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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter57)

2006-08-22 18:35

  Chapter 57

  As the ancients agree, brother Toby, said my father, that there are two different and distinct kinds of love, according to the different parts which are affected by it—the Brain or Liver—I think when a man is in love, it behoves him a little to consider which of the two he is fallen into.

  What signifies it, brother Shandy, replied my uncle Toby, which of the two it is, provided it will but make a man marry, and love his wife, and get a few children?

  —A few children! cried my father, rising out of his chair, and looking full in my mother‘s face, as he forced his way betwixt her’s and doctor Slop‘s—a few children! cried my father, repeating my uncle Toby’s words as he walk‘d to and fro—

  —Not, my dear brother Toby, cried my father, recovering himself all at once, and coming close up to the back of my uncle Toby‘s chair—not that I should be sorry hadst thou a score—on the contrary, I should rejoice—and be as kind, Toby, to every one of them as a father—

  My uncle Toby stole his hand unperceived behind his chair, to give my father‘s a squeeze—

  —Nay, moreover, continued he, keeping hold of my uncle Toby‘s hand—so much dost thou possess, my dear Toby, of the milk of human nature, and so little of its asperities—’tis piteous the world is not peopled by creatures which resemble thee; and was I an Asiatic monarch, added my father, heating himself with his new project—I would oblige thee, provided it would not impair thy strength—or dry up thy radical moisture too fast— or weaken thy memory or fancy, brother Toby, which these gymnics inordinately taken are apt to do—else, dear Toby, I would procure thee the most beautiful woman in my empire, and I would oblige thee, nolens, volens, to beget for me one subject every month—

  As my father pronounced the last word of the sentence—my mother took a pinch of snuff.

  Now I would not, quoth my uncle Toby, get a child, nolens, volens, that is, whether I would or no, to please the greatest prince upon earth—

  —And ‘twould be cruel in me, brother Toby, to compel thee; said my father- -but ’tis a case put to shew thee, that it is not thy begetting a child—in case thou should‘st be able—but the system of Love and Marriage thou goest upon, which I would set thee right in—

  There is at least, said Yorick, a great deal of reason and plain sense in captain Shandy‘s opinion of love; and ’tis amongst the ill-spent hours of my life, which I have to answer for, that I have read so many flourishing poets and rhetoricians in my time, from whom I never could extract so much- -

  I wish, Yorick, said my father, you had read Plato; for there you would have learnt that there are two Loves—I know there were two Religions, replied Yorick, amongst the ancients—one—for the vulgar, and another for the learned;—but I think One Love might have served both of them very well—

  I could not; replied my father—and for the same reasons: for of these Loves, according to Ficinus‘s comment upon Velasius, the one is rational—

  —the other is natural—the first ancient—without mother—where Venus had nothing to do: the second, begotten of Jupiter and Dione—

  —Pray, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, what has a man who believes in God to do with this? My father could not stop to answer, for fear of breaking the thread of his discourse—

  This latter, continued he, partakes wholly of the nature of Venus.

  The first, which is the golden chain let down from heaven, excites to love heroic, which comprehends in it, and excites to the desire of philosophy and truth—the second, excites to desire, simply—

  —I think the procreation of children as beneficial to the world, said Yorick, as the finding out the longitude—

  —To be sure, said my mother, love keeps peace in the world—

  —In the house—my dear, I own—

  —It replenishes the earth; said my mother—

  But it keeps heaven empty—my dear; replied my father.

  —‘Tis Virginity, cried Slop, triumphantly, which fills paradise.

  Well push‘d nun! quoth my father.

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