Chapter 2.XXII.

—I won't go about to argue the point with you—'tis so—and I am persuaded of it, madam, as much as can be, 'That both man and woman bear pain or sorrow (and, for aught I know, pleasure too) best in a horizontal position.'

The moment my father got up into his chamber, he threw himself prostrate across his bed in the wildest disorder imaginable, but at the same time in the most lamentable attitude of a man borne down with sorrows, that ever the eye of pity dropp'd a tear for.—The palm of his right hand, as he fell upon the bed, receiving his forehead, and covering the greatest part of both his eyes, gently sunk down with his head (his elbow giving way backwards) till his nose touch'd the quilt;—his left arm hung insensible over the side of the bed, his knuckles reclining upon the handle of the chamber-pot, which peep'd out beyond the valance—his right leg (his left being drawn up towards his body) hung half over the side of the bed, the edge of it pressing upon his shin bone—He felt it not. A fix'd, inflexible sorrow took possession of every line of his face.—He sigh'd once—heaved his breast often—but uttered not a word.

An old set-stitch'd chair, valanced and fringed around with party coloured worsted bobs, stood at the bed's head, opposite to the side where my father's head reclined.—My uncle Toby sat him down in it.

Before an affliction is digested—consolation ever comes too soon;—and after it is digested—it comes too late: so that you see, madam, there is but a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to take aim at:—my uncle Toby was always either on this side, or on that of it, and would often say, he believed in his heart he could as soon hit the longitude; for this reason, when he sat down in the chair, he drew the curtain a little forwards, and having a tear at every one's service—he pull'd out a cambrick handkerchief—gave a low sigh—but held his peace.