Tristram Shandy C H A P. XI

TO those who call vexations, VEXATIONS, as knowing what they are, there could not be a greater, than to be the best part of a day at Lyons, the most opulent and flourishing city in France, enriched with the most fragments of antiquity—and not be able to see it. To be withheld upon any account, must be a vexation; but to be withheld by a vexation——must certainly be, what philosophy justly calls




I had got my two dishes of milk coffee (which by the bye is excellently good for a consumption, but you must boil the milk and coffee together—otherwise ’tis only coffee and milk)—and as it was no more than eight in the morning, and the boat did not go off till noon, I had time to see enough of Lyons to tire the patience of all the friends I had in the world with it. I will take a walk to the cathedral, said I, looking at my list, and see the wonderful mechanism of this great clock of Lippius of Basil, in the first place——

Now, of all things in the world, I understand the least of mechanism——I have neither genius, or taste, or fancy—and have a brain so entirely unapt for every thing of that kind, that I solemnly declare I was never yet able to comprehend the principles of motion of a squirrel cage, or a common knife-grinder’s wheel—tho’ I have many an hour of my life look’d up with great devotion at the one—and stood by with as much patience as any christian ever could do, at the other——

I’ll go see the surprising movements of this great clock, said I, the very first thing I do: and then I will pay a visit to the great library of the Jesuits, and procure, if possible, a sight of the thirty volumes of the general history of China, wrote (not in the Tartarean, but) in the Chinese language, and in the Chinese character too.

Now I almost know as little of the Chinese language, as I do of the mechanism of Lippius’s clock-work; so, why these should have jostled themselves into the two first articles of my list——I leave to the curious as a problem of Nature. I own it looks like one of her ladyship’s obliquities; and they who court her, are interested in finding out her humour as much as I.

When these curiosities are seen, quoth I, half addressing myself to my valet de place, who stood behind me——’twill be no hurt if we go to the church of St. Irenæus, and see the pillar to which Christ was tied——and after that, the house where Pontius Pilate lived——’Twas at the next town, said the valet de place—at Vienne; I am glad of it, said I, rising briskly from my chair, and walking across the room with strides twice as long as my usual pace——“for so much the sooner shall I be at the Tomb of the two lovers.”

What was the cause of this movement, and why I took such long strides in uttering this——I might leave to the curious too; but as no principle of clock-work is concerned in it——’twill be as well for the reader if I explain it myself.