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Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 2.XXXII.

Full Text Chapter 2.XXXII.

Chapter 2.XXXII.

There was not any one scene more entertaining in our family—and to do it justice in this point;—and I here put off my cap and lay it upon the table close beside my ink-horn, on purpose to make my declaration to the world concerning this one article the more solemn—that I believe in my soul (unless my love and partiality to my understanding blinds me) the hand of the supreme Maker and first Designer of all things never made or put a family together (in that period at least of it which I have sat down to write the story of)—where the characters of it were cast or contrasted with so dramatick a felicity as ours was, for this end; or in which the capacities of affording such exquisite scenes, and the powers of shifting them perpetually from morning to night, were lodged and intrusted with so unlimited a confidence, as in the Shandy Family.

Not any one of these was more diverting, I say, in this whimsical theatre of ours—than what frequently arose out of this self-same chapter of long noses—especially when my father's imagination was heated with the enquiry, and nothing would serve him but to heat my uncle Toby's too.

My uncle Toby would give my father all possible fair play in this attempt; and with infinite patience would sit smoking his pipe for whole hours together, whilst my father was practising upon his head, and trying every accessible avenue to drive Prignitz and Scroderus's solutions into it.

Whether they were above my uncle Toby's reason—or contrary to it—or that his brain was like damp timber, and no spark could possibly take hold—or that it was so full of saps, mines, blinds, curtins, and such military disqualifications to his seeing clearly into Prignitz and Scroderus's doctrines—I say not—let schoolmen—scullions, anatomists, and engineers, fight for it among themselves—

'Twas some misfortune, I make no doubt, in this affair, that my father had every word of it to translate for the benefit of my uncle Toby, and render out of Slawkenbergius's Latin, of which, as he was no great master, his translation was not always of the purest—and generally least so where 'twas most wanted.—This naturally open'd a door to a second misfortune;—that in the warmer paroxysms of his zeal to open my uncle Toby's eyes—my father's ideas ran on as much faster than the translation, as the translation outmoved my uncle Toby's—neither the one or the other added much to the perspicuity of my father's lecture.