|Chapter I.||THE AUTHOR'S PEDIGREE, -- ALSO THAT OF HIS FATHER|
|Chapter II.||TOUCHING MYSELF AND TEN THOUSAND POUNDS.|
|Chapter III.||OPINIONS OF OUR AUTHOR'S ANCESTOR, TOGETHER WITH SOME OF HIS OWN, AND SOME OF OTHER PEOPLE'S.|
|Chapter IV.||SHOWING THE UPS AND DOWNS, THE HOPES AND FEARS, AND THE VAGARIES OF LOVE, SOME VIEWS OF DEATH, AND AN ACCOUNT OF AN INHERITANCE.|
|Chapter V.||ABOUT THE SOCIAL-STAKE SYSTEM, THE DANGERS OF CONCENTRATION, AND OTHER MORAL AND IMMORAL CURIOSITIES.|
|Chapter VI.||A THEORY OF PALPABLE SUBLIMITY -- SOME PRACTICAL IDEAS, AND THE COMMENCEMENT OF ADVENTURES.|
|Chapter VII.||TOUCHING AN AMPHIBIOUS ANIMAL, A SPECIAL INTRODUCTION, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.|
|Chapter VIII.||AN INTRODUCTION TO FOUR NEW CHARACTERS, SOME TOUCHES OF PHILOSOPHY, AND A FEW CAPITAL THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL ECONOMY.|
|Chapter IX.||THE COMMENCEMENT OF WONDERS, WHICH ARE THE MORE EXTRAORDINARY ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR TRUTH.|
|Chapter X.||A GREAT DEAL OF NEGOTIATION, IN WHICH HUMAN SHREWDNESS IS COMPLETELY SHAMED, AND HUMAN INGENUITY IS SHOWN TO BE OF A VERY SECONDARY QUALITY.|
|Chapter XI.||A PHILOSOPHY THAT IS BOTTOMED ON SOMETHING SUBSTANTIAL -- SOME REASONS PLAINLY PRESENTED, AND CAVILLING OBJECTIONS PUT TO FLIGHT BY A CHARGE OF LOGICAL BAYONETS.|
|Chapter XII.||BETTER AND BETTER -- A HIGHER FLIGHT OF REASON -- MORE OBVIOUS TRUTHS, DEEPER PHILOSOPHY, AND FACTS THAT EVEN AN OSTRICH MIGHT DIGEST.|
|Chapter XIII.||A CHAPTER OF PREPARATIONS -- DISCRIMINATION IN CHARACTER -- A TIGHT FIT, AND OTHER CONVENIENCES, WITH SOME JUDGMENT.|
|Chapter XIV.||HOW TO STEER SMALL -- HOW TO RUN THE GAUNTLET WITH A SHIP -- HOW TO GO CLEAR -- A NEW-FASHIONED SCREW -- DOCK, AND CERTAIN MILE-STONES.|
|Chapter XV.||AN ARRIVAL -- FORMS OF RECEPTION -- SEVERAL NEW CHRISTENINGS -- AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT, AND TERRA FIRMA.|
|Chapters XVI-XXXI Continued in PART II|
|Chapter XVI.||AN INN -- DEBTS PAID IN ADVANCE, AND A SINGULAR TOUCH OF HUMAN NATURE FOUND CLOSELY INCORPORATED WITH MONIKIN NATURE.|
|Chapter XVII.||NEW LORDS, NEW LAWS -- GYRATION, ROTATION, AND ANOTHER NATION; ALSO AN INVITATION.|
|Chapter XVIII.||A COURT, A COURT-DRESS, AND A COURTIER -- JUSTICE IN VARIOUS ASPECTS, AS WELL AS HONOR.|
|Chapter XIX.||ABOUT THE HUMILITY OF PROFESSIONAL SAINTS, A SUCCESSION OF TAILS, A BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM, AND OTHER HEAVENLY MATTERS, DIPLOMACY INCLUDED.|
|Chapter XX.||A VERY COMMON CASE: OR A GREAT DEAL OF LAW, AND VERY LITTLE JUSTICE-HEADS AND TAILS, WITH THE DANGERS OF EACH.|
|Chapter XXI.||BETTER AND BETTER -- MORE LAW AND MORE JUSTICE -- TAILS AND HEADS: THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING EACH IN ITS PROPER PLACE.|
|Chapter XXII.||A NEOPHYTE IN DIPLOMACY -- DIPLOMATIC INTRODUCTION -- A CALCULATION -- A SHIPMENT OF OPINIONS -- HOW TO CHOOSE AN INVOICE, WITH AN ASSORTMENT.|
|Chapter XXIII.||POLITICAL BOUNDARIES -- POLITICAL RIGHTS -- POLITICAL SELECTIONS, AND POLITICAL DISQUISITIONS; WITH POLITICAL RESULTS.|
|Chapter XXIV.||AN ARRIVAL -- AN ELECTION -- ARCHITECTURE -- A ROLLING-PIN, AND PATRIOTISM OF THE MOST APPROVED WATER.|
|Chapter XXV.||A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE, A FUNDAMENTAL LAW, AND A FUNDAMENTAL ERROR.|
|Chapter XXVI.||HOW TO ENACT LAWS -- ORATORY, LOGIC, AND ELOQUENCE; ALL CONSIDERED IN THEIR EVERY-DAY ASPECTS.|
|Chapter XXVII.||AN EFFECT OF LOGARITHMS ON MORALS -- AN OBSCURATION, A DISSERTATION, AND A CALCULATION.|
|Chapter XXVIII.||THE IMPORTANCE OF MOTIVES TO A LEGISLATOR -- MORAL CONSECUTIVENESS, COMETS, KITES, AND A CONVOY; WITH SOME EVERY-DAY LEGISLATION; TOGETHER WITH CAUSE AND EFFECT.|
|Chapter XXIX.||SOME EXPLANATIONS -- A HUMAN APPETITE -- A DINNER AND A BONNE BOUCHE.|
|Chapter XXX.||EXPLANATIONS -- A LEAVE-TAKING -- LOVE -- CONFESSIONS, BUT NO PENITENCE.|
|Chapter XXXI.||BLISS -- THE BEST INVESTMENT IN SOCIETY -- THE RESULT OF MUCH EXPERIENCE, AND THE END.|
During the summer of 1828, while travelling among those valleys of Switzerland which lie between the two great ranges of the Alps, and in which both the Rhone and the Rhine take their rise, I had passed from the sources of the latter to those of the former river, and had reached that basin in the mountains that is so celebrated for containing the glacier of the Rhone, when chance gave me one of those rare moments of sublimity and solitude, which are the more precious in the other hemisphere from their infrequency. On every side the view was bounded by high and ragged mountains, their peaks glittering near the sun, while directly before me, and on a level with the eye, lay that miraculous frozen sea, out of whose drippings the Rhone starts a foaming river, to glance away to the distant Mediterranean. For the first time, during a pilgrimage of years, I felt alone with nature in Europe. Alas! the enjoyment, as all such enjoyments necessarily are amid the throngs of the old world, was short and treacherous. A party came round the angle of a rock, along the narrow bridle-path, in single file; two ladies on horseback, followed by as many gentlemen on foot, and preceded by the usual guide. It was but small courtesy to rise and salute the dove-like eyes and blooming cheeks of the former, as they passed. They were English, and the gentlemen appeared to recognize me as a countryman. One of the latter stopped, and politely inquired if the passage of the Furca was obstructed by snow. He was told not, and in return for the information said that I would find the Grimsel a little ticklish; "but," he added, smiling, "the ladies succeeded in crossing, and you will scarcely hesitate." I thought I might get over a difficulty that his fair companions had conquered. He then told me Sir Herbert Taylor was made adjutant- general, and wished me good morning.
I sat reflecting on the character, hopes, pursuits, and interests of man, for an hour, concluding that the stranger was a soldier, who let some of the ordinary workings of his thoughts overflow in this brief and casual interview. To resume my solitary journey, cross the Rhone, and toil my way up the rugged side of the Grimsel, consumed two more hours, and glad was I to come in view of the little chill looking sheet of water on its summit, which is called the Lake of the Dead. The path was filled with snow, at a most critical point, where, indeed, a misplaced footstep might betray the incautious to their destruction. A large party on the other side appeared fully aware of the difficulty, for it had halted, and was in earnest discussion with the guide, touching the practicability of passing. It was decided to attempt the enterprise. First came a female of one of the sweetest, serenest countenances I had ever seen. She, too, was English; and though she trembled, and blushed, and laughed at herself, she came on with spirit, and would have reached my side in safety, had not an unlucky stone turned beneath a foot that was much too pretty for those wild hills. I sprang forward, and was so happy as to save her from destruction. She felt the extent of the obligation, and expressed her thanks modestly but with fervor. In a minute we were joined by her husband, who grasped my hand with warm feeling, or rather with the emotion one ought to feel who had witnessed the risk he had just run of losing an angel. The lady seemed satisfied at leaving us together.
"You are an Englishman?" said the stranger.
"An American! This is singular -- will you pardon a question? -- You have more than saved my life -- you have probably saved my reason-will you pardon a question? -- Can money serve you?"
I smiled, and told him, odd as it might appear to him, that though an American, I was a gentleman. He appeared embarrassed, and his fine face worked, until I began to pity him, for it was evident he wished to show me in some way, how much he felt he was my debtor, and yet he did not know exactly what to propose.
"We may meet again," I said, squeezing his hand.
"Will you receive my card?"
He put "Viscount Householder" into my hand, and in return I gave him my own humble appellation.
He looked from the card to me, and from me to the card, and some agreeable idea appeared to flash upon his mind.
"Shall you visit Geneva this summer?" he asked, earnestly.
"Within a month."
"Your address -- "
"Hotel de l'Ecu."
"You shall hear from me. Adieu."
We parted, he, his lovely wife, and his guides descending to the Rhone, while I pursued my way to the Hospice of the Grimsel. Within the month I received a large packet at l'Ecu. It contained a valuable diamond ring, with a request that I would wear it, as a memorial of Lady Householder, and a fairly written manuscript. The following short note explained the wishes of the writer:
"Providence brought us together for more purposes than were at first apparent. I have long hesitated about publishing the accompanying narrative, for in England there is a disposition to cavil at extraordinary facts, but the distance of America from my place of residence will completely save me from ridicule. The world must have the truth, and I see no better means than by resorting to your agency. All I ask is, that you will have the book fairly printed, and that you will send one copy to my address, Householder Hall, Dorsetshire, Eng., and another to Captain Noah Poke, Stonington, Conn., in your own country. My Anna prays for you, and is ever your friend. Do not forget us.I have rigidly complied with this request, and having sent the two copies according to direction, the rest of the edition is at the disposal of any one who may feel an inclination to pay for it. In return for the copy sent to Stonington, I received the following letter:
"Yours, most faithfully,"
"AUTHOR OF THE SPY, ESQUIRE:
"ON BOARD THE DERBY AND DOLLY,STONNIN'TUN,
April 1st, 1835.
"Dear Sir: -- Your favor is come to hand, and found me in good health, as I hope these few lines will have the same advantage with you. I have read the book, and must say there is some truth in it, which, I suppose, is as much as befalls any book, the Bible, the Almanac, and the State Laws excepted. I remember Sir John well, and shall gainsay nothing he testifies to, for the reason that friends should not contradict each other. I was also acquainted with the four Monikins he speaks of, though I knew them by different names. Miss Poke says she wonders if it's all true, which I wunt tell her, seeing that a little unsartainty makes a woman rational. As to my navigating without geometry, thats a matter that wasn't worth booking, for it's no curiosity in these parts, bating a look at the compass once or twice a day, and so I take my leave of you, with offers to do any commission for you among the Sealing Islands, for which I sail to morrow, wind and weather permitting."To the Author of THE SPY, Esquire,
"Yours to sarve, NOAH POKE."
—town, -- -- -- county, York state.
"P.S. -- I always told Sir John to steer clear of too much journalizing, but he did nothing but write, night and day, for a week; and as you brew, so you must bake. The wind has chopped, and we shall take our anchor this tide; so no more at present.
"N. B. -- Sir John is a little out about my eating the monkey, which I did, four years before I fell in with him, down on the Spanish Main. It was not bad food to the taste, but was wonderful narvous to the eye. I r'ally thought I had got hold of Miss Poke's youngest born."
This second important transition in the affairs of my father, might be deemed a presage of his future fortunes. He was bound apprentice to a trader in fancy articles, or a shopkeeper who dealt in such objects as are usually purchased by those who do not well know what to do with their money. This trade was of immense advantage to the future prosperity of the young adventurer; for, in addition to the known fact that they who amuse are much better paid than they who instruct their fellow-creatures, his situation enabled him to study those caprices of men, which, properly improved, are of themselves a mine of wealth, as well as to gain a knowledge of the important truth that the greatest events of this life are much oftener the result of impulse than of calculation.
I have it by a direct tradition, orally conveyed from the lips of my ancestor, that no one could be more lucky than himself in the character of his master. This personage, who came, in time, to be my maternal grandfather, was one of those wary traders who encourage others in their follies, with a view to his own advantage, and the experience of fifty years had rendered him so expert in the practices of his calling, that it was seldom he struck out a new vein in his mine, without finding himself rewarded for the enterprise, by a success that was fully equal to his expectations,
"Tom," he said one day to his apprentice, when time had produced confidence and awakened sympathies between them, "thou art a lucky youth, or the parish officer would never have brought thee to my door. Thou little knowest the wealth that is in store for thee, or the treasures that are at thy command, if thou provest diligent, and in particular faithful to my interests." My provident grandfather never missed an occasion to throw in a useful moral, notwithstanding the general character of veracity that distinguished his commerce. "Now, what dost think, lad, may be the amount of my capital?"
My ancestor in the male line hesitated to reply, for, hitherto, his ideas had been confined to the profits; never having dared to lift his thoughts as high as that source from which he could not but see they flowed in a very ample stream; but thrown upon himself by so unexpected a question, and being quick at figures, after adding ten per cent. to the sum which he knew the last year had given as the net avail of their joint ingenuity, he named the amount, in answered to the interrogatory.
My maternal grandfather laughed in the face of my direct lineal ancestor.
"Thou judgest, Tom," he said, when his mirth was a little abated, "by what thou thinkest is the cost of the actual stock before thine eyes, when thou shouldst take into the account that which I term our floating capital."
Tom pondered a moment, for while he knew that his master had money in the funds, he did not account that as any portion of the available means connected with his ordinary business; and as for a floating capital, he did not well see how it could be of much account, since the disproportion between the cost and the selling prices of the different articles in which they dealt was so great, that there was no particular use in such an investment. As his master, however, rarely paid for anything until he was in possession of returns from it that exceeded the debt some seven-fold, he began to think the old man was alluding to the advantages he obtained in the way of credit, and after a little more cogitation, he ventured to say as much.
Again my maternal grandfather indulged in a hearty fit of laughter.
"Thou art clever in thy way, Tom," he said, "and I like the minuteness of thy calculations, for they show an aptitude for trade; but there is genius in our calling as well as cleverness. Come hither, boy," he added, drawing Tom to a window whence they could see the neighbors on their way to church, for it was on a Sunday that my two provident progenitors indulged in this moral view of humanity, as best fitted the day, "come hither, boy, and thou shalt see some small portion of that capital which thou seemest to think hid, stalking abroad by daylight, and in the open streets. Here, thou seest the wife of our neighbor, the pastry-cook; with what an air she tosses her head and displays the bauble thou sold'st her yesterday: well, even that slattern, idle and vain, and little worthy of trust as she is, carries about with her a portion of my capital!"
My worthy ancestor stared, for he never knew the other to be guilty of so great an indiscretion as to trust a woman whom they both knew bought more than her husband was willing to pay for.
"She gave me a guinea, master, for that which did not cost a sevenshilling piece!"
"She did, indeed, Tom, and it was her vanity that urged her to it. I trade upon her folly, younker, and upon that of all mankind; now dost thou see with what a capital I carry on affairs? There -- there is the maid, carrying the idle hussy's patterns in the rear; I drew upon my stock in that wench's possession, no later than the last week, for half-a-crown!"
Tom reflected a long time on these allusions of his provident master, and although he understood them about as well as they will be understood by the owners of half the soft humid eyes and sprouting whiskers among my readers, by dint of cogitation he came at last to a practical understanding of the subject, which before he was thirty he had, to use a French term, pretty well exploité.
I learn by unquestionable tradition, received also from the mouths of his contemporaries, that the opinions of my ancestor underwent some material changes between the ages of ten and forty, a circumstance that has often led me to reflect that people might do well not to be too confident of the principles, during the pliable period of life, when the mind, like the tender shoot, is easily bent aside and subjected to the action of surrounding causes.
During the earlier years of the plastic age, my ancestor was observed to betray strong feelings of compassion at the sight of charity-children, nor was he ever known to pass a child, especially a boy that was still in petticoats, who was crying with hunger in the streets, without sharing his own crust with him. Indeed, his practice on this head was said to be steady and uniform, whenever the rencontre took place after my worthy father had had his own sympathies quickened by a good dinner; a fact that maybe imputed to a keener sense of the pleasure he was about to confer.
After sixteen, he was known to converse occasionally on the subject of politics, a topic on which he came to be both expert and eloquent before twenty. His usual theme was justice and the sacred rights of man, concerning which he sometimes uttered very pretty sentiments, and such as were altogether becoming in one who was at the bottom of the great social pot that was then, as now, actively boiling, and where he was made to feel most, the heat that kept it in ebullition. I am assured that on the subject of taxation, and on that of the wrongs of America and Ireland, there were few youths in the parish who could discourse with more zeal and unction. About this time, too, he was heard shouting "Wilkes and liberty!" in the public streets.
But, as is the case with all men of rare capacities, there was a concentration of powers in the mind of my ancestor, which soon brought all his errant sympathies, the mere exuberance of acute and overflowing feelings, into a proper and useful subjection, centring all in the one absorbing and capacious receptacle of self. I do not claim for my father any peculiar quality in this respect, for I have often observed that many of those who (like giddy-headed horsemen that raise a great dust, and scamper as if the highway were too narrow for their eccentric courses, before they are fairly seated in the saddle, but who afterward drive as directly at their goals as the arrow parting from the bow), most indulge their sympathies at the commencement of their careers, are the most apt toward the close to get a proper command of their feelings, and to reduce them within the bounds of common sense and prudence. Before five-and- twenty, my father was as exemplary and as constant a devotee of Plutus as was then to be found between Ratcliffe Highway and Bridge Street: -- I name these places in particular, as all the rest of the great capital in which he was born is known to be more indifferent to the subject of money.
My ancestor was just thirty, when his master, who like himself was a bachelor, very unexpectedly, and a good deal to the scandal of the neighborhood, introduced a new inmate into his frugal abode, in the person of an infant female child. It would seem that some one had been speculating on his stock of weakness too, for this poor, little, defenceless, and dependent being was thrown upon his care, like Tom himself, through the vigilance of the parish officers. There were many good- natured jokes practised on the prosperous fancy-dealer, by the more witty of his neighbors, at this sudden turn of good fortune, and not a few ill-natured sneers were given behind his back; most of the knowing ones of the vicinity finding a stronger likeness between the little girl and all the other unmarried men of the eight or ten adjoining streets, than to the worthy housekeeper who had been selected to pay for her support. I have been much disposed to admit the opinions of these amiable observers as authority in my own pedigree, since it would be reaching the obscurity in which all ancient lines take root, a generation earlier, than by allowing the presumption that little Betsey was my direct male ancestor's master's daughter; but, on reflection, I have determined to adhere to the less popular but more simple version of the affair, because it is connected with the transmission of no small part of our estate, a circumstance of itself that at once gives dignity and importance to a genealogy.
Whatever may have been the real opinion of the reputed father touching his rights to the honors of that respectable title, he soon became as strongly attached to the child, as if it really owed its existence to himself. The little girl was carefully nursed, abundantly fed, and throve accordingly. She had reached her third year, when the fancy-dealer took the smallpox from his little pet, who was just recovering from the same disease, and died at the expiration of the tenth day.
This was an unlooked-for and stunning blow to my ancestor, who was then in his thirty-fifth year and the head shopman of the establishment, which had continued to grow with the growing follies and vanities of the age. On examining his master's will, it was found that my father, who had certainly aided materially of late in the acquisition of the money, was left the good-will of the shop, the command of all the stock at cost, and the sole executorship of the estate. He was also intrusted with the exclusive guardianship of little Betsey, to whom his master had affectionately devised every farthing of his property. An ordinary reader may be surprised that a man who had so long practised on the foibles of his species, should have so much confidence in a mere shopman, as to leave his whole estate so completely in his power; but, it must be remembered, that human ingenuity has not yet devised any means by which we can carry our personal effects into the other world; that "what cannot be cured must be endured"; that he must of necessity have confided this important trust to some fellow-creature, and that it was better to commit the keeping of his money to one who, knowing the secret by which it had been accumulated, had less inducement to be dishonest, than one who was exposed to the temptation of covetousness, without having a knowledge of any direct and legal means of gratifying his longings. It has been conjectured, therefore, that the testator thought, by giving up his trade to a man who was as keenly alive as my ancestor to all its perfections, moral and pecuniary, he provided a sufficient protection against his falling into the sin of peculation, by so amply supplying him with simpler means of enriching himself. Besides, it is fair to presume that the long acquaintance had begotten sufficient confidence to weaken the effect of that saying which some wit has put into the mouth of a wag, "Make me your executor, father; I care not to whom you leave the estate." Let all this be as it might, nothing can be more certain than that my worthy ancestor executed his trust with the scrupulous fidelity of a man whose integrity had been severely schooled in the ethics of trade. Little Betsey was properly educated for one in her condition of life; her health was as carefully watched over as if she had been the only daughter of the sovereign instead of the only daughter of a fancy- dealer; her morals were superintended by a superannuated old maid; her mind left to its original purity; her person jealously protected against the designs of greedy fortune-hunters; and, to complete the catalogue of his paternal attentions and solicitudes, my vigilant and faithful ancestor, to prevent accidents, and to counteract the chances of life, so far as it might be done by human foresight, saw that she was legally married, the day she reached her nineteenth year, to the person whom, there is every reason to think, he believed to be the most unexceptionable man of his acquaintance- in other words, to himself. Settlements were unnecessary between parties who had so long been known to each other, and, thanks to the liberality of his late master's will in more ways than one, a long minority, and the industry of the ci-devant head shopman, the nuptial benediction was no sooner pronounced, than our family stepped into the undisputed possession of four hundred thousand pounds. One less scrupulous on the subject of religion and the law, might not have thought it necessary to give the orphan heiress a settlement so satisfactory, at the termination of her wardship.
I was the fifth of the children who were the fruits of this union, and the only one of them all that passed the first year of its life. My poor mother did not survive my birth, and I can only record her qualities through the medium of that great agent in the archives of the family, tradition. By all that I have heard, she must have been a meek, quiet, domestic woman; who, by temperament and attainments, was admirably qualified to second the prudent plans of my father for her welfare. If she had causes of complaint, (and that she had, there is too much reason to think, for who has ever escaped them?) they were concealed, with female fidelity, in the sacred repository of her own heart; and if truant imagination sometimes dimly drew an outline of married happiness different from the fact that stood in dull reality before her eyes, the picture was merely commented on by a sigh, and consigned to a cabinet whose key none ever touched but herself, and she seldom.
Of this subdued and unobtrusive sorrow, for I fear it sometimes reached that intensity of feeling, my excellent and indefatigable ancestor appeared to have no suspicion. He pursued his ordinary occupations with his ordinary single-minded devotion, and the last thing that would have crossed his brain was the suspicion that he had not punctiliously done his duty by his ward. Had he acted otherwise, none surely would have suffered more by his delinquency than her husband, and none would have a better right to complain. Now, as her husband never dreamt of making such an accusation, it is not at all surprising that my ancestor remained in ignorance of his wife's feelings at the hour of his death.
It has been said that the opinions of the successor of the fancydealer underwent some essential changes between the ages of ten and forty. After he had reached his twenty-second year, or, in other words, the moment he began to earn money for himself, as well as for his master, he ceased to cry "Wilkes and liberty!" He was not heard to breathe a syllable concerning the obligations of society toward the weak and unfortunate, for the five years that succeeded his majority; he touched lightly on Christian duties in general, after he got to be worth fifty pounds of his own; and as for railing at human follies, it would have been rank ingratitude in one who so very unequivocally got his bread by them. About this time, his remarks on the subject of taxation, however, were singularly caustic, and well applied. He railed at the public debt, as a public curse, and ominously predicted the dissolution of society, in consequence of the burdens and incumbrances it was hourly accumulating on the already overloaded shoulders of the trader.
The period of his marriage and his succession to the hoardings of his former master, may be dated as the second epocha in the opinions of my ancestor. From this moment his ambition expanded, his views enlarged in proportion to his means, and his contemplations on the subject of his great floating capital became more profound and philosophical. A man of my ancestor's native sagacity, whose whole soul was absorbed in the pursuit of gain, who had so long been forming his mind, by dealing as it were with the elements of human weaknesses, and who already possessed four hundred thousand pounds, was very likely to strike out for himself some higher road to eminence, than that in which he had been laboriously journeying, during the years of painful probation. The property of my mother had been chiefly invested in good bonds and mortgages; her protector, patron, benefactor, and legalized father, having an unconquerable repugnance to confiding in that soulless, conventional, nondescript body corporate, the public. The first indication that was given by my ancestor of a change of purpose in the direction of his energies, was by calling in the whole of his outstanding debts, and adopting the Napoleon plan of operations, by concentrating his forces on a particular point, in order that he might operate in masses. About this time, too, he suddenly ceased railing at taxation. This change may be likened to that which occurs in the language of the ministerial journals, when they cease abusing any foreign state with whom the nation has been carrying on a war, that it is, at length, believed politic to terminate; and for much the same reason, as it was the intention of my thrifty ancestor to make an ally of a power that he had hitherto always treated as an enemy. The whole of the four hundred thousand pounds were liberally intrusted to the country, the former fancy- dealer's apprentice entering the arena of virtuous and patriotic speculation, as a bull; and, if with more caution, with at least some portion of the energy and obstinacy of the desperate animal that gives title to this class of adventurers. Success crowned his laudable efforts; gold rolled in upon him like water on a flood, buoying him up, soul and body, to that enviable height, where, as it would seem, just views can alone be taken of society in its innumerable phases. All his former views of life, which, in common with others of a similar origin and similar political sentiments, he had imbibed in early years, and which might with propriety be called near views, were now completely obscured by the sublimer and broader prospect that was spread before him.
I am afraid the truth will compel me to admit, that my ancestor was never charitable in the vulgar acceptation of the term; but then, he always maintained that his interest in his fellow-creatures was of a more elevated cast, taking a comprehensive glance at all the bearings of good and evil -- being of the sort of love which induces the parent to correct the child, that the lesson of present suffering may produce the blessings of future respectability and usefulness. Acting on these principles, he gradually grew more estranged from his species in appearance, a sacrifice that was probably exacted by the severity of his practical reproofs for their growing wickedness, and the austere policy that was necessary to enforce them. By this time, my ancestor was also thoroughly impressed with what is called the value of money; a sentiment which, I believe, gives its possessor a livelier perception than common of the dangers of the precious metals, as well as of their privileges and uses. He expatiated occasionally on the guaranties that it was necessary to give to society, for its own security; never even voted for a parish officer unless he were a warm substantial citizen; and began to be a subscriber to the patriotic fund, and to the other similar little moral and pecuniary buttresses of the government, whose common and commendable object was, to protect our country, our altars, and our firesides.
The death-bed of my mother has been described to me as a touching and melancholy scene. It appears that as this meek and retired woman was extricated from the coil of mortality, her intellect grew brighter, her powers of discernment stronger, and her character in every respect more elevated and commanding. Although she had said much less about our firesides and altars than her husband, I see no reason to doubt that she had ever been quite as faithful as he could be to the one, and as much devoted to the other. I shall describe the important event of her passage from this to a better world, as I have often had it repeated from the lips of one who was present, and who has had an important agency in since making me the man I am. This person was the clergyman of the parish, a pious divine, a learned man, and a gentleman in feeling as well as by extraction.
My mother, though long conscious that she was drawing near to her last great account, had steadily refused to draw her husband from his absorbing pursuits, by permitting him to be made acquainted with her situation. He knew that she was ill; very ill, as he had reason to think; but, as he not only allowed her, but even volunteered to order her all the advice and relief that money could command (my ancestor was not a miser in the vulgar meaning of the word), he thought that he had done all that man could do, in a case of life and death -- interests over which he professed to have no control. He saw Dr. Etherington, the rector, come and go daily, for a month, without uneasiness or apprehension, for he thought his discourse had a tendency to tranquillize my mother, and he had a strong affection for all that left him undisturbed, to the enjoyment of the occupation in which his whole energies were now completely centred. The physician got his guinea at each visit, with scrupulous punctuality; the nurses were well received and were well satisfied, for no one interfered with their acts but the doctor; and every ordinary duty of commission was as regularly discharged by my ancestor, as if the sinking and resigned creature from whom he was about to be forever separated had been the spontaneous choice of his young and fresh affections.
When, therefore, a servant entered to say that Dr. Etherington desired a private interview, my worthy ancestor, who had no consciousness of having neglected any obligation that became a friend of church and state, was in no small measure surprised.
"I come, Mr. Goldencalf, on a melancholy duty," said the pious rector, entering the private cabinet to which his application had for the first time obtained his admission; "the fatal secret can no longer be concealed from you, and your wife at length consents that I shall be the instrument of revealing it."
The Doctor paused; for on such occasions it is perhaps as well to let the party that is about to be shocked receive a little of the blow through his own imagination; and busily enough was that of my poor father said to be exercised on this painful occasion. He grew pale, opened his eyes until they again filled the sockets into which they had gradually been sinking for twenty years, and looked a hundred questions that his tongue refused to put.
"It cannot be, Doctor," he at length querulously said, "that a woman like Betsey has got an inkling into any of the events connected with the last great secret expedition, and which have escaped my jealousy and experience?"
"I am afraid, dear sir, that Mrs. Goldencalf has obtained glimpses of the last great and secret expedition on which we must all, sooner or later, embark, that have entirely escaped your vigilance. But of this I will speak some other time. At present it is my painful duty to inform you it is the opinion of the physician that your excellent wife cannot outlive the day, if, indeed, she do the hour."
My father was struck with this intelligence, and for more than a minute he remained silent and without motion. Casting his eyes toward the papers on which he had lately been employed, and which contained some very important calculations connected with the next settling day, he at length resumed:
"If this be really so, Doctor, it may be well for me to go to her, since one in the situation of the poor woman may indeed have something of importance to communicate."
"It is with this object that I have now come to tell you the truth," quietly answered the divine, who knew that nothing was to be gained by contending with the besetting weakness of such a man, at such a moment.
My father bent his head in assent, and, first carefully enclosing the open papers in a secretary, he followed his companion to the bedside of his dying wife.
My ancestor, notwithstanding, was deeply struck with the physical changes in the appearance of his wife.
"Thou art much emaciated, Betsey," he said, taking her hand kindly, after a long and solemn pause; "much more so than I had thought, or could have believed! Dost nurse give thee comforting soups and generous nourishment?"
My mother smiled the ghastly smile of death; but waved her hand, with loathing, at his suggestion.
"All this is now too late, Mr. Goldencalf," she answered, speaking with a distinctness and an energy for which she had long been reserving her strength. "Food and raiment are no longer among my wants."
"Well, well, Betsey, one that is in want of neither food nor raiment, cannot be said to be in great suffering, after all; and I am glad that thou art so much at ease. Dr. Etherington tells me thou art far from being well bodily, however, and I am come expressly to see if I can order anything that will help to make thee more easy."
"Mr. Goldencalf, you can. My wants for this life are nearly over; a short hour or two will remove me beyond the world, its cares, its vanities, its -- " My poor mother probably meant to add, its heartlessness or its selfishness; but she rebuked herself, and paused: "By the mercy of our blessed Redeemer, and through the benevolent agency of this excellent man," she resumed, glancing her eye upwards at first with holy reverence, and then at the divine with meek gratitude, "I quit you without alarm, and were it not for one thing, I might say without care."
"And what is there to distress thee, in particular, Betsey?" asked my father, blowing his nose, and speaking with unusual tenderness; "if it be in my power to set thy heart at ease on this, or on any other point, name it, and I will give orders to have it immediately performed. Thou hast been a good pious woman, and canst have little to reproach thyself with."
My mother looked earnestly and wistfully at her husband. Never before had he betrayed so strong an interest in her happiness, and had it not, alas! been too late, this glimmering of kindness might have lighted the matrimonial torch into a brighter flame than had ever yet glowed upon the past.
"Mr. Goldencalf, we have an only son -- "
"We have, Betsey, and it may gladden thee to hear that the physician thinks the boy more likely to live than either of his poor brothers and sisters."
I cannot explain the holy and mysterious principle of maternal nature that caused my mother to clasp her hands, to raise her eyes to heaven, and, while a gleam flitted athwart her glassy eyes and wan cheeks, to murmur her thanks to God for the boon. She was herself hastening away to the eternal bliss of the pure of mind and the redeemed, and her imagination, quiet and simple as it was, had drawn pictures in which she and her departed babes were standing before the throne of the Most High, chanting his glory, and shining amid the stars -- and yet was she now rejoicing that the last and the most cherished of all her offsprings was likely to be left exposed to the evils, the vices, nay, to the enormities, of the state of being that she herself so willingly resigned.
"It is of our boy that I wish now to speak, Mr. Goldencalf," replied my mother, when her secret devotion was ended. "The child will have need of instruction and care; in short, of both mother and father."
"Betsey, thou forgettest that he will still have the latter."
"You are much wrapped up in your business, Mr. Goldencalf, and are not, in other respects, qualified to educate a boy born to the curse and to the temptations of immense riches."
My excellent ancestor looked as if he thought his dying consort had in sooth finally taken leave of her senses.
"There are public schools, Betsey; I promise thee the child shall not be forgotten: I will have him well taught, though it cost me a thousand a year!"
His wife reached forth her emaciated hand to that of my father, and pressed the latter with as much force as a dying mother could use. For a fleet moment she even appeared to have gotten rid of her latest care. But the knowledge of character that had been acquired by the hard experience of thirty years, was not to be unsettled by the gratitude of a moment.
"I wish, Mr. Goldencalf," she anxiously resumed, "to receive your solemn promise to commit the education of our boy to Dr. Etherington -- you know his worth, and must have full confidence in such a man."
"Nothing would give me greater satisfaction, my dear Betsey; and if Dr. Etherington will consent to receive him, I will send Jack to his house this very evening; for, to own the truth, I am but little qualified to take charge of a child under a year old. A hundred a year, more or less, shall not spoil so good a bargain."
The divine was a gentleman, and he looked grave at this speech, though, meeting the anxious eyes of my mother, his own lost their displeasure in a glance of reassurance and pity.
"The charges of his education will be easily settled, Mr. Goldencalf," added my mother; "but the Doctor has consented with difficulty to take the responsibility of my poor babe, and that only under two conditions."
The stock-dealer required an explanation with his eyes.
"One is, that the child shall be left solely to his own care, after he has reached his fourth year; and the other is, that you make an endowment for the support of two poor scholars, at one of the principal schools."
As my mother got out the last words, she fell back on her pillow, whence her interest in the subject had enabled her to lift her head a little, and she fairly gasped for breath, in the intensity of her anxiety to hear the answer. My ancestor contracted his brow, like one who saw it was a subject that required reflection.
"Thou dost not know perhaps, Betsey, that these endowments swallow up a great deal of money -- a great deal -- and often very uselessly."
"Ten thousand pounds is the sum that has been agreed upon between Mrs. Goldencalf and me," steadily remarked the Doctor, who, in my soul, I believe had hoped that his condition would be rejected, having yielded to the importunities of a dying woman, rather than to his own sense of that which might be either very desirable or very useful.
"Ten thousand pounds!"
My mother could not speak, though she succeeded in making an imploring sign of assent.
"Ten thousand pounds is a great deal of money, my dear Betsey -- a very great deal!"
The color of my mother changed to the hue of death, and by her breathing she appeared to be in the agony.
"Well, well, Betsey," said my father a little hastily, for he was frightened at her pallid countenance and extreme distress, "have it thine own way -- the money, yes, yes -- it shall be given as thou wishest -- now set thy kind heart at rest."
The revulsion of feeling was too great for one whose system had been wound up to a state of excitement like that which had sustained my mother, who, an hour before, had seemed scarcely able to speak. She extended her hand toward her husband, smiled benignantly in his face, whispered the word "Thanks," and then, losing all her powers of body, sank into the last sleep, as tranquilly as the infant drops its head on the bosom of the nurse. This was, after all, a sudden, and, in one sense, an unexpected death: all who witnessed it were struck with awe. My father gazed for a whole minute intently on the placid features of his wife, and left the room in silence. He was followed by Dr. Etherington, who accompanied him to the private apartment where they had first met that night, neither uttering a syllable until both were seated.
"She was a good woman, Dr. Etherington!" said the widowed man, shaking his foot with agitation.
"She was a good woman, Mr. Goldencalf."
"And a good wife, Dr. Etherington."
"I have always believed her to be a good wife, sir."
"Faithful, obedient, and frugal."
"Three qualities that are of much practical use in the affairs of this world."
"I shall never marry again, sir."
The divine bowed.
"Nay, I never could find such another match!"
Again the divine inclined his head, though the assent was accompanied by slight smile.
"Well, she has left me an heir."
"And brought something that he might inherit," observed the Doctor, dryly.
My ancestor looked up inquiringly at his companion, but apparently most of the sarcasm was thrown away,
"I resign the child to your care, Dr. Etherington, conformably to the dying request of my beloved Betsey."
"I accept the charge, Mr. Goldencalf, comformably to my promise to the deceased; but you will remember that there was a condition coupled with that promise which must be faithfully and promptly fulfilled."
My ancestor was too much accustomed to respect the punctilios of trade, whose code admits of frauds only in certain categories, which are sufficiently explained in its conventional rules of honor; a sort of specified morality, that is bottomed more on the convenience of its votaries than on the general law of right. He respected the letter of his promise while his soul yearned to avoid its spirit; and his wits were already actively seeking the means of doing that which he so much desired.
"I did make a promise to poor Betsey, certainly," he answered, in the way of one who pondered, "and it was a promise, too, made under very solemn circumstances."
"The promises made to the dead are doubly binding; since, by their departure to the world of spirits, it may be said they leave the performance to the exclusive superintendence of the Being who cannot lie."
My ancestor quailed; his whole frame shuddered, and his purpose was shaken.
"Poor Betsey left you as her representative in this case, however, Doctor," he observed, after the delay of more than a minute, casting his eyes wistfully towards the divine.
"In one sense, she certainly did, sir."
"And a representative with full powers is legally a principal under a different name. I think this matter might be arranged to our mutual satisfaction, Dr. Etherington, and the intention of poor Betsey most completely executed; she, poor woman, knew little of business, as was best for her sex; and when women undertake affairs of magnitude, they are very apt to make awkward work of it."
"So that the intention of the deceased be completely fulfilled, you will not find me exacting, Mr. Goldencalf."
"I thought as much -- I knew there could be no difficulty between two men of sense, who were met with honest views to settle a matter of this nature. The intention of poor Betsey, Doctor, was to place her child under your care, with the expectation -- and I do not deny its justice -- that the boy would receive more benefit from your knowledge than he possibly could from mine."
Dr. Etherington was too honest to deny these premises, and too polite to admit them without an inclination of acknowledgment.
"As we are quite of the same mind, good sir, concerning the preliminaries," continued my ancestor, "we will enter a little nearer into the details. It appears to me to be no more than strict justice, that he who does the work should receive the reward. This is a principle in which I have been educated, Dr. Etherington; it is one in which I could wish to have my son educated; and it is one on which I hope always to practise."
Another inclination of the body conveyed the silent assent of the divine.
"Now, poor Betsey, Heaven bless her! -- for she was a meek and tranquil companion, and richly deserves to be rewarded in a future state -- but, poor Betsey had little knowledge of business. She fancied that, in bestowing these ten thousand pounds on a charity, she was acting well; whereas she was in fact committing injustice. If you are to have the trouble and care of bringing up little Jack, who but you should reap the reward?"
"I shall expect, Mr. Goldencalf, that you will furnish the means to provide for the child's wants."
"Of that, sir, it is unnecessary to speak," interrupted my ancestor, both promptly and proudly. "I am a wary man, and a prudent man, and am one who knows the value of money, I trust; but I am no miser, to stint my own flesh and blood. Jack shall never want for anything, while it is in my power to give it. I am by no means as rich, sir, as the neighborhood supposes; but then I am no beggar. I dare say, if all my assets were fairly counted, it might be found that I am worth a plum."
"You are said to have received a much larger sum than that with the late Mrs. Goldencalf," the divine observed, not without reproof in his voice.
"Ah, dear sir, I need not tell you what vulgar rumor is -- but I shall not undermine my own credit; and we will change the subject. My object, Dr. Etherington, was merely to do justice. Poor Betsey desired that ten thousand pounds might be given to found a scholarship or two: now, what have these scholars done, or what are they likely to do, for me or mine? The case is different with you, sir; you will have trouble -- much trouble, I make no doubt; and it is proper that you should have a sufficient compensation. I was about to propose, therefore, that you should consent to receive my check for three, or four, or even for five thousand pounds," continued my ancestor, raising the offer as he saw the frown on the brow of the Doctor deepen. "Yes, sir, I will even say the latter sum, which possibly will not be too much for your trouble and care; and we will forget the womanish plan of poor Betsey in relation to the two scholarships and the charity. Five thousand pounds down, Doctor, for yourself, and the subject of the charity forgotten forever."
When my father had thus distinctly put his proposition, he awaited its effect with the confidence of a man who had long dealt with cupidity. For a novelty, his calculation failed. The face of Dr. Etherington flushed, then paled, and finally settled into a look of melancholy reprehension. He arose and paced the room for several minutes in silence; during which time his companion believed he was debating with himself on the chances of obtaining a higher bid for his consent, when he suddenly stopped and addressed my ancestor in a mild but steady tone.
"I feel it to be a duty, Mr. Goldencalf," he said, "to admonish you of the precipice over which you hang. The love of money, which is the root of all evil, which caused Judas to betray even his Saviour and God, has taken deep root in your soul. You are no longer young, and although still proud in your strength and prosperity, are much nearer to your great account than you may be willing to believe. It is not an hour since you witnessed the departure of a penitent soul for the presence of her God; since you heard the dying request from her lips; and since, in such a presence and in such a scene, you gave a pledge to respect her wishes, and, now, with the accursed spirit of gain upper-most, you would trifle with these most sacred obligations, in order to keep a little worthless gold in a hand that is already full to overflowing. Fancy that the pure spirit of thy confiding and single-minded wife were present at this conversation; fancy it mourning over thy weakness and violated faith -- nay, I know not that such is not the fact; for there is no reason to believe that the happy spirits are not permitted to watch near, and mourn over us, until we are released from this mass of sin and depravity in which we dwell -- and, then, reflect what must be her sorrow at hearing how soon her parting request is forgotten, how useless has been the example of her holy end, how rooted and fearful are thine own infirmities!"
My father was more rebuked by the manner than by the words of the divine. He passed his hand across his brow, as if to shut out the view of his wife's spirit; turned, drew his writing materials nearer, wrote a check for the ten thousand pounds, and handed it to the Doctor with the subdued air of a corrected boy.
"Jack shall be at your disposal, good sir," he said, as the paper was delivered, "whenever it may be your pleasure to send for him."
They parted in silence; the divine too much displeased, and my ancestor too much grieved, to indulge in words of ceremony.
When my father found himself alone, he gazed furtively about the room, to assure himself that the rebuking spirit of his wife had not taken a shape less questionable than air, and then, he mused for at least an hour, very painfully, on all the principal occurrences of the night. It is said that occupation is a certain solace for grief, and so it proved to be in the present case; for luckily my father had made up that very day his private account of the sum total of his fortune. Sitting down, therefore, to the agreeable task, he went through the simple process of subtracting from it the amount for which he had just drawn, and, finding that he was still master of seven hundred and eighty-two thousand three hundred and eleven pounds odd shillings and even pence, he found a very natural consolation for the magnitude of the sum he had just given away, by comparing it with the magnitude of that which was left.
In accepting the trust which he was now obliged to assume, he had yielded purely to a benevolent wish to smooth the dying pillow of my mother. Acquainted with the character of her husband, he had committed a sort of pious fraud, in attaching the condition of the endowment to his consent; for, notwithstanding the becoming language of his own rebuke, the promise, and all the other little attendant circumstances of the night, it might be questioned which felt the most surprise after the draft was presented and duly honored, he who found himself in possession, or he who found himself deprived, of the sum of ten thousand pounds sterling. Still Dr. Etherington acted with the most scrupulous integrity in the whole affair; and although I am aware that a writer who has so many wonders to relate, as must of necessity adorn the succeeding pages of this manuscript, should observe a guarded discretion in drawing on the credulity of his readers, truth compels me to add, that every farthing of the money was duly invested with a single eye to the wishes of the dying Christian, who, under Providence, had been the means of bestowing so much gold on the poor and unlettered. As to the manner in which the charity was finally improved, I shall say nothing, since no inquiry on my part has ever enabled me to obtain such information as would justify my speaking with authority.
As for myself, I shall have little more to add touching the events of the succeeding twenty years. I was baptized, nursed, breeched, schooled, horsed, confirmed, sent to the university, and graduated, much as befalls all gentlemen of the established church in the united kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, or, in other words, of the land of my ancestor. During these pregnant years, Dr. Etherington acquitted himself of a duty that, judging by a very predominant feeling of human nature (which, singularly enough, renders us uniformly averse to being troubled with other people's affairs), I think he must have found sufficiently vexatious, quite as well as my good mother had any right to expect. Most of my vacations were spent at his rectory; for he had first married, then become a father, next a widower, and had exchanged his town living for one in the country, between the periods of my mother's death and that on my going to Eton; and, after I quitted Oxford, much more of my time was passed beneath his friendly roof than beneath that of my own parent. Indeed, I saw little of the latter. He paid my bills, furnished me with pocket- money, and professed an intention to let me travel after I should reach my majority. But, satisfied with these proofs of paternal care, he appeared willing to let me pursue my own course very much in my own way.
My ancestor was an eloquent example of the truth of that political dogma which teaches the efficacy of the division of labor. No manufacturer of the head of a pin ever attained greater dexterity in his single-minded vocation than was reached by my father in the one pursuit to which he devoted, as far as human ken could reach, both soul and body. As any sense is known to increase in acuteness by constant exercise, or any passion by indulgence, so did his ardor in favor of the great object of his affections grow with its growth, and become more manifest as an ordinary observer would be apt to think the motive of its existence at all had nearly ceased. This is a moral phenomenon that I have often had occasion to observe, and which, there is some reason to think, depends on a principle of attraction that has hitherto escaped the sagacity of the philosophers, but which is as active in the immaterial, as is that of gravitation in the material world. Talents like his, so incessantly and unweariedly employed, produced the usual fruits. He grew richer hourly, and at the time of which I speak he was pretty generally known to the initiated to be the warmest man who had anything to do with the stock exchange.
I do not think that the opinions of my ancestor underwent as many material changes between the ages of fifty and seventy as they had undergone between the ages of ten and forty. During the latter period the tree of life usually gets deep root, its inclination is fixed, whether obtained by bending to the storms, or by drawing toward the light; and it probably yields more in fruits of its own, than it gains by tillage and manuring. Still my ancestor was not exactly the same man the day he kept his seventieth birthday as he had been the day he kept his fiftieth. In the first place, he was worth thrice the money at the former period that he had been worth at the latter. Of course his moral system had undergone all the mutations that are known to be dependent on a change of this important character. Beyond a question, during the last five-andtwenty years of the life of my ancestor, his political bias, too, was in favor of exclusive privileges and exclusive benefits. I do not mean that he was an aristocrat in the vulgar acceptation. To him, feudality was a blank; he had probably never heard the word. Portcullises rose and fell, flanking towers lifted their heads, and embattled walls swept around their fabrics in vain, so far as his imagination was concerned. He cared not for the days of courts leet and courts baron; nor for the barons themselves; nor for the honors of a pedigree (why should he? -- no prince in the land could more clearly trace his family into obscurity than himself), nor for the vanities of a court, nor for those of society; nor for aught else of the same nature that is apt to have charms for the weak-minded, the imaginative, or the conceited. His political prepossessions showed themselves in a very different manner. Throughout the whole of the five lustres I have named, he was never heard to whisper a censure against government, let its measures, or the character of its administration, be what it would. It was enough for him that it was government. Even taxation no longer excited his ire, nor aroused his eloquence. He conceived it to be necessary to order, and especially to the protection of property, a branch of political science that he had so studied as to succeed in protecting his own estate, in a measure, against even this great ally itself. After he became worth a million, it was observed that all his opinions grew less favorable to mankind in general, and that he was much disposed to exaggerate the amount and quality of the few boons which Providence has bestowed on the poor. The report of a meeting of the Whigs generally had an effect on his appetite; a resolution that was suspected of emanating from Brookes's commonly robbed him of a dinner, and the Radicals never seriously moved that he did not spend a sleepless night, and pass a large portion of the next day in uttering words that it would be hardly moral to repeat. I may without impropriety add, however, that on such occasions he did not spare allusions to the gallows; Sir Francis Burdett, in particular, was a target for a good deal of billingsgate; and men as upright and as respectable even as my lords Grey, Landsdowne, and Holland, were treated as if they were no better than they should be. But on these little details it is unnecessary to dwell, for it must be a subject of common remark, that the more elevated and refined men become in their political ethics, the more they are accustomed to throw dirt upon their neighbors. I will just state, however, that most of what I have here related has been transmitted to me by direct oral traditions, for I seldom saw my ancestor, and when we did meet, it was only to settle accounts, to eat a leg of mutton together, and to part like those who, at least, have never quarrelled.
Not so with Dr. Etherington. Habit (to say nothing of my own merits) had attached him to one who owed so much to his care, and his doors were always as open to me as if I had been his own son.
It has been said that most of my idle time (omitting the part misspent in the schools) was passed at the rectory.
The excellent divine had married a lovely woman, a year or two after the death of my mother, who had left him a widower, and the father of a little image of herself, before the expiration of a twelvemonth. Owing to the strength of his affections for the deceased, or for his daughter, or because he could not please himself in a second marriage as well as it had been his good fortune to do in the first, Dr. Etherington had never spoken of forming another connection. He appeared content to discharge his duties, as a Christian and a gentleman, without increasing them by creating any new relations with society.
Anna Etherington was of course my constant companion during many long and delightful visits at the rectory. Three years my junior, the friendship on my part had commenced by a hundred acts of boyish kindness. Between the ages of seven and twelve, I dragged her about in a garden-chair, pushed her on the swing, and wiped her eyes and uttered words of friendly consolation when any transient cloud obscured the sunny brightness of her childhood. From twelve to fourteen, I told her stories; astonished her with narratives of my own exploits at Eton, and caused her serene blue eyes to open in admiration at the marvels of London. At fourteen, I began to pick up her pocket-handkerchief, hunt for her thimble, accompany her in duets, and to read poetry to her, as she occupied herself with the little lady-like employments of the needle. About the age of seventeen I began to compare cousin Anna, as I was permitted to call her, with the other young girls of my acquaintance, and the comparison was generally much in her favor. It was also about this time that, as my admiration grew more warm and manifest, she became less confiding and less frank; I perceived too that, for a novelty, she now had some secrets that she did not choose to communicate to me, that she was more with her governess, and less in my society than formerly, and on one occasion (bitterly did I feel the slight) she actually recounted to her father the amusing incidents of a little birthday fete at which she had been present, and which was given by a gentleman of the vicinity, before she even dropped a hint to me, touching the delight she had experienced on the occasion. I was, however, a good deal compensated for the slight by her saying, kindly, as she ended her playful and humorous account of the affair:
"It would have made you laugh heartily, Jack, to see the droll manner in which the servants acted their parts" (there had been a sort of mystified masque), "more particularly the fat old butler, of whom they had made a Cupid, as Dick Griffin said, in order to show that love becomes drowsy and dull by good eating and drinking -- I do wish you could have been there, Jack."
Anna was a gentle feminine girl, with a most lovely and winning countenance, and I did inherently like to hear her pronounce the word "Jack" -- it was so different from the boisterous screech of the Eton boys, or the swaggering call of my boon companions at Oxford!
"I should have liked it excessively myself, Anna," I answered; "more particularly as you seem to have so much enjoyed the fun."
"Yes, but that could not be" interrupted Miss-Mrs. Norton, the governess. "For Sir Harry Griffin is very difficult about his associates, and you know, my dear, that Mr. Goldencalf, though a very respectable young man himself, could not expect one of the oldest baronets of the county to go out of his way to invite the son of a stock-jobber to be present at a fete given to his own heir."
Luckily for Miss-Mrs. Norton, Dr. Etherington had walked away the moment his daughter ended her recital, or she might have met with a disagreeable commentary on her notions concerning the fitness of associations. Anna herself looked earnestly at her governess, and I saw a flush mantle over her sweet face that reminded me of the ruddiness of morn. Her soft eyes then fell to the floor, and it was some time before she spoke.
The next day I was arranging some fishing-tackle under a window of the library, where my person was concealed by the shrubbery, when I heard the melodious voice of Anna wishing the rector good morning. My heart beat quicker as she approached the casement, tenderly inquiring of her parent how he had passed the night. The answers were as affectionate as the questions, and then there was a little pause.
"What is a stock-jobber, father?" suddenly resumed Anna, whom I heard rustling the leaves above my head.
"A stock-jobber, my dear, is one who buys and sells in the public funds, with a view to profit."
"And is it thought a particularly disgraceful employment?"
"Why, that depends on circumstances. On 'Change it seems to be well enough -- among merchants and bankers there is some odium attached to it, I believe."
"And can you say why, father?"
"I believe," said Dr. Etherington, laughing, "for no other reason than that it is an uncertain calling -- one that is liable to sudden reverses -- what is termed gambling -- and whatever renders property insecure is sure to obtain odium among those whose principal concern is its accumulation; those who consider the responsibility of others of essential importance to themselves."
"But is it a dishonest pursuit, father?"
"As the times go, not necessarily, my dear; though it may readily become so."
"And is it disreputable, generally, with the world?"
"That depends on circumstances, Anna. When the stock- jobber loses, he is very apt to be condemned; but I rather think his character rises in proportion to his gains. But why do you ask these singular questions, love?"
I thought I heard Anna breathe harder than usual, and it is certain that she leaned far out of the window to pluck a rose.
"Why, Mrs. Norton said Jack was not invited to Sir Harry Griffin's because his father was a stock-jobber. Do you think she was right, sir?"
"Very likely, my dear," returned the divine, who I fancied was smiling at the question. "Sir Harry has the advantages of birth, and he probably did not forget that our friend Jack was not so fortunate -- and, moreover, Sir Harry, while he values himself on his wealth, is not as rich as Jack's father by a million or two -- in other words, as they say on 'Change, Jack's father could buy ten of him. This motive was perhaps more likely to influence him than the first. In addition, Sir Harry is suspected of gambling himself in the funds through the aid of agents; and a gentleman who resorts to such means to increase his fortune is a little apt to exaggerate his social advantages by way of a set-off to the humiliation."
"And gentlemen do really become stock-jobbers, father?"
"Anna, the world has undergone great changes in my time. Ancient opinions have been shaken, and governments themselves are getting to be little better than political establishments to add facilities to the accumulation of money. This is a subject, however, you cannot very well understand, nor do I pretend to be very profound in it myself."
"But is Jack's father really so very, very rich?" asked Anna, whose thoughts had been wandering from the thread of those pursued by her father.
"He is believed to be so."
"And Jack is his heir."
"Certainly -- he has no other child; though it is not easy to say what so singular a being may do with his money."
"I hope he will disinherit Jack!"
"You surprise me, Anna! You, who are so mild and reasonable, to wish such a misfortune to befall our young friend John Goldencalf!" I gazed upward in astonishment at this extraordinary speech of Anna, and at the moment I would have given all my interest in the fortune in question to have seen her face (most of her body was out of the window, for I heard her again rustling the bush above my head), in order to judge of her motive by its expression; but an envious rose grew exactly in the only spot where it was possible to get a glimpse.
"Why do you wish so cruel a thing?" resumed Dr. Etherington, a little earnestly.
"Because I hate stock-jobbing and its riches, father. Were Jack poorer, it seems to me he would be better esteemed."
As this was uttered the dear girl drew back, and I then perceived that I had mistaken her cheek for one of the largest and most blooming of the flowers. Dr. Etherington laughed, and I distinctly heard him kiss the blushing face of his daughter. I think I would have given up my hopes in another million to have been the rector at Tenthpig at that instant.
"If that be all, child," he answered, "set thy heart at rest. Jack's money will never bring him into contempt unless through the use he may make of it. Alas! Anna, we live in an age of corruption and cupidity! Generous motives appear to be lost sight of in the general desire of gain; and he who would manifest a disposition to a pure and disinterested philanthropy is either distrusted as a hypocrite or derided as a fool. The accursed revolution among our neighbors the French has quite unsettled opinions, and religion itself has tottered in the wild anarchy of theories to which it has given rise. There is no worldly advantage that has been more austerely denounced by the divine writers than riches, and yet it is fast rising to be the god of the ascendant. To say nothing of an hereafter, society is getting to be corrupted by it to the core, and even respect for birth is yielding to the mercenary feeling."
"And do you not think pride of birth, father, a mistaken prejudice as well as pride of riches?"
"Pride of any sort, my love, cannot exactly be defended on evangelical principles; but surely some distinctions among men are necessary, even for quiet. Were the levelling principle acknowledged, the lettered and the accomplished must descend to an equality with the ignorant and vulgar, since all men cannot rise to the attainments of the former class, and the world would retrograde to barbarism. The character of a Christian gentleman is much too precious to trifle with in order to carry out an impracticable theory."
Anna was silent. Probably she was confused between the opinions which she most liked to cherish and the faint glimmerings of truth to which we are reduced by the ordinary relations of life. As for the good rector himself, I had no difficulty in understanding his bias, though neither his premises nor his conclusions possessed the logical clearness that used to render his sermons so delightful, more especially when he preached about the higher qualities of the Saviour's dispensation, such as charity, love of our fellows, and, in particular, the imperative duty of humbling ourselves before God.
A month after this accidental dialogue, chance made me auditor of what passed between my ancestor and Sir Joseph Job, another celebrated dealer in the funds, in an interview that took place in the house of the former in Cheapside. As the difference was so patent, as the French express it, I shall furnish the substance of what passed.
"This is a serious and a most alarming movement, Mr. Goldencalf," observed Sir Joseph, "and calls for union and cordiality among the holders of property. Should these damnable opinions get fairly abroad among the people, what would become of us? I ask, Mr. Goldencalf, what would become of us?"
"I agree with you, Sir Joseph, it is very alarming! -- frightfully alarming!"
"We shall have agrarian laws, sir. Your money, sir, and mine -- our hard earnings -- will become the prey of political robbers, and our children will be beggared to satisfy the envious longings of some pitiful scoundrel without a six-pence!"
"'Tis a sad state of things, Sir Joseph; and government is very culpable that it don't raise at least ten new regiments."
"The worst of it is, good Mr. Goldencalf, that there are some jacka-napeses of the aristocracy who lead the rascals on and lend them the sanction of their names. It is a great mistake, sir, that we give so much importance to birth in this island, by which means proud beggars set unwashed blackguards in motion, and the substantial subjects are the sufferers. Property, sir, is in danger, and property is the only true basis of society."
"I am sure, Sir Joseph, I never could see the smallest use in birth."
"It is of no use but to beget pensioners, Mr. Goldencalf. Now with property it is a different thing -- money is the parent of money, and by money a state becomes powerful and prosperous. But this accursed revolution among our neighbors the French has quite unsettled opinions, and, alas! property is in perpetual danger!"
"Sorry am I to say, I feel it to be so in every nerve of my body, Sir Joseph."
"We must unite and defend ourselves, Mr. Goldencalf, else both you and I, men warm enough and substantial enough at present, will be in the ditch. Do you not see that we are in actual danger of a division of property?"
"Yes, sir, our sacred property is in danger!"
Here Sir Joseph shook my father cordially by the hand and withdrew. I find, by a memorandum among the papers of my deceased ancestor, that he paid the broker of Sir Joseph, that day month, sixty-two thousand seven hundred and twelve pounds difference (as bull and bear), owing to the fact of the knight having got some secret information through a clerk in one of the offices; an advantage that enabled him, in this instance, at least, to make a better bargain than one who was generally allowed to be among the shrewdest speculators on 'Change.
My mind was of a nature to be considerably exercised (as the pious purists express it), by becoming the depository of sentiments so diametrically opposed to each other as those of Dr. Etherington and those of Sir Joseph Job. On the one side, I was taught the degradation of birth; on the other, the dangers of property. Anna was usually my confidant, but on this subject I was tongue-tied, for I dared not confess that I had overheard the discourse with her father, and I was compelled to digest the contradictory doctrines by myself in the best manner I could.
I shall not say that my mind entirely escaped confusion among these conflicting opinions, although I luckily got a glimpse of one important truth, for both the commentators cordially agreed in fearing and, of necessity, in hating the mass of their fellowcreatures. My own natural disposition was inclining to philanthropy, and as I was unwilling to admit the truth of theories that arrayed me in open hostility against so large a portion of mankind, I soon determined to set up one of my own, which, while it avoided the faults, should include the excellences of both the others. It was, of course, no great affair merely to form such a resolution; but I shall have occasion to say a word hereafter on the manner in which I attempted to carry it out in practice.
Time moved on, and Anna became each day more beautiful. I thought that she had lost some of her frankness and girlish gayety, it is true, after the dialogue with her father; but this I attributed to the reserve and discretion that became the expanding reason and greater feeling of propriety that adorn young womanhood. With me she was always ingenuous and simple, and were I to live a thousand years the angelic serenity of countenance with which she invariably listened to the theories of my busy brain would not be erased from recollection.
We were talking of these things one morning quite alone. Anna heard me when I was most sedate with manifest pleasure, and she smiled mournfully when the thread of my argument was entangled by a vagary of the imagination. I felt at my heart's core what a blessing such a mentor would be, and how fortunate would be my lot could I succeed in securing her for life. Still I did not, could not, summon courage to lay bare my inmost thoughts, and to beg a boon that in these moments of transient humility I feared I never should be worthy to possess.
"I have even thought of marrying," I continued -- so occupied with my own theories as not to weigh, with the accuracy that becomes the frankness and superior advantages which man possesses over the gentler sex, the full import of my words; "could I find one, Anna, as gentle, as good, as beautiful, and as wise as yourself who would consent to be mine, I should not wait a minute; but, unhappily, I fear this is not likely to be my blessed lot. I am not the grandson of a baronet, and your father expects to unite you with one who can at least show that the 'bloody hand' has once been born on his shield; and, on the other side, my father talks of nothing but millions." During the first part of this speech the amiable girl looked kindly up at me, and with a seeming desire to soothe me; but at its close her eyes dropped upon her work and she remained silent. "Your father says that every man who has an interest in the state should give it pledges" -- here Anna smiled, but so covertly that her sweet mouth scarce betrayed the impulse -- "and that none others can ever control it to advantage. I have thought of asking my father to buy a borough and a baronetcy, for with the first, and the influence that his money gives, he need not long wish for the last; but I never open my lips on any matter of the sort that he does not answer 'Fol lol der rol, Jack, with your knighthoods, and social order, and bishoprics, and boroughs -- property is in danger! -- loans and regiments, if thou wilt -- give us more order "ORDER -- order" -- bayonets are what we want, boy, and good wholesome taxes, to accustom the nation to contribute to its own wants and to maintain its credit. Why, youngster, if the interest on the debt were to remain unpaid twenty-four hours, your body corporate, as you call it, would die a natural death; and what would then become of your knights -- barroknights? -- and barren enough some of them are getting to be by their wastefulness and extravagance. Get thee married, Jack, and settle prudently. There is neighbor Silverpenny has an only daughter of a suitable age; and a good hussy is she in the bargain. The only daughter of Oliver Silverpenny will be a suitable wife for the only son of Thomas Goldencalf; though I give thee notice, boy, that thou wilt be cut off with a competency; so keep thy head clear of extravagant castle-building, learn economy in season, and, above all, make no debts.' "Anna laughed as I humorously imitated the well-known intonations of Mr. Speaker Sutton, but a cloud darkened her bright features when I concluded.
"Yesterday I mentioned the subject to your father," I resumed, "and he thought with me that the idea of the borough and the baronetcy was a good one. 'You would be the second of your line, Jack,' he said, 'and that is always better than being the first; for there is no security for a man's being a good member of society like that of his having presented to his eyes the examples of those who have gone before him, and who have been distinguished by their services or their virtues. If your father would consent to come into parliament and sustain government at this critical moment, his origin would be overlooked, and you would have pride in looking back on his acts. As it is, I fear his whole soul is occupied with the unworthy and debasing passion of mere gain. Money is a necessary auxiliary to rank, and without rank there can be no order, and without order no liberty; but when the love of money gets to occupy the place of respect for descent and past actions, a community loses the very sentiment on which all its noble exploits are bottomed.' So you see, dear Anna, that our parents hold very different opinions on a very grave question, and between natural affection and acquired veneration I scarcely know which to receive. If I could find one sweet, and wise, and beautiful as thou, and who could pity me, I would marry to-morrow, and cast all the future on the happiness that is to be found with such a companion."
As usual, Anna heard me in silence. That she did not, however, view matrimony with exactly the same eyes as myself was clearly proved the very next day, for young Sir Harry Griffin (the father was dead) offered in form and was very decidedly refused.
Although I was always happy at the rectory, I could not help feeling rather than seeing that, as the French express it, I occupied a false position in society. Known to be the expectant of great wealth, it was not easy to be overlooked altogether in a country whose government is based on a representation of property, and in which boroughs are openly in market; and yet they who had obtained the accidental advantage of having their fortunes made by their grandfathers were constantly convincing me that mine, vast as it was thought to be, was made by my father. Ten thousand times did I wish (as it has since been expressed by the great captain of the age), that I had been my own grandson; for notwithstanding the probability that he who is nearest to the founder of a fortune is the most likely to share the largest in its accumulations, as he who is nearest in descent to the progenitor who has illustrated his race is the most likely to feel the influence of his character, I was not long in perceiving that in highly refined and intellectual communities the public sentiment, as it is connected with the respect and influence that are the meed of both, directly refutes the inferences of all reasonable conjectures on the subject. I was out of my place, uneasy, ashamed, proud, and resentful; in short I occupied a FALSE POSITION, and unluckily one from which I saw no plausible retreat except by falling back on Lombard street or by cutting my throat. Anna alone -- kind, gentle, serene-eyed Anna-entered into all my joys, sympathized in my mortifications, and appeared to view me as I was; neither dazzled by my wealth nor repelled by my origin. The day she refused young Sir Harry Griffin I could have kneeled at her feet and called her blessed!
It is said that no moral disease is ever benefited by its study. I was a living proof of the truth of the opinion that brooding over one's wrongs or infirmities seldom does much more than aggravate the evil. I greatly fear it is in the nature of man to depreciate the advantages he actually enjoys and to exaggerate those which are denied him. Fifty times during the six months that succeeded the repulse of the young baronet did I resolve to take heart and to throw myself at the feet of Anna, and as often was I deterred by the apprehension that I had nothing to render me worthy of one so excellent, and especially of one who was the granddaughter of the seventh English baronet. I do not pretend to explain the connection between cause and effect, for I am neither physician nor metaphysician; but the tumult of spirits that resulted from so many doubts, hopes, fears, resolutions, and breakings of resolutions, began to affect my health, and I was just about to yield to the advice of my friends (among whom Anna was the most earnest and the most sorrowful), to travel, when an unexpected call to attend the death-bed of my ancestor was received. I tore myself from the rectory and hurried up to town with the diligence and assiduity of an only son and heir summoned on an occasion so solemn.
I found my ancestor still in the possession of his senses, though given over by the physicians; a circumstance that proved a degree of disinterestedness and singleness of purpose on their part that was scarcely to be expected towards a patient who it was commonly believed was worth more than a million. My reception by the servants and by the two or three friends who had assembled on this melancholy occasion, too, was sympathizing, warm, and of a character to show their solicitude and forethought.
My reception by the sick man was less marked. The total abstraction of his faculties in the one great pursuit of his life; a certain sternness of purpose which is apt to get the ascendant with those who are resolute to gain, and which usually communicates itself to the manners; and an absence of those kinder ties that are developed by the exercise of the more familiar charities of our existence had opened a breach between us that was not to be filled by the simple unaided fact of natural affinity. I say of natural affinity, for notwithstanding the doubts that cast their shadows on that branch of my genealogical tree by which I was connected with my maternal grandfather, the title of the king to his crown is not more apparent than was my direct lineal descent from my father. I always believed him to be my ancestor de jure as well as de facto, and could fain have loved him and honored him as such had my natural yearnings been met with more lively bowels of sympathy on his side.
Notwithstanding the long and unnatural estrangement that had thus existed between the father and son, the meeting on the present occasion was not entirely without some manifestations of feeling.
"Thou art come at last, Jack," said my ancestor; "I was afraid, boy, thou might'st be too late."
The difficult breathing, haggard countenance, and broken utterance of my father struck me with awe. This was the first death-bed by which I had ever stood; and the admonishing picture of time passing into eternity was indelibly stamped on my memory. It was not only a death- bed scene, but it was a family death-bed scene. I know not how it was, but I thought my ancestor looked more like the Goldencalfs than I had ever seen him look before.
"Thou hast come at last, Jack," he repeated, "and I'm glad of it. Thou art the only being in whom I have now any concern. It might have been better, perhaps, had I lived more with my kind -- but thou wilt be the gainer. Ah! Jack, we are but miserable mortals after all! To be called away so suddenly and so young!"
My ancestor had seen his seventy-fifth birthday; but unhappily he had not settled all his accounts with the world, although he had given the physician his last fee and sent the parson away with a donation to the poor of the parish that would make even a beggar merry for a whole life.
"Thou art come at last, Jack! Well, my loss will be thy gain, boy! Send the nurse from the room."
I did as commanded, and we were left to ourselves.
"Take this key," handing me one from beneath his pillow, "and open the upper drawer of my secretary. Bring me the packet which is addressed to thyself."
I silently obeyed; when my ancestor, first gazing at it with a sadness that I cannot well describe -- for it was neither worldly nor quite of an ethereal character, but a singular and fearful compound of both -- put the papers into my hand, relinquishing his hold slowly and with reluctance.
"Thou wilt wait till I am out of thy sight, Jack?"
A tear burst from out its source and fell upon the emaciated hand of my father. He looked at me wistfully, and I felt a slight pressure that denoted affection.
"It might have been better, Jack, had we known more of each other. But Providence made me fatherless, and I have lived childless by my own folly. Thy mother was a saint, I believe; but I fear I learned it too late. Well, a blessing often comes at the eleventh hour!"
As my ancestor now manifested a desire not to be disturbed, I called the nurse and quitted the room, retiring to my own modest chamber, where the packet, a large bundle of papers sealed and directed to myself in the handwriting of the dying man, was carefully secured under a good lock. I did not meet my father again but once under circumstances which admitted of intelligible communion. From the time of our first interview he gradually grew worse, his reason tottered, and, like the sinful cardinal of Shakespeare, "he died and gave no sign."
Three days after my arrival, however, I was left alone with him, and he suddenly revived from a state approaching to stupor. It was the only time since the first interview in which he had seemed even to know me.
"Thou art come at last!" he said, in a tone that was already sepulchral. "Canst tell me, boy, why they had golden rods to measure the city?" His nurse had been reading to him a chapter of the Revelations which had been selected by himself. "Thou seest, lad, the wall itself was of jasper and the city was of pure gold -- I shall not need money in my new habitation -- ha! it will not be wanted there! -- I am not crazed, Jack -- would I had loved gold less and my kind more. The city itself is of pure gold and the walls of jasper-precious abode! -- ha! Jack, thou hearest, boy -- I am happy -- too happy, Jack! -- gold -- gold!"
The final words were uttered with a shout. They were the last that ever came from the lips of Thomas Goldencalf. The noise brought in the attendants, who found him dead. I ordered the room to be cleared as soon as the melancholy truth was fairly established, and remained several minutes alone with the body. The countenance was set in death. The eyes, still open, had that revolting glare of frenzied delight with which the spirit had departed, and the whole face presented the dread picture of a hopeless end. I knelt and, though a Protestant, prayed fervently for the soul of the deceased. I then took my leave of the first and the last of all my ancestors.
To this scene succeeded the usual period of outward sorrow, the interment, and the betrayal of the expectations of the survivors. I observed that the house was much frequented by many who rarely or never had crossed its threshold during the life of its late owner. There was much cornering, much talking in an undertone, and looking at me that I did not understand, and gradually the number of regular visitors increased until it amounted to about twenty. Among them were the parson of the parish, the trustees of several notorious charities, three attorneys, four or five well-known dealers of the stock exchange, foremost among whom was Sir Joseph Job, and three of the professionally benevolent, or of those whose sole occupation appears to be that of quickening the latent charities of their neighbors.
The day after my ancestor was finally removed from our sight, the house was more than usually crowded. The secret conferences increased both in earnestness and in frequency, and finally I was summoned to meet these ill- timed guests in the room which had been the sanctum sanctorum of the late owner of the dwelling. As I entered among twenty strange faces, wondering why I, who had hitherto passed through life so little heeded, should be unseasonably importuned, Sir Joseph Job presented himself as the spokesman of the party.
"We have sent for you, Mr. Goldencalf," the knight commenced, decently wiping his eyes, "because we think that respect for our late much-esteemed, most excellent, and very respectable friend requires that we no longer neglect his final pleasure, but that we should proceed at once to open his will, in order that we may take prompt measures for its execution. It would have been more regular had we done this before he was interred, for we cannot have foreseen his pleasure concerning his venerable remains; but it is fully my determination to have everything done as he has ordered, even though we may be compelled to disinter the body."
I am habitually quiescent, and possibly credulous, but nature has not denied me a proper spirit. What Sir Joseph Job, or any one but myself, had to do with the will of my ancestor did not strike me at first sight; and I took care to express as much, in terms it was not easy to misunderstand.
"The only child and, indeed, the only known relative of the deceased," I said, "I do not well see, gentlemen, how this subject should interest in this lively manner so many strangers!"
"Very spirited and proper, no doubt, sir," returned Sir Joseph, smiling; "but you ought to know, young gentleman, that if there are such things as heirs there are also such things as executors!"
This I did know already, and I had also somewhere imbibed an opinion that the latter was commonly the most lucrative situation.
"Have you any reason to suppose, Sir Joseph Job, that my late father has selected you to fulfil this trust?"
"That will be better known in the end, young gentleman. Your late father is known to have died rich, very rich -- not that he has left as much by half a million as vulgar report will have it -- but what I should term comfortably off; and it is unreasonable to suppose that a man of his great caution and prudence should suffer his money to go to the heir-at-law, that heir being a youth only in his twentythird year, ignorant of business, not over-gifted with experience, and having the propensities of all his years in this ill-behaving and extravagant age, without certain trusts and provisions which will leave his hard earnings for some time to come under the care of men who like himself know the full value of money."
"No, never! -- 'tis quite impossible -- 'tis more than impossible!" exclaimed the bystanders, all shaking their heads.
"And the late Mr. Goldencalf, too, intimate with most of the substantial names on 'Change, and particularly with Sir Joseph Job!" added another.
Sir Joseph Job nodded his head, smiled, stroked his chin, and stood waiting for my reply.
"Property is in danger, Sir Joseph," I said, ironically; "but it matters not. If there is a will, it is as much my interest to know it as it can possibly be yours; and I am quite willing that a search be made on the spot."
Sir Joseph looked daggers at me; but being a man of business he took me at my word, and, receiving the keys I offered, a proper person was immediately set to work to open the drawers. The search was continued for four hours without success. Every private drawer was rummaged, every paper opened, and many a curious glance was cast at the contents of the latter, in order to get some clew to the probable amount of the assets of the deceased. Consternation and uneasiness very evidently increased among most of the spectators as the fruitless examination proceeded; and when the notary ended, declaring that no will was to be found, nor any evidence of credits, every eye was fastened on me as if I were suspected of stealing that which in the order of nature was likely to be my own without the necessity of crime.
"There must be a secret repository of papers somewhere," said Sir Joseph Job, as if he suspected more than he wished just then to express; "Mr. Goldencalf is largely a creditor on the public books, and yet here is not so much as a scrip for a pound!"
I left the room and soon returned, bringing with me the bundle that had been committed to me by my father.
"Here, gentlemen," I said, "is a large packet of papers that were given to me by the deceased on his death-bed with his own hands. It is, as you see, sealed with his seal and especially addressed to me in his own handwriting, and it is not violent to suppose that the contents concern me only. Still, as you take so great an interest in the affairs of the deceased, it shall now be opened, and those contents, so far as you can have any right to know them, shall not be hid from you."
I thought Sir Joseph looked grave when he saw the packet and had examined the handwriting of the envelope. All, however, expressed their satisfaction that the search was now most probably ended. I broke the seals and exposed the contents of the envelope. Within it there were several smaller packets, each sealed with the seal of the deceased, and each addressed to me in his own handwriting like the external covering. Each of these smaller packets, too, had a separate indorsement of its contents. Taking them as they lay, I read aloud the nature of each before I proceeded to the next. They were also numbered.
"No. 1," I commenced. "Certificates of public stock held by Tho. Goldencalf, June 12th, 1815." We were now at June 29th of the same year. As I laid aside this packet I observed that the sum indorsed on its back greatly exceeded a million. "No. 2. Certificates of Bank of England stock." This sum was several hundred thousands of pounds. "No. 3. South Sea Annuities." Nearly three hundred thousand pounds. "No. 4. Bonds and mortgages." Four hundred and thirty thousand pounds. "No. 5. The bond of Sir Joseph Job for sixty-three thousand pounds."
I laid down the paper and involuntarily exclaimed, "Property is in danger!" Sir Joseph turned pale, but he beckoned to me to proceed, saying, "We shall soon come to the will, sir."
"No. 6. -- " I hesitated; for it was an assignment to myself, which from its very nature I perceived was an abortive attempt to escape the payment of the legacy duty.
"Well, sir, No. 6?" inquired Sir Joseph, with tremulous exultation.
"Is an instrument affecting myself, and with which you have no concern, sir."
"We shall see, sir, we shall see, sir -- if you refuse to exhibit the paper there are laws to compel you."
"To do what, Sir Joseph Job? To exhibit to my father's debtors' papers that are exclusively addressed to me and which can affect me only? But here is the paper, gentlemen, that you so much desire to see. 'No. 7. The last will and testament of Tho. Goldencalf, dated June 17th, 1816.'" (He died June the 24th of the same year.)
"Ah! the precious instrument!" exclaimed Sir Joseph Job, eagerly extending his hand as if expecting to receive the will.
"This paper, as you perceive, gentlemen," I said, holding it up in a manner that all present might see it, "is especially addressed to myself, and it shall not quit my hands until I learn that some other has a better right to it."
I confess my heart failed me as I broke the seals, for I had seen but little of my father and I knew that he had been a man of very peculiar opinions as well as habits. The will was all in his own handwriting, and it was very short. Summoning courage I read it aloud in the following words:
"In the name of God -- Amen: I, Tho. Goldencalf, of the parish of Bow, in the city of London, do publish and declare this instrument to be my last will and testament:
"That is to say; I bequeath to my only child and much- beloved son, John Goldencalf, all my real estate in the parish of Bow and city of London, aforesaid, to be held in free-simple by him, his heirs, and assigns, forever.
"I bequeath to my said only child and much-beloved son, John Goldencalf, all my personal property of every sort and description whatever of which I may die possessed, including bonds and mortgages, public debt, bank stock, notes of hand, goods and chattels, and all others of my effects, to him, his heirs, or assigns.
"I nominate and appoint my said much-beloved son, John Goldencalf, to be the sole executor of this my last will and testament, counselling him not to confide in any of those who may profess to have been my friends; and particularly to turn a deaf ear to all the pretensions and solicitations of Sir Joseph Job, Knight. In witness whereof," etc., etc.
This will was duly executed, and it was witnessed by the nurse, his confidential clerk, and the housemaid.
"Property is in danger, Sir Joseph!" I dryly remarked, as I gathered together the papers in order to secure them.
"This will may be set aside, gentlemen!" cried the knight in a fury. "It contains a libel!"
"And for whose benefit, Sir Joseph?" I quietly inquired. "With or without the will my title to my father's assets would seem to be equally valid."
This was so evidently true that the more prudent retired in silence; and even Sir Joseph after a short delay, during which he appeared to be strangely agitated, withdrew. The next week his failure was announced, in consequence of some extravagant risks on 'Change, and eventually I received but three shillings and fourpence in the pound for my bond of sixty-three thousand.
When the money was paid I could not help exclaiming mentally, "Property is in danger!"
The following morning Sir Joseph Job balanced his account with the world by cutting his throat.
The reader may now suppose that I was perfectly happy. Without a solitary claim on either my time or my estate, I was in the enjoyment of an income that materially exceeded the revenues of many reigning princes. I had not an ex-pensive nor a vicious habit of any sort. Of houses, horses, hounds, packs, and menials, there were none to vex or perplex me. In every particular save one I was completely my own master. That one was the near, dear, cherished sentiment that rendered Anna in my eyes an angel (and truly she was little short of it in those of other people), and made her the polar star to which every wish pointed. How gladly would I have paid half a million just then to be the grandson of a baronet with precedency from the seventeenth century!
There was, however, another and a present cause for un- easiness that gave me even more concern than the fact that my family reached the dark ages with so much embarrassing facility. In witnessing the dying agony of my ancestor I had got a dread lesson on the vanity, the hopeless character, the dangers, and the delusions of wealth that time can never eradicate. The history of its accumulation was ever present to mar the pleasure of its possession. I do not mean that I suspected what by the world's convention is deemed dishonesty -- of that there had been no necessity -- but simply that the heartless and estranged existence, the waste of energies, the blunted charities, and the isolated and distrustful habits of my father appeared to me to be but poorly requited by the joyless ownership of its millions. I would have given largely to be directed in such a way as while escaping the wastefulness of the shoals of Scylla I might in my own case steer clear of the miserly rocks of Charybdis.
When I drove from between the smoky lines of the London houses into the green fields and amid the blossoming hedges, this earth looked beautiful and as if it were made to be loved. I saw in it the workmanship of a divine and beneficent Creator, and it was not difficult to persuade myself that he who dwelt in the confusion of a town in order to transfer gold from the pocket of his neighbor to his own had mistaken the objects of his being. My poor ancestor who had never quitted London stood before me with his dying regrets; and my first resolution was to live in open communion with my kind. So intense, indeed, did my anxiety to execute this purpose become that it might have led even to frenzy had not a fortunate circumstance interposed to save me from so dire a calamity.
The coach in which I had taken passage (for I purposely avoided the parade and trouble of post-chaise and servants), passed through a market town of known loyalty on the eve of a contested election. This appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the constituency had occurred in consequence of the late incumbent having taken office. The new minister, for he was a member of the cabinet, had just ended his canvass, and he was about to address his fellowsubjects from a window of the tavern in which he lodged. Fatigued, but ready to seek mental relief by any means, I threw myself from the coach, secured a room, and made one of the multitude.
The favorite candidate occupied a large balcony surrounded by his principal friends, among whom it was delightful to see earls, lords John, baronets, dignitaries of the church, tradesmen of influence in the borough, and even a mechanic or two, all squeezed together in the agreeable amalgamation of political affinity. Here then, thought I, is an example of the heavenly charities I The candidate himself, the son and heir of a peer, feels that he is truly of the same flesh and blood as his constituents; how amiably he smiles! -- how bland are his manners! -- and with what cordiality does he shake hands with the greasiest and the worst! There must be a corrective to human pride, a stimulus to the charities, a never-ending lesson of benevolence in this part of our excellent system, and I will look farther into it. The candidate appeared and his harangue commenced.
Memory would fail me were I to attempt recording the precise language of the orator, but his opinions and precepts are so deeply graven on my recollection that I do not fear misrepresenting them. He commenced with a very proper and eloquent eulogium on the constitution, which he fearlessly pronounced to be in its way the very perfection of human reason; in proof of which he adduced the well-ascertained fact that it had always been known throughout the vicissitudes and trials of so many centuries to accommodate itself to circumstances, abhorring change. "Yes, my friends," he exclaimed, in a burst of patriotic and constitutional fervor, "whether under the roses or the lilies -- the Tudors, the Stuarts, or the illustrious house of Brunswick, this glorious structure has resisted the storms of faction, has been able to receive under its sheltering roof the most opposite elements of domestic strife, affording protection, warmth, aye, and food and raiment"-(here the orator happily laid his hand on the shoulder of a butcher, who wore a frieze overcoat that made him look not unlike a stall-fed beast) -- "yes, food and raiment, victuals and drink, to the meanest subject in the realm. Nor is this all; it is a constitution peculiarly English: and who is there so base, so vile, so untrue to himself, to his fathers, to his descendants, as to turn his back on a constitution that is thoroughly and inherently English, a constitution that he has inherited from his ancestors, and which by every obligation both human and divine he is bound to transmit unchanged to posterity";-here the orator, who continued to speak, however, was deafened by shouts of applause, and that part of the subject might very fairly be considered as definitively settled.
From the constitution as a whole the candidate next proceeded to extol the particular feature of it that was known as the borough of Householder. According to his account of this portion of the government, its dwellers were animated by the noblest spirit of independence, the most rooted determination to uphold the ministry of which he was the least worthy member, and were distinguished by what in an ecstasy of political eloquence he happily termed the most freeborn understanding of its rights and privileges. This loyal and judicious borough had never been known to waste its favors on those who had not a stake in the community. It understood that fundamental principle of good government which lays down the axiom that none were to be trusted but those who had a visible and an extended interest in the country; for without these pledges of honesty and independence what had the elector to expect but bribery and corruption -- a traffic in his dearest rights, and a bargaining that might destroy the glorious institutions under which he dwelt. This part of the harangue was listened to in respectful silence, and shortly after the orator concluded; when the electors dispersed, with, no doubt, a better opinion of themselves and the constitution than it had probably been their good fortune to entertain since the previous election.
Accident placed me at dinner (the house being crowded) at the same table with an attorney who had been very active the whole morning among the Householders, and who I soon learned, from himself, was the especial agent of the owner of the independent borough in question. He told me that he had came down with the expectation of disposing of the whole property to Lord Pledge, the ministerial candidate named; but the means had not been forthcoming as he had been led to hope, and the bargain was unluckily broken off at the very moment when it was of the utmost importance to know to whom the independent electors rightfully belonged.
"His lordship, however," continued the attorney, winking, "has done what is handsome; and there can be no more doubt of his election than there would be of yours did you happen to own the borough."
"And is the property now open for sale?" I asked.
"Certainly-my principal can hold out no longer. The price is settled, and I have his power of attorney to make the preliminary bargain. 'Tis a thousand pities that the public mind should be left in this undecided state on the eve of an election."
"Then, sir, I will be the purchaser."
My companion looked at me with astonishment and doubt. He had transacted too much business of this nature, however, not to feel his way before he was either off or on.
"The price of the estate is three hundred and twenty- five thousand pounds, sir, and the rental is only six!"
"Be it so. My name is Goldencalf: by accompanying me to town you shall receive the money."
"Goldencalf! What, sir, the only son and heir of the late Thomas Goldencalf of Cheapside?"
"The same. My father has not been dead a month."
"Pardon me, sir -- convince me of your identity -- we must be particular in matters of this sort -- and you shall have possession of the property in season to secure your own election or that of any of your friends. I will return Lord Pledge his small advances, and another time he will know better than to fail of keeping his promises. What is a borough good for if a nobleman's word is not sacred? You will find the electors, in particular, every way worthy of your favor. They are as frank, loyal, and straightforward a constituency as any in England. No skulking behind the ballot for them! -- and in all respects they are fearless Englishmen who will do what they say, and say whatever their landlord shall please to require of them."
As I had sundry letters and other documents about me, nothing was easier than to convince the attorney of my identity. He called for pen and ink; drew out of his pocket the contract that had been prepared for Lord Pledge; gave it to me to read; filled the blanks; and affixing his name, called the waiters as witnesses, and presented me the paper with a promptitude and respect that I found really delightful. So much, thought I, for having given pledges to society by the purchase of a borough. I drew on my bankers for three hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds, and arose from table virtually the owner of the estate of Householder and of the political consciences of its tenantry.
A fact so important could not long be unknown; and in a few minutes all eyes in the coffee-room were upon me. The landlord presented himself and begged I would do him the honor to take possession of his family parlor, there being no other at his disposal. I was hardly installed before a servant in a handsome livery presented the following note.
"DEAR Mr. GOLDENCALF:I begged that the noble visitor might not be made to wait a moment. Lord Pledge met me like an old and intimate friend. He made a hundred handsome inquiries after my dead ancestor; spoke feelingly of his regret at not having been summoned to attend his death-bed; and then very ingenuously and warmly congratulated me on my succession to so large a property.
I have this moment heard of your being in town, and am exceedingly rejoiced to learn it. A long intimacy with your late excellent and most loyal father justifies my claiming you for a friend, and I waive all ceremony (official, of course, is meant, there being no reason for any other between us), and beg to be admitted for half an hour.
Dear Mr. Goldencalf, Yours very faithfully and sincerely,——— GOLDENCALF, Esquire.
"I hear, too, you have bought this borough, my dear sir. I could not make it convenient just at this particular moment to conclude my own arrangement -- but it is a good thing. Three hundred and twenty thousand, I suppose, as was mentioned between me and the other party?"
"Three hundred and twenty-five thousand, Lord Pledge."
I perceived by the countenance of the noble candidate that I had paid the odd five thousand as a fine -- a circumstance which accounted for the promptitude of the attorney in the transaction, he most probably pocketing the difference himself.
"You mean to sit, of course?"
"I do, my lord, as one of the members, at the next general election; but at present I shall be most happy to aid your return."
"My dear Mr. Goldencalf -- "
"Really, without presuming to compliment, Lord Pledge, the noble sentiments I heard you express this morning were so very proper, so exceedingly statesmanlike, so truly English, that I shall feel infinitely more satisfaction in knowing that you fill the vacant seat than if it were in my own possession."
"I honor your public spirit, Mr. Goldencalf, and only wish to God there was more of it in the world. But you can count on our friendship, sir. What you have just remarked is true, very true, only too true, true to a hair-a-a-a -- I mean, my dear Mr. Goldencalf, most especially those sentiments of mine which-a-a-a-I say it, before God, without vanity -- but which, as you have so very ably intimated, are so truly proper and English."
"I sincerely think so, Lord Pledge, or I should not have said it. I am peculiarly situated myself. With an immense fortune, without rank, name, or connections, nothing is easier than for one of my years to be led astray; and it is my ardent desire to hit upon some expedient that may connect me properly with society."
"Marry, my dear young friend -- select a wife from among the fair and virtuous of this happy isle -- unluckily I can propose nothing in this way myself -- for both my own sisters are disposed of."
"I have made choice, already, I thank you a thousand times, my dear Lord Pledge; although I scarcely dare execute my own wishes. There are objections -- if I were only the child, now, of a baronet's second son, or -- "
"Become a baronet yourself," once more interrupted my noble friend, with an evident relief from suspense; for I verily believe he thought I was about to ask for something better. "Your affair shall be arranged by the end of the week -- and if there is anything else I can do for you, I beg you to name it without reserve."
"If I could hear a few more of those remarkable sentiments of yours, concerning the stake we should all have in society, I think it would relieve my mind."
My companion looked at me a moment with a very awkward sort of an intensity, drew his hand across his brows, reflected, and then obligingly complied.
"You attach too much importance, Mr. Goldencalf, to a few certainly very just but very ill-arranged ideas. That a man without a proper stake in society is little better than the beasts of the fields, I hold to be so obvious that it is unnecessary to dwell on the point. Reason as you will, forward or backward, you arrive at the same result -- he that hath nothing is usually treated by mankind little better than a dog, and he that is little better than a dog usually has nothing. Again. What distinguishes the savage from the civilized man? Why, civilization to be sure. Now, what is civilization? The arts of life. What feeds, nourishes, sustains the arts of life? Money or property. By consequence, civilization is property, and property is civilization. If the control of a country is in the hands of those who possess the property, the government is a civilized government; but, on the other hand, if it is in the hands of those who have no property, the government is necessarily an uncivilized government. It is quite impossible that any one should become a safe statesman who does not possess a direct property interest in society. You know there is not a tyro of our political sect who does not fully admit the truth of this axiom."
"Why, Pitt was certainly an exception in one way; but then, you will recollect, he was the immediate representative of the tories, who own most of the property of England."
"Fox represented the whigs, who own all the rest, you know. No, my dear Goldencalf, reason as you will, we shall always arrive at the same results. You will, of course, as you have just said, take one of the seats yourself at the next general election?"
"I shall be too proud of being your colleague to hesitate."
This speech sealed our friendship; for it was a pledge to my noble acquaintance of his future connection with the borough. He was much too high-bred to express his thanks in vulgar phrases (though highbreeding rarely exhibits all its finer qualities pending an election), but -- a man of the world, and one of a class whose main business it is to put the suaviter in modo, as the French have it en evidence, -- the reader may be sure that when we parted that night I was in perfect good humor with myself and, as a matter of course, with my new acquaintance.
The next day the canvass was renewed, and we had another convincing speech on the subject of the virtue of "a stake in society"; for Lord Pledge was tactician enough to attack the citadel, once assured of its weak point, rather than expend his efforts on the outworks of the place. That night the attorney arrived from town with the titledeeds all properly executed (they had been some time in preparation for Lord Pledge), and the following morning early the tenants were served with the usual notices, with a handsomely expressed sentiment on my part in favor of "a stake in society." About noon Lord Pledge walked over the course, as it is expressed at Newmarket and Doncaster. After dinner we separated, my noble friend returning to town, while I pursued my way to the rectory.
Anna never appeared more fresh, more serene, more elevated above mortality, than when we met, a week after I had quitted Householder, in the breakfast-parlor of her father's abode.
"You are beginning to look like yourself again, Jack," she said, extending her hand with the simple cordiality of an Englishwoman; "and I hope we shall find you more rational."
"Ah, Anna, if I could only presume to throw myself at your feet, and tell you how much and what I feel, I should be the happiest fellow in all England."
"As it is you are the most miserable!" the laughing girl answered as, crimsoned to the temples, she drew away the hand I was foolishly pressing against my heart. "Let us go to breakfast, Mr. Goldencalf-my father has ridden across the country to visit Dr. Liturgy."
"Anna," I said, after seating myself and taking a cup of tea from fingers that were rosy as the morn, "I fear you are the greatest enemy that I have on earth."
"John Goldencalf!" exclaimed the startled girl, turning pale and then flushing violently. "Pray explain yourself."
"I love you to my heart's core -- could marry you, and then, I fear, worship you, as man never before worshipped woman."
Anna laughed faintly.
"And you feel in danger of the sin of idolatry?" she at length succeeded in saying.
"No, I am in danger of narrowing my sympathies -- of losing a broad and safe hold of life -- of losing my proper stake in society -- of -- in short, of becoming as useless to my fellows as my poor, poor father, and of making an end as miserable. Oh! Anna, could you have witnessed the hopelessness of that death-bed, you could never wish me a fate like his!"
My pen is unequal to convey an adequate idea of the expression with which Anna regarded me. Wonder, doubt, apprehension, affection, and anguish were all beaming in her eyes; but the unnatural brightness of these conflicting sentiments was tempered by a softness that resembled the pearly lustre of an Italian sky.
"If I yield to my fondness, Anna, in what will my condition differ from that of my miserable father's? He concentrated his feelings in the love of money, and I -- yes, I feel it here, I know it is here -- I should love you so intensely as to shut out every generous sentiment in favor of others. I have a fearful responsibility on my shoulders-wealth, gold; gold beyond limits; and to save my very soul I must extend not narrow my interest in my fellow-creatures. Were there a hundred such Annas I might press you all to my heart -- but, one! -- no-no -- 'twould be misery -- 'twould be perdition! The very excess of such a passion would render me a heartless miser, unworthy of the confidence of my fellow-men!"
The radiant and yet serene eyes of Anna seemed to read my soul; and when I had done speaking she arose, stole timidly to my side of the table, as woman approaches when she feels most, placed her velvetlike hand on my burning forehead, pressed its throbbing pulses gently to her heart, burst into tears, and fled.
We dined alone, nor did we meet again until the dinner hour. The manner of Anna was soothing, gentle, even affectionate; but she carefully avoided the subject of the morning. As for myself, I was constantly brooding over the danger of concentrating interests, and of the excellence of the social-stake system. "Your spirits will be better, Jack, in a day or two," said Anna, when we had taken wine after the soup. "Country air and old friends will restore your freshness and color."
"If there were a thousand Annas I could be happy as man was never happy before! But I must not, dare not, lessen my hold on society."
"All of which proves my insufficiency to render you happy. But here comes Francis with yesterday morning's paper -- let us see what society is about in London."
After a few moments of intense occupation with the journal, an exclamation of pleasure and surprise escaped the sweet girl. On raising my eyes I saw her gazing (as I fancied) fondly at myself.
"Read what you have that seems to give you so much pleasure."
She complied, reading with an eager and tremulous voice the following paragraph:
"His majesty has been most graciously pleased to raise John Goldencalf of Householder Hall, in the county of Dorset, and of Cheapside, Esquire, to the dignity of a baronet of the united kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland."
"Sir John Goldencalf, I have the honor to drink to your health and happiness!" cried the delighted girl, brightening like the dawn, and wetting her pouting lip with liquor less ruby than itself. "Here, Francis, fill a bumper and drink to the new baronet."
The gray-headed butler did as ordered with a very good grace, and then hurried into the servants' hall to communicate the news.
"Here at least, Jack, is a new hold that society has on you, whatever hold you may have on society."
I was pleased because she was pleased, and because it showed that Lord Pledge had some sense of gratitude (although he afterward took occasion to intimate that I owed the favor chiefly to HOPE), and I believe my eyes never expressed more fondness.
"Lady Goldencalf would not have an awkward sound after all, dearest Anna."
"As applied to one, Sir John, it might possibly do; but not as applied to a hundred." Anna laughed, blushed, burst into tears once more, and again fled.
What right have I to trifle with the feelings of this single-hearted and excellent girl, said I to myself; it is evident that the subject distresses her -- she is unequal to its discussion, and it is unmanly and improper in me to treat it in this manner. I must be true to my character as a gentleman and a man -- aye, and, under present circumstances, as a baronet; and -- I will never speak of it again as long as I live.
The following day I took leave of Dr. Etherington and his daughter, with the avowed intention of travelling for a year or two. The good rector gave me much friendly advice, flattered me with expressions of confidence in my discretion, and, squeezing me warmly by the hand, begged me to recollect that I had always a home at the rectory. When I had made my adieus to the father, I went, with a sorrowful heart, in quest of the daughter. She was still in the little breakfast-parlor -- that parlor so loved! I found her pale, timid, sensitive, bland, but serene. Little could ever disturb that heavenly quality in the dear girl; if she laughed, it was with a restrained and moderated joy; if she wept, it was like rain falling from a sky that still shone with the lustre of the sun. It was only when feeling and nature were unutterably big within her, that some irresistible impulse of her sex betrayed her into emotions like those I had twice witnessed so lately.
"You are about to leave us, Jack," she said, holding out her hand kindly and without the affectation of an indifference she did not feel; "you will see many strange faces, but you will see none who -- "
I waited for the completion of the sentence, but, although she struggled hard for self-possession, it was never finished.
"At my age, Anna, and with my means, it would be unbecoming to remain at home, when, if I may so express it, 'human nature is abroad.' I go to quicken my sympathies, to open my heart to my kind, and to avoid the cruel regrets that tortured the death-bed of my father."
"Well -- well," interrupted the sobbing girl, "we will talk of it no more. It is best that you should travel; and so adieu, with a thousand -- nay, millions of good wishes for your happiness and safe return. You will come back to us, Jack, when tired of other scenes."
This was said with gentle earnestness and a sincerity so winning that it came near upsetting all my philosophy; but I could not marry the whole sex, and to bind down my affections in one would have been giving the death-blow to the development of that sublime principle on which I was bent, and which I had already decided was to make me worthy of my fortune and the ornament of my species. Had I been offered a kingdom, however, I could not speak. I took the unresisting girl in my arms, folded her to my heart, pressed a burning kiss on her cheek, and withdrew.
"You will come back to us, Jack?" she half whispered, as her hand was reluctantly drawn through my own.
Oh! Anna, it was indeed painful to abandon thy frank and gentle confidence, thy radiant beauty, thy serene affections, and all thy womanly virtues, in order to practise my newly-discovered theory! Long did thy presence haunt me -- nay, never did it entirely desert me -- putting my constancy to a severe proof, and threatening at each remove to contract the lengthening chain that still bound me to thee, thy fireside, and thy altars! But I triumphed, and went abroad upon the earth with a heart expanding towards all the creatures of God, though thy image was still enshrined in its inmost core, shining in womanly glory, pure, radiant, and without spot, like the floating prism that forms the lustre of the diamond.
The recollection of the intense feelings of that important period of my life has, in some measure, disturbed the connection of the narrative, and may possibly have left some little obscurity in the mind of the reader on the subject of the new sources of happiness that had broken on my own intelligence. A word here in the way of elucidation, therefore, may not be misapplied, although it is my purpose to refer more to my acts, and to the wonderful incidents it will shortly be my duty to lay before the world, for a just understanding of my views, than to mere verbal explanations.
Happiness -- happiness, here and hereafter, was my goal. I aimed at a life of useful and active benevolence, a deathbed of hope and joy, and an eternity of fruition. With such an object before me, my thoughts, from the moment that I witnessed the dying regrets of my father, had been intensely brooding over the means of attainment. Surprising as, no doubt, it will appear to vulgar minds, I obtained the clew to this sublime mystery at the late election for the borough of Householder, and from the lips of my Lord Pledge. Like other important discoveries, it is very simple when understood, being easily rendered intelligible to the dullest capacities, as, indeed, in equity, ought to be the case with every principle that is so intimately connected with the well-being of man.
It is a universally admitted truth that happiness is the only legitimate object of all human associations. The ruled concede a certain portion of their natural rights for the benefits of peace, security, and order, with the understanding that they are to enjoy the remainder as their own proper indefeasible estate. It is true that there exist in different nations some material differences of opinion on the subject of the quantities to be bestowed and retained; but these aberrations from a just medium are no more than so many caprices of the human judgment, and in no manner do they affect the principle. I found also that all the wisest and best of the species, or what is much the same thing, the most responsible, uniformly maintain that he who has the largest stake in society is, in the nature of things, the most qualified to administer its affairs. By a stake in society is meant, agreeable to universal convention, a multiplication of those interests which occupy us in our daily concerns -- or what is vulgarly called property. This principle works by exciting us to do right through those heavy investments of our own which would inevitably suffer were we to do wrong. The proposition is now clear, nor can the premises readily be mistaken. Happiness is the aim of society; and property, or a vested interest in that society, is the best pledge of our disinterestedness and justice, and the best qualification for its proper control. It follows as a legitimate corollary that a multiplication of those interests will increase the stake, and render us more and more worthy of the trust by elevating us as near as may be to the pure and ethereal condition of the angels. One of those happy accidents which sometimes make men emperors and kings, had made me, perhaps, the richest subject of Europe. With this polar star of theory shining before my eyes, and with practical means so ample, it would have been clearly my own fault had I not steered my bark into the right haven. If he who had the heaviest investments was the most likely to love his fellows, there could be no great difficulty for one in my situation to take the lead in philanthropy. It is true that with superficial observers the instance of my own immediate ancestor might be supposed to form an exception, or rather an objection, to the theory. So far from this being the case, however, it proves the very reverse. My father in a great measure had concentrated all his investments in the national debt! Now, beyond all cavil, he loved the funds intensely; grew violent when they were assailed; cried out for bayonets when the mass declaimed against taxation; eulogized the gallows when there were menaces of revolt, and in a hundred other ways prove that "where the treasure is, there will the heart be also." The instance of my father, therefore, like all exceptions, only went to prove the excellence of the rule. He had merely fallen into the error of contraction, when the only safe course was that of expansion. I resolved to expand; to do that which probably no political economist had ever yet thought of doing -- in short, to carry out the principle of the social stake in such a way as should cause me to love all things, and consequently to become worthy of being intrusted with the care of all things.
On reaching town my earliest visit was one of thanks to my Lord Pledge. At first I had felt some doubts whether the baronetcy would or would not aid the system of philanthropy; for by raising me above a large portion of my kind, it was in so much at least a removal from philanthropical sympathies; but by the time the patent was received and the fees were paid, I found that it might fairly be considered a pecuniary investment, and that it was consequently brought within the rule I had prescribed for my own government.
The next thing was to employ suitable agents to aid in making the purchases that were necessary to attach me to mankind. A month was diligently occupied in this way. As ready money was not wanting, and I was not very particular on the subject of prices, at the end of that time I began to have certain incipient sentiments which went to prove the triumphant success of the experiment. In other words I owned much, and was beginning to take a lively interest in all I owned.
I made purchases of estates in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This division of real property was meant to equalize my sentiments justly between the different portions of my native country. Not satisfied with this, however, I extended the system to the colonies. I had East India shares, a running ship, Canada land, a plantation in Jamaica, sheep at the Cape and at New South Wales, an indigo concern at Bengal, an establishment for the collection of antiques in the Ionian Isles, and a connection with a shipping house for the general supply of our various dependencies with beer, bacon, cheese, broadcloths, and ironmongery. From the British empire my interests were soon extended into other countries. On the Garonne and Xeres I bought vineyards. In Germany I took some shares in different salt and coal mines; the same in South America in the precious metals; in Russia I dipped deeply into tallow; in Switzerland I set up an extensive manufactory of watches, and bought all the horses for a voiturier on a large scale. I had silkworms in Lombardy, olives and hats in Tuscany, a bath in Lucca, and a maccaroni establishment at Naples. To Sicily I sent funds for the purchase of wheat, and at Rome I kept a connoisseur to conduct a general agency in the supply of British articles, such as mustard, porter, pickles, and corned beef, as well as for the forwarding of pictures and statues to the lovers of the arts and of VIRTU.
By the time all this was effected I found my hands full of business. Method, suitable agents, and a resolution to succeed smoothed the way, however, and I began to look about me and to take breath. By way of relaxation I now descended into details; and for a few days I frequented the meetings of those who are called "the Saints," in order to see if something might be done towards the attainment of my object through their instrumentality. I cannot say that this experiment met with all the success I had anticipated. I heard a great deal of subtle discussion, found that manner was of more account than matter, and had unreasonable and ceaseless appeals to my pocket. So near a view of charity had a tendency to expose its blemishes, as the brilliancy of the sun is known to exhibit defects on the face of beauty, which escape the eye when seen through the medium of that artificial light for which they are best adapted; and I soon contented myself with sending my contributions at proper intervals, keeping aloof in person. This experiment gave me occasion to perceive that human virtues, like little candles, shine best in the dark, and that their radiance is chiefly owing to the atmosphere of a "naughty world." From speculating I returned to facts.
The question of slavery had agitated the benevolent for some years, and finding a singular apathy in ray own bosom on this important subject, I bought five hundred of each sex to stimulate my sympathies. This led me nearer to the United States of America, a country that I had endeavored to blot out of my recollection; for while thus encouraging a love for the species, I had scarcely thought it necessary to go so far from home. As no rule exists without an exception, I confess I was a good deal disposed to believe that a Yankee might very fairly be an omission in an Englishman's philanthropy. But "in for a penny in for a pound." The negroes led me to the banks of the Mississippi, where I was soon the owner of both a sugar and a cotton plantation. In addition to these purchases I took shares in divers South-Seamen, owned a coral and pearl fishery of my own, and sent an agent with a proposition to King Tamamamaah to create a monopoly of sandalwood in our joint behalf.
The earth and all it contained assumed new glories in my eyes. I had fulfilled the essential condition of the political economists, the jurists, the constitution- mongers, and all the "talents and decency," and had stakes in half the societies of the world. I was fit to govern, I was fit to advise, to dictate to most of the people of Christendom; for I had taken a direct interest in their welfares by making them my own. Twenty times was I about to jump into a postchaise, and to gallop down to the rectory in order to lay my newborn alliance with the species, and all its attendant felicity, at the feet of Anna, but the terrible thought of monogamy, and of its sympathy-withering consequences, as often stayed my course. I wrote to her weekly, however, making her the participator of a portion of my happiness, though I never had the satisfaction of receiving a single line in reply.
Fairly emancipated from selfishness, and pledged to the species, I now quitted England on a tour of philanthropical inspection. I shall not weary the reader with an account of my journeys over the beaten tracks of the continent, but transport him and myself at once to Paris, in which city I arrived on the 17th of May, Anno Domini 1819. I had seen much, fancied myself improved, and, by constant dwelling on my system, saw its excellences as plainly as Napoleon saw the celebrated star which defied the duller vision of his uncle the cardinal. At the same time, as usually happens with those who direct all their energies to a given point, the opinions originally formed of certain portions of my theory began to undergo mutations, as nearer and more practical views pointed out inconsistencies and exposed defects. As regards Anna in particular, the quiet, gentle, unobtrusive, and yet distinct picture of womanly loveliness that was rarely absent from my mind, had for the past twelvemonth haunted me with a constancy of argument that might have unsettled the Newtonian scheme of philosophy itself. I already more than questioned whether the benefit to be derived from the support of one so affectionate and true would not fully counterbalance the disadvantage of a concentration of interest, so far as the sex was concerned. This growing opinion was fast getting to be conviction, when I encountered on the boulevards one day an old country neighbor of the rector's, who gave me the best account of the family, adding, after descanting on the beauty and excellence of Anna herself, that the dear girl had quite lately actually refused a peer of the realm, who enjoyed all the acknowledged advantages of youth, riches, birth, rank, and a good name, and who had selected her from a deep conviction of her worth, and of her ability to make any sensible man happy. As to my own power over the heart of Anna I never entertained a doubt. She had betrayed it in a thousand ways and on a hundred occasions; nor had I been at all backward in letting her understand how highly I valued her dear self, although I had never yet screwed up my resolution so high as distinctly to propose for her hand. But all my unsettled purposes became concentrated on hearing this welcome intelligence; and, taking an abrupt leave of my old acquaintance, I hurried home and wrote the following letter:
Dear -- very dear, nay -- dearest ANNA:If there was ever a happy fellow on earth it was myself when this letter was written, sealed, and fairly despatched. The die was cast, and I walked into the air a regenerated and an elastic being! Let what might happen, I was sure of Anna. Her gentleness would calm my irritability; her prudence temper my energies; her bland but enduring affections soothe my soul. I felt at peace with all around me, myself included, and I found a sweet assurance of the wisdom of the step I had just taken in the expanding sentiment. If such were my sensations now that every thought centred in Anna, what would they not become when these personal transports were cooled by habit, and nature was left to the action of the ordinary impulses! I began to doubt of the infallibility of that part of my system which had given me so much pain, and to incline to the new doctrine that by concentration on particular parts we come most to love the whole. On examination there was reason to question whether it was not on this principle even that, as an especial landholder, I attained so great an interest in my native island; for while I certainly did not own the whole of Great Britain, I felt that I had a profound respect for everything in it that was in any, even the most remote manner, connected with my own particular possessions.
I met your old neighbor -- this morning on the boulevards, and during an interview of an hour we did little else but talk of thee. Although it has been my most ardent and most predominant wish to open my heart to the whole species, yet, Anna, I fear I have loved thee alone! Absence, so far from expanding, appears to contract my affections, too many of which centre in thy sweet form and excellent virtues. The remedy I proposed is insufficient, and I begin to think that matrimony alone can leave me master of sufficient freedom of thought and action to turn the attention I ought to the rest of the human race. Thou hast been with me in idea in the four corners of the earth, by sea and by land, in dangers and in safety, in all seasons, regions, and situations, and there is no sufficient reason why those who are ever present in the spirit should be materially separated. Thou hast only to say a word, to whisper a hope, to breathe a wish, and I will throw myself a repentant truant at thy feet and implore thy pity. When united, however, we will not lose ourselves in the sordid and narrow paths of selfishness, but come forth again in company to acquire a new and still more powerful hold on this beautiful creation, of which, by this act, I acknowledge thee to be the most divine portion.
Dearest, dearest Anna, thine and the species',
Forever,TO MISS ETHERINGTON.
A week flew by in delightful anticipations. The happiness of this short
but heavenly period became so exciting, so exquisite, that I was on the
point of giving birth to an improvement on my theory (or rather on the
theory of the political economists and constitutionmongers, for it is in
fact theirs and not mine), when the answer of Anna was received. If anticipation
be a state of so much happiness-happiness being the great pursuit of man
-- why not invent a purely probationary condition of society? -- why not
change its elementary features from positive to anticipating interests,
which would give more zest to life, and bestow felicity unimpaired by the
dross of realities? I had determined to carry out this principle in practice
by an experiment, and left the hotel to order an agent to advertise, and
to enter into a treaty or two, for some new investments (without the smallest
intention of bringing them to a conclusion), when the porter delivered
me the ardently expected letter. I never knew what would be the effect
of taking a stake in society by anticipation, therefore; the contents of
Anna's missive driving every subject that was not immediately connected
with the dear writer, and with sad realities, completely out of my head.
It is not improbable, however, that the new theory would have proved to
be faulty, for I have often had occasion to remark that heirs (in remainder,
for instance), manifest an hostility to the estate, by carrying out the
principle of anticipation, rather than any of that prudent respect for
social consequences to which the legislator looks with so much anxiety.
The letter of Anna was in the following words:
Good -- nay, Dear JOHN:Ten thousand furies took possession of my soul, in the shape of so many demons of jealousy. Anna expanding her affections! Anna taking any other stake in society than that I made sure she would accept through me! Anna teaching herself to love more than one, and that one myself! The thought was madness. I did not believe in the sincerity of her refusal of Lord M'Dee. I ran for a copy of the Peerage (for since my own elevation in life I regularly bought both that work and the Baronetage), and turned to the page that contained his name. He was a Scottish viscount who had just been created a baron of the united kingdom, and his age was precisely that of my own. Here was a rival to excite distrust. By a singular contradiction in sentiments, the more I dreaded his power to injure me, the more I undervalued his means. While I fancied Anna was merely playing with me, and had in secret made up her mind to be a peeress, I had no doubt that the subject of her choice was both illfavored and awkward, and had cheek-bones like a Tartar. While reading of the great antiquity of his family (which reached obscurity in the thirteenth century), I set it down as established that the first of his unknown predecessors was a bare-legged thief, and, at the very moment that I imagined Anna was smiling on him, and retracting her coquettish denial, I could have sworn that he spoke with an unintelligible border accent, and that he had red hair!
Thy letter was put into my hands yesterday. This is the fifth answer I have commenced, and you will therefore see that I do not write without reflection. I know thy excellent heart, John, better than it is known to thyself. It has either led thee to the discovery of a secret of the last importance to thy fellow-creatures, or it has led thee cruelly astray. An experiment so noble and so praiseworthy ought not to be abandoned on account of a few momentary misgivings concerning the result. Do not stay thy eagle flight at the instant thou art soaring so near the sun! Should we both judge it for our mutual happiness, I can become thy wife at a future day. We are still young, and there is no urgency for an immediate union. In the mean time, I will endeavor to prepare myself to be the companion of a philanthropist by practising on thy theory, and, by expanding my own affections, render myself worthy to be the wife of one who has so large a stake in society, and who loves so many and so truly.
Thine imitator and friend,
Without change,To Sir JOHN GOLDENCALF, Bart.
P.S. -- You may perceive that I am in a state of improvement, for I have just refused the hand of Lord M'Dee, because I found I loved all his neighbors quite as well as I loved the young peer himself.
The torment of such pictures grew to be intolerable, and I rushed into the open air for relief. How long or whither I wandered I know not; but on the morning of the following day I found I was seated in a guinguette near the base of Montmartre, eagerly devouring a roll and refreshing myself with sour wine. When a little recovered from the shock of discovering myself in a situation so novel (for having no investment in guinguettes, I had not taken sufficient interest in these popular establishments ever to enter one before), I had leisure to look about and survey the company. Some fifty Frenchmen of the laboring classes were drinking on every side, and talking with a vehemence of gesticulation and a clamor that completely annihilated thought. This then, thought I, is a scene of popular happiness. These creatures are excellent fellows, enjoying themselves on liquor that has not paid the city duty, and perhaps I may seize upon some point that favors my system among spirits so frank and clamorous. Doubtless if any one among them is in possession of any important social secret it will not fail to escape him here. From meditations of this philosophical character I was suddenly aroused by a violent blow before me, accompanied with an exclamation in very tolerable English of the word,
On the centre of the board which did the office of a table, and directly beneath my eyes, lay a clenched fist of fearful dimensions, that in color and protuberances bore a good deal of resemblance to a freshly unearthed Jerusalem artichoke. Its sinews seemed to be cracking with tension, and the whole knob was so expressive of intense pugnacity that my eyes involuntarily sought its owner's face. I had unconsciously taken my seat directly opposite a man whose stature was nearly double that of the compact, bustling sputtering, and sturdy little fellows who were bawling on every side of us, and whose skinny lips, instead of joining in the noise, were so firmly compressed as to render the crevice of the mouth no more strongly marked than a wrinkle in the brow of a man of sixty. His complexion was naturally fair, but exposure had tanned the skin of his face to the color of the crackle of a roasted pig; those parts which a painter would be apt to term the "high lights" being indicated by touches of red, nearly as bright as fourth- proof brandy. His eyes were small, stern, fiery, and very gray; and just at the instant they met my admiring look they resembled two stray coals that by some means had got separated from the body of adjacent heat in the face. He had a prominent, well-shaped nose, athwart which the skin was stretched like leather in the process of being rubbed down on the currier's bench, and his ropy black hair was carefully smoothed over his temples and brows, in a way to show that he was abroad on a holiday excursion.
When our eyes met, this singular-looking being gave me a nod of friendly recognition, for no better reason that I could discover than the fact that I did not appear to be a Frenchman. "Did mortal man ever listen to such fools, captain?" he observed, as if certain we must think alike on the subject.
"Really I did not attend to what was said; there certainly is much noise."
"I don't pretend to understand a word of what they are saying myself; but it SOUNDS like thorough nonsense."
"My ear is not yet sufficiently acute to distinguish sense from nonsense by mere intonation and sound -- but it would seem, sir, that you speak English only."
"Therein you are mistaken; for, being a great traveller, I have been compelled to look about me, and as a nat'ral consequence I speak a little of all languages. I do not say that I use the foreign parts of speech always fundamentally, but then I worry through an idee so as to make it legible and of use, especially in the way of eating and drinking. As to French, now, I can say 'don-nez-me some van,' and 'don-nez-vous some pan,' as well as the best of them; but when there are a dozen throats bawling at once, as is the case with these here chaps, why one might as well go on the top of Ape's Hill and hold a conversation with the people he will meet with there, as to pretend to hold a rational or a discussional discourse. For my part, where there is to be a conversation, I like every one to have his turn, keeping up the talk, as it might be, watch and watch; but among these Frenchmen it is pretty much as if their idees had been caged, and the door being suddenly opened, they fly out in a flock, just for the pleasure of saying they are at liberty."
I now perceived that my companion was a reflecting being, his ratiocination being connected by regular links, and that he did not boost his philosophy on the leaping-staff of impulse, like most of those who were sputtering, and arguing, and wrangling, with untiring lungs, in all corners of the guinguette. I frankly proposed, therefore, that we should quit the place and walk into the road, where our discourse would be less disturbed, and consequently more satisfactory. The proposal was well received, and we left the brawlers, walking by the outer boulevards towards my hotel in the Rue de Rivoli, by the way of the Champs Elysees.
"For my part, I am one who likes the friendship of a dog better than his enmity," returned my companion, with a singleness of purpose that left him no disposition to waste his breath in idle compliments. "I accept the offer, therefore, with all my heart; and this the more readily because you are the only one I have met for a week who can ask me how I do without saying, 'Come on, cong portezvous.' Being used to meet with squalls, however, I shall accept your offer under the last condition named."
I liked the stranger's caution. It denoted a proper care of character, and furnished a proof of responsibility. The condition was therefore accepted on my part as frankly as it had been urged on his.
"And now, sir," I added, when we had shaken each other very cordially by the hand, "may I presume to ask your name?"
"I am called Noah, and I don't care who knows it. I am not ashamed of either of my names, whatever else I may be ashamed of."
"Noah -- ?"
"Poke, at your service." He pronounced the word slowly and very distinctly, as if what he had just said of his self-confidence were true. As I had afterward occasion to take his signature, I shall at once give it in the proper form -- "Capt. Noah Poke."
"Of what part of England are you a native, Mr. Poke?"
"I believe I may say of the new parts."
"I do not know that any portion of the island was so designated. Will you have the good-nature to explain yourself?"
"I'm a native of Stunin'tun, in the State of Connecticut, in old New England. My parents being dead, I was sent to sea a four- year-old, and here I am, walking about the kingdom of France without a cent in my pocket, a shipwrecked mariner. Hard as my lot is, to say the truth, I'd about as leave starve as live by speaking their d -- d lingo."
"Shipwrecked -- a mariner -- starving -- and a Yankee!"
"All that, and maybe more, too; though, by your leave, commodore, we'll drop the last title. I'm proud enough to call myself a Yankee, but my back is apt to get up when I hear an Englishman use the word. We are yet friends, and it may be well enough to continue so until some good comes of it to one or other of the parties."
"I ask your pardon, Mr. Poke, and will not offend again. Have you circumnavigated the globe?"
Captain Poke snapped his fingers, in pure contempt of the simplicity of the question.
"Has the moon ever sailed round the 'arth! Look here, a moment, commodore" -- he took from his pocket an apple, of which he had been munching half a-dozen during the walk, and held it up to view -- "draw your lines which way you will on this sphere; crosswise or lengthwise, up or down, zigzag or parpendic'lar, and you will not find more traverses than I've worked about the old ball!"
"By land as well as by sea?"
"Why, as to the land, I've had my share of that, too; for it has been my hard fortune to run upon it, when a softer bed would have given a more quiet nap. This is just the present difficulty with me, for I am now tacking about among these Frenchmen in order to get afloat again, like an alligator floundering in the mud. I lost my schooner on the northeast coast of Russia -- somewhere hereabouts," pointing to the precise spot on the apple; "we were up there trading in skins- and finding no means of reaching home by the road I'd come, and smelling salt water down hereaway, I've been shaping my course westward for the last eighteen months, steering as near as might be directly athwart Europe and Asia; and here I am at last within two days' run of Havre, which is, if I can get good Yankee planks beneath me once more, within some eighteen or twenty days' run of home."
"You allow me, then, to call the planks Yankee?"
"Call 'em what you please, commodore; though I should prefar to call 'em the 'Debby and Dolly of Stunin'tun,' to anything else, for that was the name of the craft I lost. Well, the best of us are but frail, and the longest-winded man is no dolphin to swim with his head under water!"
"Pray, Mr. Poke, permit me to ask where you learned to speak the English language with so much purity?"
"Stunin'tun -- I never had a mouthful of schooling but what I got at home. It's all homespun. I make no boast of scholarship; but as for navigating, or for finding my way about the 'arth, I'll turn my back on no man, unless it be to leave him behind. Now we have people with us that think a great deal of their geometry and astronomies, but I hold to no such slender threads. My way is, when there is occasion to go anywhere, to settle it well in my mind as to the place, and then to make as straight a wake as natur' will allow, taking little account of charts, which are as apt to put you wrong as right; and when they do get you into a scrape it's a smasher! Depend on yourself and human natur', is my rule; though I admit there is some accommodation in a compass, particularly in cold weather."
"Cold weather! I do not well comprehend the distinction."
"Why, I rather conclude that one's scent gets to be dullish in a frost; but this may be no more than a conceit after all, for the two times I've been wrecked were in summer, and both the accidents happened by sheer dint of hard blowing, and in broad daylight, when nothing human short of a change of wind could have saved us."
"And you prefer this peculiar sort of navigation?"
"To all others, especially in the sealing business, which is my raal occupation. It's the very best way in the world to discover islands; and everybody knows that we sealers are always on the lookout for su'thin' of that sort."
"Will you suffer me to inquire, Captain Poke, how many times you have doubled Cape Horn?"
My navigator threw a quick, jealous glance at me, as if he distrusted the nature of the question.
"Why, that is neither here nor there; perhaps I don't double either of the capes, perhaps I do. I get into the South Sea with my craft, and it's of no great moment how it's done. A skin is worth just as much in the market, though the furrier may not happen to have a glossary of the road it has travelled."
"What matters a signification, commodore, when people understand each other? This overland journey has put me to my wits, for you will understand that I've had to travel among natives that cannot speak a syllable of the homespun; so I brought the schooner's dictionary with me as a sort of terrestrial almanac, and I fancied that, as they spoke gibberish to me, the best way was to give it to them back again as near as might be in their own coin, hoping I might hit on su'thin' to their liking. By this means I've come to be rather more voluble than formerly."
"The idea was happy."
"No doubt it was, as is just evinced. But having given you a pretty clear insight into my natur' and occupation, it is time that I ask a few questions of you. This is a business, you must know, at which we do a good deal at Stunin'tun, and at which we are commonly thought to be handy,"
"Put your questions, Captain Poke; I hope the answers will be satisfactory."
"John Goldencalf -- by the favor of his majesty, Sir John Goldencalf, Baronet." '
"Sir John Goldencalf -- by the favor of his majesty, a baronet! Is baronet a calling? or what sort of a crittur or thing is it?"
"It is my rank in the kingdom to which I belong."
"I begin to understand what you mean. Among your nation mankind is what we call stationed, like a ship's people that are called to go about; you have a certain berth in that kingdom of yours, much as I should have in a sealing schooner."
"Exactly so; and I presume you will allow that order, and propriety, and safety result from this method among mariners?"
"No doubt -- no doubt, we station anew, however, each v'yage, according to experience; I'm not so sure that it would do to take even the cook from father to son, or we might have a pretty mess of it."
Here the sealer commenced a series of questions, which he put with a vigor and perseverance that I fear left me without a single fact of my life unrevealed, except those connected with the sacred sentiment that bound me to Anna, and which were far too hallowed to escape me even under the ordeal of a Stunin'tun inquisitor. In short, finding that I was nearly helpless in such hands, I made a merit of necessity, and yielded up my secrets as wood in a vice discharges its moisture. It was scarcely possible that a mind like mine, subjected to the action of such a pair of moral screws, should not yield some hints touching its besetting propensities. The Captain seized this clew, and he went at the theory like a bulldog at the muzzle of an ox.
To oblige him, therefore, I entered at some length into an explanation of my system. After the general remarks that were necessary to give a stranger an insight into its leading principles, I gave him to understand that I had long been looking for one like him, for a purpose that shall now be explained to the reader. I had entertained some negotiations with Tamahamaah, and had certain investments in the pearl and whale fisheries, it is true; but on the whole my relations with all that portion of mankind who inhabit the islands of the Pacific, the northwest coast of America, and the northeast coast of the old continent, were rather loose, and generally in an unsettled and vague condition; and it appeared to me that I had been singularly favored in having a man so well adapted to their regeneration thrown as it were by Providence, and in a manner so unusual, directly in my way. I now frankly proposed, therefore, to fit out an expedition, that should be partly of trade and partly of discovery, in order to expand my interests in this new direction, and to place my new acquaintance at its head. Ten minutes of earnest explanation on my part sufficed to put my companion in possession of the leading features of the plan. When I had ended this direct appeal to his love of enterprise, I was answered by the favorite exclamation of ---
"I do not wonder, Captain Poke, that your admiration breaks out in this manner; for I believe few men fairly enter into the beauty of this benevolent system who are not struck equally with its grandeur and its simplicity. May I count on your assistance?"
"This is a new idee, Sir Goldencalf --- "
"Sir John Goldencalf, if you please, sir."
"A new idee, Sir John Goldencalf, and it needs circumspection. Circumspection in a bargain is the certain way to steer clear of misunderstandings. You wish a navigator to take your craft, let her be what she will, into unknown seas, and I wish, naturally, to make a straight course for Stunin'tun. You see the bargain is in apogee, from the start."
"Money is no consideration with me, Captain Poke."
"Well, this is an idee that has brought many a more difficult contract at once into perigee, Sir John Goldencalf. Money is always a considerable consideration with me, and I may say, also, just now it is rather more so than usual. But when a gentleman clears the way as handsomely as you have now done, any bargain may be counted as a good deal more than half made."
A few explicit explanations disposed of this part of the subject, and Captain Poke accepted of my terms in the spirit of frankness with which they were made. Perhaps his decision was quickened by an offer of twenty Napoleons, which I did not neglect making on the spot. Amicable and in some respects confidential relations were now established between my new acquaintance and myself; and we pursued our walk, discussing the details necessary to the execution of our project. After an hour or two passed in this manner, I invited my companion to go to my hotel, meaning that he should partake of my board until we could both depart for England, where it was my intention to purchase without delay a vessel for the contemplated voyage, in which I also had decided to embark in person.
We were obliged to make our way through the throng that usually frequents the lower part of the Champs Elysees during the season of good weather and towards the close of the day. This task was nearly over when my attention was particularly drawn to a group that was just entering the place of general resort, apparently with the design of adding to the scene of thoughtlessness and amusement. But as I am now approaching the most material part of this extraordinary work, it will be proper to reserve the opening for a new chapter.
The first were Savoyards, and may be generally described as being unwashed, ragged, and carnivorous; in color swarthy; in lineaments and expression avaricious and shrewd; and in appetites voracious. The latter were of the common species, of the usual size, and of approved gravity. There were two of each sex; being very equally paired as to years and external advantages.
The monkeys were all habited with more or less of the ordinary attire of our modern European civilization; but peculiar care had been taken with the toilet of the senior of the two males. This individual had on the coat of a hussar, a cut that would have given a particular part of his body a more military contour than comported with his real character were it not for a red petticoat that was made shorter than common; less, however, with a view to show a pretty foot and ankle than to leave the nether limbs at liberty to go through with certain extravagant efforts which the Savoyards were unmercifully exacting from his natural agility. He wore a Spanish hat, decorated with a few bedraggled feathers, a white cockade, and a wooden sword. In addition to the latter, he carried in his hand a small broom.
Observing that my attention was strongly attracted to this party, the ill-favored Savoyards immediately commenced a series of experiments in saltation, with the sole view, beyond a question, to profit by my curiosity. The inoffensive victims of this act of brutal tyranny submitted with a patience worthy of the profoundest philosophy, meeting the wishes of their masters with a readiness and dexterity that was beyond all praise. One swept the earth, another leaped on the back of a dog, a third threw himself head-over-heels again and again without a murmur, and the fourth moved gracefully to and fro, like a young girl in a quadrille. All this might have passed without calling for particular remark (since, alas! the spectacle is only too common), were it not for certain eloquent appeals that were made to me through the eyes by the individual in the hussar jacket. His look was rarely averted from my face for a moment, and in this way a silent communion was soon established between us. I observed that his gravity was indomitable. Nothing could elicit a smile or a change of countenance. Obedient to the whip of his brutal master, he never refused the required leap; for minutes at a time his legs and petticoat described confused circles in the air, appearing to have taken a final leave of the earth; but, the effort ended, he invariably descended to the ground with a quiet dignity and composure that showed how little the inward monkey partook of the antics of the outward animal. Drawing my companion a little aside, I ventured to suggest a few thoughts to him on the subject.
"Really, Captain Poke, it appears to me there is great injustice in the treatment of these poor creatures!" I said. "What right have these two foul-looking blackguards to seize upon beings much more interesting to the eye and, I dare say, far more intellectual than themselves, and cause them to throw their legs about in this extravagant manner, under the penalty of stripes, and without regard to their feelings or their convenience? I say, sir, the measure appears to me intolerably oppressive, and it calls for prompt redress."
"King or subject, it does not alter the moral deformity of the act. What have these innocent beings done that they should be subjected to this disgrace? Are they not flesh and blood like ourselves --- do they not approach nearer to our form and, for aught we know to the contrary, to our reason, than any other animal? and is it tolerable that our nearest imitations, our very cousins, should be thus dealt by? Are they dogs that they are treated like dogs?"
"Why, to my notion, Sir John, there isn't a dog on 'arth that can take such a summerset. Their flapjacks are quite extraor'nary!"
"Yes, sir, and more than extraordinary; they are oppressive. Place yourself, Mr. Poke, for a single instant, in the situation of one of these persons; fancy that you had a hussar jacket squeezed upon your brawny shoulders, a petticoat placed over your lower extremities, a Spanish hat with bedraggled feathers set upon your head, a wooden sword stuck at your side, and a broom put into your hand; and that these two Savoyards were to menace you with stripes unless you consented to throw summersets for the amusement of strangers --- I only ask you to make the case your own sir, and then say what course you would take and what you would do?"
"I would lick both of these young blackguards, Sir John, without remorse, break the sword and broom over their heads, kick their sensibilities till they couldn't see, and take my course for Stunin'tun, where I belong."
"Yes, sir, this might do with the Savoyards, who are young and feeble --- "
"'Twouldn't alter the case much if two of these Frenchmen were in their places," put in the Captain, glaring wolfishly about him. "To be plain with you, Sir John Goldencalf, being human, I'd submit to no such monkey tricks."
"Do not use the term reproachfully, Mr. Poke, I entreat of you. We call these animals monkeys, it is true; but we do not know what they call themselves. Man is merely an animal, and you must very well know --- "
"Harkee, Sir John," interrupted the Captain, "I'm no botanist, and do not pretend to more schooling than a sealer has need of for finding his way about the 'arth; but as for a man's being an animal, I just wish to ask you, now, if in your judgment a hog is also an animal?"
"Beyond a doubt --- and fleas, and toads, and sea- serpents, and lizards, and water-devils --- we are all neither more nor less than animals."
"Well, if a hog is an animal, I am willing to allow the relationship; for in the course of my experience, which is not small, I have met with men that you might have mistaken for hogs, in everything but the bristles, the snout, and the tail. I'll never deny what I've seen with my own eyes, though I suffer for it; and therefore I admit that, hogs being animals, it is more than likely that some men must be animals too."
"We call these interesting beings monkeys; but how do we know that they do not return the compliment, and call us, in their own particular dialect, something quite as offensive? It would become our species to manifest a more equitable and philosophical spirit, and to consider these interesting strangers as an unfortunate family which has fallen into the hands of brutes, and which is in every way entitled to our commiseration and our active interference. Hitherto I have never sufficiently stimulated my sympathies for the animal world by any investment in quadrupeds; but it is my intention to write to-morrow to my English agent to purchase a pack of hounds and a suitable stud of horses; and by way of quickening so laudable a resolution, I shall forthwith make propositions to the Savoyards for the speedy emancipation of this family of amiable foreigners. The slave-trade is an innocent pastime compared to the cruel oppression that the gentleman in the Spanish hat, in particular, is compelled to endure."
"He may be a king, sure enough, in his own country, Captain Poke; a fact that would add tenfold agony to his unmerited sufferings."
Hereupon I proceeded without more ado to open a negotiation with the Savoyards. The judicious application of a few Napoleons soon brought about a happy understanding between the contracting parties, when the Savoyards transferred to my hands the strings which confined their vassals, as the formal and usual acknowledgment of the right of ownership. Committing the three others to the keeping of Mr. Poke, I led the individual in the hussar jacket a little on one side, and raising my hat to show that I was superior to the vulgar feelings of feudal superiority, I addressed him briefly in the following words:
"Although I have ostensibly bought the right which these Savoyards professed to have in your person and services, I seize an early occasion to inform you that virtually you are now free. As we are among a people accustomed to see your race in subjection, however, it may not be prudent to proclaim the nature of the present transaction, lest there might be some further conspiracies against your natural rights. We will retire to my hotel forthwith, therefore, where your future happiness shall be the subject of our more mature and of our united deliberations."
The respectable stranger in the hussar jacket heard me with inimitable gravity and self-command until, in the warmth of feeling, I raised an arm in earnest gesticulation, when, most probably overcome by the emotions of delight that were naturally awakened in his bosom by this sudden change in his fortune, he threw three summersets, or flapjacks, as Captain Poke had quaintly designated his evolutions, in such rapid succession as to render it for a moment a matter of doubt whether nature had placed his head or his heels uppermost.
Making a sign for Captain Poke to follow, I now took my way directly to the Rue de Rivoli. We were attended by a constantly increasing crowd until the gate of the hotel was fairly entered; and glad was I to see my charge safely housed, for there were abundant indications of another design upon their rights in the taunts and ridicule of the living mass that rolled up as it were upon our heels. On reaching my own apartments, a courier who had been waiting my return, and who had just arrived express from England, put a packet into my hands, stating that it came from my principal English agent. Hasty orders were given to attend to the comfort and wants of Captain Poke and the strangers (orders that were in no danger of being neglected, since Sir John Goldencalf, with the reputed annual revenue of three millions of francs, had unlimited credit with all the inhabitants of the hotel); and I hurried into my cabinet and sat down to the eager perusal of the different communications.
Alas! there was not a line from Anna! The obdurate girl still trifled with my misery; and in revenge I entertained a momentary resolution of adopting the notions of Mahmoud, in order to qualify myself to set up a harem.
The letters were from a variety of correspondents, embracing many of those who were entrusted with the care of my interests in very opposite quarters of the world. Half an hour before I had been dying to open more intimate relations with the interesting strangers; but my thoughts instantly took a new direction, and I soon found that the painful sentiments I had entertained touching their welfare and happiness were quite lost in the newly awakened interests that lay before me. It is in this simple manner, no doubt, that the system to which I am a convert effects no small part of its own great purposes. No sooner does any one interest grow painful by excess than a new claim arises to divert the thoughts, a new demand is made on the sensibilities; and by lowering our affections from the intensity of selfishness to the more bland and equable feeling of impartiality, forms that just and generous condition of the mind at which the political economists aim when they dilate on the glories and advantages of their favorite theory of the social stake.
In this happy frame of mind I fell to reading the letters with avidity and with the godlike determination to reverence Providence and to do justice. Fiat justitia ruat cælum!
The first epistle was from the agent of the principal West India estate. He acquainted me with the fact that all hopes from the expected crop were destroyed by a hurricane, and he begged that I would furnish the means necessary to carry on the affairs of the plantation until another season might repair the loss. Priding myself on punctuality as a man of business, before I broke another seal a letter was written to a banker in London requesting him to supply the necessary credits, and to notify the agents in the West Indies of the circumstance. As he was a member of parliament, I seized the occasion also to press upon him the necessity of government's introducing some early measure for the protection of the sugar-growers, a most meritorious class of his fellow-subjects, and one whose exposures and actual losses called loudly for relief of this nature. As I closed the letter I could not help dwelling with complacency on the zeal and promptitude with which I had acted-the certain proof of the usefulness of the theory of investments.
The second communication was from the manager of an East India property, that very happily came with its offering to fill the vacuum left by the failure of the crops just mentioned. Sugar was likely to be a drug in the peninsula, and my correspondent stated that the cost of transportation being so much greater than from the other colonies, this advantage would be entirely lost unless government did something to restore the East Indian to his natural equality. I enclosed this letter in one to my Lord Say and Do, who was in the ministry, asking him in the most laconic and pointed terms whether it were possible for the empire to prosper when one portion of it was left in possession of exclusive advantages, to the prejudice of all the others? As this question was put with a truly British spirit, I hope it had some tendency to open the eyes of his majesty's ministers; for much was shortly after said, both in the journals and in parliament, on the necessity of protecting our East Indian fellow-subjects, and of doing natural justice by establishing the national prosperity on the only firm basis, that of free trade.
The next letter was from the acting partner of a large manufacturing house to which I had advanced quite half the capital, in order to enter into a sympathetic communion with the cotton-spinners. The writer complained heavily of the import duty on the raw material, made some poignant allusions to the increasing competition on the continent and in America, and pretty clearly intimated that the lord of the manor of Householder ought to make himself felt by the administration in a question of so much magnitude to the nation. On this hint I spake. I sat down on the spot and wrote a long letter to my friend Lord Pledge, in which I pointed out to him the danger that threatened our political economy; that we were imitating the false theories of the Americans (the countrymen of Captain Poke), that trade was clearly never so prosperous as when it was the most successful, that success depended on effort, and effort was the most efficient when the least encumbered, and in short that as it was self- evident a man would jump farther without being in foot- irons, or strike harder without being hand-cuffed, so it was equally apparent that a merchant would make a better bargain for himself when he could have things all his own way than when his enterprise and industry were shackled by the impertinent and selfish interposition of the interests of others. In conclusion there was an eloquent description of the demoralizing consequences of smuggling, and a pungent attack on the tendencies of taxation in general. I have written and said some good things in my time, as several of my dependents have sworn to me in a way that even my natural modesty cannot repudiate; but I shall be excused for the weakness if I now add that I believe this letter to Lord Pledge contained some as clever points as anything I remember in their way; the last paragraph in particular being positively the neatest and the best turned moral I ever produced.
Letter fourth was from the steward of the Householder estate. He spoke of the difficulty of getting the rents; a difficulty that he imputed altogether to the low price of corn. He said that it would soon be necessary to relet certain farms; and he feared that the unthinking cry against the corn-laws would affect the conditions. It was incumbent on the landed interest to keep an eye on the popular tendencies as respected this subject, for any material variation from the present system would lower the rental of all the graingrowing counties in England thirty per cent, at least at a blow. He concluded with a very hard rap at the agrarians, a party that was just coming a little into notice in Great Britain, and by a very ingenious turn, in which he completely demonstrated that the protection of the landlord and the support of the Protestant religion were indissolubly connected. There was also a vigorous appeal to the common sense of the subject on the danger to be apprehended by the people from themselves; which he treated in a way that, a little more expanded, would have made a delightful homily on the rights of man.
I believe I meditated on the contents of this letter fully an hour. Its writer, John Dobbs, was as worthy and upright a fellow as ever breathed; and I could not but admire the surprising knowledge of men which shone through every line he had indited. Something must be done it was clear; and at length I determined to take the bull by the horns and to address Mr. Huskisson at once, as the shortest way of coming at the evil. He was the political sponsor for all the new notions on the subject of our foreign mercantile policy; and by laying before him in a strong point of view the fatal consequences of carrying his system to extremes, I hoped something might yet be done for the owners of real estate, the bones and sinews of the land.
I shall just add in this place that Mr. Huskisson sent me a very polite and a very statesman-like reply, in which he disclaimed any intention of meddling improperly with British interests in any way; that taxation was necessary to our system, and of course every nation was the best judge of its own means and resources; but that he merely aimed at the establishment of just and generous principles, by which nations that had no occasion for British measures should not unhandsomely resort to them; and that certain external truths should stand, like so many well-constructed tubs, each on its own bottom. I must say I was pleased with this attention from a man generally reputed as clever as Mr. Huskisson, and from that time I became a convert to most of his opinions.
The next communication that I opened was from the overseer of the estate in Louisiana, who informed me that the general aspect of things in that quarter of the world was favorable, but the smallpox had found its way among the negroes, and the business of the plantation would immediately require the services of fifteen able bodied men, with the usual sprinkling of women and children. He added that the laws of America prohibited the further importation of blacks from any country without the limits of the Union, but that there was a very pretty and profitable internal trade in the article, and that the supply might be obtained in sufficient season either from the Carolinas, Virginia, or Maryland. He admitted, however, that there was some choice between the different stocks of these several States, and that some discretion might be necessary in making the selection. The negro of the Carolinas was the most used to the cotton-field, had less occasion for clothes, and it had been proved by experiment could be fattened on red herrings; while, on the other hand, the negro farther north had the highest instinct, could sometimes reason, and that he had even been known to preach when he had got as high up as Philadelphia. He much affected, also, bacon and poultry. Perhaps it might be well to purchase samples of lots from all the different stocks in market.
In reply I assented to the latter idea, suggesting the expediency of getting one or two of the higher castes from the north; I had no objection to preaching provided they preached work; but I cautioned the overseer particularly against schismatics. Preaching, in the abstract, could do no harm; all depending on doctrine.
This advice was given as the result of much earnest observation. Those European states that had the most obstinately resisted the introduction of letters, I had recently had occasion to remark were changing their systems, and were about to act on the principle of causing "fire to fight fire." They were fast having recourse to school-books, using no other precaution than the simple expedient of writing them themselves. By this ingenious invention poison was converted into food, and truths of all classes were at once put above the dangers of disputations and heresies.
Having disposed of the Louisianian, I very gladly turned to the opening of the sixth seal. The letter was from the efficient trustee of a company to whose funds I had largely contributed by way of making an investment in charity. It had struck me, a short time previously to quitting home, that interests positive as most of those I had embarked in had a tendency to render the spirit worldly; and I saw no other check to such an evil than by seeking for some association with the saints, in order to set up a balance against the dangerous propensity. A lucky occasion offered through the wants of the Philo-African-anti-compulsion-free-labor Society, whose meritorious efforts were about to cease for the want of the great charity-power --- gold. A draft for five thousand pounds had obtained me the honor of being advertised as a shareholder and a patron; and, I know not why! --- but it certainly caused me to inquire into the results with far more interest than I had ever before felt in any similar institution. Perhaps this benevolent anxiety arose from that principle in our nature which induces us to look after whatever has been our own as long as any part of it can be seen.
The principal trustee of the Philo-African-anti- compulsion-freelabor Society now wrote to state that some of the speculations which had gone pari passu with the charity had been successful, and that the shareholders were, by the fundamental provisions of the association, entitled to a dividend, but --- how often that awkward word stands between the cup and the lip! --- but that he was of opinion the establishment of a new factory near a point where the slavers most resorted, and where gold-dust and palm-oil were also to be had in the greatest quantities, and consequently at the lowest prices, would equally benefit trade and philanthropy; that by a judicious application of our means these two interests might be made to seesaw very cleverly, as cause and effect, effect and cause; that the black man would be spared an incalculable amount of misery, the white man a grievous burden of sin, and the particular agents of so manifest a good might quite reasonably calculate on making at the very least forty per cent. per annum on their money besides having all their souls saved in the bargain. Of course I assented to a proposition so reasonable in itself, and which offered benefits so plausible!
The next epistle was from the head of a great commercial house in Spain in which I had taken some shares, and whose interests had been temporarily deranged by the throes of the people in their efforts to obtain redress for real or imaginary wrongs. My correspondent showed a proper indignation on the occasion, and was not sparing in his language whenever he was called to speak of popular tumults. "What do the wretches wish?" he asked with much point --- "Our lives as well as our property? Ah! my dear sir, this bitter fact impresses us all (by us he meant the mercantile interests) with the importance of strong executives. Where should we have been but for the bayonets of the king? or what would have become of our altars, our firesides, and our persons, had it not pleased God to grant us a monarch indomitable in will, brave in spirit, and quick in action?" I wrote a proper answer of congratulation and turned to the next epistle, which was the last of the communications.
The eighth letter was from the acting head of another commercial house in New York, United States of America, or the country of Captain Poke, where it would seem the president by a decided exercise of his authority had drawn upon himself the execrations of a large portion of the commercial interests of the country; since the effect of the measure, right or wrong, as a legitimate consequence or not, by hook or by crook, had been to render money scarce. There is no man so keen in his philippics, so acute in discovering and so prompt in analyzing facts, so animated in his philosophy, and so eloquent in his complaints, as your debtor when money unexpectedly gets to be scarce. Credit, comfort, bones, sinews, marrow and all appear to depend on the result; and it is no wonder that, under so lively impressions, men who have hitherto been content to jog on in the regular and quiet habits of barter, should suddenly start up into logicians, politicians, aye, or even into magicians. Such had been the case with my present correspondent, who seemed to know and to care as little in general of the polity of his own country as if he had never been in it, but who now was ready to split hairs with a metaphysician, and who could not have written more complacently of the constitution if he had even read it. My limits will not allow an insertion of the whole letter, but one or two of its sentences shall be given. "Is it tolerable, my dear sir," he went on to say, "that the executive of ANY country, I will not say merely of our own, should possess, or exercise, even admitting that he does possess them, such unheard of powers? Our condition is worse than that of the Mussulmans, who in losing their money usually lose their heads, and are left in a happy insensibility to their sufferings: but, alas! there is an end of the much boasted liberty of America! The executive has swallowed up all the other branches of the government, and the next thing will be to swallow up us. Our altars, our firesides, and our persons will shortly be invaded; and I much fear that my next letter will be received by you long after all correspondence shall be prohibited, every means of communication cut off, and we ourselves shall be precluded from writing, by being chained like beasts of burden to the car of a bloody tyrant." Then followed as pretty a string of epithets as I remember to have heard from the mouth of the veriest shrew at Billingsgate.
I could not but admire the virtue of the "social-stake system," which kept men so sensibly alive to all their rights, let them live where they would, or under what form of government, which was so admirably suited to sustain truth and render us just. In reply I sent back epithet for epithet, echoed all the groans of my correspondent, and railed as became a man who was connected with a losing concern.
This closed my correspondence for the present, and I arose wearied with my labors, and yet greatly rejoicing in their fruits. It was now late, but excitement prevented sleep; and before retiring for the night I could not help looking in upon my guests. Captain Poke had gone to a room in another part of the hotel, but the family of amiable strangers were fast asleep in the antechamber. They had supped heartily as I was assured, and were now indulging in a happy but temporary oblivion --- to use an improved expression --- of all their wrongs. Satisfied with this state of things, I now sought my own pillow, or, according to a favorite phrase of Mr. Noah Poke, I also "turned in."
It was broad daylight when I awoke on the following morning. My spirits were calmed by rest, and my nerves had been soothed by the balmy freshness of the atmosphere. It appeared that my valet had entered and admitted the morning air, and then had withdrawn as usual to await the signal of the bell before he presumed to reappear. I lay many minutes in delicious repose, enjoying the periodical return of life and reason, bringing with it the pleasures of thought and its ten thousand agreeable associations. The delightful reverie into which I was insensibly dropping was, however, ere long arrested by low, murmuring, and, as I thought, plaintive voices at no great distance from my own bed. Seating myself erect, I listened intently and with a good deal of surprise; for it was not easy to imagine whence sounds so unusual for that place and hour could proceed. The discourse was earnest and even animated; but it was carried on in so low a tone that it would have been utterly inaudible but for the deep quiet of the hotel. Occasionally a word reached my ear, and I was completely at fault in endeavoring to ascertain even the language. That it was in neither of the five great European tongues I was certain, for all these I either spoke or read; and there were particular sounds and inflections that induced me to think that it savored of the most ancient of the two classics. It is true that the prosody of these dialects, at the same time that it is a shibboleth of learning, is a disputed point, the very sounds of the vowels even being a matter of national convention; the Latin word dux, for instance, being ducks in England, docks in Italy, and dukes in France: yet there is a 'je ne sais quoi,' a delicacy in the auricular taste of a true scholar, that will rarely lead him astray when his ears are greeted with words that have been used by Demosthenes or Cicero.(1) In the present instance I distinctly heard the word mybom-y-nos-fos-kom-i-ton, which I made sure was a verb in the dual number and second person, of a Greek root, but of a signification that I could not on the instant master, but which beyond a question every scholar will recognize as having a strong analogy to a wellknown line in Homer. If I was puzzled with the syllables that accidentally reached me, I was no less perplexed with the intonations of the voices of the different speakers. While it was easy to understand they were of the two sexes, they had no direct affinity to the mumbling sibilations of the English, the vehement monotony of the French, the gagging sonorousness of the Spaniards, the noisy melody of the Italians, the ear-splitting octaves of the Germans, or the undulating, head-over-heels enunciation of the countrymen of my particular acquaintance Captain Noah Poke. Of all the living languages of which I had any knowledge, the resemblance was nearer to the Danish and Swedish than to any other; but I much doubted at the time I first heard the syllables, and still question, if there is exactly such a word as my-bom-y-nos-fos-kom-i- ton to be found in even either of those tongues. I could no longer support the suspense. The classical and learned doubts that beset me grew intensely painful; and arising with the greatest caution, in order not to alarm the speakers, I prepared to put an end to them all by the simple and natural process of actual observation.
The voices came from the antechamber, the door of which was slightly open. Throwing on a dressing-gown, and thrusting my feet into slippers, I moved on tiptoe to the aperture, and placed my eye in such a situation as enabled me to command a view of the persons of those who were still earnestly talking in the adjoining room. All surprise vanished the moment I found that the four monkeys were grouped in a corner of the apartment, where they were carrying on a very animated dialogue, the two oldest of the party (a male and a female) being the principal speakers. It was not to be expected that even a graduate of Oxford, although belonging to a sect so proverbial for classical lore that many of them knew nothing else, could at the first hearing decide upon the analogies and character of a tongue that is so little cultivated even in that ancient sea of learning. Although I had now certainly a direct clew to the root of the dialect of the speakers, I found it quite impossible to get any useful acquaintance with the general drift of what was passing among them. As they were my guests, however, and might possibly be in want of some of the conveniences that were necessary to their habits, or might even be suffering under still graver embarrassments, I conceived it to be a duty to waive the ordinary usages of society, and at once offer whatever it was in my power to bestow, at the risk of interrupting concerns that they might possibly wish to consider private. Using the precaution, therefore, to make a little noise, as the best means of announcing my approach, the door was gently opened, and I presented myself to view. At first I was a little at a loss in what manner to address the strangers; but believing that a people who spoke a language so difficult of utterance and so rich as that I had just heard, like those who use dialects derived from the Slavonian root, were most probably the masters of all others; and remembering, moreover, that French was a medium of thought among all polite people, I determined to have recourse to that tongue. "Messieurs et mesdames," I said, inclining my body in salutation, "mille pardons four cette intrusion feu convenable" --- but as I am writing in English it may be well to translate the speeches as I proceed; although I abandon with regret the advantage of going through them literally, and in the appropriate dialect in which they were originally spoken.
"Gentlemen and ladies," I said, inclining my body in salutation, "I ask a thousand pardons for this inopportune intrusion on your retirement; but overhearing a few of what I much fear are but too well- grounded complaints, touching the false position in which you are placed as the occupant of this apartment, and in that light your host, I have ventured to approach, with no other desire than the wish that you would make me the repository of all your griefs, in order, if possible, that they may be repaired as soon as circumstances shall in any manner allow."
The strangers were very naturally a little startled at my unexpected appearance, and at the substance of what I had just said. I observed that the two ladies were apparently in some slight degree even distressed, the younger turning her head on one side in maiden modesty, while the elder, a duenna sort of looking person, dropped her eyes to the floor, but succeeded in better maintaining her selfpossession and gravity. The eldest of the two gentlemen approached me with dignified composure, after a moment of hesitation, and returning my salute by waving his tail with singular grace and decorum, he answered as follows. I may as well state in this place that he spoke the French about as well as an Englishman who has lived long enough on the continent to fancy he can travel in the provinces without being detected for a foreigner. Au reste, his accent was slightly Russian, and his enunciation whistling and harmonious. The females, especially in some of the lower keys of their voices, made sounds not unlike the sighing tones of the Eolian harp. It was really a pleasure to hear them; but I have often had occasion to remark that, in every country but one, which I do not care to name, the language when uttered by the softer sex takes new charms, and is rendered more delightful to the ear.
"Sir," said the stranger, when he had done waving his tail, "I should do great injustice to my feelings, and to the monikin character in general, were I to neglect expressing some small portion of the gratitude I feel on the present occasion. Destitute, houseless, insulted wanderers and captives, fortune has at length shed a ray of happiness on our miserable condition, and hope begins to shine through the cloud of our distress, like a passing gleam of the sun. From my very tail, sir, in my own name and in that of this excellent and most prudent matron, and in those of these two noble and youthful lovers, I thank you. Yes! honorable and humane being of the genus homo, species Anglicus, we all return our most tail-felt acknowledgments of your goodness!"
Here the whole party gracefully bent the ornaments in question over their heads, touching their receding foreheads with the several tips, and bowed. I would have given ten thousand pounds at that moment to have had a good investment in tails, in order to emulate their form of courtesy; but naked, shorn, and destitute as I was, with a feeling of humility I was obliged to put my head a little on one shoulder and give the ordinary English bob, in return for their more elaborate politeness.
"If I were merely to say, sir," I continued, when the opening salutations were thus properly exchanged, "that I am charmed at this accidental interview, the word would prove very insufficient to express my delight. Consider this hotel as your own; its domestics as your domestics; its stores of condiments as your stores of condiments, and its nominal tenant as your most humble servant and friend. I have been greatly shocked at the indignities to which you have hitherto been exposed, and now promise you liberty, kindness, and all those attentions to which it is very apparent you are fully entitled by your birth, breeding, and the delicacy of your sentiments. I congratulate myself a thousand times for having been so fortunate as to make your acquaintance. My greatest desire has always been to stimulate the sympathies; but until to-day various accidents have confined the cultivation of this heaven- born property in a great measure to my own species; I now look forward, however, to a delicious career of new- born interests in the whole of the animal creation, I need scarcely say in that of quadrupeds of your family in particular."
"Whether we belong to the class of quadrupeds or not, is a question that has a good deal embarrassed our own savans&quoy: returned the stranger. "There is an ambiguity in our physical action that renders the point a little questionable; and therefore, I think, the higher castes of our natural philosophers rather prefer classing the entire monikin species, with all its varieties, as caudae-jactans, or tailwavers; adopting the term from the nobler part of the animal formation. Is not this the better opinion at home, my Lord Chatterino?" he asked, turning to the youth, who stood respectfully at his side.
"Such, I believe, my dear Doctor, was the last classification sanctioned by the academy," the young noble replied, with a readiness that proved him to be both well-informed and intelligent, and at the same time with a reserve of manner that did equal credit to his modesty and breeding. "The question of whether we are or are not bipeds has greatly agitated the schools for more than three centuries."
"The use of this gentleman's name," I hastily rejoined, "my dear sir, reminds me that we are but half acquainted with each other. Permit me to waive ceremony, and to announce myself at once as Sir John Goldencalf, Baronet, of Householder Hall, in the kingdom of Great Britain, a poor admirer of excellence wherever it is to be found, or under whatever form, and a devotee of the system of the 'social-stake.'"
"I am happy to be admitted to the honor of this formal introduction, Sir John. In return I beg you will suffer me to say that this young nobleman is, in our own dialect, No. 6, purple; or, to translate the appellation, my Lord Chat-terino. This young lady is No. 4, violet, or, my Lady Chatterissa. This excellent and prudent matron is No. 4,626,243, russet, or, Mistress Vigilance Lynx, to translate her appellation also into the English tongue; and that I am No. 22,817, brown- study color, or, Dr. Reasono, to give you a literal signification of my name --- a poor disciple of the philosophers of our race, an LL.D., and a F.U.D.G.E., the travelling tutor of this heir of one of the most illustrious and the most ancient houses of the island of Leaphigh, in the monikin section of mortality."
"Every syllable, learned Dr. Reasono, that falls from your revered lips only whets curiosity and adds fuel to the flame of desire, tempting me to inquire further into your private history, your future intentions, the polity of your species, and all those interesting topics that will readily suggest themselves to one of your quick apprehension and extensive acquirements. I dread being thought indiscreet, and yet, putting yourself in my position, I trust you will overlook a wish so natural and so ardent."
"Apology is unnecessary, Sir John, and nothing would afford me greater satisfaction than to answer any and every inquiry you may be disposed to make."
"Then, sir, to cut short all useless circumlocution, suffer me to ask at once an explanation of the system of enumeration by which you indicate individuals? You are called No. 22,817, brown-study color-"
"Or Dr. Reasono. As you are an Englishman, you will perhaps understand me better if I refer to a recent practice of the new London police. You may have observed that the men wear letters in red or white, and numbers on the capes of their coats. By the letters the passenger can refer to the company of the officer, while the number indicates the individual. Now, the idea of this improvement came, I make no doubt, from our system, under which society is divided into castes, for the sake of harmony and subordination, and these castes are designated by colors and shades of colors that are significant of their stations and pursuits --- the individual, as in the new police, being known by the number. Our own language being exceedingly sententious, is capable of expressing the most elaborate of these combinations in a very few sounds. I should add that there is no difference in the manner of distinguishing the sexes, with the exception that each is numbered apart, and each has a counterpart color to that of the same caste in the other sex. Thus purple and violet are both noble, the former being masculine and the latter feminine, and russet being the counterpart of brown- study color."
"And --- excuse my natural ardor to know more --- and do you bear these numbers and colors marked on your attire in your own region?"
"As for attire, Sir John, the monikins are too highly improved, mentally and physically, to need any. It is known that in all cases extremes meet. The savage is nearer to nature than the merely civilized being, and the creature that has passed the mystifications of a middle state of improvement finds himself again approaching nearer to the habits, the wishes, and the opinions of our common mother. As the real gentleman is more simple in manners than the distant imitator of his deportment; as fashions and habits are always more exaggerated in provincial towns than in polished capitals; or as the profound philosopher has less pretensions than the tyro, so does our common genus, as it draws nearer to the consummation of its destiny and its highest attainments, learn to reject the most valued usages of the middle condition, and to return with ardor towards nature as to a first love. It is on this principle, sir, that the monikin family never wear clothes."
"I could not but perceive that the ladies have manifested some embarrassment ever since I entered --- is it possible that their delicacy has taken the alarm at the state of my toilet?"
"At the toilet itself, Sir John, rather than at its state, if I must speak plainly. The female mind, trained as it is with us from infancy upwards in the habits and usages of nature, is shocked by any departure from her rules. You will know how to make allowances for the squeamishness of the sex, for I believe it is much alike in this particular, let it come from what quarter of the earth it may."
"I can only excuse the seeming want of politeness by my ignorance, Dr. Reasono. Before I ask another question the oversight shall be repaired. I must retire into my own chamber for an instant, gentlemen and ladies, and I beg you will find such sources of amusement as first offer until I can return. There are nuts, I believe, in this closet; sugar is usually kept on that table, and perhaps the ladies might find some relaxation by exercising themselves on the chairs. In a single moment I shall be with you again."
Hereupon I withdrew into my bed-chamber, and began to lay aside the dressing-gown as well as my shirt. Remembering, however, that I was but too liable to colds in the head, I returned to ask Dr. Reasono to step in where I was for an instant. On mentioning the difficulty, this excellent person assumed the office of preparing his female friends to overlook the slight innovation of my still wearing the nightcap and slippers.
"The ladies would think nothing of it," the philosopher goodhumoredly remarked, by way of lessening my regrets at having wounded their sensibilities, "were you even to appear in a military cloak and Hessian boots, provided it was not thought that you were of their acquaintance and in their immediate society. I think you must have often remarked among the sex of your own species, who are frequently quite indifferent to nudities (their prejudices running counter to ours) that appear in the streets, but which would cause them instantly to run out of the room when exhibited in the person of an acquaintance; these conventional asides being tolerated everywhere by a judicious concession of punctilios that might otherwise become insupportable."
"The distinction is too reasonable to require another word of explanation, dear sir. Now let us rejoin the ladies, since I am at length in some degree fit to be seen."
I was rewarded for this bit of delicate attention by an approving smile from the lovely Chatterissa, and good Mistress Lynx no longer kept her eyes riveted on the floor, but bent them on me with looks of admiration and gratitude.
"Now that this little contre-tems is no longer an obstacle," I resumed, "permit me to continue those inquiries which you have hitherto answered with so much amenity and so satisfactorily. As you have no clothes, in what manner is the parallel between your usage and that of the new London police practically completed?"
"Although we have no clothes, nature, whose laws are never violated with impunity, but who is as beneficent as she is absolute, has furnished us with a downy covering to supply their places wherever clothes are needed for comfort. We have coats that defy fashions, require no tailors, and never lose their naps. But it would be inconvenient to be totally clad in this manner; and, therefore, the palms of the hands are, as you see, ungloved; the portions of the frame on which we seat ourselves are left uncovered, most probably lest some inconvenience should arise from taking accidental and unfavorable positions. This is the part of the monikin frame the best adapted for receiving paint, and the numbers of which I have spoken are periodically renewed there, at public offices appointed for that purpose. Our characters are so minute as to escape the human eye; but by using that opera-glass, I make no doubt that you may still see some of my own enregistration, although, alas! unusual friction, great misery, and, I may say, unmerited wrongs, have nearly un-monikined me in this, as well as in various other particulars."
As Dr. Reasono had the complaisance to turn round, and to use his tail like the index of a black-board, by aid of the glass I very distinctly traced the figures to which he alluded. Instead of being in paint, however, as he had given me reason to anticipate, they seemed to be branded, or burnt in, indelibly, as we commonly mark horses, thieves, and negroes. On mentioning the fact to the philosopher, it was explained with his usual facility and politeness.
"You are quite right, sir," he said; "the omission of paint was to prevent tautology, an offence against the simplicity of the monikin dialect, as well as against monikin taste, that would have been sufficient, under our opinions, even to overturn the government."
"Tautology, Sir John; on examining the background of the picture, you will perceive that it is already of a dusky, sombre hue; now, this being of a meditative and grave character, has been denominated by our academy the 'brown-study color'; and it would clearly have been supererogatory to lay the same tint upon it. No, sir; we avoid repetitions even in our prayers, deeming them to be so many proofs of an illogical and of an anti- consecutive mind."
"The system is admirable, and I see new beauties at each moment. You enjoy the advantage, for instance, under this mode of enumeration, of knowing your acquaintances from behind, quite as well as if you met them face to face!"
"The suggestion is ingenious, showing an active and an observant mind; but it does not quite reach the motive of the politiconumerical-identity system of which we are speaking. The objects of this arrangement are altogether of a higher and more useful nature; nor do we usually recognize our friends by their countenances, which at the best are no more than so many false signals, but by their tails."
"This is admirable! What a facility you possess for recognizing an acquaintance who may happen to be up a tree! But may I presume to inquire, Dr. Reasono, what are the most approved of the advantages of the politico- numerical-identity system? For impatience is devouring my vitals."
"They are connected with the interests of government. You know, sir, that society is established for the purposes of governments, and governments, themselves, mainly to facilitate contributions and taxations. Now, by the numerical system, we have every opportunity of including the whole monikin race in the collections, as they are periodically checked off by their numbers. The idea was a happy thought of an eminent statistician of ours, who gained great credit at court by the invention, and, in fact, who was admitted to the academy in consequence of its ingenuity."
"Still it must be admitted, my dear Doctor," put in Lord Chatterino, always with the modesty, and, perhaps I might add, with the generosity of youth, "that there are some among us who deny that society was made for governments, and who maintain that governments were made for society; or, in other words, for monikins."
"Mere theorists, my good lord; and their opinions, even if true, are never practised on. Practice is everything in political matters; and theories are of no use, except as they confirm practice."
"Both theory and practice are perfect," I cried, "and I make no doubt that the classification into colors, or castes, enables the authorities to commence the imposts with the richest, or the 'purples.'"
"Sir, monikin prudence never lays the foundation-stone at the summit; it seeks the base of the edifice; and as contributions are the walls of society, we commence with the bottom. When you shall know us better, Sir John Goldencalf, you will begin to comprehend the beauty and benevolence of the entire monikin economy."
I now adverted to the frequent use of this word "monikin"; and, admitting my ignorance, desired an explanation of the term, as well as a more general insight into the origin, history, hopes, and polity of the interesting strangers; if they can be so called who were already so well known to me. Dr. Reasono admitted that the request was natural and was entitled to respect; but he delicately suggested the necessity of sustaining the animal function by nutriment, intimating that the ladies had supped but in an indifferent way the evening before, and acknowledging that, philosopher as he was, he should go through the desired explanations after improving the slight acquaintance he had already made with certain condiments in one of the armoires, with far more zeal and point, than could possibly be done in the present state of his appetite. The suggestion was so very plausible that there was. no resisting it; and, suppressing my curiosity as well as I could, the bell was rung. I retired to my bed-chamber to resume so much of my attire as was necessary to the semi- civilization of man, and then the necessary orders were given to the domestics, who, by the way, were suffered to remain under the influence of those ordinary and vulgar prejudices that are pretty generally entertained by the human, against the monikin family.
Previously to separating from my new friend Dr. Reasono, however, I took him aside, and stated that I had an acquaintance in the hotel, a person of singular philosophy, after the human fashion, and a great traveller; and that I desired permission to let him into the secret of our intended lecture on the monikin economy, and to bring him with me as an auditor. To this request, No. 22,817, brown-study color, or Dr. Reasono, gave a very cordial assent; hinting delicately, at the same time, his expectation that this new auditor, who, of course, was no other than Captain Noah Poke, would not deem it disparaging to his manhood, to consult the sensibilities of the ladies, by appearing in the garments of that only decent and respectable tailor and draper, nature. To this suggestion I gave a ready approval; when each went his way, after the usual salutations of bowing and tail-waving, with a mutual promise of being punctual to the appointment.
ART. 3. That the said interview shall be logical, explanatory, and discursory.
ART. 4. That during said interview, Dr. Reasono shall have the privilege of speaking most, and Sir John Goldencalf the privilege of hearing most.
ART. 5. That Sir John Goldencalf shall have the privilege of asking questions, and Dr. Reasono the privilege of answering them.
ART. 6. That a due regard shall be had to both human and monikin prejudices and sensibilities.
ART. 7. That Dr. Reasono, and any monikins who may accompany him, shall smooth their coats, and otherwise dispose of their natural vestments, in a way that shall be as agreeable as possible to Sir John Goldencalf and his friend.
ART. 8. That Sir John Goldencalf, and any man who may accompany him, shall appear in bison-skins, wearing no other clothing, in order to render themselves as agreeable as possible to Dr. Reasono and his friends.
ART. 9. That the conditions of this protocol shall be respected.
ART. 10. That any doubtful significations in this protocol shall be interpreted, as near as may be, in favor of both parties.
ART. 11. That no precedent shall be established to the prejudice of either the human or the monikin dialect, by the adoption of the Latin language on this occasion.
Delighted with this proof of attention on the part of my Lord Chatterino, I immediately left a card for that young nobleman, and then seriously set about preparing myself, with an increased scrupulousness, for the fulfilment of the smallest condition of the compact. Captain Poke was soon ready, and I must say that he looked more like a quadruped on its hind legs, in his new attire, than a human being. As for my own appearance, I trust it was such as became my station and character.
At the appointed time all the parties were assembled, Lord Chatterino appearing with a copy of the protocol in his hand. This instrument was formally read, by the young peer, in a very creditable manner, when a silence ensued, as if to invite comment. I know not how it is, but I never yet heard the positive stipulations of any bargain, that I did not feel a propensity to look out for weak places in them. I had begun to see that the discussion might lead to argument, argument to comparisons between the two species, and something like an esprit de corps was stirring within me. It now struck me that a question might be fairly raised as to the propriety of Dr. Reasono's appearing with three backers, while I had but one. The objection was therefore urged on my part, I hope, in a modest and conciliatory manner. In reply, my Lord Chatterino observed, it was true the protocol spoke in general terms of mutual supporters, but if ---
"Sir John Goldencalf would be at the trouble of referring to the instrument itself, he would see that the backers of Dr. Reasono were mentioned in the plural number, while that of Sir John himself was alluded to only in the singular number."
"Perfectly true, my lord; but you will, however, permit me to remark that two monikins would completely fulfil the conditions in favor of Dr. Reasono, while he appears here with three; there certainly must be some limits to this plurality, or the Doctor would have a right to attend the interview accompanied by all the inhabitants of Leaphigh."
"The objection is highly ingenious, and creditable in the last degree to the diplomatic abilities of Sir John Goldencalf; but, among monikins, two females are deemed equal to only one male, in the eye of the law. Thus, in cases which require two witnesses, as in conveyances of real estate, two male monikins are sufficient, whereas it would be necessary to have four female signatures, in order to give the instrument validity. In the legal sense, therefore, I conceive that Dr. Reasono is attended by only two monikins."
Captain Poke hereupon observed that this provision in the law of Leaphigh was a good one; for he often had occasion to remark that women, quite half the time, did not know what they were about; and he thought, in general, that they require more ballast than men.
"This reply would completely cover the case, my lord," I answered, "were the protocol purely a monikin document, and this assembly purely a monikin assembly. But the facts are notoriously otherwise. The document is drawn up in a common vehicle of thought among scholars, and I gladly seize the opportunity to add, that I do not remember to have seen a better specimen of modern latinity."
"It is undeniable, Sir John," returned Lord Chatterino, waving his tail in acknowledgment of the compliment, "that the protocol itself is in a language that has now become common property; but the mere medium of thought, on such occasions, is of no great moment, provided it is neutral as respects the contracting parties; moreover, in this particular case, article 11 of the protocol contains a stipulation that no legal consequences whatever are to follow the use of the Latin language; a stipulation that leaves the contracting parties in possession of their original rights. Now, as the lecture is to be a monikin lecture, given by a monikin philosopher, and on monikin grounds, I humbly urge that it is proper the interview should generally be conducted on monikin principles."
"If by monikin grounds, is meant monikin ground (which I have a right to assume, since the greater necessarily includes the less), I beg leave to remind your lordship, that the parties are, at this moment, in a neutral country, and that, if either of them can set up a claim of territorial jurisdiction, or the rights of the flag, these claims must be admitted to be human, since the locataire of this apartment is a man, in control of the locus in quo, and pro hac vice, the suzerain."
"Your ingenuity has greatly exceeded my construction, Sir John, and I beg leave to amend my plea. All I mean is, that the leading consideration in this interview, is a monikin interest --- that we are met to propound, explain, digest, animadvert on, and embellish a monikin theme --- that the accessory must be secondary to the principal --- that the lesser must merge, not in your sense, but in my sense, in the greater --- and, by consequence, that ---"
"You will accord me your pardon, my dear lord, but I hold --- "
"Nay, my good Sir John, I trust to your intelligence to be excused if I say --- "
"One word, my Lord Chatterino, I pray you, in order that ---"
"A thousand, very cheerfully, Sir John, but --- "
"My Lord Chatterino!"
"Sir John Goldencalf!"
Hereupon we both began talking at the same time, the noble young monikin gradually narrowing down the direction of his observations to the single person of Mrs. Vigilance Lynx, who, I afterwards had occasion to know, was an excellent listener; and I, in my turn, after wandering from eye to eye, settled down into a sort of oration that was especially addressed to the understanding of Captain Noah Poke. My auditor contrived to get one ear entirely clear of the bison's skin, and nodded approbation of what fell from me, with a proper degree of human and clannish spirit. We might possibly have harangued in this desultory manner, to the present time, had not the amiable Chatterissa advanced, and, with the tact and delicacy which distinguish her sex, by placing her pretty patte on the mouth of the young nobleman, effectually checked his volubility. When a horse is running away, he usually comes to a dead stop, after driving through lanes, and gates, and turnpikes, the moment he finds himself master of his own movements, in an open field. Thus, in my own case, no sooner did I find myself in sole possession of the argument, than I brought it to a close. Dr. Reasono improved the pause, to introduce a proposition that, the experiment already made by myself and Lord Chatterino being evidently a failure, he and Mr. Poke should retire and make an effort to agree upon an entirely new programme of the proceedings. This happy thought suddenly restored peace; and, while the two negotiators were absent, I improved the opportunity to become better acquainted with the lovely Chatterissa and her female Mentor. Lord Chatterino, who possessed all the graces of diplomacy, who could turn from a hot and angry discussion, on the instant, to the most bland and winning courtesy, was foremost in promoting my wishes, inducing his charming mistress to throw aside the reserve of a short acquaintance, and to enter, at once, into a free and friendly discourse. Some time elapsed before the plenipotentiaries returned, for it appears that, owing to a constitutional peculiarity, or, as he subsequently explained it himself, a "Stunin'tun principle," Captain Poke conceived he was bound, in a bargain, to dispute every proposition which came from the other party. This difficulty would probably have proved insuperable, had not Dr. Reasono luckily bethought him of a frank and liberal proposal to leave every other article, without reserve, to the sole dictation of his colleague, reserving to himself the same privilege for all the rest. Noah, after being well assured that the philosopher was no lawyer, assented; and the affair, once begun in this spirit of concession, was soon brought to a close. And here I would recommend this happy expedient to all negotiators of knotty and embarrassing treaties, since it enables each party to gain his point, and probably leaves as few openings for subsequent disputes, as any other mode that has yet been adopted. The new instrument ran as follows, it having been written, in duplicate, in English and in Monikin. It will be seen that the pertinacity of one of the negotiators gave it very much the character of a capitulation.
ARTICLE 1. There shall be an interview.
ART. 2. Agreed; provided all the parties can come and go at pleasure.
ART. 3. The said interview shall be conducted, generally, on philosophical and liberal principles.
ART. 4. Agreed; provided tobacco may be used at discretion.
ART. 5. That either party shall have the privilege of propounding questions, and either party the privilege of answering them.
ART. 6. Agreed; provided no one need listen, or no one talk, unless so disposed.
ART. 7. The attire of all present shall be conformable to the abstract rules of propriety and decorum.
ART. 8. Agreed; provided the bison-skins may be reefed, from time to time, according to the state of the weather.
ART. 9. The provisions of this protocol shall be rigidly respected.
ART. 10. Agreed; provided no advantage be taken by lawyers.
Lord Chatterino and myself pounced upon the respective documents like two hawks, eagerly looking for flaws, or the means of maintaining the opinions we had before advanced, and which we had both shown so much cleverness in supporting.
"Why, my lord, there is no provision for the appearance of any monikins at all at this interview!"
"The generality of the terms leaves it to be inferred that all may come and go who may be so disposed."
"Your pardon, my lord; article 8 contains a direct allusion to bison-skins in the plural, and under circumstances from which it follows, by a just deduction, that it was contemplated that more than one wearer of the said skins should be present at the said interview."
"Perfectly just, Sir John; but you will suffer me to observe that by article 1, it is conditioned that there shall be an interview; and by article 3, it is furthermore agreed that the said interview shall be conducted 'on philosophical and liberal principles'; now, it need scarcely be urged, good Sir John, that it would be the extreme of illiberality to deny to one party any privilege that was possessed by the other."
"Perfectly just my lord, were this an affair of mere courtesy; but legal constructions must be made on legal principles, or else, as jurists and diplomatists, we are all afloat on the illimitable ocean of conjecture."
"And yet article 10 expressly stipulates that 'no advantage shall be taken by lawyers.' By considering articles 3 and 10 profoundly and in conjunction, we learn that it was the intention of the negotiators to spread the mantle of liberality, apart from all the subtleties and devices of mere legal practitioners, over the whole proceedings. Permit me, in corroboration of what is now urged, to appeal to the voices of those who framed the very conditions about which we are now arguing. Did you, sir," continued my Lord Chatterino, turning to Captain Poke, with emphasis and dignity; "did you, sir, when you drew up this celebrated article 10 --- did you deem that you were publishing authority of which the lawyers could take advantage?"
A deep and very sonorous "No," was the energetic reply of Mr. Poke.
My Lord Chatterino, then turning, with equal grace, to the Doctor, first diplomatically waving his tail three times, continued:
"And you, sir, in drawing up article 3, did you conceive that you were supporting and promulgating illiberal principles?"
The question was met by a prompt negative, when the young noble paused, and looked at me like one who had completely triumphed.
"Perfectly eloquent, completely convincing, irrefutably argumentative, and unanswerably just, my lord," I put in; "but I must be permitted to hint that the validity of all laws is derived from the enactment; now the enactment, or, in the case of a treaty, the virtue of the stipulation, is not derived from the intention of the party who may happen to draw up a law or a clause, but from the assent of the legal deputies. In the present instance, there are two negotiators, and I now ask permission to address a few questions to them, reversing the order of your own interrogatories; and the result may possibly furnish a clue to the quo animo, in a new light." Addressing the philosopher, I continued --- "Did you, sir, in assenting to article 10, imagine that you were defeating justice, countenancing oppression, and succoring might to the injury of right?"
The answer was a solemn, and, I do not doubt, a very conscientious, "No."
"And you, sir," turning to Captain Poke, "did you, in assenting to article 3, in the least conceive that, by any possibility, the foes of humanity could torture your approbation into the means of determining that the bison-skin wearers were not to be upon a perfect footing with the best monikins of the land?"
"Blast me, if I did!" But, Sir John Goldencalf, the Socratic method of reasoning --- "
"Was first resorted to by yourself, my lord --- "
"Nay, good Sir --- "
"Permit me, my dear lord --- "
"Sir John --- "
"My lord --- "
Hereupon the gentle Chatterissa again advanced, and by another timely interposition of her graceful tact, she succeeded in preventing the reply. The parallel of the runaway horse was acted over, and I came to another stand-still. Lord Chatterino now gallantly proposed that the whole affair should be referred, with full powers, to the ladies. I could not refuse; and the plenipotentiaries retired, under a growling accompaniment of Captain Poke, who pretty plainly declared that women caused more quarrels than all the rest of the world, and, from the little he had seen, he expected it would turn out the same with monikinas.
The female sex certainly possess a facility of composition that is denied our portion of the creation. In an incredibly short time, the referees returned with the following programme:
ARTICLE 1. There shall be an amicable, logical, philosophical, ethical, liberal, general, and controversial interview.
ART. 2. The interview shall be amicable.
ART. 3. The interview shall be general.
ART. 4. The interview shall be logical.
ART. 5. The interview shall be ethical.
ART. 6. The interview shall be philosophical.
ART. 7. The interview shall be liberal.
ART. 8. The interview shall be controversial.
ART. 9. The interview shall be controversial, liberal, philosophical, ethical, logical, general, and amicable.
ART. 10. The interview shall be as particularly agreed upon.
The cat does not leap upon the mouse with more avidity than Lord Chatterino and myself pounced upon the third protocol, seeking new grounds for the argument that each was resolved on.
"Auguste! cher Auguste!" exclaimed the lovely Chatterissa, in the prettiest Parisian accent I thought I had ever heard --- "Pour moi!"
"A moi! Monseigneur!" I put in, flourishing my copy of the protocol --- I was checked in the midst of this controversial ardor by a tug at the bison-skin; when, casting a look behind me, I saw Captain Poke winking and making other signs that he wished to say a word in a corner.
"I think, Sir John," observed the worthy sealer, "if we ever mean to let this bargain come to a catastrophe, it might as well be done now. The females have been cunning, but the deuce is in it if we cannot weather upon two women before the matter is well over. In Stunin'tun, when it is thought best to accommodate proposals, why we object and raise a breeze in the beginning, but towards the end we kinder soften and mollify, or else trade would come to a stand. The hardest gale must blow its pipe out. Trust to me to floor the best argument the best monkey of them all can agitate!"
"This matter is getting serious, Noah, and I am filled with an esprit de corps. Do you not begin yourself to feel human?"
"Kinder; but more bisonish than anything else. Let them go on, Sir John; and, when the time comes, we will take them aback, or set me down as a pettifogger."
The Captain winked knowingly; and I began to see that there was some sense in his opinion. On rejoining our friends, or allies, I scarce know which to call them, I found that the amiable Chatterissa had equally calmed the diplomatic ardor of her lover, again, and we now met on the best possible terms. The protocol was accepted by acclamation; and preparations were instantly commenced for the lecture of Dr. Reasono.
Waving his tail towards the different parts of the room in which his audience were seated, the philosopher commenced.
"As the present occasion, my hearers," he said, "is one of those accidental calls upon science, to which all belonging to the academies are liable, and does not demand more than the heads of our thesis to be explained, I shall not dig into the roots of the subject, but limit myself to such general remarks as may serve to furnish the outlines of our philosophy, natural, moral, and political --- "
"How, sir," I cried, "have you a political as well as a moral philosophy?"
"Beyond a question; and a very useful philosophy it is. No interests require more philosophy than those connected with politics. To resume --- our philosophy, natural, moral and political, reserving most of the propositions, demonstrations, and corollaries, for greater leisure, and a more advanced state of information in the class. Prescribing to myself these salutary limits, therefore, I shall begin only with nature.
"Nature is a term that we use to express the pervading and governing principle of created things. It is known both as a generic and a specific term, signifying in the former character the elements and combinations of omnipotence, as applied to matter in general, and in the latter its particular subdivisions, in connection with matter in its infinite varieties. It is moreover subdivided into its physical and moral attributes, which admit also of the two grand distinctions just named. Thus, when we say nature, in the abstract, meaning physically, we should be understood as alluding to those general, uniform, absolute, consistent, and beautiful laws, which control and render harmonious, as a great whole, the entire action, affinities, and destinies of the universe; and when we say nature in the speciality, we would be understood to speak of the nature of a rock, of a tree, of air, fire, water, and land. Again, in alluding to a moral nature in the abstract, we mean sin, and its weaknesses, its attractions, its deformities-in a word, its totality; while, on the other hand, when we use the term, in this sense, under the limits of a speciality, we confine its signification to the particular shades of natural qualities that mark the precise object named. Let us illustrate our positions by a few brief examples.
"When we say 'Oh nature, how art thou glorious, sublime, instructive!' --- we mean that her laws emanate from a power of infinite intelligence and perfection; and when we say 'Oh nature, how art thou frail, vain and insufficient!' we mean that she is, after all, but a secondary quality, inferior to that which brought her into existence, for definite, limited, and, doubtless, useful purposes. In these examples we treat the principle in the abstract.
"The examples of nature in the speciality will be more familiar, and, although in no degree more true, will be better understood by the generality of my auditors. Especial nature, in the physical signification, is apparent to the senses, and is betrayed in the outward forms of things, through their force, magnitude, substance, and proportions, and, in its more mysterious properties, to examination, by their laws, harmony, and action. Especial moral nature is denoted in the different propensities, capacities, and conduct of the different classes of all moral beings. In this latter sense we have monikin nature, dog nature, horse nature, hog nature, human nature --- "
"Permit me, Dr. Reasono," I interrupted, "to inquire if, by this classification, you intend to convey more than may be understood by the accidental arrangement of your examples?"
"Purely the latter, I do assure you, Sir John."
"And do you admit the great distinctions of animal and vegetable natures?"
"Our academies are divided on this point. One school contends that all living nature is to be embraced in a great comprehensive genus, while another admits of the distinctions you have named. I am of the latter opinion, inclining to the belief that nature herself has drawn the line between the two classes, by bestowing on one the double gift of the moral and physical nature, and by withdrawing the former from the other. The existence of the moral nature is denoted by the presence of the will. The academy of Leaphigh has made an elaborate classification of all the known animals, of which the sponge is at the bottom of the list, and the monikin at the top!"
"Sponges are commonly uppermost," growled Noah.
"Sir," said I, with a disagreeable rising at the throat, "am I to understand that your savans account man an animal in a middle state between a sponge and a monkey?"
"Really, Sir John, this warmth is quite unsuited to philosophical discussion --- if you continue to indulge in it, I shall find myself compelled to postpone the lecture."
At this rebuke I made a successful effort to restrain myself, although my esprit de corps nearly choked me. Intimating, as well as I could, a change of purpose, Dr. Reasono, who had stood suspended over his table with an air of doubt, waved his tail, and proceeded:-
"Sponges, oysters, crabs, sturgeons, clams, toads, snakes, lizards, skunks, opossums, ant-eaters, baboons, negroes, wood-chucks, lions, Esquimaux, sloths, hogs, Hottentots, ourang-outangs, men and monikins, are, beyond a question, all animals. The only disputed point among us is, whether they are all of the same genus, forming varieties or species, or whether they are to be divided into the three great families of the improvables, the unimprovables, and the retrogressives. They who maintain that we form but one great family, reason by certain conspicuous analogies, that serve as so many links to unite the great chain of the animal world. Taking man as a centre, for instance, they show that this creature possesses, in common with every other creature, some observable property. Thus, man is, in one particular, like a sponge; in another, he is like an oyster; a hog is like a man; the skunk has one peculiarity of a man; the ourang-outang another; the sloth another --- "
"And so on, to the end of the chapter. This school of philosophers, while it has been very ingeniously supported, is not, however, the one most in favor just at this moment in the academy of Leaphigh --- "
"Just at this moment, Doctor!"
"Certainly, sir. Do you not know that truths, physical as well as moral, undergo their revolutions, the same as all created nature? The academy has paid great attention to this subject; and it issues annually an almanac, in which the different phases, the revolutions, the periods, the eclipses, whether partial or total, the distances from the centre of light, the apogee and perigee of all the more prominent truths, are calculated with singular accuracy; and by the aid of which the cautious are enabled to keep themselves, as near as possible, within the bounds of reason. We deem this effort of the monikin mind as the sublimest of all its inventions, and as furnishing the strongest known evidence of its near approach to the consummation of our earthly destiny. This is not the place to dwell on that particular point of our philosophy, however; and, for the present, we will postpone the subject."
"Yet you will permit me, Dr. Reasono, in virtue of clause 1, article 5, protocol No. 1 (which protocol, if not absolutely adopted, must be supposed to contain the spirit of that which was), to inquire whether the calculations of the revolutions of truth, do not lead to dangerous moral extravagances, ruinous speculations in ideas, and serve to unsettle society?"
The philosopher withdrew a moment with my Lord Chatterino, to consult whether it would be prudent to admit of the validity of protocol No. 1, even in this indirect manner; whereupon it was decided between them, that, as such admission would lay open all the vexatious questions that had just been so happily disposed of, clause 1 of article 5 having a direct connection with clause 2; clauses 1 and 2 forming the whole article; and the said article 5, in its entirety, forming an integral portion of the whole instrument; and the doctrine of constructions, enjoining that instruments are to be construed like wills, by their general, and not by their especial tendencies, it would be dangerous to the objects of the interview to allow the application to be granted. But, reserving a protest against the concession being interpreted into a precedent, it might be well to concede that as an act of courtesy, which was denied as a right. Hereupon, Dr. Reasono informed me that these calculations of the revolutions of truth did lead to certain moral extravagances, and in many instances to ruinous speculations in ideas; that the academy of Leaphigh. and, so far as his information extended, the academy of every other country, had found the subject of truth, more particularly moral truth, the one of all others the most difficult to manage, the most likely to be abused, and the most dangerous to promulgate. I was moreover promised, at a future day, some illustrations of this branch of the subject.
"To pursue the more regular thread of my lecture," continued Dr. Reasono, when he had politely made this little digression, "we now divide these portions of the created world into animated and vegetable nature; the former is again divided into the improvable, and the unimprovable, and the retrogressive. The improvable embraces all those species which are marching, by slow, progressive, but immutable mutations, towards the perfection of terrestrial life, or to that last, elevated, and sublime condition of mortality, in which the material makes its final struggle with the immaterial --- mind with matter. The improvable class of animals, agreeably to the monikin dogmas, commences with those species in which matter has the most unequivocal ascendency, and terminates with those in which mind is as near perfection as this mortal coil will allow. We hold that mind and matter, in that mysterious union which connects the spiritual with the physical being, commence in the medium state, undergoing, not, as some men have pretended, transmigrations of the soul only, but such gradual and imperceptible changes of both soul and body, as have peopled the world with so many wonderful beings --- wonderful, mentally and physically; and all of which (meaning all of the improvable class) are no more than animals of the same great genus, on the high road of tendencies, who are advancing towards the last stage of improvement, previously to their final translation to another planet, and a new existence.
"The retrogressive class is composed of those specimens which, owing to their destiny, take a false direction; which, instead of tending to the immaterial, tend to the material; which gradually become more and more under the influence of matter, until, by a succession of physical translations, the will is eventually lost, and they become incorporated with the earth itself. Under this last transformation, these purely materialized beings are chemically analyzed in the great laboratory of nature, and their component parts are separated; thus the bones become rocks, the flesh earth, the spirits air, the blood water, the gristle clay and the ashes of the will are converted into the element of fire. In this class we enumerate whales, elephants, hippopotami, and divers other brutes, which visibly exhibit accumulations of matter that must speedily triumph over the less material portions of their natures."
"And yet, Doctor, there are facts that militate against the theory; the elephant, for instance, is accounted one of the most intelligent of all the quadrupeds."
"A mere false demonstration, sir. Nature delights in these little equivocations; thus, we have false suns, false rainbows, false prophets, false vision, and even false philosophy. There are entire races of both our species, too, as the Congo and the Esquimaux, for yours, and baboons and the common monkeys, that inhabit various parts of the world possessed by the human species, for ours, which are mere shadows of the forms and qualities that properly distinguish the animal in its state of protection."
"How, sir! are you not, then, of the same family as all the other monkeys that we see hopping and skipping about the streets?"
"No more, sir, than you are of the same family as the flat- nosed, thick-lipped, low-browed, ink-skinned negro, or the squalid, passionless, brutalized Esquimaux. I have said that nature delights in vagaries; and all these are no more than some of her mystifications. Of this class is the elephant, who, while verging nearest to pure materialism, makes a deceptive parade of the quality he is fast losing. Instances of this species of playing trumps, if I may so express it, are common in all classes of beings. How often, for instance, do men, just as they are about to fail, make a parade of wealth, women seem obdurate an hour before they capitulate, and diplomatists call Heaven to be a witness of their resolutions to the contrary, the day before they sign and seal! In the case of the elephant, however, there is a slight exception to the general rule, which is founded on an extraordinary struggle between mind and matter, the former making an effort that is unusual, and which may be said to form an exception to the ordinary warfare between these two principles, as it is commonly conducted in the retrogressive class of animals. The most infallible sign of the triumph of mind over matter, is in the development of the tail --- "
"Of the tail, Dr. Reasono?"
"By all means, sir --- that seat of reason, the tail! Pray, Sir John, what other portion of our frames did you imagine was indicative of intellect?"
"Among men, Dr. Reasono, it is commonly thought the head is the more honorable member, and, of late, we have made analytical maps of this part of our physical formation, by which it is pretended to know the breadth and length of a moral quality, no less than its boundaries."
"You have made the best use of your materials, such as they were, and I dare say the map in question, all things considered, is a very clever performance. But in the complication and abstruseness of this very moral chart (one of which I perceive standing on your mantelpiece), you may learn the confusion which still reigns over the human intellect. Now, in regarding us, you can understand the very converse of your dilemma. How much easier, for instance, is it to take a yard-stick, and by a simple admeasurement of a tail, come to a sound, obvious and incontrovertible conclusion as to the extent of the intellect of the specimen, than by the complicated, contradictory, self-balancing and questionable process to which you are reduced! Were there only this fact, it would abundantly establish the higher moral condition of the monikinrace, as it is compared with that of man."
"Dr. Reasono, am I to understand that the monikin family seriously entertain a position so extravagant as this; that a monkey is a creature more intellectual and more highly civilized than man?"
"Seriously, good Sir John! Why you are the first respectable person it has been my fortune to meet, who has even affected to doubt the fact. It is well known that both belong to the improveable class of animals, and that monkeys, as you are pleased to term us, were once men, with all their passions, weaknesses, inconsistencies, mode of philosophy, unsound ethics, frailties, incongruities and subserviency to matter; that they passed into the monikin state by degrees, and that large divisions of them are constantly evaporating into the immaterial world, completely spiritualized and free from the dross of flesh. I do not mean in what is called death --- for that is no more than an occasional deposit of matter to be resumed in a new aspect, and with a nearer approach to the grand results (whether of the improveable or of the retrogressive classes) --- but those final mutations which transfer us to another planet, to enjoy a higher state of being, and leaving us always on the high road towards final excellence."
"All this is very ingenious, sir; but before you can persuade me into the belief that man is an animal inferior to a monkey, Dr. Reasono, you will allow me to say that you must prove it."
"Ay, ay, or me, either," put in Captain Poke, waspishly.
"Were I to cite my proofs, gentlemen," continued the philosopher, whose spirit appeared to be much less moved by our doubts than ours were by his position --- "I should in the first place refer you to history. All the monikin writers are agreed in recording the gradual translation of the species from the human family --- "
"This may do very well, sir, for the latitude of Leaphigh, but permit me to say that no human historian, from Moses down to Buffon, has ever taken such a view of our respective races. There is not a word in any of all these writers on the subject."
"How should there be, sir? History is not a prediction, but a record of the past. Their silence is so much negative proof in our favor. Does Tacitus, for instance, speak of the French revolution? Is not Herodotus silent on the subject of the independence of the American continent? --- or do any of the Greek and Roman writers give us the annals of Stunin'tun --- a city whose foundations were most probably laid some time after the commencement of the Christian era? It is morally impossible that men or monikins can faithfully relate events that have never happened; and as it has never yet happened to any man, who is still a man, to be translated to the monikin state of being, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that he can know nothing about it. If you want historical proof, therefore, of what I say, you must search the monikin annals for evidence. There it is to be found with an infinity of curious details; and I trust the time is not far distant, when I shall have great pleasure in pointing out to you some of the most approved chapters of our best writers on this subject. But we are not confined to the testimony of history, in establishing our condition to be of the secondary formation. The internal evidence is triumphant; we appeal to our simplicity, our philosophy, the state of the arts among us, in short, to all those concurrent proofs which are dependent on the highest possible state of civilization. In addition to this, we have the infallible testimony which is to be derived from the development of our tails. Our system of caudology is, in itself, a triumphant proof of the high improvement of the monikin reason."
"Do I comprehend you aright, Dr. Reasono, when I understand your system of caudology, or tailology, to render it into the vernacular, to dogmatize on the possibility that the seat of reason in man, which to-day is certainly in his brains, can ever descend into a tail?"
"If you deem development, improvement and simplification a descent, beyond a question, sir. But your figure is a bad one, Sir John; for ocular demonstration is before you, that a monikin can carry his tail as high as a man can possibly carry his head. Our species, in this sense, is morally nicked; and it costs us no effort to be on a level with human kings. We hold, with you, that the brain is the seat of reason, while the animal is in what we call the human probation, but that it is a reason undeveloped, imperfect, and confused; cased, as it were, in an envelope unsuited to its functions; but that, as it gradually oozes out of this straitened receptable towards the base of the animal, it acquires solidity, lucidity, and, finally, by elongation and development, point. If you examine the human brain, you will find it, though capable of being stretched to a great length, compressed in a diminutive compass, involved and snarled; whereas the same physical portion of the genus gets simplicity, a beginning and an end, a directness and consecutiveness that are necessary to logic, and, as has just been mentioned, a point, in the monikin seat of reason, which, by all analogy, go to prove the superiority of the animal possessing advantages so great."
"Nay, sir, if you come to analogies, they will be found to prove more than you may wish. In vegetation, for instance, saps ascend for the purposes of fructification and usefulness; and, reasoning from the analogies of the vegetable world, it is far more probable that tails have ascended into brains than that brains have descended into tails; and, consequently, that men are much more likely to be an improvement on monkeys, than monkeys an improvement on men."
I spoke with warmth, I know; for the doctrine of Dr. Reasono was new to me; and by this time, my esprit de corps had pretty effectually blinded reflection.
"You gave him a red-hot shot that time, Sir John," whispered Captain Poke at my elbow; "now, if you are so disposed, I will wring the necks of all these little blackguards, and throw them out of the window."
I immediately intimated that any display of brute force would militate directly against our cause; as the object, just at that moment, was to be as immaterial as possible.
"Well, well, manage it in your own way, Sir John, and I'm quite as immaterial as you can wish; but should these cunning varments ra'ally get the better of us in the argument, I shall never dare look at Miss Poke, or show my face ag'in in Stunin'tun."
This little aside was secretly conducted, while Dr. Reasono was drinking a glass of eau sucre; but he soon returned to the subject, with the dignified gravity that never forsook him.
"Your remark touching saps has the usual savor of human ingenuity, blended, however, with the proverbial short- sightedness of the species. It is very true that saps ascend for fructification; but what is this fructification, to which you allude? It is no more than a false demonstration of the energies of the plant. For all the purposes of growth, life, durability, and the final conversion of the vegetable matter into an element, the root is the seat of power and authority; and, in particular, the tap-root above or rather below all others. This tap-root may be termed the tail of vegetation. You may pluck fruits with impunity --- nay, you may even top all the branches, and the tree shall survive; but, put the axe to the root, and the pride of the forest falls."
All this was too evidently true to be denied, and I felt worried and badgered; for no man likes to be beaten in a discussion of this sort, and more especially by a monkey. I bethought me of the elephant, and determined to make one more thrust, by the aid of his powerful tusks, before I gave up the point.
"I am inclined to think, Dr. Reasono," I put in as soon as possible, "that your savans have not been very happy in illustrating their theory by means of the elephant. This animal, besides being a mass of flesh, is too well provided with intellect to be passed off for a dunce; and he not only has one, but he might almost be said to be provided with two tails."
"That has been his chief misfortune, sir. Matter, in the great warfare between itself and mind, has gone on the principle of 'divide and conquer.' You are nearer the truth than you imagined, for the trunk of the elephant is merely the abortion of a tail; and yet, you see, it contains nearly all the intelligence that the animal possesses. On the subject of the fate of the elephant, however, theory is confirmed by actual experiment. Do not your geologists and naturalists speak of the remains of animals, which are no longer to be found among living things?"
"Certainly, sir; the mastodon --- the megatherium, iguanodon; and the plesiosaurus --- "
"And do you not also find unequivocal evidences of animal matter incorporated with rocks?"
"This fact must be admitted, too."
"These phenomena, as you call them, are no more than the final deposits which nature has made in the cases of those creatures in which matter has completely overcome its rival, mind. So soon as the will is entirely extinct, the being ceases to live; or it is no longer an animal. It falls and reverts altogether to the element of matter. The processes of decomposition and incorporation are longer, or shorter, according to circumstances; and these fossil remains of which your writers say so much, are merely cases that have met with accidental obstacles to their final decomposition. As respects our two species, a very cursory examination of their qualities ought to convince any candid mind of the truth of our philosophy. Thus, the physical part of man is much greater in proportion to the spiritual, than it is in the monikin; his habits are grosser and less intellectual; he requires sauce and condiments in his food; he is farther removed from simplicity, and, by necessary implication, from high civilization; he eats flesh, a certain proof that the material principle is still strong in the ascendant; he has no cauda --- -"
"On this point, Dr. Reasono, I would inquire if your scholars attach any weight to traditions?"
"The greatest possible, sir. It is the monikin tradition that our species is composed of men refined, of diminished matter and augmented minds, with the seat of reason extricated from the confinement and confusion of the caput, and extended, unravelled, and rendered logical and consecutive, in the cauda."
Well, sir, we too have our traditions; and an eminent writer, at no great distance of time, has laid it down as incontrovertible, that men once had caudæ."
"A mere prophetic glance into the future, as coming events are known to cast their shadows before."
"Sir, the philosopher in question establishes his position, by pointing to the stumps."
"He has unluckily mistaken a foundation-stone for a ruin! Such errors are not unfrequent with the ardent and ingenious. That men will have tails, I make no doubt; but that they have ever reached this point of perfection, I do most solemnly deny. There are many premonitory symptoms of their approaching this condition; the current opinions of the day, the dress, habits, fashions, and philosophy of the species, encourage the belief; but hitherto you have never reached the enviable distinction. As to traditions, even your own are all in favor of our theory. Thus, for instance, you have a tradition that the earth was once peopled by giants. Now, this is owing to the fact that men were formerly more under the influence of matter, and less under that of mind than to day. You admit that you diminish in size, and improve in moral attainments; all of which goes to establish the truth of the monikin philosophy. You begin to lay less stress on physical, and more on moral excellences; and, in short, many things show that the time for the final liberation and grand development of your brains, is not far distant. This much I very gladly concede; for, while the dogmas of our schools are not to be disregarded, I very cheerfully admit that you are our fellow-creatures, though in a more infant and less improved condition of society."
Here Dr. Reasono announced the necessity of taking a short intermission in order to refresh himself. I retired with Captain Poke, to have a little communication with my fellow-mortal, under the peculiar circumstances in which we were placed, and to ask his opinion of what had been said. Noah swore bitterly at some of the conclusions of the monikin philosopher, affirming that he should like no better sport than to hear him lecture in the streets of Stunin'tun, where, he assured me, such doctrine would not be tolerated any longer than was necessary to sharpen a harpoon, or to load a gun. Indeed, he did not know but the Doctor would be incontinently kicked over into Rhode Island, without ceremony.
"For that matter," continued the indignant old sealer, "I should ask no better sport than to have permission to put the big toe of my right foot, under full sail, against the part of the blackguard where his beloved tail is stepped. That would soon bring him to reason. Why, as for his caudæ, if you will believe me, Sir John, I once saw a man, on the coast of Patagonia --- a savage, to be sure, and not a philosopher, as this fellow pretends to be ---; who had an outrigger of this sort, as long as a ship's ringtail-boom. And what was he, after all, but a poor devil who did not know a sea-lion from a grampus!"
This assertion of Captain Poke relieved my mind considerably; and laying aside the bison-skin, I asked him to have the goodness to examine the localities, with some particularity, about the termination of the dorsal bone, in order to ascertain if there were any encouraging signs to be discovered. Captain Poke put on his spectacles, for time had brought the worthy mariner to their use, as he said, "whenever he had occasion to read fine print"; and, after some time, I had the satisfaction to hear him declare, that if it was a cauda I wanted, there was as good a place to step one, as could be found about any monkey in the universe; "and you have only to say the word, Sir John, and I will just step into the next room, and by the help of my knife and a little judgment in choosing, I'll fit you out with a jury-article, which, if there be any ra'al vartue in this sort of thing, will qualify you at once to be a judge, or, for that matter, a bishop."
We were now summoned again to the lecture-room, and I had barely time to thank Captain Poke for his obliging offer, which circumstances just then, however, forbade my accepting.
"Although dying with impatience to be enlightened on all these interesting points, you will grant me leave to inquire en passant, Dr. Reasono, if your savans receive the Mosaic account of the creation or not."
"As far as it corroborates our own system, sir, and no farther. There would be a manifest inconsistency in our giving an antagonistic validity to any hostile theory, let it come from Moses or Aaron; as one of your native good sense and subsequent cultivation will readily perceive."
"Permit me to intimate, Dr. Reasono, that the distinction your philosophers take in this matter, is directly opposed to a very arbitrary canon in the law of evidence, which dictates the necessity of repudiating the whole of a witness's testimony, when we repudiate a part."
"That may be a human, but it is not a monikin distinction. So far from admitting the soundness of the principle, we hold that no monikin is ever wholly right, or that he will be wholly right, so long as he remains in the least under the influence of matter; and we therefore winnow the false from the true, rejecting the former as worse than useless, while we take the latter as the nutriment of facts."
"I now repeat my apologies for so often interrupting you, venerable and learned sir; and I entreat you will not waste another moment in replying to my interrogatories, but proceed at once to an explanation of your planetary system, or of any other little thing it may suit your convenience to mention. When one listens to a real philosopher, one is certain to learn something that is either useful or agreeable, let the subject be what it may."
"By the monikin philosophy, gentlemen," continued Dr. Reasono, "we divide the great component parts of this earth into land and water. These two principles we term the primary elements. Human philosophy has added air and fire to the list; but these we reject either entirely, or admit them only as secondary elements. That neither air nor fire is a primary element, may be proved by experiment. Thus, air can be formed, in the quality of gases, can be rendered pure or foul; is dependent on evaporation, being no more than ordinary matter in a state of high rarefaction. Fire has no independent existence, requires fuel for its support, and is evidently a property that is derived from the combinations of other principles. Thus, by putting two or more billets of wood together, by rapid friction you produce fire. Abstract the air suddenly, and your fire becomes extinct; abstract the wood, and you have the same result. From these two experiments it is shown that fire has no independent existence, and therefore is not an element. On the other hand, take a billet of wood and let it be completely saturated with water; the wood acquires a new property (as also by the application of fire, which converts it into ashes and air), for its specific gravity is increased, it becomes less inflammable, emits vapor more readily, and yields less readily to the blow of the axe. Place the same billet under a powerful screw, and a vessel beneath. Compress the billet, and by a sufficient application of force, you will have the wood, perfectly dry, left beneath the screw, and the vessel will contain water. Thus is it shown that land (all vegetable matter being no more than fungi of the earth) is a primary element, and that water is also a primary element; while air and fire are not.
"Having established the elements, I shall, for brevity's sake, suppose the world created. In the beginning, the orb was placed in vacuum, stationary, and with its axis perpendicular to the plane of what is now called its orbit. Its only revolution was the diurnal."
"And the changes of the seasons?"
"Had not yet taken place. The days and nights were equal; there were no eclipses; the same stars were always visible. This state of the earth is supposed, from certain geological proofs, to have continued about a thousand years, during which time the struggle between mind and matter was solely confined to quadrupeds. Man is thought to have made his appearance, so far as our documents go to establish the fact, about the year of the world one thousand and three. About this period, too, it is supposed that fire was generated by the friction of the earth's axis, while making the diurnal movement; or, as some imagine, by the friction of the periphery of the orb, rubbing against vacuum at the rate of so many miles in a minute. The fire penetrating the crust, soon got access to the bodies of water that fill the cavities of the earth. From this time is to be dated the existence of a new and most important agent in the terrestrial phenomena, called steam. Vegetation now began to appear, as the earth received warmth from within --- "
"Pray, sir, may I ask in what manner all the animals existed previously?"
"By feeding on each other. The strong devoured the weak, until the most diminutive of the animalcula were reached, when these turned on their persecutors, and profiting by their insignificance, commenced devouring the strongest. You find daily parallels to this phenomenon in the history of man. He who by his energy and force has triumphed over his equals, is frequently the prey of the insignificant and vile. You doubtless know that the polar regions even in the original attitude of the earth, owing to their receiving the rays of the sun obliquely, must have possessed a less genial climate than the parts of the orb that lie between the arctic and the antarctic circles. This was a wise provision of Providence to prevent a premature occupation of those chosen regions, or to cause them to be left uninhabited, until mind had so far mastered matter, as to have brought into existence the first monikin."
"May I venture to ask to what epoch you refer the appearance of the first of your species?"
"To the monikin epocha, beyond a doubt, sir --- but if you mean to ask in what year of the world this event took place, I should answer, about the year 4017. It is true that certain of our writers affect to think that divers men were approaching to the sublimation of the monikin mind, previously to this period; but the better opinion is, that these cases were no more than what are termed premonitory. Thus, Socrates, Plato, Confucius, Aristotle, Euclid, Zeno, Diogenes, and Seneca, were merely so many admonishing types of the future condition of man, indicating their near approach to the monikin, or to the final translation."
"And Epicurus --- "
"Was an exaggeration of the material principle, that denoted the retrogression of a large portion of the race towards brutality and matter. These phenomena are still of daily occurrence."
"Do you then hold the opinion, for instance, Dr. Reasono, that Socrates is now a monikin philosopher, with his brain unravelled and rendered logically consecutive, and that Epicurus is transformed perchance into a hippopotamus or a rhinoceros, with tusks, horns, and hide?"
"You quite mistake our dogmas, Sir John. We do not believe in transmigration in the individual at all, but in the transmigration of classes. Thus, we hold that whenever a given generation of men, in a peculiar state of society, attain, in the aggregate, a certain degree of moral improvement, or mentality, as we term it in the schools, that there is an admixture of their qualities in masses, some believe by scores, others think by hundreds, and others again pretend by thousands; and if it is found, by the analysis that is regularly instituted by nature, that the proportions are just, the material is consigned to the monikin birth; if not, it is repudiated, and either kneaded anew for another human experiment, or consigned to the vast stores of dormant matter. Thus all individuality, so far as it is connected with the past, is lost."
"But, sir, existing facts contradict one of the most important of your propositions; while you admit that a want of a change in the seasons would be a consequence of the perpendicularity of the earth's axis to the plane of its present orbit, this change in the seasons is a matter not to be denied. Flesh and blood testify against you here, no less than reason."
"I spoke of things as they were, sir, previously to the birth of the monikinia; since which time a great, salutary, harmonious, and contemplated alteration has occurred. Nature had reserved the polar region for the new species, with divers obvious and benevolent purposes. They were rendered uninhabitable by the obliquity of the sun's rays; and though matter, in the shape of mastodons and whales, with an instinct of its antagonistic destination, had frequently invaded their precincts, it was only to leave the remains of the first embedded in fields of ice, memorials of the uselessness of struggling against destiny, and to furnish proofs of the same great truth in the instance of the others; who, if they did enter the polar basins as masters of the great deep, either left their bones there, or returned in the same characters as they went. From the appearance of animal nature on the earth, down to the period when the monikin race arose, the regions in question were not only uninhabited, but virtually uninhabitable. When, however, nature, always wary, wise, beneficent, and never to be thwarted, had prepared the way, those phenomena were exhibited that cleared the road for the new species. I have alluded to the internal struggle between fire and water, and to their progeny, steam. This new agent was now required to act. A moment's attention to the manner in which the next great step in the progress of civilization was made, will show with what foresight and calculation our common mother had established her laws. The earth is flattened at the poles, as is well imagined by some of the human philosophers, in consequence of its diurnal movement commencing while the ball was still in a state of fusion, which naturally threw off a portion of the unkneaded matter towards the periphery. This was not done without the design of accomplishing a desired end. The matter that was thus accumulated at the equator, was necessarily abstracted from other parts; and in this manner the crust of the globe became thinnest at the poles. When a sufficiency of steam had been generated in the centre of the ball, a safety-valve was evidently necessary to prevent a total disruption. As there was no other machinist than nature, she worked with her own tools, and agreeably to her own established laws. The thinnest portions of the crust opportunely yielded to prevent a catastrophe, when the superfluous and heated vapor escaped, in a right line with the earth's axis, into vacuum. This phenomenon occurred, as nearly as we have been able to ascertain, about the year 700 before the Christian era commenced, or some two centuries previously to the birth of the first monikins."
"And why so early, may I presume to inquire, Doctor?"
"Simply that there might be time for the new climate to melt the ice that had accumulated about the islands and continents of that region (for it was only at the southern extremity of the earth that the explosion had taken place), in the course of so many centuries. Two hundred and seventy years of the active and unremitted agency of steam sufficed for this end; since the accomplishment of which, the monikin race has been in the undisturbed enjoyment of the whole territory, together with its blessed fruits."
"Am I to understand," asked Captain Poke, with more interest than he had before manifested in the philosopher's lecture, "that your folks, when at hum', live to the south'ard of the belt of ice that we mariners always fall in with somewhere about the parallel of 77° south latitude?"
"Precisely so --- alas! that we should, this day, be so far from those regions of peace, delight, intelligence, and salubrity! But the will of Providence be done! --- doubtless there is a wise motive for our captivity and sufferings, which may yet lead to the further glory of the monikin race!"
"Will you have the kindness to proceed with your explanations, Doctor? If you deny the annual revolution of the earth, in what manner do you account for the changes of the seasons, and other astronomical phenomena, such as the eclipses which so frequently occur?"
"You remind me that the subject is not yet exhausted," the philosopher hurriedly rejoined, hastily and covertly dashing a tear from his eye. "Prosperity produced some of its usual effects among the founders of our species. For a few centuries, they went on multiplying in numbers, elongating and rendering still more consecutive their cauda, improving in knowledge and the arts, until some spirits, more audacious than the rest, became restive under the slow march of events, which led them towards perfection at a rate ill-suited to their fiery impatience. At this time, the mechanic arts were at the highest pitch of perfection amongst us --- we have since, in a great measure, abandoned them, as unsuited to, and unnecessary for, an advanced state of civilization --- we wore clothes, constructed canals, and effected other works that were greatly esteemed among the species from which we had emigrated. At this time, also, the whole monikin family lived together as one people, enjoyed the same laws, and pursued the same objects. But a political sect arose in the region, under the direction of misguided and hotheaded leaders, who brought down upon us the just judgment of Providence, and a multitude of evils that it will require ages to remedy. This sect soon had recourse to religious fanaticism and philosophical sophisms, to attain its ends. It grew rapidly in power and numbers; for we monikins, like men, as I have had occasion to observe, are seekers of novelties. At last it proceeded to absolute overt acts of treason against the laws of Providence itself. The first violent demonstration of its madness and folly was, setting up the doctrine that injustice had been done the monikin race, by causing the safety-valve of the world to be opened within their region. Although we were manifestly indebted to this very circumstance for the benignity of our climate, the value of our possessions, the general healthfulness of our families-nay, for our separate existence itself, as an independent species, yet did these excited and ill-judging wretches absolutely wage war upon the most benevolent and the most unequivocal friend they had. Specious promises led to theories, theories to declamations, declamation to combination, combination to denunciation, and denunciation to open hostilities. The matter in dispute was debated for two generations, when the necessary degree of madness having been excited, the leaders of the party, who by this time had worked themselves through their hobby, into the general control of the monikin affairs, called a meeting of all their partisans and passed certain resolutions, which will never be blotted from the monikin memory, so fatal were their consequences, so ruinous for a time their effects! They were conceived in the following terms: ---
"At a full and overflowing meeting of the most monikinized of the monikin race, holden at the house of Peleg Pat (we still used the human appellations, at that epoch), in the year of the world 3,007, and of the monikin era 317, Plausible Shout was called to the chair, and Ready Quill was named secretary."No sooner were these resolutions promulgated (for instead of being passed at a full meeting, it is now understood they were drawn up between Messrs. Shout and Quill, under the private dictation of Mr. Jaw), than the public mind began seriously to meditate proceeding to extremities. That perfection in the mechanic arts, which had hitherto formed our pride and boast, now proved to be our greatest enemy. It is thought that the leaders of this ill-directed party meant, in truth, to confine themselves to certain electioneering effects; but who can stay the torrent, or avert the current of prejudice! The stream was setting against steam; the whole invention of the species was put in motion; and in one year from the passage of the resolutions I have recited, mountains were transported, endless piles of rocks were thrown into the gulf, arches were constructed, and the hole of the safety-valve was hermetically sealed. You will form some idea of the waste of intelligence and energy on this occasion, when I add that it was found, by actual observation, that this artificial portion of the earth was thicker, stronger, and more likely to be durable than the natural. So far did infatuation lead the victims, that they actually caused the whole region to be sounded, and, having ascertained the precise locality of the thinnest portion of the crust, John Jaw, and all the most zealous of his followers, removed to the spot, where they established the seat of their government in triumph. All this time nature rested upon her arms, in the quiet of conscious force. It was not long, however, before our ancestors began to perceive the consequences of their act, in the increase of the cold, in the scarcity of fruits, and in the rapid augmentation of the ice. The monikin enthusiasm is easily awakened in favor of any plausible theory, but it invariably yields to physical pressure. No doubt the human race, better furnished with the material of physical resistance, does not exhibit so much of this weakness, but --- "
"After several excellent and eloquent addresses from all present, it was unanimously resolved as follows, viz.:
"That steam is a curse, and not a blessing; and that it deserves to be denounced by all patriotic and true monikins.
"That we deem it the height of oppression and injustice in nature, that she has placed the great safety-valve of the world within the lawful limits of the monikin territories.
"That the said safety-valve ought to be removed forthwith; and that it shall be so removed, peaceably if it can, forcibly if it must.
"That we cordially approve of the sentiments of John Jaw, our present estimable chief magistrate, the incorruptible partisan, the undaunted friend of his friends, the uncompromising enemy of steam, and the sound, pure, orthodox, and true monikin.
"That we recommend the said Jaw to the confidence of all monikins.
"That we call upon the country to sustain us in our great, holy, and glorious design, pledging ourselves, posterity, the bones of our ancestors, and all who have gone before or who may come after us, to the faithful execution of our intentions.
"Signed,'""READY QUILL, Secretary."
"PLAUSIBLE SHOUT, Chairman.
"Do not flatter us with the exception, Doctor. I find so many points of resemblance between us, that I really begin to think we must have had the same origin; and if you would only admit that man is of the secondary formation, and the monikins of the primary, I would accept the whole of your philosophy without a moment's delay."
"As such an admission would be contrary to both fact and doctrine, I trust, my dear sir, you will see the utter impossibility of a Professor in the University of Leaphigh making the concession, even in this remote part of the world. As I was about to observe, the people began to betray uneasiness at the increasing and constant inclemency of the weather; and Mr. John Jaw found it necessary to stimulate their passions by a new development of his principles. His friends and partisans were all assembled in the great square of the new capital, and the following resolutions were, to use the language of a handbill that is still preserved in the archives of the Leaphigh Historical Society (for it would seem they were printed before they were passed), 'unanimously, enthusiastically, and finally adopted,' viz.:
Resolved, That this meeting has the utmost contempt for steam."We are told that the last resolution was just carried by acclamation, when nature arose in her might, and took ample vengeance for all her wrongs. The great boiler of the earth burst with a tremendous explosion, carrying away, as the thinnest part of the workmanship, not only Mr. John Jaw, and all his partisans, but forty thousand square miles of territory. The last that was seen of them was about thirty seconds after the occurrence of the explosion, when the whole mass disappeared near the northern horizon, going at a rate a little surpassing that of a cannon ball which has just left its gun."
Resolved, That this meeting defies snow, and sterility, and all other natural disadvantages.
Resolved, That we will live forever.
Resolved, That we will henceforward go naked, as the most effectual means of setting the frost at defiance.
Resolved, That we are now over the thinnest part of the earth's crust in the polar regions.
Resolved, That henceforth we will support no monikin for any public trust, who will not give a pledge to put out all his fires, and to dispense with cooking altogether.
Resolved, That we are animated by the true spirit of patriotism, reason, good faith, and firmness.
Resolved, That this meeting now adjourn sine die.
"King!" exclaimed Noah; "that is what we sailors call 'to cut and run.'"
"Was nothing ever heard of Mr. Jaw and his companions, my good Doctor?"
"Nothing that could be depended on. Some of our naturalists assume that the monkeys which frequent the other parts of the earth are their descendants, who, stunned by the shock, have lost their reasoning powers, while, at the same time, they show glimmerings of their origin. This is, in truth, the better opinion of our savans; and it is usual with us, to distinguish all the human species of monkeys by the name of 'the lost monikins.' Since my captivity, chance has thrown me in the way of several of these animals, who were equally under the control of the cruel Savoyards; and in conversing with them, in order to inquire into their traditions and to trace the analogies of language, I have been led to think there is some foundation for the opinion. Of this, however, hereafter."
"Pray, Dr. Reasono, what became of the forty thousand square miles of territory?"
"Of that we have a better account; for one of our vessels, which was far to the northward, on an exploring expedition, fell in with it in longitude 2 degrees from Leaphigh, latitude 6° S., and by her means it was ascertained that divers islands had been already formed by falling fragments; and, judging by the direction of the main body when last seen, the fertility of that part of the world, and various geological proofs, we hold that the great western archipelago is the deposit of the remainder."
"And the monikin region, sir --- what was the consequence of this phenomenon to that part of the world?"
"Awful ---;sublime --- various --- and durable! The more important, or the personal consequences, shall be mentioned first. Fully one-third of the monikin species were scalded to death. A great many contracted asthmas and other diseases of the lungs, by inhaling steam. Most of the bridges were swept away by the sudden melting of the snows, and large stores of provisions were spoiled by the unexpected appearance and violent character of the thaw. These may be enumerated among the unpleasant consequences. Among the pleasant, we esteem a final and agreeable melioration of the climate, which regained most of its ancient character, and a rapid and distinct elongation of our caudæ, by a sudden acquisition of wisdom.
"The secondary, or the terrestrial consequences, were as follows:-By the suddenness and force with which so much steam rushed into space, finding its outlet several degrees from the pole, the earth was canted from its perpendicular attitude, and remained fixed, with its axis having an inclination of 23° 27°° to the plane of its orbit. At the same time the orb began to move in vacuum, and, restrained by antagonistic attractions, to perform what is called its annual revolution."
"I can very well understand, friend Reasono," observed Noah, "why the 'arth should heel under so sudden a flaw, though a wellballasted ship would right again when the puff was over; but I cannot understand how a little steam leaking out at one end of a craft should set her agoing at the rate we are told this world travels?"
"If the escape of the steam were constant, the diurnal motion giving it every moment a new position, the earth would not be propelled in its orbit, of a certainty, Captain Poke; but as, in fact, this escape of the steam has the character of pulsation, being periodical and regular, nature has ordained that it shall occur but once in the twenty-four hours, and this at such a time as to render its action uniform, and its impulsion always in the same direction. The principle on which the earth receives this impetus, can be easily illustrated by a familiar experiment. Take, for instance, a doublebarrelled fowling- piece, load both barrels with extra quantities of powder, introduce a ball and two wads into each barrel, place the breech within 4 628/1000 inches of the abdomen, and take care to fire both barrels at once. In this case, the balls will give an example of the action of the forty thousand square miles of territory, and the person experimenting will not fail to imitate the impulsion, or the backward movement of the earth."
"While I do not deny that such an experiment would be likely to set both parties in motion, friend Reasono, I do not see why the 'arth should not finally stop, as the man would be sure to do, after he had got through with hopping, and kicking, and swearing."
"The reason why the earth, once set in motion in vacuum, does not stop, can also be elucidated by experiment, as follows: --- Take Captain Noah Poke, provided as he is by nature with legs and the power of motion; lead him to the Place Vendôme; cause him to pay three sous, which will gain him admission to the base of the column; let him ascend to the summit; thence let him leap with all his energy, in a direction at right angles with the shaft of the column, into the open air; and it will be found that, though the original impulsion would not probably impel the body more than ten or twelve feet, motion would continue until it had reached the earth. Corollary: hence it is proved that all bodies in which the vis inertia has been overcome will continue in motion, until they come in contact with some power capable of stopping them."
"King! --- Do you not think, Mr. Reasono, that the 'arth makes its circuit, as much owing to this said steam of yours shoving, as it were, always a little on one side, acting thereby in some fashion as a rudder, which causes her to keep waring as we seamen call it, and as big crafts take more room than small ones in waring, why, she is compelled to run so many millions of miles, before, as it were, she comes up to the wind ag'in? Now, there is reason in such an idee; whereas, I never could reconcile it to my natur', that these little bits of stars should keep a craft like the 'arth in her course, with such a devil of a way on her, as we know in reason she must have, to run so far in a twelvemonth. Why, the smallest yaw --- and, for a hooker of her keel, a thousand miles wouldn't be a broader yaw than a hundred feet in a ship --- the smallest yaw would send her aboard of the Jupiter, or the Marcury, when there would be a smashing of outboard work such as mortal never before witnessed!"
"We rather lean to the opinion of the efficacy of attraction, sir; nor do I see that your proposition would at all obviate your own objection."
"Then, sir, I will just explain myself. Let us suppose there was a steamer with a hundred miles of keel; let us suppose the steam up, and the craft with a broad offing; let us suppose her helm lash'd hard aport, and she going at the rate of ten thousand knots the hour, without bringing up or shortening sail for years at a time. Now, all this being admitted, what would be her course? Why, sir, any child could tell you, she would keep turning in a circle of some fifty or a hundred thousand miles in circumference; and such, it appears to me, it is much more rational to suppose is the natur' of the 'arth's traversing, than all this steering small among stars and attractions."
"There is truly something very plausible, Captain Poke, in your suggestion; and I propose that you shall profit by the first occasion to lay your opinions on the subject, more at large, before the Academy of Leaphigh."
"With all my heart, Doctor; for I hold that knowledge, like good liquor, is given to be passed round from one to another, and not to be gulped in a corner by any particular individle. And now I'm throwing out hints of this natur' I will just intimate another that you may add to your next demonstration, by way of what you call a corollary; which is this --- that is to say --- if all you tell us about the bursting of the boiler, and the polar kick be true, then is the 'arth the first steamboat that was ever invented, and the boastings of the French, and the English, and the Spaniards, and the Italians, on this point, are no more than so much smoke."
"And of the Americans, too, Captain Poke," I ventured to observe.
"Why, Sir John, that is as it may happen. I don't well see how Fulton could have stolen the idee, seeing that he did not know the Doctor, and most probably never heard of Leaphigh in his life."
We all smiled, even to the amiable Chatterissa, at the nicety of the navigator's distinctions; and the philosopher's lecture, in its more didactic form, being now virtually at an end, a long and desultory conversation took place, in which a multitude of ingenious questions were put by Captain Poke and myself, and which were as cleverly answered by the Doctor and his friends.
At length, Dr. Reasono, who, philosopher as he was, and much as he loved science, had not given himself all this trouble without a view to what are called ulterior considerations, came out with a frank expose of his wishes. Accident had apparently combined all the means for gratifying the burning desire I betrayed to be let into further details of the monikin polity, morals, philosophy, and all the other great social interests of the part of the world they inhabit. I was wealthy beyond bounds, and the equipment of a proper vessel would be an expenditure of no moment; both the Doctor and Lord Chatterino were good practical geographers, after they were once within the parallel of 77° south, and Captain Poke, according to his own account of himself, had passed half his life in poking about among the sterile and uninhabited islands of the frozen ocean. What was there to prevent the most earnest wishes of all present from being gratified? The captain was out of employment, and no doubt would be glad to get the command of a good tight sea-boat; the strangers pined for home, and it was my most ardent wish to increase my stake in society, by taking a further interest in monikins.
On this hint, I frankly made a proposal to the old sealer to undertake the task of restoring these amiable and enlightened strangers to their own firesides and families. The Captain soon began to discover a little of his Stunin'tun propensity; for the more I pressed the matter on him, the more readily he found objections. The several motives he urged for declining the proposal, may be succinctly given as follows: ---
It was true that he wanted employment, but then he wanted to see Stunin'tun too; he doubted whether monkeys would make good sailors; it was no joke to run in among the ice, and it might be still less of one to find our way back again; he had seen the bodies of dead seals and bears that were frozen as hard as stone, and which might, for anything he knew, have lain in that state a hundred years, and, for his part, he should like to be buried when he was good for nothing else. How did he know these monikins might not catch the men, when they had once fairly got them in their country, and strip them, and make them throw summersets, as the Savoyards had compelled the Doctor, and even the Lady Chatterissa to do? --- he knew he should break his neck the very first flap-jack; if he were ten years younger, perhaps he should like the frolic; he did not believe the right sort of craft could be found in England, and for his part, he liked sailing under the stars and stripes; he didn't know but he might go if he had a crew of Stunin'tunners; he always knew how to get along with such people; he could scare one by threatening to tell his marm how he behaved, and bring another to reason by hinting that the gals would shy him if he wasn't more accommodating; then there might be no such place as Leaphigh, after all; or, if there was, he might never find it; as for wearing a bison-skin under the equator, it was quite out of the question, a human skin being a heavy load to carry in the calm latitudes; and finally that he didn't exactly see what he was to get by it.
These objections were met, one by one, reversing the order in which they were made, and commencing with the last.
I offered a thousand pounds sterling as the reward. This proposal brought a gleam of satisfaction into Noah's eyes, though he shook his head, as if he thought it very little. It was then suggested that there was no doubt we should discover certain islands that were well stored with seals, and that I would waive all claims as owner, and that hereafter he might turn these discoveries to his own private account. At this bait he nibbled, and, at one time, I thought he was about to suffer himself to be caught. But he remained obstinate. After trying all our united rhetoric, and doubling the amount of the pecuniary offer, Dr. Reasono luckily bethought him of the universal engine of human weakness, and the old sealer, who had resisted money --- an influence of known efficacy at Stunin'tun-ambition, the secret of new sealing grounds, and all the ordinary inducements that might be thought to have weight with men of his class, was, in the end, hooked by his own vanity!
The philosopher cunningly expatiated on the pleasure there would be in reading a paper before the Academy of Leaphigh, on the subject of the captain's peculiar views touching the earth's annual revolution, and of the virtue of sailing planets, with their helms lashed hard aport, when all the dogmatical old navigator's scruples melted away like snow in a thaw.
Noah showed great care in the selection of the ship's company, the service being known to be arduous, and the duties of a very responsible character. For this purpose, he made a journey expressly to Liverpool (the ship lying in the Greenland Dock at London), where he was fortunate enough to engage five Yankees, as many Englishmen, two Norwegians, and a Swede, all of whom had been accustomed to cruising as near the poles as ordinary men ever succeeded in reaching. He was also well suited in his cook and mates; but I observed that he had great difficulty in finding a cabin-boy to his mind. More than twenty applicants were rejected, some for the want of one qualification, and some for the want of another. As I was present at several examinations of different candidates for the office, I got a little insight into his manner of ascertaining their respective merits.
The invariable practice was, first, to place a bottle of rum and a pitcher of water before the lad, and to order him to try his hand at mixing a glass of grog. Four applicants were incontinently rejected for manifesting a natural inaptitude at hitting the juste milieu, in this important part of the duty of a cabin-boy. Most of the candidates, however, were reasonably expert in the art; and the captain soon came to the next requisite, which was, to say "Sir," in a tone, as Noah expressed it, somewhere between the snap of a steeltrap and the mendicant whine of a beggar. Fourteen were rejected for deficiencies on this score, the captain remarking that most of them "were the sa'ciest blackguards" he had ever fallen in with. When he had, at length, found one who could mix a tumbler of grog, and answer "Sir," to his liking, he proceeded to make experiments on their abilities in carrying a soup-tureen over a slushed plank; in wiping plates without a napkin, and without using their shirtsleeves; in snuffing candles with their fingers; in making a soft bed with few materials besides boards; in mixing the various compounds of burgoo, lobscouse, and dough, (which he affectedly pronounced duff); in fattening pigs on beef-bones, and ducks on the sweepings of the deck; in looking at molasses without licking his lips; and in various other similar accomplishments, which he maintained were as familiar to the children of Stunin'tun, as their singing-books and the ten commandments. The nineteenth candidate, to my uninstructed eyes, seemed perfect; but Noah rejected him for the want of a quality that he declared was indispensable to the quiet of the ship. It appeared that he was too bony about an essential part of his anatomy, a peculiarity that was very dangerous to a captain, as he himself was once so unfortunate as to put his great toe out of joint, by kicking one of those ill-formed youngsters with unpremeditated violence; a thing that was very apt to happen to a man in a hurry. Luckily, No. twenty passed, and was immediately promoted to the vacant berth. The very next day the ship put to sea, in good condition, and with every prospect of a fortunate voyage.
I will here state that a general election occurred the week before we sailed; and I ran down to Householder and got myself returned, in order to protect the interests of those who had a natural right to look up to me for that small favor.
We discharged the pilot when we had the Scilly Islands over the taffrail, and Mr. Poke took command of the vessel in good earnest. Coming down channel, he had done little more than rummage about in the cabin, examine the lockers, and make his foot acquainted with the anatomy of poor Bob, as the cabin-boy was called; who, judging from the amount of the captain's practice, was admirably well suited for his station, in the great requisite of a kickee. But, the last hold of the land loosened by the departure of the pilot, our navigator came forth in his true colors, and showed the stuff of which he was really made. The first thing he did was to cause a pull to be made on every halyard, bowline, and brace in the ship; he then rattled off both mates, in order to show them (as he afterwards told me in confidence) that he was captain of his own vessel; gave the people to understand he did not like to speak twice on the same subject and on the same occasion, which he said was a privilege he very willingly left to Congressmen and women; and then he appeared satisfied with himself and all around him.
A week after we had taken our departure, I ventured to ask Captain Poke if it might not be well enough to take an observation, and to resort to some means in order to know where the ship was. Noah treated this idea with great disrespect. He could see no use in wearing out quadrants without any necessity for it. Our course was south, we knew, for we were bound to the south pole; all we had to do was to keep America on the starboard, and Africa on the larboard hand. To be sure, there was something to be said about the trades, and a little allowance to be made for currents now and then; but he and the ship would get to be better acquainted before a great while, and then all would go on like clockwork. A few days after this conversation, I was on deck just as day dawned, and to my surprise Noah, who was in his berth, called out to the mate, through the skylight, to let him know exactly how the land bore. No one had yet seen any land; but at this summons we began to look about us, and sure enough there was an island dimly visible on the eastern board! Its position by compass was immediately communicated to the captain, who seemed well satisfied with the result. Renewing his admonition to the officer of the deck to take care and keep Africa on the larboard hand, he turned over in his bed to resume his nap.
I afterwards understood from the mates, that we had made a very capital fall upon the trades, and that we were getting on wonderfully well, though it was quite as great a mystery to them as it was to me, how the captain could know where the ship was; for he had not touched his quadrant, except to wipe it with a silk handkerchief, since we left England. About a fortnight after we had passed the Cape de Verds, Noah came on deck in a great rage, and began to storm at the mate and the man at the wheel for not keeping the ship her course. To this the former answered with spirit, that the only order he had received in a fortnight, was "to keep her jogging south, allowing for variation," and that she was heading at that moment according to orders. Hereupon, Noah gave Bob, who happened to pass him just then, a smart application a posteriori, and swore "that the compass was as big a fool as the mate; that the ship was two points off her course; that south was hereaway, and not thereaway; that he knew by the feel of the wind that it had no northin' in it, and we had got it away on the quarter, whereas it ought to be for'ard of the beam; that we were running for Rio instead of Leaphigh, and that if we ever expected to get to the latter country, we must haul up on a good taut bowline." The mate, to my surprise, suddenly acquiesced, and immediately brought the ship by the wind. He afterwards told me, in a half-whisper, that the second mate having been sharpening some harpoons, had unwittingly left them much too close to the binnacle; and that, in fact, the magnet had been attracted by them, so as to deceive the man at the wheel and himself, fully twenty degrees as to the real points of the compass. I must say this little occurrence greatly encouraged me, leaving no doubt about our eventual and safe arrival as far, at least, as the boundary of ice which separates the human from the monikin region. Profiting by this feeling of security, I now began to revive the intercourse with the strangers, which had been partially interrupted by the novel and disagreeable circumstances of a sea life.
The Lady Chatterissa and her companion, as is much the case with females at sea, rarely left the gynecee; but as we drew near the equator, the philosopher and the young peer passed most of their time on deck, or aloft. Dr. Reasono and I spent half of the mild nights in discussing subjects connected with my future travels; and as soon as we were well clear of the rain and the thunder and lightning of the calm latitudes, Captain Poke, Robert, and myself began to study the language of Leaphigh. The cabin- boy was included in this arrangement, Noah intimating we should find it convenient to take him on shore with us, since a wish to conceal my destination had induced me to bring no servant along. Luckily for us, the monikin ingenuity had greatly diminished the labor of the acquisition. The whole language was spoken and written on a system of decimals, which rendered it particularly easy, after the elementary principles were once acquired. Thus, unlike most human tongues, in which the rule usually forms the exception, no departure from its laws was ever allowed, under the penalty of the pillory. This provision, the captain protested, was the best rule of them all, and saved a vast deal of trouble; for, as he knew by experience, a man might be a perfect adept in the language of Stunin'tun, and then be laughed at in New York for his pains. The comprehensiveness of the tongue was also another great advantage; though, like all other eminent advantages or excessive good, it was the next-door neighbor to as great an evil. Thus, as my Lord Chatterino obligingly explained, "we-witch-it-me-cum" means "Madam, I love you from the crown of my head to the tip of my tail; and as I love no other half as well, it would make me the happiest monikin on earth, if you would consent to become my wife, that we might be models of domestic propriety before all eyes, from this time henceforth and forever." In short, it was the usual and most solemn expression for asking in marriage; and, by the laws of the land, was binding on the proposer until as formally declined by the other party. But, unluckily, the word "we-switch-it-me- cum" means "Madam, I love you from the crown of my head to the tip of my tail; and, if I did not love another better, it would make me the happiest monikin on earth, if you would consent to become my wife, that we might be models of domestic propriety before all eyes, from this time henceforth and forever." Now this distinction, subtle and insignificant as it was to the eye and the ear, caused a vast deal of heart-burning and disappointment among the young people of Leaphigh. Several serious lawsuits had grown out of this cause, and two great political parties had taken root in the unfortunate mistake of a young monikin of quality, who happened to lisp, and who used the fatal word indiscreetly. That feud, however, was now happily appeased, having lasted only a century, but it would be wise, as we were all three bachelors, to take note of the distinction. Captain Poke said he thought, on the whole, he was perfectly safe, as he was much accustomed to the use of the word "switchel"; but he thought it might be very well to go before some consul as soon as the ship anchored, and enter a formal protest of our ignorance of all these niceties, lest some advantage should be taken of us by the reptiles of lawyers; that he in particular was not a bachelor, and that Miss Poke would be as furious as a hurricane, if by accident, he should happen to forget himself. The matter was deferred for future deliberation.
About this time, too, I had some more interesting communications with Dr. Reasono, on the subject of the private histories of all the party of which he was the principal member. It would seem that the philosopher, though rich in learning, and the proprietor of one of the best developed caudæ in the entire monikin world, was poor in the more vulgar attributes of monikin wealth. While he bestowed freely, therefore, from the stores of his philosophy, and through the medium of the academy of Leaphigh, on all his fellows, he was obliged to seek an especial recipient for his surplus knowledge, in the shape of a pupil, in order to provide for the small remains of the animal that still lingered in his habits. Lord Chatterino, the orphan heritor of one of the noblest and wealthiest, as well as one of the most ancient houses of Leaphigh, had been put under his instruction at a very tender age, as had my Lady Chatterissa under that of Mrs. Lynx, with very much the same objects. This young and accomplished pair had early distinguished each other, in monikin society, for their unusual graces of person, general attainments, mutual amiableness of disposition, harmony of thought, and soundness of principles. Everything was propitious to the gentle flame which was kindled in the vestal bosom of Chatterissa, and which was met by a passion so ardent and so respectful, as that which glowed in the heart of young No. 8 purple. The friends of the respective parties, so soon as the budding sympathy between them was observed, in order to prevent the blight of wishes so appropriate, had called in the aid of the matrimonial surveyor-general of Leaphigh, an officer especially appointed by the king in council, whose duty it is to take cognizance of the proprieties of all engagements that are likely to assume a character as grave and durable as that of marriage. Dr. Reasono showed me the certificate issued from the Marriage Department on this occasion, and which, in all his wanderings, he had contrived to conceal within the lining of the Spanish hat the Savoyards had compelled him to wear, and which he still preserved as a document that was absolutely indispensable on his return to Leaphigh; else he would never be permitted to travel afoot in company with two young people of birth and of good estates, who were of the different sexes. I translate the certificate, as literally as the poverty of the English language will allow.
The Journey of Trial is so peculiar to the monikin system, and it might be so usefully introduced into our own, that it may be well to explain it. Whenever it is found that a young couple are agreeable (to use a peculiar anglicized anglicism), in all the more essential requisites of matrimony, they are sent on the journey in question, under the care of prudent and experienced mentors, with a view to ascertain how far they may be able to support, in each other's society, the ordinary vicissitudes of life. In the case of candidates of the more vulgar classes, there are official overseers, who usually drag them through a few mud-puddles, and then set them to work at some hard labor that is especially profitable to the public functionaries, who commonly get the greater part of their own year's work done in this manner. But, as the moral provisions of all laws are invented less for those who own 126,952¾ acres of land, divided into meadow, arable and wood, in just proportions, than for those whose virtues are more likely to yield to the fiery ordeal of temptation, the rich and noble, after making a proper and useful manifestation of their compliance with the usage, ordinarily retire to their country seats, where they pass the period of probation as agreeably as they can; taking care to cause to be inserted in the Leaphigh gazette, however, occasional extracts from their letters describing the pains and hardships they are compelled to endure for the consolation and edification of those who have neither birth nor country houses. In a good many instances the journey is actually performed by proxy But the case of my Lord Chatterino and my Lady Chatterissa formed an exception even to these exceptions. It was thought by the authorities that the attachment of a pair so illustrious offered a good occasion to distinguish the Leaphigh impartiality; and on the well-known principle which induces us sometimes to hang an earl in England, the young couple were commanded actually to go forth with all useful éclat (secret orders being given to their guardians to allow every possible indulgence, at the same time), in order that the lieges might see and exult in the sternness and integrity of their rulers.
Extract from the Book of Fitness, Marriage Department, Leaphigh, season of nuts, day of brightness.
Vol. 7243, p. 82.
Lord Chatterino: Domains; 126,952¾ acres of land; meadow, arable and wood in just proportions.
Lady Chatterissa: Domains; 115,999½ acres of land; mostly arable.
Decree, as of record; it is found that the lands of my Lady Chatterissa possess in quality what they want in quantity.
Lord Chatterino: Birth; sixteen descents pure; one bastardy --- four descents pure --- a suspicion --- one descent pure --- a certainty.
Lady Chatterissa: Birth; six descents pure --- three bastardies --- eleven descents pure --- a certainty --- a suspicion --- unknown.
Decree as of record; it is found that the advantage is on the side of my Lord Chatterino, but the excellence of the estate on the other side is believed to equalize the parties.
(Signed) No. 6 ermine. A true copy.
(Counter signed) No. 1,000,003 ink-color.
Ordered, that the parties make the Journey of Trial together, under the charge of Socrates Reasono, Professor of Probabilities in the University of Leaphigh, LL.D., F. U. D. G. E., and of Mrs. Vigilance Lynx, licensed duenna.
Dr. Reasono had accordingly taken his departure from the capital for the mountains, where he instructed his wards in a practical commentary of the ups and downs of life, by exposing them on the verges of precipices and in the delights of the most fertile valleys (which, as he justly observed, was the greater danger of the two), leading them over flinty paths, hungry and cold, in order to try their tempers; and setting up establishments with the most awkward peasants for servants, to ascertain the depth of Chatterissa's philosophy; with a variety of similar ingenious devices, that will readily suggest themselves to all who have any matrimonial experience, whether they live in palaces or cottages. When this part of the trial was successfully terminated (the result having shown that the gentle Chatterissa was of proof, so far as mere temper was concerned), the whole party were ordered off to the barrier of ice, which divides the monikin from the human region, with a view to ascertain whether the warmth of their attachment was of a nature likely to resist the freezing collisions of the world. Here, unfortunately, (for the truth must be said), an unlucky desire of Dr. Reasono, who was already F. U. D. G. E., but who had a devouring ambition to become also M. O. R. E., led him into the extreme imprudence of pushing through an opening, where he had formerly discovered an island, on an ancient expedition of the same sort; and on which island he thought he saw a rock, that formed a stratum of what he believed to be a portion of the forty thousand square miles that were discomposed by the great eruption of the earth's boiler. The philosopher foresaw a thousand interesting results that were dependent on the ascertaining of this important fact; for all the learning of Leaphigh having been exhausted, some five hundred years before, in establishing the greatest distance to which any fragment had been thrown on that memorable occasion, great attention had latterly been given to the discovery of the least distance any fragment had been hurled. Perhaps I ought to speak tenderly of the consequences of a learned zeal, but it was entirely owing to this indiscretion that the whole party fell into the hands of certain mariners who were sealing on the northern shores of this very island, (friends and neighbors, as it afterwards appeared, of Captain Poke), who remorselessly seized upon the travellers, and sold them to a homeward- bound India-man, which they afterwards fell in with near the island of St. Helena --- St. Helena! the tomb of him who is a model to all posterity, for the moderation of his desires, the simplicity of his character, a deep veneration for truth, profound reverence for justice, unwavering faith, and a clear appreciation of all the nobler virtues.
We came in sight of the island in question, just as Dr. Reasono concluded his interesting narrative; and, turning to Captain Poke, I solemnly asked that discerning and shrewd seaman, ---
"If he did not think the future would fully avenge itself of the past --- if history would not do ample justice to the mighty dead --- if certain names would not be consigned to everlasting infamy for chaining a hero to a rock; and whether his country, the land of freemen, would ever have disgraced itself, by such an act of barbarism and vengeance?"
The captain heard me very calmly; then deliberately helping himself to some tobacco, he replied, ---
"Harkee, Sir John. At Stunin'tun, when we catch a ferocious critter', we always put it in a cage. I'm no great mathematician, as I've often told you; if my dog bites me once, I kick him --- twice, I beat him --- thrice, I chain him."
Alas! there are minds so unfortunately constituted, that they have no sympathies with the sublime. All their tendencies are direct and common-sense like. To such men, Napoleon appears little better than one who lived among his fellows more in the character of a tiger than in that of a man. They condemn him because he could not reduce his own sense of the attributes of greatness to the level of their home-bred morality. Among this number, it would now seem, was to be classed Captain Noah Poke.
A wish to relate the manner in which Dr. Reasono and his companions fell into human hands, has caused me to overlook one or two matters of lighter moment, that should not, in justice to myself, however, be entirely omitted.
When we had been at sea two days, a very agreeable surprise for the monikin party was prepared and executed. I had caused a certain number of jackets and trousers to be made of the skins of different animals, such as dogs, cats, sheep, tigers, leopards, hogs, etc., etc., with the proper accompaniments of snouts, hoofs, and claws; and, when the ladies came on deck, after breakfast, their eyes were no longer offended by our rude innovations upon nature, but the whole crew were flying about the rigging, like so many animals of the different species named. Noah and myself appeared in the characters of sea-lions, the former having intimated that he understood the nature of that beast better than any other. Of course, this delicate attention was properly appreciated, and handsomely acknowledged.
I had taken the precaution to order imitation-skins to be made of cotton, which were worn in the low latitudes; and, as we got near the Falkland Islands, the real skins were resumed, with promptitude, and I might add, with pleasure.
Noah had, at first, raised some strong objections to the scheme, saying that he should not feel safe in a ship manned and officered altogether by wild beasts; but, at last, he came to enjoy the thing as a good joke, never failing to hail the men, not by their names as formerly, but, as he expressed it himself, "by their natur's"; calling out "You cat, scratch this"; "You tiger, jump here"; "You hog, out of that dirt"'; "You dog, scamper there"; "You horse, haul away," and divers other similar conceits, that singularly tickled his fancy. The men themselves took up the ball, which they kept rolling, embellished with all sorts of nautical witticisms; their surname --- they had but one, viz. Smith --- being entirely dropped for the new appellations. Thus, the sounds of "Tom Dog," "Jack Cat," "Bill Tiger," "Sam Hog," and "Dick Horse," were flying about the deck from morning to night.
Good humor is a great alleviator of bodily privation. From the time the ship lost sight of Staten Land, we had heavy weather, with hard gales from the southward and westward; and we had the utmost difficulty in making our southing. Observations now became a very difficult matter, the sun being invisible for a week at a time. The marine instinct of Noah, at this crisis, was of the last importance to all on board. He gave us the cheering assurance, however, from time to time, that we were going south, although the mates declared that they knew not where the ship was, or whither she was running; neither sun, moon, nor star having now been seen for more than a week.
We had been in this state of anxiety and doubt for about a fortnight, when Captain Poke suddenly appeared on deck, and called for the cabin-boy, in his usual stentorian and no-denial voice, by the name of "You Bob Ape"; for the duty of Robert requiring that he should be much about the persons of the monikins, I had given him a dress of apes' skins, as a garb that would be more congenial to their tastes than that of a pig, or a weasel. Bob Ape was soon forthcoming, and, as he approached his master, he quietly turned his face from him, receiving, as a matter of course, three or four smart admonitory hints, by way of letting him know that he was to be active in the performance of the duty on which he was about to be sent. On this occasion I made an odd discovery. Bob had profited by the dimensions of his lower garment, which had been cut for a much larger boy (one of those who had broken down in essaying the true Doric of "Sir"), by stuffing it with an old union-jack-a sort of "sarvice," as he afterwards told me, that saved him a good deal of wear and tear of skin. To return to passing events, however; when Robert had been duly kicked, he turned about manfully, and demanded the captain's pleasure. He was told to bring the largest and fairest pumpkin he could find, from the private stores of Mr. Poke, that navigator never going to sea without a store of articles that he termed "Stunin'tun food." The captain took the pumpkin between his legs, and carefully peeled off the whole of its greenish-yellow coat, leaving it a globe of a whitish color. He then asked for the tar- bucket, and, with his fingers, traced various marks, which were pretty accurate outlines of the different continents and the larger islands of the world. The region near the south pole, however, he left untouched; intimating that it contained certain sealing islands, which he considered pretty much as the private property of the Stunin'tunners.
"Now, Doctor," he said, pointing to the pumpkin, "there is the 'arth, and here is the tar-pot --- just mark down the position of your island of Leaphigh, if you please, according to the best accounts your academy has of the matter. Make a dab here and there, if you happen to know of any rocks and shoals. After that, you can lay down the island where you were captured, giving a general idee of its headlands and of the trending of the coast."
Dr. Reasono took a fid, and with its end he traced all the desired objects with great readiness and skill. Noah examined the work, and seemed satisfied that he had fallen into the hands of a monikin who had very correct notions of bearings and distances, one, in short, on whose local knowledge it might do to run even in the night. He then projected the position of Stunnin'tun, an occupation in which he took great delight, actually designing the meeting-house and the principal tavern; after which, the chart was laid aside.
After coursing over the billows at a tremendous rate for a day and a night, the captain appeared on deck, with a face of unusual meaning, and a mind loaded with its own reflections, as was proved by his winking knowingly whenever he delivered himself of a sentiment; a habit that he had most probably contracted, in early youth, at Stunin'tun, for it seemed to be quite as inveterate as it was thoroughbred.
"We shall soon know, Sir John," he observed, hitching the sea-lion skin into symmetry, "whether it is sink or swim!"
"Pray explain yourself, Mr. Poke," cried I, in a little alarm. "If anything serious is to happen, you are bound to give timely notice."
"Death is always untimely to some critturs, Sir John."
"Am I to understand, sir, that you mean to cast away the ship?"
"Not if I can help it, Sir John; but a craft that is foreordained to be a wrack, will be a wrack, in spite of reefing and bracing. Look ahead, you Dick Lion --- ay, there you have it!"
There we had it, sure enough! I can only compare the scene which now met my eyes, to a sudden view of the range of the Oberland Alps, when the spectator is unexpectedly placed on the verge of the precipice of the Weissenstein. There he would see before him a boundless barrier of glittering ice, broken into the glorious and fantastic forms of pinnacles, walls, and valleys; while here, we saw all that was sublime in such a view heightened by the fearful action of the boisterous ocean, which beat upon the impassable boundary in ceaseless violence.
"Good God! Captain Poke," I exclaimed, the instant I caught a glimpse of the formidable danger that menaced us, "you surely do not mean to continue madly on, with such a warning of the consequences in plain view?"
"What would you have, Sir John? Leaphigh lies on the t'other side of these ice-islands!"
"But you need not run the ship against them --- why not go round them?"
"Because they go round the 'arth, in this latitude. Now is the time to speak, Sir John. If we are bound to Leaphigh, we have the choice of three pretty desperate chances; to go through, to go under, or to go over that there ice. If we are to put back, there is not a moment to lose, for it may be even now questioned whether the ship would claw off, as we are, with a sending sea, and this heavy norther."
I believe I would, at that moment, gladly have given up all my social stakes to be well rid of the adventure. Still pride, that substitute for so many virtues, the greatest and the most potent of all hypocrites, forbade my betraying the desire to retreat. I deliberated, while the ship flew; and when, at length, I turned to the captain to suggest a doubt that might, at an earlier notice, possibly have changed the whole aspect of affairs, he bluntly told me it was too late. It was safer to proceed than to return, if indeed, return were possible, in the present state of the winds and waves. Making a merit of necessity, I braced my nerves to meet the crisis, and remained a submissive, and, apparently, a calm spectator of that which followed.
The Walrus (such was the name of our good ship) by this time was under easy canvas, and yet, urged by the gale, she rolled down with alarming velocity towards the boundary of foam where the congealed and the still liquid element held their strife. The summits of the frozen crags waved in their glittering glory in a way just to show that they were afloat; and I remembered to have heard that, at times, as their bases melted, entire mountains had been known to roll over, engulfing all that lay beneath. To me it seemed but a moment, before the ship was fairly overshadowed by these shining cliffs, which, gently undulating, waved their frozen summits nearly a thousand feet in air. I looked at Noah, in alarm, for it appeared to me that he intentionally precipitated us to destruction. But, just as I was about to remonstrate, he made a sign with his hand, and the vessel was brought to the wind. Still retreat was impossible; for the heave of the sea was too powerful, and the wind too heavy, to leave us any hope of long keeping the Walrus from drifting down upon the ragged peaks that bristled in icy glory to leeward. Nor did Captain Poke himself seem to entertain any such design; for, instead of hugging the gale, in order to haul off from the danger, he had caused the yards to be laid perfectly square, and we were now running, at a great rate, in a line nearly parallel with the frozen coast, though gradually setting upon it.
"Keep full! Let her go through water, you Jim Tiger," said the old sealer, whose professional ardor was fairly aroused. "Now, Sir John, unluckily, we are on the wrong side of these ice mountains, for the plain reason that Leaphigh lies to the south'ard of them. We must be stirring, therefore, for no craft that was ever launched could keep off these crags with such a gale driving home upon them, for more than an hour or two. Our great concern, at present, is to look out for a hole to run into."
"Why have you come so close to the danger, with your knowledge of the consequences?"
"To own the truth, Sir John, natur' is natur', and I'm getting to be a little near-sighted as I grow old; besides, I'm not so sartain that the danger is the more dangerous, for taking a good, steady look plump in its face."
Noah raised his hand, as much as to say he wished no answer, and both of us were immediately occupied in gazing anxiously to leeward. The ship was just opening a small cove in the ice, which might have been a cable's length in depth, and a quarter of a mile across its outer, or the widest part. Its form was regular, being that of a semicircle; but, at its bottom, the ice, instead of forming a continued barrier, like all the rest we had yet passed, was separated by a narrow opening, that was bounded on each side by a frowning precipice. The two bergs were evidently drawing nearer to each other, but there was still a strait, or a watery gorge between them, of some two hundred feet in width. As the ship plunged onward, the pass was opened, and we caught a glimpse of the distant view to leeward. It was merely a glimpse --- the impatient Walrus allowing us but a moment for examination --- but it appeared sufficient for the purposes of the old sealer. We were already across the mouth of the cove, and within a cable's length of the ice again; for as we drew near what may be called the little cape, we found ourselves once more in closer proximity to the menacing mountain. It was a moment when all depended on decision; and fortunately, our sealer, who was so wary and procrastinating in a bargain, never had occasion to make two drafts on his thoughts, in situations of emergency. As the ship cleared the promontory on the eastern side of the cove, we again opened a curvature of the ice, which gave a little more water to leeward. Tacking was impossible, and the helm was put hard aweather. The bow of the Walrus fell off, and as she rose on the next wave, I thought its send would carry us helplessly down upon the berg. But the good craft, obedient to her rudder, whirled round, as if sensible herself of the danger, and, in less time than I had ever before known her to wear, we felt the wind on the other quarter. Our cats and dogs bestirred themselves, for there was no one there, Captain Noah Poke excepted, whose heart did not beat quick and hard. In much less time than usual, the yards were braced up on the other tack, and the ship was ploughing heavily against the sea, with her head to the westward. It is impossible to give one who has never been in such a situation, a just idea of the feverish impatience, the sinking and mounting of hope, as we watch the crablike movement of a vessel that is clawing off a lee-shore, in a gale. In the present case, it being well known that the sea was fathomless, we had run so near the danger that not even the smallest of its horrors was veiled from sight.
While the ship labored along, I saw the clouds fast shutting in to windward, by the interposition of the promontory of ice --- the certain sign that our drift was rapid --- and, as we drew nearer to the point, breathing became labored and even audible. Here Noah took a chew of tobacco, I presume on the principle of enjoying a last quid, should the elements prove fatal; and then he went to the wheel in person.
"Let her go through the water," he said, easing the helm a little-"let her jog ahead, or we shall lose command of her in this devil'spot!"
The vessel felt the slight change, and drew faster through the foaming brine, bringing us, with increasing velocity, nearer to the dreaded point. As we came up to the promontory the water fell back in spray on the decks, and there was an instant when it appeared as if the wind was about to desert us. Happily the ship had drawn so far ahead as to feel the good effects of a slight change of current that was caused by the air rushing obliquely into the cove; and, as Noah, by easing the helm still more, had anticipated this alteration, which had been felt adversely but a moment before, while struggling to the eastward of the promontory, we drew swiftly past the icy cape, opening the cove handsomely, with the ship's head falling off fast towards the gorge.
There was but a minute or two, for squaring the yards and obtaining the proper position to windward of the narrow strait. Instead of running down in a direct line for the latter, Captain Poke kept the ship on such a course as to lay it well open, before her head was pointed towards the passage. By this time, the two bergs had drawn so near each other as actually to form an arch across its mouth; and this, too, at a part so low as to render it questionable whether there was sufficient elevation to permit the Walrus to pass beneath. But retreat was impossible, the gale urging the ship furiously onwards. The width of the passage was now but little more than a hundred feet, and it actually required the nicest steerage to keep our yard-arms clear of the opposite precipices, as the vessel dashed, with foaming bows, into the gorge. The wind drew through the opening with tremendous violence, fairly howling as if in delight at discovering a passage by which it might continue its furious career. We may have been aided by the sucking of the wind and the waves, both of which were irresistibly drawn towards the pass, or it is quite probable that the skill of Captain Poke did us good service on this awful occasion; but, owing to the one or the other, or to the two causes united, the Walrus shot into the gorge so accurately as to avoid touching either of the lateral margins of the ice. We were not so fortunate, however, with the loftier spars; for scarcely was the vessel beneath the arch, when she lifted on a swell, and her main- top-gallant-mast snapped off in the cap. The ice groaned and cracked over our heads, and large fragments fell both ahead and astern of us, several of them even tumbling upon our decks. One large piece came down within an inch of the extremity of Dr. Reasono's tail, just escaping the dire calamity of knocking out the brains of that profound and philo-monikin philosopher. In another instant the ship was through the pass, which completely closed, with the crash of an earthquake, as soon as possible afterwards.
Still driven by the gale, we ran rapidly towards the south, along a channel less than a quarter of a mile in width, the bergs evidently closing on each side of us, and the ship, as if conscious of her jeopardy, doing her utmost, with Captain Poke still at the wheel. In a little more than an hour, the worst was over --- the Walrus issuing into an open basin of several leagues in extent, which was, however, completely encircled by the frozen mountains. Here Noah took a look at the pumpkin, after which he made no ceremony in plumply telling Dr. Reasono that he had been greatly mistaken in laying down the position of Captivity Island, as he himself had named the spot where the amiable strangers had fallen into human hands. The philosopher was a little tenacious of his opinion; but what is argument in the face of facts? Here was the pumpkin, and there were the blue waters! The captain now quite frankly declared that he had great doubts whether there was any such place as Leaphigh at all; and as the ship had a capital position for such an object, he bluntly, though privately proposed to me, that we should throw all the monikins overboard, project the entire polar basin on his chart as being entirely free from islands, and then go a-sealing. I rejected the propositions, firstly, as premature; secondly, as inhuman; thirdly, as inhospitable; fourthly, as inconvenient; and lastly, as impracticable.
There might have arisen a disagreeable controversy between us on this point; for Mr. Poke had begun to warm, and to swear that one good seal, of the true quality of fur, was worth a hundred monkeys; when most happily the panther at the masthead cried out that two of the largest mountains, to the southward of us, were separating, and that he could discern a passage into another basin. Hereupon Captain Poke concentrated his oaths, which he caused to explode like a bomb, and instantly made sail again in the proper direction. By three o'clock, P.M., we had run the gauntlet of the bergs a second time, and were at least a degree nearer the pole, in the basin just alluded to.
The mountains had now entirely disappeared in the southern board; but the sea was covered, far as the eye could reach, with field-ice. Noah stood on, without apprehension; for the water had been smooth ever since we entered the first opening, the wind not having rake enough to knock up a swell. When about a mile from the margin of the frozen and seemingly interminable plain, the ship was brought to the wind, and hove-to.
Ever since the vessel left the docks, there had been six sets of spars of a form so singular, lying among the booms, that they had often been the subject of conversation between the mates and myself, neither of the former being able to tell their uses. These sticks were of no great length, some fifteen feet at the most, of sound English oak. Two or three pairs were alike, for they were in pairs, each pair having one of the sides of a shape resembling different parts of the ship's bottom, with the exception that they were chiefly concave, while the bottom of a vessel is mainly convex. At one extremity each pair was firmly connected by a short, massive, iron link, of about two feet in length; and, at its opposite end, a large eye-bolt was driven into each stick, where it was securely forelocked. When the Walrus was stationary, we learned, for the first time, the uses of these unusual preparations. A pair of the timbers, which were of great solidity and strength, were dropped over the stern, and, sinking beneath the keel, their upper extremities were separated by means of lanyards turned into the eyebolts. The lanyards were then brought forward to the bilge of the vessel, where, by the help of tackles, the timbers were rowsed up in such a manner that the links came close to the false keel, and the timbers themselves were laid snug against each side of the ship. As great care had been taken, by means of marks on the vessel, as well as in forming the skids themselves, the fit was perfect. No less than five pairs were secured in and near the bilge, and as many more were distributed forwards and aft, according to the shape of the bottom. Fore-and-aft pieces, that reached from one skid to the other, were then placed between those about the bilge of the ship, each of them having a certain number of short ribs, extending upwards and downwards. These fore-and-aft pieces were laid along the waterline, their ends entering the skids by means of mortices and tenons, where they were snugly bolted. The result of the entire arrangement was, to give the vessel an exterior protection against the field-ice, by means of a sort of network of timber, the whole of which had been so accurately fitted in the dock, as to bear equally on her frame. These preparations were not fairly completed before ten o'clock on the following morning, when Noah stood directly for an opening in the ice before us, which just about that time began to be apparent.
"We sha'nt go so fast for our armor," observed the cautious old sealer; "but what we want in heels, we'll make up in bottom."
For the whole of that day we worked our devious course, by great labor and at uncertain intervals, to the southward; and at night we fastened the Walrus to a floe, in waiting for the return of light. Just as the day dawned, however, I heard a tremendous grating sound against the side of the vessel; and rushing on deck, I found that we were completely caught between two immense fields, which seemed to be attracted towards each other for no other apparent purpose than to crush us. Here it was that the expedient of Captain Poke made manifest its merits. Protected by the massive timbers and false ribs, the bilge of the ship resisted the pressure; and as, under such circumstances, something must yield, luckily nothing but the attraction of gravitation was overcome. The skids, through their inclination, acted as wedges, the links pressing against the keel; and in the course of an hour the Walrus was gradually lifted out of the water, maintaining her upright position, in consequence of the powerful nip of the floes. No sooner was this experiment handsomely effected, than Mr. Poke jumped upon the ice, and commenced an examination of the ship's bottom.
"Here's a dry-dock for you, Sir John!" exclaimed the old sealer, chuckling. "I'll have a patent for this, the moment I put foot ag'in in Stunin'tun."
A feeling of security, to which I had been a stranger ever since we entered the ice, was created by the composure of Noah, and by his self-congratulation at what he called his project to get a look at the Walrus's bottom. Notwithstanding all the fine declarations of exultation and success, however, that he flourished among us who were not mariners, I was much disposed to think that, like other men of extraordinary genius, he had blundered on the grand result of his "ice-screws," and that it was not foreseen and calculated. Let this be as it may, however, all hands were soon on the floe, with brooms, scrapers, hammers, and nails, and the opportunity of repairing and cleaning was thoroughly improved.
For four-and-twenty hours the ship remained in the same attitude, still as a church, and some of us began to entertain apprehensions that she might be kept on her frozen blocks forever. The accident had happened, according to the statements of Captain Poke, in lat. 78° 13' 26" --- although I never knew in what manner he ascertained the important particular of our precise situation. Thinking it might be well to get some more accurate ideas on this subject, after so long and ticklish a run, I procured the quadrant from Bob Ape, and brought it down upon the ice, where I made it a point, as an especial favor, the weather being favorable and the proper hour near, that our commander would correct his instinct by a solar observation. Noah protested that your old seaman, especially if a sealer and a Stunin'tunner, had no occasion for such geometry operations, as he termed them; that it might be well enough, perhaps necessary, for your counting-house, silk-gloved captains, who run between New York and Liverpool, to be rubbing up their glasses and polishing their sextants, for they hardly ever knew where they were, except at such times; but as for himself, he had little need of turning star-gazer at his time of life, and that as he had already told me, he was getting to be near-sighted, and had some doubts whether he could discern an object like the sun, that was known to be so many thousands of millions of miles from the earth. These scruples, however, were overcome by my cleaning the glasses, preparing a barrel for him to stand on, that he might be at the customary elevation above his horizon, and putting the instrument into his hands, the mates standing near, ready to make the calculations when he gave the sun's declination.
"We are drifting south'ard, I know," said Mr. Poke before he commenced his sight --- "I feel it in my bones. We are at this moment in 79° 36' 14." --- having made a southerly drift of more than eighty miles since yesterday noon. Now mind my words, and see what the sun will say about it."
When the calculations were made, our latitude was found to be 79° 35' 47". Noah was somewhat puzzled by the difference, for which he could in no plausible way account, as the observation had been unusually good and certain. But an opinionated and an ingenious man is seldom at a loss to find a sufficient reason to establish his own correctness, or to prove the mistakes of others.
"Ay, I see how it is," he said, after a little cogitation, "the sun must be wrong --- it should be no wonder if the sun did get a little out of his track in these high, cold latitudes. Yes, yes; the sun must be wrong."
I was too much delighted at being certain we were going on our course to dispute the point, and the great luminary was abandoned to the imputation of sometimes being in error. Dr. Reasono took occasion to say, in my private ear, that there was a sect of philosophers in Leaphigh, who had long distrusted the accuracy of the planetary system, and who had even thrown out hints that the earth, In its annual revolution, moved in a direction absolutely contrary to that which nature had contemplated when she gave the original polar impulse; but that, as regarded himself, he thought very little of these opinions, as he had frequent occasion to observe that there was a large class of monikins whose ideas always went uphill.
For two more days and as many nights, we continued to drift with the floes to the southward, or as near as might be, towards the haven of our wishes. On the fourth morning, there was a suitable change in the weather; both thermometer and barometer rose; the air became more bland, and most of our cats and dogs, notwithstanding we were still surrounded by the ice, began to cast their skins. Dr. Reasono noted these signs, and stepping on the floe, he brought back with him a considerable fragment of the frozen element. This was carried to the camboose, where it was subjected to the action of fire, which, within a given number of minutes, pretty much as a matter of course, as I thought, caused it to melt. The whole process was watched with an anxiety the most intense, by the whole of the monikins, however; and when the result was announced, the amiable and lovely Chatterissa clapped her pretty little pattes with joy, and gave all the other natural indications of delight, which characterize the emotions of that gentle sex of which she was so bright an ornament. Dr. Reasono was not backwards in explaining the cause of so much unusual exhilaration, for hitherto her manner had been characterized by the well-bred and sophisticated restraint which marks high training. The experiment had shown, by the infallible and scientific tests of monikin chemistry, that we were now within the influence of a steam-climate, and there could no longer be any rational doubt of our eventual arrival in the polar basin.
The result proved that the philosopher was right. About noon the floes, which all that day had begun to assume what is termed a "sloppy character," suddenly gave way, and the Walrus settled down into her proper element, with great equanimity and propriety. Captain Poke lost no time in unshipping the skids; and a smacking breeze, that was well saturated with steam, springing up from the westward, we made sail. Our course was due south, without regard to the ice, which yielded before our bows like so much thick water, and just as the sun set, we entered the open sea, rioting in the luxuriance of its genial climate, in triumph.
Sail was carried on the ship all that night; and just as the day dawned, we made the first mile-stone, a proof, not to be mistaken, that we were now actually within the monikin region. Dr. Reasono had the goodness to explain to us the history of these aquatic phenomena. It would seem that when the earth exploded, its entire crust, throughout the whole of this part of the world, was started upwards in such a way as to give a very uniform depth to the sea, which in no place exceeds four fathoms. It follows, as a consequence, that no prevalence of northerly winds can force the icebergs beyond 78° of south latitude, as they invariably ground on reaching the outer edge of the polar bank. The floes, being thin, are melted of course; and thus, by this beneficent prevention, the monikin world is kept entirely free from the very danger to which a vulgar mind would be the most apt to believe it is the most exposed.
A congress of nations had been held, about five centuries since, which was called the Holy-philo-marine-safety-and- find-the-way Alliance. At this congress the high contracting parties agreed to name a commission to make provision, generally, for the secure navigation of the seas. One of the expedients of this commission, which, by the way, is said to have been composed of very illustrious monikins, was to cause massive blocks of stone to be laid down, at measured distances, throughout the whole of the basin, and in which other stone uprights were secured. The necessary inscriptions were graved on proper tablets, and as we approached the one already named, I observed that it had the image of a monikin, carved also in stone, with his tail extended in a right line, pointing, as Mr. Poke assured me, S. and by W. half W. I had made sufficient progress in the monikin language to read, as we glided past this watermark --- "To Leaphigh, --- 15 miles." One monikin mile, however, we were next told, was equal to nine English statute miles; and, consequently, we were not so near our port as was at first supposed. I expressed great satisfaction at finding ourselves so fairly on the road, however, and paid Dr. Reasono some well-merited compliments on the high state of civilization to which his species had evidently arrived. The day was not distant, I added, when it was reasonable to suppose, our own seas would have floating restaurants and cafés, with suitable pothouses for the mariners; though I did not well see how we were to provide a substitute for their own excellent organization of milestones. The Doctor received my compliments with becoming modesty, saying that he had no doubt mankind would do all that lay in their power to have good eating and drinking-houses, whereever they could be established; but as to the marine milestones, he agreed with me, that there was little hope of their being planted, until the crust of the earth should be driven upwards, so as to rise within four fathoms of the surface of the water. On the other hand, Captain Poke held this latter improvement very cheap. He affirmed it was no sign of civilization at all, for, as a man became civilized, he had less need of primers and finger-boards; and, as for Leaphigh, any tolerable navigator could see it bore S. by W. half W. allowing for variation, distant 135 English miles. To these objections I was silent, for I had frequent occasion to observe that men very often underrate any advantage of which they have come into the enjoyment by a providential interposition.
Just as the sun was in the meridian, the cry of "land ahead" was heard from aloft. The monikins were all smiles and gratitude; the crew were excited by admiration and wonder; and as for myself, I was literally ready to jump out of my skin, not only with delight, but, in some measure also, from the exceeding warmth of the atmosphere. Our cats and dogs began to uncase; Bob was obliged to unmask his most exposed frontier, by removing the union- jack; and Noah himself fairly appeared on deck in his shirt and night-cap. The amiable strangers were too much occupied to be particular, and I slipped into my state- room to change my toilet to a dress of thin silk, that was painted to resemble the skin of a polar bear --- a contradiction between things that is much too common in our species ever to be deemed out of fashion.
We neared the land with great rapidity, impelled by a steam-breeze, and just as the sun sank in the horizon our anchor was let go, in the outer harbor of the city of Aggregation.
The arrival of a human ship was an event likely to create excitement in a monikin country; and as our approach had been witnessed for several hours, preparations had been made to give us a proper reception. The section of the academy to whom is committed the custody of the "Science of Indications," was hastily assembled by order of the king, who, by the way, never speaks except through the mouth of his oldest male first cousin, who, by the fundamental laws of the realm, is held responsible for all his official acts (in private, the king is allowed almost as many privileges as any other monikin), and who, as is due to him in simple justice, is permitted to exercise, in a public point of view, the functions of the eyes, ears, nose, conscience, and tail of the monarch. The savans were active, and as they proceeded with method, and on well- established principles, their report was quickly made. It contained, as we afterwards understood, seven sheets of premises, eleven of argument, sixteen of conjecture, and two lines of deduction. This heavy draft on the monikin intellect was duly achieved by dividing the work into as many parts as there were members of the section present, viz., forty. The substance of their labors was, to say that the vessel in sight was a strange vessel; that it came to a strange country, on a strange errand, being manned by strangers; and that its objects were more likely to be peaceful than warlike, since the glasses of the academy did not enable them to discover any means of annoyance, with the exception of certain wild beasts, who appeared, however, to be peaceably occupied in working the ship. All this was sententiously expressed in the purest monikin language. The effect of the report was, to cause all hostile preparations to be abandoned.
No sooner did the boat of the port-captain return to the shore with the news that the strange ship had arrived with my Lord Chatterino, my Lady Chatterissa and Dr. Reasono than there was a general burst of joy along the strand. In a very short time the king --- alias his eldest first cousin of the male gender --- ordered the usual compliments to be paid to his distinguished subjects. A deputation of young lords the hopes of Leaphigh came off to receive their colleague; whilst a bevy of beautiful maidens of noble birth crowded around the smiling and graceful Chatterissa, gladdening her heart with their caressing manners and felicitations. The noble pair left us in separate boats, each attended by an appropriate escort. We overlooked the little neglect of forgetting to take leave of us, for joy had quite set them both beside themselves. Next came a long procession composed of high numbers, all of the "brown-study color." These learned and dignified persons were a deputation from the academy, which had sent forth no less than forty of its number to receive Dr. Reasono. The meeting between these loving friends of monikinity and of knowledge, was conducted on the most approved principles of reason. Each section (there are forty in the academy of Leaphigh) made an address, to all of which the Doctor returned suitable replies, always using exactly the same sentiments, but varying the subject by transpositions, as dictionaries are known to be composed by the ingenious combinations of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Dr. Reasono withdrew with his coadjutors, to my surprise paying not a whit more attention to Captain Poke and myself, than would be paid in any highly- civilized country of Christendom, on a similar occasion, by a collection of the learned, to the accidental presence of two monkeys. I thought this augured badly, and began to feel as became Sir John Goldencalf, Bart., of Householder Hall, in the kingdom of Great Britain, when my sensations were nipped in the bud by the arrival of the officers of registration and circulation. It was the duty of the latter to give us the proper passports to enter into and to circulate within the country, after the former had properly enregistered our numbers and colors, in such a way as to bring us within the reach of taxation. The officer of registration was very expeditious from long practice. He decided, at once, that I formed a new class by myself; of which, of course, I was No. 1. The captain and his two mates formed another, Nos. 1, 2, and 3. Bob had a class also to himself, and the honors of No. 1; and the crew formed a fresh class, being numbered according to height, as the register deemed their merits to be altogether physical. Next came the important point of color, on which depended the quality of the class or caste, the numbers merely indicating our respective stations in the particular divisions. After a good deal of deliberation, and many interrogatories, I was enregistered as No. 1, flesh-color. Noah as No. 1, sea-water color, and his mates 2 and 3, accordingly. Bob as No. 1, smut-color, and the crew as Nos. 1, 2, 3, &c., tar-color. The officer now called upon an assistant to come forth with a sort of knitting-needle heated red-hot, in order to affix the official stamp to each in succession. Luckily for us all, Noah happened to be the first to whom the agent of the stamp-office applied, to uncase and to prepare for the operation. The result was one of those bursts of eloquent and logical vituperation, and of remonstrating outcries, to which any new personal exaction never failed to give birth in the sealer. His discourse on this occasion might be divided into the several following heads, all of which were very ingeniously embellished by the usual expletives and imagery: --- "He was not a beast to be branded like a horse, nor a slave to be treated like a Congo nigger; he saw no use in applying the marks to men, who were sufficiently distinguished from monkeys already; Sir John had a handle before his name, and if he liked it, he might carry his name behind his body, by way of counterpoise, but for his part, he wanted no outriggers of the sort, being satisfied with plain Noah Poke; he was a republican, and it was anti-republican for a man to carry about with him graven images; he thought it might be even flying in the face of the Scriptures, or what was worse, turning his back on them; he said that the Walrus had her name, in good legible characters on her starn, and that might answer for both of them; he protested, d ---; n his eyes, that he wouldn't be branded like a thief; he incontinently wished the keeper of the privy seal to the d --- -l; he insisted there was no use in the practice, unless one threw all aback, and went starn foremost into society, a rudeness at which human natur' revolted; he knew a man in Stunin'tun who had five names, and he should like to know what they would do with him, if this practice should come into fashion there; he had no objection to a little paint, but no red-hot knitting-needle should make acquaintance with his flesh, so long as he walked his quarter-deck."
The keeper of the seals listened to this remonstrance with singular patience and decorum; a forbearance that was probably owing to his not understanding a word that had been said. But there is a language that is universal, and it is not less easy to comprehend when a man is in a passion, than it is to comprehend any other irritated animal. The officer of the registration department, on this hint, politely inquired of me, if some part of his official duties were not particularly disagreeable to No. 1, sea-water color. On my admitting that the captain was reluctant to be branded, he merely shrugged his shoulders, and observed that the exactions of the public were seldom agreeable, but that duty was duty, that the stamp act was peremptory, and not a foot of ours could touch Leaphigh until we were all checked off in this manner, in exact conformity with the registration. I was much puzzled what to do, by this indomitable purpose to perform his duty in the officer; for, to own the truth, my own cuticle had quite as much aversion to the operation, as of Captain Poke himself. It was not the principle so much as the novelty of its application which distressed me; for I had travelled too much not to know that a stranger rarely enters a civilized country without being more or less skinned, the merest savages only permitting him to pass unscathed. It suddenly came to my recollection that the monikins had left all the remains of their particular stores on board, consisting of an ample supply of delicious nuts. Sending for a bag of the best of them, I ordered it to be put into the register's boat, informing him at the same time, that I was conscious they were quite unworthy of him, but that I hoped, such as they were, he would allow me to make an offering of them to his wife. This attention was properly felt and received; and a few minutes afterwards, a certificate in the following words was put into my hands, viz.:
"Leaphigh, season of promise, day of performance: Whereas, certain persons of the human species have lately presented themselves to be enregistered, according to the statute 'for the promotion of order and classification, and for the collection of contributions'; and whereas, these persons are yet in the second class of the animal probation, and are more subject to bodily impressions than the higher, or monikin species: Now, know all monikins, etc., that they are stamped in paint, and that only by their numbers; each class among them being easily to be distinguished from the others, by outward and indelible proofs.I was told that all we had to do now was to mark ourselves with paint or tar, as we might choose, the latter being recommended for the crew; taking no further trouble than to number ourselves; and when we went ashore, if any of the gens-d'armes inquired why we had not the legal impression on our persons, which quite possibly would be the case, as the law was absolute in its requisitions, all we had to do was to show the certificate; but if the certificate was not sufficient, we were men of the world, and understood the nature of things so well, that we did not require to be taught so simple a proposition in philosophy, as that which says, "like causes produce like effects"; and he presumed I could not have so far overrated his merits, as to have sent the whole of my nuts into his boat. I avow that I was not very sorry to hear the officer throw out these hints, for they convinced me that my journey through Leaphigh would be accompanied with less embarrassment than I had anticipated, since I now plainly perceived that monikins act on principles that are not very essentially different from those of the human race in general.
"No. 8,020 office-color."
The complaisant register and the keeper of the privy seal took their departure together, when we forthwith proceeded to number ourselves in compliance with his advice. As the principle was already settled, we had no difficulty with its application, Noah, Bob, myself, and the largest of the seamen being all Nos. 1, and the rest ranking in order. By this time it was night. The guard-boats began to appear on the water, and we deferred disembarking until morning.
All hands were early afoot. It had been arranged that Captain Poke and myself, attended by Bob, as a domestic, were to land, in order to make a journey through the island, while the Walrus was to be left in charge of the mates and the crew; the latter having permission to go ashore, from time to time, as is the practice with all seamen in port. There was a great deal of preliminary scrubbing and shaving, before the whole party could appear on deck, properly attired for the occasion. Mr. Poke wore a thin dress of linen, admirably designed to make him look like a sea-lion; a conceit that he said was not only agreeable to his feelings and habits, but which had a cool and pleasant character that was altogether suited to a steam-climate. For my own part, I agreed with the worthy sealer, seeing but little difference between his going in this garb, and his going quite naked. My dress was made, on a design of my own, after the social-stake system; or, in other words, it was so arranged as to take an interest in half of the animals of Exeter Change, to which menagerie the artist by whom it had been painted was sent expressly, in order to consult nature. Bob wore the effigy, as his master called it, of a turnspit.
The monikins were by far too polished to crowd about us when we landed, with an impertinent and troublesome curiosity. So far from this, we were permitted to approach the capital itself without let or hindrance. As it is less my intention to describe physical things than to dwell upon the philosophy and the other moral aspects of the Leaphigh world, little more will be said of their houses, domestic economy, and other improvements in the arts, than may be gathered incidentally, as the narrative shall proceed. Let it suffice to say on these heads, that the Leaphigh monikins, like men, consult, or think they consult --- which, so long as they know no better, amounts to pretty much the same thing ---; their own convenience in all things, the pocket alone excepted; and that they continue very laudably to do as their fathers did before them, seldom making changes, unless they may happen to possess the recommendation of being exotics; when, indeed, they are sometimes adopted, probably on account of their possessing the merit of having been proved suitable to another state of things.
Among the first persons we met, on entering the great square of Aggregation, as the capital of Leaphigh is called when rendered into English, was my Lord Chatterino. He was gayly promenading with a company of young nobles, who all seemed to be enjoying their youth, health, rank, and privileges with infinite gusto. We met this party in a way to render an escape from mutual recognition impossible. At first I thought, from his averted eye, that it was the intention of our late shipmate to consider our knowledge of each other as one of those accidental acquaintances which, it is known, we all form at watering- places, on journeys, or in the country, and which it is ill-mannered to press upon others in town; or, as Captain Poke afterwards expressed it, like the intimacy between an Englishman and a Yankee, that has been formed in the house of the latter, on better wine than is met with anywhere else, and which was never yet known to withstand the influence of a British fog. "Why, Sir John," the sealer added, "I once tuck (he meant to say took, not tucked) a countryman of yours under my wing, at Stunin'tun, during the last war. He was a prisoner, as we make prisoners; that is, he went and did pretty much as he pleased; and the fellow had the best of everything --- molasses that a spoon would stand up in, pork that would do to slush down a topmast, and New England rum, that a king might set down to, but could not get up from --- well, what was the end on't? Why, as sure as we are among these monkeys, the fellow booked me. Had I booked but the half of what he guzzled, the amount, I do believe, would have taken the transaction out of any justice's court in the state. He said my molasses was meagre, the pork lean, and the liquor infernal. There were truth and gratitude for you! He gave the whul account, too, as a specimen of what he called American living!"
Hereupon I reminded my companion, that an Englishman did not like to receive even favors on compulsion; that when he meets a stranger in his own country, and is master of his own actions, no man understands better what true hospitality is, as I hoped one day to show him, at Householder Hall; as to his first remark, he ought to remember that an Englishman considered America as no more than the country, and that it would be ill-mannered to press an acquaintance made there.
Noah, like most other men, was very reasonable on all subjects that did not interfere with his prejudices or his opinions; and he very readily admitted the general justice of my reply.
"It's pretty much as you say, Sir John," he continued; "in England you may press men, but it won't do to press hospitality. Get a volunteer in this way, and he is as good a fellow as heart can wish. I shouldn't have cared so much about the chap's book, if he had said nothin' ag'in the rum. Why, Sir John, when the English bombarded Stunin'tun with eighteen pounders, I proposed to load our old twelve with a gallon out of the very same cask, for I do think it would have huv' the shot the best part of a mile!"
--- --- --- But this digression is leading me from the narrative. My Lord Chatterino turned his head a little on one side as we were passing, and I was deliberating whether, under the circumstances, it would be well-bred to remind him of our old acquaintance, when the question was settled by the decision of Captain Poke, who placed himself in such a position that it was no easy matter to get round him, through him, or over him --- or who laid himself what he called "athwart hawse."
"Good morning, my lord," said the straightforward seaman, who generally went at a subject as he went at a seal. "A fine warm day; and the smell of the land, after so long a passage, is quite agreeable to the nose, whatever its ups and downs may be to the legs."
The companions of the young peer looked amazed; and some of them, I thought, notwithstanding gravity and earnestness are rather characteristic of the monikin physiognomy, betrayed a slight disposition to laugh. Not so with my Lord Chatterino himself.
He examined us a moment through a glass, and then seemed suddenly, and on the whole, agreeably struck at seeing us.
"How, Goldencalf!" he cried in surprise, "you in Leaphigh! This is indeed an unexpected satisfaction; for it will now be in my power to prove some of the facts that I am telling my friends, by actual observation. Here are two of the humans, gents, of whom I was but this moment giving you some account --- "
Observing a disposition to merriment in his associates, he continued, looking exceedingly grave: ---
"Restrain yourselves, gentlemen, I pray you. These are very worthy people, I do assure you, in their own way, and are not at all to be ridiculed. I scarcely know, even in our own marine, a better or a bolder navigator than this honest seaman; and as for the one in the parti-colored skin, I will take upon myself to say, that he is really a person of some consideration in his own little circle. He is, I believe, a member of par -- par -- par -- am I right, Sir John? -- a member of -- "
"Parliament, my lord --- an M.P."
"Ay -- I thought I had it -- an M.P., or a member of Parliament, in his own country, which, I dare say now, is some such thing among his people, as a public proclaimer of those laws which come from his majesty's eldest first cousin of the masculine gender, may be among us. Some such thing --- eh --- now --- eh --- is it not, Sir John?"
"I dare say it is, my lord."
"All very true, Chatterino," put in one of the young monikins, with a very long, elaborated tail, which he carried nearly perpendicular-"but what would be even a law-maker -- to say nothing of law-breakers like ourselves --- among men! You should remember, my dear fellow, that a mere title, or a profession, is not the criterion of true greatness; but that the prodigy of a village may be a very common monikin in town."
"Poh-poh" ---; interrupted Lord Chatterino, "thou art ever for refining, Hightail ---; Sir John Goldencalf is a very respectable person in the island of --- a --- a --- a --- what do you call that said island of yours, Goldencalf? --- a --- a --- "
"Great Britain, my lord."
"Ay, Great Breeches sure enough; yet, he is a respectable person --- I can take it upon myself to say, with confidence, a very respectable person in Great Breeches. I dare say he owns no small portion of the island himself. How much, now, Sir John, if the truth were told?"
"Only the estate and village of Householder, my lord, with a few scattered manors here and there."
"Well, that is a very pretty thing, there can be no doubt --- then you have money at use?"
"And who is the debtor?" sneeringly inquired the jack-a- napes Hightail.
"No other, my Lord Hightail, than the realm of Great Britain."
"Exquisite, that, egad! A noble's fortune in the custody of the realm of a --- Greek --- a --- "
"Great Breeches," interrupted my Lord Chatterino, who, notwithstanding he swore he was excessively angry with his friend for his obstinate incredulity, very evidently had to exercise some forbearance to keep from joining in the general laugh. "It is a very respectable country, I do protest; and I scarcely remember to have tasted better gooseberries than they grow in that very island."
"What! have they really gardens, Chatterino?"
"Certainly --- after a fashion --- and houses, and public conveyances --- and even universities."
"You do not mean to say, certainly, that they have a system!"
"Why, as to system, I believe they are a little at sixes and sevens. I really can't take it upon myself to say that they have a system."
"Oh, yes, my lord --- of a certainty we have one --- the social stake system."
"Ask the creature," whispered audibly the filthy coxcomb Hightail, "if he himself, now, has any income."
"How is it, Sir John --- have you an income?"
"Yes, my lord, of one hundred and twelve thousand sovereigns a year."
"Of what? --- of what?" demanded two or three voices, with well-bred, subdued eagerness.
"Of sovereigns --- why that means kings!"
It would appear that the Leaphighers, while they obey only the king's eldest first cousin of the masculine gender, perform all their official acts in the name of the sovereign himself, for whose person and character they pretty uniformly express the profoundest veneration; just as we men express admiration for a virtue that we never practise. My declaration, therefore, produced a strong sensation, and I was soon required to explain myself. This I did, by simply stating the truth.
"Oh, gold, yclept sovereigns!" exclaimed three or four, laughing heartily. "Why then, your famous Great Breeches people, after all, Chatterino, are so little advanced in civilization as to use gold! Harkee, Signior --- a --- a --- Boldercraft, have you no currency in 'promises'?"
"I do not know, sir, that I rightly comprehend the question."
"Why, we poor barbarians, sir, who live as you see us, only in a state of simplicity and nature," --- there was irony in every syllable the impudent scoundrel uttered --- "we poor wretches, or rather our ancestors, made the discovery, that for the purposes of convenience, having, as you perceive, no pockets, it might be well to convert all our currency into 'promises.' Now, I would ask if you have any of that coin?"
"Not as coin, sir, but as collateral to coin, we have plenty."
"He speaks of collaterals in currency, as if he were discussing a pedigree! Are you really, Mynherr Shouldercalf, so little advanced in your country, as not to know the immense advantages of a currency of 'promises'?"
"As I do not understand exactly what the nature of this currency is, sir, I cannot answer as readily as I could wish."
"Let us explain it to him; for, I vow, I am really curious to hear his answer. Chatterino, do you, who have some knowledge of the thing's habits, be our interpreter."
"The matter is thus, Sir John. About five hundred years ago, our ancestors, having reached that pass in civilization when they came to dispense with the use of pockets, began to find it necessary to substitute a new currency for that of the metals, which it was inconvenient to carry, of which they might be robbed, and which also was liable to be counterfeited. The first expedient was to try a lighter substitute. Laws were passed giving value to linen and cotton, in the raw material; then compounded and manufactured; next, written on, and reduced in bulk, until, having passed through the several gradations of wrapping-paper, brown-paper, foolscap and blotting-paper, and having set the plan fairly at work, and got confidence thoroughly established, the system was perfected by a coup de main, ---; 'promises' in words were substituted for all other coin. You see the advantage at a glance. A monikin can travel without pockets or baggage, and still carry a million; the money cannot be counterfeited, nor can it be stolen or burned."
"But, my lord, does it not depreciate the value of property?"
"Just the contrary; --- an acre that formerly could be bought for one promise, would now bring a thousand."
"This, certainly, is a great improvement, unless frequent failures-"
"Not at all; there has not been a bankruptcy in Leaphigh since the law was passed making promises a legal tender."
"I wonder no chancellor of the exchequer ever thought of this, at home!"
"So much for your Great Breeches, Chatterino!" And then there was another and a very general laugh. I never before felt so deep a sense of national humility.
"As they have universities," cried another coxcomb, "perhaps this person has attended one of them."
"Indeed, sir," I answered, "I am regularly graduated."
"It is not easy to see what he has done with his knowledge --- for, though my sight is none of the worst, I cannot trace the smallest sign of a cauda about him."
"Ah!" Lord Chatterino good-naturedly exclaimed, "the inhabitants of Great Breeches carry their brains in their heads."
"That's excellent, by his majesty's prerogative! Here's civilization, with a vengeance!"
I now thought that the general ridicule would overwhelm me. Two or three came closer, as if in pity or curiosity; and, at last, one cried out that I actually wore clothes.
"Clothes --- the wretch! Chatterino, do all your human friends wear clothes?"
The young peer was obliged to confess the truth; and then there arose such a clamor as may be fancied took place among the peacocks, when they discovered the daw among them in masquerade. Human nature could endure no more; and bowing to the company, I wished Lord Chatterino, very hurriedly, good-morning, and proceeded towards the tavern.
"Don't forget to step into Chatterino House, Goldencalf, before you sail," cried my late fellow-traveller, looking over his shoulder, and nodding in quite a friendly way towards me.
"King!" exclaimed Captain Poke. "That blackguard ate a whole breadlocker-full of nuts on our outward passage, and now he tells us to step into his Chatterino House, before we sail!"
I endeavored to pacify the sealer, by an appeal to his philosophy. It was true that men never forgot obligations, and were always excessively anxious to repay them; but the monikins were an exceedingly instructed species; they thought more of their minds than of their bodies, as was plain by comparing the smallness of the latter with the length and development of the seat of reason; and one of his experience should know that good-breeding is decidedly an arbitrary quality, and that we ought to respect its laws, however opposed to our own previous practices.
"I dare say, friend Noah, you may have observed some material difference in the usages of Paris, for instance, and those of Stunin'tun."
"That I have, Sir John, that I have; and altogether to the advantage of Stunin'tun be they."
"We are all addicted to the weakness of believing our own customs best; and it requires that we should travel much, before we are able to decide on points so nice."
"And do you not call me a traveller! Haven't I been sixteen times asealing, twice a-whaling, without counting my cruise overland, and this last run to Leaphigh!"
"Ay, you have gone over much land and much water, Mr. Poke; but your stay in any given place has been just long enough to find fault. Usages must be worn, like a shoe, before one can judge of the fit."
It is possible Noah would have retorted, had not Mrs. Vigilance Lynx, at that moment, come wriggling by, in a way to show she was much satisfied with her safe return home. To own the truth, while striving to find apologies for it, I had been a little contraire, as the French term it, by the indifference of my Lord Chatterino, which, in my secret heart, I was not slow in attributing to the manner in which a peer of the realm of Leaphigh regarded, de haut en bas, a mere baronet of Great Britain --- or Great Breeches, as the young noble so pertinaciously insisted on terming our illustrious island. Now as Mrs. Vigilance was of "russet-color," a caste of an inferior standing, I had little doubt that she would be as glad to own an intimacy with Sir John Goldencalf of Householder Hall, as the other might be willing to shuffle it off.
"Good-morrow, good Mrs. Vigilance," I said familiarly, endeavoring to wriggle in a way that WOULD have shaken a tail, had it been my good fortune to be the owner of one --- "Good-morrow, good Mrs. Vigilance --- I'm glad to meet you again on shore."
I do not remember that Mrs. Vigilance, during the whole period of our acquaintance, was particularly squeamish, or topping in her deportment. On the contrary, she had rather made herself remarkable for a modest and commendable reserve. But on the present occasion, she disappointed all reasonable expectation, by shrinking on one side, uttering a slight scream, and hurrying past as if she thought we might bite her. Indeed, I can only compare her deportment to that of a female of our own, who is so full of vanity as to fancy all eyes on her, and who gives herself airs about a dog or a spider, because she thinks they make her look so much the more interesting. Conversation was quite out of the question; for the duenna hurried on, bending her head downwards, as if heartily ashamed of an involuntary weakness.
"Well, good madam," said Noah, whose stern eye followed her movements until she was quite lost in the crowd, "you would have had a sleepless v'yage, if I had foreimagined this! Sir John, these people stare at us as if we were wild beasts!"
"I cannot say I am of your way of thinking, Captain Poke. To me they seem to take no more notice of us, than we should take of two curs in the streets of London."
"I begin now to understand what the parsons mean when they talk of the lost condition of man. It's ra'ally awful to witness to what a state of unfeelingness a people can be abandoned! Bob, get out of the way, you grinning blackguard."
Hereupon Bob received a salutation which would have demolished his stern-frame, had it not been for the unionjack. Just then I was glad to see Dr. Reasono advancing towards us, surrounded by a group of attentive listeners, all of whom, by their years, gravity, and deportment, I made no question were savants. As he drew near, I found he was discoursing of the marvels of his late voyage. When within six feet of us the whole party stopped, the Doctor continuing to descant with a very proper gesticulation, and in a way to show that his subject was of infinite interest to his listeners. Accidentally turning his eye in our direction, he caught a glimpse of our figures, and making a few hurried apologies to those around him, the excellent philosopher came eagerly forward, with both hands extended. Here was a difference, indeed, between his treatment and that of Lord Chatterino and the duenna! The salutation was warmly returned; and the Doctor and myself stepped a little apart, as he lost no time in informing me he wished to say a word in private.
"My dear Sir John," the philosopher began, "our arrival has been the most happily-timed thing imaginable! All Leaphigh, by this time, is filled with the subject; and you can scarcely conceive the importance that is attached to the event. New sources of trade, scientific discoveries, phenomena both moral and physical, and results that it is thought may serve to raise the monikin civilization still higher than ever! Fortunately, the academy holds its most solemn meeting of the year this very day, and I have been formally requested to give the assembly an outline of those events which have lately passed before my eyes. The king's eldest first cousin of the masculine gender is to attend openly; and it is even conjectured, in a way to be quite authentic, that the king himself will be present in his own royal person."
"How!" I exclaimed, "have you a mode, in Leaphigh, of rendering conjectures certain?"
"Beyond a doubt, sir, or what would our civilization be worth? As to the king's majesty, we always deal in the most direct ambiguities. Now as respects many of our ceremonies, the sovereign is known morally to be present, when he may be actually and physically eating his dinner at the other extremity of the island; this important illustration of the royal ubiquity is effected by means of a legal fiction. On the other hand, the king often indulges his natural propensities, such as curiosity, love of fun, or detestation of ennui, by coming in person, when, by the court fiction, he is thought to be seated on his throne, in his own royal palace. Oh! as to all these little accomplishments and graces in the art of truths, we are behind no people in the universe!"
"I beg pardon, Doctor --- so his majesty is expected to be at the academy this morning?"
"In a private box. Now this affair is of the last importance to me as a savant, to you as a human being ---; for it will have a tendency to raise your whole species in the monikin estimation ---; and, lastly, to learning. It will be indispensably necessary that you should attend, with as many of your companions as possible, more especially the better specimens. I was coming down to the landing in the hope of meeting you; and a messenger has gone off to the ship to require that the people be sent ashore forthwith. You will have a tribune to yourselves; and, really, I do not like to express beforehand what I think concerning the degree of attention you will all receive; but this much I think I can say --- you will see."
"This proposition, Doctor, has taken me a little by surprise, and I hardly know what answer to give."
"You cannot say no, Sir John; for should his majesty hear that you have
refused to come to a meeting at which he is to be present, it would seriously,
and, I might add, justly offend him, nor could I answer for the consequences."
"Why, I was told that all the power was in the hands of his majesty's eldest
first cousin of the masculine gender; in which case I thought I might snap
my fingers at his majesty himself." "Not in opinion, Sir John, which is
one of the three estates of the government. Ours is a government of three
estates --- viz., the law, opinion, and practice. By law the king rules,
by practice his cousin rules, and by opinion the king again rules. Thus,
is the strong point of practice balanced by law and opinion. This it is
that constitutes the harmony and perfection of the system. No, it would
never do to offend his majesty." Although I did not very well comprehend
the Doctor's argument, yet, as I had often found in human society, theories
political, moral, theological, and philosophical, that everybody had faith
in, and which nobody understood, I thought discussion useless, and gave
up the point by promising the Doctor to be at the academy in half an hour,
which was the time named for our appearance. Taking the necessary directions
to find the place, we separated; he to hasten to make his preparations,
and I to reach the tavern, in order to deposit our baggage, that no decency
might be overlooked on an occasion so solemn.
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