mind, -notwithstruck full upon his brain, so sure it set him up- standing there was a scientific operator within on running divisions upon how many kinds of so near a call as eight miles of us, and who, weaknesses there were ;—that there was such a moreover, had expressly wrote a five shilling thing as weakness of the body, as well as book upon the subject of midwifery, in which weakness of the mind ;-and then he would do he had exposed, not only the blunders of the nothing but syllogize within himself for a stage sisterhood itself,—but had likewise superadded or two together, how far the cause of all these many curious improvements for the quicker exvexations might, or might not, have arisen out traction of the foetus in cross births, and some of himself.

other cases of danger which delay us in getting In short, he had so many little subjects of into the world ;-notwithstanding all this, my disquietude springing out of this one affair, all mother, I say, was absolutely determined to fretting successively in his mind as they rose up trust her life, and mine with it, into no soul's in it, that my mother, whatever was her jour- hand but this old woman's only.--Now this I ney up, had but an uneasy journey of it down. like ;-when we cannot get at the very thing we -In a word, as she complained to my uncle wish, never to take up with the next best in deToby, he would have tired out the patience of gree to it ;- no, that's pitiful beyond description. any flesh alive.

It is no more than a week from this very day in which I am now writing this book for the edifica

tion of the world, which is March 9, 1759, CHAP. XVII.

-that my dear, dear Jenny, observing I looked

a little grave, as she stood cheapening a silk of Though my father travelled homewards as I five and twenty shillings a yard, -told the mertold you, in none of the best of moods,-pshaw. cer she was sorry she had given him so much ing and pish-ing all the way dowil, —yet he had trouble ; and immediately went and bought herthe complaisance to keep the worst part of the self a yard-wide stuff of ten-pence a yard. 'Tis story still to himself; which was the resolution the duplication of one and the same greatness of he had taken, of doing himself the justice, which soul; only, what lessened the honour of it somemy uncle Toby's clause in the marriage-settle- what, in my mother's case, was, that she could ment empowered him; nor was it till the very not heroine it into so violent and hazardous an night in which I was begot, which was thirteen extreme, as one in her situation might have months after, that she had the least intimation wished, because the old midwife had really some of his design ;

-when my father, happening, little claim to be depended upon,-—as much, at as you remember, to be a little chagrined and least, as success could give her ; having, in the out of temper,--took occasion, as they lay chat- course of her practice of near twenty years in tinggravely in bed afterwards, talking over what the parish, brought every mother's son of them was to come,--to let her know that she must into the world without any one slip or accident accommodate herself as well as she could to the which could fairly be laid to her account. bargain made between them in their marriage- These facts, though they had their weight, deeds; which was, to ly-in of her next child in yet did not altogether satisfy some few scruples the country, to balance the last year's journey. and uneasinesses which hung upon my father's

My father was a gentleman of many virtues, spirits in relation to this choice. but he had a strong spice of that in his tem- nothing of the natural workings of humanity per, which might, or might not, add to the and justice, or of the yearnings of parental and number.- 'Tis known by the name of per- connubial love, all which prompted him to leave severance in a good cause, and of obstinacy in a as little to hazard as possible in a case of this bad one : of this my mother had so much know- kind,-he felt himself concerned in a particular ledge, that she knew 'twas to no purpose to make manner, that all should go right in the present any remonstrance ;--so she e'en resolved to sit case, - from the accumulated sorrow he lay

open down quietly, and make the most of it. to, should any evil betide his wife and child, in

lying-in at Shandy-hall.—He knew the world

judged by events, and would add to his afflicCHAP. XVIII.

tions in such a misfortune, by loading him with

the whole blame of it." Alas o' day!-had As the point was that night agreed, or rather Mrs Shandy, poor gentlewoman! had' but her determined, that my mother should ly-in of me wish in going up to town just to ly-in and come in the country, she took her measures accord- down again,--which, they say, she begged and ingly; for which purpose, when she was three prayed for upon her bare knees,-and which, in days, or thereabouts, gone with child, she began my opinion, considering the fortune which Mr to cast her eyes upon the midwife whom you Shandy got with her,-was no such mighty have so often heard me mention ; and before matter to have coinplied with, the lady and her

-To say

babe might both of them have been alive at cheer and hospitality flourish once more ;this hour.”

and that such weight and influence be put thereThis exclamation, my father knew, was un- by into the hands of the 'Squirality of my kinganswerable ;-and yet, it was not merely to dom, as should counterpoise what I perceive my shelter himself, nor was it altogether for the Nobility are now taking from them. care of his offspring and wife, that he seemed so Why are there so few palaces and gentle extremely anxious about this point ;- my fa- men's seats," he would ask, with some emotion, ther had extensive views of things, -and stood, as he walked across the room, “ throughout so moreover, as he thought, deeply

concerned in it many delicious provinces in France ? Whence for the public good, from the dread he enter- is it that the few remaining chateaus amongst tained of the bad uses an ill-fated instance them are so dismantled, --so unfurnished, and in might be put to.

so ruinous and desolate a condition ?-Because, He was very sensible that all political writers sir (he would say,) in that kingdom no man has upon the subject had unanimously agreed and any country interest to support ;- -the little lamented, from the beginning of Queen Eliza- interest of any kind, which any man has any beth's reign down to his own time, that the where in it, is concentrated in the court, and current of men and money towards the metro- the looks of the Grand Monarque ; by the sunpolis, upon one frivolous errand or another, shine of whose countenance, or the clouds which set in so strong, -as to become dangerous to our pass across it, every Frenchman lives or dies.” civil rights; though, by the bye, a current Another political reason which prompted my was not the image he took most delight in,-a father so strongly to guard against the least evil distemper was here his favourite metaphor; and accident in my mother's lying-in in the country, he would run it down into a perfect allegory, -was, That any such instance would infallibly by maintaining it was identically the same in throw a balance of power, too great already, inthe body national as in the body natural ; where to the weaker vessels of the gentry, in his own, the blood and spirits were driven up into the or higher stations ;which, with the many head faster than they could find their ways other usurped rights which that part of the down,-a stoppage of circulation must ensue, constitution was hourly establishing,would, which was death in both cases.

in the end, prove fatal to the monarchial system There was little danger, he would say, of lo- of domestic government established in the first sing our liberties by French politics or French creation of things by God. invasions ; nor was he so much in pain of a In this point he was entirely of Sir Robert consumption from the mass of corrupted matter Filmer's opinion, That the plans and institutions and ulcerated humours in our constitution, of the greatest monarchies in the eastern parts which he hoped was not so bad as it was ima- of the world, were originally all stolen from that gined, but he verily feared, that in some vio- admirable pattern and prototype of this houselent push, we should go off, all at once, in a hold and paternal power ; which, for a century, state of apoplexy ;- and then he would say, he said, and more, had gradually been degeneThe Lord have mercy upon us all.

rating away into a mixed government; the My father was never able to give the history form of which, however desirable in great comof this distemper,—without the remedy along binations of the species-was very troublesome with it.

in small ones,--and seldom produced any thing, “ Was I an absolute prince," he would say, that he saw, but sorrow and confusion. pulling up his breeches with both his hands, as For all these reasons, private and public, put he rose from his arm-chair, “ I would appoint together,-my father was for having the manable judges at every avenue of my metropolis, midwife by all means,—my mother by no means. who should take cognizance of every fool's busi- My father begged and entreated she would for ness who came there ; and if, upon a fair and once recede from her prerogative in this matter, candid hearing, it appeared not of weight suffi- and suffer him to choose for her ;-my mocient to leave his own home, and come up, bag ther, on the contrary, insisted upon her privi and baggage, with his wife and children, farmers' lege in this matter, to choose for herself, -and sons, &c. &c. at his backside, they should be all have no mortal's help but the old woman's. sent back from constable to constable, like va- What could my father do ? He was almost at grants, as they were, to the place of their legal his wit's end ; talked it over with her in all settlements. By this means, I should take care, moods ;- -placed his arguments in all lights; that my metropolis tottered not through its own argued the matter with her like a Christian, weight;—that the head be no longer too big for – like a heathen,- like a husband,-like a fathe body; that the extremes, now wasted and ther,- like a patriot-like a man.pined in, be. restored to their due share of mother answered every thing only like a woman; nourishment, and regain, with it, their natural which was a little hard upon her ;strength and beauty:

-would effectually she could not assume and fight it out behind provide, that the meadows and corn fields of my such a variety of characters,—it was no fair dominions should laugh and sing ;- that good match ;-'twas seven to one.- -What could

VOL. v.


for as


my mother do? - She had the advantage great good sense,--knowing, as the reader must (otherwise she would have been certainly over- have observed him, and curious too, in philoso powered) of a small reinforcement of chagrin phy,--wise also in political reasoning -and in personal at the bottom, which bore her up, and polemical (as he will find) no way ignorant, enabled her to dispute the affair with my father could be capable of entertaining a notion in his with so equal an advantage ---that both sides head, so out of the common track,--that I fear sung Te Deum. In a word, my mother was to the reader, when I come to mention it to him, have the old woman,--and the operator was to if he is the least of a choleric temper, will imhave licence to drink a bottle of wine with my mediately throw the book by ;if mercurial, father, and my uncle Toby Shandy, in the back he will laugh most heartily at it;--and if he parlour,-for which he was to be paid five is of a grave and saturnine cast, he will, at first guineas.

sight, absolutely condemn as fanciful and extraI must beg leave, before I finish this chapter, vagant; and that was in respect to the choice to enter a caveat in the breast of my fair reader; and imposition of Christian names, on which he

and it is this :-Not to take it absolutely thought a great deal more depended, than what for granted, from an unguarded word or two superficial minds were capable of conceiving. which I have dropped in it," that I am a His opinion, in this matter, was, That there married man." - I own, the tender appellation was a strange kind of magic bias, which good or of my dear, dear Jenny, with some other bad names, as he called them, irresistibly imstrokes of conjugal knowledge interspersed here pressed upon our characters and conduct. and there, might, naturally

enough, have mis- The Hero of Cervantes argued not the point led the most candid judge in the world into with more seriousness,- -nor had he more faith, such a determination against me.--All I -or more to say on the powers of Necromancy plead for in this case, madam, is strict justice, in dishonouring his deeds,- ,-or on Dulcinea's and that you do so much of it

, to me as well as name, in shedding lustre upon them, than my to yourself,—as not to prejudge or receive such father had on those of Trismegistus or Archian impression of me, till you have better evidence, MEDES, on the one hand,-or of Nyky and Simthan, I am positive, at present can be produced Kin on the other. How many CÆSARS and against me:- -Not that I can be so vain, or Pompeys, he would say, by mere inspiration of unreasonable, madam, as to desire you should the names, have been rendered worthy of them? therefore think, that my dear, dear Jenny, is my And how many, he would add, are there, who kept mistress ;-10,—that would be flattering might have done exceeding well in the world, my character in the other extreme, and giving had not their characters and spirits been totally it an air of freedom, which, perhaps, it has no depressed and NICODEMUS'd into nothing. kind of right to. All I contend for, is the utter I see plainly, sir, by your looks, (or as the impossibility for some volumes, that you, or the case happened) my father would say,--that you most penetrating spirit upon earth, should know do not heartily subscribe to this opinion of mine, how this matter really stands.- -It is not — which, to those, he would add, who have not impossible, but that my dear, dear Jenny! ten- carefully sifted it to the bottom, -I own has an der as the appellation is, may be my child. air more of fancy than of solid reasoning in it; Consider, I was born in the year eighteen. -and yet, iny dear sir, if I may presume to

-Nor is there any thing unnatural or ex- know your character, I am morally assured, I travagant in the supposition, that my dear Jenny should hazard little in stating a case to you, may be my friend.- -Friend ! My not as a party in the dispute, but as a judge, friend. -Surely, madam, a friendship be- and trusting my appeal upon it to your own tween the two sexes may subsist, and be support- good sense and candià disquisition in this mated without -Fy! Mr Shandy

ter. -You are a person free from as many without any thing, madam, but that tender and narrow prejudices of edueation as most men ; delicious sentiment, which ever mixes in friend- and, if I may presume to penetrate farther into ship, where there is a difference of sex. Let me you, of a liberality of genius above bearing entreat you to study the pure and sentimental down an opinion, merely because it wants friends. parts of the best French romances ; it will Your son !-your dear son,- -from whose sweet really, madam, astonish you to see with what a and open temper you have so much to expect, variety of chaste expressions this delicious sen- your Billy, sir, would you for the world timent, which I have the honour to speak of, is have called him Judas? Would you, my dressed out.

dear sir, he would say, laying his hand upon your breast with the genteelest address, -and

in that soft and irresistible piano of voice, which CHAP. XIX.

the nature of the argumentum ad hominem ab

solutely requires, -Would you, sir, if a I would sooner undertake to explain the Jew of a godfather had proposed the name of hardest problem in geometry, than pretend to your child, and offered you his purse along with account for it, that a gentleman of my father's it, would you have consented to such a desecration of him? -O my God! he would say, blishment of my father's many odd opinions, looking up, if I know your temper right, sir, but as a warning to the learned reader against

-you are incapable of it;- -you would have the indiscreet reception of such guests, who, trampled upon the offer ;- -you would have after a free and undisturbed entrance for some thrown the temptation at the tempter's head years, into our brains, at length claim a kind with abhorrence.

of settlement there,--working sometimes like Your greatness of mind in this action, which yeast,—but more generally after the manner of I admire, with that generous contempt of money the gentle passion, beginning in jest,-—but endwhich you shew me in the whole transaction, is ing in downright earnest. really noble; and, what renders it more so, Whether this was the case of the singularity is the principle of it; the workings of a pa- of my father's notions, or that his judgment, at rent's love upon the truth and conviction of this length, became the dupe of his wit'; or how far, very hypothesis, namely, that was your son called in many of his notions, he might, though odd, JODAS,—the sordid and treacherous idea, so in- be absolutely right; -the reader, as he comes separable from the name, would have accom- at them, shall decide. All that I maintain here, panied him through life like his shadow, and, is, that, in this one, of the influence of Christian in the end, made a miser and a rascal of him, in names, however it gained footing, he was serispite, sir, of your example.

-he was all uniformity ;-

-he was sysI never knew a man able to answer this argu- tematical, and, like all systematic reasoners, he ment- -But, indeed, to speak of my father would move both heaven and earth, and twist as he was ;-he was certainly irresistible, both and torture every thing in nature to support his in his orations and disputations; he was born hypothesis. In a word, I repeat it over again, an orator ;- -Θεοδίδακλος.- -Persuasion hung he was serious !- -and, in consequence of it, upon his lips, and the elements of Logic and he would lose all kind of patience whenever he Rhetoric were so blended up in him,--and, saw people, especially of condition, who should withal, he had so shrewd a guess at the weak- have known better, -as careless and as indiffenesses and passions of his respondent,—that rent about the name they imposed upon their NATURE might have stood up and said, "This child, or more so, than in the choice of Ponto man is eloquent." In short, whether he was or Cupid for their puppy dog, on the weak or the strong side of the question, This, he would say, looked ill ;- and had, 'twas hazardous in either case to attack him: moreover, this particular aggravation in it, viz.

And yet, 'tis strange, he had never read That, when once a vile name was wrongfully or Cicero, nor Quintilian de Oratore, nor Isocrates, injudiciously given, it was not like the case of a nor Aristotle, nor Longinus, amongst the ana man's character, which, when wronged, might cients;nor Vossius, nor Skioppius, nor Ra- hereafter be cleared, -and, possibly, some time mus, por Farnaby, amongst the moderns ;- or other, if not in the man's life, at least after and, what is more astonishing, he had never in his death, be, somehow or other, set to rights his whole life the least light or spark of subtilty with the world : But the injury of this, he struck into his mind, by one single lecture upon would say, could never be undone ;-nay, he Crakenthorp or Burgersdicius, or any Dutch doubted even whether an act of parliament could logician or commentator :-he knew not so much reach it :- -He knew, as well as you, that the as in what the difference of an argument ad ig- legislature assumed a power over sirnames; norantiam, and an argument ad hominem con- but, for very strong reasons which he could give, sisted ; so that I well remember, when he went it had never yet adventured, he would say, to up along with me to enter my name at Jesus go a step farther. College in **** -it was a matter of just won- It was observable, that though my father, in der with my worthy tutor, and two or three fel- consequence of this opinion, had, as I have told lows of that learned society, that a man who you, the strongest likings and dislikings towards knew not so much as the names of his tools, certain names, that there were still numbers should be able to work after that fashion with of names which hung so equally in the balance them.

before him, that they were absolutely indifferent To work with them in the best manner he to him: Jack, Dick, and Tom, were of this could, was what my father was, however, per- class: these my father called neutral names ;petually forced upon ;- -for he had a thousand affirming of them, without a satire, that there little sceptical notions of the comic kind to de- had been as many knaves and fools, at least, as fend,-most of which notions, I verily believe, vise and good men, since the world began, who at first entered upon the footing of mere whims, had indifferently borne them so that, like and of a vive la bagatelle ; and, as such, he would equal forces acting against each other in contrary make merry with them for half an hour or so, directions, he thought they mutually destroyed and, having sharpened his wit upon 'em, dismiss each other's effects; for which reason, he would thein till another day.

often declare, he would not give a cherry-stone I mention this, not only as matter of hypo- to choose amongst them. Bob, which was my thesis or conjecture upon the progress and esta- brother's name, was another of these neutral

« AnteriorContinuar »