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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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