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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter26)

2006-08-22 18:35

  Chapter 26

  It is with Love as with Cuckoldom—

  But now I am talking of beginning a book, and have long had a thing upon my mind to be imparted to the reader, which, if not imparted now, can never be imparted to him as long as I live (whereas the Comparison may be imparted to him any hour in the day)—I‘ll just mention it, and begin in good earnest.

  The thing is this.

  That of all the several ways of beginning a book which are now in practice throughout the known world, I am confident my own way of doing it is the best—I‘m sure it is the most religious—for I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty God for the second.

  ‘Twould cure an author for ever of the fuss and folly of opening his street-door, and calling in his neighbours and friends, and kinsfolk, with the devil and all his imps, with their hammers and engines, &c. only to observe how one sentence of mine follows another, and how the plan follows the whole.

  I wish you saw me half starting out of my chair, with what confidence, as I grasp the elbow of it, I look up—catching the idea, even sometimes before it half way reaches me—

  I believe in my conscience I intercept many a thought which heaven intended for another man.

  Pope and his Portrait (Vid. Pope‘s Portrait.) are fools to me—no martyr is ever so full of faith or fire—I wish I could say of good works too—but I have no

  Zeal or Anger—or

  Anger or Zeal—

  And till gods and men agree together to call it by the same name—the errantest Tartuffe, in science—in politics—or in religion, shall never kindle a spark within me, or have a worse word, or a more unkind greeting, than what he will read in the next chapter.

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