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December 6, 1677

A slip of the tongue

I have made, I think, something of an error in judgement today. It is generally Patrick's habit to retire to his bedroom shortly after sundown in order to busy himself with his research for the Royal Society, that the world might one day be enlightened as to the relative degree of slope exhibited by the foreheads of inhabitants of the Northern British Isles, versus that which is characteristic of Britain's more southerly citizens. I am proud to inform you that, having listened to Patrick expound on this point at some length and on numerous occasions, I am quite capable of detailing his exhaustive findings on this topic myself, but I would be loath to spoil the surprise for you. Patrick's paper is due to be published in the Year of Grace 1677, so you will have to wait, with bated breath, until then.

In any event, the point is that with Patrick locked in his chambers more and more often these days, it falls to me to entertain the Irishman (Sean) in the evenings, and I have found him to be almost a tolerable companion, as he appreciates the value of keeping his damn mouth shut excepting when he is addressed, and he understands better than any man I have known that the question "ought we to have another?" is strictly a rhetorical one. But tonight I think I might have had one too many, as I found myself talking at some length about my suspicions that Patrick might somehow be personally involved in Sean's recent run of poor luck. When I noticed that Sean was unduly interested in this theory (as he began pressing me for any information I could give him), I endeavoured to talk of privies and whorehouses instead, but his uncharacteristic lack of interest in these topics – which are generally irresistible to him – led me to believe that I had done more damage than I intended. I hope that this does not rebound on poor Patrick.

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