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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 5
"And beyond all question, a-"
"No sir, the soul is no such thing!" (Here the philosopher, looking daggers, took occasion to make an end, upon the spot, of his third bottle of Chambertin.)
"Then - hic-cup! - pray, sir - what - what is it?"
"That is neither here nor there, Monsieur Bon-Bon," replied his Majesty, musingly. "I have tasted - that is to say, I have known some very bad souls, and some too - pretty good ones." Here he smacked his lips, and, having unconsciously let fall his hand upon the volume in his pocket, was seized with a violent fit of sneezing.
"There was the soul of Cratinus - passable: Aristophanes - racy: Plato - exquisite- not your Plato, but Plato the comic poet; your Plato would have turned the stomach of Cerberus - faugh! Then let me see! there were Naevius, and Andronicus, and Plautus, and Terentius. Then there were Lucilius, and Catullus, and Naso, and Quintus Flaccus, - dear Quinty! as I called him when he sung a seculare for my amusement, while I toasted him, in pure good humor, on a fork. But they want flavor, these Romans. One fat Greek is worth a dozen of them, and besides will keep, which cannot be said of a Quirite. - Let us taste your Sauterne."
Bon-Bon had by this time made up his mind to nil admirari and endeavored to hand down the bottles in question. He was, however, conscious of a strange sound in the room like the wagging of a tail. Of this, although extremely indecent in his Majesty, the philosopher took no notice: - simply kicking the dog, and requesting him to be quiet. The visiter continued:
"I found that Horace tasted very much like Aristotle; - you know I am fond of variety. Terentius I could not have told from Menander. Naso, to my astonishment, was Nicander in disguise. Virgilius had a strong twang of Theocritus. Martial put me much in mind of Archilochus - and Titus Livius was positively Polybius and none other."
"Hic-cup!" here replied Bon-Bon, and his majesty proceeded:
"But if I have a penchant, Monsieur Bon-Bon - if I have a penchant, it is for a philosopher. Yet, let me tell you, sir, it is not every dev - I mean it is not every gentleman who knows how to choose a philosopher. Long ones are not good; and the best, if not carefully shelled, are apt to be a little rancid on account of the gall!"
"I mean taken out of the carcass."
"What do you think of a - hic-cup! - physician?"
"Don't mention them! - ugh! ugh! ugh!" (Here his Majesty retched violently.) "I never tasted but one - that rascal Hippocrates! - smelt of asafoetida - ugh! ugh! ugh! - caught a wretched cold washing him in the Styx - and after all he gave me the cholera morbus."
"The - hiccup - wretch!" ejaculated Bon-Bon, "the - hic-cup! - absorption of a pill-box!" - and the philosopher dropped a tear.
"After all," continued the visiter, "after all, if a dev - if a gentleman wishes to live, he must have more talents than one or two; and with us a fat face is an evidence of diplomacy."
"Why, we are sometimes exceedingly pushed for provisions. You must know that, in a climate so sultry as mine, it is frequently impossible to keep a spirit alive for more than two or three hours; and after death, unless pickled immediately (and a pickled spirit is not good), they will - smell - you understand, eh? Putrefaction is always to be apprehended when the souls are consigned to us in the usual way."
"Hiccup! - hiccup! - good God! how do you manage?"
Here the iron lamp commenced swinging with redoubled violence, and the devil half started from his seat; - however, with a slight sigh, he recovered his composure, merely saying to our hero in a low tone: "I tell you what, Pierre Bon-Bon, we must have no more swearing."