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2. The March Of Mind
Quoth Ralpho: nothing but the abuse
Of human learning you produce.--BUTLER
"God bless my soul, sir!" exclaimed the Reverend Doctor Folliott, bursting, one
fine May morning, into the breakfast-room at Crotchet Castle, "I am out of all
patience with this march of mind. Here has my house been nearly burned down
by my cook taking it into her head to study hydrostatics in a sixpenny tract,
published by the Steam Intellect Society, and written by a learned friend who is
for doing all the world's business as well as his own, and is equally well qualified
to handle every branch of human knowledge. I have a great abomination of this
learned friend; as author, lawyer, and politician, he is triformis, like Hecate; and in
every one of his three forms he is bifrons, like Janus; the true Mr. Facing--
bothways of Vanity Fair. My cook must read his rubbish in bed; and, as might
naturally be expected, she dropped suddenly fast asleep, overturned the candle,
and set the curtains in a blaze. Luckily, the footman went into the room at the
moment, in time to tear down the curtains and throw them into the chimney, and
a pitcher of water on her nightcap extinguished her wick; she is a greasy subject,
and would have burned like a short mould."
The reverend gentleman exhaled his grievance without looking to the right or to
the left; at length, turning on his pivot, he perceived that the room was full of
company, consisting of young Crotchet, and some visitors whom he had brought
from London. The Reverend Doctor Folliott was introduced to Mr. Mac Quedy,
the economist; Mr. Skionar, the transcendental poet; Mr. Firedamp, the
meteorologist; and Lord Bossnowl, son of the Earl of Foolincourt, and member
for the borough of Rogueingrain.
The divine took his seat at the breakfast-table, and began to compose his spirits
by the gentle sedative of a large cup of tea, the demulcent of a well-buttered
muffin, and the tonic of a small lobster.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. You are a man of taste, Mr. Crotchet. A man of taste is
seen at once in the array of his breakfast-table. It is the foot of Hercules, the far-
shining face of the great work, according to Pindar's doctrine: [Greek text]. The
breakfast is the [Greek text] of the great work of the day. Chocolate, coffee, tea,
cream, eggs, ham, tongue, cold fowl, all these are good, and bespeak good
knowledge in him who sets them forth: but the touchstone is fish: anchovy is the
first step, prawns and shrimps the second; and I laud him who reaches even to
these: potted char and lampreys are the third, and a fine stretch of progression;
but lobster is, indeed, matter for a May morning, and demands a rare
combination of knowledge and virtue in him who sets it forth.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, and what say you to a fine fresh trout, hot and dry,
in a napkin? or a herring out of the water into the frying-pan, on the shore of Loch
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I say every nation has some eximious virtue; and your
country is pre-eminent in the glory of fish for breakfast. We have much to learn
from you in that line at any rate.