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Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 1.XXIV.

Full Text Chapter 1.XXIV.

Chapter 1.XXIV.

If I was not morally sure that the reader must be out of all patience for my uncle Toby's character,—I would here previously have convinced him that there is no instrument so fit to draw such a thing with, as that which I have pitch'd upon.

A man and his Hobby-Horse, tho' I cannot say that they act and re-act exactly after the same manner in which the soul and body do upon each other: Yet doubtless there is a communication between them of some kind; and my opinion rather is, that there is something in it more of the manner of electrified bodies,—and that, by means of the heated parts of the rider, which come immediately into contact with the back of the Hobby-Horse,—by long journies and much friction, it so happens, that the body of the rider is at length fill'd as full of Hobby-Horsical matter as it can hold;—so that if you are able to give but a clear description of the nature of the one, you may form a pretty exact notion of the genius and character of the other.

Now the Hobby-Horse which my uncle Toby always rode upon, was in my opinion an Hobby-Horse well worth giving a description of, if it was only upon the score of his great singularity;—for you might have travelled from York to Dover,—from Dover to Penzance in Cornwall, and from Penzance to York back again, and not have seen such another upon the road; or if you had seen such a one, whatever haste you had been in, you must infallibly have stopp'd to have taken a view of him. Indeed, the gait and figure of him was so strange, and so utterly unlike was he, from his head to his tail, to any one of the whole species, that it was now and then made a matter of dispute,—whether he was really a Hobby-Horse or no: But as the Philosopher would use no other argument to the Sceptic, who disputed with him against the reality of motion, save that of rising up upon his legs, and walking across the room;—so would my uncle Toby use no other argument to prove his Hobby-Horse was a Hobby-Horse indeed, but by getting upon his back and riding him about;—leaving the world, after that, to determine the point as it thought fit.

In good truth, my uncle Toby mounted him with so much pleasure, and he carried my uncle Toby so well,—that he troubled his head very little with what the world either said or thought about it.

It is now high time, however, that I give you a description of him:—But to go on regularly, I only beg you will give me leave to acquaint you first, how my uncle Toby came by him.