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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume3,chapter87)

2006-08-22 18:24

  Chapter 87

  ‘Now before I quit Calais,’ a travel-writer would say, ‘it would not be amiss to give some account of it.’—Now I think it very much amiss—that a man cannot go quietly through a town and let it alone, when it does not meddle with him, but that he must be turning about and drawing his pen at every kennel he crosses over, merely o‘ my conscience for the sake of drawing it; because, if we may judge from what has been wrote of these things, by all who have wrote and gallop’d—or who have gallop‘d and wrote, which is a different way still; or who, for more expedition than the rest, have wrote galloping, which is the way I do at present—from the great Addison, who did it with his satchel of school books hanging at his a. . ., and galling his beast’s crupper at every stroke—there is not a gallopper of us all who might not have gone on ambling quietly in his own ground (in case he had any), and have wrote all he had to write, dry-shod, as well as not.

  For my own part, as heaven is my judge, and to which I shall ever make my last appeal—I know no more of Calais (except the little my barber told me of it as he was whetting his razor) than I do this moment of Grand Cairo; for it was dusky in the evening when I landed, and dark as pitch in the morning when I set out, and yet by merely knowing what is what, and by drawing this from that in one part of the town, and by spelling and putting this and that together in another—I would lay any travelling odds, that I this moment write a chapter upon Calais as long as my arm; and with so distinct and satisfactory a detail of every item, which is worth a stranger‘s curiosity in the town—that you would take me for the town-clerk of Calais itself—and where, sir, would be the wonder? was not Democritus, who laughed ten times more than I—town-clerk of Abdera? and was not (I forget his name) who had more discretion than us both, town-clerk of Ephesus?—it should be penn’d moreover, sir, with so much knowledge and good sense, and truth, and precision—

  —Nay—if you don‘t believe me, you may read the chapter for your pains.

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