A Man's body and his mind, with the utmost reverence to both I speak it, are exactly like a jerkin, and a jerkin's lining;--rumple the one--you rumple the other. There is one certain exception however in this case, and it is, when you are so fortunate a fellow, as to have had your jerkin made of a gum-taffeta, and the body-lining to it, of a sarcenet or thin persian.
Zeno, Cleanthes, Diogenes, Babylonius, Dyonisius Heracleotes, Antipater, Panaetius and Possidonius amongst the Greeks;--Cato and Varro and Seneca amongst the Romans;--Pantenus and Clemens Alexandrinus and Montaigne amongst the Christians; and a score and a half of good honest, unthinking, Shandean people as ever lived, whose names I can't recollect,--all pretend that their jerkins were made after this fashion,--you might have rumpled and crumpled, and doubled and creased, and fretted and fridged the outsides of them all to pieces;--in short, you might have played the very devil with them, and at the same time, not one of the insides of 'em would have been one button worse, for all you had done to them.
I believe in my conscience that mine is made up somewhat after this sort:--for never poor jerkin has been tickled off, at such a rate as it has been these last nine months together,--and yet I declare the lining to it,--as far as I am a judge of the matter, it is not a three-penny piece the worse;--pell mell, helter skelter, ding dong, cut and thrust, back stroke and fore stroke, side way and long way, have they been trimming for me:--had there been the least gumminess in my lining,--by heaven! it had all of it long ago been fray'd and fretted to a thread.
--You Messrs. the monthly Reviewers!--how could you cut and slash my jerkin as you did?--how did you know, but you would cut my lining too?
Sterne enters here into a complex discussion which involves the nature of reputation, but also envisions the relationship between mind and body in a complicated way. The two are imagined as distinct, though, when the soul is the inside of a garment, they must be intimately connected. Sterne continually imagines new and slightly different metaphors to explain the relationship between body and mind; the hobby horse with its rider, Yorick in the desobligeant, the starling in its cage, and, here, the jerkin. In each of these cases, the mind's power over the body is at once questioned and affirmed. Sterne, it seems, imagines the problem in terms of a fluid, mutable subjectivity, where thought, physical feeling, social interaction, and, as seems apparent in the paragraph above, language reinscribe the tensions between mind and body from moment to moment.Related terms: