Crotchet Castle HTML version

8. Science And Charity
Chi sta nel mondo un par d'ore contento,
Ne gli vien tolta, ovver contaminata,
Quella sua pace in veruno momento,
Puo dir che Giove drittamente il guata.
The Reverend Doctor Folliott took his departure about ten o'clock, to walk home
to his vicarage. There was no moon, but the night was bright and clear, and
afforded him as much light as he needed. He paused a moment by the Roman
camp to listen to the nightingale; repeated to himself a passage of Sophocles;
proceeded through the park gate, and entered the narrow lane that led to the
village. He walked on in a very pleasant mood of the state called reverie; in which
fish and wine, Greek and political economy, the Sleeping Venus he had left
behind, and poor dear Mrs. Folliott, to whose fond arms he was returning,
passed, as in a camera obscura, over the tablets of his imagination. Presently
the image of Mr. Eavesdrop, with a printed sketch of the Reverend Doctor F.,
presented itself before him, and he began mechanically to flourish his bamboo.
The movement was prompted by his good genius, for the uplifted bamboo
received the blow of a ponderous cudgel, which was intended for his head. The
reverend gentleman recoiled two or three paces, and saw before him a couple of
ruffians, who were preparing to renew the attack, but whom, with two swings of
his bamboo, he laid with cracked sconces on the earth, where he proceeded to
deal with them like corn beneath the flail of the thresher. One of them drew a
pistol, which went off in the very act of being struck aside by the bamboo, and
lodged a bullet in the brain of the other. There was then only one enemy, who
vainly struggled to rise, every effort being attended with a new and more signal
prostration. The fellow roared for mercy. "Mercy, rascal!" cried the divine; "what
mercy were you going to show me, villain? What! I warrant me, you thought it
would be an easy matter, and no sin, to rob and murder a parson on his way
home from dinner. You said to yourself, doubtless, "We'll waylay the fat parson
(you irreverent knave), as he waddles home (you disparaging ruffian), half-seas-
over, (you calumnious vagabond)." And with every dyslogistic term, which he
supposed had been applied to himself, he inflicted a new bruise on his rolling and
roaring antagonist. "Ah, rogue!" he proceeded, "you can roar now, marauder; you
were silent enough when you devoted my brains to dispersion under your cudgel.
But seeing that I cannot bind you, and that I intend you not to escape, and that it
would be dangerous to let you rise, I will disable you in all your members. I will
contund you as Thestylis did strong smelling herbs, in the quality whereof you do
most gravely partake, as my nose beareth testimony, ill weed that you are. I will
beat you to a jelly, and I will then roll you into the ditch, to lie till the constable
comes for you, thief."
"Hold! hold! reverend sir," exclaimed the penitent culprit, "I am disabled already
in every finger, and in every joint. I will roll myself into the ditch, reverend sir."
"Stir not, rascal," returned the divine, "stir not so much as the quietest leaf above
you, or my bamboo rebounds on your body, like hail in a thunder-storm. Confess,