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A Snail Dinner








The chemical philosophers, Dr. Black and Dr. Hutton, were particular
friends, though there was something extremely opposite in their external
appearance and manner. Dr. Black spoke with the English pronunciation,
and with punctilious accuracy of expression, both in point of matter and
manner. The geologist, Dr. Hutton, was the very reverse of this: his
conversation was conducted in broad phrases, expressed with a broad
Scotch accent, which often heightened the humour of what he said.

It chanced that the two Doctors had held some discourse together upon
the folly of abstaining from feeding on the testaceous creatures of the
land, while those of the sea were considered as delicacies. Wherefore
not eat snails? they are known to be nutritious and wholesome, and even
sanative in some cases. The epicures of old praised them among the
richest delicacies, and the Italians still esteem them. In short, it was
determined that a gastronomic experiment should be made at the expense
of the snails. The snails were procured, dieted for a time, and then
stewed for the benefit of the two philosophers, who had either invited
no guests to their banquet, or found none who relished in prospect the
piece de resistance. A huge dish of snails was placed before them:
still, philosophers are but men, after all; and the stomachs of both
doctors began to revolt against the experiment. Nevertheless, if they
looked with disgust on the snails, they retained their awe for each
other, so that each, conceiving the symptoms of internal revolt peculiar
to himself, began, with infinite exertion, to swallow, in very small
quantities, the mess which he internally loathed.

Dr. Black, at length, showed the white feather, but in a very delicate
manner, as if to sound the opinion of his messmate. "Doctor," he said,
in his precise and quiet manner--"Doctor--do you not think that they
taste a little--a very little, green?" "D----d green! d----d green!
indeed--tak' them awa',--tak' them awa'!" vociferated Dr. Hutton, starting
up from table, and giving full vent to his feelings of abhorrence. So
ended all hopes of introducing snails into the modern cuisine; and
thus philosophy can no more cure a nausea than honour can set a broken
limb.--Sir Walter Scott.

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