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Tristram Shandy

Ch 1, Vol I

First Page: Text and Wordlist


I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly consider'dhow much depended upon what they were then doing;--that not only the production of a rationalbeing was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and

temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;--and, for aughtthey knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositionswhich were then uppermost;--Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceededaccordingly,--I am verilypersuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that in which the

reader is likely to see me.--Believe me, good folks, this is not so inconsiderable a thing as many of you may think it;--you have all, I dare say, heard of the animal spirits, as how they are transfused from father to son, &c. &c.--and a great deal to that purpose:--Well, you may take my word, that nine parts in ten of a man's sense or his nonsense, his successes and miscarriages in this world depend upon their motions

and activity, and the different tracks and trains you put them into, so that when they are once set a-going, whether right or wrong, 'tisnot a half-penny matter,--away they go cluttering like hey-go mad; and by treading the same steps over and over again, they presentlymake a road of it, as plain and as smooth as a garden-walk, which, when they are

once used to, the Devil himself sometimes shall not be able to drive them off it.

indeed in fact

begot created

consider'd considered

rational clear and sensible

formation (creation and construction/ group of objects)

aught anything

contrary opposite

dispositions personalities/disposals

uppermost first (or top)

considered thought about/believed

proceeded went ahead/moved forward

accordingly in the same way/in that way

verily truly

dare say say

motions movements

'tis it is

cluttering (filling with messy piles of things)

presently now

shall will

Pray my Dear, quoth my mother, have you not forgot to wind up the clock?

--Good G..! cried my father, making an exclamation, but taking care to moderate his voice at the same time,--Did ever woman, since the creation of the world, interrupt a man with such a silly question? Pray,

what was your father saying?--Nothing.

quoth said

exclamation yell

moderate not extreme/medium-level


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