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Chapter 46

By the Fidelity of Pipes, Jolter is informed of his Pupil’s fate — Confers with the Physician — Applies to the Ambassador, who, with great difficulty, obtains the Discharge of the Prisoners on certain Conditions.

This plan he executed, notwithstanding the pain of his wound, and the questions of the city-guard, both horse and foot, to which he could make no other answer than “Anglais, anglais;” and as soon as it was light, taking an accurate survey of the castle (for such it seemed to be) into which Peregrine and Pallet had been conveyed, together with its situation in respect to the river, he went home to the lodgings, and, waking Mr. Jolter, gave him an account of the adventure. The governor wrung his hands in the utmost grief and consternation when he heard this unfortunate piece of news: he did not doubt that his pupil was imprisoned in the Bastille for life; and, in the anguish of his apprehension, cursed the day on which he had undertaken to superintend the conduct of such an imprudent young man, who had, by reiterated insults, provoked the vengeance of such a mild, forbearing administration. That he might not, however, neglect any means in his power to extricate him from his present misfortune, he despatched Thomas to the doctor, with an account of his companion’s fate, that they might join their interest in behalf of the captives; and the physician, being informed of what had happened, immediately dressed himself, and repaired to Jolter, whom he accosted in these words:—

“Now, sir, I hope you are convinced of your error in asserting that oppression can never be the effect of arbitrary power. Such a calamity as this could never have happened under the Athenian democracy: nay, even when the tyrant Pisistratus got possession of that commonwealth, he durst not venture to rule with such absolute and unjust dominion. You shall see now that Mr. Pickle and my friend Pallet will fall a sacrifice to the tyranny of lawless power; and, in my opinion, we shall be accessory to the ruin of this poor enslaved people if we bestir ourselves in demanding or imploring the release of our unhappy countrymen; as we may thereby prevent the commission of a flagrant crime, which would fill up the vengeance of Heaven against the perpetrators, and perhaps be the means of restoring the whole nation to the unspeakable fruition of freedom. For my own part, I should rejoice to see the blood of my father spilt in such a glorious cause, provided such a victim would furnish me with the opportunity of dissolving the chains of slavery, and vindicating that liberty which is the birthright of man. Then would my name be immortalised among the patriot heroes of antiquity, and my memory, like that of Harmodius and Aristogiton, be honoured by statues erected at the public expense.”

This rhapsody, which was delivered with great emphasis and agitation, gave so much offence to Jolter, that, without saying one word, he retired in great wrath to his own chamber; and the republican returned to his lodging, in full hope of his prognostic being verified in the death and destruction of Peregrine and the painter, which must give rise to some renowned revolution, wherein he himself would act a principal part. But the governor whose imagination was not quite so warm and prolific, went directly to the ambassador, whom he informed of his pupil’s situation, and besought to interpose with the French ministry, that he and the other British subject might obtain their liberty.

His excellency asked, if Jolter could guess at the cause of his imprisonment, that he might be the better prepared to vindicate or excuse his conduct: but neither he nor Pipes could give the smallest hint of intelligence on that subject; though he furnished himself from Tom’s own mouth with a circumstantial account of the manner in which his master had been arrested, as well as of his own behaviour, and the disaster he had received on that occasion. His lordship never doubted that Pickle had brought this calamity upon himself by some unlucky prank he had played at the masquerade; when he ............

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