Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 1.XXXII.

Full Text Chapter 1.XXXII.

Chapter 1.XXXII.

Tho' my father was a good natural philosopher,—yet he was something of a moral philosopher too; for which reason, when his tobacco-pipe snapp'd short in the middle,—he had nothing to do, as such, but to have taken hold of the two pieces, and thrown them gently upon the back of the fire.—He did no such thing;—he threw them with all the violence in the world;—and, to give the action still more emphasis,—he started upon both his legs to do it.

This looked something like heat;—and the manner of his reply to what my uncle Toby was saying, proved it was so.

—'Not choose,' quoth my father, (repeating my uncle Toby's words) 'to let a man come so near her!'—By Heaven, brother Toby! you would try the patience of Job;—and I think I have the plagues of one already without it.—Why?—Where?—Wherein?—Wherefore?—Upon what account? replied my uncle Toby: in the utmost astonishment.—To think, said my father, of a man living to your age, brother, and knowing so little about women!—I know nothing at all about them,—replied my uncle Toby: And I think, continued he, that the shock I received the year after the demolition of Dunkirk, in my affair with widow Wadman;—which shock you know I should not have received, but from my total ignorance of the sex,—has given me just cause to say, That I neither know nor do pretend to know any thing about 'em or their concerns either.—Methinks, brother, replied my father, you might, at least, know so much as the right end of a woman from the wrong.

It is said in Aristotle's Master Piece, 'That when a man doth think of any thing which is past,—he looketh down upon the ground;—but that when he thinketh of something that is to come, he looketh up towards the heavens.'

My uncle Toby, I suppose, thought of neither, for he look'd horizontally.—Right end! quoth my uncle Toby, muttering the two words low to himself, and fixing his two eyes insensibly as he muttered them, upon a small crevice, formed by a bad joint in the chimney-piece—Right end of a woman!—I declare, quoth my uncle, I know no more which it is than the man in the moon;—and if I was to think, continued my uncle Toby (keeping his eyes still fixed upon the bad joint) this month together, I am sure I should not be able to find it out.

Then, brother Toby, replied my father, I will tell you.

Every thing in this world, continued my father (filling a fresh pipe)—every thing in this world, my dear brother Toby, has two handles.—Not always, quoth my uncle Toby.—At least, replied my father, every one has two hands,—which comes to the same thing.—Now, if a man was to sit down coolly, and consider within himself the make, the shape, the construction, come-at-ability, and convenience of all the parts which constitute the whole of that animal, called Woman, and compare them analogically—I never understood rightly the meaning of that word,—quoth my uncle Toby.—

Analogy, replied my father, is the certain relation and agreement which different—Here a devil of a rap at the door snapped my father's definition (like his tobacco-pipe) in two,—and, at the same time, crushed the head of as notable and curious a dissertation as ever was engendered in the womb of speculation;—it was some months before my father could get an opportunity to be safely delivered of it:—And, at this hour, it is a thing full as problematical as the subject of the dissertation itself,—(considering the confusion and distresses of our domestick misadventures, which are now coming thick one upon the back of another) whether I shall be able to find a place for it in the third volume or not.