Although in his politics Sterne was a Whig, and invented in 'uncle Toby' a hero who has little in common with the Tory satirists on the subject of the War of the Spanish Succession, in his writing he parodies the chiliastic visions of true-blue Moderns with as much vigour as Swift. Those who really believe that the arts and sciences are advancing towards their acme of perfection or who believe that wit and judgement will create between them an ultimate 'effusion of light' (rs, pp. 64, 198) are mocked with paradoxes and with the facts of their own unredeemed nature. Sterne's view, like Fielding's, is that life is not going to change very much and that any attempt to transcend its imperfections and ambiguities, like Walter Shandy's systems or the Man of the Hill's delight in the nectar of infinity, is ridiculous. The 'world' of Tristram Shandy is an Augustan one where 'incorporated minds', in Johnson's phrase, try to find some tolerable room on the isthmus of a middle state, a place where trifles have their importance and where 'small heroes' try to cope with destinies they never forged. That there is no amelioration of the human condition other than the light in which we choose to regard its discom­ forts and puzzles is the theme of most of Sterne's jokes. In the dedication he writes to a fellow sufferer, Sterne offers laughter as a fence against infirmities, not as a cure of them. In many respects 'Shandeism' is like the practical scepticism of Rasselas, Tom Jones, and Humphry Clinker in its determination to expect from life only what life will afford.