Study Guide

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman Book 2, Chapter 12

By Laurence Sterne

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.
  • Literally.
  • 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 natureā€”and Mr. Shandy begs forgiveness and apologizes for never doing anything nice for Toby. Sure you do, Toby says. You have children.