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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume3,chapter91)

2006-08-22 18:32

  Chapter 91

  When the precipitancy of a man‘s wishes hurries on his ideas ninety times faster than the vehicle he rides in—woe be to truth! and woe be to the vehicle and its tackling (let ’em be made of what stuff you will) upon which he breathes forth the disappointment of his soul!

  As I never give general characters either of men or things in choler, ‘the most haste the worse speed,’ was all the reflection I made upon the affair, the first time it happen‘d;—the second, third, fourth, and fifth time, I confined it respectively to those times, and accordingly blamed only the second, third, fourth, and fifth post-boy for it, without carrying my reflections further; but the event continuing to befal me from the fifth, to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth time, and without one exception, I then could not avoid making a national reflection of it, which I do in these words;

  That something is always wrong in a French post-chaise, upon first setting out.

  Or the proposition may stand thus:

  A French postilion has always to alight before he has got three hundred yards out of town.

  What‘s wrong now?—Diable!—a rope’s broke!—a knot has slipt!—a staple‘s drawn!—a bolt’s to whittle!—a tag, a rag, a jag, a strap, a buckle, or a buckle‘s tongue, want altering.

  Now true as all this is, I never think myself impowered to excommunicate thereupon either the post-chaise, or its driver—nor do I take it into my head to swear by the living G……, I would rather go a-foot ten thousand times—or that I will be damn‘d, if ever I get into another—but I take the matter coolly before me, and consider, that some tag, or rag, or jag, or bolt, or buckle, or buckle’s tongue, will ever be a wanting or want altering, travel where I will—so I never chaff, but take the good and the bad as they fall in my road, and get on:—Do so, my lad! said I; he had lost five minutes already, in alighting in order to get at a luncheon of black bread, which he had cramm‘d into the chaise-pocket, and was remounted, and going leisurely on, to relish it the better.—Get on, my lad, said I, briskly—but in the most persuasive tone imaginable, for I jingled a four-and-twenty sous piece against the glass, taking care to hold the flat side towards him, as he look’d back: the dog grinn‘d intelligence from his right ear to his left, and behind his sooty muzzle discovered such a pearly row of teeth, that Sovereignty would have pawn’d her jewels for them.

  Just heaven! What masticators!—/What bread!—

  and so as he finished the last mouthful of it, we entered the town of Montreuil.

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