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They had prefigured the opening of Pandora's box. They had anticipated as the sure consequences of the fair, drunkenness, confusion, riot, and bloodshed; but the more confidently they had called these spirits from the vasty deep of popular enjoyment, the less did they seem disposed to obey the summons, although provocation to break the peace had not been wanting in the overbearing insolence of some of the extra-constables sworn in to preserve it. In this dearth of grave delinquency, it only remained to make the most of such trifling misdemeanours as had actually occurred, and loudly to declare that they would have been of a much more heinous nature, but for the admirable arrangements made to preserve order. To predict what would have happened under a supposed contingency, is the safest of all vaticinations, since it is unsusceptible either of proof or refutation. In point of fact, not a solitary instance of assault or disturbance could be established, except the momentary scuffle occasioned by the suspicious conduct of Penguin, himself an active suppressionist ; but several of the rustics, who had made too free with strong ale or more potent distillations, at the George or the Cricketers, had been consigned to the cage during the night, and were brought up on the following morning before Justice Frampton, to be fined for drunkenness.
That the magistrate was warranted in enforcing the full legal penalty for this offence, we do not mean to deny ; but we question the consistency of the angry reprimand that accompanied the infliction, coming, as it did, from one whose gouty foot, the result of his own deep and daily potations, might have taught him forbearance towards a failing in other, which he had never been able to correct in himself. Nor can we by any means subscribe to his doctrine, when he declared that the vice of drunkenness was particularly reprehensible in the poor.
Measuring the extent of moral torpitude by the temptations to commit an offence, and the degree of knowledge and instruction that might be expected to prevent its commission, we should say, that few delinquencies can be more venial, than the occasio:al inebriety of an ignorant poor man; of one who turns, perhaps, from a cold, cheerless, miserable home, to the warm, comfortable, social jollity of an ale-house fire-side, and who, being assailed at once hy moral and physical temptations, cannot resist an indulgence which exhilarates his mind by cheerful fellowship, relieves him from the present annoyances of cold, thirst, and hunger, banishes the recollection of all his past misery, and soothes every anxiety about the future. In this state, which the wretched may well deem their beatitude, the transgressor is often turned out of the tap-room into the streets; his intoxication, perhaps a first or very rare offence, furnishing a plea to some passing moralist for inveighing against the proDigacy of the lower orders; while the rich drunkard, infinitely less excusable because more enlightened, and unassailed by the same allurements to excess, is borne to bed by his servants, or sent home in a carriage ; and because his bestiality is not obtruded upon the general eye, he shall not only pass for a marvellous proper gentleman, but feel himself warranted in stigmatizing and punishing the poor offender as a profligate wretch, and an outrager of public decorum.
No sooner had our scandalized magistrate himself a twobottled man--vented his indignation, and imposed his fines upon his fellow-culprits of the rabblement, than he gave audience to Mr. Tyson, the village apothecary, a bon vivant and tippler, who took every body's draughts but his own, and contrived to make his Esculapian art minister to his epicurism, by recommending to his patients such good things as his own palate preferred, and then calling about half an hour before dinner, when he was tolerably sure of being invited to stay and partake of them. By this ingenious device he could scarcely fail to make both ends meet ; for if his patients became worse, as was not unfrequently the case, and were obliged to discontinue their generous regimen, he poured in an additional quantity of drugs to remedy his own mistake; if, on the contrary, it agreed with them, he urged its continuance, and became a still more frequent guest; so that, in the former alternative he filled his purse, and in the latter his stomach. Fame liaving blazoned through the village Frampton's intended turtle feast, Tyson called to suggest the propriety of his taking a preparatory mixture on the day of its occurrence ; observing, that although turtle in itself was a lighter and more digestible food than any of the testaceous or crustaceous tribe, it was generally amalgamated before it came to table with so many rich and pungent condiments, that the biliary ducts were apt to be disordered, and the chyle obstructed during the process of concoction. Frampton swallowed the bait, and the considerate apothecary was invited
to swallow his portion of the turtle, generally no mean one. Indeed, he had lately been a frequent diner at the Hall, having undertaken to keep up a good understanding between Frampton's digestive organs, the gout, and two bottles of Madeira per diem : a treaty of amity which he endeavoured to perpetuate, by producing a magical pill, which the patient took at the conclusion of the first decanter, and then began a new account with the bile, by attacking the second bottle.
For the disciple of Esculapius this was a capital arrangement, since he got a handsome dinner for nothing, and made, moreover, a daily charge for the pill.
Mr. Tyson having taken his departure to circulate throughi the village with an air of nonchalance, but a feeling of real triumph, the fact, that he had been invited to the great man's feast, Mr. Frampton ascended into the drawing-room, where he found Doctor and Miss Dotterel, the former having called to talk over the occurrences of the fair with his brother suppressionist, and to aggravate as much as possible the peccadilloes of the poor, which he condemned verbally with considerable asperity, although he never had the heart to punish any of the delinquents who were brought before him for such petty misdemeanours.
My good Sir,” he exclaimed, "the iniquity and profaneness of the lower orders, and, in fact, their bad conduct, is every day becoming worse and worse-alem !--yes, Sir, I maintain that it has now attained a height that is altogether -aha!-an opinion in which I am quite sure that both yourself and Lady Susan will agree with me; and moreover, that it is solely attributable to the scandalous diffusion of education, and the march of intellect, as it is most irreligiously termed-yes, Sir, I repeat, irreligiously termed! For what is it but a wicked and daring innovation upon the wisdom of our ancestors ? Why, Sir, what had been always called the genitive and accusative cases for many ages, must now, forsooth, be nick-named the possessive and the objective; and the most dangerous heresies have been broached as to the use of the subjunctive mood. This, Sir, may at first appear-ahem !--trifling, but it leads the rising generation to despise the wisdom of their ancestors--yes, Sir, of our ancestors and the good old times.
Teach the young idea how to shoot, indeed !--Sir, it will teach them how to shoot us through the head, to lay the axe-ahem !-to the root of all our venerable institutions; and, moreover, as I am