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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter61)

2006-08-22 18:55

  Chapter 61

  Though the corporal had been as good as his word in putting my uncle Toby‘s great ramallie-wig into pipes, yet the time was too short to produce any great effects from it: it had lain many years squeezed up in the corner of his old campaign trunk; and as bad forms are not so easy to be got the better of, and the use of candle-ends not so well understood, it was not so pliable a business as one would have wished. The corporal with cheary eye and both arms extended, had fallen back perpendicular from it a score times, to inspire it, if possible, with a better air—had Spleen given a look at it, ’twould have cost her ladyship a smile—it curl‘d every where but where the corporal would have it; and where a buckle or two, in his opinion, would have done it honour, he could as soon have raised the dead.

  Such it was—or rather such would it have seem‘d upon any other brow; but the sweet look of goodness which sat upon my uncle Toby’s, assimilated every thing around it so sovereignly to itself, and Nature had moreover wrote Gentleman with so fair a hand in every line of his countenance, that even his tarnish‘d gold-laced hat and huge cockade of flimsy taffeta became him; and though not worth a button in themselves, yet the moment my uncle Toby put them on, they became serious objects, and altogether seem’d to have been picked up by the hand of Science to set him off to advantage.

  Nothing in this world could have co-operated more powerfully towards this, than my uncle Toby‘s blue and gold—had not Quantity in some measure been necessary to Grace: in a period of fifteen or sixteen years since they had been made, by a total inactivity in my uncle Toby’s life, for he seldom went further than the bowling-green—his blue and gold had become so miserably too straight for him, that it was with the utmost difficulty the corporal was able to get him into them; the taking them up at the sleeves, was of no advantage.—They were laced however down the back, and at the seams of the sides, &c. in the mode of King William‘s reign; and to shorten all description, they shone so bright against the sun that morning, and had so metallick and doughty an air with them, that had my uncle Toby thought of attacking in armour, nothing could have so well imposed upon his imagination.

  As for the thin scarlet breeches, they had been unripp‘d by the taylor between the legs, and left at sixes and sevens—

  —Yes, Madam,—but let us govern our fancies. It is enough they were held impracticable the night before, and as there was no alternative in my uncle Toby‘s wardrobe, he sallied forth in the red plush.

  The corporal had array‘d himself in poor Le Fever’s regimental coat; and with his hair tuck‘d up under his Montero-cap, which he had furbish’d up for the occasion, march‘d three paces distant from his master: a whiff of military pride had puff’d out his shirt at the wrist; and upon that in a black leather thong clipp‘d into a tassel beyond the knot, hung the corporal’s stick—my uncle Toby carried his cane like a pike.

  —It looks well at least; quoth my father to himself.

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