All womankind, continued Trim, (commenting upon his story) from the highest to the lowest, an’ please your honour, love jokes; the difficulty is to know how they choose to have them cut; and there is no knowing that, but by trying, as we do with our artillery in the field, by raising or letting down their breeches, till we hit the mark.⁠⸺⁠

⸺⁠I like the comparison, said my uncle Toby, better than the thing itself⁠⸺⁠

⸺⁠Because your honour, quoth the corporal, loves glory, more than pleasure.

I hope, Trim, answered my uncle Toby, I love mankind more than either; and as the knowledge of arms tends so apparently to the good and quiet of the world⁠⸺⁠and particularly that branch of it which we have practised together in our bowling-green, has no object but to shorten the strides of Ambition, and intrench the lives and fortunes of the few, from the plunderings of the many⁠⸺⁠whenever that drum beats in our ears, I trust, corporal, we shall neither of us want so much humanity and fellow-feeling, as to face about and march.

In pronouncing this, my uncle Toby faced about, and march’d firmly as at the head of his company⁠⸺⁠and the faithful corporal, shouldering his stick, and striking his hand upon his coat-skirt as he took his first step⁠⸺⁠march’d close behind him down the avenue.

⸺⁠Now what can their two noddles be about? cried my father to my mother⁠⸺⁠by all that’s strange, they are besieging Mrs. Wadman in form, and are marching round her house to mark out the lines of circumvallation.

I dare say, quoth my mother⁠⸻⸻But stop, dear Sir⁠⸺⁠for what my mother dared to say upon the occasion⁠⸺⁠and what my father did say upon it⁠⸺⁠with her replies and his rejoinders, shall be read, perused, paraphrased, commented, and descanted upon⁠—or to say it all in a word, shall be thumb’d over by Posterity in a chapter apart⁠⸺⁠I say, by Posterity⁠—and care not, if I repeat the word again⁠—for what has this book done more than the Legation of Moses, or the Tale of a Tub, that it may not swim down the gutter of Time along with them?

I will not argue the matter: Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen; the days and hours of it, more precious, my dear Jenny! than the rubies about thy neck, are flying over our heads like light clouds of a windy day, never to return more⁠⸺⁠everything presses on⁠⸺⁠whilst thou art twisting that lock,⁠⸺⁠see! it grows grey; and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, and every absence which follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation which we are shortly to make.⁠⸺⁠

⸺⁠Heaven have mercy upon us both!