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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter55)

2006-08-22 18:35

  Chapter 55

  If any thing in this world, which my father said, could have provoked my uncle Toby, during the time he was in love, it was the perverse use my father was always making of an expression of Hilarion the hermit; who, in speaking of his abstinence, his watchings, flagellations, and other instrumental parts of his religion—would say—tho‘ with more facetiousness than became an hermit—’That they were the means he used, to make his ass (meaning his body) leave off kicking.‘

  It pleased my father well; it was not only a laconick way of expressing— but of libelling, at the same time, the desires and appetites of the lower part of us; so that for many years of my father‘s life, ’twas his constant mode of expression—he never used the word passions once—but ass always instead of them—So that he might be said truly, to have been upon the bones, or the back of his own ass, or else of some other man‘s, during all that time.

  I must here observe to you the difference betwixt My father‘s ass and my hobby-horse—in order to keep characters as separate as may be, in our fancies as we go along.

  For my hobby-horse, if you recollect a little, is no way a vicious beast; he has scarce one hair or lineament of the ass about him—‘Tis the sporting little filly-folly which carries you out for the present hour—a maggot, a butterfly, a picture, a fiddlestick—an uncle Toby’s siege—or an any thing, which a man makes a shift to get a-stride on, to canter it away from the cares and solicitudes of life—‘Tis as useful a beast as is in the whole creation—nor do I really see how the world could do without it—

  —But for my father‘s ass—oh! mount him—mount him—mount him—(that’s three times, is it not?)—mount him not:—‘tis a beast concupiscent—and foul befal the man, who does not hinder him from kicking.

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