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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter16)

2006-08-22 18:35

  Chapter 16

  As I perceived the commissary of the post-office would have his six livres four sous, I had nothing else for it, but to say some smart thing upon the occasion, worth the money:

  And so I set off thus:—

  —And pray, Mr. Commissary, by what law of courtesy is a defenceless stranger to be used just the reverse from what you use a Frenchman in this matter?

  By no means; said he.

  Excuse me; said I—for you have begun, Sir, with first tearing off my breeches-and now you want my pocket—

  Whereas—had you first taken my pocket, as you do with your own people—and then left me bare a……‘d after—I had been a beast to have complain’d—

  As it is—

  —‘Tis contrary to the law of nature.

  —‘Tis contrary to reason.

  —‘Tis contrary to the Gospel.

  But not to this—said he—putting a printed paper into my hand,

  Par le Roy.

  —‘Tis a pithy prolegomenon, quoth I—and so read on.

  ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

  —By all which it appears, quoth I, having read it over, a little too rapidly, that if a man sets out in a post-chaise from Paris—he must go on travelling in one, all the days of his life—or pay for it.—Excuse me, said the commissary, the spirit of the ordinance is this—That if you set out with an intention of running post from Paris to Avignon, &c. you shall not change that intention or mode of travelling, without first satisfying the fermiers for two posts further than the place you repent at—and ‘tis founded, continued he, upon this, that the Revenues are not to fall short through your fickleness—

  —O by heavens! cried I—if fickleness is taxable in France—we have nothing to do but to make the best peace with you we can—

  And So the Peace Was Made;

  —And if it is a bad one—as Tristram Shandy laid the corner-stone of it— nobody but Tristram Shandy ought to be hanged.

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