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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Tristram Shandy: The Siege of Namur by Captain Shandy and Corporal Trim


File:The siege of namur by captn shandy and corporal trim.jpg

The Siege of Namur by Captain Shandy and Corporal Trim: engraving by Henry Bunbury in The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, published by J. Bretherton, London, 1773. Uncle Toby marching, with crutch under his left arm, pointing with his right crutch towards the fortifications built on the bowling green, where the gate of St. Nicolas is flanked on each side by a jack-boot. In his left hand he holds the London Gazette. Trim, holding up a pickaxe, marches in front of his master. Shandy Hall appears behind the Gate of St. Nicolas. (British cartoon Collection, Library of Congress)

WHEN the town, with its works, was finished, my uncle Toby and the corporal began to run their first
parallel-----not at random, or any how-----but from the same points and distances the allies had begun to run theirs; and regulating their approaches and attacks, by the accounts my uncle Toby received from the daily papers,---they went on, during the whole siege, step by step with the allies.

When the duke of Marlborough made a lodgment,-----my uncle Toby made a lodgment too.-----And when the face of a bastion was battered down, or a defence ruined,---the corporal took his mattock and did as much.---and so on;-----gaining ground, and making themselves masters of the works one after another, till the town fell into their hands.

To one who took pleasure in the happy state of others,--- there could not have been a greater sight in the world, than, on a post-morning, in which a practicable breach had been made by the duke of Marlborough, in the main body of the place,-----to have stood behind the horn beam hedge, and observed the spirit with which my uncle Toby, with Trim behind him, sallied forth;---the one with the Gazette in his hand,---the other with a spade on his shoulder to execute the contents.-----What an honest triumph in my uncle Toby's looks as he marched up to the ramparts! What intense pleasure swimming in his eye as he stood over the corporal, reading the paragraph ten times over to him, as he was at work, lest, peradventure, he should make the breach an inch too wide,--- or leave it an inch too narrow-----But when the chamade was beat, and the corporal helped my uncle up it, and followed with the colours in his hand, to fix them upon the ramparts---Heaven! Earth! Sea!-----but what avails apostrophe ?-----with all your elements, wet or dry, ye never compounded so intoxicating a draught.

Laurence Sterne: from The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman: Volume VI (1762), Chapter XXII

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