Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 1.XXXVI.

Full Text Chapter 1.XXXVI.

Chapter 1.XXXVI.

Writing, when properly managed (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation. As no one, who knows what he is about in good company, would venture to talk all;—so no author, who understands the just boundaries of decorum and good-breeding, would presume to think all: The truest respect which you can pay to the reader's understanding, is to halve this matter amicably, and leave him something to imagine, in his turn, as well as yourself.

For my own part, I am eternally paying him compliments of this kind, and do all that lies in my power to keep his imagination as busy as my own.

'Tis his turn now;—I have given an ample description of Dr. Slop's sad overthrow, and of his sad appearance in the back-parlour;—his imagination must now go on with it for a while.

Let the reader imagine then, that Dr. Slop has told his tale—and in what words, and with what aggravations, his fancy chooses;—Let him suppose, that Obadiah has told his tale also, and with such rueful looks of affected concern, as he thinks best will contrast the two figures as they stand by each other.—Let him imagine, that my father has stepped up stairs to see my mother.—And, to conclude this work of imagination,—let him imagine the doctor washed,—rubbed down, and condoled,—felicitated,—got into a pair of Obadiah's pumps, stepping forwards towards the door, upon the very point of entering upon action.

Truce!—truce, good Dr. Slop!—stay thy obstetrick hand;—return it safe into thy bosom to keep it warm;—little dost thou know what obstacles,—little dost thou think what hidden causes, retard its operation!—Hast thou, Dr. Slop,—hast thou been entrusted with the secret articles of the solemn treaty which has brought thee into this place?—Art thou aware that at this instant, a daughter of Lucina is put obstetrically over thy head? Alas!—'tis too true.—Besides, great son of Pilumnus! what canst thou do?—Thou hast come forth unarm'd;—thou hast left thy tire-tete,—thy new-invented forceps,—thy crotchet,—thy squirt, and all thy instruments of salvation and deliverance, behind thee,—By Heaven! at this moment they are hanging up in a green bays bag, betwixt thy two pistols, at the bed's head!—Ring;—call;—send Obadiah back upon the coach-horse to bring them with all speed.

—Make great haste, Obadiah, quoth my father, and I'll give thee a crown! and quoth my uncle Toby, I'll give him another.