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´╗┐Title: A Political Romance
Author: Sterne, Laurence, 1713-1768
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Political Romance" ***

A Political Romance,
Addressed To _____ ________, Esq;
of York.
To which is subjoined a KEY.

Ridiculum acri Fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat Res

YORK: Printed in the Year MDCCLIX.



In my last, for want of something better to write about, I told you what
a World of Fending and Proving we have had of late, in this little
Village of ours, about an old-cast-Pair-of-black-Plush-Breeches, which
John, our Parish-Clerk, about ten Years ago, it seems, had made a
Promise of to one Trim, who is our Sexton and Dog-Whipper.--To this you
write me Word, that you have had more than either one or two Occasions
to know a good deal of the shifty Behaviour of this said Master Trim,--
and that you are astonished, nor can you for your Soul conceive, how so
worthless a Fellow, and so worthless a Thing into the Bargain, could
become the Occasion of such a Racket as I have represented.

Now, though you do not say expressly, you could wish to hear any more
about it, yet I see plain enough that I have raised your Curiosity; and
therefore, from the same Motive, that I slightly mentioned it at all in
my last Letter, I will, in this, give you a full and very circumstantial
Account of the whole Affair.

But, before I begin, I must first set you right in one very material
Point, in which I have misled you, as to the true Cause of all this
Uproar amongst us;--which does not take its Rise, as I then told you,
from the Affair of the Breeches;--but, on the contrary, the whole Affair
of the Breeches has taken its Rise from it:--To understand which, you
must know, that the first Beginning of the Squabble was not between John
the Parish-Clerk and Trim the Sexton, but betwixt the Parson of the
Parish and the said Master Trim, about an old Watch-Coat, which had many
Years hung up in the Church, which Trim had set his Heart upon; and
nothing would serve Trim but he must take it home, in order to have it
converted into a warm Under-Petticoat for his Wife, and a Jerkin for
himself, against Winter; which, in a plaintive Tone, he most humbly
begg'd his Reverence would consent to.

I need not tell you, Sir, who have so often felt it, that a Principle of
strong Compassion transports a generous Mind sometimes beyond what is
strictly right,--the Parson was within an Ace of being an honourable
Example of this very Crime;--for no sooner did the distinct Words--
Petticoat--poor Wife--warm--Winter strike upon his Ear, but his Heart
warmed,--and, before Trim had well got to the End of his Petition,
(being a Gentleman of a frank and open Temper) he told him he was
welcome to it, with all his Heart and Soul. But, Trim, says he, as you
see I am but just got down to my Living, and am an utter Stranger to all
Parish-Matters, know nothing about this old Watch-Coat you beg of me,
having never seen it in my Life, and therefore cannot be a Judge whether
'tis fit for such a Purpose; or, if it is, in Truth, know not whether
'tis mine to bestow upon you or not;--you must have a Week or ten Days
Patience, till I can make some Inquiries about it;--and, if I find it is
in my Power, I tell you again, Man, your Wife is heartily welcome to an
Under-Petticoat out of it, and you to a Jerkin, was the Thing as good
again as you represent it.

It is necessary to inform you, Sir, in this Place, That the Parson was
earnestly bent to serve Trim in this Affair, not only from the Motive of
Generality, which I have justly ascribed to him, but likewise from
another Motive; and that was by way of making some Sort of Recompence
for a Multitude of small Services which Trim had occasionally done, and
indeed was continually doing, (as he was much about the House) when his
own Man was out of the Way. For all these Reasons together, I say, the
Parson of the Parish intended to serve Trim in this Matter to the utmost
of his Power: All that was wanting was previously to inquire, if any one
had a Claim to it;--or whether, as it had, Time immemorial, hung up in
the Church, the taking it down might not raise a Clamour in the Parish.
These Inquiries were the very Thing that Trim dreaded in his Heart--He
knew very well that if the Parson should but say one Word to the Church-
Wardens about it, there would be an End of the whole Affair. For this,
and some other Reasons not necessary to be told you, at present, Trim
was for allowing no Time in this Matter;--but, on the contrary, doubled
his Diligence and Importunity at the Vicarage-House;--plagued the whole
Family to Death;--pressed his Suit Morning, Noon, and Night; and, to
shorten my Story, teazed the poor Gentleman, who was but in an ill State
of Health, almost out of his Life about it.

You will not wonder, when I tell you, that all this Hurry and
Precipitation, on the Side of Master Trim, produced its natural Effect
on the Side of the Parson, and that was, a Suspicion that all was not
right at the Bottom.

He was one Evening sitting alone in his Study, weighing and turning this
Doubt every Way in his Mind; and, after an Hour and a half's serious
Deliberation upon the Affair, and running over Trim's Behaviour
throughout,--he was just saying to himself, It must be so;--when a
sudden Rap at the Door put an End to his Soliloquy,--and, in a few
Minutes, to his Doubts too; for a Labourer in the Town, who deem'd
himself past his fifty-second Year, had been returned by the Constable
in the Militia-List,--and he had come, with a Groat in his Hand, to
search the Parish Register for his Age.--The Parson bid the poor Fellow
put the Groat into his Pocket, and go into the Kitchen:--Then shutting
the Study Door, and taking down the Parish Register,--Who knows, says
he, but I may find something here about this self-same Watch-Coat?--He
had scarce unclasped the Book, in saying this, when he popp'd upon the
very Thing he wanted, fairly wrote on the first Page, pasted to the
Inside of one of the Covers, whereon was a Memorandum about the very
Thing in Question, in these express Words:


The great Watch-Coat was purchased and given above two hundred years
ago, by the Lord of the Manor, to this Parish-Church, to the sole use
and Behoof of the poor sextons thereof, and their Sucessors, for ever,
to be Worn by them respectively in wintery cold Nights, in ringing
Complines, Passing-Bells, &c. which the said Lord of the manor had done,
in Piety, to keep the poor Wretches warm, and for the Good of his own
Soul, for Which they were directed to pray, &c. &c. &c. &c. Just Heaven!
said the Parson to himself, looking upwards, What an Escape have I had!
Give this for an Under-Petticoat to Trim's Wife! I would not have
consented to such a Desecration to be Primate of all England; nay, I
would not have disturb'd a single Button of it for half my Tythes!

Scarce were the Words out of his Mouth, when in pops Trim with the whole
Subject of the Exclamation under both his Arms.--I say, under both his
Arms;--for he had actually got it ripp'd and cut out ready, his own
Jerkin under one Arm, and the Petticoat under the other, in order to be
carried to the Taylor to be made up,--and had just stepp'd in, in high
Spirits, to shew the Parson how cleverly it had held out.

There are many good Similies now subsisting in the World, but which I
have neither Time to recollect or look for, which would give you a
strong Conception of the Astonishment and honest Indignation which this
unexpected Stroke of Trim's Impudence impress'd upon the Parson's
Looks.--Let it suffice to say, That it exceeded all fair Description,--
as well as all Power of proper Resentment,--except this, that Trim was
ordered, in a stern Voice, to lay the Bundles down upon the Table,--to
go about his Business, and wait upon him, at his Peril, the next Morning
at Eleven precisely,:--Against this Hour, like a wise Man, the Parson
had sent to desire John the Parish-Clerk, who bore an exceeding good
Character as a Man of Truth, and who having, moreover, a pretty Freehold
of about eighteen Pounds a Year in the Township, was a leading Man in
it; and, upon the whole, was such a one of whom it might be said,--That
he rather did Honour to his Office,--than that his Office did Honour to
him.--Him he sends for, with the Church-Wardens, and one of the Sides-
Men, a grave, knowing, old Man, to be present:--For as Trim had withheld
the whole Truth from the Parson, touching the Watch-Coat, he thought it
probable he would as certainly do the same Thing to others; though this,
I said, was wise, the Trouble of the Precaution might have been spared,
--because the Parson's Character was unblemish'd,--and he had ever been
held by the World in the Estimation of a Man of Honour and Integrity.--
Trim's Character, on the contrary, was as well known, if not in the
World, yet, at least, in all the Parish, to be that of a little, dirty,
pimping, pettifogging, ambidextrous Fellow,--who neither cared what he
did or said of any, provided he could get a Penny by it.--This might, I
say, have made any Precaution needless;--but you must know, as the
Parson had in a Manner but just got down to his Living, he dreaded the
Consequences of the least ill Impression on his first Entrance amongst
his Parishioners, which would have disabled him from doing them the Good
he Wished;--so that, out of Regard to his Flock, more than the necessary
Care due to himself,--he was resolv'd not to lie at the Mercy of what
Resentment might vent, or Malice lend an Ear to.--Accordingly the whole
Matter was rehearsed from first to last by the Parson, in the Manner
I've told you, in the Hearing of John the Parish-Clerk, and in the
Presence of Trim.

Trim had little to say for himself, except "That the Parson had
absolutely promised to befriend him and his Wife in the Affair, to the
utmost of his Power: That the Watch-Coat was certainly in his Power, and
that he might give it him if he pleased."

To this, the Parson's Reply was short, but strong, "That nothing was in
his Power to do, but what he could do honestly:--That in giving the Coat
to him and his Wife, he should do a manifest Wrong to the next Sexton;
the great Watch-Coat being the most comfortable Part of the Place:--That
he should, moreover, injure the Right of his own Successor, who would be
just so much a worse Patron, as the Worth of the Coat amounted to;--and,
in a Word, he declared, that his whole intent in promising that Coat,
was Charity to Trim; but Wrong to no Man; that was a Reserve, he said,
made in all Cases of this Kind:--and he declared solemnly, in Verbo
Sacerdotis, That this was his Meaning, and was so understood by Trim

With the Weight of this Truth, and the great good Sense and strong
Reason which accompanied all the Parson said upon the Subject,--poor
Trim was driven to his last Shift,--and begg'd he might be suffered to
plead his Right and Title to the Watch-Coat, if not by Promise, at least
by Services.--It was well known how much he was entitled to it upon
these Scores: That he had black'd the Parson's Shoes without Count, and
greased his Boots above fifty Times:--That he had run for Eggs into the
Town upon all Occasions;--whetted the Knives at all Hours;--catched his
Horse and rubbed him down:--That for his Wife she had been ready upon
all Occasions to charr for them;--and neither he nor she, to the best of
his Remembrance, ever took a Farthing, or any thing beyond a Mug of
Ale.--To this Account of his Services he begg'd Leave to add those of
his Wishes, which, he said, had been equally great.--He affirmed, and
was ready, he said, to make it appear, by Numbers of Witnesses, "He had
drank his Reverence's Health a thousand Times, (by the bye, he did not
add out of the Parson's own Ale): That he not only drank his Health, but
wish'd it; and never came to the House, but ask'd his Man kindly how he
did; that in particular, about half a Year ago, when his Reverence cut
his Finger in paring an Apple, he went half a Mile to ask a cunning
Woman, what was good to stanch Blood, and actually returned with a
Cobweb in his Breeches Pocket:--Nay, says Trim, it was not a Fortnight
ago, when your Reverence took that violent Purge, that I went to the far
End of the whole Town to borrow you a Close-stool,--and came back, as my
Neighbours, who flouted me, will all bear witness, with the Pan upon my
Head, and never thought it too much."

Trim concluded his pathetick Remonstrance with saying, "He hoped his
Reverence's Heart would not suffer him to requite so many faithful
Services by so unkind a Return:--That if it was so, as he was the first,
so he hoped he should be the last, Example of a Man of his Condition so
treated."--This Plan of Trim's Defence, which Trim had put himself
upon,--could admit of no other Reply but a general Smile.

Upon the whole, let me inform you, That all that could be said, pro and
con, on both Sides, being fairly heard, it was plain, That Trim, in
every Part of this Affair, had behaved very ill;--and one Thing, which
was never expected to be known of him, happening in the Course of this
Debate to come out against him; namely, That he had gone and told the
Parson, before he had ever set Foot in his Parish, That John his Parish-
Clerk,--his Church-Wardens, and some of the Heads of the Parish, were a
Parcel of Scoundrels.--Upon the Upshot, Trim was kick'd out of Doors;
and told, at his Peril, never to come there again.

At first Trim huff'd and bounced most terribly;--swore he would get a
Warrant;--then nothing would serve him but he would call a Bye-Law, and
tell the whole Parish how the Parson had misused him;--but cooling of
that, as fearing the Parson might possibly bind him over to his good
Behaviour, and, for aught he knew, might send him to the House of
Correction,--he let the Parson alone; and, to revenge himself, falls
foul upon his Clerk, who had no more to do in the Quarrel than you or
I;--rips up the Promise of the old-cast-Pair-of-black-Plush-Breeches,
and raises an Uproar in the Town about it, notwithstanding it had slept
ten Years.--But all this, you must know, is look'd upon in no other
Light, but as an artful Stroke of Generalship in Trim, to raise a Dust,
and cover himself under the disgraceful Chastisement he has undergone.

If your Curiosity is not yet satisfied,--I will now proceed to relate
the Battle of the Breeches, in the same exact Manner I have done that of
the Watch-Coat.

Be it known then, that, about ten Years ago, when John was appointed
Parish-Clerk of this Church, this said Master Trim took no small Pains
to get into John's good Graces in order, as it afterwards appeared, to
coax a Promise out of him of a Pair of Breeches, which John had then by
him, of black Plush, not much the worse for wearing;--Trim only begging
for God's Sake to have them bestowed upon him when John should think fit
to cast them.

Trim was one of those kind of Men who loved a Bit of Finery in his
Heart, and would rather have a tatter'd Rag of a Better Body's, than the
best plain whole Thing his Wife could spin him.

John, who was naturally unsuspicious, made no more Difficulty of
promising the Breeches, than the Parson had done in promising the Great
Coat; and, indeed, with something less Reserve,--because the Breeches
were John's own, and he could give them, without Wrong, to whom he
thought fit.

It happened, I was going to say unluckily, but, I should rather say,
most luckily, for Trim, for he was the only Gainer by it;--that a
Quarrel, about some six or eight Weeks after this, broke out between the
late Parson of the Parish and John the Clerk. Somebody (and it was
thought to be Nobody but Trim) had put it into the Parson's Head, "That
John's Desk in the Church was, at the least, four Inches higher than it
should be:--That the Thing gave Offence, and was indecorous, inasmuch as
it approach'd too near upon a Level with the Parson's Desk itself." This
Hardship the Parson complained of loudly,--and told John one Day after
Prayers, "He could bear it no longer:--And would have it alter'd and
brought down as it should be." John made no other Reply, but, "That the
Desk was not of his raising:--That 'twas not one Hair Breadth higher
than he found it;--and that as he found it, so would he leave it:--In
short, he would neither make an Encroachment, nor would he suffer one."

The late Parson might have his Virtues, but the leading Part of his
Character was not Humility; so that John's Stiffness in this Point was
not likely to reconcile Matters.--This was Trim's Harvest.

After a friendly Hint to John to stand his Ground,--away hies Trim to
make his Market at the Vicarage: What pass'd there, I will not say,
intending not to be uncharitable; so shall content myself with only
guessing at it, from the sudden Change that appeared in Trim's Dress for
the better;--for he had left his old ragged Coat, Hat and Wig, in the
Stable, and was come forth strutting across the Church-yard, y'clad in a
good creditable cast Coat, large Hat and Wig, which the Parson had just
given him.--Ho! Ho! Hollo! John! cries Trim, in an insolent Bravo, as
loud as ever he could bawl--See here, my Lad! how fine I am.--The more
Shame for you, answered John, seriously.--Do you think, Trim, says he,
such Finery, gain'd by such Services, becomes you, or can wear well?--
Fye upon it, Trim;--I could not have expected this from you, considering
what Friendship you pretended, and how kind I have ever been to you:--
How many Shillings and Sixpences I have generously lent you in your
Distresses?--Nay, it was but t'other Day that I promised you these black
Plush Breeches I have on.--Rot your Breeches, quoth Trim; for Trim's
Brain was half turn'd with his new Finery:--Rot your Breeches, says he,
--I would not take them up, were they laid at my Door;--give 'em, and be
d----d to you, to whom you like; I would have you to know I can have a
better Pair at the Parson's any Day in the Week:--John told him plainly,
as his Word had once pass'd him, he had a Spirit above taking Advantage
of his Insolence, in giving them away to another:--But, to tell him his
Mind freely, he thought he had got so many Favours of that Kind, and was
so likely to get many more for the same Services, of the Parson, that he
had better give up the Breeches, with good Nature, to some one who would
be more thankful for them.

Here John mentioned Mark Slender, (who, it seems, the Day before, had
ask'd John for 'em) not knowing they were under Promise to Trim.--"Come,
Trim, says he, let poor Mark have 'em,--You know he has not a Pair to
his. A----: Besides, you see he is just of my Size, and they will fit
him to a T; whereas, if I give 'em to you,--look ye, they are not worth
much; and, besides, you could not get your Backside into them, if you
had them, without tearing them all to Pieces."

Every Tittle of this was most undoubtedly true; for Trim, you must know,
by foul Feeding, and playing the good Fellow at the Parson's, was grown
somewhat gross about the lower Parts, if not higher: So that, as all
John said upon the Occasion was fact, Trim, with much ado, and after a
hundred Hum's and Hah's, at last, out of mere Compassion to Mark, signs,
seals, and delivers up all Right, Interest, and Pretentions whatsoever,
in and to the said breeches; thereby binding his Heirs, Executors,
Administrators, and Assignes, never more to call the said Claim in

All this Renunciation was set forth in an ample Manner, to be in pure
Pity to Mark's Nakedness;--but the Secret was, Trim had an Eye to, and
firmly expected in his own Mind, the great Green Pulpit-Cloth and old
Velvet Cushion, which were that very Year to be taken down;--which, by
the Bye, could he have wheedled John a second Time out of 'em, as he
hoped, he had made up the Loss of his Breeches Seven-fold.

Now, you must know, this Pulpit-Cloth and Cushion were not in John's
Gift, but in the Church-Wardens, &c.--However, as I said above, that
John was a leading Man in the Parish, Trim knew he could help him to
them if he would:--But John had got a Surfeit of him;--so, when the
Pulpit-Cloth, &c. were taken down, they were immediately given (John
having a great Say in it) to William Doe, who understood very well what
Use to make of them.

As for the old Breeches, poor Mark Slender lived to wear them but a
short Time, and they got into the Possession of Lorry Slim, an unlucky
Wight, by whom they are still worn;--in Truth, as you will guess, they
are very thin by this Time:--But Lorry has a light Heart; and what
recommends them to him, is this, that, as, thin as they are, he knows
that Trim, let him say what he will to the contrary, still envies the
Possessor of them,--and, with all his Pride, would be very glad to wear
them after him.

Upon this Footing have these Affairs slept quietly for near ten Years,--
and would have slept for ever, but for the unlucky Kicking-Bout; which,
as I said, has ripp'd this Squabble up afresh: So that it was no longer
ago than last Week, that Trim met and insulted John in the public Town-
Way, before a hundred People;--tax'd him with the Promise of the old-
cast-Pair-of-black-Breeches, notwithstanding Trim's solemn Renunciation;
twitted him with the Pulpit-Cloth and Velvet Cushion,--as good as told
him, he was ignorant of the common Duties of his Clerkship; adding, very
insolently, That he knew not so much as to give out a common Psalm in

John contented himself with giving a plain Answer to every Article that
Trim had laid to his Charge, and appealed to his Neighbours who
remembered the whole Affair;--and as he knew there was never any Thing
to be got in wrestling with a Chimney-Sweeper,--he was going to take
Leave of Trim for ever.--But, hold,--the Mob by this Time had got round
them, and their High Mightinesses insisted upon having Trim tried upon
the Spot.--Trim was accordingly tried; and, after a full Hearing, was
convicted a second Time, and handled more roughly by one or more of
them, than even at the Parson's.

Trim, says one, are you not ashamed of yourself, to make all this Rout
and Disturbance in the Town, and set Neighbours together by the Ears,
about an old-worn-out-Pair-of-cast-Breeches, not worth Half a Crown?--Is
there a cast-Coat, or a Place in the whole Town, that will bring you in
a Shilling, but what you have snapp'd up, like a greedy Hound as you

In the first Place, are you not Sexton and Dog-Whipper, worth Three
Pounds a Year?--Then you begg'd the Church-Wardens to let your Wife have
the Washing and Darning of the Surplice and Church-Linen, which brings
you in Thirteen Shillings and Four Pence.--Then you have Six Shillings
and Eight Pence for oiling and winding up the Clock, both paid you at
Easter.--The Pinder's Place, which is worth Forty Shillings a Year,--you
have got that too.--You are the Bailiff, which the late Parson got you,
which brings you in Forty Shillings more.--Besides all this, you have
Six Pounds a Year, paid you Quarterly for being Mole-Catcher to the
Parish.--Aye, says the luckless Wight above-mentioned, (who was standing
close to him with his Plush Breeches on) "You are not only Mole-Catcher,
Trim, but you catch STRAY CONIES too in the Dark; and you pretend a
Licence for it, which, I trove, will be look'd into at the next Quarter
Sessions." I maintain it, I have a Licence, says Trim, blushing as red
as Scarlet:--I have a Licence,--and as I farm a Warren in the next
Parish, I will catch Conies every Hour of the Night.--You catch Conies!
cries a toothless old Woman, who was just passing by.--

This set the Mob a laughing, and sent every Man home in perfect good
Humour, except Trim, who waddled very slowly off with that Kind of
inflexible Gravity only to be equalled by one Animal in the whole
Creation,--and surpassed by none, I am,

SIR, Yours, &c. &c.



I have broke open my Letter to inform you, that I miss'd the Opportunity
of sending it by the Messenger, who I expected would have called upon me
in his Return through this Village to York, so it has laid a Week or ten
Days by me.

--I am not sorry for the Disappointment, because something has since
happened, in Continuation of this Affair, which I am thereby enabled to
transmit to you, all under one Trouble.

When I finished the above Account, I thought (as did every Soul in the
Parish) Trim had met with so thorough a Rebuff from John the Parish-
Clerk and the Town's Folks, who all took against him, that Trim would be
glad to be quiet, and let the Matter rest.

But, it seems, it is not half an Hour ago since Trim sallied forth
again; and, having borrowed a Sow-Gelder's Horn, with hard Blowing he
got the whole Town round him, and endeavoured to raise a Disturbance,
and fight the whole Battle over again:--That he had been used in the
last Fray worse than a Dog;--not by John the Parish-Clerk,--for I shou'd
not, quoth Trim, have valued him a Rush single Hands:--But all the Town
sided with him, and twelve Men in Buckram set upon me all at once, and
kept me in Play at Sword's Point for three Hours together.--Besides,
quoth Trim, there were two misbegotten Knaves in Kendal Green, who lay
all the while in Ambush in John's own House, and they all sixteen came
upon my Back, and let drive at me together.--A Plague, says Trim, of all
Cowards!--Trim repeated this Story above a Dozen Times;--which made some
of the Neighbours pity him, thinking the poor Fellow crack-brain'd, and
that he actually believed what he said. After this Trim dropp'd the
Affair of the Breeches, and begun a fresh Dispute about the Reading-
Desk, which I told you had occasioned some small Dispute between the
late Parson and John, some Years ago.

This Reading-Desk, as you will observe, was but an Episode wove into the
main Story by the Bye;--for the main Affair was the Battle of the
Breeches and Great Watch-Coat.--However, Trim being at last driven out
of these two Citadels,--he has seized hold, in his Retreat, of this
Reading-Desk, with a View, as it seems, to take Shelter behind it.

I cannot say but the Man has fought it out obstinately enough;--and, had
his Cause been good, I should have really pitied him. For when he was
driven out of the Great Watch-Coat,--you see, he did not run away;--no,
--he retreated behind the Breeches;--and, when he could make nothing of
it behind the Breeches,--he got behind the Reading-Desk.--To what other
Hold Trim will next retreat, the Politicians of this Village are not
agreed.--Some think his next Move will be towards the Rear of the
Parson's Boot;--but, as it is thought he cannot make a long Stand
there,--others are of Opinion, That Trim will once more in his Life get
hold of the Parson's Horse, and charge upon him, or perhaps behind him.
But as the Horse is not easy to be caught, the more general Opinion is,
That, when he is driven out of the Reading-Desk, he will make his last
Retreat in such a Manner as, if possible, to gain the Close-Stool, and
defend himself behind it to the very last Drop. If Trim should make this
Movement, by my Advice he should be left besides his Citadel, in full
Possession of the Field of Battle;--where, 'tis certain, he will keep
every Body a League off, and may pop by himself till he is weary:
Besides, as Trim seems bent upon purging himself, and may have Abundance
of foul Humours to work off, I think he cannot be better placed.

But this is all Matter of Speculation.--Let me carry you back to Matter
of Fact, and tell you what Kind of a Stand Trim has actually made behind
the said Desk.

"Neighbours and Townsmen all, I will be sworn before my Lord Mayor, That
John and his nineteen Men in Buckram, have abused me worse than a Dog;
for they told you that I play'd fast and go-loose with the late Parson
and him, in that old Dispute of theirs about the Reading-Desk; and that
I made Matters worse between them, and not better."

Of this Charge, Trim declared he was as innocent as the Child that was
unborn: That he would be Book-sworn he had no Hand in it. He produced a
strong Witness;--and, moreover, insinuated, that John himself, instead
of being angry for what he had done in it, had actually thank'd him.
Aye, Trim, says the Wight in the Plush Breeches, but that was, Trim, the
Day before John found thee out.--Besides, Trim, there is nothing in
that:--For, the very Year that thou wast made Town's Pinder, thou
knowest well, that I both thank'd thee myself; and, moreover, gave thee
a good warm Supper for turning John Lund's Cows and Horses out of my
Hard-Corn Close; which if thou had'st not done, (as thou told'st me) I
should have lost my whole Crop: Whereas, John Lund and Thomas Patt, who
are both here to testify, and will take their Oaths on't, That thou
thyself wast the very Man who set the Gate open; and, after all,--it was
not thee, Trim,--'twas the Blacksmith's poor Lad who turn'd them out: So
that a Man may be thank'd and rewarded too for a good Turn which he
never did, nor ever did intend.

Trim could not sustain this unexpected Stroke;--so Trim march'd off the
Field, without Colours flying, or his Horn sounding, or any other
Ensigns of Honour whatever.

Whether after this Trim intends to rally a second Time, or whether Trim
may not take it into his Head to claim the Victory,--no one but Trim
himself can inform you:--However, the general Opinion, upon the whole,
is this, That, in three several pitch'd Battles, Trim has been so
trimm'd, as never disastrous Hero was trimm'd before him.


This Romance was, by some Mischance or other, dropp'd in the Minster-
Yard, York, and pick'd up by a Member of a small Political Club in that
City; where it was carried, and publickly read to the Members the last
Club Night.

It was instantly agreed to, by a great Majority, That it was a Political
Romance; but concerning what State or Potentate, could not so easily be
settled amongst them.

The President of the Night, who is thought to be as clear and quick-
lighted as any one of the whole Club in Things of this Nature,
discovered plainly, That the Disturbances therein set forth, related to
those on the Continent:--That Trim could be Nobody but the King of
France, by whole shifting and intriguing Behaviour, all Europe was set
together by the Ears:--That Trim's Wife was certainly the Empress, who
are as kind together, says he, as any Man and Wife can be for their
Lives.--The more Shame for 'em, says an Alderman, low to himself.--
Agreeable to this Key, continues the President,--The Parson, who I think
is a most excellent Character,--is His Most Excellent Majesty King
George;--John, the Parish-Clerk, is the King of Prussia; who, by the
Manner of his first entering Saxony, shew'd the World most evidently,--
That he did know how to lead out the Psalm, and in Tune and Time too,
notwithstanding Trim's vile Insult upon him in that Particular.--But who
do you think, says a Surgeon and Man-Midwife, who sat next him, (whose
Coat-Button the President, in the Earnestness of this Explanation, had
got fast hold of, and had thereby partly drawn him over to his Opinion)
Who do you think, Mr. President, says he, are meant by the Church-
Wardens, Sides-Men, Mark Slender, Lorry Slim, &c.--Who do I think? says
he, Why,--Why, Sir, as I take the Thing,--the Church-Wardens and Sides-
Men, are the Electors and the other Princes who form the Germanick
Body.--And as for the other subordinate Characters of Mark Slim,--the
unlucky Wight in the Plush Breeches,--the Parson's Man who was so often
out of the Way, &c. &c.--these, to be sure, are the several Marshals
and Generals, who fought, or should have fought, under them the last
Campaign.--The Men in Buckram, continued the President, are the Grofs of
the King of Prussia's Army, who are as stiff a Body of Men as are in the
World:--And Trim's saying they were twelve, and then nineteen, is a Wipe
for the Brussels Gazetteer, who, to my Knowledge, was never two Weeks in
the same Story, about that or any thing else.

As for the rest of the Romance, continued the President, it sufficiently
explains itself,--The Old-cast-Pair-of-Black-Plush-Breeches must be
Saxony, which the Elector, you see, has left of wearing:--And as for the
Great Watch-Coat, which, you know, covers all, it signifies all Europe;
comprehending, at least, so many of its different States and Dominions,
as we have any Concern with in the present War.

I protest, says a Gentleman who sat next but one to the President, and
who, it seems, was the Parson of the Parish, a Member not only of the
Political, but also of a Musical Club in the next Street;--I protest,
says he, if this Explanation is right, which I think it is, That the
whole makes a very fine Symbol.--You have always some Musical Instrument
or other in your Head, I think, says the Alderman.--Musical instrument!
replies the Parson, in Astonishment,--Mr. Alderman, I mean an Allegory;
and I think the greedy Disposition of Trim and his Wife, in ripping the
Great Watch-Coat to Pieces, in order to convert it into a Petticoat for
the one, and a Jerkin for the other, is one of the most beautiful of the
Kind I ever met with; and will shew all the World what have been the
true Views and Intentions of the Houses of Bourbon and Austria in this
abominable Coalition,--I might have called it Whoredom:--Nay, says the
Alderman, 'tis downright Adulterydom, or nothing.

This Hypothesis of the President's explain'd every Thing in the Romance
extreamly well; and, withall, was delivered with so much Readiness and
Air of Certainty, as begot an Opinion in two Thirds of the Club, that
Mr. President was actually the Author of the Romance himself: But a
Gentleman who sat on the opposite Side of the Table, who had come
piping-hot from reading the History of King William's and Queen Anne's
Wars, and who was thought, at the Bottom, to envy the President the
Honour both of the Romance and Explanation too, gave an entire new Turn
to it all. He acquainted the Club, That Mr. President was altogether
wrong in every Supposition he had made, except that one, where the Great
Watch-Coat was said by him to represent Europe, or at least a great Part
of it:--So far he acknowledged he was pretty right; but that he had not
gone far enough backwards into our History to come at the Truth. He then
acquainted them, that the dividing the Great Watch-Coat did, and could,
allude to nothing else in the World but the Partition-Treaty; which, by
the Bye, he told them, was the most unhappy and scandalous Transaction
in all King William's Life: It was that false Step, and that only, says
he, rising from his Chair, and striking his Hand upon the Table with
great Violence; it was that false Step, says he, knitting his Brows and
throwing his Pipe down upon the Ground, that has laid the Foundation of
all the Disturbances and Sorrows we feel and lament at this very Hour;
and as for Trim's giving up the Breeches, look ye, it is almost Word for
Word copied from the French King and Dauphin's Renunciation of Spain and
the West-Indies, which all the World knew (as was the very Case of the
Breeches) were renounced by them on purpose to be reclaim'd when Time
should serve.

This Explanation had too much Ingenuity in it to be altogether slighted;
and, in Truth, the worst Fault it had, seem'd to be the prodigious Heat
of it; which (as an Apothecary, who sat next the Fire, observ'd, in a
very low Whisper to his next Neighbour) was so much incorporated into
every Particle of it, that it was impossible, under such Fermentation,
it should work its defined Effect.

This, however, no way intimidated a little valiant Gentleman, though he
sat the very next Man, from giving an Opinion as diametrically opposite
as East is from West.

This Gentleman, who was by much the best Geographer in the whole Club,
and, moreover, second Cousin to an Engineer, was positive the Breeches
meant Gibraltar; for, if you remember, Gentlemen, says he, tho' possibly
you don't, the Ichnography and Plan of that Town and Fortress, it
exactly resembles a Pair of Trunk-Hose, the two Promontories forming the
two Slops, &c. &c.--Now we all know, continued he, that King George the
First made a Promise of that important Pass to the King of Spain:--So
that the whole Drift of the Romance, according to my Sense of Things, is
merely to vindicate the King and the Parliament in that Transaction,
which made so much Noise in the World.

A Wholesale Taylor, who from the Beginning had resolved not to speak at
all in the Debate,--was at last drawn into it, by something very
unexpected in the last Person's Argument.

He told the Company, frankly, he did not understand what Ichnography
meant:--But as for the Shape of a Pair of Breeches, as he had had the
Advantage of cutting out so many hundred Pairs in his Life-Time, he
hoped he might be allowed to know as much of the Matter as another Man.

Now, to my Mind, says he, there is nothing in all the Terraqueous Globe
(a Map of which, it seems, hung up in his Work-Shop) so like a Pair of
Breeches unmade up, as the Island of Sicily:--Nor is there any thing, if
you go to that, quoth an honest Shoe-maker, who had the Honour to be a
Member of the Club, so much like a Jack-Boot, to my Fancy, as the
Kingdom of Italy.--What the Duce has either Italy or Sicily to do in the
Affair? cries the President, who, by this Time, began to tremble for his
Hypothesis,--What have they to do?--Why, answered the Partition-Treaty
Gentleman, with great Spirit and Joy sparkling in his Eyes,--They have
just so much, Sir, to do in the Debate as to overthrow your
Suppositions, and to establish the Certainty of mine beyond the
Possibility of a Doubt: For, says he, (with an Air of Sovereign Triumph
over the President's Politicks)--By the Partition-Treaty, Sir, both
Naples and Sicily were the very Kingdoms made to devolve upon the
Dauphin;--and Trim's greasing the Parson's Boots, is a Devilish
Satyrical Stroke;--for it exposes the Corruption, and Bribery made Use
of at that Juncture, in bringing over the several States and Princes of
Italy to use their Interests at Rome, to stop the Pope from giving the
Investitures of those Kingdoms to any Body else.--The Pope has not the
Investiture of Sicily, cries another Gentleman.--I care not, says he,
for that.

Almost every one apprehended the Debate to be now ended, and that no one
Member would venture any new Conjecture upon the Romance, after so many
clear and decisive Interpretations had been given. But, hold,--Close to
the Fire, and opposite to where the Apothecary sat, there sat also a
Gentleman of the Law, who, from the Beginning to the End of the Hearing
of this Case, seem'd no way satisfied in his Conscience with any one
Proceeding in it. This Gentleman had not yet opened his Mouth, but had
waited patiently till they had all gone thro' their several Evidences on
the other Side;--reserving himself, like an expert Practitioner, for the
last Word in the Debate. When the Partition-Treaty-Gentleman had
finish'd what he had to say,--He got up,--and, advancing towards the
Table, told them, That the Error they had all gone upon thus far, in
making out the several Facts in the Romance,--was in looking too high;
which, with great Candor, he said, was a very natural Thing, and very
excusable withall, in such a Political Club as theirs: For Instance,
continues he, you have been searching the Registers, and looking into
the Deeds of Kings and Emperors,--as if Nobody had any Deeds to shew or
compare the Romance to but themselves.--This, continued the Attorney, is
just as much out of the Way of good Practice, as if I should carry a
Thing slap-dash into the House of Lords, which was under forty
Shillings, and might be decided in the next County-Court for six
Shillings and Eight-pence.--He then took the Romance in his Left Hand,
and pointing with the Fore-Finger of his Right towards the second Page,
he humbly begg'd Leave to observe, (and, to do him Justice, he did it in
somewhat of a forensic Air) That the Parson, John, and Sexton, shewed
incontestably the Thing to be Tripartite; now, if you will take Notice,
Gentlemen, says he, these several Persons, who are Parties to this
Instrument, are merely Ecclesiastical; that the Reading-Desk, Pulpit-
Cloth, and Velvet Cushion, are tripartite too; and are, by Intendment of
Law, Goods and Chattles merely of an Ecclesiastick Nature, belonging and
appertaining 'only unto them,' and to them only.--So that it appears
very plain to me, That the Romance, neither directly nor indirectly,
goes upon Temporal, but altogether upon Church-Matters.--And do not you
think, says he, softening his Voice a little, and addressing himself to
the Parson with a forced Smile,--Do not you think Doctor, says he, That
the Dispute in the Romance, between the Parson of the Parish and John,
about the Height of John's Desk, is a very fine Panegyrick upon the
Humility of Church-Men?--I think, says the Parson, it is much of the
same Fineness with that which your Profession is complimented with, in
the pimping, dirty, pettyfogging Character of Trim,--which, in my
Opinion, Sir, is just such another Panegyrick upon the Honestly of

Nothing whets the Spirits like an Insult:--Therefore the Parson went on
with a visible Superiority and an uncommon Acuteness.--As you are so
happy, Sir, continues he, in making Applications,--pray turn over a Page
or two to the black Law-Letters in the Romance.--What do you think of
them, Sir?--Nay,--pray read the Grant of the Great Watch-Coat and Trim's
Renunciation of the Breeches.--Why, there is downright Lease and Release
for you,--'tis the very Thing, Man;--only with this small Difference,--
and in which consists the whole Strength of the Panegyric, That the
Author of the Romance has convey'd and re-convey'd, in about ten Lines,
--what you, with the glorious Prolixity of the Law, could not have
crowded into as many Skins of Parchment.

The Apothecary, who had paid the Attorney, the same Afternoon, a Demand
of Three Pounds Six Shillings and Eight-Pence, for much such another
Jobb,--was so highly tickled with the Parson's Repartee in that
particular Point,--that he rubb'd his Hands together most fervently,--
and laugh'd most triumphantly thereupon.

This could not escape the Attorney's Notice, any more than the Cause of
it did escape his Penetration.

I think, Sir, says he, (dropping his Voice a Third) you might well have
spared this immoderate Mirth, since you and your Profession have the
least Reason to triumph here of any of us.--I beg, quoth he, that you
would reflect a Moment upon the Cob-Web which Trim went so far for, and
brought back with an Air of so much Importance, in his Breeches Pocket,
to lay upon the Parson's cut Finger.--This said Cob-Web, Sir, is a fine-
spun Satyre, upon the flimsy Nature of one Half of the Shop-Medicines,
with which you make a Property of the Sick, the Ignorant, and the
Unsuspecting.--And as for the Moral of the Close-Stool-Pan, Sir, 'tis
too plain, Does not nine Parts in ten of the whole Practice, and of all
you vend under its Colours, pass into and concenter in that one nasty
Utensil?--And let me tell you, Sir, says he, raising his Voice,--had not
your unseasonable Mirth blinded you, you might have seen that Trim's
carrying the Close-Stool-Pan upon his Head the whole Length of the Town,
without blushing, is a pointed Raillery,--and one of the sharpest
Sarcasms, Sir, that ever was thrown out upon you;--for it unveils the
solemn Impudence of the whole Profession, who, I see, are ashamed of
nothing which brings in Money.

There were two Apothecaries in the Club, besides the Surgeon mentioned
before, with a Chemist and an Undertaker, who all felt themselves
equally hurt and aggrieved by this discourteous Retort:--And they were
all five rising up together from their Chairs, with full Intent of
Heart, as it was thought, to return the Reproof Valiant thereupon.--But
the President, fearing it would end in a general Engagement, he
instantly call'd out, To Order;--and gave Notice, That if there was any
Member in the Club, who had not yet spoke, and yet did desire to speak
upon the main Subject of the Debate,--that he should immediately be

This was a happy Invitation for a stammering Member, who, it seems, had
but a weak Voice at the best; and having often attempted to speak in the
Debate, but to no Purpose, had sat down in utter Despair of an

This Member, you must know, had got a sad Crush upon his Hip, in the
late Election, which gave him intolerable Anguish;--so that, in short,
he could think of nothing else:--For which Cause, and others, he was
strongly of Opinion, That the whole Romance was a just Gird at the late
York Election; and I think, says he, that the Promise of the Breeches
broke, may well and truly signify Somebody's else Promise, which was
broke, and occasion'd to much Disturbance amongst us.

Thus every Man turn'd the Story to what was swimming uppermost in his
own Brain;--so that, before all was over, there were full as many
Satyres spun out of it,--and as great a Variety of Personages, Opinions,
Transactions, and Truths, found to lay hid under the dark Veil of its
Allegory, as ever were discovered in the thrice-renowned History of the
Acts of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

At the Close of all, and just before the Club was going to break up,--
Mr. President rose from his Chair, and begg'd Leave to make the two
following Motions, which were instantly agreed to, without any Division.

First Gentlemen, says he, as Trim's Character in the Romance, of a
shuffling intriguing Fellow,--whoever it was drawn for, is, in Truth, as
like the French King as it can stare,--I move, That the Romance be
forthwith printed:--For, continues he, if we can but once turn the Laugh
against him, and make him asham'd of what he has done, it may be a great
Means, with the Blessing of God upon our Fleets and Armies, to save the
Liberties of Europe.

In the second Place, I move, That Mr. Attorney, our worthy Member, be
desired to take Minutes, upon the Spot, of every Conjecture which has
been made upon the Romance, by the several Members who have spoke;
which, I think, says he, will answer two good Ends:

1st, It will establish the Political Knowledge of our Club for ever, and
place it in a respectable Light to all the World.

In the next Place, it will furnish what will be wanted; that is, a Key
to the Romance.--In troth you might have said a whole Bunch of Keys,
quoth a Whitesmith, who was the only Member in the Club who had not said
something in the Debate: But let me tell you, Mr. President, says he,
That the Right Key, if it could but be found, would be worth the whole
Bunch put together.

To ------ ---------, Esq; of York.


You write me Word that the Letter I wrote to you, and now stiled The
Political Romance is printing; and that, as it was drop'd by
Carelessness, to make some Amends, you will overlook the Printing of it
yourself, and take Care to see that it comes right into the World.

I was just going to return you Thanks, and to beg, withal, you would
take Care That the Child be not laid at my Door.--But having, this
Moment, perused the Reply to the Dean of York's Answer,--it has made me
alter my Mind in that respect; so that, instead of making you the
Request I intended, I do here desire That the Child be filiated upon me,
Laurence Sterne, Prebendary of York, &c. &c. And I do, accordingly, own
it for my own true and lawful Offspring.

My Reason for this is plain;--for as, you see, the Writer of that Reply,
has taken upon him to invade this incontested Right of another Man's in
a Thing of this Kind, it is high Time for every Man to look to his own--
Since, upon the same Grounds, and with half the Degree of Anger, that he
affirms the Production of that very Reverend Gentleman's, to be the
Child of many Fathers, some one in his Spight (for I am not without my
Friends of that Stamp) may run headlong into the other Extream, and
swear, That mine had no Father at all:--And therefore, to make use of
Bays's Plea in the Rehearsal, for Prince Pretty-Man; I merely do it, as
he says, "for fear it should be said to be no Body's Child at all."

I have only to add two Things:--First, That, at your Peril, you do not
presume to alter or transpose one Word, nor rectify one false Spelling,
nor so much as add or diminish one Comma or Tittle, in or to my
Romance:--For if you do,--In case any of the Descendents of Curl should
think fit to invade my Copy-Right, and print it over again in my Teeth,
I may not be able, in a Court of Justice, to swear strictly to my own
Child, after you had so large a Share in the begetting it.

In the next Place, I do not approve of your quaint Conceit at the Foot
of the Title Page of my Romance,--It would only set People on finding a
Page or two before I give them Leave;--and besides, all Attempts either
at Wit or Humour, in that Place, are a Forestalling of what slender
Entertainment of those Kinds are prepared within: Therefore I would have
it stand thus:

YORK: Printed in the Year 1759. (Price One Shilling.)

I know you will tell me, That it is set too high; and as a Proof, you
will say, That this last Reply to the Dean's Answer does consist of near
as many Pages as mine; and yet is all sold for Six-pence.--But mine, my
dear Friend, is quite a different Story:--It is a Web wrought out of my
own Brain, of twice the Fineness of this which he has spun out of his;
and besides, I maintain it, it is of a more curious Pattern, and could
not be afforded at the Price that his is sold at, by any honest Workman
in Great-Britain.

Moreover, Sir, you do not consider, That the Writer is interested in his
Story, and that it is his Business to set it a-going at any Price: And
indeed, from the Information of Persons conversant in Paper and Print, I
have very good Reason to believe, if he should sell every Pamphlet of
them, he would inevitably be a Great Loser by it, This I believe verily,
and am,

Dear Sir, Your obliged Friend and humble Servant, LAURENCE STERNE,
Sutton on the Forest, Jan. 20, 1759



Though the Reply to the Dean of York is not declared, in the Title-Page,
or elsewhere, to be wrote by you,--Yet I take that Point for granted;
and therefore beg Leave, in this public Manner, to write to you in
Behalf of myself; with Intent to set you right in two Points where I
stand concerned in this Affair; and which I find you have
misapprehended, and consequently (as I hope) misrepresented.

The First is, in respect of some Words, made use of in the Instrument,
signed by Dr. Herring, Mr. Berdmore and myself.--Namely, "to the best of
our Remembrance and Belief"; which Words you have caught hold of, as
implying some Abatement of our Certainty as to the Facts therein
attested. Whether it was so with the other two Gentlemen who signed that
Attestation with me, it is not for me to say; they are able to answer
for themselves, and I desire to do so for myself; and therefore I
declare to you, and to all Mankind, That the Words in the first
Paragraph, "to the best of our Remembrance and Belief", implied no Doubt
remaining upon my Mind, nor any Distrust whatever of my Memory, from the
Distance of Time;--Nor, in short, was it my Intention to attest the
several Facts therein, as Matters of Belief--But as Matters of as much
Certainty as a Man was capable of having, or giving Evidence to. In
Consequence of this Explanation of myself, I do declare myself ready to
attest the same Instrument over again, striking out the Words "to the
best of our Remembrance and Belief" which I see, have raised this
Exception to it.

Whether I was mistaken or no, I leave to better Judges; but I understood
those Words were a very common Preamble to Attestations of Things, to
which we bore the clearest Evidence;--However, Dr. Topham, as you have
claimed just such another Indulgence yourself, in the Case of begging
the Dean's Authority to say, what, as you affirm, you had sufficient
Authority to say without, as a modest and Gentleman-like Way of
Affirmation;--I wish you had spared either the one or the other of your
Remarks upon these two Passages:

--Veniam petimus, demusque vicissim.

There is another Observation relating to this Instrument, which I
perceive has escaped your Notice; which I take the Liberty to point out
to you, namely, That the Words, "To the best of our Remembrance and
Belief", if they imply any Abatement of Certainty, seem only confined to
that Paragraph, and to what is immediately attested after them in it:--
For in the second Paragraph, wherein the main Points are minutely
attested, and upon which the whole Dispute, and main Charge against the
Dean, turns, it is introduced thus:

"We do particularly remember, That as soon as Dinner was over, &c."

In the second Place you affirm, "That it is not Paid, That Mr. Sterne
could affirm he had heard you charge the Dean with a Promise, in its own
Nature so very extraordinary, as of the Commissaryship of the Dean and
Chapter":--To this I answer, That my true Intent in subscribing that
very instrument, and I suppose of others, was to attest this very Thing;
and I have just now read that Part of the Instrument over; and cannot,
for my Life, affirm it either more directly or expresly, than in the
Words as they there stand;--therefore please to let me transcribe them.

"But being press'd by Mr. Sterne with an undeniable Proof, That he, (Dr.
Topham) did propagate the said Story, (viz: of a Promise from the Dean
to Dr. Topham of the Dean and Chapter's Commissaryship)--Dr. Topham did
at last acknowledge it; adding, as his Reason or Excuse for so doing,
That he apprehended (or Words to that Effect) he had a Promise under the
Dean's own Hand, of the Dean and Chapter's Commissaryship."

This I have attested, and what Weight the Sanction of an Oath will add
to it, I am willing and ready to give.

As for Mr. Ricard's feeble Attestation, brought to shake the Credit of
this firm and solemn one, I have nothing to say to it, as it is only an
Attestation of Mr. Ricard's Conjectures upon the Subject.--But this I
can say, That I had the Honour to be at the Deanery with the learned
Counsel, when Mr. Ricard underwent that most formidable Examination you
speak of,--and I solemnly affirm, That he then said, He knew nothing at
all about the Matter, one Way or the other; and the Reasons he gave for
his utter Ignorance, were, first, That he was then so full of Concern,
at the Difference which arose between two Gentlemen, both his Friends,
that he did not attend to the Subject Matter of it,--and of which he
declared again he knew nothing at all. And secondly, If he had
understood it then, the Distance would have put it out of his Head by
this Time.

He has since scower'd his Memory, I ween; for now he says, That he
apprehended the Dispute regarded something in the Dean's Gift, as he
could not naturally suppose, &c. 'Tis certain, at the Deanery, he had
naturally no Suppositions in his Head about this Affair; so that I with
this may not prove one of the After-Thoughts you speak of, and not so
much a natural as an artificial Supposition of my good Friend's.

As for the formidable Enquiry you represent him as undergoing,--let me
intreat you to give me Credit in what I say upon it,--namely,--That it
was as much the Reverse to every Idea that ever was couch'd under that
Word, as Words can represent it to you. As for the learned Counsel and
myself, who were in the Room all the Time, I do not remember that we,
either of us, spoke ten Words. The Dean was the only one that ask'd Mr.
Ricard what he remembered about the Affair of the Sessions Dinner; which
he did in the most Gentleman-like and candid Manner,--and with an Air of
as much Calmness and seeming Indifference, as if he had been questioning
him about the News in the last Brussels Gazette.

What Mr. Ricard saw to terrify him so sadly, I cannot apprehend, unless
the Dean's Gothic Book-Case,--which I own has an odd Appearance to a
Stranger; so that if he came terrified in his Mind there, and with a
Resolution not to plead, he might naturally suppose it to be a great
Engine brought there on purpose to exercise the Peine fort et dure upon
him.--But to be serious; if Mr. Ricard told you, That this Enquiry was
most formidable, He was much to blame;--and if you have said it, without
his express Information, then You are much to blame.

This is all, I think, in your Reply, which concerns me to answer:--As
for the many coarse and unchristian Insinuations scatter'd throughout
your Reply,--as it is my Duty to beg God to forgive you, so I do from my
Heart: Believe me, Dr. Topham, they hurt yourself more than the Person
they are aimed at; and when the first Transport of Rage is a little
over, they will grieve you more too.

--prima est haec Ultio.

But these I hold to be no answerable Part of a Controversy;--and for the
little that remains unanswered in yours,--I believe I could, in another
half Hour, set it right in the Eyes of the World: But this is not my
Business.--And is it is thought worth the while, which I hope it never
will, I know no one more able to do it than the very Reverend and Worthy
Gentleman whom you have so unhandsomely insulted upon that Score.

As for the supposed Compilers, whom you have been so wrath and so
unmerciful against, I'll be answerable for it, as they are Creatures of
your own Fancy, they will bear you no Malice. However, I think the more
positively any Charge is made, let it be against whom it will, the
better it should be supported; and therefore I should be sorry, for your
own Honour, if you have not some better Grounds for all you have thrown
out about them, than the mere Heat of your Imagination or Anger. To tell
you truly, your Suppositions on this Head oft put me in Mind of Trim's
twelve Men in Buckram, which his disordered Fancy represented as laying
in Ambush in John the Clerk's House, and letting drive at him all
together. I am,

SIR, Your most obedient And most humble Servant, LAWRENCE STERNE
Sutton on the Forest, Jan. 20, 1759

P.S. I beg Pardon for clapping this upon the Back of the Romance,--which
is done out of no Disrespect to you.--But the Vehicle stood ready at the
Door,--and as I was to pay the whole Fare, and there was Room enough
behind it,--it was the cheapest and readiest Conveyance I could think


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