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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume3,chapter74)

2006-08-22 18:24

  Chapter 74

  Amongst the many ill consequences of the treaty of Utrecht, it was within a point of giving my uncle Toby a surfeit of sieges; and though he recovered his appetite afterwards, yet Calais itself left not a deeper scar in Mary‘s heart, than Utrecht upon my uncle Toby’s. To the end of his life he never could hear Utrecht mentioned upon any account whatever,—or so much as read an article of news extracted out of the Utrecht Gazette, without fetching a sigh, as if his heart would break in twain.

  My father, who was a great Motive-Monger, and consequently a very dangerous person for a man to sit by, either laughing or crying,—for he generally knew your motive for doing both, much better than you knew it yourself— would always console my uncle Toby upon these occasions, in a way, which shewed plainly, he imagined my uncle Toby grieved for nothing in the whole affair, so much as the loss of his hobby-horse.—Never mind, brother Toby, he would say,—by God‘s blessing we shall have another war break out again some of these days; and when it does,—the belligerent powers, if they would hang themselves, cannot keep us out of play.—I defy ’em, my dear Toby, he would add, to take countries without taking towns,—or towns without sieges.

  My uncle Toby never took this back-stroke of my father‘s at his hobby-horse kindly.—He thought the stroke ungenerous; and the more so, because in striking the horse he hit the rider too, and in the most dishonourable part a blow could fall; so that upon these occasions, he always laid down his pipe upon the table with more fire to defend himself than common.

  I told the reader, this time two years, that my uncle Toby was not eloquent; and in the very same page gave an instance to the contrary:—I repeat the observation, and a fact which contradicts it again.—He was not eloquent,—it was not easy to my uncle Toby to make long harangues,—and he hated florid ones; but there were occasions where the stream overflowed the man, and ran so counter to its usual course, that in some parts my uncle Toby, for a time, was at least equal to Tertullus—but in others, in my own opinion, infinitely above him.

  My father was so highly pleased with one of these apologetical orations of my uncle Toby‘s, which he had delivered one evening before him and Yorick, that he wrote it down before he went to bed.

  I have had the good fortune to meet with it amongst my father‘s papers, with here and there an insertion of his own, betwixt two crooks, thus (。 . .), and is endorsed,

  My Brother Toby‘s Justification of His Own Principles and Conduct in Wishing to Continue the War.

  I may safely say, I have read over this apologetical oration of my uncle Toby‘s a hundred times, and think it so fine a model of defence,—and shews so sweet a temperament of gallantry and good principles in him, that I give it the world, word for word (interlineations and all), as I find it.

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