Chapter 2.I.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.—volume the Second

Multitudinis imperitae non formido judicia, meis tamen, rogo, parcant opusculis—in quibus fuit propositi semper, a jocis ad seria, in seriis vicissim ad jocos transire. Joan. Saresberiensis, Episcopus Lugdun.

Great wits jump: for the moment Dr. Slop cast his eyes upon his bag (which he had not done till the dispute with my uncle Toby about mid-wifery put him in mind of it)—the very same thought occurred.—'Tis God's mercy, quoth he (to himself) that Mrs. Shandy has had so bad a time of it,—else she might have been brought to bed seven times told, before one half of these knots could have got untied.—But here you must distinguish—the thought floated only in Dr. Slop's mind, without sail or ballast to it, as a simple proposition; millions of which, as your worship knows, are every day swimming quietly in the middle of the thin juice of a man's understanding, without being carried backwards or forwards, till some little gusts of passion or interest drive them to one side.

A sudden trampling in the room above, near my mother's bed, did the proposition the very service I am speaking of. By all that's unfortunate, quoth Dr. Slop, unless I make haste, the thing will actually befall me as it is.