I must observe, that although in the first year's campaign, the word town is often mentioned,—yet there was no town at that time within the polygon; that addition was not made till the summer following the spring in which the bridges and sentry-box were painted, which was the third year of my uncle Toby's campaigns,—when upon his taking Amberg, Bonn, and Rhinberg, and Huy and Limbourg, one after another, a thought came into the corporal's head, that to talk of taking so many towns, without one Town to shew for it,—was a very nonsensical way of going to work, and so proposed to my uncle Toby, that they should have a little model of a town built for them,—to be run up together of slit deals, and then painted, and clapped within the interior polygon to serve for all.
My uncle Toby felt the good of the project instantly, and instantly agreed to it, but with the addition of two singular improvements, of which he was almost as proud as if he had been the original inventor of the project itself.
The one was, to have the town built exactly in the style of those of which it was most likely to be the representative:—with grated windows, and the gable ends of the houses, facing the streets, &c. &c.—as those in Ghent and Bruges, and the rest of the towns in Brabant and Flanders.
The other was, not to have the houses run up together, as the corporal proposed, but to have every house independent, to hook on, or off, so as to form into the plan of whatever town they pleased. This was put directly into hand, and many and many a look of mutual congratulation was exchanged between my uncle Toby and the corporal, as the carpenter did the work.
—It answered prodigiously the next summer—the town was a perfect Proteus—It was Landen, and Trerebach, and Santvliet, and Drusen, and Hagenau,—and then it was Ostend and Menin, and Aeth and Dendermond.
—Surely never did any Town act so many parts, since Sodom and Gomorrah, as my uncle Toby's town did.
In the fourth year, my uncle Toby thinking a town looked foolishly without a church, added a very fine one with a steeple.—Trim was for having bells in it;—my uncle Toby said, the metal had better be cast into cannon.
This led the way the next campaign for half a dozen brass field-pieces, to be planted three and three on each side of my uncle Toby's sentry-box; and in a short time, these led the way for a train of somewhat larger,—and so on—(as must always be the case in hobby-horsical affairs) from pieces of half an inch bore, till it came at last to my father's jack boots.
The next year, which was that in which Lisle was besieged, and at the close of which both Ghent and Bruges fell into our hands,—my uncle Toby was sadly put to it for proper ammunition;—I say proper ammunition—because his great artillery would not bear powder; and 'twas well for the Shandy family they would not—For so full were the papers, from the beginning to the end of the siege, of the incessant firings kept up by the besiegers,—and so heated was my uncle Toby's imagination with the accounts of them, that he had infallibly shot away all his estate.
Something therefore was wanting as a succedaneum, especially in one or two of the more violent paroxysms of the siege, to keep up something like a continual firing in the imagination,—and this something, the corporal, whose principal strength lay in invention, supplied by an entire new system of battering of his own,—without which, this had been objected to by military critics, to the end of the world, as one of the great desiderata of my uncle Toby's apparatus.
This will not be explained the worse, for setting off, as I generally do, at a little distance from the subject.