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Chapter 53

He makes some Progress in her Affections — Is interrupted by a Dispute between Jolter and the Jew — Appeases the Wrath of the Capuchin, who procures for him an interview with his fair Enslaver, in which he finds himself deceived.

Peregrine, meanwhile, employed all his insinuation and address in practising upon the heart of the Capuchin’s fair charge. He had long ago declared his passion, not in the superficial manner of a French gallant, but with all the ardour of an enthusiast. He had languished, vowed, flattered, kissed her hand by stealth, and had no reason to complain of his reception. Though, by a man of a less sanguine disposition, her particular complaisance would have been deemed equivocal, and perhaps nothing more than the effects of French breeding and constitutional vivacity; he gave his own qualifications credit for the whole, and with these sentiments carried on the attack with such unabating vigour, that she was actually prevailed upon to accept a ring, which he presented as a token of his esteem; and everything proceeded in a most prosperous train, when they were disturbed by the governor Israelite, who, in the heat of disputation, raised their voices, and poured forth such effusions of gutturals, as set our lover’s teeth on edge. As they spoke in a language unknown to every one in the carriage but themselves, and looked at each other with mutual animosity and rancour, Peregrine desired to know the cause of their contention; upon which Jolter exclaimed, in a furious tone, “This learned Levite, forsooth, has the impudence to tell me that I don’t understand Hebrew; and affirms that the word Benoni signifies “child of joy;” whereas, I can prove, and have already said enough to convince any reasonable man, that in the Septuagint it is rightly translated into ‘son of my sorrow.’”

Having thus explained himself to his pupil, he turned to the priest, with intention to appeal to his determination; but the Jew pulled him by the sleeve with great eagerness, saying, “For the love of God, be quiet: the Capuchin will discover who we are.” Joker, offended at this conjunction, echoed, “Who we are!” with great emphasis; and repeating nos poma natamus, asked ironically, to which of the tribes the Jew thought he belonged? The Levite, affronted at his comparing him to a ball of horse-dung, replied, with a most significant grin, “To the tribe of Issachar.” His antagonist, taking the advantage of his unwillingness to be known by the friar, and prompted by revenge for the freedom he had used, answered, in the French language, that the judgment of God was still manifest upon their whole race, not only in their being in the state of exiles from their native land, but also in the spite of their hearts and pravity of their dispositions, which demonstrate them to be the genuine offspring of those who crucified the Saviour of the world.

His expectation was, however, defeated: the priest himself was too deeply engaged to attend to the debates of other people. The physician, in the pride and insolence of his learning, had undertaken to display the absurdity of the Christian faith; having already, as he thought, confuted the Capuchin, touching the points of belief in which the Roman Catholics differ from the rest of the world. But not cemented with the imagined victory he bed gained, he began to strike at the fundamentals of religion; and the father, with incredible forbearance, suffered him to make very free with the doctrine of the Trinity: but, when he leveled the shafts of his ridicule at the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin, the good man’s patience forsook him, his eyes seemed to kindle with indignation, he trembled in every joint, and uttered, with a loud voice, “You are an abominable — I will not call thee heretic, for thou art worse, if possible, than a Jew; you deserve to be inclosed in a furnace seven times heated; and I have a good mind to lodge an information against you with the governor of Ghent, that you may be apprehended and punished as an impious blasphemer.”

This menace operated like a charm upon all present. The doctor was confounded, the governor dismayed, the Levite’s teeth chattered, the painter astonished at the general confusion, the cause of which he could not comprehend, and Pickle himself, not a little alarmed, was obliged to use all his interest and assiduity in appeasing this son of the church, who, at length, in consideration of the friendship he professed for the young gentleman, consented to forgive what had passed, but absolutely refused to sit in contact with such a profane wretch, whom he looked upon as a fiend of darkness, sent by the enemy of mankind to poison the minds of weak people; so that, after having crossed himself. and uttered certain exo............

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