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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter78)

2006-08-22 18:55

  Chapter 78

  As there are fifty different ends (counting all ends in—as well civil as religious) for which a woman takes a husband, the first sets about and carefully weighs, then separates and distinguishes in her mind, which of all that number of ends is hers; then by discourse, enquiry, argumentation, and inference, she investigates and finds out whether she has got hold of the right one—and if she has—then, by pulling it gently this way and that way, she further forms a judgment, whether it will not break in the drawing.

  The imagery under which Slawkenbergius impresses this upon the reader‘s fancy, in the beginning of his third Decad, is so ludicrous, that the honour I bear the sex, will not suffer me to quote it—otherwise it is not destitute of humour.

  ‘She first, saith Slawkenbergius, stops the asse, and holding his halter in her left hand (lest he should get away) she thrusts her right hand into the very bottom of his pannier to search for it—For what?—you’ll not know the sooner, quoth Slawkenbergius, for interrupting me—

  ‘I have nothing, good Lady, but empty bottles;’ says the asse.

  ‘I’m loaded with tripes;‘ says the second.

  —And thou art little better, quoth she to the third; for nothing is there in thy panniers but trunk-hose and pantofles—and so to the fourth and fifth, going on one by one through the whole string, till coming to the asse which carries it, she turns the pannier upside down, looks at it— considers it—samples it—measures it—stretches it—wets it—dries it— then takes her teeth both to the warp and weft of it.

  —Of what? for the love of Christ!

  I am determined, answered Slawkenbergius, that all the powers upon earth shall never wring that secret from my breast.

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