Wednesday, January 28, 2004

For my part, I could not help thinking this lawyer was not such an invalid as he pretended to be. I observed he ate very heartily three times a-day, and though his bottle was marked stomachic tincture, he had recourse to it so often, and seemed to swallow it with such peculiar relish, that I suspected it was not compounded in the apothecary’s shop, or the chemist’s laboratory. One day, while he was earnest in discourse with Mrs. Tabitha, and his servant had gone out on some occasion or other, I dexterously exchanged the labels and situation of his bottle and mine; and having tasted his tincture, found it was excellent claret. I forthwith handed it about to some of my neighbours, and it was quite emptied before Mr. Micklewhimmen had occasion to repeat his draught. At length, turning about, he took hold of my bottle, instead of his own, and, filling a large glass, drank to the health of Mrs. Tabitha. It had scarce touched his lips, when he perceived the change which had been put upon him, and was at first a little out of countenance. He seemed to retire within himself, in order to deliberate, and in half a minute his resolution was taken; addressing himself to our quarter, ‘I give the gentleman credit for his wit (said he); it was a gude practical joke; but sometimes hi joci in seria ducunt mala. I hope for his own sake he has na drank all the liccor; for it was a vara poorful infusion of jallap in Bourdeaux wine; at its possable he may ha ta’en sic a dose as will produce a terrible catastrophe in his ain booels.’
Tobias Smollet, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker