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Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 2.XXX.

Full Text Chapter 2.XXX.

Chapter 2.XXX.

'Nihil me paenitet hujus nasi,' quoth Pamphagus;—that is—'My nose has been the making of me.'—'Nec est cur poeniteat,' replies Cocles; that is, 'How the duce should such a nose fail?'

The doctrine, you see, was laid down by Erasmus, as my father wished it, with the utmost plainness; but my father's disappointment was, in finding nothing more from so able a pen, but the bare fact itself; without any of that speculative subtilty or ambidexterity of argumentation upon it, which Heaven had bestow'd upon man on purpose to investigate truth, and fight for her on all sides.—My father pish'd and pugh'd at first most terribly—'tis worth something to have a good name. As the dialogue was of Erasmus, my father soon came to himself, and read it over and over again with great application, studying every word and every syllable of it thro' and thro' in its most strict and literal interpretation—he could still make nothing of it, that way. Mayhap there is more meant, than is said in it, quoth my father.—Learned men, brother Toby, don't write dialogues upon long noses for nothing.—I'll study the mystick and the allegorick sense—here is some room to turn a man's self in, brother.

My father read on.—

Now I find it needful to inform your reverences and worships, that besides the many nautical uses of long noses enumerated by Erasmus, the dialogist affirmeth that a long nose is not without its domestic conveniences also; for that in a case of distress—and for want of a pair of bellows, it will do excellently well, ad ixcitandum focum (to stir up the fire.)

Nature had been prodigal in her gifts to my father beyond measure, and had sown the seeds of verbal criticism as deep within him, as she had done the seeds of all other knowledge—so that he had got out his penknife, and was trying experiments upon the sentence, to see if he could not scratch some better sense into it.—I've got within a single letter, brother Toby, cried my father, of Erasmus his mystic meaning.—You are near enough, brother, replied my uncle, in all conscience.—Pshaw! cried my father, scratching on—I might as well be seven miles off.—I've done it—said my father, snapping his fingers—See, my dear brother Toby, how I have mended the sense.—But you have marr'd a word, replied my uncle Toby.—My father put on his spectacles—bit his lip—and tore out the leaf in a passion.