"Fine Words Butter No Parsnips"

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Context: One evening in the decade of the 1640's, when the Royalists of England were fighting the Roundheads, the Earl of Menteith and two servants are traveling up a Scottish glen when a single completely armed man rides towards them. After challenges have been exchanged, the earl says that he is a Royalist and asks the newcomer, Dugald Dalgetty, which side he is on. Dalgetty does not know as yet. He, however, recounts his services on the Continent as a mercenary soldier with various forces: with the Swedes, under Gustavus, the Lion of the North; with Walter Butler's Irish Regiment, under Wallenstein; with the Spanish; and with the States of Holland. Sometimes he got his full pay and sometimes he did not; but whether he did or not, he usually managed to do well enough by plundering to keep himself satisfied. When Menteith says that he cannot see why Dalgetty does not embrace the cause of King Charles I, he is treated to a discourse on slogans. "Caeteris paribus" is Old Latin for "Other things being equal."

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"Ye speak reasonably, my lord," said Dalgetty, "and caeteris paribus, I might be induced to see the matter in the same light. But, my lord, there is a southern proverb,–fine words butter no parsnips. I have heard enough, since I came here, to satisfy me, that a cavalier of honor is free to take any part in this civil embroilment whilk he may find most convenient for his own peculiar. Loyalty is your pass-word, my lord–Liberty, roars another chield from the other side of the strath–the King, shouts one war-cry–the Parliament roars another–Montrose for ever, cries Donald, waving his bonnet–Argyle and Leven, cries a south-country Saunders, vaporing with his hat and feather–Fight for the bishops, says a priest, with his gown and rochet–stand Stout for the Kirk, cries a minister, in a Geneva cap and band.–Good watchwords all–excellent watchwords. Whilk cause is the best I cannot say. But sure I am, that I have fought knee-deep in blood many a day for one that was ten degrees worse than the worst of them all."

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