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thyself the glories of the George, in its triumph over the Fountain.
These two great powers had struggled for preeminence for half-a-century; and each with alternate and temporary success. Many, indeed, had been the painful discussions held by the nobility, gentry, and reverend clergy of this far-famed county, as to the respective merits of these powerful rivals; though it was generally observed, that, according as Whiggism or Toryism prevailed in the riding, the feasting was held to be best at the one or the other.
It is not necessary to say more on this subject, important as it is, nor to tell the reader how it happened, that the George at present had got the upper-hand. It is sufficient that it cost one doctor of laws, three masters of arts, and two baronets, two years' painful and persevering struggle, to accomplish this momentous revolution ; which, after all, had perhaps never been effected, if, in addition to a continued flow of success to the British arms abroad, the beef at the Fountain had not, during three-quarters of a year, been, by the confession of all, too little corned !
The landlord of the successful sign, in a new coat of second cloth, with old silver buttons newly brightened, upon which was impressed the image which his sign professed to represent, had now
twice announced that the greatest part of the dinner smoked upon the table, and that they only waited the approach of the chairman, to take up the fish; and this message was twice whispered to the chair, through their worships on the right-hand of the court (and, in fact, had produced the instant departure of their said worships, in regular succession, to the no small annoyance of their worships on the left), before the chairman thought proper publicly to announce the happy tidings.
This occasioned a considerable heart-burning; for the favoured ones on the right-hand, who were first entrusted with the secret, and had thus obtained the best places at table, were almost all government men, who had naturally got together on the bench; while the unlucky party, who had as naturally adhered to one another on the other side, glorified themselves in the name of Reformers.
Now, though the chairman was the most equitable of men, and had delayed promulgating the important secret from no other reason than that he was just at that moment in the act of finishing his charge to the jury, on which the imprisonment and whipping of John Hodges, for stealing turkies, materially depended, yet, as he was shrewdly suspected of being less unfavourable to ministers than he had been, and the landlord who had brought the message, and the clerk of the peace who had forwarded it, were
notorious Tories, nothing could persuade the opposite party (whose profession, indeed, was systematic suspicion), that this was any other than a foul conspiracy, to use undue influence in favour of the friends of government, against the rights of the people.
And so, in terms, and on his legs, it was represented to the noble chairman, by a gentleman known by the name of Counsellor Gloom.
This worthy gentleman was neither more nor less than a disappointed barrister, who, having no business, but some fortune, had thought it better to look after the last than wait upon the first, and had for some time, therefore, retired upon his estate. Lord Bellenden, contrary to the wishes of many of the neighbouring gentlemen, had not thought it right to refuse his request to be placed in the commission; which he repaid by seeking all occasions of opposing his measures and opinions; and so great was his zeal, that his exertions seemed most agreeable to himself when the occasion was most personal to Lord B.
It was in vain that this nobleman, upon being thus attacked, instantly suspended the operation of carving, in which he was engaged to the great annoyance of the reverend Đr. Juniper, the well-endowed rector of Tremaine's parish at Woodington; who, though in nothing else, resembled in one point
that celebrated character with whom all classical readers are acquainted—we mean Parson Supple. The resemblance consisted in being remarkable for silence at dinner. In all other points we confess there was little similitude; as the doctor was in possession of a fat Jiving, and would never have consented to go to Basingstoke to fetch his patron's tobacco-box, even supposing so horrible a solecism as that Mr. Tremaine could have indulged in so filthy a thing.
This reverend gentleman had long waited for a slice of smoking turbot, which, at last, was actually on the chairman's spatula ; and it was in vain that he gave an example of candour, by speaking to order, and observing, that however he might agree with his honourable and learned friend, he thought his observations ill-timed.
The learned counsel persisted,-observing that for his part he could not conceive any time like the time present for such a question ; and adding, with a shake of the head, that he did not wonder at the universal corruption of the state, when many of his honourable friends themselves, with whom in general he was proud to act, had so far forgotten the spirit of their ancestors as on any consideration to delay the discussion of the rights of Englishmen.
This speech was cheered by half a dozen of the discontented side, particularly by a thin, jejune
looking young man, a physician, who had studied more of Price and Priestley, and the philosophers of the French Encyclopedia, than Boerhave or Sydenham, and who offered himself as seconder to any motion his honourable and learned friend might make upon the subject.
This little disturbance (which, however, had awakened Tremaine into observation), being composed, by the postponement of the consideration of its subject till after dinner, the business of dinner went on in good earnest.
As soon as it was over, however, and the health of the King was proposed, the disgusted counsellor, having marshalled a small but faithful band, began the attack, by observing, “that though his Majesty had not a more loyal subject than himself, yet there were rights more dear to Englishmen than even the health of the King” (a great groan from most, with “hear ! hear!” from the physician); “that privilege, and equality of treatment, were among them, and that therefore, though the toast ought certainly to be drunk, he expressly rose to urge its postponement, until the great affront that had been put upon his part of the table had been investigated, and its authors ascertained and properly censured.” This was seconded by the physician, but a shew of hands deciding in the negative by a great majority, the standing toasts' were all drank, and Sir Marmaduke