The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Summary
Let's rewind the clock to T-minus 20 seconds to the beginning of Tristram. Book 1 begins with Tristram's conception, which went wrong because Mrs. Shandy interrupted Mr. Shandy exactly at the moment of ejaculation. He then introduces Yorick and Toby—not to mention Toby's is-it-or-isn't-it wound—and lays out a few things we need to know about hobby-horses and digressions. These two subjects show up a lot. Like, a lot. Check out Book 1, as Tristram digresses about writing, philosophy, marriage, and even digressions; and we learn about Mr. Shandy's obsession with names (as well as Tristram's obsession with obsessions).
In Book 2, Tristram finally gets to his birth. As he's being born (seriously), he explains how Toby became obsessed with building fortifications; then, he digresses for a while about the philosopher John Locke while Susannah goes for the midwife and Obadiah goes for the doctor (and then leaves again for the doctor's tools). All at the same time, Toby and Mr. Shandy each have a one-sided conversation: Toby explains his fortifications, and Mr. Shandy keeps ranting about obstetrics.
In Book 3, Tristram is… still being born. Hang up your hats, because this is going to take a while. Book 3 is the catastrophic volume. Not only is Mrs. Shandy screaming upstairs while she labors, but Mr. Shandy contorts himself trying to extract his handkerchief from his pocket; Dr. Slop cuts his thumb trying to untie the knots of his doctor's bag; Susannah scrapes her arm; the midwife bangs her hip in a fall; Dr. Slop scrapes Toby's hand demonstrating the forceps; and—oops—Dr. Slop breaks baby Tristram's nose in the delivery. It's a good thing this is pre-malpractice suits.
Book 4 kicks off with a long-anticipated story from Slawkenbergius, a suggestive tale about a stranger who has such a large nose (no, really: a nose) that he sends a whole town into a heated frenzy. After the story, Tristram worries that, since he's already at Book 4 and still hasn't finished narrating the first day of his life, he's never going to finish the project. And then Susannah announces that the baby Tristram is dying and needs to be baptized. Mr. Shandy tells her to tell the parson to name the boy "Trismegistus," but Susannah forgets the name on the way and Yorick decides she must mean "Tristram." Mr. Shandy consults scholars to find out if he can be renamed, but they never resolve the issue. And then things pick up speed: Mr. Shandy receives an inheritance from his sister, and Bobby, Tristram's older brother, dies.
Hooray! In Book 5, Tristram is (1) born and (2) the new Shandy heir. Determined to make Tristram a smarty-pants, Mr. Shandy begins writing the Tristram-paedia, a textbook expressly designed for baby Tristram. Unfortunately, Tristram's career as future head of the Shandy family is almost cut short (pun intended) when he has an accidental circumcision. Surprisingly, Mr. Shandy takes the accident philosophically—noses, after all, are more important than penises.
Book 6 begins with the fallout from Tristram's circumcision. He's crying in pain while everyone argues about what to do, and the whole neighborhood thinks that his entire penis has been lopped off. Mr. Shandy decides Tristram has been spending too much time with women and resolves to make a man out of him. Toby tells a long, sad, and possibly pointless story about a man named Le Fever. Then, just when things have taken a turn to the Tristram, our narrator announces that he's going to turn his attention to Toby and Toby's love affair.
But not yet. In Book 7, Tristram heads off on a major digression—oops, we mean, journey—to Europe. Begin the sort-of-travel-narrative. He doesn't say much about what he sees, but he tells us a lot about how he feels and the little incidents that stick with him, like almost losing his notebook and having an affair with a pretty peasant girl.
In Book 8, Tristram takes us back more than a decade before he was born, when Toby first came to Shandy Hall. He stayed for a few days with the Widow Wadman, who promptly fell in love with him. He, meanwhile, ignored her for eleven years. Finally she carried out a subtle ploy: she asked him to look in her eye for a piece of dirt, and he fell for her. Not that Tristram tells the story in anything like that order—he starts with a digression, interrupts for Trim's story about the King of Bohemia, and then again for Trim's naughty story about being seduced by a nun.
Finally, in Book 9, Toby works up the nerve to court the widow (although not before Tristram spends a few chapters worrying about his writing style). Mrs. Wadman's servant, Bridget, tries to figure out from Obadiah what Toby's injury is like, while Mrs. Wadman tries to discover the same information from Toby. When Toby realizes that she's just after his penis, he's heartbroken. After dinner, he wants to talk to Mr. Shandy about it, but the whole company is interrupted by Obadiah's complaint about Mr. Shandy's impotent bull.
Yeah, that's it. That's the whole story.
Book 1, Chapter 1
- Parenting 101: Tristram says that he wishes his parents had minded what they were about when they begot me, because conception is important in determining character (1.1.1).
- The chapter ends when his mother interrupts his father by asking if he wound the clock.
Book 1, Chapter 2
- Turns out, Mom's question is a big deal. Tristram explains that the question interrupted his dad (doing what?), which scattered and dispersed the animal spirits (1.2.1) that were supposed to lead the homunculus to his destination.
- Homuncu-what? That's the idea that sperm already contains a future person, minus a soul (little Tristram).
- Tristram explains that the coitus interruptus meant that his little fellow (my little gentleman) had to make his way to his destination all alone, and arrived worn out, ruining his life forever (1.2.3).
Book 1, Chapter 3
- Tristram tells us to listen up, because he heard the story of his birth from his uncle, Mr. Toby Shandy.
- Anyway, Tristram's father is none too happy about Mom's interruption. Anything Tristram does from here on out is blamed on this incident (poor Tristram), including playing with his toys incorrectly.
- Tristram's mother doesn't understand how it could possibly matter. Smart woman.
- (You're not alone: it's almost impossible to figure out what's going on here. Trust us, it'll become clear.)
Book 1, Chapter 4
- Tristram explains that he's going overboard on detail because he just knows that his readers are going to want to know every last tidbit about his life.
- So it's important to know that his father is very regular. So regular, in fact, that he winds the clock and has sex with his wife at the same time, on the first Sunday of every month. (His poor wife has some inconvenient associations with clocks.)
- Tristram sees a little note in his father's diary explaining that he'd been away from Lady Day until the second week in May, so he could only have wound the clock at the beginning of March.
Book 1, Chapter 5
Book 1, Chapter 6
- Tristram's got reasons for using lots of chapters: he doesn't want to give away too much information at once.
- He and the reader will become friends as the novel progresses. Trust him: he's a man with a plan.
Book 1, Chapter 7
- Here comes another digression.
- A renowned midwife lived in the village, and here's her story: the only midwife used to live six or seven miles away (that used to be a long way in the eighteenth century), until the parson's wife convinced her husband to pay for a local woman to learn the trade.
- Cut to Tristram's favorite topic: hobby-horses.
Book 1, Chapter 8
- Hobby-horses are the little obsessions that people have—their hobbies. Everyone has them, and they're nothing to be ashamed of.
- On to the dedication.
Book 1, Chapter 9
- Dedication for sale! But the dedication isn't actually dedicated to anyone, so Tristram asks if anyone wants to buy it.
- If anyone wants it, he can pay 50 guineas to Mr. Dodsley and Tristram will see that his name is inserted into the next edition.
- In the meantime, he dedicates the book to the moon, since it drives people mad and consequently will make people like his book.
Book 1, Chapter 10
- Tristram insists that the parson deserves some credit for getting the midwife certified. Here comes the parson's story.
- Five years ago, the parson rode around on the worst horse possible. This horse made Don Quixote's horse look like a Mercedes. The parson had a lovely saddle and stirrups, but he never used them. In fact, he looks ridiculous—a long, skinny man on a long, skinny horse.
- Why did he ride such a stupid horse? He gave all sorts of excuses, but the true reason was that he used to love to own good horses, but they inevitably got ruined. Why? The midwife lived too far away.
- Desperate husbands would beg him for the beast, ride the hell out of it, and eventually make it useless: "clapped, or spavined, or greazed;-- (…) twitter-boned, or broken-winded."
- So the parson, figuring that he could spend the same amount of money in a more effective way, started to buy broken-down horses. That way, he could lend them out without worrying that they'd get ruined.
- Once he paid the midwife's expenses, though, the story came out, and everyone assumed that he only paid for the midwife so he could ride nice horses again.
- And here's some more about him… in the next chapter.
Book 1, Chapter 11
- This parson's name was Yorick, and he came from a very old Danish family. Sound familiar?
- Tristram suspects he was the very Yorick of Shakespeare's Hamlet, but he leaves it up to the reader to figure out the facts. He hints at a later travel narrative based on his time as governor to Mr. Noddy's eldest son, and then makes a racist claim about the Danish—they're all the same. No geniuses, but lots of pleasant folk.
- The English, on the other hand, are all over the map. Some are total dunces, and some are whip-smart. But Yorick wasn't much like a Dane. He was a whimsical guy, always getting into trouble. He loved life and hated people who used being serious to cover up stupidity.
Book 1, Chapter 12
- Poor Yorick! He didn't get that laughing at people is bound to make them mad. For every ten jokes,—thou hast got a hundred enemies (7.4). People thought Yorick was laughing at them, not with them, and they eventually took revenge.
- A group of Yorick's enemies attacked his character, his wit, and his learning. He died, confessing to Eugenius (a friend of Tristram's who shows up periodically) that he was unhappy. He's buried under the epitaph "Alas, poor Yorick!," a quote from Hamlet.
- This chapter ends with two black pages, which represent Yorick's death.
Book 1, Chapter 13
- Okay, so back to the midwife.
- She's one of the most important people in the "world," which encompasses about four or five miles—the parish and a few villages. It's a small world, after all.
- He promises the twentieth book will include a map.
Book 1, Chapter 14
- Tristram checks out his mother's marriage settlement (like a prenup), which leads him to ruminate on how difficult writing is. The guy's been writing for six weeks and hasn't even been born yet—who can blame him?
- To catch up with himself he resolves to publish two books of his life every year.
Book 1, Chapter 15
- Once again, Tristram gets picky about the details: the marriage settlement says that Elizabeth Mollineux (Mrs. Shandy) gets to have her babies in London.
- If she abuses the privilege by pretending to be pregnant, she has to give birth in the country. Unfortunately for Tristram (and Tristram's nose), she had a false alarm the previous September.
Book 1, Chapter 16
- Tristram's father was particularly annoyed about the false alarm, because September is a harvest month. Plus, they'd both look like fools at church on Sunday. His mother, meanwhile, put up with his complaints.
Book 1, Chapter 17
- Right after the interrupted coitus during which Tristram is begot, his father reminds his mother that she has to have her baby in the country next time. (That's some nice pillow talk, right there.)
Book 1, Chapter 18
- Mrs. Shandy is a good sport about the whole giving-birth-in-the-country thing. She plans to use the midwife, who's gotten plenty of experience by now.
- Never mind that a nearby doctor has written a book about the evils of midwifery—we're trying to stay positive here.
- Mr. Shandy wants everything to go well, but he really doesn't want to go up to the city because he has some pretty strong opinions—gentlemen belong in the country, and men tell women what to do. Charming fellow.
- So, he insists on having a doctor—the "man-midwife" (1.18.11). They compromise: the midwife will attend the birth, and the doctor will hang around just in case things get out of control.
- Tristram interrupts himself. He mentioned a woman's name earlier, Jenny, but he insists that we can't judge yet whether he's married or not. Jenny could be his child, his friend, or even his mistress.
- Yes, he insists to the skeptical reader, true friendship is possible between a man and a woman. Join the debate, Tristram.
Book 1, Chapter 19
- You might be surprised to discover that Mr. Shandy has some more strong ideas he'd like to share—about naming, this time. In particular, he thinks that names have a magical influence over a person's character. Skeptical? He asks if you'd agree to name your kid Judas. Of course not—no one would.
- (This argument shows that Mr. Shandy is a great philosopher, even though he'd never read most major philosophers.)
- What's more, he continues, names can't be changed. Although some names are neutral, like Jack, Dick, and Tom, others—like Andrew and Nick—are "worse than nothing" (1.19.10). Worst of all?
- Tristram. (Ouch).
- Mr. Shandy hates this name so much that two years before his son was born, he wrote an entire book about how awful it is. Folks, that is dedication.
Book 1, Chapter 20
- Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure novel: Tristram sends his reader back to read the previous chapter again, to find where he said that his mother was not a Papist (Roman Catholic).
- When the lady returns, he asks her if she found it. No, she says. It was in the last line: It was necessary I should be born before I was christened (1.19.14).
- Still confused? In a footnote, Tristram explains that Roman Catholics allowed a child to be baptized as soon as a part of its body could be seen—and, after 1733, could even be baptized by injection before birth.
- Tristram warns his readers that they've really got to pay attention, because a lot of information is conveyed in subtle hints.
- He then presents the proceedings of the Sorbonne convention that discussed baptism by injection. In French. Without a translation. In response to all this debate, Tristram proposes a solution: let's baptize the homunculi (the sperm) with a small injection pipe.
Book 1, Chapter 21
- Mr. Shandy asks Toby what the racket is upstairs—it sounds like a party on the roof. Toby begins to answer, but he doesn't get far. Tristram interrupts him, because you can't possibly understand what Toby's about to say until you learn a little more about him.
- As if that wasn't digressive enough, he then starts another digression, explaining that people think England produces odd characters because the climate is variable.
- England's people might be odd, but they're also great. After all, it's in England that "learning" is going to reach perfection ("acme," in Greek letters).
- When that happens, all writing will stop. There won't be any point in writing anymore—or everyone will have to start all over again. Tristram wishes he'd been born then, 20 to 25 years from now.
- Finally we return to Toby, who's been "left knocking the ashes out of his tobacco pipe." There's been lots of talk about Toby—so what's this guy like?
- Tristram talks about "humour," as in "temperament" or personality. In this case, Toby derives his humour from blood—he's red-cheeked and good-natured.
- At the same time that he's describing Toby, Tristram is trying to tell us about some problem that happened to his uncle and his father (his great-aunt Dinah married a coachman), but he's having trouble spitting the story out.
- Toby is a modest guy. He's almost as modest as a woman, if that's possible. But Toby didn't become modest through associating with women, because frankly, he's terrified of women. His modesty comes from a war wound. At the siege of Namur, a stone fell on his groin.
- Don't hold your breath to find out what happened, since Tristram says that he's not planning on narrating that incident until later.
- The reason that Dinah's marriage was a problem for Toby and Mr. Shandy is because Mr. Shandy liked to bring it up in company to illustrate how cursed the Shandy family was, while Toby's modesty (which sounds a lot like pride) wanted to keep it hushed up.
- The chapter ends with Tristram talking about foolish types of argument, reducing the whole thing to the absurd.
Book 1, Chapter 22
- Tristram starts out by quoting a Dr. Joseph Hall who insisted that man should not praise himself. Good advice, right? No one likes a braggart.
- But what if you've done something really awesome? The talented Mr. Tristram finds himself in a tricky situation.
- His writing is so skillful that not only has he written a masterful digression, but he's managed to keep the story progressing at the same time. Dinah might have seemed to take the narrative off course, but Tristram was able to portray Toby at the same time.
- Digressions are the best part of reading, but they're hard on writers. Tristram is so skillful that he's managed to mix digression with progression so deftly that the novel has become a perpetual motion machine.
Book 1, Chapter 23
- Now Tristram wants to talk some nonsense (as if he hasn't all along).
- A little background: Momus was the Greek god of mockery and blame. According to Lucian, Momus wanted humans to be created with a window that would look into their souls, so everybody could see exactly what they were thinking and feeling.
- Yeah, let's all be grateful that advice was ignored.
- Tristram thinks that would have had two ridiculous consequences. First, people would have had to pay tax on their windows (windows were taxed in England until 1851). Second, writing a man's character would have been too easy. All you'd have to do is peep in the window and write down exactly what you saw. Instead, writers have to approach character indirectly.
- Tristram's preferred method is to talk about his uncle's hobby-horse. Aha, the pieces are coming together.
Book 1, Chapter 24
- So we're finally going to learn something about Uncle Toby? Nope. But we do learn something about hobby-horses.
- A man and his hobby-horse are like the body and the mind: they aren't identical, but they do share some of the same feelings. And Uncle Toby's hobby-horse is particularly cool.
Book 1, Chapter 25
- Now for Uncle Toby's hobby-horse? Nope, hold your horses. First, we have to learn how Uncle Toby developed his obsession.
- After Uncle Toby got his groin wound, he headed back to England. For four years, he was confined to his room while doctors tried to heal his pelvic region.
- While Toby recovered a house in London rented by Mr. Shandy, visitors came to wish him well. They liked to ask questions about the siege. Those questions were supposed to help Toby cope with the trauma, but they actually confused him. Why was he confused?
- If we could guess, Tristram would feel that he'd failed as a writer.
Book 2, Chapter 1
- Welcome to Book 2! To sum up what didn't happen in Book 1: Tristram is not born, Toby's character is not sketched, and his hobby-horse is not acquired.
- Tristram begins by explaining that he needs an entirely new book in order to tell Toby's story, and he immediately digresses into a paragraph about King William's wars.
- Toby has the hardest time telling the story of the siege (almost as hard a time as Tristram has telling his own story …), because he doesn't exactly know how the battle happened. He thinks that if he just had a big map, he could figure it out.
Book 2, Chapter 2
- Tristram pauses to compare writing a book to giving a party. He says that he has left six places for critics, since he knows they'll just get mad if he leaves them out. He even allows a critic to speak, but the critic just wonders how Toby could be so foolish.
- Tristram asks if the critic has ever read Locke's Essay upon the Human Understanding. Locke says that people get confused for three reasons: (1) the senses are dull; (2) consequently objects don't make a strong impression; (3) they can't remember the impressions that do get made. To explain Locke, Tristram uses the metaphor of sealing wax.
- And this isn't any sealing wax: it belongs to Dolly, the imaginary servant of the imaginary critic. Keeping those imaginary characters straight?
- But Toby's problem is a little different—it's all about his words. They're tricky, particularly philosophical words such as "essence," the basic translation for Sterne's Greek here.
Book 2, Chapter 3
- Back to our plot.
- Toby is getting pretty interested in a map of Namur, and, as he learns about the battle, he starts to like it. Really like it. At the end of a year, he's gathered up maps of towns all through Italy. The next year he digs deeper, reading book after book about military strategy and building.
- As the third year begins, he starts to study projectiles and goes all the way back to Galileo to refresh his geometry.
- It's time to step away from the book, Toby. Tristram lays the smackdown on his obsessed uncle, since too much knowledge will only confuse a man and make him grow old before his time.
Book 2, Chapter 4
- Good 'ole Toby finally has his hobby-horse. Tristram explains why he stopped the last chapter in the middle of a story: he had written something so great that anything else would have been boring.
- At the end of the third year, Toby gets fed up with projectiles and starts studying fortification. His wound also improves, and he chafes under his confinement because …
Book 2, Chapter 5
- Hobby-horses. Obsession makes logic go out the window. Toby is so excited that he orders his manservant, Trim, to pack him up. They sneak out and they go to Shandy Hall. Why?
- Trim suggested to Toby that they'd have all the space they needed for their models at Shandy Hall. And the introduction of a new character (Trim) means…
- It's time for a digression (getting used to these yet?)
- We learn that Trim (A.K.A. James Butler) was a corporal who had been wounded two years before the siege of Namur. Toby took him into service, and Trim is so faithful that he's even developed his own obsession with fortifications.
- Tristram confesses that Trim has one fault: he gives advice. True, he gives polite advice, but he still gives advice, and who wants a servant giving advice?
- In this case, his advice to Toby is to head for a little house he owns near Shandy Hall.
Book 2, Chapter 6
- Record scratch: let's head all the way back to Book 1, Chapter 21, when Mr. Shandy took his pipe out to wonder what the racket upstairs was. Obadiah, the servant, clears things up: baby Tristram is on his way, and Mrs. Shandy's servant Susannah has run off to fetch the midwife.
- Mr. Shandy orders Obadiah to leave immediately to fetch Dr. Slop. He can't figure out why Mrs. Shandy would bother sending for the midwife, since Dr. Slop is so close. Toby suggests that Mrs. Shandy might be modest: maybe she doesn't want a man so near her ---
- Conveniently, Mr. Shandy's pipe snaps before Toby has to finish his sentence.
Book 2, Chapter 7
- Mr. Shandy ridicules Toby for not knowing the right end of a woman from the wrong end. Toby agrees, and Mr. Shandy kindly offers to tell him. He begins a totally nonsensical digression about analogy. Before we get too far into it, however, someone knocks on the door.
Book 2, Chapter 8
- Tristram estimates that it's taken you about an hour and a half to read as much as he's written since he wrote about Obadiah heading off to fetch the doctor. (Anyone else check their watches?) So he figures enough time has passed for Obadiah to return.
- In the meantime, Toby has come all the way from Namur to England, has recovered from a nearly mortal wound, and traveled 200 miles down to Yorkshire. Whew.
- Luckily for any critics who might have a problem with the way that Tristram is handling time, Obadiah meets Dr. Slop not 60 yards from the stable door.
- And it's time for a new chapter.
Book 2, Chapter 9
- Shmoopers, meet Dr. Slop. He's about four and a half feet tall, very round, and he's heading fast in the direction of Shandy Hall on a small, struggling pony. In the opposite direction, Obadiah is galloping on a horse big enough to pull a coach.
- Sensing disaster, Dr. Slop abandons ship. He flings himself off the pony directly into a pit of mud, but that's not enough: Obadiah is galloping so fast that he has to bring his horse three times around before it stops.
- By the end, Dr. Slop looks like he's been naked mud wrestling on the best Spring Break ever.
Book 2, Chapter 10
- Dr. Slop heads to Shandy Hall because he wants to check up on mama-to-be Mrs. Shandy.
- But Mr. Shandy can't stop thinking about time, and Toby has begun a new train of associations brought on by the knock on the door (from Chapter VII) … as has our narrator.
Book 2, Chapter 11
- Tristram's about to make a brilliant observation: writing is just another name for conversation. Just as you have to use judgment about what to say when you're talking, you have to leave something to the reader's imagination. Tristram lets the reader imagine what Dr. Slop, dripping with mud, says; as well as the story Obadiah tells. Tristram also lets the reader imagine that Mr. Shandy has gone upstairs to check on Mrs. Shandy and that, in the meantime, Dr. Slop gets cleaned up. As he cleans himself, he realizes he's forgotten something: his instruments.
- Off goes Obadiah, to fetch the bag of instruments.
Book 2, Chapter 12
- In the meantime, Dr. Slop heads up to see how Mrs. Shandy's doing.
- Just kidding! He sits down by the fire to chat with Mr. Shandy and Toby. Toby brings up one of his favorite authors, the military engineer Stevinus. He launches into a long explanation of military fortifications, and Mr. Shandy interrupts him. Toby doesn't get mad: he's so gentle that he wouldn't hurt a fly.
- One day, a fly was buzzing around his nose. He caught it in his hand and released it out the window, giving ten-year-old Tristram a crash course on universal good will.
- Take note, teachers: this incident taught him more than a whole book about the subject.
- Toby is so mild-mannered that even when Mr. Shandy insults his hobby-horse, he preserves his good nature—and Mr. Shandy begs forgiveness and apologizes for never doing anything nice for Toby. Sure you do, Toby says. You have children.
Book 2, Chapter 13
- Mr. Shandy has children (that is, sex) out of principle, not pleasure. Give him a gold medal.
Book 2, Chapter 14
- Flashback to the end of the last chapter: Toby and Mr. Shandy are standing. At long last, they take a seat. Toby sends off for his book by Stevinus, the engineer he was trying to explain in Chapter XII.
- Dr. Slop and Toby bicker good-naturedly about German geography and engineering. Toby brings up a curious invention, a "sailing chariot" that's propelled by wind.
- Dr. Slop thinks that the sailing chariot would be a great thing for England, since, unlike horses, it doesn't cost money. Mr. Shandy points out that the economy depends on consumption and trade, and he seems about to start into a very useful dissertation when—
- Yep, end of chapter.
Book 2, Chapter 15
- Here come Trim and Stevinus. As Trim opens Stevinus to look for mention of sailing chariots, a sermon falls out. Trim jumps at the chance to read it.
Book 2, Chapter 16
- It begins, "---
- Yeah, right, you didn't think it was actually going to start in the next chapter, did you?
- First, Mr. Shandy checks with Dr. Slop, who agrees to hear the sermon read.
Book 2, Chapter 17
- It begins, "---
- Denied. Before Trim can read it, Tristram has to describe how he's standing, which is very unlike the way you're imagining him. He's bent forwards at exactly 85 degrees, which is the most convincing angle. (We'll find out later how Corporal Trim knew exactly what angle to use.)
- He arranges his legs just so, holds the sermon purposefully in front of him, and lets his right hand fall naturally to his side.
- The sermon is on a verse from Hebrews 13:18: "For we trust we have a good conscience." And it begins, "---
- Nope. First they have to argue about whether the writer is a Protestant, and then Trim begins a story about his brother who has been held by the Inquisition for fourteen years after marrying a Jewish woman in Portugal.
- After this brief and touching interlude (it brings tears to Trim's eyes), the sermon begins, although not without interruptions from Dr. Slop, Mr. Shandy, Toby, and even Trim himself.
- Basically, the sermon says that you have to carefully think about the state of your conscience. If a man thinks he's guilty, he certainly is, because the conscience is more likely to be lenient. But simply thinking that you're innocent doesn't mean that you are.
- As the sermon lists all the ways that a man's conscience might falsely declare him innocent, Dr. Slop insists that this could not possibly happen in "our" church—that's the Anglican one. Ever the logical one, Mr. Shandy points out that it happens all the time.
- So Toby and Dr. Slop get in a little tiff over the Anglican seven sacraments. Toby seems to think seven is too many, but Dr. Slop insists that seven is a great number.
- C'mon, think about it: seven cardinal virtues, seven wonders of the world, seven days of creation, and so forth. Stand to reason, then, that there should be seven sacraments.
- The sermon describes various types of men who might not listen to their consciences. One is merry and thoughtless, one is selfish and cruel (Toby really dislikes this one), and a third is manipulative—he obeys the "Letter of the Law," so he thinks he is safe.
- Dr. Slop hates this one the most, and thinks that if these men had to go to confession three times a year like a good Anglican, they'd never be able to deceive themselves so long.
- A fourth man is simply a villain, but, because he's a Catholic, he thinks that confession and repentance means that he can do anything he wants.
- All this is to say that conscience doesn't always fulfill its duty. Conscience alone is not enough to keep us honest and good—the law of God is the final authority. At this point, Dr. Slop conks out.
- Clearly, Mr. Shandy approves of the sermon. He asks Trim what he thinks, and Trim grasps at the only part he understands—something about watch-men and towers.
- This sends the company into a discussion of towers and fortifications, but we quickly get back to the point: religion is the best way to ensure that morality has a firm base.
- Religion and morality make a strong pair, but it's possible to have one without the other—as we find in the Roman Catholic Church, which has religion without morality.
- Get ready for some fire and brimstone to drop. Trim can't finish the reading because he's afraid that the horrors of the inquisition he's reading about are affecting his brother at this very moment.
- Mr. Shandy brings it home with the sermon's conclusion: (1) If a man speaks against religion, his passions have gotten the better of him. (2) If a man tells you that something goes against his conscience, it really means he just doesn't feel like doing it. (3) Your conscience is not law: God and reason make the law.
- Discussing the sermon, the company figures that Yorick must have written the sermon and stuck it in the book when he borrowed it from Toby earlier.
- But Yorick never got credit for the sermon; it fell through his pocket and was sold to a different parson—under whose name it was even preached at the cathedral in York!—until this very moment.
- By the way, if you liked this sermon, look for a whole book of them that Tristram is going to publish. New York Times Best Seller list, natch.
Book 2, Chapter 18
- Just as Trim is about to peace out, Obadiah rushes in with the bag full of instruments. Dr. Slop suggests that they go check on Mrs. Shandy, but Mr. Shandy says that the midwife is going to come let them know how everything is going. Dr. Slop insists that obstetrics has come so far that he wonders how—
- Toby interrupts: What big armies we had in Flanders!
Book 2, Chapter 19
- Listen up, Shmoopers, because Tristram has something to say. Actually, he should have said it a long time ago, but it's going to fit better here.
- Remember: Mr. Shandy is the guy with lots of odd opinions. He doesn't like to listen to others and prefers to come to his own conclusions about everything.
- Because of that, he tries out a weird argument to try to convince Mrs. Shandy to accept Dr. Slop instead of the midwife. The argument rests on two axioms: (1) A man's own wit (cleverness) is better than another man's; (2) Wit has to come from every man's own soul.
- Obviously, souls are all equal. Difference in wit, however, come from the way the body is organized in the place where the soul lives.
- Since people can walk around and be brain dead, it's obvious that the soul doesn't live there, as the philosopher Descartes says. And something so noble as the soul couldn't possibly live in the pool of liquid in the brain, as another authority says. So it must live somewhere around the medulla oblongata.
- Okay, so Tristram is buying what Mr. Shandy is selling so far. But here, Mr. Shandy goes off on his own Shandean hypothesis. Mr. Shandy's main concern is to produce the best heirs possible.
- To do this requires (1) being careful during the heir's conception, i.e., s-e-x; (2) giving the child the best name possible; and, (3) preserving the delicate head during birth.
- Let's break it down.
- Mr. Shandy is horrified to know that, because a child's head is so soft, it gets malformed and crushed in labor. He figures that this is responsible for people's inability to think straight—labor propels the cerebrum (brain) toward the cerebellum (seat of the understanding). Let us remind you that you should not use Tristram Shandy as a replacement for a good anatomy textbook.
- In fact, this explains why the eldest son is usually the dunce of the family: he opens the way, literally, for his younger brothers. It also, in a sublimely racist moment, explains why Asians are smarter: nature had laid a lighter tax upon the fairest parts of the creation (2.19.28).
- If, however, a doctor extracts the child feet first, the cerebellum is propelled toward the cerebrum, and all is well. Even better is the C-section, which is responsible for the births of so many geniuses.
- Mrs. Shandy, however, is not too thrilled with the suggestion of a C-section—which, if you ask us, considering the dearth of antibiotics and lack of basic understanding of sterilization, seems like a reasonable response.
- So Mr. Shandy resolves to try the second best way: getting the doctor to extract the child feet first. Dr. Slop doesn't care too much about the soul, but he firmly believes in extraction as the latest obstetrical triumph.
- Let the reader imagine how poor modest Uncle Toby feels about the ensuing discussion of labor and birth—and, while you're at it, imagine how Tristram lost his nose and gained his ill-fated name. It's a regular soap opera in the Shandy household.
Book 3, Chapter 1
- Remember Book 2, Chapter 18? "I wish you'd seen what big armies we had in Flanders," Toby says.
- This wish came just as Dr. Slop was explaining the wonders of obstetrics, and it threw the poor doctor for such a loop—as such non sequiturs always do—that he couldn't finish his thought. Mr. Shandy, who was very interested in the original discussion, came to Slop's rescue.
Book 3, Chapter 2
- Mr. Shandy takes off his wig with his right hand and with his left, pulls from his right pocket a handkerchief to rub his head.
- Bad idea, Shandy.
- As you might have noticed, trivial things are pretty important in Shandyland. Since Mr. Shandy's handkerchief was on the right, he should obviously have used his right hand to pull it out.
- If he'd done so, he wouldn't have had to make an idiot of himself by contorting his body. He would have made a graceful movement, suitable to be painted by the great English painter Joseph Reynolds.
- What's more, coat pockets were sewn very low in the coat when this incident happened, so not only did Mr. Shandy have to contort his body, he had to stoop for the handkerchief as well.
Book 3, Chapter 3
- In 1718, when this incident took place, it was harder than usual to get something out of your opposite coat pocket. Think of it as a battle with your outerwear.
- Mr. Shandy's efforts remind Toby of Namur, and he's just about to send for Trim when Mr. Shandy's face turns red. Toby dismounts. Wait, Tristram's reader interrupts, he was on a horse?
Book 3, Chapter 4
- The mind and body are connected: like a coat and its lining, you can't rumple one without messing up the other. Certainly Tristram has gotten rumpled lately, with the bad reviews of his books. Not to worry: if the critics come after him again, he's going to maintain a good temper.
Book 3, Chapter 5
- Anyone seeing how red Mr. Shandy's face was getting would have figured he was about to lose it, but Toby, who thinks the best of everyone, blames the tailor who cut the pocket so low instead.
- Finally, Mr. Shandy gets the handkerchief out.
Book 3, Chapter 6
- Now we're zig-zagging back to the Flanders armies.
- Mr. Shandy thinks Toby's a pretty great guy, and tells him so straight-up. After all, it's not Toby's fault that babies are born headfirst. But seriously, the world is harsh enough without exposing the poor kids to danger on their way into it.
- This makes Toby wonder whether it's more dangerous to be born nowadays. When he finds out that it's not, he leans back in his chair and begins to whistle.
Book 3, Chapter 7
- Dr. Slop, meanwhile, is really laying into Obadiah. Why? The doofus went back for a bag of the good doctor's instruments, and tied it tightly to his body.
- The jangle of instruments was so loud as he rode back that he couldn't even hear himself whistle. Keep reading on for the tale of Obadiah's stupidity…
Book 3, Chapter 8
- Obadiah really wanted to hear some tunes, so he tied down the instruments with his hatband. Good call, Obadiah…except the knots are so tight that Dr. Slop can't get them undone.
- If only it had taken longer, Tristram laments. If it had just taken a little longer for Dr. Slop to undo the knots, maybe his nose would have survived unscathed.
Book 3, Chapter 9
- Dr. Slop, who only just realized that Obadiah had returned with the bag, thinks—like Tristram—that Mrs. Shandy might give birth before he untangles the bag. A sudden commotion upstairs makes him hurry.
Book 3, Chapter 10
- Knots—not slipknots, which we'll hear about later; or bow-knots—but good, hard knots like those Obadiah made, can be cut, although it's better to use your teeth or fingers.
- Unfortunately, Dr. Slop has short fingernails and lost his teeth in an obstetrical accident.
- No, you don't get any more explanation about that bizarre occurrence. When he tries to use a knife, he slices his thumb open and begins to cuss out Obadiah again.
- Mr. Shandy isn't having it. Cursing, he says, has to be proportionate to the situation. There's no good in swearing just a little when something bad happens; you have to swear a lot.
- In fact, it's probably a good idea to get all your curses ready ahead of time and then bust them out when the time is right. Mr. Shandy just happens to have a nice violent one handy, if Dr. Slop would like.
- Well, duh. Dr. Slop says bring it on!
Book 3, Chapter 11
- The Excommunication (by Ernulphus): Unless you can read Latin, you might want to go straight for the translation.
- And here's the translation, which Dr. Slop only reluctantly reads aloud:
- By the authority of God, may Obadiah be damned for tying these knots. We excommunicate him and sentence him to punishment. A series of curses follows, including "May he be cursed in "eating and drinking … in pissing, in shitting, and in blood-letting" (3.11.6)
- Everyone is busy being horrified by the R-rated excommunication, when—
- The door opens in the next chapter.
Book 3, Chapter 12
- Before the door opens, Tristram is going to give you the low-down on oaths.
- Hold up. Tristram digresses into a rant about connoisseurs who have so many rules that they can't appreciate works of genius.
- Think the type of person who can't focus on a famous actor's performance—they're too busy critiquing his grammar. Or, you know, someone who gets hung up on the printing style of a new book. Basically, a good reader needs to chill out about the nitty-gritty details and have a good chuckle instead.
- But back to oaths. All oaths for the past 250 years are just wonky copies of the original, like Ernulphus's excommunication. But Mr. Shandy disagrees: he thinks Ernulphus was simply collecting other people's stronger swears against their inevitable decline.
Book 3, Chapter 13
- Susannah finally gets a word in edgewise—upstairs is sheer chaos, and Dr. Slop should immediately go see the midwife.
- (At this point, half the company looks like they've been through battle: Susannah's cut her arm, the midwife's bruised her hip, and Dr. Slop's thumb is sliced to the bone.)
- Dr. Slop's an ornery fellow, so he's not having it. The midwife should come to him. If it weren't for the subordination of fingers and thumbs to ****** …
Book 3, Chapter 14
- What's up with that ******? Tristram asks. And he begins a rather weird metaphor about eloquence:
- If you really want to get all eloquent on your readers, throw in the main point near the end of a speech. Think of it as the equivalent to pulling a baby out of your cloak—that's the metaphor Greek and Roman rhetoricians used.
- See, they were fond of wearing long togas that easily concealed babies. Today, however, men wear short coats without room to hide much of anything. Sounds like they could use an invisibility cloak.
Book 3, Chapter 15
- ****** was supposed to be "forceps," accompanied by Dr. Slop pulling them with a flourish out of his bag. Unfortunately Dr. Slop fumbled when he pulled them out and he pulled out the squirt along with the forceps.
- Uncle Toby is horrified—is that how children come into the world? (Ha. A squirt.)
Book 3, Chapter 16
- Dr. Slop is using Toby as a guinea pig, attempting to demonstrate how the forceps work. Poor Toby holds his hands wrong and gets some skin ripped off.
- Mr. Shandy interrupts that it was a good thing that Dr. Slop wasn't operating on the baby's head just then, or else you could say sayonara to little Tristram. Dr. Slop insists that he could have extracted him by the feet.
- But the midwife doesn't think so—she's pretty sure that the baby is coming out head down.
Book 3, Chapter 17
- "What do you know about it?" Dr. Slop asks her. This is important, because if the child is a boy there could be severe consequences if the hip is mistaken for the head—there's a possibility that the forceps ******************.
- Mr. Shandy thinks that if such a terrible thing happens the doctor might as well take off the child's head. Father of the year award, right here.
- Tristram assumes that the reader couldn't possibly understand all this, but he assures us that Dr. Slop does. Taking up his green bag, Dr. Slop heads upstairs.
Book 3, Chapter 18
- Time is just ticking by. It's been two hours and ten minutes since Dr. Slop arrived at Shandy Hall. Mr. Shandy is amazed, since it seems like forever. How can that be?
- Here we go. Mr. Shandy is about to break down some pretty complex concepts about how digression can lengthen time when Toby cuts him off with his own brilliant idea: it's because of the way their conversation has gone from idea to idea.
- Way to steal Mr. Shandy's thunder, Toby.
- But Toby doesn't know what he's talking about, so Mr. Shandy gets all philosophical: as long as you're thinking, you know you exist; and existence seems to be as long as the duration and succession of ideas, which happens in every man's mind. Heavy stuff.
- My ideas are going around like a roasting spit! Toby exclaims. Us, too.
Book 3, Chapter 19
- It's a shame that Toby got so confused, because Mr. Shandy was about to drop one his best explanations. Now, this wonderful discourse on Time and Eternity is kind of screwed up.
Book 3, Chapter 20
- Mr. Shandy is getting jazzed up thinking about Toby's mind as a roasting spit. He thinks about it so intently that he … nods off to lullaby land. Toby, too, conks out.
- Since everyone else is occupied—Dr. Slop is upstairs with the midwife and Mrs. Shandy, and Trim is cooking up some equipment for Toby's model fortifications—this is a good time for Tristram to write the preface.
- THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE (in Tristram's own words)
- Tristram says the book basically speaks for itself—it's that good. Always the modest one, that Tristram. He paraphrases Locke, who says that wit and judgment don't go together—just like farting and hiccupping.
- We're not sure if we read that part of Locke, but it sounds true enough.
- Anyway, Tristram hopes that his readers have as much wit and judgment as they possibly can hold. If so, then they'd be sure to like this book—but they'd also be impossible to live with. Witty people also tend to be kind of rude.
- Of course, good judgment always comes in handy. But the world holds only so much wit and judgment. Of course, very cold places use hardly any wit and judgment. As you go farther south, however, wit and common sense start popping up all over the place.
- So Tristram's going to come clean with you. Wishing that his readers have lots of wit and judgment is just a way of buttering you up. If you got more than your fair share, you'd rob other people of theirs, and all professions—from lawyers to the clergy—would run wild.
- Okay, breaking it down a little bit more: Wit and Judgment are like two symmetrical decorations. If you remove one, the whole thing looks ridiculous. Better not to have either than to have only one. This is where Tristram differs from Locke, who doesn't give a fig about wit.
- … and, end preface.
Book 3, Chapter 21
- The squeaky parlor door is driving Mr. Shandy up the wall. He keeps saying he's going to get it fixed, but let's face it… the squeaking's been going on for ten years, and no dice.
Book 3, Chapter 22
- Trim's psyched that he finally finished the fortifications, so he rushes to bring them to Toby. If the door opened quietly, he'd have seen the two men asleep and gotten the heck out of Dodge.
- Instead, it woke them, and Mr. Shandy is horrified to find out that Trim had destroyed a family heirloom to make the models. Toby offers to shell out some dough, prompting Mr. Shandy to launch into a lecture on the expense of his hobby.
- But Toby is willing to pay any amount, as long as it benefits the nation.
Book 3, Chapter 23
- It's all quiet on the western front upstairs, but someone's banging around in the kitchen. It's Dr. Slop, making a bridge. You might be a little confused, and that's fine—to understand this incident properly, you have to get some backstory about Trim.
Book 3, Chapter 24
- Trim got the hots for Bridget, Widow Wadman's maid. Tough luck, because Toby has been trying to avoid Widow Wadman for months.
- Trim and Bridget have secret Romeo-and-Juliet-style meetups that go on for five years until about six or seven weeks before the time of Tristram's birth.
- One night, Trim was giving Bridget a little preview of the fortifications when he slipped. They both fell down and broke the drawbridge. Mr. Shandy thought this was all pretty funny. Corporal Trim put the battering rams of ancient armies to shame.
- Instead of getting mad about being teased, Toby just smoked harder. He puffed out so much smoke that he sent Mr. Shandy into a coughing fit. Ever the sweetheart, Toby started taking care of Mr. Shandy. Mr. Shandy vowed to ease up on the teasing.
Book 3, Chapter 25
- The drawbridge is smashed to oblivion, so Trim started in building a new one.
Book 3, Chapter 26
- So now we know that bridges are on Toby's mind. See, this is why Toby assumed Dr. Slop was helping out with the new bridge.
Book 3, Chapter 27
- Here's the catch: it's not that kind of bridge. It's a bridge for Tristram's nose, which the doctor smashed while delivering him with his terrifying forceps.
Book 3, Chapter 28
- Tristram notes that, from the moment he started writing, a cloud has been gathering over this father's head. At this moment, the storm breaks. Get ready for the tear-jerker part of Tristram's story.
Book 3, Chapter 29
- You might need to lie down to take this all in, Tristram says. Mr. Shandy certainly does: he runs up to his bedroom and flings himself across the bed. Toby takes a seat right beside him.
Book 3, Chapter 30
- Now that Mr. Shandy is all riled up, Tristram is going to leave him on the bed for half an hour. Let's get down to business: why did Mr. Shandy get so upset about the nose business?
Book 3, Chapter 31
- Tristram's great-grandfather threw a hissy fit about the size of his great- grandmother's jointure (that's the money left to her after her husband dies). He thinks her request is ridiculous. Ever the wise woman, great-grandma insists that it is appropriate compensation because he has a small nose.
- But Tristram wants to clear one little thing up. When he says nose, he really does mean nose. It's absolutely not a dirty joke, so don't go there. Don't even think about it. (Anyone thinking about it?)
Book 3, Chapter 32
- Getting down to specifics, Tristram's great-grandfather insists that his nose is a full inch longer than his father's nose. Tristram gives us the low-down: it's still a pretty small nose. Eventually, his great-grandfather agrees to the large jointure.
Book 3, Chapter 33
- More family history is coming right up. Tristram's grandmother tells her husband that the jointure they pay to Tristram's great-grandmother is extremely large. Tristram's grandfather explains that she can blame his father's mini-nose.
- So the Shandy family tends to prefer long noses a la Cyrano de Bergerac. These lovely long noses made them too big for their britches way back when—but his great-grandfather's nose destroyed all that.
Book 3, Chapter 34
- TS compares Mr. Shandy's picking up an idea to a man who picks up an apple and, as a result, lays claim to the apple (dropping a reference to John Locke's ideas of ownership).
- He's a greedy little bugger who thinks his opinions are solely his property. And Mr. Shandy has some pretty strong ideas about noses, as well as every single book ever written on the subject.
- And here's good place for Tristram to give Uncle Toby some love.
Book 3, Chapter 35
- Mr. Shandy started off his book collection with Bruscabille's prologue upon long noses. And man, does he have a lot of books about noses. Most importantly the great Hafen Slawkenbergius made it into his collection.
Book 3, Chapter 36
- The most disappointing book out of the whole bunch was a dialogue about the uses of long noses. Tristram suspects you might be thinking dirty thoughts again—so don't. If Satan gets hold of you, Tristram says, buck him off—with a long list of very, very suggestive verbs.
- Read on, he says, or you won't be able to figure out the meaning of the next marbled* page. (And here, Tristram actually inserts a marbled page.)
- *Marbling is the swirly coloring you sometimes see on the covers and insides of old books.
Book 3, Chapter 37
- Mr. Shandy is reading a text by Erasmus, who claims that a nose is convenient for blowing on fires—an excellent skill for any Boy Scout, we think. Mr. Shandy is using his penknife to try to make sense of the text, when he freaks out and tears out the page in frustration.
Book 3, Chapter 38
- Slawkenbergius is the man when it comes to writing on noses. The guy felt that all previous writers had not done the subject of snouts justice, although they have argued back and forth about whether the nose creates the imagination or the imagination the nose.
- Mr. Shandy is convinced by one particularly wacky account that the length of the nose is actually determined by how soft the nurse's breast is: a soft breast will allow a nice long nose to grow.
- Paraeus somehow manages to write about soft breasts without sounding like a teenaged boy.
- But the whole soft-breast thing caused Mr. Shandy and Mrs. Shandy to throw down, and—
- Really, you knew what was coming. First, Tristram has to explain a hundred other things that he's let go. Meanwhile, his poor old dad is still lying in agony across the bed.
Book 3, Chapter 39
- Tristram swears up and down that the different characters in his family are perfectly suited for drama. We won't disagree.
- The best of the drama happens when his father tries to get his Uncle Toby excited about his own obsessions. It's also pretty funny when Mr. Shandy tries to translate Latin. His translation is so terrible that Toby is even less likely to be able to understand it.
Book 3, Chapter 40
- Tristram claims that the nose is the seat of reason. In other words, men don't think with their heads, they think with their… noses. Yeah, noses.
- Moving on, Tristram says that if the best thinker watched Toby listening to Mr. Shandy, he would have thought that Toby was reasoning very strongly. But surprise, surprise, he wasn't.
Book 3, Chapter 41
- Mr. Shandy is all torn up about the fact that truth is so difficult to make out.
- This brings Toby back to his favorite topic—fortifications! Mr. Shandy has a brief moment of rage, but Toby doesn't really care. He thinks that noses are different because God intends it to be so. Budding scientist Mr. Shandy needs it to be a little more complicated than that.
Book 3, Chapter 42
- Back to Slawkenbergius. The best part of this long-named chap is his stories, and lucky you—one is coming right up.
Book 4, Preface
- This book begins with a long Latin passage: Slawkenbergii Fabella. Tristram has every confidence in the laziness of his readers, so he pulls out a translation.
- A stranger comes to the German town of Strasburg (Strasbourg). He has a mammoth nose but no scabbard (it might help to know that the word for 'scabbard' in Latin is vagina, pronounced wa-gee-na) for his sword.
- Everyone marvels at his huge nose, and all the women in town want to touch it. He resists and even leaves town to avoid having his nose touched. He's careful with it because, as he tells the innkeeper, he's just acquired it from the Promontory of Noses. The inn-keeper's wife is really jonesing to touch the noble nose, even though her husband insists that it's a fake. (A fake nose? Now we've heard it all.)
- The stranger leaves town, but not before getting the whole town worked up about his awe-inspiring nose. As he rides, he mutters to himself about a woman named Julia.
- He arrives at the German town of Frankfurt and hits the hay just as the townspeople of Strasburg are climbing uneasily into their beds. Even the Abbess, the head nun of the town's convent, can't get the stranger's nose out of her mind. Tossing and turning, the nuns scratch themselves on their bedclothes so badly that they look like they've been flayed.
- The next morning, the town is a mess. The bakers forget to start their loaves; the cathedral is in tumult, and it's all the fault of the stranger's nose.
- Everyone in Strasburg longs to see and touch this magnificent nose. What's more, rumor has it that the stranger is the most beautiful man anyone has ever seen.
- Everyone talks about the nose: religious leaders, who claim that the story about the Promontory of Noses must be false; scientists, who discuss the network of blood vessels necessary to sustain the nose; logicians, who prove that the stranger's nose was neither true nor false.
- Tristram is beginning to start in on a discussion of the universities in Strasburg arguing over Martin Luther's birth date and salvation, but he has to stop because the Latin translation has tuckered him out.
- (Martin Luther is the guy who broke away from the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation. Lutherans are named after him.)
- Tristram notes that Mr. Shandy always seized this part of the story as time to point out the importance of names—if Luther had not been called Martin, he'd have been damned forever. But even these universities begin to argue about the stranger's nose.
- Back to the story. This state of affairs continues for 27 days, after which the stranger is supposed to return to Strasburg. On the morning of the 28th day, the entire town sets out to meet him. There's pretty much bound to be a catastrophe.
- Slawkenbergius now outlines the structure of his tale so far:
- (1) From the stranger's arrival at Strasburg to his leaving is the protasis.
- (2) The epistatis, acts two and three, occurs from the first uneasy night to the 27th day.
- (3) Now, the catastasis: the fourth act, when things get real in preparation for the explosive fifth act.
- The stranger arrives at an inn just outside Strasburg and needs a bed pronto.
- The innkeeper tells him about a traveler who has also just arrived, who has such a glorious nose that he couldn't even fit in the inn-keeper's camp bed. You know, because noses take up that much room.
- The stranger gives thanks: this is the man he's been seeking, Julia's brother. Julia's brother, meanwhile, has been searching for him—he has a letter for Diego (the stranger) from Julia. The letter begs Diego to return to Julia, who has sent him away out of suspicion that his nose was not real. She's dying of sorrow, and Diego immediately saddles up to ride to her.
- The Strasburgers, consequently, never did meet up with Diego again, and they suffered a terrible fate: when they marched out of their city, the French marched in. The city never fully recovered. Fortresses, Slawkenbergius says sadly, can be won or lost by noses.
Book 4, Chapter 1
- Okay, so we're getting to understand why Mr. Shandy cares so deeply about real and fake noses.
- Here, Tristram's reader interrupts, longing to know if the stranger's nose was real or fake. Sorry, buddy—Tristram can't translate the Latin on that part. It's a little too complicated.
Book 4, Chapter 2
- Mr. Shandy lies completely still for an hour and half before finally beginning to stir. Toby is so happy that he actually makes Mr. Shandy feel better. Through a complicated series of maneuvers, he gets up.
Book 4, Chapter 3
- "Has anything worse ever happened to anyone?" Mr. Shandy cries. Toby misunderstands him again: well, yes, Toby says. Bad things happen to people in the army all the time. Give it a rest, Toby.
- Mr. Shandy collapses again in frustration.
Book 4, Chapter 4
- Toby's actually got a great example of how terrible this one particular army incident was. Trim interjects tearfully, as he remembers another cruel misfortune: the inquisition that got his brother.
- Mr. Shandy starts to feel a little like he might be overreacting. In the meantime, Toby compliments Trim on his compassion and says he'll always be taken care of.
Book 4, Chapter 5
- Wait a minute, Mr. Shandy says. This is a bad time to talk about Trim's retirement plan.
Book 4, Chapter 6
- When Mr. Shandy collapsed again, he took the exact same position he'd originally had, and so had to perform the exact same series of maneuvers to get us as before.
- Finally, he prepares to speak to Toby, with the three fingers of his right hand pressed in the palm of his left.
Book 4, Chapter 7
- Mr. Shandy begins a grand speech about how it's remarkable that anyone can survive in such a state of misfortune.
- Toby interrupts to give God some credit. Mr. Shandy doesn't like this answer, since it's cutting a knot (solving a problem using religion) instead of untying it (solving a problem using logic).
- Mr. Shandy changes positions: he grabs his left index finger in his right thumb and index finger, and prepares to continue his speech.
Book 4, Chapter 8
- Something, Mr. Shandy says, keeps the fragile body and mind together. That power allows us to counterbalance evil (paging Batman).
- If everything had been hunky-dory with Tristram's birth, George or Edward would have been perfect names. But only the name Trismegistus will counter the evil of a squashed nose. Nice logic, Mr. Shandy.
Book 4, Chapter 9
- Life is full of ups and downs, Mr. Shandy continues as they walk downstairs, and Tristram calls this his chapter of chances (4.9.2), which saves him the trouble of writing it—a good thing, because he's got a ton of chapters to write: knots, the right and wrong ends of women; whiskers, wishes, and so forth.
- Toby reminds Mr. Shandy that it could have been worse—the baby could have come out hip first—meaning that something other than the nose would have been crushed.
Book 4, Chapter 10
- Tristram is a little sorry that two chapters have passed and they're not yet downstairs, but it's still peachy keen, jellybean.
- And now he has to write a chapter on chapters, with this as the main point: they make a book easier to read. Voilà, says Tristram, this is by far the best chapter in work.
Book 4, Chapter 11
- We'll fix everything, Mr. Shandy says, because Trismegistus was basically the boss. Was he the best engineer? asks Toby. Oh, Toby—you and your one-track mind.
Book 4, Chapter 12
- Mr. Shandy sees Susannah—he's still on the stairs—and asks about Mrs. Shandy. Susannah gives him some sass.
- Mr. Shandy thinks that childbirth makes women uppity, while Toby just feels sorry for them.
Book 4, Chapter 13
- Tristram begs for some help with getting Mr. Shandy off the stairs. But first, he has to make an observation.
- He is a whole year older than when he started writing, and he has only written up to his birth day. He is living, he calculates, 364 times faster than he can write, and he will never be able to catch up. That's some interesting math, Tristram.
- But somehow Mr. Shandy and Toby have managed to make it off the staircase.
Book 4, Chapter 14
- We've got a serious emergency on our hands: Tristram is black in the face and the parson is just waiting for Mr. Shandy to give him a name so he can baptize him before death. But Mr. Shandy isn't dressed. He gives the name to Susannah, who's run to find him.
- He's afraid, though, that flibbertigibbet Susannah isn't going to be able to keep the name Trismegistus in her head the whole way down the hall.
- Good call, Mr. Shandy.
- She remembers the first part, Tris, and the parson figures that Mr. Shandy must mean Tristram. The parson baptizes him, assures Mr. Shandy, who's just arrived, that he got the name right (although without telling him what that name is), and Mr. Shandy heads back to get fully dressed.
Book 4, Chapter 15
- This would be a good time, Tristram thinks, for a chapter on sleep—except that writing on sleep is hard, and he's no good at coming up with fancy sayings like other people.
- It's best if he just quotes Montaigne: he likes to be woken from sleep so he can appreciate it more.
Book 4, Chapter 16
- Mr. Shandy wants to see Trismegistus, but Susannah is freaking out upstairs. They ask what the matter is, and Susannah tells them: the boy's been named Tristram.
- Mr. Shandy quite calmly and sweetly tells Toby to make his own tea.
Book 4, Chapter 17
- Tristram reminds us that Mr. Shandy flung himself on the bed when he heard about Tristram's nose, so it seems likely that he'll do the same now. But we respond differently to different hardships. Instead of collapsing in grief, Mr. Shandy walks out to the fish-pond.
Book 4, Chapter 18
- Trim finds Toby and explains that he had nothing to do with the mis-naming. Toby and Trim have a heated exchange where they insist that, in the heat of battle, no man thinks about his name.
Book 4, Chapter 19
- Mr. Shandy hears the last of their discussion and breaks forth into a LAMENTATION.
- Yep, he's mad. Heaven is punishing him, he says, and punishing his new son, and it all started when Mrs. Shandy distracted him at the moment of ejaculation.
- It all got worse because she was so stressed about going up to town, and then the boy presented head first and got squished, and then his nose was broken. Just about everything has gone wrong.
Book 4, Chapter 20
- Tristram thinks he's been writing too fast—someone is liable to get hurt. Time to slow it down.
Book 4, Chapter 21
- Francis the First of France wants Switzerland to be the godmother to his next child, and they agree—but they insist on naming the child.
- The name they've chosen is "Shadrach, Meschech, and Abed-nego" (three guys saved from burning to death by the power of God in the Hebrew Bible Book of Daniel). Yep, that's one name.
- Hating the name, and unable to think of a way out of the situation, King Francis swears he'll go to war with them.
Book 4, Chapter 22
- Seriously, Tristram's not trying to be metaphorical or suggestive. He's just telling his own story. His father's feelings about names have nothing to do with Francis's feelings about names.
Book 4, Chapter 23
- Mr. Shandy asks if the naming can be undone, and he and Yorick prepare to figure it out by visiting a local scholar, Didius.
Book 4, Chapter 24
- Yes, there's a chapter missing—TS tore it out, because the book is better without it. It was going to be a description of Mr. Shandy, Toby, Yorick, Trim, and Obadiah all heading off down the road, but the chapter was so good that it made every other chapter look bad by comparison. You'll never know what you're missing.
Book 4, Chapter 25
- Yorick tells Didius he's had a terrible time writing this sermon, but that preaching just to show off is a misuse of the position. Just then, across the table, someone utters a terrible word—a word so bad that Tristram is ashamed to write it.
Book 4, Chapter 26
- Yes, that's the terrible word. (Earmuffs, kids.)
- The whole company tries to figure out what Phutatorius is swearing about. They figured he was listening to the debate between Didius and Yorick, but nope.
- Gastripheres, one of the scholars present, had ordered the kitchen to roast some chestnuts. When they were brought in, the scholars attacked them with such vigor that one fell directly into Phutatorius's fly … which he'd left open. Let that be a lesson to always zip (well, button) your fly.
- It was an accident, maybe, but perhaps it was also a cosmic punishment for his filthy book, "How to Keep Mistresses." It's all about eighteenth-century karma. Anyway, Tristram says, it's his job to tell the facts, and the facts are that the chestnut fell into his fly.
- At first, the heat actually felt kind of good—but pretty soon, it started to hurt. Not knowing about the chestnut, he thought that a newt might be biting him (really?)—hence the "Zounds!"
- This has taken a long time to tell, Tristram says, but it all happened super quickly. Yorick picked up the chestnut, and Phutatorius figured that meant the chestnut was his. Everyone else thought so too, and they figured they knew why Yorick had attacked Phutatorius: Yorick thought his book about mistresses was a dud.
- Yorick did no such thing, but people always did think the worst of him.
Book 4, Chapter 27
- Phutatorius starts babbling about the best way to soothe the burn. The company advises him to wrap a just-printed sheet around the affected part, although whether it's the dampness or the ink that works is up for debate.
- What luck—Phutatorius' book is just being printed in a second edition.
Book 4, Chapter 28
- Alrighty, back to the question of baptism. Before the Reformation, Didius says, re-baptizing would have been easy. Since priests were so bad at Latin, they could just find an error in the ceremony and declare it invalid.
- Others say that the mistake only matters if it's in the root and not the end of a word; others think that, as long as the priest's intentions were good, the ceremony was valid.
- The company debates this fascinating question for a while, and Mr. Shandy soaks it in like a sponge.
Book 4, Chapter 29
- Toby and Mr. Shandy are headed down the staircase again—although Tristram assures his reader that this staircase is not as long as the last one—when Toby asks for the scholars' opinion about Tristram's name.
- The absurd conclusion is that it doesn't matter: the logicians have managed to prove that Mr. Shandy isn't even related to his own son.
Book 4, Chapter 30
- At home, Tristram is down in the dumps. Luckily, his sister Dinah died and left him 1000 pounds—and an unexpected legacy can cheer up anyone.
- He wonders how best to spend the money: go to Rome? Buy a farm? Add a wing to the house? Or, more realistically, send Tristram's older brother Bobby traveling, or put up a fence around the Ox-moor field? The choices are endless.
- See, it's a Shandy tradition that the oldest son sow his wild oats. At the same time, the field really needs some work.
- Mr. Shandy is saved from having to make this decision by another a sort of sad stroke of luck: Bobby has kicked the bucket.
Book 4, Chapter 31
- Now, Tristram says, I'm the heir to the Shandy family, and my life and opinions can begin for real. All the previous books and chapters have been clearing the ground. The worst part is that he hasn't even gotten to the best part. That would be the adventures of Toby in love and war.
- Now, Tristram wants to know how you're feeling. Seriously, how's it going? He has a terrible headache. He's sure that his readers are well, because they've been experiencing some awesome Shandyisms.
Book 5, Chapter 1
- Oh yeah, Tristram wasn't going to write anymore. Why? Because everything ends up being borrowed and copied from something else—like the fragment on whiskers, which he now can't write because he read a fragment from another text about whiskers, with a digressive story about the queen of Navarre and her courtiers.
- He's pretty much a perpetual plagiarist, whether he likes it or not.
Book 5, Chapter 2
- When Mr. Shandy got the scoop on Bobby's death, Tristram says, he was just figuring out how much Bobby's travels were going to cost by laboriously comparing a map to the post roads (the places where a traveler would change horses). Toby reads the letter first and breaks the news. Mr. Shandy's response, Tristram says, deserves its own chapter.
Book 5, Chapter 3
- Buckle up: this is going to be a good one.
- It's normal to weep for a lost child, but Mr. Shandy has a different way of mourning. Here's a story that shows it:
- Mr. Shandy tried to breed a little mare with a beautiful Arabian stallion so he'd have a good horse to ride, but he ends up with an ugly mare.
- He deals with his sorrow by having a good philosophical debate, which cheers him right up. Mr. Shandy runs through all the quotations on death he can remember, and then happily continues to draw upon history and philosophy in a speech to Toby.
Book 5, Chapter 4
- But the best anecdote at all, Mr. Shandy says, is that of Cornelius Gallo, who died *********.
- Well, Toby says, that's fine, as long as it was with his wife.
Book 5, Chapter 5
- As they speak, Mrs. Shandy is creeping along when she hears the word 'wife.' She perks right up and stoops down to listen at the door.
Book 5, Chapter 6
- The Shandy family only has a few wheels, but all those wheels are set in motion by different principles and impulses.
- One of the strange things about the family is that whatever is being discussed in the parlour is also being discussed by the servants in the kitchen. Mr. Shandy actually thinks this is okay, always leaving the door slightly open so that he doesn't have to go to the bother of actually running the household.
- So, while Mr. Shandy is drawing on ancient authorities to philosophize about his son's death, Corporal Trim is drawing on his own experience to cope with it. Kind of like parallel universes.
Book 5, Chapter 7
- When Obadiah announces Bobby's death in the kitchen, Susannah thinks about all Mrs. Shandy's clothes that she'll have to dye black for mourning.
- Obadiah hopes it's not true, because they'll have a heck of a time convincing Mr. Shandy not to improve the field.
- Trim seizes this opportunity to sermonize a bit about the fragility of life. And Tristram interrupts to remind his readers that we're all nothing but bodies with senses before he returns to Trim's speech.
- He punctuates Trim's speech by dropping his hat on the floor to symbolize mortality—a very effective move.
Book 5, Chapter 8
- Tristram interrupts again to settle a brief matter. He asks the reader to let the previous chapter stand in for the promised chapter on chamber-maids and button-holes, because that would have been a chapter full of bawdy allusions.
- (Giving a woman a "green gown" means to have sex with her on the grass; "old hat" is slang for female genitalia.)
Book 5, Chapter 9
- Trim continues his reflections on time and mortality, which are so poignant that Susannah can't quit bawling.
Book 5, Chapter 10
- Trim continues, but his speech isn't the same. Now it's full of battle words and much less affecting. Susannah and another servant, Jonathan, interrupt frequently.
- They start talking about Toby, who mourned a whole month for Lieutenant Le Fever—whose story Trim is about to tell.
Book 5, Chapter 11
- Suddenly Tristram remembers his mother, who's left stooping at the door to the parlor.
Book 5, Chapter 12
- The word "wife" catches Mrs. Shandy by the "weak part of her sex" (5.12.2)—that is, her curiosity—and she assumes that Toby and Mr. Shandy are talking about her. Mr. Shandy, in fact, was waxing eloquent about Socrates.
- Tristram tells us that Mr. Shandy wrote a whole book about Socrates, although he never let it be published during his life.
Book 5, Chapter 13
- Mr. Shandy was a little like Job (assuming Job ever existed, Tristram says), in that his first impulse when something went wrong was to wish himself dead.
- He's quoting Socrates on the matter, who said something about his three children, when Mrs. Shandy misunderstands him: three children?" she says. "That's one more than I know about!"
- "No," Mr. Shandy says: "I have one less."
Book 5, Chapter 14
- Toby explains that Mr. Shandy was talking about Socrates' kids, and shows Mrs. Shandy where Mr. Shandy is holing up.
Book 5, Chapter 15
- Tristram explains that, if the book was a farce, then that last chapter would have finished the first act and this chapter would start off with some music. He then proceeds to write some music: "twaddle diddle, tweddle diddle,--twiddle diddle,--twodle diddle,--twuddle diddle,--prut-tut—krish—krash—krush" (5.15.2). No one's winning a Grammy award here.
Book 5, Chapter 16
- The first thing Mr. Shandy does after the house settles down is begin writing a Tristra-paedia, an encyclopedia just for Tristram's education. In three years, he's finished about half of it—but it's much too long, exactly the same problem Tristram is running into. In Mr. Shandy's case, the slow progress comes from being afraid that the devil is guiding his writing.
- Unfortunately, while Mr. Shandy is writing this, Tristram is left entirely to his mother's care.
Book 5, Chapter 17
- No worries—the accident wasn't too bad. In fact, it happens to many men by choice rather than accident.
- What happened was that the chamber-maid had forgotten to leave something under the bed, so Susannah suggested that Tristram does something that involves climbing up on the window-seat. But Susannah forgot that nothing was well-hung in the family, so down comes the window and off comes…
- Susannah flees to Toby's house.
Book 5, Chapter 18
- When Susannah tells Trim what happened, he freaks because he considers himself an accessory to the accident. You better believe there's an explanation for that, and it's coming right up.
Book 5, Chapter 19
- Trim and Toby saw some pieces missing from their fortifications, and Trim vowed to fix it. He pulled the counterweights and sash pulleys from the nursery window, and then from every other window in the Shandy house.
Book 5, Chapter 20
- The corporal realizes that he's partly responsible for the accident, and starts clamoring about taking responsibility. He marches into the parlor where Yorick and Toby are talking and gives them the lowdown.
Book 5, Chapter 21
- Trim and Toby are bickering over who should take the blame. Predictable Toby lists military precedent to explain why Trim had to obey orders, and he and Trim work themselves up so much that Yorick jumps ship.
Book 5, Chapter 22
Book 5, Chapter 23
- The company storms the Shandy house. Yorick and Toby lead, Trim follows, and Susannah brings up the rear. Trim wishes he had cut off the church spout instead of the sash, but Yorick informs him he's cut off enough spouts. Zing.
Book 5, Chapter 24
- Tristram tells us that, although we might by now think we know how Mr. Shandy is going to react in a given situation, we have no idea.
Book 5, Chapter 25
- TS asserts that as long as the story stays in a line, he can wander back and forward along it at will, and it's not considered a digression. Cool story, bro. And now Tristram's going to backpedal a bit.
Book 5, Chapter 26
- TS explains that, when the accident happened, he screamed so loudly that his mother came running. His father came, too, but he already knew what happened when he got upstairs.
- As Susannah fled the scene, she told the story to the cook, who told it to Jonathan, who told it to Obadiah, who told it to Mr. Shandy in one crazy game of Telephone. Hearing the story, Mr. Shandy says, "I thought as much."
- Yeah, you might think Mr. Shandy had already written the best chapter in the Tristra-paedia, about forgetful chamber-maids and sash windows, but in fact he hasn't: if he had, he would have nailed the window to prevent the accident.
- Also—as it happens, Tristram wrote the chapter himself.
Book 5, Chapter 27
- After taking it all in, Mr. Shandy quickly walks out and returns not with bandages but with a few massive books. Mrs. Shandy assumes they're herbals, but they're actually treatises on circumcision. He reads and concludes that, if the Egyptions, Syrians, Phoenicians, Arabians, Capadocians, Colchi, Troglodytes, Solon, and Pythagoras all willingly endured circumcision, why should he worry about Tristram?
Book 5, Chapter 28
- Mr. Shandy assures Yorick, who's just entered, that everything is fine, although it's sure that Tristram is an unlucky child. He even relays some history and theology of circumcision as Toby and Trim enter. Yorick criticizes angry priests and then reads a little as an example.
Book 5, Chapter 29
- This chapter, meant to mock priests who engage in polemic, describes in detail a man trying to mount a horse (it's borrowed from Rabelais).
Book 5, Chapter 30
- Mr. Shandy thinks that this would be a good time to read from the Trista-paedia, and everyone settles down for storytime. Yorick settles nearer the fire, Toby lights his pipe, and Trim snuffs the candle.
Book 5, Chapter 31
- Mr. Shandy explains that they'll skip the yawn-worthy first 30 pages, which explain that political society arises out of sex between men and women—and the possession of an ox to plow the land.
- Eventually, they fenced off the land and fixed it up. Somehow, by Mr. Shandy-logic, this proves that a father, and not a mother, has power over a child.
Book 5, Chapter 32
- But the fifth commandment, Toby tries to interrupt … and then commands Trim to recite up to the fifth commandment. Mr. Shandy scoffs and asks Trim what exactly he means by "honouring thy father and mother."
- Trim explains that it means to support them financially when they get old. Yorick shakes his hand in appreciation.
Book 5, Chapter 33
- Mr. Shandy continues reading through the Tristra-paedia and arrives at a chapter on health, which asserts that the secret to health lies in alternating heat and moisture.
Book 5, Chapter 34
- Mr. Shandy's chapter attacks Hippocrates, father of medicine, for inspiring quacks; and then turns to attack Lord Verulam.
Book 5, Chapter 35
- Lord Verulum thinks that internal spirit and external air shorten lives, and so the solution to long life is to take drugs and coat the body in grease to prevent sweat. Mr. Shandy totally destroyed Lord Verulum's hypothesis, but you'll have to read the chapter when the Tristra-paedia is published. Don't hold your breath.
Book 5, Chapter 36
- Mr. Shandy got some more health secrets up his sleeve: alternative heat and moisture work like a charm. Where people go wrong is to imagine that moisture comes from animal fat.
Book 5, Chapter 37
- Toby is powerfully interested in this chapter, which confirms something he suspected: if he hadn't had brandy and claret every night, they'd never have made it out of the trenches at the siege of Limerick.
- Mr. Shandy isn't really getting it, so Toby continues.
Book 5, Chapter 38
- He says that the whole time they were in the camp they had a burning fever and a raging thirst, which protected them against moisture. Trim kept the fever going by giving them hot wine and spices, which burned out the moisture.
- Yorick then turns to Trim and asks what he thinks is really going on with this heat and moisture business.
Book 5, Chapter 39
- Trim is about to begin when in comes Dr. Slop to deliver an opinion about Tristram's foreskin. No one understands his medical terminology, so Trim continues.
Book 5, Chapter 40
- Trim compares Limerick to a giant puddle (get out the galoshes!) The damp makes everyone sick, and those who are rich enough burn a dish full of brandy every night, which takes the damp out of the air. From this, Trim concludes, radical moisture is nothing but ditch-water; and radical heat is burnt brandy.
- Dr. Slop gives his opinion: heat and moisture are the basis of our being, and Trim has gotten confused by hearing some superficial discussion of the terms.
Book 5, Chapter 41
- Dr. Slop leaves, and Mr. Shandy continues with the Tristra-paedia.
Book 5, Chapter 42
- Mr. Shandy gives some examples of lengthy educations. He's also completely convinced that there has to be a quicker way of getting edumacated. The whole thing, he says, depends on auxiliary verbs.
- Wait a sec, Yorick says. He has no idea what Mr. Shandy is talking about.
- See, Mr. Shandy thinks that teachers have totally neglected auxiliary verbs. These magical little bits of grammar open up the mind and bring new ideas. Yorick's curiosity is piqued, but Toby is confused—the only auxiliaries he knows of are military forces. Oh, Toby.
Book 5, Chapter 43
- This chapter, in which Mr. Shandy reads from the Tristram-paedia, parodies arcane knowledge with an extended discussion of auxiliary verbs (like "were" and "had").
- On this momentous occasion, the book ends.
Book 6, Chapter 1
- TS pauses to reflect on the past five books. He considers his critics and dismisses them all as a bunch of jackasses (literally).
Book 6, Chapter 2
- After Mr. Shandy finishes his chapter on auxiliary verbs, he gives the book back to Trim. This, Mr. Shandy says, is how Tristram is going to become a genius.
- He and Yorick launch into a discussion of child prodigies, including such whizzes as a ten-year-old who knew 14 languages and a thirteen-year-old who earned a degree in philosophy. Yorick even remembers a certain Lipsius who composed a work the on the day he was born.
- Toby doesn't know much about prodigies, but he does know that they should have wiped up any "works" that newborn Lipsius "created."
Book 6, Chapter 3
- Meanwhile, Dr. Slop has prepared a bandage for Tristram's mutilated penis. Susannah, however, has a sudden fit of modesty and refuses to hold the candle so Dr. Slop can see to apply it.
- Dr. Slop finally convinces her to hold the light but look away. Well, that's a recipe for disaster: she sets his wig on fire, he throws the bandage in her face, and she tosses a pan of medicine back at him.
- No one, we want to point out, has managed to do anything about poor Tristram's penis.
Book 6, Chapter 4
- Dr. Slop and Susannah head back to the kitchen to make some more medicine. Meanwhile, Mr. Shandy is still blabbering.
Book 6, Chapter 5
- Mr. Shandy wants to find Tristram a superstar tutor. This might prove to be tough, because Mr. Shandy's got some pretty weird specifications in mind.
- He cannot lisp, squint, wink, or shout; he can't look mean or dumb; he can't bite his lips, grind his teeth, or pick his nose; he can't walk fast, or slow, or fold his arms, or let them dangle, or put them in his pocket; he can't bite or cut his nails, or tap his feet, or talk while he's peeing, or point out excrement.
- Toby thinks this is total nonsense, of course. But Mr. Shandy is on a roll.
- He has to be cheerful and prudent, wise, and learned. Yorick chimes in that he should be humble, moderate, and gentle; and Toby suggests that he be free, generous, bountiful, and brave.
- (We're starting to think that each man wants a tutor who resembles himself.)
- But Toby has a potential candidate: Le Fever's son. Le Fever, if you remember from way back in Book 5, Chapter 10, is the man whose story Toby has been trying to tell.
Book 6, Chapter 6
- Bam. We get Le Fever's story.
- About seven years after Toby had moved to Mr. Shandy's estate, he was sitting at dinner one night—and, by the way, the Corporal was sitting, too, because Toby made him out of consideration for his bum knee, except Trim would stand when Toby wasn't looking out of respect—when the landlord of the nearby inn came by to ask for some wine for a sick guest.
- Toby is happy to give him some booze, but he starts to wonder about the sick guest. Trim says that the guest has a young son with him, and Toby thinks very hard. He wants to visit the guest, but, since the weather's bad, he sends the loyal Trim.
Book 6, Chapter 7
- Toby smokes and thinks, mostly about the man and his son. Of course, he wouldn't be Toby if he wasn't also thinking about his fortifications. Finally, Trim reappears with a story. Here's what he says:
- When the lieutenant (for he was in the army) found out that Toby was worried about him, he invited Trim to come visit.
- He was just finishing his prayers when Trim stepped into the room—for soldiers do pray, contrary to popular belief, especially when they've been standing in trenches filled with cold water for half a day—and told Trim that he'd served under Toby in Flanders.
- He tells Trim that he was the man whose wife was shot, and Trim remembers that incident sadly.
- Trim then leaves the room, and Le Fever's son tells him that they're heading from Ireland to Flanders. But they're not going to make it, Trim tells Toby, because Le Fever is dying.
Book 6, Chapter 8
- The wheels are really turning in Toby's head. He lectures Trim for not having offered Le Fever assistance and decides that Le Fever must come stay with them until he gets better.
Book 6, Chapter 9
- Toby makes preparations for tomorrow, and happily hits the hay.
Book 6, Chapter 10
- Back to Le Fever's story:
- Toby barges into Le Fever's room and announces that he's going to be looking after him from now on. Unfortunately, his kindness overwhelms the man … and he dies. Way to go, Tobes.
Book 6, Chapter 11
- Yorick appears to have preached Le Fever's funeral sermon. He had a habit of making notes on sermons—this one's really good; this one's only okay; this one will suit any occasion. Some of his notes are confusing, because he uses musical terms that don't make sense in a theological context.
- Anyway, the sermon upon Le Fever was one of Yorick's favorites: he wrote "Bravo!" at the end (although very small, so as not to appear to be bragging. Also, he struck through it later on).
Book 6, Chapter 12
- Toby settles Le Fever's affairs. He gives the man's coat to Trim, and saves the sword for Le Fever's son (this guy's just going to be 'Le Fever' from here on out).
- He sends Le Fever to school and then, when the boy is old enough, sends him off to war with his blessing and the sword. Toby promises that, whenever Le Fever comes back, Toby will continue to look out for him.
- The story ends. Back to the present.
Book 6, Chapter 13
- About six weeks before the Penis Accident (which Tristram delicately calls "Susannah's Accident" [6.13.2]) Toby received a letter saying that Le Fever is coming home—and he thinks Le Fever would be the perfect tutor for Tristram. Win-win.
Book 6, Chapter 14
- Dr. Slop made a much bigger deal about the accident than necessary, and rumors quickly spread around the neighborhood implying that ****************. (We're dying with curiosity, over here).
- Mr. Shandy couldn't contradict them, because he didn't even want to acknowledge the accident. Toby suggests a solution: exhibit Tristram at the public marketplace.
Book 6, Chapter 15
- Mr. Shandy instead decides to put him in breeches. (Heads up: boys and girls were dressed alike in skirts until early childhood, when boys were put into pants, called "breeches.")
Book 6, Chapter 16
- This may seem like a simple decision, but actually he and Mrs. Shandy ended up arguing for a month over it. Here's what went on:
Book 6, Chapter 17
- The ancient Goths had a custom of debating twice: once drunk, and once sober. Mr. Shandy didn't drink, so he eventually hit on a modified version of the custom: once on the first Sunday night in a month, and once on the night just before it. (Remember what the Shandys do on the first Sunday of every month?)
- Mr. Shandy calls these his "beds of justice," because he's a boss like that. Tristram has his own way of settling tricky spots in his book: he writes full and corrects while he's hungry, or the other way around.
- This way, he finds a middle course and writes a careless kind of a civil, nonsensical, good-humoured Shandean book (6.17.8).
Book 6, Chapter 18
- Mr. Shandy and Mrs. Shandy are still pretty heated about whether Tristram will wear breeches.
- The debate consists of Mr. Shandy talking, Mrs. Shandy agreeing with absolutely everything he says, and Mr. Shandy finally blowing his lid.
Book 6, Chapter 19
- Mr. Shandy needs to take a chill pill, so he turns to antiquity. He consults an ancient Roman author who provides lots of great detail about Roman clothes—but not very much about breeches.
- The only useful piece of information he can find is that only one item, the Latus Clavus, is not worn by slaves. Mr. Shandy decides that Latus Clavus translates to "hooks and eyes," and orders the breeches to be made with hooks and eyes.
Book 6, Chapter 20
- Now, Tristram says, we're entering a new scene. We're leaving Mr. and Mrs. Shandy, Slop, Le Fever, and even Tristram himself, as far as that's possible. It's time to break out the history.
Book 6, Chapter 21
- Toby, as you might remember, had plans for every fortified town in Italy or Flanders, and he carefully plotted the fortifications out on his lawn so Trim could build it. Once built, they would enact battles in real time.
Book 6, Chapter 22
- Toby got his battle news from newspapers, and Trim changed the setup according to whatever was reported. This went on for years, as the setup got more and more elaborate. Only Toby's good nature made it anything but ridiculous (and it still sounds pretty out-there).
Book 6, Chapter 23
- Three years into the project, Toby decided that they need to build the town in addition to the fortifications. The town is modular, so it could be reformed into whatever town it needed to represent.
- The next year, Toby wanted to ramp up the reality a little more. He tried to figure out how to make the artillery fire continuously.
Book 6, Chapter 24
- Tom, Trim's Inquisitioned brother, had given him a red-and-fur cap and two Turkish tobacco-pipes (hookahs, in other words). The cap was one of Trim's prized possessions, and he liked to stake it.
- In this case, he said he'd give away his cap if he couldn't figure out how to please Toby.
- The next day was a major turning point in the battle that Toby was acting out.
- He got dressed up for it, putting on a special wig and even shaving for the occasion. This all took so long that it was 10:00 by the time he got out the door.
Book 6, Chapter 25
- But Trim had already started. And he looked ridiculous(ly awesome).
Book 6, Chapter 26
- The night before, he'd figured out how to hack his tobacco pipes so he could fire all the artillery at once and smoke at the same time. Who wants to hang out with this guy?
Book 6, Chapter 27
- So, Trim had sneaked out to test the apparatus. He only meant to test it, but he enjoyed the smoke so much that he kept at it.
Book 6, Chapter 28
- Toby is very eager to try the pipe, but he manages to keep it in check.
Book 6, Chapter 29
- Now comes a new role for Toby to play—one that doesn't need any soldier nonsense. Toby's fixation on war means that he doesn't understand women at all, so he's defenseless against them.
Book 6, Chapter 30
- Most men who never fell in love lived a long, long time ago. Tristram lists a few.
Book 6, Chapter 31
- When the war looked like it was drawing to a close, Toby's mood took a major nosedive. Mr. Shandy tried to comfort him by telling that war would soon break out again, but he's not really getting the motive behind Toby's sadness.
- One night, Toby explains it—and Mr. Shandy is so taken with the explanation that he writes it down.
Book 6, Chapter 32
- It might seem like Toby wants war because it will make him some major dough, but that's not it at all. Simply put, war gets Toby going.
- He doesn't want people to die, but he's pretty jazzed on liberty, honor, and all that other war-related stuff.
Book 6, Chapter 33
- Right after this chapter begins, Tristram gets caught up in an explanation of his story's digressions, which he claims is his father's fault. He gets so tangled up that he has to start from scratch.
Book 6, Chapter 34
- Tristram begins again, saying that he told his reader in Chapter 31 that Toby was depressed by the end of the war, and almost gave up his hobby—or rather, his hobby almost gave him up.
- From March through November, there were no battles for him to stage. Finally he and Trim start it up again, deciding how to demolish the town.
Book 6, Chapter 35
- Without war, Tristram rhapsodizes, Toby is game for anything.
Book 6, Chapter 36
- TS begins his discussion of Toby and the widow Wadman by insisting that he's not going to get drawn into any tricky definitions or arguments about love. Those, he'll let his father tackle.
Book 6, Chapter 37
- This is what happened: Toby fell in love.
- That's not a great phrase, because it implies that love is something below a man. But whatever it is, it's love, and Toby fell into it. And no, the love of Toby's life isn't his fortifications.
Book 6, Chapter 38
- TS informs the reader that he's going to have to get involved so he can picture this correctly: he tells the reader to draw as pretty a picture of his mistress as he can, and that's what Toby fell in love with.
- (Insert blank page here.)
Book 6, Chapter 39
- Susannah knew about Toby falling in love with the Widow Wadman two weeks before it happened—so Tristram can start telling the story then, too.
- Cut to Mr. and Mrs. Shandy in bed.
- Mrs. Shandy starts us off. She tells her husband that Toby and Mrs. Wadman are going to be married. Mr. Shandy scoffs, effectively ending the discussion. Sounds like they have a healthy marriage.
Book 6, Chapter 40
- Tristram starts off this chapter with a little diagram of the storyline in the first five books. They're getting straighter, he says, and eventually he might end up here: _____________.
Book 7, Chapter 1
- Tristram recalls that he said he'd write two books a year, and that he'd go for forty years—as long as he kept his health. And he's been pretty cheerful about it, too, even when he almost died.
- Death came for him at exactly the moment he was in the middle of a story (a really dirty one, too. Don't think about it). He fled to France to regain his health.
Book 7, Chapter 2
- Tristram is seasick. Ugh—we've been there, Tristram.
Book 7, Chapter 3
- Three roads run from Calais to Paris, Tristram says. Most people choose to go by Beauvais.
Book 7, Chapter 4
- Don't expect a travel narrative—Tristram hardly saw Calais at all. The next chapter contains everything he knows.
Book 7, Chapter 5
- The town used to be a small village, but now it has around 14,000 inhabitants. There are four convents, one church with a beautiful altar, a great square, and a run-down meeting house, and…
- (Yeah, this is a boring chapter. Even Tristram thinks it's boring—it's a parody of other travel narratives.)
- Actually, Tristram says, this is the perfect place for a fifty-page story about a historical battle. He's just asking to get smacked, now.
Book 7, Chapter 6
- …but we're spared. It's enough for Tristram to know that he could have made us read it, the rascal. To Boulogne!
Book 7, Chapter 7
- Tristram hurries through Boulogne, pursued by death but distracted briefly by a pretty girl.
Book 7, Chapter 8
- In this chapter, Tristram complains about French transportation—the carriages are always breaking down just after they start out. Still, he manages to reach Montreuil, a city that's now a suburb of Paris.
Book 7, Chapter 9
- Montreuil is beautiful on the map, but less beautiful on the ground. The most beautiful thing in it is the innkeeper's daughter. (We know he likes her because he calls her a slut. Tristram's got a funny way of expressing affection.) He would describe her, but he knows that we'd much rather hear about the parish church.
Book 7, Chapter 10
- But death still pursues him, so he heads off to Abbeville.
Book 7, Chapter 11
- Traveling is a hot and sweaty business. Gross.
Book 7, Chapter 12
- TS meditates on where he'd like to die. Not in front of his friends, or not at home, but in some nice little inn. Being carefully tended to by his friends would drive him crazy. But it can't be at the inn in Abbeville, so—off again!
Book 7, Chapter 13
- Tristram explains that some people think the grand tour (the circuit of Europe that wealthy young men took) just drives people crazy with its constant motion, but he's a motion man. Standing around is the devil's work.
Book 7, Chapter 14
- Tristram announces that he's not shaving his beard until he gets to Paris, and then he continues with some mathematical nonsense (our word) about the number of souls that can be damned.
Book 7, Chapter 15
- Ailly-au-clochers→Hixcourt→Pequignay→Amiens, and Tristram still keeping mum about his actual travels. He's no Rick Steves, that's for sure.
Book 7, Chapter 16
- One of the most irritating things about traveling is that even if you want to ignore the scenery and sleep you can't, because you have to stop to change horses every few miles. Despite Tristram's best efforts, he saw everything at Chantilly. He also managed to get through St. Denis without incident.
Book 7, Chapter 17
- And here we are at Paris—and it's not the Paris that Woody Allen rhapsodizes about. It stinks, it's loud, it's dark, the food is bad, and there's no Owen Wilson.
Book 7, Chapter 18
- Tristram continues to complain about the French—no one can understand anything they say. He also gives an accounting of every street in every district of the city.
Book 7, Chapter 19
- Tristram now thinks about spleen (what we'd call irritability). It's the best way to travel, he says, although it's given him really bad diarrhea. Thanks for the discretion, Tristram.
- No time to write more—he's off to Fontainebleau.
Book 7, Chapter 20
- Really, considering how much baggage travelers have in France, and how puny their horses are, travel is pretty quick. The speed is thanks to two words: ******** and *******. But how to tell them without offending the reader?
- It's time for another story.
Book 7, Chapter 21
- The Abbess of Andoüillets had a sore leg. She tried everything—praying to the saints, touching it with relics, wrapping it in her rosary—but no luck.
- She set off to try the hot baths at Bourbon, along with a novice who's gotten a sore finger from constantly sticking it in the Abbess's… bandages. (What did you think we were going to say?)
- With the gardener leading the mules, they set off. Late in the day, the gardener sneaks off to an inn while the carriage continues on its way. He drinks and talks while the mules make their way up a hill, until, realizing that no one's there to make them walk, they stop.
Book 7, Chapter 22
- The nuns try to convince them to move, but the mules just fart. Yes, that is the point of the chapter.
Book 7, Chapter 23
- Stuck on the road, the nuns start wailing. They're convinced they'll be plundered and raped.
Book 7, Chapter 24
- Finally, the novice gets it together. She remembers that there are two words that will make any mule or horse go. But, she warns the Abbess, they're N-A-U-G-H-T-Y. She'll have to whisper them.
- But how can Tristram say them?
Book 7, Chapter 25
- Now the Abbess starts arguing about mortal sins (those are the really bad ones) and the venial ones (not so bad). She decides that if they each say only part of the word, then neither will be sinning. So they split the words in two and each take part.
- The Abbess says "bou" and Margarita, the novice, says "ger"; then Margarita says "fou" and the Abbess says "ter." (Random curse words—always a good way to get mules going).
- They say the words faster and faster, but the mules don't hear them—only the devil does.
Book 7, Chapter 26
- All the while we've been reading this story, Tristram has passed through Fontainebleu, and Sens, and Joigny, and Auxerre, and Dijon, and Challon, and many, many more—but he hardly has the time to talk about them.
- Here his reader interrupts: "Why, 'tis a strange story!" (7.26.2). Fine. He'll give it the old college try.
Book 7, Chapter 27
- All you need to know about Fontainebleu, Tristram says, is that there's a big old castle there. Sens: the archbishop lives there. Joigny: the less said, the better. Auxerre: now there's something to write home about.
- At this point, we learn that it's a family vacation of the worst kind—Mr. Shandy, Toby, Trim, and Obadiah, as well as a lot of the servants, have come along on the journey (his mother's at home knitting a pair of breeches, stubborn lady that she is).
- Mr. Shandy has lots of opinions on his journey, and they are, of course, basically the opposite of what anyone else has to say. He had a particularly interesting experience at Auxerre.
- He and Toby set out to visit the abbey of Saint Germain to see the bodies. A guide leads them into the tomb and gives them the history of some of the mummies. Mr. Shandy is fascinated by the stories of the saints, and decides to stay in Auxerre a little longer.
Book 7, Chapter 28
- Tristram has gotten all tangled up again. He's now in three places: walking across Auxerre with his father and Toby, entering Lyons with a broken carriage, and writing about all this in a lovely house.
Book 7, Chapter 29
- Really, Tristram is glad about the accident, because now he can travel to Avignon by water and then quickly jet down the Rhine into Vienna. Just at that moment, a man offers to buy the carriage.
- Here, Tristram interrupts himself to address Jenny, who whispers into his ear. He laments that Fortune has sent him lots of little accidents rather than really big ones, because the really big ones are easier to handle.
Book 7, Chapter 30
- Tristram is now in Lyons. He's just has his morning coffee, which he makes by boiling milk and water together, and sets out to see the sights—a famous clock and some Chinese history books, even though he knows as little about mechanics as he does about Chinese.
- He also gets pretty excited about going to see the Tomb of the Two Lovers. Wanna know why? Read on.
Book 7, Chapter 31
- When a man is young and has a mushy brain, stories of separated lovers sound pretty decent. Tristram remembers one of these stories, and says that Lyons has a tomb of two lovers that he's always had a soft spot for. So he's jazzed about seeing it. But just as he walks out of the gate, he's stopped.
Book 7, Chapter 32
- There's an ass in the way. A real one. Tristram has a soft spot for asses, too, because people give them such a hard time. In fact, he likes to strike up conversation with them—they're better conversationalists than other animals.
- Here's the catch—Tristram just can't seem to be get by his four-legged friend. He asks the ass to move, but the animal just munches away on an artichoke stem. Tristram's no stranger to being forced to eat veggies, so he gives him a macaroon instead.
- Finally, a guy comes by and wallops the ass. The ass gets a move on, but tears Tristram's pocket on his way.
Book 7, Chapter 33
- Tristram fixes his pocket and heads out again, when he's stopped a second time. This time, the guy who got the ass moving is the culprit. The man has come with a bill, saying that Tristram owes the king 6 livres.
Book 7, Chapter 34
- Tristram insists that he owes the king nothing. The commissary (that's who the guy is) says that Tristram actually owes 6 livres and four sous for the next stage of his journey. Tristram explains that he's planning to take a boat, but the commissary doesn't budge (just like the ass, eh?).
Book 7, Chapter 35
- Tristram realizes that he's going to have to pay the money, so he decides to make it worth it. He makes a joke about breeches and asses and then reads the bill.
- It turns out that Tristram has to pay for the journey even though he changed his mind, because the law is that the workers shouldn't lose revenue because travelers are fickle. Fine. Tristram gets ready to pay up.
Book 7, Chapter 36
- Tristram reaches into his coat pocket to write down all of his witty remarks, when he finds that his old remarks have been stolen. He's really upset—those were some really good remarks.
Book 7, Chapter 37
- He finally remembers that the remarks were in the pocket of the carriage he'd sold (like leaving your cell phone in a cab, we guess). He swears awfully. If he'd sold the carriage to a bookseller, he could have handled it—but to someone who just wants the carriage!
Book 7, Chapter 38
- Tristram sets out to find the man he sold the carriage to, but the house is closed. It's September 8th, a Roman Catholic holiday, and everyone's out celebrating. Luckily, not too long after he sits down to wait, the mistress of the house comes to take the curlers out of her hair before going to dance around the maypole. Tristram is horrified to find out that she's done up her hair with his notes. She returns them to him, but they're all twisted—and Tristram is sure that by the time they're published they'll be more twisted still.
Book 7, Chapter 39
- Finally, Tristram heads to Lippius's clock, which it turns out doesn't even work. So he speeds off to look at the Chinese manuscripts, where it turns out the Jesuits (to whom the manuscripts belong) are all sick (this is a joke—they've been banned in France since 1762).
Book 7, Chapter 40
- Tristram sends his servant packing and heads to the Tomb of the Two Lovers … but it's not there.
Book 7, Chapter 41
- So Tristram hops on a boat and heads down the Rhine, passing through super-windy Avignon.
Book 7, Chapter 42
- Now that Tristram's in the south of France, he can kick back and relax. He's finally outrun Death, and figures it's as good a time as ever to travel on mule-back. The plain of Languedoc is very pleasant to travel through but difficult to write about, because it never changes.
Book 7, Chapter 43
- Tristram meets with other travelers on the road: drum-makers, Franciscans, and fig-sellers. Our hero is planning on writing up these stories and others in a whole book of "Plain Stories," because he's industrious like that. He's got lots of them, because he stops to talk to everyone he sees.
- One incident particularly gets him going.
- Some peasants were celebrating the end of the day with a dance and a game that involves piercing a ring with a lance. The mule stops dead in its tracks, so Tristram decides to stay and watch. A young woman runs up to him and asks him to participate—and she's got a big slit in her petticoat. Get it, Tristram.
- They dance, and Tristram has a great time. No doubt about it, he's got game. Tristram takes a moment to remember the incident fondly.
- But he's determined to stop digressing and tell the story of Toby's courtship.
Book 8, Chapter 1
- Only it's not that easy to tell a story in a straight line. And maybe it's not even for the best? Let's begin.
Book 8, Chapter 2
- The thing about love is—
- Wait, says Tristram. He's got something to say first.
- The best way to begin a book is to write the first sentence and then let God write the second. If all writers did that, they'd be much happier.
Book 8, Chapter 3
- Tristram begins this chapter by addressing his reader and then gets distracted (big surprise) by speculation and digression. He finishes up with a note about alchemists, because why not?
Book 8, Chapter 4
- Let's try again: the thing about love is that the person who's in love is usually the last to know. The problem is that love can seem a lot like hatred, sentiment, nonsense, and so forth.
- And Toby is probably the least prepared to know what's going on. He might never have figured it out, if Bridget hadn't started the rumor.
Book 8, Chapter 5
- In this chapter, Tristram meditates upon the strange fact that women love weavers, gardeners, gladiators, men with bum legs, and water-drinkers—it's because men who only drink water pique their curiosity, and curiosity quickly leads to fancy and then to desire. Maybe Tristram should be writing for Men's Health.
Book 8, Chapter 6
- But no one knows what Widow Wadman first saw in Toby, because he certainly wasn't a water drinker, weaver, gardener, or gladiator—so it must have been his leg, even though his leg looked perfectly sound (plump and muscular, to be exact).
- This is really torturing Tristram, because he can't figure out the cause and it's making the story hard to write. He's got enough stuff to deal with.
Book 8, Chapter 7
- Tristram resolves to write more carefully, because this story is seriously throwing him for a loop.
Book 8, Chapter 8
- When Uncle Toby and Trim first came to Shandy Hall after Toby's injury, they had to stay at Mrs. Wadman's until Trim was able to build a bed at Toby's house. Mrs. Wadman started to get the hots for Toby, which is always what happens when a man enters a woman's house. She starts to view him like one of her possessions.
Book 8, Chapter 9
- Widow Wadman had very long nightgowns. Every night before bed, her servant Bridget pins up the extra around Mrs. Wadman's feet. On the third night that Toby is staying in her house, she kicks the pin out and becomes a sexy love goddess. That's how you know she really likes him.
Book 8, Chapter 10
- For eleven years, Toby was so busy with his fortifications that he didn't have time to fall in love with anyone. But there's a reason we call these the "amours of my uncle Toby" rather than the other way around.
Book 8, Chapter 11
- Widow Wadman can't decide whether to continue loving Toby or to stop, and Tristram sympathizes. He reflects on love with a series of sexual metaphors, until Jenny interrupts: "O Tristram!"
Book 8, Chapter 12
- Tristram has gotten himself all worked up. Time to rein him in, Jenny.
Book 8, Chapter 13
- Tristram begins to run through the alphabet, assigning different words to Love—it's
- agitating, bewitching, confounding, and so on, until he gets distracted around "R" by remembering something his father said about love.
Book 8, Chapter 14
- It just so happens that Toby lives right next to Widow Wadman, so she can watch him and even come through the hedge to visit. Because that's not creepy or anything.
Book 8, Chapter 15
- Tristram imagines himself burning like a candle from the top down. This prompts him to remember a conversation about the location of the "blind gut" (which means a passage with one closed end) between Dr. Slop, Toby, and Mr. Shandy on the night that Mrs. Shandy was giving birth to Tristram.
Book 8, Chapter 16
- Mrs. Wadman is basically throwing herself at Toby. She visits him in his fortifications and manages to get him to touch her by playing with his maps, taking his pipe, and ever so slightly touching his leg.
Book 8, Chapter 17
- Mrs. Wadman's attacks are subtle, but Tristram has a record of them: one of Uncle Toby's maps has a thumb and fingerprint, which he supposes to be Mrs. Wadman's. Ladies and gents, we've got a bunny boiler.
Book 8, Chapter 18
- Trim tells Toby that the fortifications are destroyed, and they resolve to level them. But first, Trim's got a good story.
Book 8, Chapter 19
- It's neither funny nor sad, Trim says, so it's perfect for Toby's current frame of mind. Trim assumes his position, and begins a story about the King of Bohemia and his Seven Castles.
- "There was a king of Bohe—"
- And here Trim stops, picks up his tattered Spanish cap (which we first heard about in Book 6, chapter 24), and then sets it down again to give a speech about the fact that nothing lasts forever. Having said that, however, there's nothing more to say, and so he continues his story.
- "There was a certain king of Bohemia, but in whose region …"
- And here Trim stops again, and he and Toby argue about whether or not it's important to know where the story is set. And then they argue about whether it's important to know when it's set, and then whether a soldier needs to know anything about chronology or geography, and then the use of gunpowder. And so on, until Trim has tried to tell the story three more times, never getting farther than the first line. The chapter finally ends when Toby and Trim disagree about where the most painful wound is. Trim says the knee, and Toby, of course, says the groin.
- When Toby starts to talk about the groin, Mrs. Wadman, who's been listening to this whole conversation, perks up her ears.
Book 8, Chapter 20
- Trim continues telling the story that prompted the disagreement, about his own knee-wound. A young woman takes him in her cart and then brings him to her father's house.
- Trim gives them a little money, and then realizes that the young woman can't be the peasant's daughter but is more likely a nun. She nurses him and he almost falls in love with her, but it can't actually be love.
- The whole time she tends him, he never *******************. Both Toby and the hidden Mrs. Wadman think that's very strange.
Book 8, Chapter 21
- But then he fell in love with a vengeance. And here's how.
Book 8, Chapter 22
- They were alone in the house when the woman came in to rub his leg. She rubbed with first one finger and then the other, and then her whole hand and Toby found himself falling in love with her. His passion rises, he grabs her hand and—
- Kisses it? asks Toby.
Book 8, Chapter 23
- When Toby finishes his story, Mrs. Wadman leaves her hiding place and walks over to Toby. She's got a new plan of attack.
Book 8, Chapter 24
- She walks up to him holding a handkerchief to her eye and complaining that she's got something in it. He looks and looks, but can find nothing.
Book 8, Chapter 25
- Eyes are very dangerous. Toby says he can't find anything, and Mrs. Wadman tells him to keep looking. Mrs. Wadman knows how to work what her mama gave her, and those eyes are her ticket to Toby's love.
Book 8, Chapter 26
- Check out Toby and Mr. Shandy for two very different ways of falling in love. Mr. Shandy doesn't take it sitting down. He doesn't like being in love, so he gets moody and irritable. Toby, however, is a total loveboat.
Book 8, Chapter 27
- Toby is so innocent that, once he realizes he's in love with the Widow Wadman, he doesn't realize he's supposed to make a big deal about it. He tells Trim he's in love, simple as that.
Book 8, Chapter 28
- Trim advises Toby not to tell Mrs. Wadman outright, and Toby agrees that she doesn't know anything about it.
- He's wrong—Mrs. Wadman is onto him, but she's starting to get worried about Toby's groin wound. She enlists Bridget to help her figure out how bad the wound is.
- While the two women are plotting their attack, the two men counterplot.
Book 8, Chapter 29
- Trim tells Toby to leave his sword at home. Going into battle, folks.
Book 8, Chapter 30
- The two men plan what to wear and how to proceed.
Book 8, Chapter 31
- Mr. Shandy has a habit of saying "ass" when he means "passion." Big difference. A hobby-horse is a friendly sort of beast, while an ass is just the worst.
Book 8, Chapter 32
- After Toby falls in love, Mr. Shandy asks him how his ass is. Toby was thinking about a blister he'd gotten from riding, so he responds that it's much better. Dr. Slop and Mrs. Shandy laugh, and Mrs. Shandy says that everyone says Toby's in love. He admits it, and says that he knew when the blister (on his ass) broke. Charming.
Book 8, Chapter 33
- If you know Mr. Shandy, you know that he's not about to let an opportunity to speak go by. There are two different kinds of love, he says, and you ought to know which kind you're in. Eh—Toby thinks it doesn't matter, as long as a man marries and has a few kids.
- Children! Mr. Shandy exclaims, looking at his wife.
- Well, he says, of course he'd love Toby's children. The world needs more people like Toby. But the point isn't children, but love.
- Yorick interrupts here to say that, actually, Toby seems to be talking some sense.
- Mr. Shandy cites Plato, because that's a good way to win an argument. One love is rational, he says, and one is natural. Yorick and Mrs. Shandy object, and even Dr. Slop gets a word in edgewise.
Book 8, Chapter 34
- Mr. Shandy excels at making people mad. He's just about to lay into Yorick when Trim walks in and tells Toby that he's going to need new breeches.
- Mr. Shandy tells Toby to order some more, and continues on with his thoughts on love. But by this time, everyone's so occupied with his own thoughts that they all leave for the night. Before bed, Mr. Shandy writes Toby a letter.
- The letter contains Mr. Shandy's thoughts about women and love-making:
- First, always pray to God.
- Second, shave your head regularly, so she can't tell how bald you are when you take off your wig. Next, remember that women are shy.
- Also, don't let your pants get too tight or too loose. Don't make jokes or let her read anything funny.
- Don't let her know how you feel, because women love to be curious.
- Finally, don't eat goat, deer, peacocks, cranes, or water hens. Something tells us Mrs. Shandy's got some input.
Book 8, Chapter 35
- At eleven the next morning, Mr. Shandy and Mrs. Shandy visit Toby to wish him luck.
Book 9, Chapter 1
- Tristram swears there was no way for him to get to Uncle Toby's love affair until just now, when his mother's curiosity sends her to peep at them through the key-hole. Mr. Shandy and Mrs. Shandy join arms and head out to walk around the grounds.
Book 9, Chapter 2
- Toby is all dressed up. His clothes are a bit raggedy, and he's gotten a little fat, but he's such a gentleman that he looks good anyway. Toby and Trim set off to see the Widow Wadman.
Book 9, Chapter 3
- Toby doesn't know much about women, and he's a little worried.
Book 9, Chapter 4
- Toby tells Trim that Mrs. Wadman isn't going to be offended, and Trim begins to tell the story of his brother Tom proposing to the Jew's widow, who owned a sausage shop.
- Of course, that marriage didn't end well: Tom ended up in the Inquisition. Trim waves his cane in the air when he talks about the freedom of singlehood, and Tristram draws a little scribble so we know what it looks like.
- Toby pauses at the door and looks back at his own little cottage.
Book 9, Chapter 5
- Trim remembers how Tom went cheerfully off to propose to the Jew's widow just like Toby is now going to the Widow Wadman.
Book 9, Chapter 6
- When Tom got to the shop, a servant girl was fanning flies away. Toby and Trim argue for a few minutes about whether non-white people have souls. Toby shows his good character here: he says that, as no one stands up for women of color, they deserve protection even more.
- Trim tries to finish his story, but he's can't get back in the right story-telling position.
Book 9, Chapter 7
- Tom finds the widow and sits down. She makes sausages, and he praises her work. He begins to help her (in a really sexual way): he takes "hold of the ring of the sausage whilst she stroked the forced meat down with her hand" (9.7.6) and that sort of thing. Finally, she agrees to marry him.
Book 9, Chapter 8
- Trim comments on his story: women all love jokes; the trick is to figure out what kind. Toby and Trim march around the house, and Mrs. Shandy, who's been watching them, can't figure out why—and what she says will be recorded in a different chapter.
- There's no time to argue about it now. Heaven have mercy!
Book 9, Chapter 9
- Tristram doesn't care what anyone thinks about that curse.
Book 9, Chapter 10
- In their walk, Mr. and Mrs. Shandy have stopped directly opposite the Widow's house. They pause to see what's going on. Trim is telling his story, and Mr. Shandy is impatient. When he sees them turn away to march around the house, he gets really irritated.
Book 9, Chapter 11
- The Shandys argue about what Trim and Toby are doing, until they're stopped by people coming out of the church.
Book 9, Chapter 12
- Tristram decides that it's time for a digression, but he can't figure out how to begin. Praying is a good start, but not if it makes you think too much about your defects.
Book 9, Chapter 13
- When Tristram's got writer's block, he shaves and get dressed. Shaving is the easiest way to get the words flowing, because the body and mind are linked. So if you want to know whether Tristram has written a clean or a dirty book, the best thing to do is look at his laundry bill.
Book 9, Chapter 14
- What should go in this chapter? Buttonholes, knots, pishes?
- Tristram notes one problem with shaving as a remedy for writer's block—it's not available to women. Tristram, meet the Gillette Venus in hot pink.
Book 9, Chapter 15
- Finally, the fifteenth chapter—time for the digression. But Tristram realizes that, in talking about the digression, he's actually made it.
Book 9, Chapter 16
- Trim and Toby march back to Mrs. Wadman's front door. They hesitate outside, and Bridget and Mrs. Wadman wait inside for them to knock. Trim knocks. Toby whistles in nervousness.
Book 9, Chapter 17
- Tristram meditates for a minute on how annoying it is to be in debt, and then brings his story into the house.
Book 9, Chapter 18
Book 9, Chapter 19
- Did anyone else draw on the pages? Anyone? Bueller?
Book 9, Chapter 20
- This chapter starts with a bunch of ******************, and then Toby tells Mrs. Wadman that she "shall see the very place" (9.20.3). He promises her that she'll even be able to touch it. Mrs. Wadman blushes.
Book 9, Chapter 21
- Tristram begins this chapter with a dirty story about a woman pulling on a reason to get married to see if it will break and then relays Slawkenbergius's words on the matter.
Book 9, Chapter 22
- Nature doesn't do a good job of making husbands, but she did a good job with Toby. He's gentle, generous, trusting, and in general able to perform all—all—the duties of marriage.
- But Mrs. Wadman isn't sure.
Book 9, Chapter 23
- While Toby and Mrs. Wadman are talking, Bridget figures she'll seduce Trim so he'll tell her what he knows. Mrs. Wadman plans to find out, too, and Toby is so trusting that he doesn't see her plotting.
Book 9, Chapter 24
- At this point, Tristram stops. This is the best part of the story, and he's afraid he won't do it justice. He asks the muse (the same ones who helped Cervantes) to help him tell the tale.
- He begins to recall his journeys in Europe, and says that thinking about Toby's love affair made the journey pleasant. He remembers hearing a woman named Maria playing a wind pipe.
- Maria wasn't allowed to marry her lover, and so she now sits with her goat and plays without stopping. Maybe she'd like Alexander Selkirk, another eighteenth-century fan of goats.
Book 9, Chapter 25
- At the end of this chapter, it'll be time to fill in the two earlier blank chapters, and you'll know why he had to skip them. Tristram begs that the world let people tell stories in their own way.
- Chapter Eighteen.
- Toby walks in the house and immediately tells Mrs. Wadman that he's in love. She expects him to continue, but he's said all he means to. After a few minutes of silence, she points out that marriage is hard. She asks why he wants to be married.
- He says that religion offers pretty good reasons.
- Mrs. Wadman points out that children are kind of a pain, and asks why any woman would want to have them.
- Toby, who feels very sorry that women have to suffer childbirth, says he supposes that it's God's will. And this is why Toby doesn't have a girlfriend.
- Fiddlesticks! she says.
- Chapter Nineteen.
- Toby blushes and proposes marriage. After he's done, he picks up the Bible and starts to read. A true romantic.
Book 9, Chapter 26
- Mrs. Wadman wants to know Toby's state of health. She's read some anatomy textbooks, but she doesn't really understand it. She's even asked Dr. Slop about Toby's injury. He swears that Toby's recovered but doesn't say anything more.
- So she asks Toby about it. Her questions don't really get at the right answer, so she finally asks him right out: where did he get the wound?
- He calls for Trim to bring his map and places Mrs. Wadman's finger on exactly the location where he received the wound.
Book 9, Chapter 27
- The map is carried down to the kitchen.
Book 9, Chapter 28
- Downstairs, Trim shows Bridget exactly where Toby was injured—luckily for everyone, it wasn't too near the middle. She continues to question Toby. Unluckily, she'd begun her attack manually, and the corporal **********
Book 9, Chapter 29
- Bridget doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, and Trim asks him where she heard the story about Toby's impotence.
Book 9, Chapter 30
- Toby and Trim carry on their campaigns every afternoon. Trim's been very successful, but he doesn't want to tell Toby quite how successful.
Book 9, Chapter 31
- One evening, Toby asks Trim to help him make a list of Mrs. Wadman's virtues. They begin with "Humanity."
- Toby says, as proof, that Mrs. Wadman asks all the time about his wound. Trim explains why Mrs. Wadman wants to know about his wound, and Toby whistles quietly. "Let's go see my brother," he says.
Book 9, Chapter 32
- Mrs. Wadman has, meantime, confided in Mrs. Shandy, and Bridget has told Susannah everything. So, pretty much everyone in the neighborhood knows what's going on—or isn't—with Mrs. Wadman and Toby. Mr. Shandy has just found out that rumors are flying all around when Toby enters the room.
Book 9, Chapter 33
- Mr. Shandy starts in on a speech about how passion should not be part of procreation when Obadiah barges in. He needs Mr. Shandy to know that the bull is super important. The whole company argues about it for a while, when Mrs. Shandy wonders what the heck this story is all about.
- A Cock and a Bull, replies Yorick, And one of the best of its kind, I ever heard. (9.33.17).