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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.(Volume4,chapter1)

2006-08-22 18:35

  Volume IV

  Chapter 1

  Non enim excursus hic ejus, sed opus ipsum est. Plin. Lib. V. Epist. 6. Si quid urbaniuscule lusum a nobis, per Musas et Charitas et omnium poetarum Numina, Oro te, ne me male capias. A Dedication to a Great Man.

  Having, a priori, intended to dedicate The Amours of my Uncle Toby to Mr. ……—I see more reasons, a posteriori, for doing it to Lord ……

  I should lament from my soul, if this exposed me to the jealousy of their Reverences; because a posteriori, in Court-latin, signifies the kissing hands for preferment—or any thing else—in order to get it.

  My opinion of Lord …… is neither better nor worse, than it was of Mr. …… Honours, like impressions upon coin, may give an ideal and local value to a bit of base metal; but Gold and Silver will pass all the world over without any other recommendation than their own weight.

  The same good-will that made me think of offering up half an hour‘s amusement to Mr. …… when out of place—operates more forcibly at present, as half an hour’s amusement will be more serviceable and refreshing after labour and sorrow, than after a philosophical repast.

  Nothing is so perfectly amusement as a total change of ideas; no ideas are so totally different as those of Ministers, and innocent Lovers: for which reason, when I come to talk of Statesmen and Patriots, and set such marks upon them as will prevent confusion and mistakes concerning them for the future—I propose to dedicate that Volume to some gentle Shepherd,

  Whose thoughts proud Science never taught to stray,

  Far as the Statesman‘s walk or Patriot-way;

  Yet simple Nature to his hopes had given

  Out of a cloud-capp‘d head a humbler heaven;

  Some untam‘d World in depths of wood embraced—

  Some happier Island in the wat‘ry-waste—

  And where admitted to that equal sky,

  His faithful Dogs should bear him company.

  In a word, by thus introducing an entire new set of objects to his Imagination, I shall unavoidably give a Diversion to his passionate and love-sick Contemplations. In the mean time,

  I am

  The Author.

  The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.

  Chapter 4.I.

  Now I hate to hear a person, especially if he be a traveller, complain that we do not get on so fast in France as we do in England; whereas we get on much faster, consideratis considerandis; thereby always meaning, that if you weigh their vehicles with the mountains of baggage which you lay both before and behind upon them—and then consider their puny horses, with the very little they give them—‘tis a wonder they get on at all: their suffering is most unchristian, and ’tis evident thereupon to me, that a French post-horse would not know what in the world to do, was it not for the two words …… and …… in which there is as much sustenance, as if you give him a peck of corn: now as these words cost nothing, I long from my soul to tell the reader what they are; but here is the question—they must be told him plainly, and with the most distinct articulation, or it will answer no end—and yet to do it in that plain way—though their reverences may laugh at it in the bed-chamber—full well I wot, they will abuse it in the parlour: for which cause, I have been volving and revolving in my fancy some time, but to no purpose, by what clean device or facette contrivance I might so modulate them, that whilst I satisfy that ear which the reader chuses to lend me—I might not dissatisfy the other which he keeps to himself.

  —My ink burns my finger to try—and when I have—‘twill have a worse consequence—It will burn (I fear) my paper.

  —No;—I dare not—

  But if you wish to know how the abbess of Andouillets and a novice of her convent got over the difficulty (only first wishing myself all imaginable success)—I‘ll tell you without the least scruple.

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