It is about an hour and a half’s tolerable good reading since my uncle Toby rung the bell, when Obadiah was ordered to saddle a horse, and go for Dr. Slop, the man-midwife;⁠—so that no one can say, with reason, that I have not allowed Obadiah time enough, poetically speaking, and considering the emergency too, both to go and come;⁠⸺⁠though, morally and truly speaking, the man perhaps has scarce had time to get on his boots.

If the hypercritick will go upon this; and is resolved after all to take a pendulum, and measure the true distance betwixt the ringing of the bell, and the rap at the door;⁠—and, after finding it to be no more than two minutes, thirteen seconds, and three fifths,⁠—should take upon him to insult over me for such a breach in the unity, or rather probability of time;⁠—I would remind him, that the idea of duration, and of its simple modes, is got merely from the train and succession of our ideas,⁠⸺⁠and is the true scholastic pendulum,⁠⸺⁠and by which, as a scholar, I will be tried in this matter,⁠—abjuring and detesting the jurisdiction of all other pendulums whatever.

I would therefore desire him to consider that it is but poor eight miles from Shandy-Hall to Dr. Slop, the man-midwife’s house;⁠—and that whilst Obadiah has been going those said miles and back, I have brought my uncle Toby from Namur, quite across all Flanders, into England:⁠—That I have had him ill upon my hands near four years;⁠—and have since travelled him and Corporal Trim in a chariot-and-four, a journey of near two hundred miles down into Yorkshire,⁠⸺⁠all which put together, must have prepared the reader’s imagination for the entrance of Dr. Slop upon the stage,⁠—as much, at least (I hope) as a dance, a song, or a concerto between the acts.

If my hypercritick is intractable, alleging, that two minutes and thirteen seconds are no more than two minutes and thirteen seconds,⁠—when I have said all I can about them; and that this plea, though it might save me dramatically, will damn me biographically, rendering my book from this very moment, a professed Romance, which, before, was a book apocryphal:⁠⸺⁠If I am thus pressed⁠—I then put an end to the whole objection and controversy about it all at once,⁠⸺⁠by acquainting him, that Obadiah had not got above threescore yards from the stable-yard before he met with Dr. Slop;⁠—and indeed he gave a dirty proof that he had met with him, and was within an ace of giving a tragical one too.

Imagine to yourself;⁠—but this had better begin a new chapter.