You love us on Instagram and Twitter, now check us out on TikTok! You love us on Instagram and Twitter, now check us out on TikTok!

Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 1.XXIX.

Full Text Chapter 1.XXIX.

Chapter 1.XXIX.

I would not give a groat for that man's knowledge in pen-craft, who does not understand this,—That the best plain narrative in the world, tacked very close to the last spirited apostrophe to my uncle Toby—would have felt both cold and vapid upon the reader's palate;—therefore I forthwith put an end to the chapter, though I was in the middle of my story.

—Writers of my stamp have one principle in common with painters. Where an exact copying makes our pictures less striking, we choose the less evil; deeming it even more pardonable to trespass against truth, than beauty. This is to be understood cum grano salis; but be it as it will,—as the parallel is made more for the sake of letting the apostrophe cool, than any thing else,—'tis not very material whether upon any other score the reader approves of it or not.

In the latter end of the third year, my uncle Toby perceiving that the parameter and semi-parameter of the conic section angered his wound, he left off the study of projectiles in a kind of a huff, and betook himself to the practical part of fortification only; the pleasure of which, like a spring held back, returned upon him with redoubled force.

It was in this year that my uncle began to break in upon the daily regularity of a clean shirt,—to dismiss his barber unshaven,—and to allow his surgeon scarce time sufficient to dress his wound, concerning himself so little about it, as not to ask him once in seven times dressing, how it went on: when, lo!—all of a sudden, for the change was quick as lightning, he began to sigh heavily for his recovery,—complained to my father, grew impatient with the surgeon:—and one morning, as he heard his foot coming up stairs, he shut up his books, and thrust aside his instruments, in order to expostulate with him upon the protraction of the cure, which, he told him, might surely have been accomplished at least by that time:—He dwelt long upon the miseries he had undergone, and the sorrows of his four years melancholy imprisonment;—adding, that had it not been for the kind looks and fraternal chearings of the best of brothers,—he had long since sunk under his misfortunes.—My father was by. My uncle Toby's eloquence brought tears into his eyes;—'twas unexpected:—My uncle Toby, by nature was not eloquent;—it had the greater effect:—The surgeon was confounded;—not that there wanted grounds for such, or greater marks of impatience,—but 'twas unexpected too; in the four years he had attended him, he had never seen any thing like it in my uncle Toby's carriage; he had never once dropped one fretful or discontented word;—he had been all patience,—all submission.

—We lose the right of complaining sometimes by forbearing it;—but we often treble the force:—The surgeon was astonished; but much more so, when he heard my uncle Toby go on, and peremptorily insist upon his healing up the wound directly,—or sending for Monsieur Ronjat, the king's serjeant-surgeon, to do it for him.

The desire of life and health is implanted in man's nature;—the love of liberty and enlargement is a sister-passion to it: These my uncle Toby had in common with his species—and either of them had been sufficient to account for his earnest desire to get well and out of doors;—but I have told you before, that nothing wrought with our family after the common way;—and from the time and manner in which this eager desire shewed itself in the present case, the penetrating reader will suspect there was some other cause or crotchet for it in my uncle Toby's head:—There was so, and 'tis the subject of the next chapter to set forth what that cause and crotchet was. I own, when that's done, 'twill be time to return back to the parlour fire-side, where we left my uncle Toby in the middle of his sentence.