You excite my curiosity greatly, said Yorick.
For my own part, quoth my uncle Toby, I have given it up. — The Danes, an’ please your honour, quoth the corporal, who were on the left at the siege of Limerick, were all auxiliaries. — And very good ones, said my uncle Toby. — But the auxiliaries, Trim, my brother is talking about, — I conceive to be different things. —
— You do? said my father, rising up.
My father took a single turn across the room, then sat down, and finished the chapter.
The verbs auxiliary we are concerned in here, continued my father, are, am; was; have; had; do; did; make; made; suffer; shall; should; will; would; can; could; owe; ought; used; or is wont. — And these varied with tenses, present, past, future, and conjugated with the verb see, — or with these questions added to them; — Is it? Was it? Will it be? Would it be? May it be? Might it be? And these again put negatively, Is it not? Was it not? Ought it not? — Or affirmatively, — It is; It was; It ought to be. Or chronologically, — Has it been always? Lately? How long ago? — Or hypothetically, — If it was? If it was not? What would follow? — If the French should beat the English? If the Sun go out of the Zodiac?
Now, by the right use and application of these, continued my father, in which a child’s memory should be exercised, there is no one idea can enter his brain, how barren soever, but a magazine of conceptions and conclusions may be drawn forth from it. — Didst thou ever see a white bear? cried my father, turning his head round to Trim, who stood at the back of his chair: — No, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal. — But thou couldst discourse about one, Trim, said my father, in case of need? — How is it possible, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, if the corporal never saw one? — ’Tis the fact I want, replied my father, — and the possibility of it is as follows.
A White Bear! Very well. Have I ever seen one? Might I ever have seen one? Am I ever to see one? Ought I ever to have seen one? Or can I ever see one?
Would I had seen a white bear! (for how can I imagine it?)
If I should see a white bear, what should I say? If I should never see a white bear, what then?
If I never have, can, must, or shall see a white bear alive; have I ever seen the skin of one? Did I ever see one painted? — described? Have I never dreamed of one?
Did my father, mother, uncle, aunt, brothers or sisters, ever see a white bear? What would they give? How would they behave? How would the white bear have behaved? Is he wild? Tame? Terrible? Rough? Smooth?
— Is the white bear worth seeing? —
— Is there no sin in it? —
Is it better than a Black One?
— The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, Book III