Dear Yorick, said my father, smiling (for Yorick had broke his rank with my uncle Toby in coming through the narrow entry, and so had stepped first into the parlour)⁠—this Tristram of ours, I find, comes very hardly by all his religious rites.⁠—Never was the son of Jew, Christian, Turk, or Infidel initiated into them in so oblique and slovenly a manner.⁠—But he is no worse, I trust, said Yorick.⁠—There has been certainly, continued my father, the deuce and all to do in some part or other of the ecliptic, when this offspring of mine was formed.⁠—That, you are a better judge of than I, replied Yorick.⁠—Astrologers, quoth my father, know better than us both:⁠—the trine and sextil aspects have jumped awry,⁠—or the opposite of their ascendants have not hit it, as they should,⁠—or the lords of the genitures (as they call them) have been at bo-peep,⁠—or something has been wrong above, or below with us.

’Tis possible, answered Yorick.⁠—But is the child, cried my uncle Toby, the worse?⁠—The Troglodytes say not, replied my father. And your theologists, Yorick, tell us⁠—Theologically? said Yorick,⁠—or speaking after the manner of apothecaries?23⁠—statesmen?24⁠—or washerwomen?25

⸺⁠I’m not sure, replied my father,⁠—but they tell us, brother Toby, he’s the better for it.⁠⸺⁠Provided, said Yorick, you travel him into Egypt.⁠⸺⁠Of that, answered my father, he will have the advantage, when he sees the Pyramids.⁠⸺⁠

Now every word of this, quoth my uncle Toby, is Arabick to me.⁠⸺⁠I wish, said Yorick, ’twas so, to half the world.

⸺⁠Ilus,26 continued my father, circumcised his whole army one morning.⁠—Not without a court martial? cried my uncle Toby.⁠⸺⁠Though the learned, continued he, taking no notice of my uncle Toby’s remark, but turning to Yorick,⁠—are greatly divided still who Ilus was;⁠—some say Saturn;⁠—some the Supreme Being;⁠—others, no more than a brigadier general under Pharaoh-neco.⁠⸺⁠Let him be who he will, said my uncle Toby, I know not by what article of war he could justify it.

The controvertists, answered my father, assign two-and-twenty different reasons for it:⁠—others, indeed, who have drawn their pens on the opposite side of the question, have shown the world the futility of the greatest part of them.⁠—But then again, our best polemic divines⁠—I wish there was not a polemic divine, said Yorick, in the kingdom;⁠—one ounce of practical divinity⁠—is worth a painted shipload of all their reverences have imported these fifty years.⁠—Pray, Mr. Yorick, quoth my uncle Toby,⁠—do tell me what a polemic divine is?⁠⸺⁠The best description, captain Shandy, I have ever read, is of a couple of ’em, replied Yorick, in the account of the battle fought single hands betwixt Gymnast and captain Tripet; which I have in my pocket.⁠⸺⁠I beg I may hear it, quoth my uncle Toby earnestly.⁠—You shall, said Yorick.⁠—And as the corporal is waiting for me at the door,⁠—and I know the description of a battle will do the poor fellow more good than his supper,⁠—I beg, brother, you’ll give him leave to come in.⁠—With all my soul, said my father.⁠⸺⁠Trim came in, erect and happy as an emperor; and having shut the door, Yorick took a book from his right-hand coat-pocket, and read, or pretended to read, as follows.