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Chapter 43

He introduces his new Friends to Mr. Jolter, with whom the Doctor enters into a Dispute upon Government, which had well nigh terminated in open War.

Meanwhile, he not only made them acquainted with everything worth seeing in town but attended them in their excursions to all the king’s houses within a day’s journey of Paris; and in the course of these parties, treated them with an elegant dinner at his own apartments, where a dispute arose between the doctor and Mr. Jolter, which had well nigh terminated in an irreconcilable animosity. These gentlemen, with an equal share of pride, pedantry, and saturnine disposition, were, by the accidents of education and company, diametrically opposite in political maxims; the one, as we have already observed, being a bigoted high-churchman, and the other a rank republican. It was an article of the governor’s creed, that the people could not be happy, nor the earth yield its fruits in abundance, under a restricted clergy and limited government; whereas, in the doctor’s opinion, it was an eternal truth, that no constitution was so perfect as the democracy, and that no country could flourish but under the administration of the mob.

These considerations being premised, no wonder that they happened to disagree in the freedom of an unreserved conversation, especially as their entertainer took all opportunities of encouraging and inflaming the contention. The first source of their difference was an unlucky remark of the painter, who observed that the partridge, of which he was then eating, had the finest relish of any he had ever tasted. His friend owned that the birds were the best of the kind he had seen in France; but affirmed that they were neither so plump nor delicious as those that were caught in England. The governor, considering this observation as the effect of prejudice and inexperience, said, with a sarcastic smile, “I believe, sir, you are very well disposed to find everything here inferior to the productions of your own country.”—“True, sir,” answered the physician, with a certain solemnity of aspect, “and not without good reason, I hope.”—“And pray,” resumed the tutor, “why may not the partridges of France be as good as those of England?”—“For a very plain reason,” replied the other; “because they are not so well fed. The iron hand of oppression is extended to all animals within the French dominions, even to the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air; kunessin oionoisi te pasi.”—“Egad!” cried the painter, “that is a truth not to be controverted: for my own part, I am none of your tit-bits, one would think; but yet there is a freshness in the English complexion, a ginseekye, I think you call it, so inviting to a hungry Frenchman, that I have caught several in the very act of viewing me with an eye of extreme appetite, as I passed; and as for their curs, or rather their wolves, whenever I set eyes on one of ’em, Ah! your humble servant, Mr. son of a b —, I am upon my guard in an instant. The doctor can testify that their very horses, or more properly their live carrion, that drew our chaise, used to reach back their long necks and smell at us, as a couple of delicious morsels.”

This sally of Mr. Pallet, which was received with a general laugh of approbation, would in all probability, have stifled the dispute in embryo, had not Mr. Jolter, with a self-applauding simper, ironically complimented the strangers on their talking like true Englishmen. The doctor, affronted at the insinuation, told him with some warmth that he was mistaken in his conjecture, his affections and ideas being confined to no particular country; for he considered himself as a citizen of the world. He owned himself more attached to England than to any other kingdom, but this preference was the effect of reflection, and not of prejudice; the British constitution approached nearer than any other to that perfection of government, the democracy of Athens, he hoped one day to see revived; he mentioned the death of Charles the First, and the expulsion of his son, with raptures of applause; inveighed with great acrimony against the kingly name; and, in order to strengthen his opinion, repeated forty or fifty lines from one of the Philippics of Demosthenes.

Jolter, hearing him speak so disrespectfully of the higher powers, glowed with indignation: he said his doctrines were detestable, and destructive of all right, order, and society; that monarchy was of divine institution, therefore indefeasible by any human power; and of consequence those events in the English history, which he had so liberally commended, were no other than flagrant instances of sacrilege, perfidy, and sedition; that the democracy of Athens was a most absurd constitution, productive of anarchy and mischief, which must always happen when the government of a nation depends upon the caprice of the ignorant, hair-brained vulgar; that it was in the power of the most profligate member of the commonwealth, provided he was endowed with eloquence, to ruin the most deserving, by a desperate exertion of his talents upon the populace, who had been often persuaded to act in the most ungrateful and imprudent manner against the greatest patriots that their country had produced; and, finally, he averred, that the liberal arts and sciences had ne............

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