Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 3.LXV.

Full Text Chapter 3.LXV.

Chapter 3.LXV.

When the town, with its works, was finished, my uncle Toby and the corporal began to run their first parallel—not at random, or any how—but from the same points and distances the allies had begun to run theirs; and regulating their approaches and attacks, by the accounts my uncle Toby received from the daily papers,—they went on, during the whole siege, step by step with the allies.

When the duke of Marlborough made a lodgment,—my uncle Toby made a lodgment too.—And when the face of a bastion was battered down, or a defence ruined,—the corporal took his mattock and did as much,—and so on;—gaining ground, and making themselves masters of the works one after another, till the town fell into their hands.

To one who took pleasure in the happy state of others,—there could not have been a greater sight in world, than on a post morning, in which a practicable breach had been made by the duke of Marlborough, in the main body of the place,—to have stood behind the horn-beam hedge, and observed the spirit with which my uncle Toby, with Trim behind him, sallied forth;—the one with the Gazette in his hand,—the other with a spade on his shoulder to execute the contents.—What an honest triumph in my uncle Toby's looks as he marched up to the ramparts! What intense pleasure swimming in his eye as he stood over the corporal, reading the paragraph ten times over to him, as he was at work, lest, peradventure, he should make the breach an inch too wide,—or leave it an inch too narrow.—But when the chamade was beat, and the corporal helped my uncle up it, and followed with the colours in his hand, to fix them upon the ramparts—Heaven! Earth! Sea!—but what avails apostrophes?—with all your elements, wet or dry, ye never compounded so intoxicating a draught.

In this track of happiness for many years, without one interruption to it, except now and then when the wind continued to blow due west for a week or ten days together, which detained the Flanders mail, and kept them so long in torture,—but still 'twas the torture of the happy—In this track, I say, did my uncle Toby and Trim move for many years, every year of which, and sometimes every month, from the invention of either the one or the other of them, adding some new conceit or quirk of improvement to their operations, which always opened fresh springs of delight in carrying them on.

The first year's campaign was carried on from beginning to end, in the plain and simple method I've related.

In the second year, in which my uncle Toby took Liege and Ruremond, he thought he might afford the expence of four handsome draw-bridges; of two of which I have given an exact description in the former part of my work.

At the latter end of the same year he added a couple of gates with port-cullises:—These last were converted afterwards into orgues, as the better thing; and during the winter of the same year, my uncle Toby, instead of a new suit of clothes, which he always had at Christmas, treated himself with a handsome sentry-box, to stand at the corner of the bowling-green, betwixt which point and the foot of the glacis, there was left a little kind of an esplanade for him and the corporal to confer and hold councils of war upon.

—The sentry-box was in case of rain.

All these were painted white three times over the ensuing spring, which enabled my uncle Toby to take the field with great splendour.

My father would often say to Yorick, that if any mortal in the whole universe had done such a thing except his brother Toby, it would have been looked upon by the world as one of the most refined satires upon the parade and prancing manner in which Lewis XIV. from the beginning of the war, but particularly that very year, had taken the field—But 'tis not my brother Toby's nature, kind soul! my father would add, to insult any one.

—But let us go on.