⸺“I wish, Dr. Slop,” quoth my uncle Toby, (repeating his wish for Dr. Slop a second time, and with a degree of more zeal and earnestness in his manner of wishing, than he had wished at first6)⁠⸺“I wish, Dr. Slop,” quoth my uncle Toby, “you had seen what prodigious armies we had in Flanders.”

My uncle Toby’s wish did Dr. Slop a disservice which his heart never intended any man,⁠—Sir, it confounded him⁠⸺⁠and thereby putting his ideas first into confusion, and then to flight, he could not rally them again for the soul of him.

In all disputes,⁠⸺⁠male or female,⁠⸺⁠whether for honour, for profit, or for love,⁠—it makes no difference in the case;⁠—nothing is more dangerous, Madam, than a wish coming sideways in this unexpected manner upon a man: the safest way in general to take off the force of the wish, is for the party wish’d at, instantly to get upon his legs⁠—and wish the wisher something in return, of pretty near the same value,⁠⸺⁠so balancing the account upon the spot, you stand as you were⁠—nay sometimes gain the advantage of the attack by it.

This will be fully illustrated to the world in my chapter of wishes.⁠—

Dr. Slop did not understand the nature of this defence;⁠—he was puzzled with it, and it put an entire stop to the dispute for four minutes and a half;⁠—five had been fatal to it:⁠—my father saw the danger⁠—the dispute was one of the most interesting disputes in the world, “Whether the child of his prayers and endeavours should be born without a head or with one:”⁠—he waited to the last moment, to allow Dr. Slop, in whose behalf the wish was made, his right of returning it; but perceiving, I say, that he was confounded, and continued looking with that perplexed vacuity of eye which puzzled souls generally stare with⁠—first in my uncle Toby’s face⁠—then in his⁠—then up⁠—then down⁠—then east⁠—east and by east, and so on,⁠⸺⁠coasting it along by the plinth of the wainscot till he had got to the opposite point of the compass,⁠⸺⁠and that he had actually begun to count the brass nails upon the arm of his chair,⁠—my father thought there was no time to be lost with my uncle Toby, so took up the discourse as follows.