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LAURENCE STERNE: 1713-1768.
Sterne, an English clergyman of eccentric manners published, 1759–1765,
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, and in 1768 his Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. These works contain, amidst much frivolity and nonsense, some delineations of character, and strokes of pathos, and flights of fancy, which have never been surpassed, and but rarely approached.
UNCLE TOBY AND CORPORAL TRIM.
From Tristram Shandy.
[The table on which Uncle Toby kept his maps and books of fortification, &c., having met with an accident, Uncle Toby requests his servant, Corporal Trim, to order a larger one, to which Trim replies as follows.]
If I durst presume, continued Trim, to give your honour my advice, and speak my opinion in this matter.- -Thou art welcome, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby ;-speak-speak what thou thinkest upon the subject, man, without fear.Why, then, replied Trim (not hanging his ears and scratching his head, like a country lout, but) stroking his hair back from his forehead, and standing erect as before his division.- -I think, quoth Trim, advancing his left, which was his lame leg, a little forwards—and pointing with his right hand open towards a map of Dunkirk, which was pinned against the hangings I think, quoth Corporal Trim, with humble submission to your honour's better judgment, that these ravelins, bastions, curtains, and hornworks make but a poor, contemptible, fiddle-faddle piece of work of it here upon paper, compared to what your honour and I could make of it were we in the country by ourselves, and had but a rood, or a rood and a half of ground to do what we pleased with. As summer is coming on, continued Trim, your honour might sit out of doors, and give me the nography
-(Call it ichnography, quoth my uncle) of the town or citadel, your honour was pleased to sit down before-and I will be shot by your honour upon the glacis of it, if I do not fortify it to your honour's mind. I dare say thou wouldst, Trim, quoth my uncle. -For if your honour, continued the corporal, could but mark me the polygon, with its exact lines and angles- That I could do very well, quoth my uncle I would begin with the fosse, and if your honour could tell me the proper depth and breadth- I can to a hair's-breadth, Trim, replied my uncle
I would throw out the earth upon this hand towards the town for the scarp, and on that hand towards the campaign for the counterscarp-Very right, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby. And when I had sloped them to your mind, an' please your honour, I would face the glacis, as the finest fortifications are done in Flanders, with sods—and as your honour knows they should be—and I would make the walls and parapets with sods too.- - The best engineers call them gazons, Trim, said my uncle Toby. -Whether they are gazons or sods is not much matter, replied Trim ; your honour knows they are ten times beyond a facing either of brick or stone. I know they are, Trim, in some respects-quoth my uncle Toby, nodding his head ;- -for a cannon-ball enters into the gazon right onwards, without bringing any rubbish down with it, which might fill the fosse (as was the case St Nicholas's Gate), and facilitate the passage over it.
Your honour understands these matters, replied Corporal Trim, better than any officer in his majesty's service :
but would your honour please to let the bespeaking of the table alone, and let us but
go into the country, I would work, under your honour's directions, like a horse, and make fortifications for you something like a tansy, with all their batteries, saps, ditches, and palisadoes, that it should be worth all the world's riding twenty miles to go and see it.
My uncle Toby blushed as red as scarlet as Trim went on ; but it was not a blush of guilt
of modesty, or of anger ;-it was a blush of joy ; -he was fired with Corporal Trim's project and description. -Trim ! said my uncle Toby, thou hast said enough.
-We might begin the campaign, continued Trim, on the very day that his majesty and the allies take the field, and demolish 'em, town by town, as fast as- -Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, say no
-Your honour, continued Trim, might sit in your armchair (pointing to it) this fine weather, giving me your orders, and I would-Say no more, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby.- -Besides, your honour would get not only pleasure and good pastime, but good air, and good exercise, and good health, and your honour's wound would be well in a month.- -Thou hast said enough, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby (putting his hand into his breeches pocket)-I like thy project mightily. And if your honour pleases, I'll this moment go and buy a pioneer's spade to take down with us, and I'll bespeak a shovel, and a pickaxe, and a couple of —Say no more, Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, leaping up upon one leg, quite overcome with rapture—and thrusting a
guinea into Trim's hand.- -Trim, said my uncle Toby, say no more; -but go down, Trim, this moment, my lad, and bring up my supper this instant.
Trim ran down and brought up his master's supper—to no purpose ; -Trim's plan of operation ran so in my uncle Toby's head, he could not taste it.-Trim, quoth my uncle Toby, get me to bed :- _'twas all one. -Corporal Trim's description had fired his imagination ;-my uncle Toby could not shut his eyes.- -The more he considered it, the more bewitching the scene appeared to
so that, two full hours before daylight, he had come to a final determination, and had concerted the whole plan of his and Corporal Trim's decampment.
My uncle Toby had a little neat country-house of his own, in the village where my father's estate lay at Shandy, which had been left him by an old uncle, with a small estate of about one hundred pounds a year. Behind this house, and contiguous to it, was a kitchen-garden of about half an acre ;- -and at the bottom of the garden, and cut off from it by a tall yew-hedge, was a bowlinggreen, containing just about as much ground as Corporal Trim wished for : so that as Trim uttered the words "a rood and a half of ground to do what they would with?—this identical bowling-green instantly presented itself, and became curiously painted all at once upon the retina of my uncle Toby's fancywhich was the physical cause of making him change colour, or, at least, of heightening his blush to that immoderate degree I spoke of.
Never did lover post down to a beloved mistress with more heat and expectation, than my uncle Toby did to enjoy this selfsame thing in private I say in private for it was sheltered from the house, as I told you, by a tall yew-hedge, and was covered on the other three sides from mortal sight, by rough holly, and thickset flowering shrubs ;- so that the idea of not being seen did not a little contribute to the idea of pleasure preconceived in my uncle Toby's mind. ....... Vain thought! however thick it was planted about—or private soever it might seem—to think, dear uncle Toby, of enjoying a thing which took up a whole rood and a half of ground—and not have it known !
How my uncle Toby and Corporal Trim managed this matterwith the history of their campaigns, which were no way barren of events—may make no uninteresting underplot in the epitasis and working up of this drama.
A FRENCH PEASANT'S SUPPER. From The Sentimental Journey. [During the traveller's ascent of a mountain, one of the horses in the chaise has the misfortune to lose two shoes.]
I then got out of the chaise in good earnest; and seeing a house about a quarter of a mile to the left hand, with a great deal to do I prevailed upon the postilion to turn up to it. It was a little farmhouse, surrounded with about twenty acres of vineyard, about as much corn, and close to the house, on one side, was a potagerie? of an acre and a half, full of everything which could make plenty in a French peasant's house; and on the other side was a little wood, which furnished wherewithal to dress it. It was about eight in the evening when I got to the house, so I left the postilion to manage his point as he could, and for mine, I walked directly into the house.
The family consisted of an old gray-headed man and his wife, with five or six sons and sons-in-law, and their several wives, and a joyous genealogy out of them. They were all sitting down together to their lentil soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table ; and a flagon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast ; 'twas a feast of love. The old man rose up to meet me, and, with a respectful cordiality, would have me sit down at the table; my heart was set down the moment I entered the room: so I sat down at once, like a son of the family; and, to invest myself in the character as speedily as I could, I instantly borrowed the old man's knife, and, taking up the loaf, cut myself a hearty luncheon : and, as I did it, I saw a testimony in every eye, not only of an honest welcome, but of a welcome mixed with thanks that I had not seemed to doubt it. Was it this, or tell me, Nature, what else it was that made this morsel so sweet, and to what magic I owe it that the draught I took of their flagon was so delicious with it, that they remain upon my palate to this hour ?
If the supper was to my taste, the grace which followed it was much more so. When supper was over, the old man gave a knock upon the table with the haft of his knife, to bid them prepare for the dance: the moment the signal was given, the women and girls ran altogether into a back-apartment to tie up their hair, and the young men to the door to wash their faces and change their sabots, and in three minutes every soul was ready upon a little esplanade before the house to begin. The old man and his wife came out last, and, placing me betwixt them, sat down upon a sofa of turf by the door. The old man had, some fifty years ago, been no mean performer upon the vielle, and, at the age he was then of, touched it well enough for the purpose. His wife sang now and then a little to the tune, then intermitted and joined her old man again as their children and grandchildren danced before them. It was not till the middle of the second dance, when, from some pauses in the movement wherein they all seemed to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit different from that which is the cause or effect of simple jollity. In a word, I thought I beheld Religion mixing in the dance; but as I had never seen her so engaged, I should have looked upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said this was their constant way; and that all his life long he had made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice ; believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to Heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay.
1 Kitchen garden.
2 Wooden shoes.
Or a learned prelate either,' said I.
THE LETTERS OF JUNIUS: 1769-177 2.
During the years 1769–1772 there appeared in The Public Advertiser, a
London newspaper, a series of political letters, bearing the signature of Junius, which have taken their place among the standard works of the English language. The Letters attacked all the public characters of the day connected with government, not sparing even royalty itself. Every effort that could be devised was made to discover their author, but in vain. His name still remains unknown.
FROM A LETTER TO THE DUKE OF BEDFORD, 1769. MY LORD—You are so little accustomed to receive any marks of respect or esteem from the public, that if, in the following lines, a compliment or expression of applause should escape me, I fear you would consid it as a mockery of your established character, and, perhaps, an insult to your understanding.
You are, indeed, a very considerable man. The highest rank, a splendid fortune, and a name, glorious, till it was yours, were