Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 1.XVI.

Full Text Chapter 1.XVI.

Chapter 1.XVI.

My father, as any body may naturally imagine, came down with my mother into the country, in but a pettish kind of a humour. The first twenty or five-and-twenty miles he did nothing in the world but fret and teaze himself, and indeed my mother too, about the cursed expence, which he said might every shilling of it have been saved;—then what vexed him more than every thing else was, the provoking time of the year,—which, as I told you, was towards the end of September, when his wall-fruit and green gages especially, in which he was very curious, were just ready for pulling:—'Had he been whistled up to London, upon a Tom Fool's errand, in any other month of the whole year, he should not have said three words about it.'

For the next two whole stages, no subject would go down, but the heavy blow he had sustain'd from the loss of a son, whom it seems he had fully reckon'd upon in his mind, and register'd down in his pocket-book, as a second staff for his old age, in case Bobby should fail him. 'The disappointment of this, he said, was ten times more to a wise man, than all the money which the journey, &c. had cost him, put together,—rot the hundred and twenty pounds,—he did not mind it a rush.'

From Stilton, all the way to Grantham, nothing in the whole affair provoked him so much as the condolences of his friends, and the foolish figure they should both make at church, the first Sunday;—of which, in the satirical vehemence of his wit, now sharpen'd a little by vexation, he would give so many humorous and provoking descriptions,—and place his rib and self in so many tormenting lights and attitudes in the face of the whole congregation;—that my mother declared, these two stages were so truly tragi-comical, that she did nothing but laugh and cry in a breath, from one end to the other of them all the way.

From Grantham, till they had cross'd the Trent, my father was out of all kind of patience at the vile trick and imposition which he fancied my mother had put upon him in this affair—'Certainly,' he would say to himself, over and over again, 'the woman could not be deceived herself—if she could,—what weakness!'—tormenting word!—which led his imagination a thorny dance, and, before all was over, play'd the duce and all with him;—for sure as ever the word weakness was uttered, and struck full upon his brain—so sure it set him upon running divisions upon how many kinds of weaknesses there were;—that there was such a thing as weakness of the body,—as well as weakness of the mind,—and then he would do nothing but syllogize within himself for a stage or two together, How far the cause of all these vexations might, or might not, have arisen out of himself.

In short, he had so many little subjects of disquietude springing out of this one affair, all fretting successively in his mind as they rose up in it, that my mother, whatever was her journey up, had but an uneasy journey of it down.—In a word, as she complained to my uncle Toby, he would have tired out the patience of any flesh alive.