Volume 1841
Georges Dodds'
The Ape-Man: his Kith and Kin
A collection of texts which prepared the advent of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dreams of the Chevalier de la Marmotte

Anonymous (as Chevalier de la Marmotte)

Georges Dodds, transl.



Link to Tarzan of the Apes

Simian society. Only the second and third dream are pertinent.
  • Angenot, M., and N. Khouri. 1981. "An International Bibliography of Prehistoric Fiction" Science-Fiction Studies 8(1): 38-53. see here
  • Edition(s) used

  • Anonymous. 1745. Les songes du chevalier de La Marmotte n.l.: Au Palais de Morphée. (p. 14-48)
  • French original available here
  • Modifications to the text

  • None.


    Second Dream.  
    Third Dream.  

    Second Dream

    I had barely begun to sleep when I realized that I was in a country unknown to me, located in the Austral lands, which were only inhabited by monkeys. These animals were living in a manner in all aspects resembling that of men. What amazed me even more was that they had the power of speech. One of them accosted me most politely, and said to me: "It is clear to me that you are a stranger, and I judge from your features that you are a monkey from the continent; if I can be of any service to you, you just have to tell me, I like to oblige all honest people, and especially strangers." I tried to answer as best I could to such a gracious compliment. In turn, my monkey answered in an even more engaging manner, so that I finally came to love him, and he developed for me a true friendship; our two hearts were closely linked by a natural sympathy, and their union was quickly cemented by a reciprocal esteem, without which no friend ship endures.

    Having passed a few days with my new friend, and having carefully informed myself of their manners and of the customs of his nation, I found them most reasonable. The land of Simiania was a republic; power was shared between the people and the Senate; there was constantly a Governor, whose wide-ranging powers maintained an equitable balance between the Senate and the people's authority. This Governor, when the Senate wished to reduce the people into slavery, defended the people; when the people pretended to the rights of the Senate, he would support the senators and protect their dignity.

    The Governor was elected by the members of the Senate and of the people, thus being equally duty-bound to one as the other, nothing forcing him to side with one rather than the other. He was always fifty years old when he was elected, and had to have been pure in manners until then. Whoever in his youth had been debauched, addicted to gambling, to wine, to women, was forever banned from the rank of chief magistrate. The simians were convinced that we maintain until the end of our lives, the same passions which for several years held furious sway over our hearts. They believed that at a certain age the passions are cooled, but that they are not extinguished, and similar to those of volcanoes, which only spit out fire at intervals, but which can set afire an entire countryside, so the passions in an old man's heart are fires, which while they smolder beneath the ashes, seemingly entirely extinguished, are no less dangerous. My friend the simian told me that the history of the nation was full of instances which proved the truth of these beliefs. He recounted the debaucheries of the elderly Senator Sapagini, who in spite of his devotion had died in the arms of a courtesan, and he then mentioned a simian colonel, who, twenty years after having left the service, and having become devout, swore on his way out of church, and frequently got drunk.

    Thus the governor of Simiania had to have acquired, during his youth, through a sensible and restrained conduct, the right to govern the people in his later years. When he reached the age of sixty-five he was forced to give up his authority. The simians held that the life of monkeys could be divided into three periods. The first is the one during which he must learn, and they hold this period to go on for fifty years. In the second, he can govern his countrymen, and they hold that this be from fifty until sixty-five. In the third he must enjoy his rest, and taste in all tranquility the advantage of being freed of any concerns regarding public or even domestic affairs.

    As soon as a monkey had reached the third level, he was forced to give up all the responsibilities he might have. There was, in this regard, a law termed the favourable law, which stated that for the honour of the aged, and for the respect which they deserved, one had forbidden them to be informed of important affairs, lest through judgments drawn from an intellect weakened by old age and fatigue, they prostitute themselves, and fell into disrepute, the young folk being all too ready to condemn the errors of the elderly.

    There was another law which was termed the fundamental law, by which children were ordered to exhibit a son's respect for their fathers, and the fathers to exhibit a father's friendship. This law, constituted in such simple terms at first appeared puerile, but, short and sweet, the explanation which accompanied it, showed all the wisdom in it. In respect for the son, one understood no base submission, but one appropriate to a free man, and not to a slave. The simians established as a principal not only clear, but incontrovertible among any monkeys with any understanding, that the young monkeys were in no way indebted to the monkeys of their family for having given them birth, but rather for having lovingly raised them. They held that birth occurred purely by chance, a product of pleasure, and that education was a difficult undertaking accomplished through reason and friendship. As for paternal love, it was about actions, not words. A father under the specious argument of accumulating wealth for his children, should not leave them indigent while he is alive. He would share with them his income, and give to them in abundance all that they required, refusing them only the superfluous. As soon as a young she-monkey was of age to marry, paternal attachment was no excuse for miserliness, the father would pay her dowry, and his supposed sadness at being separated from his daughter would not constitute sufficient grounds to refuse her a spouse. Finally, fatherly love was measured by the goodness with which the fathers showered their children, and the respect of the children in their tender and powerful appreciation of it.

    The simian's laws regarding marriage combined in part those of the Christians and in part those of the Turks. They held that marriage being designed entirely to bring pleasure to the male monkey, by mating him with the she-monkey he was enamoured with and who would bear him children, as soon as such a union produced an entirely contrary effect, were the she-monkey sterile, or were she of a disposition incompatible with that of her monkey-spouse, one could not separate them quickly enough. For the wise legislators' only purpose in making laws was to make monkeys happy, not to inflict new tortures upon them, or burden them with new chains, when the ills to which Nature exposed them were already overly abundant. "To separate," my friend would sometimes tell me, "a male and a female monkey who do not love each other will satisfy four people. The male marries another female he likes -- here is one happy couple. The female takes as her husband a male whom she gets along with -- here are two more happy people. Thus by a wise separation one not only ends the unhappiness of two unfortunate individuals, but also make four citizens happy. What comes of this? The state becomes much more populated, families are unified, a male who fears losing his mate always treats her tenderly, with diligence, still acting the lover, though married; and that a she-monkey, who wishes in turn to keep her spouse, will be uniquely dedicated to pleasing him."

    The simians did not have any priests; they did however have temples, within which were a number of paintings. They held that paintings overcame, among the ignorant, the inability to read; they claimed that the main usefulness of such art was to perpetuate the memory of acts of a saintly nature or which were useful to society.

    The simians held that whoever was virtuous was a priest of truth, and consequently of the Supreme Being, who is himself the truth. They could not understand, my friend assured me, that the monkeys on the continent could have an ecclesiastical state, or a military and political state. My friend was overcome with disbelief when I informed him that priests, like soldiers, were drafted; that there were homes in which they were fed, and where they spent three-quarters of their lives in idleness, useless to society, supported by the Republic, and always busy trying to subvert it in order to aggrandize themselves. "How is it that you are so unwise," said my friend the monkey, "as not to realize that he who is the most virtuous is the most worthy to offer up the people's prayers to the Godhead; does this require any great intelligence to state? 'God most powerful, the Being among Beings, Author and Protector of Nature, allow us to become righteous and grant us our needs.' We make no other prayer. Must one study for years on end to state something which our hearts and intellect tell us?"

    "The exhortations we profess in our temples, to incite us to virtue, are simple statements, such as those a good father would entertain with his children. The first simian who wishes to speak does so, and the others listen to him. Indeed they do more than simply listen, they follow his counsel, for there are only those monkeys capable of speaking wisely who would dare speak. Such modesty and restraint are among the traits of the elder monkeys."

    "As for our religion, and the precepts it teaches, all are contained in a three-page document, and everything in it is so clear, that no one has ever tried to obscure its meaning with explanations. Our legislators have spoken so as to be heard. There are no parables or metaphors in their laws, nor figurative meanings, far less any mysteries. Everything is clear, simple, natural. We would burn any monkey who would seek to obscure the truth by useless comments. Our law tells us that we must love our simian countrymen, and not do unto them what we would not wish them to do unto us, This is sufficient, we fulfill our obligations, we do not discuss things, we do them." I could not have been in great admiration of the simian's common sense, when I suddenly awoke, and saw that true wisdom was now only a dream in this world.

    Third Dream

    My imagination had been so taken by the statements of my monkey that, unlike was normally the case for me, I remembered my dream all day long, and barely had |I gone to bed, when sleep returned to me the presence and conversation of my dear friend. "I have resolved," he informed me, "to travel on the continent. I wish to fully inform myself of the manners and customs of the monkeys which inhabit it, and I expect that you will deign to accompany me." I heartily accepted the offer he made me, and I left Simiania with him.

    After having traversed a considerable expanse of ocean, the country where our ship made port was called Ursimania; the men who lived there had a stomach like that of the bear, and the physicians held that the inside of this organ was reflected in their external features, giving these men a rough and uncouth appearance.

    The ursine Sovereign, a man of superior intellect, decided to alter the manners and customs of his subjects, and decreed that they must shave off their hair as close as possible to the flesh as they could. Hoping to make their skin more uniform, they destroyed little by little all that wild in them; but a great number of people were unable to commit themselves to sacrificing their hair. On several occasions the Prince thought he would die; however, he reined in his emotions and his hair was shaved off. After this first victory over the prejudices of his subjects, he sent the principal among them to foreign lands, so that through the change in climate and the help of gifted doctors they would find there, they would complete the removal of all that might remain of the bear from their stomach. This expedient worked perfectly, and in a few years the Ursimanian courtesans no longer resembled their countrymen in any manner whatsoever.

    The great Prince who had worked this miracle having died, the Ursimanian Lords continued always to guard themselves from having their bear hair return. However, among the people, it recurred and seemingly grows longer every day, for one had, over the last two years, allowed a great number of foreign barbers and surgeons to leave the country, whom the Prince had taken care to draw to his nation, so that one might find as well within the country as without, help in shaving and barring the regrowth of the hair.

    My friend the monkey, having taken it upon himself to condemn this practice, was deemed so wicked, that it was resolved that he be sentenced to the penalty afforded those who disapprove of the stupid acts committed by the Great. Generally a musician plays a tune with two little sticks on the sole of the criminal's feet, and this concert continues until the first layer of skin is removed. On occasion a surgeon will apply, with an instrument resembling a whip, some fifty or sixty cupping-glasses on the shoulders. The patient is then cured by being led to the icy sea and having a large piece of ice applied to his wounds.

    My friend, warned by a charitable man of the fate that awaited him, urged me to leave as soon as possible. We did so and after a few days' walk we arrived in a country where the people seemed far more affable that those of the country we had left. However, we were in quite a fix, for we had no money, our hasty escape not having allowed us to take certain measures. As we could not resolve ourselves to begging, we took to doing the same work as a great number of the Fusiliers, the people among whom we found ourselves. As for myself, the weakness of my intellect did not allow me to embrace this work, which consisted principally in artfully and nimbly pirouetting on one heel while holding against one's shoulder a long pea-shooter. As soon as my companion was enrolled into his profession, his legs were quickly tied tightly together with pieces of white cloth, his jacket cut down by more than a third, his pants were taken in so drastically that he could barely lower himself, and they began to drill him. They made him pirouette to the right and to the left, and when his pirouette was either too slow or too quick, his bum was pinched so hard that the pain forced him to wince. This made all his colleagues laugh, and drew them a caning, for gravity and silence were the main points of the Peashooter's drill.

    The masters seeing that the simian could never learn his trade, gave him his discharge. We were thus, he and I, forced to go on our way. We walked for several days. Finally we arrived in a country where the people overwhelmed us with caresses and hugs. We thought we would be the most fortunate among mortals, but it did not take us long to discover that we could little rely on their advances. The kingdom where we were was that of the Dailychangers. These people were descendant from the incestuous union of the genie Soiled and the goddess Indulgence. They barely thought the same way for more than a day. Besides this, they were polite, affable, and witty, but these qualities only served to make their friends pity them the more, seeing that, regretfully, they did not make use of their understanding to build a more stable and solid character. As for their enemies, they took advantage of their inconsistence to hold them up to ridicule. In the first five days we stayed in this country we were forced to allow ourselves to be dressed in six different manners. One day we thought ourselves to be the height of fashion. We were not a little astonished at seeing at five o'clock in the evening that our clothes had already aged, and that our dress was old-fashioned. For the rest of the day, we were exposed to several Dailychangers poking fun at us, for they were generally of a mocking disposition, and, notwithstanding that they treated strangers very politely, they also enjoyed ridiculing them. They saw themselves as above other people, and held that their quick wit was their apanage at the detriment of other nations. The Dailychangers' attitude annoyed my friend the monkey. "These people," he told me one day, "are a thousand-fold more like monkeys than those of a small island near Simiania, where we exile our countrymen whose minds are somewhat deranged. They jump around, leap about, whistle, speak without realizing that they do so. Truly, they are most amiable, but they are dangerous, an enthusiastic and gracious madness is far more contagious than a sad and melancholy one. Let us flee my friend, let us distance ourselves from a country where inconstancy reigns equally among great and small, where folly has graces sufficiently perilous to unhinge reason, and where the sternest of hearts runs the risk of being duped by a seductive wit.

    I followed my friend's counsel and we crossed some tall mountains. Finally, after a rather long trip, we arrived among the Papimanes. We had barely arrived, when my friend almost lost his life; one night as he was returning home, he was attacked in the street by three bravos, who believing him to be a French gentleman, who was in love with the mistress of a Canon, wounded him severely. A few soldiers on patrol, who were not far off, came to his rescue, and put the assassins to flight. I am at a loss to state how upset I was at the state in which I saw my companion; however, he being only lightly injured, he was about to leave his room when something rather unfortunate happened to him. A young child came and threw himself at his feet, sobbing, begging him to save protect him from the barbarity of two men who were pursuing him, razor in hand. The courageous monkey did not hesitate to take the part of the child, proudly asking his enemies why they wished to do him violence. "We have our reasons," they answered, "and we are doing this for his own good." They then informed the monkey that they wished to make a eunuch of the boy. "There is a vacancy," they added, "in the Great Pontiff of Papimania's chapel, and he mustn't miss such a chance. Indignant both at these barbarians and at the Prince who suffered that monsters be created in his kingdom for vain pleasure, and that someone could be deprived of that which defined their state, my companion let out a torrent of abuse against such a cruel custom. Passing from words to acts, he jumped on these two men and would have disfigured them had they not removed themselves. "Let's get out of here, dear friend," he said to me, "let us leave this country where the greatest of crimes receive the approval of the Sovereign and are common practice; where the inhabitants show so little respect for their fellow men, that they can take away the best part of their humanity, merely in order to charm their own ears with sweeter notes. Perish forever a nation that draws its entertainment from a crime which destroys Society through and through.

    We left Papimania and went among the Xanthimanes. This race was proud, taciturn, lazy, superstitious to excess, but brave and faithful to their King, a zealot for their homeland, slave to women yet a tyrant at the same time. My friend felt comfortable with these people's character. He held that a proud but taciturn man was much less than a proud man who was always talking about himself; thus he let the Xanthimanes' pride pass in favour of their silence and their reserved attitude. As for laziness, he held that this vice did nothing to strangers and that it only harmed the inhabitants of the country. He did not disapprove of the respect which the Xanthimanes had for women and the measures they to to assure themselves of their fidelity. He thought that one must have a great deal of common sense to maintain, within the constraints of duty, a relationship with those whom one respects, but towards whom a tendency to violence lead us. As for superstition, he held that all creatures were naturally drawn to it, that one should praise and admire all those which knew to rid themselves of it, but that one should pity and not be scornful towards those which were subject to its yoke. He soon felt that his argument was rather inconsistent on the last point. One day when he was in the streets watching a procession go by, given that the shrine of a female saint was across from him, he began to scratch under his thigh, something quite common among the monkeys. However, the Priests saw in this something sinister. The poor monkey was arrested, taken before the inquisition, and his trial having been prepared he was condemned to burn for having had the temerity to scratch himself on the thigh and show his rear before the shrine of the blessed Mary of Agreda. When his sentence was pronounced and he was taken to the place of execution, he then understood that superstition was the worst of all evils. However, as they were tying him to the stake, the great sorrow I felt at the sad fate of my companion woke me, and I was glad to find myself in my bed, far from the Inquisitors.

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    Georges Dodds
    William Hillman

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