Chapter 1Dixero si quid forte jocosius, hoc mihi juris Cum venia dabis.Hor. Si quis calumnietur levius esse quam decet theologum, aut mordacius quam deceat Christianumnon Ego, sed Democritus dixit.Erasmus. Si quis Clericus, aut Monachus, verba joculatoria, risum moventia, sciebat, anathema esto. Second Council of Carthage. To the Right Honorable John, Lord Viscount Spencer.
I Humbly beg leave to offer you these two Volumes (Volumes V. and VI. in the first Edition.); they are the best my talents, with such bad health as I have, could produce:had Providence granted me a larger stock of either, they had been a much more proper present to your Lordship.
I beg your Lordship will forgive me, if, at the same time I dedicate this work to you, I join Lady Spencer, in the liberty I take of inscribing the story of Le Fever to her name; for which I have no other motive, which my heart has informed me of, but that the story is a humane one.
I am, My Lord, Your Lordships most devoted and most humble Servant,
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.
If it had not been for those two mettlesome tits, and that madcap of a postillion who drove them from Stilton to Stamford, the thought had never entered my head. He flew like lightningthere was a slope of three miles and a halfwe scarce touched the groundthe motion was most rapidmost impetuoustwas communicated to my brainmy heart partook of itBy the great God of day, said I, looking towards the sun, and thrusting my arm out of the fore-window of the chaise, as I made my vow, I will lock up my study-door the moment I get home, and throw the key of it ninety feet below the surface of the earth, into the draw-well at the back of my house.
The London waggon confirmed me in my resolution; it hung tottering upon the hill, scarce progressive, dragddragd up by eight heavy beastsby main strength!quoth I, noddingbut your betters draw the same wayand something of every bodys!O rare!
Tell me, ye learned, shall we for ever be adding so much to the bulkso little to the stock?
Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?
Are we for ever to be twisting, and untwisting the same rope? for ever in the same trackfor ever at the same pace?
Shall we be destined to the days of eternity, on holy-days, as well as working-days, to be shewing the relicks of learning, as monks do the relicks of their saintswithout working oneone single miracle with them?
Who made Man, with powers which dart him from earth to heaven in a moment that great, that most excellent, and most noble creature of the worldthe miracle of nature, as Zoroaster in his book (Greek) called himthe Shekinah of the divine presence, as Chrysostomthe image of God, as Moses- -the ray of divinity, as Platothe marvel of marvels, as Aristotleto go sneaking on at this pitifulpimpingpettifogging rate?
I scorn to be as abusive as Horace upon the occasionbut if there is no catachresis in the wish, and no sin in it, I wish from my soul, that every imitator in Great Britain, France, and Ireland, had the farcy for his pains; and that there was a good farcical house, large enough to holdaye- -and sublimate them,
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