|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.|
No. 1 parti-color and friends,
|To No. 82,763 grape-color.||Dr.|
|To use of apartments, with meals and lights, as per
agreement, p.p. 300 per diem -- one day,
|By cash advanced,||50|
|Balance due, p.p. 250|
"This seems all right," I observed to Noah; but I am, at this moment, as penniless as the good woman herself. I really do not see what we are to do, unless Bob sends her back his store of nuts -- "
"Harkee, my nimble-go-hop," put in the seaman, "what is your pleasure?"
The waiter referred to the bill, as expressing his mistress's wants.
"What are these p. p. that I find noted in the bill -- play or pay, hey?"
"Promises, of course, your honor."
"Oh! then you desire fifty promises, to provide our dinner."
"Nothing more, sir. With that sum you shall dine like noblemen -- ay, sir, like aldermen."
I was delighted to find that this worthy class of beings have the same propensities in all countries.
"Here, take a hundred," answered Noah, snapping his fingers, "and make no bones of it. And harkee, my worthy -- lay out every farthing of them in the fare. Let there be good cheer, and no one will grumble at the bill. I am ready to buy the inn, and all it holds, at need."
The waiter departed well satisfied with these assurances, and apparently in the anticipation of good vails for his own trouble.
We soon got into the current that was setting towards our place of destination. On reaching the gate, we found that we were anxiously expected; for there was an attendant in waiting, who instantly conducted us to the seats that were provided for our special reception. It is always agreeable to be among the privileged, and I must own that we were all not a little flattered, on finding that an elevated tribune had been prepared for us, in the centre of the rotunda in which the academy held its sittings, so that we could see, and be seen by, every individual of the crowded assembly. The whole crew, even to the negro cook, had preceded us; an additional compliment, that I did not fail to acknowledge by suitable salutations to all the members present. After the first feelings of pleasure and surprise were a little abated, I had leisure to look about me and to survey the company.
The academicians occupied the whole of the body of the rotunda, the space taken up by the erection of our temporary tribune alone excepted, while there were sofas, chairs, tribunes, and benches arranged for the spectators, in the outer circles, and along the side-walls of the hall. As the edifice itself was very large, and mind had so essentially reduced matter in the monikin species, there could not have been less than fifty thousand tails present. Just before the ceremonies commenced, Dr. Reasono approached our tribbune, passing from one to another of the party, saying a pleasant and encouraging word to each, in a way to create high expectations in us all as to what was to follow. We were so very evidently honored and distinguished, that I struggled hard to subdue any unworthy feeling of pride, as unbecoming human meekness, and in order to maintain a philosophical equanimity under the manifestations of respect and gratitude that I knew were about to be lavished upon even the meanest of our party. The Doctor was yet in the midst of his pointed attentions, when the king's eldest first cousin of the masculine gender entered, and the business of the meeting immediately began. I profited by a short pause, however, to say a few words to my companions. I told them that there would soon be a serious demand on their modesty. We had performed a great and generous exploit, and it did not become us to lessen its merit by betraying a vainglorious self-esteem. I implored them all to take pattern by me; promising, in the end, that their new friends would trebly prize their hardihood, self-denial, and skill.
There was a new member of the academy of Latent Sympathies to be received and installed. A long discourse was read by one of this department of the monikin learning, which pointed out and enlarged on the rare merits of the new academician. He was followed by the latter; who in a very elaborate production, that consumed just fifty-five minutes in the reading, tried all he could to persuade the audience that the defunct was a loss to the world, that no accident or application would ever repair, and that he himself was precisely the worst person who could have been selected to be his successor. I was a little surprised at the perfect coolness with which the learned body listened to a reproach that was so very distinctly and perseveringly thrown, as it were, into their very teeth. But a more intimate acquaintance with monikin society satisfied me, that any one might say just what he pleased, so long as he allowed that every one else was an excellent fellow, and he himself the poorest devil going. When the new member had triumphantly established his position, and just as I thought the colleagues were bound, in common honesty, to reconsider their vote, he concluded, and took his seat among them with quite as much assurance as the best philosopher of them all.
After a short pause, and an abundance of felicitations on his excellent and self-abasing discourse, the newly admitted member again rose, and began to read an essay on some discoveries he had made in the science of Latent Sympathies. According to his account of the matter, every monikin possessed a fluid which was invisible, like the animalcula which pervade nature, and which required only to be brought into command, and to be reduced into more rigid laws, to become the substitute for the senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smelling. This fluid was communicable; and had already been so far rendered subject to the will, as to make it of service in seeing in the dark, in smelling when the operator had a bad cold, in tasting when the palate was down, and in touching by proxy. Ideas had been transmitted, through its agency, sixty-two leagues in one minute and a half. Two monikins, who were afflicted with diseased tails, had during the last two years, been insulated and saturated, and had then lost those embellishments, by operations; a quantity of the fluid having been substituted in their places so happily, that the patients fancied themselves more than ever conspicuous for the length and finesse of their caudæ. An experiment had also been successfully tried on a member of the lower house of parliament, who, being married to a monikina of unusual mind, had for a long time been supplied with ideas from this source, although his partner was compelled to remain at home, in order to superintend the management of their estate, forty-two miles from town, during the whole session. He particularly recommended to government the promotion of this science, as it might be useful in obtaining evidence for the purposes of justice, in detecting conspiracies, in collecting the taxes, and selecting candidates for trusts of a responsible nature. The suggestion was well received by the king's cousin, more especially those parts that alluded to sedition and the revenue.
This essay was also perfectly well received by the savans, for I afterwards found very little came amiss to the academy; and the members named a committee forthwith, to examine into "the facts concerning invisible and unknown fluids, their agency, importance, and relations to monikin happiness."
We were next favored with a discussion on the different significations of the word gorstchwzyb; which, rendered into English, means "eh!" The celebrated philologist who treated the subject, discovered amazing ingenuity in expatiating on its ramifications and deductions. First he tried the letters by transpositions, by which he triumphantly proved that it was derived from all the languages of the ancients; the same process showed that it possessed four thousand and two different significations; he next reasoned most ably and comprehensively for ten minutes, backwards and forwards, using no other word but this, applied in its various senses; after which, he incontrovertibly established that this important part of speech was so useful as to be useless, and he concluded by a proposition, in which the academy coincided by acclamation, that it should be forever and incontinently expunged from the Leaphigh vocabulary. As the vote was carried by acclamation, the king's cousin arose, and declared that the writer who should so far offend against good taste, as hereafter to make use of the condemned word, should have two inches cut off the extremity of his tail. A shudder among the ladies, who, I afterwards ascertained, loved to carry their caudæ as high as our women like to carry their heads, proved the severity of the decree.
An experienced and seemingly much respected member now arose to make the following proposal. He said it was known that the monikin species were fast approaching perfection; that the increase of mind and the decrease of matter were so very apparent as to admit of no denial; that, in his own case, he found his physical powers diminish daily, while his mental acquired new distinctness and force; that he could no longer see without spectacles, hear without a tube, or taste without high seasoning; from all this he inferred that they were drawing near to some important change, and he wished that portion of the science of Latent Sympathies which was connected with the unknown fluid just treated on, might be referred to a committee on the whole, in order to make some provision for the wants of a time when monikins should finally lose their senses. There was nothing to say against a proposition so plausible, and it was accepted nemine contradicente, with the exception of a few in the minority.
There was now a good deal of whispering, much wagging of tails, and other indications that the real business of the meeting was about to be touched upon. All eyes were turned on Dr. Reasono, who, after a suitable pause, entered a tribune prepared for solemn occasions, and began his discourse.
The philosopher, who, having committed his essay to memory, spoke extempore, commenced with a beautiful and most eloquent apostrophe to learning, and to the enthusiasm which glows in the breasts of all her real votaries, rendering them alike indifferent to their personal ease, their temporal interests, danger, suffering, and tribulations of the spirit. After this exordium, which was pronounced to be unique for its simplicity and truth, he entered at once on the history of his own recent adventures.
First alluding to the admirable character of that Leaphigh usage which prescribes the Journey of Trial, our philosopher spoke of the manner in which he had been selected to accompany my lord Chatterino on an occasion so important to his future hopes. He dwelt on the physical preparations, the previous study, and the moral machinery that he had employed with his pupil, before they quitted town; all of which, there is reason to think, were well fitted to their objects, as he was constantly interrupted by murmurs of applause. After some time spent in dilating on these points, I had, at length, the satisfaction to find him, Mrs. Lynx, and their two wards, fairly setting out on a journey which, as he very justly mentioned, proved "to be pregnant with events of so much importance to knowledge in general, to the happiness of the species, and to several highly interesting branches of monikin science, in particular." I say the satisfaction, for, to own the truth, I was eager to witness the effect that would be made on the monikin sensibilities, when he came to speak of my own discernment in detecting their real characters beneath the contumely and disgrace in which it had been my good fortune to find them, the promptitude with which I had stepped forward to their relief, and the liberality and courage with which I had furnished the means and encountered the risks that were necessary to restore them to their native land. The anticipation of this human triumph could not but diffuse a general satisfaction in our own tribune -- even the common mariners, as they recalled the dangers through which they had passed, feeling a consciousness of deserving, mingled with that soothing sentiment which is ever the companion of a merited reward. As the philosopher drew nearer to the time when it would be necessary to speak of us, I threw a look of triumph at Lord Chatterino, which, however, failed of its intended effect -- the young peer continuing to whisper to his noble companions with just is much self-importance and coolness as if he had not been one of the rescued captives.
Dr. Reasono was justly celebrated, among his colleagues, for ingenuity and eloquence. The excellent morals that he threw into every possible opening of his subject, the beauty of the figures with which they were illustrated, and the masculine tendencies of his argument, gave general delight to the audience. The Journey of Trial was made to appear, what it had been intended to be by the fathers and sages of the Leaphigh institutions, a probation replete with admonitions and instruction. The aged and experienced, who had grown callous by time, could not conceal their exultation; the mature and suffering looked grave and full of meditation; while the young and sanguine fairly trembled, and for once, doubted. But, as the philosopher led his party from precipice to precipice in safety, as rocks were scaled and seductive valleys avoided, a common feeling of security began to extend itself among the audience; and we all followed him in his last experiment among the ice, with that sort of blind confidence which the soldier comes, in time, to entertain in the orders of a tried and victorious general.
The Doctor was graphic in his account of the manner in which he and his wards plunged among these new trials. The lovely Chatterissa (for all his travelling companions were present) bent aside her head and blushed, as the philosopher alluded to the manner in which the pure flame that glowed in her gentle bosom resisted the chill influence of that cold region; and when he recited an ardent declaration that my lord Chatterino had made on the centre of a floe, and the kind and amorous answer of his mistress, I thought the applause of the old academicians would have actually brought the vaulted dome clattering about our ears.
At length he reached the point in the narrative where the amiable wanderers fell in with the sealers, on that unknown island to which chance and an adverse fortune had unhappily led them, in their pilgrimage. I had taken measures secretly to instruct Mr. Poke and the rest of my companions, as to the manner in which it became us to demean ourselves, while the Doctor was acquainting the academy with that first outrage committed by human cupidity, or the seizure of himself and friends. We were to rise, in a body, and, turning our faces a little on one side, veil our eyes in sign of shame. Less than this, it struck me, could scarcely be done, without manifesting an improper indifference to monikin rights; and more than this, might have been identifying ourselves with the particular individuals of the species who had perpetrated the wrong. But there was no occasion to exhibit this delicate attention to our learned hosts. The Doctor, with a refinement of feeling that did credit, indeed, to monikin civilization, gave an ingenious turn to the whole affair, which at once removed all cause of shame from our species; and which, if it left reason for any to blush, by a noble act of disinterestedness, threw the entire onus of the obligation on himself. Instead of dwelling on the ruthless manner in which he and his friends had been seized, the worthy Doctor very tranquilly informed his listeners, that, finding himself, by hazard, brought in contact with another species, and that the means of pushing important discoveries were unexpectedly placed in his power; conscious it had long been a desideratum with the savans to obtain a nearer view and more correct notions of human society; believing he had a discretion in the matter of his wards, and knowing that the inhabitants of Leaplow, a republic which all disliked, were seriously talking of sending out an expedition for this very purpose, he had promptly decided to profit by events, to push inquiry to the extent of his abilities, and to hazard all in the cause of learning and truth, by at once engaging the vessel of the sealers, and sailing, without dread of consequences, forthwith into the very bosom of the world of man!
I have listened with awe to the thunder of the tropics -- I have held my breath as the artillery of a fleet vomited forth its fire, and rent the air with sudden concussions -- I have heard the roar of the tumbling river of the Canadas, and I have stood aghast at the crashing of a forest in a tornado; -- but never before did I feel so life-stirring, so thrilling an emotion of surprise, alarm, and sympathy, as that which arose within me, at the burst of commendation and delight with which this announcement of selfdevotion and enterprise was received by the audience. Tails waved, pattes met each other in ecstasy, voice whistled to voice, and there was one common cry of exultation, of rapture and of glorification, at this proof, not of monikin, for that would have been frittering away the triumph, but at this proof of Leaphigh courage.
During the clamor, I took an opportunity to express my satisfaction at the handsome manner in which our friend the Doctor had passed over an acknowledged human delinquency, and the ingenuity with which he had turned the whole of the unhappy transaction to the glory of Leaphigh. Noah answered that the philosopher had certainly shown a knowledge of human natur', and he presumed of monikin natur', in the matter; no one would now dispute his statement, since, as he knew by experience, no one was so likely to be set down as a liar, as he who endeavored to unsettle the good opinion that either a community or an individual entertained of himself. This was the way at Stunin'tun, and he believed this was pretty much the way at New York, or he might say with the whole 'arth from pole to pole. As for himself, however, he owned he should like to have a few minutes' private conversation with the sealer in question, to hear his account of the matter; he didn't know any owner in his part of the world, who would bear a captain out, should be abandon a v'yage in this way, on no better security than the promises of a monkey, and of a monkey, too, who must, of necessity, be an utter stranger to him.
When the tumult of applause had a little abated, Dr. Reasono proceeded with his narrative. He touched lightly on the accommodations of the schooner, which he gave us reason to think were altogether of a quality beneath the condition of her passengers; and he added that, falling in with a larger and fairer vessel, which was making a passage between Bombay and Great Britain, he profited by the occasion, to exchange ships. This vessel touched at the island of St. Helena, where, according to the Doctor's account of the matter, he found means to pass the greater part of a week on shore.
Of the island of St. Helena he gave a long, scientific, and certainly an interesting account. It was reported to be volcanic, by the human savans, he said, but a minute examination and a comparison of the geological formation, etc., had quite satisfied him that their own ancient account, which was contained in the mineralogical works of Leaphigh, was the true one; or, in other words, that this rock was a fragment of the polar world that had been blown away at the great eruption, and which had become separated from the rest of the mass at this spot, where it had fallen and become a fixture of the ocean. Here the Doctor produced certain specimens of rock, which he submitted to the learned present, inviting their attention to its character, and asking, with great mineralogical confidence, if it did not intimately resemble a well-known stratum of a mountain, within two leagues of the very spot they were in? This triumphant proof of the truth of his proposition was admirably received; and the philosopher was in particular rewarded by the smiles of all the females present; for ladies usually are well pleased with any demonstration that saves them the trouble of comparison and reflection.
Before quitting this branch of his subject, the Doctor observed that, interesting as were these proofs of the accuracy of their histories, and of the great revolutions of inanimate nature, there was another topic connected with St. Helena, which, he felt certain, would excite a lively emotion in the breasts of all who heard him. At the period of his visit, the island had been selected as a prison for a great conqueror and disturber of his fellow- creatures; and public attention was much drawn to the spot by this circumstance, few men coming there who did not permit all their thoughts to be absorbed by the past acts and the present fortunes of the individual in question. As for himself, there was, of course, no great attraction in any events connected with mere human greatness, the little struggles and convulsions of the species containing no particular interest for a devotee of the monikin philosophy; but the manner in which all eyes were drawn in one direction, afforded him a liberty of action that he had eagerly improved, in a way that, he humbly trusted, would not be thought altogether unworthy of their approbation. While searching for minerals among the cliffs, his attention had been drawn to certain animals that are called monkeys, in the language of those regions; which, from very obvious affinities of a physical nature, there was some reason to believe might have had a common origin with the monikin species. The academy would at once see how desirable it was to learn all the interesting particulars of the habits, language, customs, marriages, funerals, religious opinions, traditions, state of learning, and general moral condition of this interesting people, with a view to ascertain whether they were merely one of those abortions, to which, it is known, nature is in the practice of giving birth, in the outward appearance of their own species, or whether, as several of their best writers had plausibly maintained, they were indeed a portion of those whom they had been in the habit of designating as the "lost monikins." He had succeeded in getting access to a family of these beings, and in passing an entire day in their society. The result of his investigations was, that they were truly of the monikin family, retaining much of the ingenuity and many of the spiritual notions of their origin, but with their intellects sadly blunted, and perhaps their improvable qualities annihilated, by the concussion of the elements that had scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth, houseless, hopeless, regionless wanderers. The vicissitudes of climate, and a great alteration of habits, had certainly wrought some physical changes; but there still remained sufficient scientific identity to prove they were monikins. They even retained, in their traditions, some glimmerings of the awful catastrophe by which they were separated from the rest of their fellow- creatures; but these necessarily were vague and profitless. Having touched on several other points connected with these very extraordinary facts, the Doctor concluded by saying that he saw but one way in which this discovery could be turned to any practical advantage, beyond the confirmation it afforded of the truth of their own annals. He suggested the expediency of fitting out expeditions to go among these islands and seize upon a number of families, which, being transported into Leaphigh, might found a race of useful menials, who, while they would prove much less troublesome than those who possessed all the knowledge of monikins, would probably be found more intelligent and useful than any domestic animal which they at present owned. This happy application of the subject met with decided commendation. I observed that most of the elderly females put their heads together on the spot, and appeared to be congratulating each other on the prospect of being speedily relieved from their household cares.
Dr. Reasono next spoke of his departure from St. Helena, and of his finally landing in Portugal. Here, agreeably to his account, he engaged certain Savoyards to act as his couriers and guides during a tour he intended to make through Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, France, etc., etc., etc. I listened with admiration. Never before had I so lively a perception of the vast difference that is effected in our views of matters and things, by the agency of an active philosophy, as was now furnished by the narrative of the speaker. Instead of complaining of the treatment he had received, and of the degradations to which he and his companions had been subjected, he spoke of it all as so much prudent submission, on his part, to the customs of the countries in which he happened to find himself, and as the means of ascertaining a thousand important facts, both moral and physical, which he proposed to submit to the academy in a separate memoir another day. At present, he was admonished by the clock to conclude, and he would therefore hasten his narrative as much as possible.
The Doctor, with great ingenuousness, confessed that he could gladly have passed a year or two longer in those distant and highly interesting portions of the earth; but he could not forget that he had a duty to perform to the friends of two noble families. The Journey of Trial had been completed under the most favorable auspices, and the ladies naturally became anxious to return home. They had accordingly passed into Great Britain, a country remarkable for maritime enterprise, where he immediately commenced the necessary preparations for their sailing. A ship had been procured under the promise of allowing it to be freighted, free of customhouse charges, with the products of Leaphigh. A thousand applications had been made to him for permission to be of his party, the natives naturally enough wishing to see a civilized country; but prudence had admonished him to accept of those only who were the most likely to make themselves useful. The king of Great Britain, no mean prince in human estimation, had committed his only son and heir-apparent to his care, with a view to his improvement by travelling; and the lord high admiral himself had asked permission to take command of an expedition that was of so much importance to knowledge in general, and to his own profession in particular.
Here Dr. Reasono ascended our tribune and presented Bob to the academy as the Prince-Royal of Great Britain, and Captain Poke as her lord high admiral! He pointed out certain peculiarities about the former, the smut in particular, which had become pretty effectually incorporated with the skin, as so many signs of royal birth; and ordering the youngster to uncase, he drew forth the union-jack that the lad carefully kept about his nether part as a fender, and exhibited it as his armorial bearings -- a modification of its uses that would not have been very far out of the way, had another limb been substituted for the agent. As for Captain Poke, he requested the academicians to study his nautical air in general, as furnishing sufficient proof of his pursuits, and of the ordinary appearance of human sea-men.
Turning to me, I was then introduced to all present as the travelling governor and personal attendant of Bob, and as a very respectable person in my way. He added, that he believed, also, I had some pretension to be the discoverer of something that was called the social-stake system; which, he dared to say, was a very creditable discovery for one of my opportunities.
By this prompt substitution of employments, I found I had effectually changed places with the cabin-boy; who, instead of waiting on me, was, in future, to receive that trifling attention at my hands. The mates were presented as two rear-admirals at nurse, and the crew was said to be composed of so many post-captains in the navy of Great Britain. To conclude, the audience was given to understand that we were all brought to Leaphigh, like the minerals from St. Helena, as so many specimens of the human species!
I shall not deny that Dr. Reasono had taken a very different view of himself and his acts, as well as of me and my acts, from those I had all along entertained myself; and yet, on reflection, it is so common to consider ourselves in lights very different from those in which we are viewed by others that I could not, on the whole, complain as much of his representations as I had at first thought it might become me to do. At all events, I was completely spared the necessity of blushing for my generosity and disinterestedness, and in other respects was saved the pain of viewing any part of my own conduct under a consciousness of its attracting attention by its singularity on the score of merit. I must say, nevertheless, that I was both surprised and a little indignant; but the sudden and unexpected turn that had been given to the whole affair, threw me so completely off my centre, that for the life of me, I could not say a word in my own behalf. To make the matter worse, that monkey Chatterino nodded to me kindly, as if he would show the spectators that, on the whole, he thought me a very good sort of fellow!
After the lecture was over, the audience approached to examine us, taking a great many amiable liberties with our persons, and otherwise showing that we were deemed curiosities worthy of their study. The king's cousin, too, was not neglectful of us, but he had it announced to the assembly that we were entirely welcome to Leaphigh; and that, out of respect to Dr. Reasono, we were all promoted to the dignity of "honorary monikins," for the entire period of our stay in the country. He also caused it to be proclaimed that, if the boys annoyed us in the streets, they should have their tails curled with birch curling- irons. As for the Doctor himself, it was proclaimed that, in addition to his former title of F. U. D. G. E., he was now perferred* to be even M. O. R. E., and that he was also raised to the dignity of an H. O. A. X., the very highest honor to which any savant of Leaphigh could attain. [*sic]
At length curiosity was appeased, and we we're permitted to descend from the tribune; the company ceasing to attend to us, in order to pay attention to each other. As I had time now to recollect myself, I did not lose a moment in taking the two mates aside, to present a proposition that we should go, in a body, before a notary, and enter a protest against the unaccountable errors into which Dr. Reasono had permitted himself to fall, whereby the truth was violated, the rights of persons invaded, humanity dishonored, and the Leaphigh philosophy misled. I cannot say that my arguments were well received; and I was compelled to quit the two rear-admirals, and to go in quest of the crew, with the conviction that the former had been purchased. An appeal to the reckless, frank, loyal natures of the common seamen, I thought, would not fail to meet with better success. Here, too, I was fated to encounter disappointment. The men swore a few hearty oaths, and affirmed that Leaphigh was a good country. They expected pay and rations, as a matter of course, in proportion to their new rank; and having tasted the sweets of command, they were not yet prepared to quarrel with their good fortune, and to lay aside the silver tankard for the tar-pot.
Quitting the rascals, whose heads really appeared to be turned by their unexpected elevation, I determined to hunt up Bob, and by dint of Mr. Poke's ordinary application, compel him, at least, in despite of the union-jack, to return to a sense of his duty, and to reassume his old post as the servitor of my wants. I found the little blackguard in the midst of a bevy of monikinas of all ages, who were lavishing their attentions on his worthless person, and otherwise doing all they could to eradicate everything like humility, or any good quality that might happen to remain in him. He certainly gave me a fair opportunity to commence the attack, for he wore the union jack over his shoulder, in the manner of a royal mantle, while the females of inferior rank pressed about him to kiss its hem! The air with which he received this adulation, fairly imposed on even me; and fearful that the monikinas might mob me, should I attempt to undeceive them -- for monikinas, let them be of what species they may, always hug a delusion -- I abandoned my hostile intentions for the moment, and hurried after Mr. Poke, little doubting my ability of bringing one of his natural rectitude of mind to a right way of thinking.
The captain heard my remonstrances with a decent respect. He even seemed to enter into my feelings with a proper degree of sympathy. He very frankly admitted that I had not been well treated by Dr. Reasono, and he appeared to think that a private conversation with that individual might yet possibly have the effect of bringing him to a more reasonable representation of facts. But, as to any sudden and violent appeal to public opinion for justice, or an ill-advised recourse to a notary, he strenuously objected to both. The purport of his remarks was somewhat as follows: --
He was not acquainted with the Leaphigh law of protests, and, in consequence, we might spend our money in paying fees, without reaping any advantage; the Doctor, moreover, was a philosopher, an F. U. D. G. E., and an H. O. A. X., and these were fearful odds to contend against in any country, and more especially in a foreign country; he had an innate dislike for lawsuits; the loss of my station was certainly a grievance, but still it might be borne; as for himself, he never asked for the office of lord high admiral of Great Britain, but as it had been thrust upon him, why, he would do his best to sustain the character; he knew his friends at Stunin'tun would be glad to hear of his promotion, for, though in his country there were no lords, nor even any admirals, his countrymen were always exceedingly rejoiced whenever any of their fellow-citizens were preferred to those stations by anybody but themselves, seeming to think an honor conferred on one, was an honor conferred on the whole nation; he liked to confer honor on his own nation, for no people on 'arth tuck up a notion of this sort and divided it among themselves in a way to give each a share, sooner than the people of the States, though they were very cautious about leaving any portion of the credit in first hands, and therefore he was disposed to keep as much as he could while it was in his power; he believed he was a better seaman than most of the lord high admirals who had gone before him, and he had no fears on that score; he wondered whether his promotion made Miss Poke lady high admiral; as I seemed greatly put out about my own rank, he would give me the acting appointment of a chaplain (he didn't think I was qualified to be a sea-officer), and do doubt I had interest enough at home to get it confirmed; a great statesman in his country had said "that few die and none resigned," and he didn't like to be the first to set new fashions; for his part, he rather looked upon Dr. Reasono as his friend, and it was unpleasant to quarrel with one's friends; he was willing to do anything in reason, but resign, and if I could persuade the Doctor to say he had fallen into a mistake in my particular case, and that I had been sent to Leaphigh as a lord high ambassador, lord high priest, or lord high anything else, except lord high admiral, why, he was ready to swear to it -- though he now gave notice, that in the event of such an arrangement, he should claim to rank me in virtue of the date of his own commission; if he gave up his appointment a minute sooner than was absolutely necessary, he should lose his own self-respect, and never dare look Miss Poke in the face again -- on the whole, he should do no such thing; and, finally, he wished me a good morning, as he was about to make a call on the lord high admiral of Leaphigh.
I had reached the great square, when a tap on the knee drew my attention to one at my side. The applicant for notice was a monikin, who had all the physical peculiarities of a subject of Leaphigh, and yet, who was to be distinguished from most of the inhabitants of that country, by a longer and less cultivated nap to his natural garment, greater shrewdness about the expression of the eyes and the mouth, a general air of business, and, for a novelty, a bob-cauda. He was accompanied by positively the least well-favored being of the species I had yet seen. I was addressed by the former.
"Good morning, Sir John Goldencalf," he commenced, with a sort of jerk, that I afterwards learned was meant for a diplomatic salutation; "you have not met with the very best treatment to-day, and I have been waiting for a good opportunity to make my condolences, and to offer my services."
"Sir, you are only too good. I do feel a little wronged, and, I must say, sympathy is most grateful to my feelings. You will, however, allow me to express my surprise at your being acquainted with my real name, as well as with my misfortunes?"
"Why, sir, to own the truth, I belong to an examining people. The population is very much scattered in my country, and we have fallen into a practice of inquiry that is very natural to such a state of things. I think you must have observed that in passing along a common highway, you rarely meet another without a nod; while thousands are met in a crowded street without even a glance of the eye. We develop this principle, sir; and never let any fact escape us for the want of a laudable curiosity."
"You are not a subject of Leaphigh, then?"
"God forbid! No, sir, I am a citizen of Leaplow, a great and a glorious republic that lies three days' sail from this island; a new nation, which is in the enjoyment of all the advantages of youth and vigor, and which is a perfect miracle for the boldness of its conceptions, the purity of its institutions, and its sacred respect for the rights of monikins. I have the honor to be, moreover, the envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary of the republic to the king of Leaphigh, a nation from which we originally sprung, but which we have left far behind us in the race of glory and usefulness. I ought to acquaint you with my name, sir, in return for the advantage I possess on this head, in relation to yourself."
Hereupon my new acquaintance put into my hand one of his visiting- cards, which contained as follows: --
"You will permit me to observe, however, General -- a -- a Judge -- a -- a-I scarcely know, dear sir, which of these titles is the most to your taste?"
"Use which you please, sir -- I began with General, but had got as low as Colonel before I left home. People's Friend is the only appellation of which I am at all tenacious. Call me People's Friend, sir, and you may call me anything else you find most convenient."
"Sir, you are only too obliging. May I venture to ask if you have really, propriâ personâ, filled all these different stations in life?"
"Certainly, sir -- I hope you do not mistake me for an impostor!"
"As far from it as possible. -- But a judge and a commodore, for instance, are characters whose duties are so utterly at variance in human affairs, that I will allow I find the conjunction, even in a monikin, a little extraordinary."
"Not at all, sir. I was duly elected to each, served my time out in them all, and have honorable discharges to show in every instance."
"You must have found some perplexity in the performance of duties so very different?"
"Ah -- I see you have been long enough in Leaphigh to imbibe some of its prejudices! It is a sad country for prejudice. I got my foot mired in some of them myself, as soon as it touched the land. Why sir, my card is an illustration of what we call, in Leaplow, rotation in office."
"Rotation in office!"
"Yes, sir, rotation in office; a system that we invented for our personal convenience, and which is likely to be firm, as it depends on principles that are eternal."
"Will you suffer me to inquire, colonel, if it has any affinity to the social-stake system?"
"Not in the least. That, as I understand it, is a stationary, while this is a rotatory system. Nothing is simpler. We have in Leaplow two enormous boxes made in the form of wheels. Into one we put the names of the citizens, and into the other the names of the offices. We then draw forth, in the manner of a lottery, and the thing is settled for a twelvemonth."
"I find this rotatory plan exceedingly simple -- pray, sir, does it work as well as it promises?"
"To perfection. -- We grease the wheels, of course, periodically."
"And are not frauds sometimes committed by those who are selected to draw the tickets?"
"Oh! they are chosen precisely in the same way."
"But those who draw their tickets?"
"All rotatory -- they are drawn exactly on the same
"But there must be a beginning. Those, again, who draw their tickets -- they may betray their trusts?"
"Impossible -- they are always the most patriotic patriots of the land! No, no, sir -- we are not such dunces as to leave anything to corruption. Chance does it all. Chance makes me a commodore to-day-a judge to-morrow. Chance makes the lottery boys, and chance makes the patriots. It is necessary to see in order to understand how much purer and useful is your chance patriot, for instance, than one that is bred to the calling."
"Why, this savors, after all, of the doctrine of descents, which is little more than matter of chance."
"It would be so, sir, I confess, were it not that our chances centre in a system of patriots. Our approved patriots are our guarantees against abuses -- "
"Hem!" -- interrupted the companion of Commodore People's Friend, with an awkward distinctness, as if to recall himself to our recollection.
"Sir John, I crave pardon for great remissness -- allow me to present my fellow-citizen, Brigadier Downright, a gentleman who is on his travels, like yourself; and as excellent a fellow as is to be found in the whole monikin region."
"Brigadier Downright, I crave the honor of your acquaintance. -- But, gentlemen, I too have been sadly negligent of politeness. A banquet that has cost a hundred promises is waiting my appearance; and, as some of the expected guests are unavoidably absent, if you would favor me with your excellent society, we might spend an agreeable hour, in the further discussion of these important interests."
As neither of the strangers made the smallest objection to the proposal, we were all soon comfortably situated at the dinner-table. The commodore, who, it would seem, was habitually well fed, merely paid a little complimentary attention to the banquet; but Mr. Downright attacked it tooth and nail, and I had no great reason to regret the absence of Mr. Poke. In the meantime, the conversation did not flag.
"I think I understand the outline of your system, Judge People's Friend," I resumed, "with the exception of the part that relates to the patriots. Would it be asking too much to request a little explanation on that particular point?"
"Not in the least, sir. Our social arrangement is founded on a hint from nature; a base, as you will concede, that is broad enough to sustain a universe. As a people, we are a hive that formerly swarmed from Leaphigh; and finding ourselves free and independent, we set about forthwith building the social system on not only a sure foundation, but on sure principles. Observing that nature dealt in duplicates, we pursued the hint, as the leading idea -- "
"In duplicates, commodore!"
"Certainly, Sir John -- a monikin has two eyes two ears, two nostrils, two lungs, two arms, two hands, two legs, two feet, and so on to the end of the chapter. On this hint, we ordered that there should be drawn, morally, in every district of Leaplow, two distinct and separate lines, that should run at right angles to each other. These were termed the "political landmarks" of the country; and it was expected that every citizen should range himself along one or the other. All this you will understand, however, was a moral contrivance, not a physical one."
"Is the obligation of this moral contrivance imperative?"
"Not legally, it is true; but then, he who does not respect it is like one who is out of fashion, and he is so generally esteemed a poor devil, that the usage has a good deal more than the force of a law. At first, it was intended to make it a part of the constitution; but one of our most experienced statesmen so clearly demonstrated that, by so doing, we should not only weaken the nature of the obligation, but most probably raise a party against it, that the idea was abandoned. Indeed, if anything, both the letter and the spirit of the fundamental law have been made to lean a little against the practice; but having been cleverly introduced, in the way of construction, it is now bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Well, sir, these two great political landmarks being fairly drawn, the first effort of one who aspires to be thought a patriot is to acquire the practice of 'toeing the mark' promptly and with facility. But should I illustrate my positions by a few experiments, you might comprehend the subject all the better. -- For though, in fact, the true evolutions are purely moral, as I have just had the honor to explain, yet we have instituted a physical parallel that is very congenial to our habits, with which the neophyte always commences."
Here the commodore took a bit of chalk and drew two very distinct lines, crossing each other at right angles, through the centre of the room. When this was done, he placed his feet together, and then he invited me to examine if it were possible to see any part of the planks between the extremities of his toes and the lines. After a rigid look, I was compelled to confess it was not.
"This is what we call 'toeing the mark'; it is social position, No. 1. Almost every citizen gets to be expert in practising it, on one or the other of the two great political lines. After this, he who would push his fortunes further, commences his career on the great rotatory principle."
"Your pardon, commodore, we call the word rotary, in English."
"Sir, it is not expressive enough for our meaning; and therefore we term it 'rotatory.' I shall now give you an example of position No. 2."
Here the commodore made a spring, throwing his body, as a soldier would express it, to the "right about," bringing, at the same time, his feet entirely on the other side of the line; always rigidly toeing the mark.
"Sir," said I, "this was extremely well done; but is this evolution as useful as certainly it is dexterous?"
"It has the advantage of changing front, Sir John; a manoeuvre quite as useful in politics as in war. Most all in the line get to practise this, too, as my friend Downright, there, could show you, were he so disposed."
"I don't like to expose my flanks, or my rear, more than another," growled the brigadier.
"If agreeable, I will now show you gyration 2d, or position No. 3."
On my expressing a strong desire to see it, the commodore put himself again in position No. 1; and then he threw what Captain Poke was in the habit of calling a "flap- jack," or a summerset; coming down in a way tenaciously to toe the mark.
I was much gratified with the dexterity of the commodore, and frankly expressed as much; inquiring, at the same time, if many attained to the same skill. Both the commodore and the brigadier laughed at the simplicity of the question; the former answering that the people of Leaplow were exceedingly active and adventurous, and both lines had got to be so expert, that, at the word of command, they would throw their summersets in as exact time, and quite as promptly, as a regiment of guards would go through the evolution of slapping their cartridge- boxes.
"What, sir," I exclaimed, in admiration, "the entire population!"
"Virtually, sir. There is, now and then, a stumbler; but he is instantly kicked out of sight, and uniformly counts for nothing."
"But as yet, commodore, your evolutions are altogether too general to admit of the chance selection of patriots, since patriotism is usually a monopoly."
"Very true, Sir John; I shall therefore come to the main point without delay. Thus far, it is pretty much an affair of the whole population, as you say; few refusing to toe the mark, or to throw the necessary flap-jacks, as you have ingeniously termed them. The lines, as you may perceive, cross each other at right angles; and there is consequently some crowding, and occasionally, a good deal of jostling, at and near the point of junction. We begin to term a monikin a patriot when he can perform this evolution."
Here the commodore threw his heels into the air with such rapidity that I could not very well tell what he was about, though it was sufficiently apparent that he was acting entirely on the rotatory principle. I observed that he alighted, with singular accuracy, on the very spot where he had stood before, toeing the mark with beautiful precision.
"That is what we call gyration 3d, or position No. 4. He who can execute it is considered an adept in our politics; and he invariably takes his position near the enemy, or at the junction of the hostile lines."
"How, sir, are these lines, then, manned as they are with citizens of the same country, deemed hostile?"
"Are cats and dogs hostile, sir? -- Certainly. Although standing, as it might be, face to face, acting on precisely the same principle, or the rotatory impulse, and professing to have exactly the same object in view, viz., the common good, they are social, political, and I might almost say, the moral antipodes of each other. They rarely intermarry, never extol, and frequently refuse to speak to one another. In short, as the brigadier could tell you, if he were so disposed, they are antagonist, body and soul. To be plain, sir, they are enemies."
"This is very extraordinary for fellow-citizens!"
"'Tis the monikin nature," observed Mr. Downright; "no doubt, sir, men are much wiser?"
As I did not wish to divert the discourse from the present topic, I merely bowed to this remark, and begged the judge to proceed.
"Well, sir," continued the latter, "you can easily imagine that they who are placed near the point where the two lines meet, have no sinecures. To speak the truth, they blackguard each other with all their abilities, he who manifests the most inventive genius in this high accomplishment, being commonly thought the cleverest fellow. Now, sir, none but a patriot could, in the nature of things, endure this without some other motive than his country's good, and so we esteem them."
"But the most patriotic patriots, commodore?"
The minister of Leaphigh now toed the mark again, placing himself within a few feet of the point of junction between the two lines, and then he begged me to pay particular attention to his evolution. When all was ready, the commodore threw himself, as it were, invisibly into the air, again head over heels, so far as I could discover, and alighted on the antagonist line, toeing the mark with a most astonishing particularity. It was a clever gyration, beyond a doubt; and the performer looked towards me, as if inviting commendation.
"Admirably executed, judge, and in a way to induce one to believe that you must have paid great attention to the practice."
"I have performed this manoeuvre, Sir John, five times in real life; and my claim to be a patriotic patriot is founded on its invariable success. A single false step might have ruined me; but as you say, practice makes perfect, and perfection is the parent of success."
"And yet I do not rightly understand how so sudden a desertion of one's own side, to go over in this active manner head over heels, I may say, to another side, constitutes a fair claim to be deemed so pure a character as that of a patriot."
"What, sir, is not he who throws himself defencelessly into the very middle of the ranks of the enemy, the hero of the combat? Now, as this is a political struggle, and not a warlike struggle, but one in which the good of the country is alone uppermost, the monikin who thus manifests the greatest devotion to the cause, must be the purest patriot. I give you my honor, sir, all my own claims are founded entirely on this particular merit."
"He is right, Sir John; you may believe every word he says," observed the brigadier, nodding.
"I begin to understand your system, which is certainly well adapted to the monikin habits, and must give rise to a noble emulation in the practice of the rotatory principle. But I understood you to say, colonel, that the people of Leaplow are from the hive of Leaphigh?"
"Just so, sir."
"How happens it, then, that you dock yourselves of the nobler member, while the inhabitants of this country cherish it as the apple of the eye -- nay, as the seat of reason itself?"
"You allude to our tails? -- Why, sir, nature has dealt out these ornaments with a very unequal hand, as you may perceive on looking out of the window. We agree that the tail is the seat of reason, and that the extremities are the most intellectual parts; but, as governments are framed to equalize these natural inequalities, we denounce them as anti-republican. The law requires, therefore, that every citizen, on attaining his majority, shall be docked agreeably to a standard measure that is kept in each district. Without some such expedient, there might be an aristocracy of intellect among us, and there would be an end of our liberties. This is the qualification of a voter, too, and of course we all seek to obtain it."
Here the brigadier leaned across the table and whispered that a great patriot, on a most trying occasion, had succeeded in throwing a summerset out of his own into the antagonist line, and that, as he carried with him all the sacred principles for which his party had been furiously contending for many years, he had been unceremoniously dragged back by his tail, which unfortunately came within reach of those quondam friends on whom he had turned his back; and that the law had, in truth, been passed in the interests of the patriots. He added, that the lawful measure allowed a longer stump than was commonly used; but that it was considered underbred for any one to wear a dock that reached more than two inches and three quarters of an inch into society, and that most of their political aspirants, in particular, chose to limit themselves to one inch and one quarter of an inch, as a proof of excessive humility.
Thanking Mr. Downright for his clear and sensible explanation, the conversation was resumed.
"I had thought, as your institutions are founded on reason and nature, judge," I continued, "that you would be more disposed ta cultivate this member than to mutilate it; and this the more especially, as I understand all monikins believe it to be the very quintessence of reason."
"No doubt, sir; we do cultivate our tails, but it is on the vegetable principle, or as the skilful gardener lops the branch that it may throw out more vigorous shoots. It is true, we do not expect to see the tail itself sprouting out anew; but then we look to the increase of its reason, and to its more general diffusion in society. The extremities of our cauda, as fast as they are lopped, are sent to a great intellectual mill, where the mind is extracted from the matter, and the former is sold, on public account, to the editors of the daily journals. This is the reason our Leaplow journalists are so distinguished for their ingenuity and capacity, and the reason, too, why they so faithfully represent the average of the Leaplow knowledge."
"And honesty, you ought to add," growled the brigadier.
"I see the beauty of the system, judge, and very beautiful it is! This essence of lopped tails represents the average of Leaplow brains, being a compound of all the tails in the country; and, as a daily journal is addressed to the average intellect of the community, there is a singular fitness between the readers and the readees. To complete my stock of information on this head, however, will you just allow me to inquire what is the effect of this system on the totality of Leaplow intelligence?"
"Wonderful! As we are a commonwealth, it is necessary to have a unity of sentiment on all leading matters, and by thus compounding all the extremes of our reasons we get what is called 'public opinion'; which public opinion is uttered through the public journals -- "
"And a most patriotic patriot is always chosen to be the inspector of the mill," interrupted the brigadier.
"Better and better! you send all the finer parts of your several intellects to be ground up and kneaded together; the compound is sold to the journalists, who utter it anew, as the results of the united wisdom of the country -- "
"Or, as public opinion. We make great account of reason in all our affairs, invariably calling ourselves the most enlightened nation on earth; but then we are especially averse to anything like an insulated effort of the mind, which is offensive, anti-republican, aristocratic and dangerous. We put all our trust in this representation of brains, which is singularly in accordance with the fundamental base of our society, as you must perceive."
"We are a commercial people, too," put in the brigadier; "and being much accustomed to the laws of insurance, we like to deal in averages."
"Very true, brother Downright, very true; we are particularly averse to anything like inequality. Ods zooks! it is almost as great an offence for a monikin to know more than his neighbors, as it is for him to act on his own impulses. No -- no -- we are truly a free and an independent commonwealth, and we hold every citizen as amenable to public opinion, in all he does, says, thinks, or wishes."
"Pray, sir, do both of the two great political lines send their tails to the same mills, and respect the same general sentiments?" "No, sir; we have two public opinions in Leaplow."
"Two public opinions!"
"Certainly, sir; the horizontal and the perpendicular."
"This infers a most extraordinary fertility of thought, and one that I hold to be almost impossible!"
Here the commodore and the brigadier incontinently both laughed as hard as they could; and that, too, directly in my face.
"Dear me, Sir John -- why, my dear Sir John! you are really the drollest creature!" -- gasped the judge, holding his sides -- "the very funniest question I have ev -- ev -- ever encountered!" He now stopped to wipe his eyes; after which he was better able to express himself. "The same public opinion, forsooth! -- Dear me -- dear me, that I should not have made myself understood! -- I commenced, my good Sir John, by telling you that we deal in duplicates, on a hint from nature; and that we act on the rotatory principle. In obedience to the first, we have always two public opinions; and, although the great political landmarks are drawn in what may be called a stationary sense, they, too, are in truth rotatory. One, which is thought to lie parallel to the fundamental law, or the constitutional meridian of the country, is termed the horizontal, and the other the perpendicular line. Now, as nothing is really stationary in Leaplow, these two great landmarks are always acting, likewise, on the rotatory principle, changing places periodically; the perpendicular becoming the horizontal, and vice versa; they who toe their respective marks, necessarily taking new views of things as they vary the line of sight. These great revolutions are, however, very slow, and are quite as imperceptible to those who accompany them, as are the revolutions of our planet to its inhabitants."
"And the gyrations of the patriots, of which the judge has just now spoken," added the brigadier, "are much the same as the eccentric movements of the comets that embellish the solar system, without deranging it by their uncertain courses."
"No, sir, we should be poorly off, indeed, if we had but ONE public opinion," resumed the judge. "Ecod, I do not know what would become of the most patriotic patriots in such a dilemma!"
"Pray, sir, let me ask, as you draw for places, if you have as many places as there are citizens?"
"Certainly, sir. Our places are divided, firstly, into the two great subdivisions of the 'inner' and the 'outer.' Those who toe the mark on the most popular line occupy the former, and those who toe the mark on the least popular line take all the rest, as a matter of course. The first, however, it is necessary to explain, are the only places worth having. As great care is had to keep the community pretty nearly equally divided -- "
"Excuse the interruption -- but in what manner is this effected?"
"Why, as only a certain number can toe the mark, we count all those who are not successful in getting up to the line, as outcasts; and, after fruitlessly hanging about our skirts for a time, they invariably go over to the other line; since it is better to be first in a village than second in Rome. We thus keep up something like an equilibrium in the state, which, as you must know, is necessary to liberty. The minority take the outer places, and all the inner are left to the majority. Then comes another subdivision of the places; that is to say, one division is formed of the honorary, and another of the profitable places. The honorary, or about nine-tenths of all the inner places, are divided, with great impartiality, among the mass of those who have toed the mark on the strongest side, and who usually are satisfied with the glory of the victory. The names of the remainder are put into the wheels to be drawn for against the prizes, on the rotatory principle."
"And the patriots, sir; -- are they included in this chance medley?"
"Far from it. As a reward for their dangers, they have a little wheel to themselves, although they, also, are compelled to submit to the rotatory principle. Their cases differ from those of the others, merely in the fact that they always get something."
I would gladly have pursued the conversation, which was opening a flood of light upon my political understanding; but just then, a fellow with the air of a footman entered, carrying a packet tied to the end of his cauda. Turning round, he presented his burden, with profound respect, and withdrew. I found that the packet contained three notes with the following addresses:
"To His Royal Highness Bob, Prince of Wales, &c., &c., &c."Apologizing to my guests, the seal of my own note was eagerly opened. It read as follows:
"To My Lord High Admiral Poke, &c., &c., &c."
"To Master Goldencalf, Clerk, &c., &c., &c."
"The Right Honorable the Earl of Chatterino, lord of the bed-chamber in waiting on his majesty, informs Master John Goldencalf, clerk, that he is commanded to attend the drawing-room, this evening, when the nuptial ceremony will take place between the Earl of Chatterino and the Lady Chatterissa, the first maid of honor to Her Majesty the Queen.On explaining the contents of my note to the judge, he informed me that he was aware of the approaching ceremony, as he had also an invitation to be present, in his official character. I begged, as a particular favor, England having no representative at Leaphigh, that he would do me the honor to present me, in his capacity of a foreign minister. The envoy made no sort of objection, and I inquired as to the costume necessary to be observed; as, so far as I had seen, it was good-breeding at Leaphigh to go naked. The envoy had the goodness to explain, that, although, in point of mere attire, clothing was extremely offensive to the people of both Leaphigh and Leaplow, yet, in the former country, no one could present himself at court, foreign ministers excepted, without a cauda. As soon as we understood each other on these points, we separated, with an understanding that I was to be in readiness (together with my companions, of whose interest I had not been forgetful) to attend the envoy and the brigadier, when they should call for me, at an hour that was named.
"N. B. The gentlemen will appear full dress."
I was greatly indebted to Noah, for his dexterity in helping me to a good fit with my court-dress. There was not time for much particularity, for we were in momentary expectation of Judge People's Friend's return. All we could do, therefore, was to make a belt of canvas (the captain being always provided with needles, palm, etc., in his bag), and to introduce the smaller end of the tail through a hole in the belt, drawing its base tight up to the cloth, which, in its turn, was stitched round our bodies. This was but an indifferent substitute for the natural appendage, it is true; and the hide had got to be so dry and unyielding, that it was impossible for the least observant person to imagine there was a particle of brains in it. The arrangement had also another disadvantage. The cauda stuck out nearly at right angles with the position of the body, and besides occupying much more space than would probably be permitted in the royal presence, "it gave any jackanapes," as Noah observed, "the great advantage over us, of making us yaw at pleasure, since he might use the outriggers as levers." But a seaman is inexhaustible in expedients. Two "backstays," or "bob- stays" (for the captain facetiously gave them both appellations) were soon "turned in," and the tails were "stayed in, in a way to bring them as upright as trysail masts"; to which spars, indeed, according to Noah's account of the matter, they bore no small resemblance.
The envoy-extraordinary of Leaplow, accompanied by his friend, Brigadier Downright, arrived just as we were dressed; and a most extraordinary figure the former cut, if truth must be said. Although obliged to be docked, according to the Leaplow law, to six inches, and brought down to a real bob, by both the public opinions of his country, for this was one of the few points on which these antagonist sentiments were perfectly agreed, he now appeared in just the largest brush I remember to have seen appended to a monikin! I felt a strong inclination to joke the rotatory republican on this coquetry; but then I remembered how sweet any stolen indulgence becomes; and, for the life of me, I could not give utterance to a bon- mot. The elegance of the minister was rendered the more conspicuous by the simplicity of the brigadier, who had contrived to moustache his dock, a very short one at the best, in such a manner as to render it nearly invisible. On my expressing a doubt to Mr. Downright about his being admitted in such a costume, he snapped his fingers, and gave me to understand he knew better. He appeared as a brigadier of Leaplow (I found afterwards that he was in truth no soldier, but that it was a fashion among his countrymen to travel under the title of brigadier), and this was his uniform; and he should like to see the chamberlain who would presume to call in question the state of his wardrobe! As it was no affair of mine, I prudently dropped the subject, and we were soon in the court of the palace.
I shall pass over the parade of guards, the state bands, the sergeant-trumpeters, the crowd of footmen and pages, and conduct the reader at once to the ante-chamber. Here we found the usual throng composed of those who live in the smiles of princes. There was a great deal of politeness, much bowing and curtseying, and the customary amount of genteel empressement to be the first to bask in the sunshine of royalty. Judge People's Friend, in his character of a foreign minister, was privileged; and we had enjoyed the private entree, and were now, of right, placed nearest to the great doors of the royal apartments. Most of the diplomatic corps were already in attendance, and, quite as a matter of course, there were a great many cordial manifestations, of the ardent attachment that bound them and their masters together, in the inviolable bonds of a most sacred amity. Judge People's Friend, according to his own account of the matter, represented a great nation -- a very great nation -- and yet I did not perceive that he met with a warm -- a very warm -- reception. However, as he seemed satisfied with himself, and all around him, it would have been unkind, not to say rude, in a stranger to disturb his self- esteem; and I took especial care, therefore, not to betray, by the slightest hint, my opinion that a good many near his person seemed to think him and his artificial queue somewhat in the way. The courtiers of Leaphigh, in particular, who are an exceedingly exclusive and fastidious corps, appeared to regard the privileges of the judge with an evil eye; and one or two of them actually held their noses as he flourished his brush a little too near their sacred faces, as if they found its odor out of fashion. While making these silent observations, a page cried out from the lower part of the saloon, "Room for His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Great Britain!" The crowd opened, and that young blackguard Bob walked up the avenue, in state. He wore the turnspit garment as the base of his toilet; but the superstructure was altogether more in keeping with the rascal's assumed character. The union- jack was thrown over his shoulder in the fashion of a mantle, and it was supported by the cook and steward of the Walrus (two blacks), both clothed as alligators. The kangaroo's tail was rigged in a way to excite audible evidences of envy in the heart of Mr. Poke. The stepping of it, the captain whispered, "did the young dog great credit, for it looked as natural as the best wig he had ever seen; and then, in addition to the bob-stay, it had two guys, which acted like the yoke-lines of a boat, or in such a way, that by holding one in each hand, the brush could be worked 'starboard and larboard' like a rudder." I have taken this description mainly from the mouth of the captain, and most sincerely do I hope it may be intelligible to the reader.
Bob appeared to be conscious of his advantages; for, on reaching the upper end of the room, he began whisking his tail, and flourishing it to the right and left, so as to excite a very perceptible and lively admiration in the mind of Judge People's Friend -- an effect that so much the more proved the wearer's address, for that high functionary was bound ex officio to entertain a sovereign contempt for all courtly vanities. I saw the eye of the captain kindle, however, and when the insolent young coxcomb actually had the temerity to turn his back on his master, and to work his brush under his very nose, human nature could endure no more. The right leg of my lord high admiral slowly retired, with somewhat of the caution of the cat about to spring, and then it was projected forward, with a rapidity that absolutely lifted the crown prince from the floor.
The royal self-possession of Bob could not prevent an exclamation of pain, as well as of surprise, and some of the courtiers ran forward involuntarily to aid him -- for courtiers always ran involuntarily to the succor of princes. At least a dozen of the ladies offered their smelling-bottles, with the most amiable assiduity and concern. To prevent any disagreeable consequences, however, I hastened to acquaint the crowd that in Great Britain, it is the usage to cuff and kick the whole royal family; and that, in short, it is no more than the customary tribute of the subject to the prince. In proof of what I said, I took good care to give the saucy young scoundrel a touch of my own homage. The monikins, who know that different customs prevail in different nations, hastened to compliment the young scion of royalty in the same manner; and both the cook and steward relieved their ennui by falling into the track of imitation. Bob could not stand the last applications; and he was about to beat a retreat, when the master of ceremonies appeared, to conduct him to the royal presence.
The reader is not to be misled by the honors that were paid to the imaginary crown prince, and to suppose that the court of Leaphigh entertained any peculiar respect for that of Great Britain. It was merely done on the principle that governed the conduct of our own learned sovereign, King James I., when he refused to see the amiable Pocahontas of Virginia, because she had degraded royalty by intermarrying with a subject. The respect was paid to the caste, and not to the individual, to his species, or to his nation.
Let his privileges come from what cause they would, Bob was glad enough to get out of the presence of Captain Poke -- who had already pretty plainly threatened, in the Stunin'tun dialect, to unship his cauda -- into that of the majesty of Leaphigh. A few minutes afterwards, the doors were thrown open, and the whole company advanced into the royal apartments.
The etiquette of the court of Leaphigh differs in many essential particulars from the etiquette of any other court in the monikin region. Neither the king, nor his royal consort, is ever visible to any one in the country, so far as is vulgarly known. On the present occasion, two thrones were placed at opposite extremities of the salon, and a magnificent crimson damask curtain was so closely drawn before each, that it was quite impossible to see who occupied it. On the lowest step there stood a chamberlain or a lady of the bedchamber, who, severally, made all the speeches, and otherwise enacted the parts of the illustrious couple. The reader will understand, therefore, that all which is here attributed to either of these great personages, was in fact performed by one or the other of the substitutes named, and that I never had the honor of actually standing face to face with their majesties. Everything that is now about to be related, in short, was actually done by deputy, on the part of the monarch and his wife.
The king himself merely represents a sentiment, all the power belonging to his eldest first cousin of the masculine gender, and any intercourse with him is entirely of a disinterested or of a sentimental character. He is the head of the church -- after a very secular fashion, however; -- all the bishops and clergy therefore got down on their knees and said their prayers; though the captain suggested that it might be their catechisms; I never knew which. I observed, also, that all his law officers did the same thing; but as they never pray, and do not know their catechisms, I presume the genuflections were to beg something better than the places they actually filled. After this, came a long train of military and naval officers, who, soldier-like, kissed his paw. The civilians next had a chance, and then it was our turn to be presented.
"I have the honor to present the lord high admiral of Great Britain to your majesty," said Judge People's Friend, who had waived his official privilege of going first, in order to do us this favor in person; it having been decided, on a review of all the principles that touched the case, that nothing human could take precedence of a monikin at court, always making the exception in favor of royalty, as in the case of Prince Bob.
"I am happy to see you at my court, Admiral Poke," the king politely rejoined, manifesting the tact of high rank in recognizing Noah by his family name, to the great surprise of the old sealer.
"You were about to remark? -- " most graciously inquired his majesty, a little at a loss to understand what his visitor would be at.
"Why, I could not contain my astonishment at your memory, Mr. King, which has enabled you to recall a name that you probably never before heard!"
There was now a great, and to me, a very unaccountable confusion in the circle. It would seem, that the captain had unwittingly trespassed on two of the most important of the rules of etiquette, in very mortal points. He had confessed to the admission of an emotion as vulgar as that of astonishment in the royal presence, and he had intimated that his majesty had a memory; a property of the mind which, as it might prove dangerous to the liberties of Leaphigh, were it left in the keeping of any but a responsible minister, it had long been decided it was felony to impute to the king. By the fundamental law of the land, the king's eldest firstcousin of the masculine gender, may have as many memories as he please, and he may use them, or abuse them, as he shall see fit, either in private or in the public service; but it is held to be utterly unconstitutional and unparliamentary, and, by consequence, extremely underbred, to insinuate, even in the most remote manner, that the king himself has either a memory, a will, a determination, a resolution, a desire, a conceit, an intention, or, in short, any other intellectual property, that of a "royal pleasure" alone excepted. It is both constitutional and parliamentary to say the king has a "royal pleasure" provided the context goes to prove that this "royal pleasure" is entirely at the disposition of his eldest first-cousin of the masculine gender.
When Mr. Poke was made acquainted with his mistake, he discovered a proper contrition; and the final decision of the affair was postponed, in order to have the opinion of the judges on the propriety of taking bail, which I promptly offered to put in, in behalf of my old shipmate. This disagreeable little interruption temporarily disposed of, the business of the drawing-room went on.
Noah was next conducted to the queen, who was much inclined (always by deputy) to overlook the little mistake into which he had fallen with her royal consort, and to receive him graciously.
"May it please your majesty, I have the honor to present to your majesty's royal notice the Lord Noah Poke, the lord high admiral of a distant and but little known country, called Great Britain," said the gold stick of the evening -- Judge People's Friend being afraid of committing Leaplow, and declining to introduce the captain to any one else.
"Lord Poke is a countryman of our royal cousin, the Prince Bob!" observed the queen, in an exceedingly gracious manner.
"No, marm," put in the sealer, promptly, "your cousin Bob is no cousin of mine; and if it were lawful for your majesty to have a memory, or an inclination, or anything else in that way, I should beg the favor of you to order the young blackguard to be soundly threshed."
The majesty of Leaphigh stood aghast, by proxy! It would seem Noah had now actually fallen into a more serious error than the mistake he had made with the king. By the law of Leaphigh, the queen is not a femme couverte. She can sue and be sued in her own name, holds her separate estate, without the intervention of trustees, and IS supposed to have a memory, a will, an inclination, or anything else in that way, except a "royal pleasure," to which she cannot, of right, lay claim. As to her, the king's first-cousin is a dead letter; he having no more control over her conscience than he has over the conscience of an apple-woman. In short, her majesty is quite as much the mistress of her own convictions and conscience as it probably ever falls to the lot of women in such high stations to be the mistress of interests that are of so much importance to those around them. Noah, innocently enough, I do firmly believe, had seriously wounded all those nice sensibilities which are naturally dependent on such an improved condition of society. Forbearance could go no further, and I saw, by the dark looks around me, that the captain had committed a serious crime. He was immediately arrested, and conducted from the presence to an adjoining room, into which I obtained admission, after a good deal of solicitation and some very strong appeals to the sacred character of the rights of hospitality.
It now appeared that, in Leaphigh, the merits of a law are decided on a principle very similar to the one we employ in England in judging of the quality of our wines, viz., its age. The older a law, the more it is to be respected, no doubt because, having proved its fitness by outlasting all the changes of society, it has become more mellow, if not more palatable. Now, by a law of Leaphigh that is coeval with the monarchy, he who offends the queen's majesty at a levee is to lose his head; and he who, under the same circumstances, offends the king's majesty, necessarily the more heinous offence, is to lose his tail. In consequence of the former punishment, the criminal is invariably buried, and he is consigned to the usual course of monikin regeneration and resuscitation; but in consequence of the latter, it is thought that he is completely thrown without the pale of reason, and is thereby consigned to the class of the retrogressive animals. His mind diminishes, and his body increases; the brain, for want of the means of development, takes the ascending movement of sap again; his forehead dilates; bumps reappear; and, finally, after passing gradually downwards in the scale of intellect, he becomes a mass of insensible matter. Such, at least, is the theory of his punishment.
By another law, that is even older than the monarchy, any one who offends in the king's palace may be tried by a very summary process, the king's pages acting as his judges; in which case the sentence is to be executed without delay.
Such was the dilemma to which Noah, by an indiscretion at court, was suddenly reduced; and, but for my prompt interference, he would probably have been simultaneously decapitated at both extremities, in obedience to an etiquette which prescribes that, under the circumstances of a court trial, neither the king's nor the queen's rights shall be entitled to precedence. In defence of my client I urged his ignorance of the usages of the country, and, indeed, of all other civilized countries, Stunnin'tun alone excepted. I stated that the criminal was an object altogether unworthy of their notice; that he was not a lord high admiral at all, but a mere pitiful sealer; I laid some stress on the importance of maintaining friendly relations with the sealers, who cruise so near the monikin region; I tried to convince the judges that Noah meant no harm in imputing moral properties to the king, and that so long as he did not impute immoral properties to his royal consort, she might very well afford to pardon him. I then quoted Shakspeare's celebrated lines on mercy, which seemed to be well enough received, and committed the whole affair to their better judgment.
I should have got along very creditably, and most probably obtained the immediate discharge of my friend, had not the attorney-general of Leaphigh been drawn by curiosity into the room. Although he had nothing to say to the merits of my arguments, he objected to every one of them, on the ground of formality. This was too long, and that was too short; one was too high, and another too low; a fifth was too broad, and a sixth too narrow; in short, there was no figure of speech of this nature to which he did not resort, in order to prove their worthlessness, with the exception that I do not remember he charged any of my reasons with being too deep.
Matters were now beginning to look serious for poor Noah, when a page came skipping in to say that the wedding was about to take place, and that if his comrades wished to witness it, they must sentence the prisoner without delay. Many a man, it is said, has been hanged, in order that the judge might dine; but, in the present instance, I do believe Captain Poke was spared, in order that his judges might not miss a fine spectacle. I entered into recognizance, in fifty thousand promises, for the due appearance of the criminal on the following morning; and we all returned, in a body, to the presence-chamber, treading on each other's tails, in the eagerness to be foremost.
Any one who has ever been at a human court, must very well know that, while it is the easiest thing in the world to throw it into commotion by a violation of etiquette, matters of mere life and death are not at all of a nature to disturb its tranquillity. There, everything is a matter of routine and propriety; and, to judge from experience, nothing is so unseemly as to appear to possess human sympathies. The fact is not very different at Leaphigh, for the monikin sympathies, apparently, are quite as obtuse as those of men; although justice compels me to allow, that in the case of Captain Poke, the appeal was made in behalf of a creature of a different species. It is also a settled principle of Leaphigh jurisprudence, that it would be monstrous for the king to interfere in behalf of justice- justice, however, being always administered in his name; although it certainly is not held to be quite so improper for him to interfere in behalf of those who have offended justice.
As a consequence of these nice distinctions, which it requires a very advanced stage of civilization fully to comprehend, both the king and queen received our whole party, when we came back into the presence, exactly as if nothing particular had occurred. Noah wore both head and tail erect, like another; and the lord high admiral of Leaphigh dropped into a familiar conversation with him, on the subject of ballasting ships, in just as friendly a manner as if he were on the best possible terms with the whole royal family. This moral sang froid is not to be ascribed to phlegm, but is, in fact, the result of high mental discipline, which causes the courtier to be utterly destitute of all feeling, except in cases that affect himself.
It was high time now that I should be presented. Judge People's Friend, who had witnessed the dilemma of Noah with diplomatic unconcern, very politely renewed the offer of his services in my favor, and I went forward and stood before the throne.
"Sire, allow me to present a very eminent literary character among men, a cunning clerk, by name Goldencalf," said the envoy, bowing to his majesty.
"He is welcome to my court," returned the king by proxy.
"Pray, Mr. People's Friend, is not this one of the human beings who have lately arrived in my dominions, and who have shown so much cleverness in getting Chatterino and his governor through the ice?"
"The very same, please your majesty; and a very arduous service it was, and right cleverly performed."
"This reminds me of a duty. -- Let my cousin be summoned."
I now began to see a ray of hope, and to feel the truth of the saying which teaches us that justice, though sometimes slow, never fails to arrive at last. I had also, now, and for the first time, a good view of the king's eldest first- cousin of the masculine gender, who drew near at the summons; and, while he had the appearance of listening with the most profound attention to the instructions of the king of Leaphigh, was very evidently telling that potentate what he ought to do. The conference ended, his majesty's proxy spoke in a way to be heard by all who had the good fortune to be near the royal person.
"Reasono did a good thing," he said; "really, a very good thing, in bringing us these specimens of the human family. But for his cleverness, I might have died without ever dreaming that men were gifted with tails." [Kings never get hold of the truth at the right end.] "I wonder if the queen knew it. Pray, did you know, my Augusta, that men had tails?"
"Our exemption from state affairs gives us females better opportunities than your majesty enjoys, to study these matters," returned his royal consort, by the mouth of her lady of the bedchamber.
"I dare say I'm very silly -- but our cousin, here, thinks it might be well to do something for these good people, for it may encourage their king himself to visit us some day."
An exclamation of pleasure escaped the ladies; who declared, one and all, it would be delightful to see a real human king -- it would be so funny!
"Well, well," added the good-natured monarch, "Heaven knows what may happen, for I have seen stranger things. Really, we ought to do something for these good people; for, although we owe the pleasure of their visit, in a great degree, to the cleverness of Reasono-who, by the way, I'm glad to hear is declared an H. O. A. X. -- yet he very handsomely admits, that but for their exertions -- none of our seamikins being within reach -- it would have been quite impossible to get through the ice. I wish I knew, now, which was the cleverest and the most useful of their party."
Here the queen, always thinking and speaking by proxy, suggested the propriety of leaving the point to Prince Bob.
"It would be no more than is due to his rank; for though they are men, I dare say they have feelings like ourselves."
The question was now submitted to Bob, who sat in judgment on us all, with as much gravity as if accustomed to such duties from infancy. It is said that men soon get to be familiar with elevation, and that, while he who has fallen never fails to look backwards, he who has risen invariably limits his vision to the present horizon. Such proved to be the case with the princely Bob.
"This person," observed the jackanapes, pointing to me, "is a very good sort of person, it is true, but he is hardly the sort of person your majesty wants just now. There is the lord high admiral, too-but -- " (Bob's but was envenomed by a thousand kicks!) -- "but -- you wish, sire, to know which of my father's subjects was the most useful in getting the ship to Leaphigh?"
"That is precisely the fact I desire to know."
Bob hereupon pointed to the cook; who, it will be remembered, was present as one of his train-bearers. "I believe I must say, sire, that this is the man. He fed us all; and without food, and that in considerable quantities, too, nothing could have been done."
The little blackguard was rewarded for his impudence, by exclamations of pleasure from all around him. -- "It was so clever a distinction," -- "it showed so much reflection," -- "it was so very profound," -- "it proved how much he regarded the base of society;"-in short, "it was evident England would be a happy country, when he should be called to the throne!" In the meantime the cook was required to come forth, and kneel before his majesty.
"What is your name?" whispered the lord of the bed- chamber, who now spoke for himself.
"Jack Coppers, your honor."
The lord of the bed-chamber made a communication to his majesty, when the sovereign turned round by proxy, with his back towards Jack, and, giving him the accolade with his tail, he bade him rise, as "Sir Jack Coppers."
I was a silent, an admiring, an astounded witness of this act of gross and flagrant injustice. Some one pulled me aside, and then I recognized the voice of Brigadier Downright.
"You think that honors have alighted where they are least due. You think that the saying of your crown prince has more smartness than truth, more malice than honesty. You think that the court has judged on false principles, and acted on an impulse rather than on reason; that the king has consulted his own ease in affecting to do justice; that the courtiers have paid a homage to their master, in affecting to pay a homage to merit; and that nothing in this life is pure or free from the taint of falsehood, selfishness, or vanity. Alas! this is too much the case with us monikins, I must allow; though, doubtless, among men you manage a vast deal more cleverly."
I was delighted to find that the clerical dogmas of this insulated portion of the world were based on principles absolutely identical with those of all Christendom. The monikins believe that they are a miserable lost set of wretches, who are so debased by nature, so eaten up by envy, uncharitableness, and all other evil passions, that it is quite impossible they can do anything that is good of themselves; that their sole dependence is on the moral interference of the great superior power of creation; and that the very first, and the one needful step of their own, is to cast themselves entirely on this power for support, in a proper spirit of dependence and humility. As collateral to, and consequent on, this condition of the mind, they lay the utmost stress on a disregard of all the vanities of life, a proper subjection of the lusts of the flesh, and an abstaining from the pomp and vainglory of ambition, riches, power, and the faculties. In short, the one thing needful was humility -- humility -- humility. Once thoroughly humbled to a degree that put them above the danger of backsliding, they obtained glimpses of security, and were gradually elevated to the hopes and the condition of the just.
The brigadier was still eloquently discoursing on this interesting topic, when a distant door opened, and a gold stick, or some other sort of stick, announced the right reverend father in God, his grace the most eminent and most serene prelate, the very puissant and thrice gracious and glorified saint, the Primate of All Leaphigh!
The reader will anticipate the eager curiosity with which I advanced to get a glimpse of a saint under a system as sublimated as that of the great monikin family. Civilization having made such progress as to strip all the people, even to the king and queen, entirely of everything in the shape of clothes, I did not well see under what new mantle of simplicity the heads of the church could take refuge! Perhaps they shaved off all the hair from their bodies in sign of supereminent self-abasement, leaving themselves naked to the cuticle, that they might prove, by ocular evidence, what a poor ungainly set of wretches they really were, carnally considered; or perhaps they went on all- fours to heaven, in sign of their unfitness to enter into the presence of the pure of mind in an attitude more erect and confident. Well, these fancies of mine only went to prove how erroneous and false are the conclusions of one whose capacity has not been amplified and concatenated by the ingenuities of a very refined civilization. His grace the most gracious father in God, wore a mantle of extraordinary fineness and beauty, the material of which was composed of every tenth hair taken from all the citizens of Leaphigh, who most cheerfully submitted to be shaved, in order that the wants of his most eminent humility might be decently supplied. The mantle, wove from such a warp and such a woof, was necessarily very large; and it really appeared to me that the prelate did not very well know what to do with so much of it, more especially as the contributions include a new robe annually. I was now desirous of getting a sight of his tail; for, knowing that the Leaphighers take great pride in the length and beauty of that appurtenance, I very naturally supposed that a saint who wore so fine and glorious a robe, by way of humility, must have recourse to some novel expedient to mortify himself on his sensitive subject, at least. I found that the ample proportions of the mantle concealed not only the person, but most of the movements of the archbishop; and it was with many doubts of my success that I led the brigadier behind the episcopal train to reconnoitre. The result disappointed expectation again. Instead of being destitute of a tail, or of concealing that with which nature had supplied him beneath his mantle, the most gracious dignitary wore no less than six caudæ, viz., his own, and five others added to it, by some subtle process of clerical ingenuity that I shall not attempt to explain; one "bent on the other," as the captain described them in a subsequent conversation. This extraordinary train was allowed to sweep the floor; the only sign of humility, according to my uninstructed faculties, I could discern about the person and appearance of this illustrious model of clerical self-mortification and humility.
The brigadier, however, was not tardy in setting me right. In the first place, he gave me to understand that the hierarchy of Leaphigh was illustrated by the order of their tails. Thus, a deacon wore one and a half; a curate, if a minister, one and three-quarters, and a rector two; a dean, two and a half, an archdeacon, three; a bishop, four; the Primate of Leaphigh, five, and the Primate of all Leaphigh, six. The origin of the custom, which was very ancient, and of course very much respected, was imputed to the doctrine of a saint of great celebrity, who had satisfactorily proved that as the tail was the intellectual or the spiritual part of a monikin, the farther it was removed from the mass of matter, or the body, the more likely it was to be independent, consecutive, logical, and spiritualized. The idea had succeeded astonishingly at first; but time, which will wear out even a cauda, had given birth to schisms in the church on this interesting subject; one party contending that two more joints ought to be added to the archbishop's embellishment, by way of sustaining the church, and the other that two joints ought to be incontinently abstracted, in the way of reform.
These explanations were interrupted by the appearance of the bride and bridegroom, at different doors. The charming Chatterissa advanced with a most prepossessing modesty, followed by a glorious train of noble maidens, all keeping their eyes, by a rigid ordinance of hymeneal etiquette, dropped to the level of the queen's feet. On the other hand, my lord Chatterino, attended by that coxcomb Hightail, and others of his kidney, stepped towards the altar with a lofty confidence, which the same etiquette exacted of the bridegroom. The parties were no sooner in their places, than the prelate commenced.
The marriage ceremony, according to the formula of the established church of Leaphigh, is a very solemn and imposing ceremony. The bridegroom is required to swear that he loves the bride and none but the bride; that he has made his choice solely on account of her merits, uninfluenced even by her beauty; and that he will so far command his inclinations as, on no account, ever to love another a jot. The bride, on her part, calls heaven and earth to witness, that she will do just what the bridegroom shall ask of her; that she will be his bondwoman, his slave, his solace and his delight; that she is quite certain no other monikin could make her happy, but, on the other hand, she is absolutely sure that any other monikin would be certain to make her miserable. When these pledges, oaths, and asseverations were duly made and recorded, the archbishop caused the happy pair to be wreathed together, by encircling them with his episcopal tail, and they were then pronounced monikin and monikina. I pass over the congratulations, which were quite in rule, to relate a short conversation I held with the brigadier.
"Sir," said I, addressing that person, as soon as the prelate said "amen," "how is this? I have seen a certificate, myself, which showed that there was a just admeasurement of the fitness of this union, on the score of other considerations than those mentioned in the ceremony?"
"That certificate has no connection with this ceremony."
"And yet this ceremony repudiates all the considerations enumerated in the certificate?"
"This ceremony has no connection with that certificate."
"So it would seem; and yet both refer to the same solemn engagement!"
"Why, to tell you the truth, Sir John Goldencalf, we monikins (for in these particulars Leaphigh is Leaplow) have two distinct governing principles in all that we say or do, which may be divided into the theoretical and the practical -- moral and immoral would not be inapposite -- but, by the first we control all our interests, down as far as facts, when we immediately submit to the latter. There may possibly be something inconsistent in appearance in such an arrangement; but then our most knowing ones say that it works well. No doubt among men, you get along without the embarrassment of so much contradiction."
I now advanced to pay my respects to the Countess of Chatterino, who stood supported by the countess-dowager, a lady of great dignity and elegance of demeanor. The moment I appeared, the elaborate air of modesty, vanished from the charming countenance of the bride, in a look of natural pleasure; and, turning to her new mother, she pointed me out as a man! The courteous old dowager gave me a very kind reception, inquiring if I had enough good things to eat, whether I was not much astonished at the multitude of strange sights I beheld in Leaphigh, said I ought to be much obliged to her son for consenting to bring me over, and invited me to come and see her some fine morning.
I bowed my thanks, and then returned to join the brigadier, with a view to seek an introduction to the archbishop. Before I relate the particulars of my interview with that pious prelate, however, it may be well to say that this was the last I ever saw of any of the Chatterino set, as they retired from the presence immediately after the congratulations were ended. I heard, however, previously to leaving the region, which was within a month of the marriage, that the noble pair kept separate establishments, on account of some disagreement about an incompatibility of temper -- or a young officer of the guards -- I never knew exactly which; but as the estates suited each other so well, there is little doubt that, on the whole, the match was as happy as could be expected.
The archbishop received me with a great deal of professional benevolence, the conversation dropping very naturally into a comparison of the respective religious systems of Great Britain and Leaphigh. He was delighted when he found we had an establishment; and I believe I was indebted to his knowledge of this fact for his treating me more as an equal than he might otherwise have done, considering the difference in species. I was much relieved by this; for, at the commencement of the conversation, he had sounded me a little on doctrine, at which I am far from being expert, never having taken an interest in the church, and I thought he looked frowning at some of my answers; but, when he heard that we really had a national religion, he seemed to think all safe, nor did he once, after that, inquire whether we were pagans or Presbyterians. But when I told him we had actually a hierarchy, I thought the good old prelate would have shaken my hand off, and beatified me on the spot!
"We shall meet in heaven some day!" he exclaimed, with holy delight; "men or monikins, it can make no great difference, after all. We shall meet in heaven; and that, too, in the upper mansions!"
The reader will suppose that, an alien, and otherwise unknown, I was much elated by this distinction. To go to heaven in company with the Archbishop of Leaphigh was in itself no small favor; but to be thus noticed by him at court was really enough to upset the philosophy of a stranger. I was sorely afraid, all the while, he would descend to particulars, and that he might have found some essential points of difference to nip his new-born admiration. Had he asked me, for instance, how many caudæ our bishops wear, I should have been badgered; for, as near as I could recollect, their personal illustration was of another character. The venerable prelate, however, soon gave me his blessing, pressed me warmly to come to his palace before I sailed, promised to send some tracts by me to England, and then hurried away, as he said, to sign a sentence of excommunication against an unruly presbyter, who had much disturbed the harmony of the church, of late, by an attempt to introduce a schism that he called "piety."
The brigadier and myself discussed the subject of religion at some length, when the illustrious prelate had taken his leave. I was told that the monikin world was pretty nearly equally divided into two parts, the old and the new. The latter had remained uninhabited, until within a few generations, when certain monikins, who were too good to live in the old world, emigrated in a body, and set up for themselves in the new. This, the brigadier admitted, was the Leaplow account of the matter; the inhabitants of the old countries, on the other hand, invariably maintaining that they had peopled the new countries by sending all those of their own communities there, who were not fit to stay at home. This little obscurity in the history of the new world, he considers of no great moment, as such trifling discrepancies must always depend on the character of the historian. Leaphigh was by no means the only country in the elder monikin region. There were among others, for instance, Leapup and Leapdown; Leapover and Leapthrough; Leaplong and Leapshort; Leapround and Leapunder. Each of these countries had a religious establishment, though Leaplow, being founded on a new social principle, had none. The brigadier thought, himself, on the whole, that the chief consequences of the two systems were, that the countries which had establishments had a great reputation for possessing religion, and those that had no establishments were well enough off in the article itself, though but indifferently supplied on the score of reputation.
I inquired of the brigadier if he did not think an establishment had the beneficial effect of sustaining truth, by suppressing heresies, limiting and curtailing prurient theological fancies, and otherwise setting limits to innovations. My friend did not absolutely agree with me in all these particulars; though he very frankly allowed that it had the effect of keeping TWO truths from falling out, by separating them. Thus, Leapup maintained one set of religious dogmas under its establishment, and Leapdown maintained their converse. By keeping these truths apart, no doubt, religious harmony was promoted, and the several ministers of the gospel were enabled to turn all their attention to the sins of the community, instead of allowing it to be diverted to the sins of each other, as was very apt to be the case when there was an antagonist interest to oppose.
Shortly after, the king and queen gave us all our conges. Noah and myself got through the crowd without injury to our trains, and we separated in the court of the palace; he to go to his bed and dream of his trial on the morrow, and I to go home with Judge People's Friend and the brigadier, who had invited me to finish the evening with a supper. I was left chatting with the last, while the first went into his closet to indite a dispatch to his government, relating to the events of the evening.
The brigadier was rather caustic in his comments on the incidents of the drawing-room. A republican himself, he certainly did love to give royalty and nobility some occasional rubs; though I must do this worthy, upright monikin the justice to say, he was quite superior to that vulgar hostility which is apt to distinguish many of his caste, and which is founded on a principle as simple as the fact that they cannot be kings and nobles themselves.
While we were chatting very pleasantly, quite at our ease, and in undress as it were, the brigadier in his bob, and I with my tail aside, Judge People's Friend rejoined us, with his dispatch open in his hand. He read aloud what he had written, to my great astonishment, for I had been accustomed to think diplomatic communications sacred. But the judge observed, that in this case it was useless to affect secrecy, for two very good reasons; firstly, because he had been obliged to employ a common Leaphigh scrivener to copy what he had written -- his government depending on a noble republican economy, which taught it that, if it did get into difficulties by the betrayal of its correspondence, it would still have the money that a clerk would cost, to help it out of the embarrassment; and, secondly, because he knew the government itself would print it as soon as it arrived. For his part, he liked to have the publishing of his own works. Under these circumstances, I was even allowed to take a copy of the letter, of which I now furnish a fac- simile.
The undersigned, envoy-extraordinary and ministerplenipotentiary of the North-Western Leaplow Confederate Union, has the honor to inform the secretary of state, that our interests in this portion of the earth are, in general, on the best possible footing; our national character is getting every day to be more and more elevated; our rights are more and more respected, and our flag is more and more whitening every sea. After this flattering and honorable account of the state of our general concerns, I hasten to communicate the following interesting particulars.
"The treaty between our beloved North-Western Confederate Union and Leaphigh, has been dishonored in every one of its articles; nineteen Leaplow seamen have been forcibly impressed into a Leapthrough vessel of war; the king of Leapup has made an unequivocal demonstration with a very improper part of his person, at us; and the king of Leapover has caused seven of our ships to be seized and sold, and the money to be given to his mistress.
"Sir, I congratulate you on this very flattering condition of our foreign relations; which can only be imputed to the glorious constitution of which we are the common servants, and to the just dread which the Leaplow name has so universally inspired in other nations.
"The king has just had a drawing-room, in which I took great care to see that the honor of our beloved country should be faithfully attended to. My cauda was at least three inches longer than that of the representative of Leapup, the minister most favored by nature in this important particular; and I have the pleasure of adding, that her majesty the queen deigned to give me a very gracious smile. Of the sincerity of that smile there can be no earthly doubt, sir; for, though there is abundant evidence that she did apply certain unseemly words to our beloved country lately, it would quite exceed the rules of diplomatic courtesy, and be unsustained by proof, were we to call in question her royal sincerity on this public occasion. Indeed, sir, at all the recent drawing-rooms I have received smiles of the most sincere and encouraging character, not only from the king, but from all his ministers, his first-cousin in particular; and I trust they will have the most beneficial effects on the questions at issue between the Kingdom of Leaphigh and our beloved country. If they would now only do us justice in the very important affair of the long-standing and long- neglected redress, which we have been seeking in vain at their hands for the last seventy-two years, I should say that our relations were on the best possible footing.
"Sir, I congratulate you on the profound respect with which the Leaplow name is treated, in the most distant quarters of the earth, and on the benign influence this fortunate circumstance is likely to exercise on all our important interests.
"I see but little probability of effecting the object of my special mission, but the utmost credit is to be attached to the sincerity of the smiles of the king and queen, and of all the royal family."
"In a late conversation with his majesty, he inquired in the kindest manner after the health of the Great Sachem [this is the title of the head of the Leaplow government], and observed that our growth and prosperity put all other nations to shame; and that we might, on all occasions, depend on his most profound respect and perpetual friendship. In short, sir, all nations, far and near, desire our alliance, are anxious to open new sources of commerce, and entertain for us the profoundest respect, and the most inviolable esteem. You can tell the Great Sachem that this feeling is surprisingly augmented under his administration, and that it has at least quadrupled during my mission. If Leaphigh would only respect its treaties, Leapthrough would cease taking our seamen, Leapup have greater deference for the usages of good society, and the king of Leapover would seize no more of our ships to supply his mistress with pocket-money, our foreign relations might be considered to be without spot. As it is, sir, they are far better off than I could have expected, or indeed had ever hoped to see them; and of one thing you may be diplomatically certain, that we are universally respected, and that the Leaplow name is never mentioned without all in company rising and waving their caudæ."
"(Signed.) JUDAS PEOPLE'S FRIEND."
Hon. -- -- -- -- -, &c."
P. S. (Private.)"
"Dear Sir: -- If you publish this dispatch, omit the part where the difficulties are repeated, I beg you will see that my name is put in with those of the other patriots, against the periodical rotation of the little wheel, as I shall certainly be obliged to return home soon, having consumed all my means. Indeed, the expense of maintaining a tail, of which our people have no notion, is so very great, that I think none of our missions should exceed a week in duration.When this letter was read, the conversation reverted to religion. The brigadier explained that the law of Leaphigh had various peculiarities on this subject, that I do not remember to have heard of before. Thus, a monikin could not be born without paying something to the church, a practice which early initiated him into his duties towards that important branch of the public welfare; and, even when he died, he left a fee behind him, for the parson, as an admonition to those who still existed in the flesh, not to forget their obligations. He added that this sacred interest was, in short, so rigidly protected, that, whenever a monikin refused to be plucked for a new clerical or episcopal mantle, there was a method of fleecing him, by the application of red-hot iron rods, which generally singed so much of his skin, that he was commonly willing, in the end, to let the hair-proctors pick and choose at pleasure.
"I would especially advise that the message should dilate on the subject of the high standing of the Leaplow character in foreign nations; for, to be frank with you, facts require that this statement should be made as often as possible."
I confess I was indignant at this picture, and did not hesitate to stigmatize the practice as barbarous.
"Your indignation is very natural, Sir John, and is just what a stranger would be likely to feel, when he found mercy, and charity, and brotherly love, and virtue, and, above all, humility, made the stalking-horses of pride, selfishness, and avarice. But this is the way with us monikins; no doubt, men manage better."
"Did you observe how the wind was this morning, Sir John, as you came in?" the straightforward sealer inquired, with a peculiar interest.
"It is a pleasant gale from the southward."
"Right off shore! If one knew where all them blackguards of rear admirals and post captains were to be found, I don't think, Sir, John, that you would care much about paying those fifty thousand promises?"
"My recognizances? -- Not in the least, my dear friend, were it not for our honor. It would scarcely be creditable for the Walrus to sail, however, leaving an unsettled account of her captain's behind us. What would they say at Stunin'tun -- what would your own consort think of an act so unmanly?"
"Why, at Stunin'tun, we think him the smartest who gets the easiest out of any difficulty; and I don't well see why Miss Poke should know it -- or, if she did, why she should think the worse of her husband, for saving his life."
"Away with these unworthy thoughts, and brace yourself to meet the trial. We shall, at least, get some insight into the Leaphigh jurisprudence. Come, I see you are already dressed for the occasion; let us be as prompt as duellists."
Noah made up his mind to submit with dignity; although he lingered in the great square, in order to study the clouds, in a way to show he might have settled the whole affair with the fore-topsail, had he known where to find his crew. Fortunately for the reputations of all concerned, however, he did not; and, discarding everything like apprehension from his countenance, the sturdy mariner entered the Old Bailey with the tread of a man and the firmness of innocence. I ought to have said sooner, that we had received notice early in the morning, that the proceedings had been taken from before the pages, on appeal, and that a new venue had been laid in the High Criminal Court of Leaphigh.
Brigadier Downright met us at the door; where also a dozen grave, greasy-looking counsellors gathered about us, in a way to show that they were ready to volunteer in behalf of the stranger, on receiving no more than the customary fee. But I had determined to defend Noah myself (the court consenting) for I had forebodings that our safety would depend more on an appeal to the rights of hospitality, than on any legal defence it was in our power to offer. As the brigadier kindly volunteered to aid me for nothing, I thought proper not to refuse his services, however.
I pass over the appearance of the court, the empanelling of the jury, and the arraignment; for, in matters of mere legal forms, there is no great difference between civilized countries, all of them wearing the same semblance of justice. The first indictment, for unhappily there were two, charged Noah with having committed an assault, with malice prepense, on the king's dignity, with "sticks, daggers, muskets, blunderbusses, air-guns, and other unlawful weapons, more especially with the tongue, in that he had accused his majesty, face to face, with having a memory, etc., etc." The other indictment, repeating the formula of the first, charged the honest sealer with feloniously accusing her majesty the queen, "in defiance of the law, to the injury of good morals and the peace of society, with having no memory, etc., etc." To both these charges the plea of "not guilty," was entered as fast as possible, in behalf of our client.
I ought to have said before, that both Brigadier Downright and myself had applied to be admitted of counsel for the accused, under an ancient law of Leaphigh, as next of kin; I as a fellow human being, and the brigadier by adoption.
The preliminary forms observed, the attorney-general was about to go into proof, in behalf of the crown, when my brother Downright arose and said that he intended to save the precious time of the court, by admitting the facts; and that it was intended to rest the defence altogether on the law of the case. He presumed the jury were the judges of the law as well as of the facts, according to the rule of Leaplow, and that "he and his brother Goldencalf were quite prepared to show that the law was altogether with us, in this affair." The court received the admission, and the facts were submitted to the jury, by consent, as proven; although the chief-justice took occasion to remark, Longbeard dissenting, that, while the jury were certainly judges of the law, in one sense, yet there was another sense in which they were not judges of the law. The dissent of Baron Longbeard went to maintain that while the jury were the judges of the law in the "another sense" mentioned, they were not judges of the law in the "one sense" named. This difficulty disposed of, Mr. Attorney- General arose and opened for the crown.
I soon found that we had one of a very comprehensive and philosophical turn of mind against us, in the advocate of the other side. He commenced his argument by a vigorous and lucid sketch of the condition of the world previously to the subdivisions of its different inhabitants into nations, and tribes, and clans, while in the human or chrysalis condition. From this statement, he deduced the regular gradations by which men become separated into communities, and subjected to the laws of civilization, or what is called society. Having proceeded thus far, he touched lightly on the different phases that the institutions of men had presented, and descended gradually and consecutively to the fundamental principles of the social compact, as they were known to exist among monikins. After a few general observations that properly belonged to the subject, he came to speak of those portions of the elementary principles of society that are connected with the rights of the sovereign. These he divided into the rights of the king's prerogative, the rights of the king's person, and the rights of the king's conscience. Here he again generalized a little, and in a very happy manner; so well, indeed, as to leave all his hearers in doubt as to what he would next be at; when, by a fierce logical swoop, he descended suddenly on the last of the king's rights, as the one that was most connected with the subject.
He triumphantly showed that the branch of the royal immunities that was chiefly affected by the offence of the prisoner at the bar, was very clearly connected with the rights of the king's conscience. "The attributes of royalty," observed the sagacious advocate, "are not to be estimated in the same manner as the attributes of the subject. In the sacred person of the king are centred many, if not most, of the interesting privileges of monikinism. That royal personage, in apolitical sense, can do no wrong: official infallibility is the consequence. Such a being has no occasion for the ordinary faculties of the monikin condition. Of what use, for instance, is a judgment, or a conscience, to a functionary who can do no wrong? The law, in order to relieve one on whose shoulders was imposed the burden of the state, had consequently placed the latter especially in the keeping of another. His majesty's first-cousin is the keeper of his conscience, as is known throughout the realm of Leaphigh. A memory is the faculty of the least account to a personage who has no conscience; and, while it is not contended that the sovereign is relieved from the possession of his memory by any positive statute law, or direct constitutional provision, it follows, by unavoidable implication, and by all legitimate construction, that, having no occasion to possess such a faculty, it is the legal presumption he is altogether without it.
"That simplicity, lucidity and distinctness, my lords," continued Mr. Attorney-General, "which are necessary to every well-ordered mind, would be impaired, in the case of his majesty, were his intellectual faculties unnecessarily crowded in this useless manner, and the state would be the sufferer. My lords, the king reigns, but he does not govern. This is a fundamental principle of the constitution; nay, it is more -- it is the palladium of our liberties! My lords, it is an easy matter to reign in Leaphigh. It requires no more than the rights of primogeniture, sufficient discretion to understand the distinction between reigning and governing, and a political moderation that is unlikely to derange the balance of the state. But it is quite a different thing to govern. His majesty is required to govern nothing, the slight interests just mentioned excepted; no, not even himself. The case is far otherwise with his first-cousin. This high functionary is charged with the important trust of governing. It had been found, in the early ages of the monarchy, that one conscience, or indeed one set of faculties generally, scarcely sufficed for him whose duty it was both to reign and to govern. We all know, my lords, how insufficient for our personal objects are our own private faculties; how difficult we find it to restrain even ourselves, assisted merely by our own judgments, consciences, and memories; and in this fact do we perceive the great importance of investing him who governs others, with an additional set of these grave faculties. Under a due impression of the exigency of such a state of things, the common law -- not statute law, my lords, which is apt to be tainted with the imperfections of monikin reason in its isolated or individual state, usually bearing the impress of the single cauda from which it emanated -- but the common law, the known receptacle of all the common sense of the nation -- in such a state of things, then, has the common law long since decreed that his majesty's first- cousin should be the keeper of his majesty's conscience; and, by necessary legal implication, endowed with his majesty's judgment, his majesty's reason, and finally, his majesty's memory.
"My lords, this is the legal presumption. It would, in addition, be easy for me to show, in a thousand facts, that not only the sovereign of Leaphigh, but most other sovereigns, are and ever have been, destitute of the faculty of a memory. It might be said to be incompatible with the royal condition to be possessed of this obtrusive faculty. Were a prince endowed with a memory, he might lose sight of his high estate, in the recollection that he was born, and that he is destined, like another, to die; he might be troubled with visions of the past; nay, the consciousness of his very dignity might be unsettled and weakened by a vivid view of the origin of his royal race. Promises, obligations, attachments, duties, principles, and even debts, might interfere with the due discharge of his sacred trusts, were the sovereign invested with a memory; and it has, therefore, been decided, from time immemorial, that his majesty is utterly without the properties of reason, judgment, and memory, as a legitimate inference from his being destitute of a conscience."
Mr. Attorney-General now directed the attention of the court and jury to a statute of the 3d of Firstborn 6th, by which it was enacted that any person attributing to his majesty the possession of any faculty, with felonious intent, that might endanger the tranquillity of the state, should suffer decaudization, without benefit of clergy. Here he rested the case on behalf of the crown.
There was a solemn pause, after the speaker had resumed his seat. His argument, logic, and above all, his good sense and undeniable law, made a very sensible impression; and I had occasion to observe that Noah began to chew tobacco ravenously. After a decent interval, however, Brigadier Downright -- who, it would seem, in spite of his military appellation, was neither more nor less than a practising attorney and counsellor in the city of Bivouac, the commercial capital of the Republic of Leaplow -- arose, and claimed a right to be heard in reply. The court now took it into its head to start the objection, for the first time, that the advocate had not been duly qualified to plead, or to argue, at their bar. My brother Downright instantly referred their lordships to the law of adoption, and to that provision of the criminal code which permitted the accused to be heard by his next of kin.
"Prisoner at the bar," said the chief-justice, "you hear the statement of counsel. Is it your desire to commit the management of your defence to your next of kin?"
"To anybody, your honors, if the court please," returned Noah, furiously masticating his beloved weed; "to anybody who will do it well, my honorables, and do it cheap."
"And do you adopt, under the provisions of the statute in such cases made and provided, Aaron Downright as one of your next of kin, and if so, in what capacity?"
"I do -- I do -- my lords and your honors -- I do, body and soul -- if you please, I adopt the brigadier as my father; and my fellow human being and tried friend, Sir John Goldencalf, here, I adopt him as my mother."
The court now formally assenting, the facts were entered of record, and my brother Downright was requested to proceed with the defence.
The counsel for the prisoner, like Dandin, in Racine's comedy of Les Plaideurs, was disposed to pass over the deluge, and to plunge instantly into the core of his subject. He commenced with a review of the royal prerogatives, and with a definition of the words "to reign." Referring to the dictionary of the academy, he showed triumphantly, that to reign, was no other than to "govern as a sovereign"; while to govern, in the familiar signification, was no more than to govern in the name of a prince, or as a deputy. Having successfully established this point, he laid down the position, that the greater might contain the less, but that the less could not possibly contain the greater. That the right to reign, or to govern, in the generic signification of the term, must include all the lawful attributes of him who only governed, in the secondary signification; and that, consequently, the king not only reigned, but governed. He then proceeded to show that memory was indispensable to him who governed, since, without one he could neither recollect the laws, make a suitable disposition of rewards and punishments, nor, in fact, do any other intelligent or necessary act. Again, it was contended that by the law of the land the king's conscience was in the keeping of his first-cousin. Now, in order that the king's conscience should be in such keeping, it was clear that he must have a conscience, since a nonentity could not be in keeping, or even put in commission; and, having a conscience, it followed, ex necessitate rei, that he must have the attributes of a conscience, of which memory formed one of the most essential features. Conscience was defined to be "the faculty by which we judge of the goodness or wickedness of our own actions. (See Johnson's Dictionary, page 162, letter C. London edition. Rivington, publisher.) Now, in what manner can one judge of the goodness or wickedness of his acts, or of those of any other person, if he knows nothing about them? and how can he know anything of the past, unless endowed with the faculty of a memory?"
Again; it was a political corollary from the institutions of Leaphigh, that the king could do no wrong --
"I beg your pardon, my brother Downright," interrupted the chiefjustice, "it is not a corollary, but a proposition -- and one, too, that is held to be demonstrated. It is the paramount law of the land."
"I thank you, my lord," continued the brigadier, "as your lordship's high authority makes my case so much the stronger. It is, then, settled law, gentle monikins of the jury, that the sovereign of this realm can do no wrong. It is also settled law -- their lordships will correct me, if I misstate -- it is also settled law that the sovereign is the fountain of honor, that he can make war and peace, that he administers justice, sees the laws executed -- "
"I beg your pardon, again, brother Downright," interrupted the chief-justice. "This is not the law, but the prerogative. It is the king's prerogative to be and do all this, but it is very far from being law."
"Am I to understand, my lord, that the court makes a distinction between that which is prerogative, and that which is law?"
"Beyond a doubt, brother Downright! If all that is prerogative was also law, we could not get on an hour."
"Prerogative, if your lordship pleases, or prerogativa, is defined to be 'an exclusive or peculiar privilege.' (Johnson. Letter P, page 139, fifth clause from bottom; edition as aforesaid. Speaking slow, in order to enable Baron Longbeard to make his notes.) Now, an exclusive privilege, I humbly urge, must supersede all enactments, and -- "
"Not at all, sir -- not at all, sir -- not at all, sir," put in my lord chief-justice, dogmatically- looking out of the window at the clouds, in a way to show that his mind was quite made up. "Not at all, good sir. The king has his prerogatives, beyond a question; and they are sacred -- a part of the constitution. They are, moreover, exclusive and peculiar, as stated by Johnson; but their exclusiveness and peculiarity are not to be constructed in the vulgar acceptations. In treating of the vast interests of a state, the mind must take a wide range; and I hold, brother Longbeard, there is no principle more settled than the fact, that prerogativa is one thing, and lex, or the law, another." The baron bowed assent. "By exclusion, in this case, is meant that the prerogative touches only his majesty. The prerogative is exclusively his property, and he may do what he pleases with it; but the law is made for the nation, and is altogether a different matter. Again: by peculiar, is clearly meant peculiarity, or that this case is analogous to no other, and must be reasoned on by the aid of a peculiar logic. No, sir -- the king can make peace and war, it is true, under his prerogative; but then his conscience is hard and fast in the keeping of another, who alone can perform all legal acts."
"But, my lord, justice, though administered by others, is still administered in the king's name."
"No doubt, in his name: this is a part of the peculiar privilege. War is made in his majesty's name, too -- so is peace. What is war? It is the personal conflicts between bodies of men of different nations. Does his majesty engage in these conflicts? Certainly not. The war is maintained by taxes. Does his majesty pay them? No. Thus we see that while the war is constitutionally the king's, it is practically the people's. It follows, as a corollary -- since you quote corollaries, brother Downright -- that there are two wars -- or the war of the prerogative, and the war of the fact. Now, the prerogative is a constitutional principle -- a very sacred one, certainly -- but a fact is a thing that comes home to every monikin's fireside; and therefore the courts have decided, ever since the reign of Timid II., or ever since they dared, that the prerogative was one thing, and the law another."
My brother Downright seemed a good deal perplexed by the distinctions of the court, and he concluded much sooner than he otherwise would have done; summing up the whole of his arguments, by showing, or attempting to show, that if the king had even these peculiar privileges, and nothing else, he must be supposed to have a memory.
The court now called upon the attorney-general to reply; but that person appeared to think his case strong enough as it was, and the matter, by agreement, was submitted to the jury, after a short charge from the bench.
"You are not to suffer your intellects to be confused, gentlemonikins, by the argument of the prisoner's counsel," concluded the chief-justice. "He has done his duty, and it remains for you to be equally conscientious. You are, in this case, the judges of the law and the fact; but it is a part of my functions to inform you what they both are. By the law, the king is supposed to have no faculties. The inference drawn by counsel, that, not being capable of erring, the king must have the highest possible moral attributes, and consequently a memory, is unsound. The constitution says his majesty can do no wrong. This inability may proceed from a variety of causes. If he can do nothing, for instance, he can do no wrong. The constitution does not say that the sovereign will do no wrong -- but, that he can do no wrong. Now, gentlemonikins, when a thing cannot be done, it becomes impossible; and it is, of course, beyond the reach of argument. It is of no moment whether a person has a memory, if he cannot use it, and, in such a case, the legal presumption is, that he is without a memory; for, otherwise, nature, who is ever wise and beneficent, would be throwing away her gifts.
"Gentlemonikins, I have already said you are the judges, in this case, of both the law and the fact. The fate of the prisoner is in your hands. God forbid that it should be, in any manner, influenced by me; but this is an offence against the king's dignity, and the security of the realm; the law is against the prisoner, the facts are all against the prisoner, and I do not doubt that your verdict will be the spontaneous decision of your own excellent judgments, and of such a nature as will prevent the necessity of our ordering a new trial."
The jurors put their tails together, and in less than a minute, their foremonikin rendered a verdict of guilty. Noah sighed, and took a fresh supply of tobacco.
The case of the queen was immediately opened by her majesty's attorney-general; the prisoner having been previously arraigned, and a plea entered of "not guilty."
The queen's advocate made a bitter attack on the animus of the unfortunate prisoner. He described her majesty as a paragon of excellences; as the depositary of all the monikin virtues, and the model of her sex. "If she, who was so justly celebrated for the gifts of charity, meekness, religion, justice, and submission to feminine duties, had no memory," he asked leave to demand, in the name of God, who had? "Without a memory, in what manner was this illustrious personage to recall her duties to her royal consort, her duties to her royal offspring, her duties to her royal self? Memory was peculiarly a royal attribute; and without its possession no one could properly be deemed of high and ancient lineage. Memory referred to the past, and the consideration due to royalty was scarcely ever a present consideration, but a consideration connected with the past. We venerated the past. Time was divided into the past, present, and future. The past was invariably a monarchical interest -- the present was claimed by republicans -- the future belonged to fate. If it were decided that the queen had no memory, we should strike a blow at royalty. It was by memory, as connected with the public archives, that the king derived his title to his throne; it was by memory, which recalled the deeds of his ancestors, that he became entitled to our most profound respect."
In this manner did the queen's attorney-general speak for about an hour, when he gave way to the counsel for the prisoner. But, to my great surprise, for I knew that this accusation was much the gravest of the two, since the head of Noah would be the price of conviction, my brother Downright, instead of making a very ingenious reply, as I had fully anticipated, merely said a few words, in which he expressed so firm a confidence in the acquittal of his client, as to appear to think a further defence altogether unnecessary. He had no sooner seated himself, than I expressed a strong dissatisfaction with this course, and avowed an intention to make an effort in behalf of my poor friend, myself.
"Keep silence, Sir John," whispered my brother Downright; "the advocate who makes many unsuccessful applications gets to be disrespected. I charge myself with the care of the lord high admiral's interests; at the proper time they shall be duly attended to."
Having the profoundest respect for the brigadier's legal attainments, and no great confidence in my own, I was fain to submit. In the meantime, the business of the court proceeded; and the jury, having received a short charge from the bench, which was quite as impartial as a positive injunction to convict could very well be, again rendered the verdict of "guilty."
In Leaphigh, although it is deemed indecent to wear clothes, it is also esteemed exceedingly decorous for certain high functionaries to adorn their persons with suitable badges of their official rank. We have already had an account of the hierarchy of tails, and a general description of the mantle composed of tenth-hairs; but I had forgotten to say that both my lord chief-justice and Baron Longbeard had tail-cases made of the skins of deceased monikins, which gave the appearance of greater development to their intellectual organs, and most probably had some influence in the way of coddling their brains, which required great care and attention on account of incessant use. They now drew over these tail-cases a sort of boxcoat of a very bloodthirsty color, which, we were given to understand, was a sign that they were in earnest, and about to pronounce sentence; justice in Leaphigh being of singularly bloodthirsty habits.
"Prisoner at the bar," the chief-justice began, in a voice of reproof, "you have heard the decision of your peers. You have been arraigned and tried on the heinous charge of having accused the sovereign of this realm of being in possession of the faculty called 'a memory,' thereby endangering the peace of society, unsettling the social relations, and setting a dangerous example of insubordination and of contempt of the laws. Of this crime, after a singularly patient and impartial hearing, you have been found guilty. The law allows the court no discretion in the case. It is my duty to pass sentence forthwith; and I now solemnly ask you, if you have anything to say why sentence of decaudization should not be pronounced against you. "Here the chief-justice took just time enough to gape, and then proceeded -- "You are right in throwing yourself altogether on the mercy of the court, which better knows what is fittest for you, than you can possibly know for yourself. You will be taken, Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color, forthwith, to the centre of the public square, between the hours of sunrise and sunset of this day, where your cauda will be cut off; and after it has been divided into four parts, a part will be exposed towards each of the cardinal points of the compass; and the brush thereof being consumed by fire, the ashes will be thrown into your face, and this without benefit of clergy. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul!"
"Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color," put in Baron Longbeard, without giving the culprit breathing-time, "you have been indicted, tried, and found guilty of the enormous crime of charging the queenconsort of this realm of being wanting in the ordinary, important, and every-day faculty of a memory. Have you anything to say why sentence should not be forthwith passed against you? No; I am sure you are very right in throwing yourself altogether on the mercy of the court, which is quite disposed to show you all that is in its power, which happens, in this case, to be none at all. I need not dwell on the gravity of your offence. If the law should allow that the queen has no memory, other females might put in claims to the same privilege, and society would become a chaos. Marriage vows, duties, affections, and all our nearest and dearest interests would be unhinged, and this pleasant state of being would degenerate into a moral, or rather an immoral pandemonium. Keeping in view these all-important considerations, and more especially the imperativeness of the law, which does not admit of discretion, the court sentences you to be carried hence, without delay, to the centre of the great square, where your head will be severed from your body by the public executioner, without benefit of clergy; after which your remains are to be consigned to the public hospitals for the purposes of dissection."
The words were scarcely out of Baron Longbeard's mouth, before both the attorneys-general started up, to move the court in behalf of the separate dignities of their respective principals. Mr. AttorneyGeneral of the crown prayed the court so far to amend its sentence, as to give precedency to the punishment on account of the offence against the king; and Mr. Attorney-General for the queen, to pray the court it would not be so far forgetful of her majesty's rights and dignity, as to establish a precedent so destructive of both. I caught a glimpse of hope glancing about the eyes of my brother Downright, who, waiting just long enough to let the two advocates warm themselves over these points of law, arose and moved the court for a stay of execution, on the plea that neither sentence was legal -- that delivered by my lord chief- justice containing a contradiction, inasmuch as it ordered the decaudization to take place between the hours of sunrise and sunset, and also forthwith; and that delivered by Baron Longbeard, on account of its ordering the body to be given up to dissection, contrary to the law, which merely made that provision in the case of condemned monikins, the prisoner at the bar being entirely of another species.
The court deemed all these objections serious, but decided on its own incompetency to take cognizance of them. It was a question for the twelve judges, who were now on the point of assembling, and to whom they referred the whole affair on appeal. In the meantime, justice could not be stayed. The prisoner must be carried out into the square, and matters must proceed; but, should either of the points be finally determined in his favor, he could have the benefit of it, so far as circumstances would then allow. Hereupon the court rose, and the judges, counsel, and clerks repaired in a body to the hall of the twelve judges.
The whole of the twelve wore tail-cases, and altogether they presented a formidable array of intellectual development. As the cause of Noah was admitted to be one of more than common urgency, after hearing only three or four other short applications on behalf of the crown, whose rights always have precedence on such occasions, the attorney-general of the king was desired to open his case.
The learned counsel spoke, in anticipation, to the objections of both his adversaries, beginning with those of my brother Downright. Forthwith, he contended, might be at any period of the twenty-four hours, according to the actual time of using the term. Thus, forthwith of a morning, would mean in the morning; forthwith at noon, would mean at noon; and so on to the close of the legal day. Moreover, in a legal signification, forthwith must mean between sunrise and sunset, the statute commanding that all executions shall take place by the light of the sun, and consequently the two terms ratified and confirmed each other, instead of conveying a contradiction, or of neutralizing each other, as would most probably be contended by the opposite counsel.
To all this my brother Downright, as is usual on such occasions, objected pretty much the converse. He maintained that all light proceeded from the sun; and that the statute, therefore, could only mean that there should be no executions during eclipses, a period when the whole monikin race ought to be occupied in adoration. Forthwith, moreover, did not necessarily mean forthwith, for forthwith meant immediately; and "between sunrise and sunset" meant between sunrise and sunset; which might be immediately, or might not.
On this point the twelve judges decided, firstly, that forthwith did not mean forthwith; secondly, that forthwith did mean forthwith; thirdly, that forthwith had two legal meanings; fourthly, that it was illegal to apply one of these legal meanings to a wrong legal purpose; and fifthly, that the objection was of no avail, as respected the case of No. 1, sea-water-color. Ordered, therefore, that the criminal lose his tail forthwith.
The objection to the other sentence met with no better fate. Men and monikins did not differ more than some men differed from other men, or some monikins differed from other monikins. Ordered, that the sentence be confirmed, with costs. I thought this decision the soundest of the two; for I had often had occasion to observe, that there were very startling points of resemblance between monkeys and our own species.
The contest now commenced between the two attorneys- general in earnest; and, as the point at issue was a question of mere rank, it excited a lively -- I may say an engrossing -- interest in all the hearers. It was settled, however, after a vigorous discussion, in favor of the king, whose royal dignity the twelve judges were unanimously of opinion was entitled to precedency over that of the queen. To my great surprise, my brother Downright volunteered an argument on this intricate point, making an exceedingly clever speech in favor of the king's dignity, as was admitted by every one who heard it. It rested chiefly on the point that the ashes of the tail were, by the sentence, to be thrown into the culprit's face. It is true this might be done physically after decapitation, but it could not be done morally. This part of the punishment was designed for a moral effect; and to produce that effect, consciousness and shame were both necessary. Therefore the moral act of throwing the ashes into the face of the criminal could only be done while he was living, and capable of being ashamed.
Meditation, chief-justice, delivered the opinion of the bench. It contained the usual amount of legal ingenuity and logic, was esteemed as very eloquent in that part which touched on the sacred and inviolable character of the royal prerogatives (prerogativæ as he termed them), and was so lucid in pointing out the general inferiority of the queen-consort, that I felt happy her majesty was not present to hear herself and sex undervalued. As might have been expected, it allowed great weight to the distinction taken by the brigadier. The decision was in the following words, viz.: "Rex et Regina versus No. 1, sea-water-color: ordered, that the officers of justice shall proceed forthwith to decaudizate the defendant before they decapitate him; provided he has not been forthwith decapitated before he can be decaudizated."
The moment this mandamus was put into the hands of the proper officer, Brigadier Downright caught me by the knee, and led me out of the hall of justice, as if both out lives depended on our expedition. I was about to reproach him for having volunteered to aid the king's attorney- general, when, seizing me by the root of the tail, for the want of a button-hole, he said, with evident satisfaction:
"Affairs go on swimmingly, my dear Sir John! I do not remember to have been employed, for some years, in a more interesting litigation. Now this cause, which, no doubt, you think is drawing to a close, has just reached its pivot, or turning-point; and I see every prospect of extricating our client with great credit to myself."
"How! my brother Downright!" I interrupted; "the accused is finally sentenced, if not actually executed!"
"Not so fast, my good Sir John -- not so fast, by any means. Nothing is final in law, while there is a farthing to meet the costs, or the criminal can yet gasp. I hold our case to be in an excellent way; much better than I have deemed it at any time since the accused was arraigned."
Surprise left me no other power than that which was necessary to demand an explanation.
"All depends on the single fact, dear sir," continued my brother Downright, "whether the head is still on the body of the accused or not. Do you proceed, as fast as possible, to the place of execution; and, should our client still have a head, keep up his spirits by a proper religious discourse, always preparing him for the worst, for this is no more than wisdom; but, the instant his tail is separated from his body, run hither as fast as you can, to apprise me of the fact. I ask but two things of you -- speed in coming with the news, and perfect certainty that the tail is not yet attached to the rest of the frame, by even a hair. A hair often turns the scales of justice!"
"The case seems desperate -- would it not be as well for me to run down to the palace, at once; demand an audience of their majesties, throw myself on my knees before the royal pair, and implore a pardon?"
"Your project is impracticable, for three sufficient reasons: firstly, there is not time; secondly, you would not be admitted without a special appointment; thirdly, there is neither a king nor a queen!"
"No king in Leaphigh!"
"I have said it."
"Explain yourself, brother Downright, or I shall be obliged to refute what you say, by the evidence of my own senses."
"Your senses will prove to be false witnesses then. Formerly there was a king in Leaphigh, and one who governed, as well as reigned. But the nobles and grandees of the country, deeming it indecent to trouble his majesty with affairs of state any longer, took upon themselves all the trouble of governing, leaving to the sovereign the sole duty of reigning. This was done in a way to save his feelings, under the pretence of setting up a barrier to the physical force and abuses of the mass. After a time, it was found inconvenient and expensive to feed and otherwise support the royal family, and all its members were privately shipped to a distant region, which had not yet got to be so far advanced in civilization, as to know how to keep up a monarchy without a monarch."
"And does Leaphigh succeed in effecting this prodigy?"
"Wonderfully well. By means of decapitations and decaudizations enough, even greater exploits may be performed."
"But am I to understand literally, brother Downright,
there is no such thing as a monarch in this country?"
"And the presentations?"
"Are like these trials, to maintain the monarchy."
"And the crimson curtains? -- "
"Conceal empty seats."
"Why not, then, dispense with so much costly
"In what way could the grandees cry out that the throne is in danger, if there were no throne? It is one thing to have no monarch, and another to have no throne. But all this time our client is in great jeopardy. Hasten, therefore, and be particular to act as I have just instructed you."
I stopped to hear no more, but in a minute was flying towards the centre of the square. It was easy enough to perceive the tail of my friend waving over the crowd; but grief and apprehension had already rendered his countenance so rueful, that, at the first glance, I did not recognize his head. He was, however, still in the body; for, luckily for himself, and more especially for the success of his principal counsel, the gravity of his crimes had rendered unusual preparations necessary for the execution. As the mandate of the court had not yet arrived -- justice being as prompt in Leaphigh as her ministers are dilatory -- two blocks were prepared, and the culprit was about to get down on his hands and knees between them, just as I forced my way through the crowd to his side.
"Ah! Sir John, this is an awful predicament!" exclaimed the rebuked Noah; "a ra'ally awful situation for a human Christian to have his enemies lying athwart both bows and starn!"
"While there is life there is hope; but it is always best to be prepared for the worst -- he who is thus prepared never can meet with a disagreeable surprise. Messrs. Executioners" -- for there were two, that of the king, and that of the queen, or one at each end of the unhappy criminal -- "Messrs. Executioners, I pray you to give the culprit a moment to arrange his thoughts, and to communicate his last requests in behalf of his distant family and friends!"
To this reasonable petition neither of the higher functionaries of the law made any objection, although both insisted if they did not forthwith bring the culprit to the last stages of preparation, they might lose their places. They did not see, however, but a man might pause for a moment on the brink of the grave. It would seem that there had been a little misunderstanding between the executioners themselves on the point of precedency, which had been one cause of the delay, and which had been disposed of by an arrangement that both should operate at the same instant. Noah was now brought down to his hands and knees, "moored head and starn," as that unfeeling blackguard Bob, who was in the crowd, expressed it, between the two blocks, his neck lying on one and his tail on the other. While in this edifying attitude, I was permitted to address him.
"It may be well to bethink you of your soul, my dear captain," I said; "for, to speak truth, these axes have a very prompt and sanguinary appearance."
"I know it, Sir John, I know it; and, not to mislead you, I will own that I have been repenting with all my might, ever since that first vardict. That affair of the lord high admiral, in particular, has given me a good deal of consarn; and I now humbly ask your pardon for being led away by such a miserable deception, which is all owing to that riptyle Dr. Reasono, who, I hope, will yet meet with his desarts. I forgive everybody, and hope everybody will forgive me. As for Miss Poke, it will be a hard case; for she is altogether past expecting another consort, and she must be satisfied to be a relic the rest of her days."
"Repentance, repentance, my dear Noah -- repentance is the one thing needful for a man in your extremity."
"I do -- I do, Sir John, body and soul -- I repent, from the bottom of my heart, ever having come on this v'y'ge -- nay, I don't know but I repent ever having come outside of Montauk Point. I might, at this moment, have been a school-master or a tavern-keeper in Stunnin'tun; and they are both good wholesome berths, particularly the last. Lord love you! Sir John, if repentance would do any good, I should be pardoned on the spot."
Here Noah caught a glimpse of Bob grinning in the crowd, and he asked of the executioners, as a last favor, that they would have the boy brought near, that he might take an affectionate leave of him. This reasonable request was complied with, despite of poor Bob's struggles; and the youngster had quite as good reasons for hearty repentance as the culprit himself. Just at this trying moment the mandate for the order of the punishments arrived, and the officials seriously declared that the condemned must be prepared to meet his fate.
The unflinching manner in which Captain Poke submitted to the mortal process of decaudization extracted plaudits from, and awakened sympathy in every monikin present. Having satisfied myself that the tail was actually separated from the body, I ran, as fast as legs could carry me, towards the hall of the twelve judges. My brother Downright, who was impatiently expecting my appearance, instantly arose and moved the bench to issue a mandamus for a stay of execution in the case of "Regina versus Noah Poke, or No. 1, seawater-color. By the statute of the 2d of Longevity and Flirtilla, it was enacted, my lords," put in the brigadier, "that in no case shall a convicted felon suffer loss of life, or limb, while it can be established that he is non compos mentis. This is also a rule, my lords, of common law -- but being common sense and common monikinity, it has been thought prudent to enforce it by an especial enactment. I presume Mr. Attorney-General for the queen will scarcely dispute the law of the case -- "
"Not at all, my lords -- though I have some doubts as to the fact. The fact remains to be established," answered the other, taking snuff.
"The fact is certain, and will not admit of cavil. In the case of Rex versus Noah Poke, the court ordered the punishment of decaudization to take precedence of that of decapitation, in the case of Regina versus the same. Process had been issued from the bench to that effect; the culprit has, in consequence, lost his cauda, and with it his reason; a creature without reason has always been held to be non compos mentis, and by the law of the land is not liable to the punishments of life or limb."
"Your law is plausible, my brother Downright," observed my lord chief-justice, "but it remains for the bench to be put in possession of the facts. At the next term, you will perhaps be better prepared -- "
"I pray you, my lord, to remember that this is a case which will not admit of three months' delay."
"We can decide the principle a year hence, as well as to- day; and we have now sat longer in banco," looking at his watch, "than is either usual, agreeable, or expedient."
"But, my lords, the proof is at hand. Here is a witness to establish that the cauda of Noah Poke, the defendant of record, has actually been separated from his body -- "
"Nay -- nay -- my brother Downright, a barrister of your experience must know that the twelve can only take evidence on affidavit. If you had an affidavit prepared, we might possibly find time to hear it, before we adjourn; as it is, the affair must lie over to another sitting."
I was now in a cold sweat, for I could distinctly scent the peculiar odor of the burning tail; the ashes of which being fairly thrown into Noah's face, there remained no further obstacle to the process of decapitation -- the sentence, it will be remembered, having kept his countenance on his shoulders expressly for that object. My brother Downright, however, was not a lawyer to be defeated by so simple a stumbling-block. Seizing a paper that was already written over in a good legal hand, which happened to be lying before him, he read it, without pause or hesitation, in the following manner:
"Regina versus Noah Poke."Having read, in the most fluent manner, the foregoing affidavit, which existed only in his own brain, my brother Downright desired the court to take my deposition to its truth.
"Kingdom of Leaphigh, Season of Nuts, this fourth day of the Moon.} Personally appeared before me, Meditation, Lord Chief-Justice of the Court of King's Bench, John Goldencalf, baronet, of the Kingdom of Great Britain, who, being duly sworn, doth depose and say, viz., that he, the said deponent, was present at, and did witness, the decaudization of the defendant in this suit, and that the tail of the said Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color, hath been truly and physically separated from his body. -- And further this deponent sayeth not. Signature, &c."
"John Goldencalf, baronet," said the chief-justice, "you have heard what has just been read; do you swear to its truth?"
Here the affidavit was signed by both my lord chief- justice and myself, and it was duly put on file. I afterwards learned that the paper used by my brother Downright on this memorable occasion was no other than the notes which the chief-justice himself had taken on one of the arguments in the case in question, and that, seeing the names and title of the cause, besides finding it no easy matter to read his own writing, that high officer of the crown had, very naturally, supposed that all was right. As to the rest of the bench, they were in too great a hurry to go to dinner, to stop and read affidavits, and the case was instantly disposed of, by the following decision:
"Regina versus Noah Poke, etc. Ordered, that the culprit be considered non compos mentis, and that he be discharged, on finding security to keep the peace for the remainder of his natural life."
An officer was instantly dispatched to the great square with this reprieve, and the court rose. I delayed a little in order to enter into the necessary recognizances in behalf of Noah, taking up at the same time the bonds given the previous night, for his appearance to answer to the indictments. These forms being duly complied with, my brother Downright and myself repaired to the place of execution, in order to congratulate our client -- the former justly elated with his success, which he assured me was not a little to the credit of his own education.
We found Noah surprisingly relieved by his liberation from the hands of the Philistines; nor was he at all backwards in expressing his satisfaction at the unexpected turn things had taken. According to his account of the matter, he did not set a higher value on his head than another; still, it was convenient to have one; had it been necessary to part with it, he made no doubt he should have submitted to do so like a man, referring to the fortitude with which he had borne the amputation of his cauda, as a proof of his resolution; for his part, he should take very good care how he accused any one with having a memory, or anything else, again, and he now saw the excellence of those wise provisions of the laws, which cut up a criminal in order to prevent the repetition of his offences; he did not intend to stay much longer on shore, believing he should be less in the way of temptation on board the Walrus than among the monikins; and, as for his own people, he was sure of soon catching them on board again, for they had now been off their pork twentyfour hours, and nuts were but poor grub for foremast hands, after all; philosophers might say what they pleased about governments, but, in his opinion, the only ra'al tyrant on 'arth was the belly; he did not remember ever to have had a struggle with his belly -- and he had a thousand -- that the belly didn't get the better; that it would be awkward to lay down the title of lord high admiral, but it was easier to lay down that than to lay down his head; that as for cauda, though it was certainly agreeable to be in the fashion, he could do very well without one, and when he got back to Stunnin'tun, should the worst come to the worst, there was a certain saddler in the place who could give him as good a fit as the one he had lost; that Miss Poke would have been greatly scandalized, however, had he come home after decapitation; that it might be well to sail for Leaplow as soon as convenient, for in that country he understood bobs were in fashion, and he admitted that he should not like to cruise about Leaphigh, for any great length of time, unless he could look as other people look; for his part, he bore no one a grudge, and he freely forgave everybody but Bob, out of whom, the Lord willing, he proposed to have full satisfaction, before the ship should be twenty-four hours at sea, &c., &c., &c.
Such was the general tendency of the remarks of Captain Poke, as we proceeded towards the port, where he embarked and went on board the Walrus, with some eagerness, having learned that our rear-admirals and post-captains had, indeed, yielded to the calls of nature, and had all gone to their duty, swearing they would rather be foremast Jacks in a well-victualled ship, than the king of Leaphigh upon nuts.
The captain had no sooner entered the boat, taking his head with him, than I began to make my acknowledgments to my brother Downright for the able manner in which he had defended my fellow human being; paying, at the same time, some well-merited compliments to the ingenious and truly philosophical distinctions of the Leaphigh system of jurisprudence.
"Spare your thanks and your commendations, I beg of you, good Sir John," returned the brigadier, as we walked back towards my lodgings. "We did as well as circumstances would allow; though our whole defence would have been upset, had not the chief-justice very luckily been unable to read his own handwriting. As for the principles and forms of the monikin law -- for in these particulars Leaplow is very much like Leaphigh -- as you have seen them displayed in these two suits, why, they are such as we have. I do not pretend that they are faultless; on the contrary, I could point out improvements myself -- but we get on with them as well as we can: no doubt, among men, you have codes that will better bear examination."
We found the judge in undress, and a very different figure he cut, certainly, from that which he made when I saw him the previous night at court. Then he was all queue; now he was all bob. He seemed glad to see us, however, and quite delighted when I told him of the intention to sail for Leaplow, as soon as the wind served. He instantly asked a passage for himself, with republican simplicity.
There was to be another turn of the great and little wheels, he said, and it was quite important to himself to be on the spot; for, although everything was, beyond all question, managed with perfect republican propriety, yet, somehow (and yet he did not know exactly how, but somehow), those who are on the spot always get the best prizes. If I could give him a passage, therefore, he would esteem it a great personal favor; and I might depend on it, the circumstance would be well received by the party. Although I did not very well understand what he meant by this party, which was to view the act so kindly, I very cheerfully told the judge that the apartments lately occupied by my lord Chatterino and his friends were perfectly at his disposal. I was then asked when I intended to sail; and the answer was, the instant the wind hauled, so we could lay out of the harbor. It might be within half an hour. Hereupon Judge People's Friend begged I would have the goodness to wait until he could hunt up a charge d'affaires. His instructions were most peremptory never to leave the legation without a chargé d'affaires; but he would just brush his bob, and run into the street, and look up one in five minutes, if I would promise to wait so long. It would have been unkind to refuse so trifling a favor, and the promise was given. The judge must have run as fast as his legs would carry him; for, in about ten minutes, he was back again, with a diplomatic recruit. He told me his heart had misgiven him sadly. The three first to whom he offered the place had plumply refused it, and, indeed, he did not know but he should have a quarrel or two on his hands; but, at last, he had luckily found one who could get nothing else to do, and he pinned him on the spot.
So far everything had gone on swimmingly; but the new chargé had, most unfortunately, a very long cauda, a fashion that was inexorably proscribed by the Leaplow usages, except in cases when the representative went to court; for it seems the Leaplow political ethics, like your country buck, has two dresses -- one for every- day wear, and one for Sundays. The judge intimated to his intended substitute, that it was absolutely indispensable he should submit to an amputation, or he could not possibly confer the appointment, queues being proscribed at home by both public opinions, the horizontal and the perpendicular. To this the candidate objected, that he very well knew the Leaplow usages on this head, but that he had seen his excellency himself going to court with a singularly apparent brush; and he had supposed from that, and from sundry other little occurrences he did not care to particularize, that the Leaplowers were not so bigoted in their notions but they could act on the principle of doing at Rome as is done by the Romans. To this the judge replied, that this principle was certainly recognized in all things that were agreeable, and that he knew, from experience, how hard it was to go in a bob, when all around him went in caudæ; but that tails were essentially anti-republican, and, as such, had been formally voted down in Leaplow, where even the Great Sachem did not dare to wear one, let him long for it as much as he would; and if it were known that a public charge offended in this particular, although he might be momentarily protected by one of the public opinions, the matter would certainly be taken up by the opposition public opinion, and then the people might order a new turn of the little wheel, which heaven it knew! occurred now a great deal oftener than was either profitable or convenient.
Hereupon the candidate deliberately undid the fastenings and removed the queue, showing, to our admiration, that it was false, and that he was, after all neither more nor less than a Leaplower in masquerade; which, by the way, I afterwards learned, was very apt to be the case with a great many of that eminently original people, when they got without the limits of their own beloved land. Judge People's Friend was now perfectly delighted. He told us this was exactly what he could most have wished for. "Here is a bob," said he, "for the horizontals and perpendiculars, and there is a capital ready-made cauda for his majesty and his majesty's first- cousin! A Leaphighized Leaplower, more especially if there be a dash of caricature about him, is the very thing in our diplomacy." Finding matters so much to his mind, the judge made out the letter of appointment on the spot, and then proceeded to give his substitute the usual instructions.
"You are on all occasions," he said, "to take the utmost care not to offend the court of Leaphigh, or the meanest of the courtiers, by advancing any of our peculiar opinions, all of which, beyond dispute, you have at your finger-ends; on this score, you are to be so particular that you may even, in your own person, pro tempore, abandon republicanism -- yea, sacred republicanism itself! -- knowing that it can easily be resumed on your return home again. You are to remember there is nothing so undiplomatic, or even vulgar, as to have an opinion on any subject, unless it should be the opinion of the persons you may happen to be in company with; and, as we have the reputation of possessing that quality in an eminent degree, everywhere but at home, take especial heed to eschew vulgarity -- if you can. You will have the greatest care, also, to wear the shortest bob in all your private, and the longest tail in all your public relations, this being one of the most important of the celebrated checks and balances of our government. Our institutions being expressly formed by the mass, for the particular benefit of all, you will be excessively careful not to let the claims of any one citizen, or even any set of citizens, interfere with that harmony which it is so necessary, for the purposes of trade, to maintain with all foreign courts; which courts being accustomed themselves to consider their subjects as cattle, to be worked in the traces of the state, are singularly restive whenever they hear of any individual being made of so much importance. Should any Leaplower become troublesome on this score, give him a bad name at once; and in order to effect that object with your own single-minded and right-loving countrymen, swear that he is a disorganizer, and, my life on it, both public opinions at home will sustain you; for there is nothing on which our public opinions agree so well as the absolute deference which they pay to foreign public opinions -- and this the more especially, in all matters that are likely to affect profits, by deranging commerce. You will, above all things, make it a point to be in constant relations with some of the readiest paragraph-writers of the newspapers, in order to see that facts are properly stated at home. I would advise you to look out some foreigner, who has never seen Leaplow, for this employment; one that is also paid to write for the journals of Leapup, or Leapdown, or some other foreign country; by which means you will be sure to get an impartial agent, or one who can state things in your own way, who is already half paid for his services, and who will not be likely to make blunders by meddling with distinctive thought. When a person of this character is found, let him drop a line now and then in favor of your own sagacity and patriotism; and if he should say a pleasant thing occasionally about me, it will do no harm, but may help the little wheel to turn more readily. In order to conceal his origin, let your paragraph-agent use the word OUR freely; the use of this word, as you know, being the only qualification of citizenship in Leaplow. Let him begin to spell the word O-U-R, and then proceed to pronounce it, and be careful that he does not spell it H-O-U-R, which might betray his origin. Above all things, you will be patriotic and republican, avoiding the least vindication of your country and its institutions, and satisfying yourself with saying that the latter are, at least, well suited to the former, if you should say this in a way to leave the impression on your hearers, that you think the former fitted for nothing else, it will be particularly agreeable and thoroughly republican, and most eminently modest and praiseworthy. You will find the diplomatic agents of all other states sensitive on the point of their peculiar political usages, and prompt to defend them; but this is a weakness you will rigidly abstain from imitating, for our polity being exclusively based on reason, you are to show a dignified confidence in the potency of that fundamental principle, nor in any way lessen the high character that reason already enjoys, by giving any one cause to suspect you think reason is not fully able to take care of itself. With these leading hints, and your own natural tendencies, which I am glad to see are eminently fitted for the great objects of diplomacy -- being ductile, imitative, yielding, calculating, and, above all, of a foreign disposition -- I think you will be able to get on very cleverly. Cultivate, above all things, your foreign dispositions, for you are now on foreign duty, and your country reposes on your shoulders and eminent talents the whole burden of its foreign interests in this part of the world."
Here the judge closed his address, which was oral, apparently well satisfied with himself and with his raw- hand in diplomacy. He then said --
"That he would now go to court to present his substitute, and to take leave himself; after which he would return as fast as possible, and detain us no longer than was necessary to put his cauda in pepper, to protect it against the moths; for heaven knew what prize he might draw in the next turn of the little wheel!"
We promised to meet him at the port, where a messenger just then informed us Captain Poke had landed, and was anxiously waiting our appearance. With this understanding we separated; the judge undertaking to redeem all our promises paid in at the tavern, by giving his own in their stead.
The brigadier and myself found Noah and the cook bargaining for some private adventures with a Leaphigh broker or two, who, finding that the ship was about to sail in ballast, were recommending their wares to the notice of these two worthies.
"It would be a ra'al sin, Sir John," commenced the captain, "to neglect an occasion like this to turn a penny. The ship could carry ten thousand immigrants, and they say there are millions of them going over to Leaplow; or it might stow half the goods in Aggregation. I'm resolved, at any rate, to use my cabin privilege; and I would advise you, as owner, to look out for suthin' to pay port-charges with, to say the least."
"The idea is not a bad one, friend Poke; but, as we are ignorant of the state of the market on the other side, it might be well to consult some inhabitant of the country about the choice of articles. Here is the Brigadier Downright, whom I have found to be a monikin of experience and judgment, and if you please, we will first hear what he has to say about it."
"I dabble very little in merchandise," returned the brigadier; "but, as a general principle, I should say that no article of Leaphigh manufacture would command so certain a market in Leaplow as opinions."
"Have you any of these opinions for sale?" I inquired of the broker.
"Plenty of them, sir, and of all qualities -- from the very lowest to the very 'ighest prices -- those that may be had for next to nothing, to those that we think a great deal of ourselves. We always keeps them ready packed for exportation, and send wast invoices of them, hannually, to Leaplow in particular. Opinions are harticles that help to sell each other; and a ship of the tonnage of yours might stow enough, provided they were properly assorted, to carry all before them for the season."
Expressing a wish to see the packages, we were immediately led into an adjoining warehouse, where, sure enough, there were goodly lots of the manufactures in question. I passed along the shelves, reading the inscriptions of the different packages. Pointing to several bundles that had "Opinions on Free Trade" written on their labels, I asked the brigadier what he thought of that article.
"Why, they would have done better, a year or two since, when we were settling a new tariff; but I should think there would be less demand for them now."
"You are quite right, sir," added the broker; "we did send large invoices of them to Leaplow formerly, and they were all eagerly bought up, the moment they arrived. A great many were dyed over again, and sold as of 'ome manufacture. Most of these harticles are now shipped for Leapup, with whom we have negotiations that give them a certain value."
"'Opinions on Democracy, and on the Policy of Governments in General': I should think these would be of no use in Leaplow?"
"Why, sir, they goes pretty much hover the whole world. We sell powers on 'em on hour own continent, near by, and a great many do go even to Leaplow; though what they does with 'em there, I never could say, seeing they are all government monikins in that queer country."
An inquiring look extorted a clearer answer from the brigadier: --
"To admit the fact, we have a class among us who buy up these articles with some eagerness. I can only account for it, by supposing they think differing in their tastes from the mass, makes them more enlightened and peculiar."
"I'll take them all. An article that catches these propensities is sure of sale. 'Opinions on Events': what can possibly be done with these?"
"That depends a little on their classification," returned the brigadier. "If they relate to Leaplow events, while they have a certain value, they cannot be termed of current value; but if they refer to the events of all the rest of the earth, take them for heaven's sake! for we trust altogether to this market for our supplies."
On this hint I ordered the whole lot, trusting to
dispose of the least fashionable by aid of those that
were more in vogue. "'Opinions on Domestic Literature.'"
"You may buy all he has; we use no other."
"'Opinions on Continental Literature.'"
"Why, we know little about the goods themselves -- but I think a selection might answer."
I ordered the bale cut in two, and took one half, at a venture.
"'Opinions of Leaplow Literature, From No. 1 up to No. 100.'"
"Ah! it is proper I should explain," put in the broker, "that we has two varieties of them 'ere harticles. One is the true harticle, as is got up by our great wits and philosophers, they says, on the most approved models; but the other is nothing but a sham harticle that is really manufactured in Leaplow, and is sent out here to get hour stamp. That's all -- I never deceives a customer -- both sell well, I hear, on the other side, 'owever."
I looked again at the brigadier, who quietly nodding assent, I took the whole hundred bales.
"'Opinions of the Institutions of Leaphigh.'"
"Why, them 'ere is assorted, being of all sizes, forms, and colors. They came coastwise, and are chiefly for domestic consumption; though I have known 'em sent to Leaplow, with success."
"The consumers of this article among us," observed the brigadier, "are very select, and rarely take any but of the very best quality. But then they are usually so well stocked, that I question if a new importation would pay freight. Indeed, our consumers cling very generally to the old fashions in this article, not even admitting the changes produced by time. There was an old manufacturer called Whiterock, who has a sort of Barlow-knife reputation among us, and it is not easy to get another article to compete with his. Unless they are very antiquated, I would have nothing to do with them."
"Yes. this is all true. sir. We still sends to Leaplow quantities of that 'ere manufacture; and the more hantiquated the harticle, the better it sells; but then the new fashions has a most wonderful run at 'ome."
"I'll stick to the real Barlow, through thick or thin. Hunt me up a bale of his notions; let them be as old as the flood. What have we here? -- 'Opinions on the Institutions of Leaplow.'"
"Take them," said the brigadier, promptly.
"This 'ere gentleman has an hidear of the state of his own market," added the broker, giggling. "Wast lots of these things go across yearly -- and I don't find that any on 'em ever comes back."
"'Opinions on the State of Manners and Society in Leaplow.'"
"I believe I'll take an interest in that article myself, Sir John, if you can give me a ton or two between decks. Have you many of this manufacture?"
"Lots on 'em, sir -- and they DO sell so! That 'ere are a good harticle both at 'ome and abroad. My eye! how they does go off in Leaplow!"
"This appears to be also your expectation, brigadier, by your readiness to take an interest!"
"To speak the truth, nothing sells better in our beloved country."
"Permit me to remark that I find your readiness to purchase this and the last article, a little singular. If I have rightly comprehended our previous conversations, you Leaplowers profess to have improved not only on the ancient principles of polity, but on the social condition generally."
"We will talk of this during the passage homewards, Sir John Goldencalf; but, by your leave, I will take a share in the investment in 'Opinions on the State of Society and Manners in Leaplow,' especially if they treat at large on the deformities of the government, while they allow us to be genteel. This is the true notch -- some of these goods have been condemned because the manufacturers hadn't sufficient skill in dyeing."
"You shall have a share, brigadier. Harkee, Mr. Broker; I take it these said opinions come from some very well- known and approved manufactory?"
"All sorts, sir. Some good, and some good for nothing -- everything sells, 'owever. I never was in Leaplow, but we says over 'ere, that the Leaplowers eat, and drink, and sleep on our opinions. Lord, sir, it would really do your heart good to see the stuff, in these harticles, that they does take from us without higgling!"
"I presume, brigadier, that you use them as an amusement -- as a means to pass a pleasant hour, of an evening -- a sort of moral segar?"
"No, sir," put in the broker, "they doesn't smoke 'em, my word on't, or they wouldn't buy 'em in such lots!"
I now thought enough had been laid in on my own account, and I turned to see what the captain was about. He was higgling for a bale marked "Opinions on the Lost Condition of the Monikin Soul." A little curious to know why he had made this selection, I led him aside, and frankly put the question.
"Why, to own the truth, Sir John," he said, "religion is an article that sells in every market, in some shape or other. Now, we are all in the dark about the Leaplow tastes and usages, for I always suspect a native of the country to which I am bound, on such a p'int; and if the things shouldn't sell there, they'll at least do at Stunnin'tun. Miss Poke alone would use up what there is in that there bale, in a twelvemonth. To give the woman her due, she's a desperate consumer of snuff and religion."
We had now pretty effectually cleared the shelves, and the cook, who had come ashore to dispose of his slush, had not yet been able to get anything.
"Here is a small bale as come from Leaplow, and a pinched little thing it is," said the broker, laughing; "it don't take at all, here, and it might do to go 'ome again -- at any rate, you will get the drawback. It is filled with 'Distinctive Opinions of the Republic of Leaplow.'" The cook looked at the brigadier, who appeared to think the speculation doubtful. Still it was Hobson's choice; and, after a good deal of grumbling, the doctor, as Noah always called his cook, consented to take the "harticle," at half the prime cost.
Judge People's Friend now came trotting down to the port, thoroughly en républicain, when we immediately embarked, and in half an hour, Bob was kicked to Noah's heart's content, and the Walrus was fairly under way for Leaplow.
With a favorable wind, the Walrus could run to the watermarks in about half a day; from thence to the water- marks of Leaplow was two days' sail, and another half day was necessary to reach our haven. As we drew near the legal frontiers of Leaphigh, several small fastsailing schooners were seen hovering just without the jurisdiction of the king, quite evidently waiting our approach. One boarded us, just as the outer edge of the spanker-boom got clear of the Leaphigh sovereignty. Judge People's Friend rushed to the side of the ship, and before the crew of the boat could get on deck, he had ascertained that the usual number of prizes had been put into the little wheel.
A monikin in a bob of a most pronounced character, or which appeared to have been subjected to the second amputation, being what is called in Leaplow a bob-upon- bob, now approached, and inquired if there were any emigrants on board. He was made acquainted with our characters and objects. When he understood that our stay would most likely be short, he was evidently a little disappointed.
"Perhaps, gentlemen," he added, "you may still remain long enough to make naturalization desirable?"
"It is always agreeable to be at home in foreign countries -- but are there no legal objections?"
"I see none, sir -- you have no tails, I believe?"
"None but what are in our trunks. I did not know, however, but the circumstance of our being of a different species might throw some obstacles in the way."
"None in the world, sir. We act on principles much too liberal for so narrow an objection. You are but little acquainted with the institutions and policy of our beloved and most happy country, I see, sir. This is not Leaphigh, nor Leapup, nor Leapdown, nor Leapover, nor Leapthrough, nor Leapunder; but good old, hearty, liberal, free and independent, most beloved, happy, and prosperous beyond example, Leaplow. Species is of no account under our system. We would as soon naturalize one animal as another, provided it be a republican animal. I see no deficiency about any of you. All we ask is certain general principles. You go on two legs -- "
"So do turkeys, sir."
"Very true -- but you have no feathers."
"Neither has a donkey."
"All very right, gentlemen -- you do not bray, however."
"I will not answer for that," put in the captain, sending his leg forwards in a straight line, in a way to raise an outcry in Bob, that almost upset the Leaplower's proposition.
"At all events, gentlemen," he observed, "there is a test that will put the matter at rest, at once."
He then desired us, in turn, to pronounce the word "our" -- "Our liberties" -- "our country" -- "our firesides" -- "our altars," Whoever expressed a wish to be naturalized, and could use this word in the proper manner, and in the proper place, was entitled to be a citizen. We all did very well but the second mate, who, being a Herefordshire man, could not, for the life of him, get any nearer to the Doric, in the latter shibboleth, than "our halters." Now, it would seem that, in carrying out a great philanthropic principle in Leaplow, halters had been proscribed; for, whenever a rogue did anything amiss, it had been discovered that, instead of punishing him for the offence, the true way to remedy the evil was to punish the society against which he had offended. By this ingenious turn, society was naturally made to look out sharp how it permitted any one to offend it. This excellent idea is like that of certain Dutchmen, who, when they cut themselves with an ax, always apply salve and lint to the cruel steel, and leave the wound to heal as fast as possible.
To return to our examination: we all passed but the second mate, who hung in his halter, and was pronounced to be incorrigible. Certificates of naturalization were delivered on the spot, the fees were paid, and the schooner left us.
That night it blew a gale, and we had no more visitors until the following morning. As the sun rose, however, we fell in with three schooners, under the Leaplow flag, all of which seemed bound on errands of life or death. The first that reached us sent a boat on board, and a committee of six bob-upon-bobs hurried up our sides, and lost no time in introducing themselves. I shall give their own account of their business and characters.
It would seem that they were what is called a "nominating committee" of the Horizontals, for the City of Bivouac, the port to which we were bound, where an election was about to take place for members of the great National Council. Bivouac was entitled to send seven members; and having nominated themselves, the committee were now in quest of a seventh candidate to fill the vacancy. In order to secure the naturalized interests, it had been determined to select as new a comer as possible. This would also be maintaining the principle of liberality, in the abstract. For this reason they had been cruising for a week, as near as the law would allow to the Leaphigh boundaries, and they were now ready to take any one who would serve.
To this proposition I again objected the difference of species. Here they all fairly laughed in my face, Brigadier Downright included, giving me very distinctly to understand that they thought I had very contracted notions on matters and things, to suppose so trifling an obstacle could disturb the harmony and unity of a Horizontal vote. They went for a principle, and the devil himself could not make them swerve from the pursuit of so sacred an object.
I then candidly admitted that nature had not fitted me, as admirably as it had fitted my friend the judge, for the throwing of summersets; and I feared that when the order was given "to go to the right about," I might be found no better than a bungler. This staggered them a little; and I perceived that they looked at each other in doubt.
"But you can, at least, turn round suddenly, at need?" one of them asked, after a pause.
"Certainly, sir," I answered, giving ocular evidence that I was no idle boaster, making a complete gyration on my heels, in very good time.
"Very well! -- admirably well!" they all cried in a breath. "The great political essential is to be able to perform the evolutions in their essence -- the facility with which they are performed being no more than a personal merit."
"But, gentlemen, I know little more of your constitution and laws, than I have learned in a few broken discussions with my fellowtravellers."
"This is a matter of no moment, sir. Our constitution, unlike that of Leaphigh, is written down, and he who runs can read; and then we have a political fugleman in the house, who saves an immense deal of unnecessary study and reflection to the members. All you will have to do, will be to watch his movements; and, my life on it, you will go as well through the manual exercise as the oldest member there."
"How, sir, do all the members take the manoeuvres from this fugleman?"
"All the Horizontals, sir -- the Perpendiculars having a fugleman of their own."
"Well, gentlemen, I conceive this to be an affair in which I am no judge, and I put myself entirely in the hands of my friends."
This answer met with much commendation, and manifested, as they all protested, great political capabilities; the statesman who submitted all to his friends never failing to rise to eminence in Leaplow. The committee took my name in writing and hastened back to their schooner, in order to get into port to promulgate the nomination. These persons were hardly off the deck, before another party came up the opposite side of the ship. They announced themselves to be a nominating committee of the Perpendiculars, on exactly the same errand as their opponents. They, too, wished to propitiate the foreign interests, and were in search of a proper candidate. Captain Poke had been an attentive listener to all that occurred during the circumstances that preceded my nomination; and he now stepped promptly forward, and declared his readiness to serve. As there was quite as little squeamishness on one side as on the other, and the Perpendicular committee, as it owned itself, was greatly pressed for time, the Horizontals having the start of them, the affair was arranged in five minutes, and the strangers departed with the name of NOAH POKE, THE TRIED PATRIOT, THE PROFOUND JURIST, AND THE HONEST MONIKIN, handsomely placarded on a large board -- all but the name having been carefully prepared in advance.
When the committee were fairly out of the ship, Noah look me aside, and made his apologies for opposing me in this important election. His reasons were numerous and ingenious, and, as usual, a little discursive. They might be summed up as follows: He never had sat in a parliament, and he was curious to know how it would feel; it would increase the respect of the ship's company, to find their commander of so much account in a strange port; he had had some experience at Stunnin'tun by reading the newspapers, and he didn't doubt of his abilities at all, a circumstance that rarely failed of making a good legislator; the congressman in his part of the country was some such man as himself, and what was good for the goose was good for the gander; he knew Miss Poke would be pleased to hear he had been chosen; he wondered if he should be called the Honorable Noah Poke, and whether he should receive eight dollars a day, and mileage from the spot where the ship then was; the Perpendiculars might count on him, for his word was as good as his bond; as for the constitution, he had got on under the constitution at home, and he believed a man who could do that might get on under any constitution; he didn't intend to say a great deal in parliament, but what he did say he hoped might be recorded for the use of his children; together with a great deal more of the same sort of argumentation and apology.
The third schooner now brought us to. This vessel sent another committee, who announced themselves to be the representatives of a party that was termed the Tangents. They were not numerous, but sufficiently so to hold the balance whenever the Horizontals and the Perpendiculars crossed each other directly at right angles, as was the case at present; and they had now determined to run a single candidate of their own. They, too, wished to fortify themselves by the foreign interest, as was natural, and had come out in quest of a proper person. I suggested the first mate; but against this Noah protested, declaring that come what would, the ship must on no account be deserted. Time pressed; and, while the captain and the subordinate were hotly disputing the propriety of permitting the latter to serve, Bob, who had already tasted the sweets of political importance, in his assumed character of prince-royal, stepped slyly up to the committee, and gave in his name. Noah was too much occupied to discover this well-managed movement; and by the time he had sworn to throw the mate overboard if he did not instantly relinquish all ambitious projects of this nature, he found that the Tangents were off. Supposing they had gone to some other vessel, the captain allowed himself to be soothed, and all went on smoothly again.
From this time until we anchored in the bay of Bivouac, the tranquillity and discipline of the Walrus were undisturbed. I improved the occasion to study the constitution of Leaplow, of which the judge had a copy, and to glean such information from my companions as I believed might be useful in my future career. I thought how pleasant it would be for a foreigner to teach the Leaplowers their own laws, and to explain to them the application of their own principles! Little, however, was to be got from the judge, who was just then too much occupied with some calculations concerning the chances of the little wheel, with which he had been furnished by a leading man of one of the nominating committees.
I now questioned the brigadier touching that peculiar usage of his country which rendered Leaphigh opinions concerning the Leaplow institutions, society, and manners of so much value in the market of the latter. To this I got but an indifferent answer, except it was to say, that his countrymen, having cleared the interests connected with the subjects from the rubbish of time, and set everything at work, on the philosophical basis of reason and common sense, were exceedingly desirous of knowing what other people thought of the success of the experiment.
"I expect to see a nation of sages, I can assure you, brigadier; one in which even the very children are profoundly instructed in the great truths of your system; and, as to the monikinas, I am not without dread of bringing my theoretical ignorance in collision with their great practical knowledge of the principles of your government."
"They are early fed on political pap."
"No doubt, sir, no doubt. How different must they be from the females of other countries! Deeply imbued with the great distinctive principles of your system, devoted to the education of their children in the same sublime truths, and indefatigable in their discrimination, among the meanest of their households!"
"Now, sir, even in England, a country which I trust is not the most debased on earth, you will find women, beautiful, intellectual, accomplished and patriotic, who limit their knowledge of these fundamental points to a zeal for a clique, and the whole of whose eloquence on great national questions is bounded by a few heartfelt wishes for the downfall of their opponents; -- "
"It is very much so at Stunnin'tun, too, if truth must be spoken," remarked Noah, who had been a listener.
"Who, instead of instructing the young suckers that cling to their sides in just notions of general social distinctions, nurture their young antipathies with pettish philippics against some luckless chief of the adverse party; -- "
"Tis pretty much the same at Stunnin'tun, as I live!"
"Who rarely study the great lessons of history in order to point out to the future statesmen and heroes of the empire the beacons of crime, the incentives for public virtue, or the charters of their liberties; but who are indefatigable in echoing the cry of the hour, however false or vulgar, and who humanize their attentive offspring by softly expressed wishes that Mr. Canning, or some other frustrator of the designs of their friends, were fairly hanged!"
"Stunnin'tun, all over!"
"Beings that are angels in form -- soft, gentle, refined, and tearful as the evening with its dews, when there is a question of humanity or suffering; but who seem strangely transformed into she-tigers, whenever any but those of whom they can approve attain to power; and who, instead of entwining their soft arms around their husbands and brothers, to restrain them from the hot strife of opinions, cheer them on by their encouragement and throw dirt with the volubility and wit of fish- women."
"Miss Poke, to the backbone!"
"In short, sir, I expect to see an entirely different state of things at Leaplow. There, when a political adversary is bespattered with mud, your gentle monikinas, doubtless, appease anger by mild soothings of philosophy, tempering zeal by wisdom, and regulating error by apt and unanswerable quotations from that great charter which is based on the eternal and immutable principles of right."
"Well, Sir John, if you speak in this elocutionary manner in the house," cried the delighted Noah, "I shall be shy of answering. I doubt, now, if the brigadier himself could repeat all you have just said."
"I have forgotten to inquire, Mr. Downright, a little about your Leaplow constituency. The suffrage is, beyond question, confined to those members of society who possess a 'social stake.'"
"Certainly, Sir John, They who live and breathe."
"Surely none vote but those who possess the money, and houses, and lands of the country?"
"Sir, you are altogether in error; all vote who possess ears, and eyes, and noses, and bobs, and lives, and hopes, and wishes, and feelings, and wants. Wants we conceive to be a much truer test of political fidelity, than possessions."
"This is novel doctrine, indeed! but it is in direct hostility to the social-stake system."
"You were never more right, Sir John, as respects your own theory, or never more wrong as respects the truth. In Leaplow we contend-and contend justly -- that there is no broader or bolder fallacy than to say that a representation of mere effects, whether in houses, lands, merchandise, or money, is a security for a good government. Property is affected by measures; and the more a monikin has, the greater is the bribe to induce him to consult his own interests, although it should be at the expense of those of everybody else."
"But, sir, the interest of the community is composed of the aggregate of these interests."
"Your pardon, Sir John; nothing is composed of it, but the aggregate of the interests of a class. If your government is instituted for their benefit only, your social-stake system is all well enough; but if the object be the general good, you have no choice but to trust its custody to the general keeping. Let us suppose two men -- since you happen to be a man, and not a monikin -- let us suppose two men perfectly equal in morals, intelligence, public virtue and patriotism, one of whom shall be rich and the other shall have nothing. A crisis arrives in the affairs of their common country, and both are called upon to exercise their franchise, on a question-as almost all great questions must -- that unavoidably will have some influence on property generally. Which would give the most impartial vote -- he who, of necessity, must be swayed by his personal interest, or he who has no inducement of the sort to go astray?"
"Certainly he who has nothing to influence him to go wrong. But the question is not fairly put -- "
"Your pardon, Sir John -- it is put fairly as an abstract question, and one that is to prove a principle. I am glad to hear you say that a man would be apt to decide in this manner; for it shows his identity with a monikin. We hold that all of us are apt to think most of ourselves on such occasions."
"My dear brigadier, do not mistake sophistry for reason. Surely, if power belonged only to the poor -- and the poor, or the comparatively poor, always compose the mass -- they would exercise it in a way to strip the rich of their possessions."
"We think not, in Leaplow. Cases might exist, in which such a state of things would occur under a reaction; but reactions imply abuses, and are not to be quoted to maintain a principle. He who was drunk yesterday, may need an unnatural stimulus to-day; while he who is uniformly temperate preserves his proper tone of body without recourse to a remedy so dangerous. Such an experiment, under a strong provocation, might possibly be made; but it could scarcely be made twice among any people, and not even once among a people that submits in season to a just division of its authority, since it is obviously destructive of a leading principle of civilization. According to our monikin histories, all the attacks upon property have been produced by property's grasping at more than fairly belongs to its immunities. If you make political power a concomitant of property, both may go together, certainly; but if kept separate, the danger to the latter will never exceed the danger in which it is put daily by the arts of the money- getters, who are, in truth, the greatest foes of property, as it belongs to others."
I remembered Sir Joseph Job, and could not but admit that the brigadier had, at least, some truth on his side.
"But do you deny that the sentiment of property elevates the mind, ennobles, and purifies?"
"Sir, I do not pretend to determine what may be the fact among men, but we hold among monikins, that 'the love of money is the root of all evil.'"
"How, sir, do you account the education which is a consequence of property as nothing?"
"If you mean, my dear Sir John, that which property is most apt to teach, we hold it to be selfishness; but if you mean that he who has money, as a rule, will also have in formation to guide him aright, I must answer, that experience, which is worth a thousand theories, tells us differently. We find that on questions which are purely between those who have, and those who have not, the HAVES are commonly united, and we think this would be the fact if they were as unschooled as bears; but on all other questions, they certainly do great discredit to education, unless you admit that there are in every case two rights; for, with us, the most highly educated generally take the two extremes of every argument. I state this to be the fact with monikins, you will remember -- doubtless, educated men agree much better."
"But, my good brigadier, if your position about the greater impartiality and independence of the elector who is not influenced by his private interests be true, a country would do well to submit its elections to a body of foreign umpires."
"It would indeed, Sir John, if it were certain these foreign umpires would not abuse the power to their own particular advantage, if they could have the feelings and sentiments which ennoble and purify a nation far more than money, and if it were possible they could thoroughly understand the character, habits, wants, and resources of another people. As things are, therefore, we believe it is wisest to trust our own elections to ourselves -- not to a portion of ourselves, but to all of ourselves."
"Immigrants included," put in the captain.
"Why, we do carry the principle well out in the case of gentlemen like yourselves," returned the brigadier, politely, "but liberality is a virtue. As a principle, Sir John, your idea of referring the choice of our representatives to strangers has more merit than you probably imagine, though, certainly, impracticable, for the reasons already given. When we seek justice, we commonly look out for some impartial judge. Such a judge is unattainable, however, in the matter of the interests of a state, for the simple reason that power of this sort, permanently wielded, would be perverted on a principle which, after a most scrupulous analysis, we have been compelled to admit is incorporated with the very monikin nature -- viz., selfishness. I make no manner of doubt that you men, however, are altogether superior to an influence so unworthy?"
Here I could only borrow the use of the brigadier's "Hum!"
"Having ascertained that it would not do to submit the control of our affairs to utter strangers, or to those whose interests are not identified with our own, we set about seeing what could be done with a selection from among ourselves. Here we were again met by that same obstinate principle of selfishness; and we were finally driven to take shelter in the experiment of intrusting the interests of all to the management of all."
"And, sir, are these the opinions of Leaphigh?"
"Very far from it. The difference between Leaphigh and Leaplow is just this: the Leaphighers, being an ancient people, with a thousand vested interests, are induced, as time improves the mind, to seek reasons for their facts; while we Leaplowers, being unshackled by any such restraints, have been able to make an effort to form our facts on our reasons."
"Why do you, then, so much prize Leaphigh opinions on Leaplow facts?"
"Why does every little monikin believe his own father and mother to be just the two wisest, best, most virtuous, and discreetest old monikins in the whole world, until time, opportunity, and experience show him his error?"
"Do you make no exceptions, then, in your franchise, but admit every citizen who, as you say, has a nose, ears, bob, and wants, to the exercise of the suffrage?"
"Perhaps we are less scrupulous on this head than we ought to be, since we do not make ignorance and want of character bars to the privilege. Qualifications beyond mere birth and existence may be useful, but they are badly chosen when they are brought to the test of purely material possessions. This practice has arisen in the world from the fact that they who had property had power, and not because they ought to have it."
"My dear brigadier, this is flying in the face of all experience."
"For the reason just given, and because all experience has hitherto commenced at the wrong end. Society should be constructed as you erect a house; not from the roof down, but from the foundation upwards."
"Admitting, however, that your house has been badly constructed at first, in repairing it, would you tear away the walls at random, at the risk of bringing all down about your ears?"
"I would first see that sufficient props were reared, and then proceed with vigor, though always with caution. Courage in such an experiment is less to be dreaded than timidity. Half the evils of life, social, personal and political, are as much the effects of moral cowardice as of fraud."
I then told the brigadier, that as his countrymen rejected the inducements of property in the selection of the political base of their social compact, I expected to find a capital substitute in virtue.
"I have always heard that virtue is the great essential of a free people, and doubtless you Leaplowers are perfect models in this important particular?"
The brigadier smiled before he answered me, first looking about to the right and left, as if to regale himself with the odor of perfection.
"Many theories have been broached on these subjects," he replied, "in which there has been some confusion between cause and effect. Virtue is no more a cause of freedom, except as it is connected with intelligence, than vice is a cause of slavery. Both may be consequences, but it is not easy to say how either is necessarily a cause. There is a homely saying among us monikins, which is quite to the point in this matter: 'Set a rogue to catch a rogue.' Now, the essence of a free government is to be found in the responsibility of its agents. He who governs without responsibility is a master, while he who discharges the duties of a functionary under a practical responsibility is a servant. This is the only true test of governments, let them be mystified as they may in other respects. Responsibility to the mass of the nation is the criterion of freedom. Now responsibility is the substitute for virtue in a politician, as discipline is the substitute for courage in a soldier. An army of brave monikins without discipline, would be very apt to be worsted by an army of monikins of less natural spirit, with discipline. So a corps of originally virtuous politicians, without responsibility, would be very apt to do more selfish, lawless, and profligate acts, than a corps of less virtue, who were kept rigidly under the rod of responsibility. Unrestrained power is a great corrupter of virtue, of itself; while the liabilities of a restrained authority are very apt to keep it in check. At least, such is the fact with us monikins -- men very possibly get along better."
"Let me tell you, Mr. Downright, you are now uttering opinions that are diametrically opposed to those of the world, which considers virtue an indispensable ingredient in a republic."
"The world -- meaning always the monikin world -- knows very little about real political liberty, except as a theory. We of Leaplow are, in effect, the only people who have had much to do with it, and I am now telling you what is the result of my own observation, in my own country. If monikins were purely virtuous, there would be no necessity for government at all; but, being what they are, we think it wisest to set them to watch each other."
"But yours is self-government, which implies self- restraint; and self-restraint is but another word for virtue."
"If the merit of our system depended on self-government, in your signification, or on self-restraint, in any signification, it would not be worth the trouble of this argument, Sir John Goldencalf. This is one of those balmy fallacies with which ill-judging moralists endeavor to stimulate monikins to good deeds. Our government is based on a directly opposite principle; that of watching and restraining each other, instead of trusting to our ability to restrain ourselves. It is the want of responsibility, and not of constant and active presence, which infers virtue and self-control. No one would willingly lay legal restraints on himself in anything, while all are very happy to restrain their neighbors. This refers to the positive and necessary rules of intercourse, and the establishment of rights; as to mere morality, laws do very little towards enforcing its ordinances. Morals usually come of instruction; and when all have political power, instruction is a security that all desire."
"But when all vote, all may wish to abuse their trust to their own especial advantage, and a political chaos will be the consequence."
"Such a result is impossible, except as especial advantage is identified with general advantage. A community can no more buy itself in this manner, than a monikin can eat himself, let him be as ravenous as he will. Admitting that all are rogues, necessity would compel a compromise."
"You make out a plausible theory, and I have little doubt that I shall find you the wisest, the most logical, the discreetest, and the most consistent community I have yet visited. But another word: how is it that our friend the judge gave such equivocal instructions to his charge; and why, in particular, did he lay so much stress on the employment of means, which gave the lie flatly to all you have told me?"
Brigadier Downright hereupon stroked his chin, and observed that he thought there might possibly be a shift of wind; and he also wondered (quite audibly), when we should make the land. I afterwards persuaded him to allow that a monikin was but a monikin, after all, whether he had the advantages of universal suffrage, or lived under a despot.
The city of Bivouac presented a singular aspect as I first put foot within its hallowed streets. The houses were all covered with large placards, which, at first, I took to be lists of the wares to be vended, for the place is notoriously commercial; but which, on examination, I soon discovered were merely electioneering handbills. The reader will figure to himself my pleasure and surprise, on reading the first that offered. It ran as follows:
I found this placard of great use, for it gave me the first information I had yet had of the duty I was expected to perform in the coming session of the great council; which was merely to demonstrate that the moon gave light by day, and that the sun gave light by night. Of course, I immediately set about, in my own mind, hunting up the proper arguments by which this grave political hypothesis was to be properly maintained. The next placard was in favor
Your sacred rights are in danger; your dearest liberties are menaced; your wives and children are on the point of dissolution; the infamous and unconstitutional position that the sun gives light by day, and the moon by night, is openly and impudently propagated, and now is the only occasion that will probably ever offer to arrest an error so pregnant with deception and domestic evils. We present to your notice a suitable defender of all those near and dear interests, in the person of
the known patriot, the approved legislator, the profound philosopher, the incorruptible statesman. To our adopted fellowcitizens we need not recommend Mr. Goldencalf, for he is truly one of themselves; to the native citizens we will only say, 'Try him, and you will be more than satisfied.'"
After this I fell in with --
"the experienced navigator, who will conduct the ship of state into the haven of prosperity -- the practical astronomer who knows by frequent observations, that lunars are not to be got in the dark." "Perpendiculars, be plumb, and lay your enemies on their backs!"
"But I should fill the manuscript with nothing else, were I to record a tithe of the commendations and abuse that were heaped on us all, by a community to whom, as yet, we were absolutely strangers. A single sample of the latter will suffice."
"is confidently recommended to all their fellow- citizens by the nominating committee of the Anti- Approved-Sublimated-Politico- Tangents, as the real gentleman, a ripe scholar,(3) an enlightened politician, and a sound Democrat."
"THE HONORABLE ROBERT SMUT,
I naturally felt a little indignant at this impudent statement, and was about to call upon the first passer- by for the address of Mr. Veracious, when the skirts of my skin were seized by one of the Horizontal nominating committee, and I was covered with congratulations on my being happily elected. Success is an admirable plaster for all wounds, and I really forgot to have the affair of the sheep and of the illegitimate children inquired into; although I still protest, that had fortune been less propitious, the rascal who promulgated this calumny would have been made to smart for his temerity. In less than five minutes it was the turn of Captain Poke. He, too, was congratulated in due form; for, as it appeared, the "immigrant interest," as Noah termed it, had actually carried a candidate on each of the two great opposing tickets. Thus far, all was well; for, after sharing his mess so long, I had not the smallest objection to sit in the Leaplow parliament with the worthy sealer; but our mutual surprise, and I believe I might add, indignation, were a good deal excited, by shortly encountering a walking notice, which contained a programme of the proceedings to be observed at the "Reception of the Honorable Robert Smut."
"Personally appeared before me, John Equity, justice of the peace, Peter Veracious, etc., etc., who, being duly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, doth depose and say, viz.: That he was intimately acquainted with one John Goldencalf in his native country, and that he is personally knowing to the fact that he, the said John Goldencalf, has three wives, seven illegitimate children, is moreover a bankrupt without character, and that he was obliged to emigrate in consequence of having stolen a sheep.
(Signed,) PETER VERACIOUS."
It would seem that the Horizontals and the Perpendiculars had made so many spurious and mystified ballots, in order to propitiate the Tangents, and to cheat each other, that this young blackguard actually stood at the head of the poll! -- a political phenomenon, as I subsequently discovered, however, by no means of rare occurrence in the Leaplow history of the periodical selection of the wisest and best.
There was certainly an accumulation of interest on arriving in a strange land, to find one's self both extolled and vituperated on most of the corners in its capital, and to be elected to its parliament, all in the same day. Still, I did not permit myself to be either so much elated or so much depressed, as not to have all my eyes about me, in order to get as correctly as possible, and as quickly as possible, some insight into the characters, tastes, habits, wishes, and wants of my constituents.
I have already declared that it is my intention to dwell chiefly on the moral excellences and peculiarities of the people of the monikin world. Still I could not walk through the streets of Bivouac without observing a few physical usages, that I shall mention, because they have an evident connection with the state of society, and the historical recollections of this interesting portion of the polar region.
In the first place, I remarked that all sorts of quadrupeds are just as much at home in the promenades of the town, as the inhabitants themselves, a fact that I make no doubt has some very proper connection with that principle of equal rights on which the institutions of the country are established. In the second place, I could not but see that their dwellings are constructed on the very minimum of base, propping each other, as emblematic of the mutual support obtained by the republican system, and seeking their development in height for the want of breadth; a singularity of customs that I did not hesitate at once to refer to a usage of living in trees, at an epoch not very remote. In the third place, I noted, instead of entering their dwellings near the ground like men, and indeed like most other unfledged animals, that they ascend by means of external steps to an aperture about half-way between the roof and the earth, where, having obtained admission, they go up or down within the building, as occasion requires. This usage, I made no question, was preserved from the period (and that, too, no distant one), when the savage condition of the country induced them to seek protection against the ravages of wild beasts, by having recourse to ladders, which were drawn up after the family into the top of the tree, as the sun sank beneath the horizon. These steps or ladders are generally of some white material, in order that they may, even now, be found in the dark, should the danger be urgent; although I do not know that Bivouac is a more disorderly or unsafe town than another, in the present day. But habits linger in the usages of a people, and are often found to exist as fashions, long after the motive of their origin has ceased and been forgotten. As a proof of this, many of the dwellings of Bivouac have still enormous iron chevaux-de-frise before the doors, and near the base of the stone-ladders; a practice unquestionably taken from the original, unsophisticated, domestic defences of this wary and enterprising race. Among a great many of these chevaux-de-frise, I remarked certain iron images, that resemble the kings of chess- men, and which I took, at first, to be symbols of the calculating qualities of the owners of the mansions -- a species of republican heraldry -- but which the brigadier told me, on inquiry, were no more than a fashion that had descended from the custom of having stuffed images before the doors, in the early days of the settlement, to frighten away the beasts at night, precisely as we station scarecrows in a corn- field. Two of these well-padded sentinels, with a stick stuck up in a firelock attitude, he assured me, had often been known to maintain a siege of a week, against a she-bear and a numerous family of hungry cubs, in the olden times; and, now that the danger was gone, he presumed the families which had caused these iron monuments to be erected, had done so to record some marvellous risks of this nature, from which their forefathers had escaped by means of so ingenious an expedient.
Everything in Bivouac bears the impress of the sublime principle of the institutions. The houses of the private citizens, for instance, overtop the roofs of all the public edifices, to show that the public is merely a servant of the citizen. Even the churches have this peculiarity, proving that the road to heaven is not independent of the popular will. The great Hall of Justice, an edifice of which the Bivouackers are exceedingly proud, is constructed in the same recumbent style, the architect, with a view to protect himself from the imputation of believing that the firmament was within reach of his hand, having taken the precaution to run up a wooden fingerboard from the centre of the building, which points to the place where, according to the notions of all other people, the ridge of the roof itself should have been raised. So very apparent was this peculiarity, Noah observed, that it seemed to him as if the whole "'arth" had been rolled down by a great political rolling-pin, by way of giving the country its finishing touch.
While making these remarks, one drew near at a brisk trot, who, Mr. Downright observed, eagerly desired our acquaintance. Surprised at his pretending to know such a fact without any previous communication, I took the liberty of asking why he thought that we were the particular objects of the other's haste.
"Simply because you are fresh arrivals. This person is one of a sufficiently numerous class among us, who, devoured by a small ambition, seek notoriety -- which, by the way, they are near obtaining in more respects than they probably desire -- by obtruding themselves on every stranger who touches our shore. Theirs is not a generous and frank hospitality that would fain serve others, but an irritable vanity that would glorify themselves. The liberal and enlightened monikin is easily to be distinguished from all of this clique. He is neither ashamed of, nor bigoted in favor of any usages, simply because they are domestic. With him the criterions of merit are propriety, taste, expediency, and fitness. He distinguishes, while these crave; he neither wholly rejects, nor wholly lives by, imitation, but judges for himself, and uses his experience as a respectable and useful guide; while these think that all they can attain that is beyond the reach of their neighbors, is, as a matter of course, the sole aim of life. Strangers they seek, because they have long since decreed that this country, with its usages, its people, and all it contains, being founded on popular rights, is all that is debased and vulgar, themselves and a few of their own particular friends excepted; and they are never so happy as when they are gloating on, and basking in, the secondary refinements of what we call the 'old region.' Their own attainments, however, being pretty much godsends, or such as we all pick up in our daily intercourse, they know nothing of any foreign country but Leaphigh, whose language we happen to speak; and, as Leaphigh is also the very beau idéal of exclusion, in its usages, opinions, and laws, they deem all who come from that part of the earth, as rather more entitled to their profound homage than any other strangers."
Here Judge People's Friend, who had been vigorously pumping the nominating committee on the subject of the chances of the little wheel, suddenly left us, with a sneaking, self-abased air, and with his nose to the ground, like a dog who has just caught a fresh scent.
The next time we met with the ex-envoy, he was in mourning for some political backsliding that I never comprehended. He had submitted to a fresh amputation of the bob, and had so thoroughly humbled the seat of reason, that it was not possible for the most envious and malignant disposition to fancy he had a particle of brains left. He had, moreover, caused every hair to be shaved off his body, which was as naked as the hand, and altogether he presented an edifying picture of penitence and self-abasement. I afterwards understood that this purification was considered perfectly satisfactory, and that he was thought to be, again, within the limits of the most patriotic patriots.
In the meantime the Bivouacker had approached me, and was introduced as Mr. Gilded Wriggle.
"Count Poke de Stunnin'tun, my good sir," said the brigadier, who was the master of ceremonies on this occasion, "and the Mogul Goldencalf -- both noblemen of ancient lineage, admirable privileges, and of the purest water; gentlemen who, when they are at home, have six dinners daily, always sleep on diamonds, and whose castles are none of them less than six leagues in extent."
"My friend General Downright has taken too much pains, gentlemen," interrupted our new acquaintance, "your rank and extraction being self-evident. Welcome to Leaplow! I beg you will make free with my house, my dog, my cat, my horse, and myself. I particularly beg that your first, your last, and all the intermediate visits, will be to me. Well, Mogul, what do you really think of us? You have now been on shore long enough to have formed a pretty accurate notion of our institutions and habits. I beg you will not judge of all of us by what you see in the streets -- "
"It is not my intention, sir."
"You are cautious, I perceive? We are in an awful condition, I confess; trampled on by the vulgar, and far -- very far from being the people that, I dare say, you expected to see. I couldn't be made the assistant alderman of my ward, if I wished it, sir -- too much jacobism; the people are fools, sir; know nothing, sir; not fit to rule themselves, much less their betters, sir. Here have a set of us, some hundreds in this very town, been telling them what fools they are, how unfit they are to manage their own affairs, and how fast they are going to the devil, any time these twenty years, and still we have not yet persuaded them to entrust one of us with authority! To say the truth, we are in a most miserable condition, and, if anything could ruin this country, democracy would have ruined it just thirty-five years ago."
Here the wailings of Mr. Wriggle were interrupted by the wailings of Count Poke de Stunnin'tun. The latter, by gazing in admiration at the speaker, had inadvertently struck his toe against one of the forty-three thousand seven hundred and sixty inequalities of the pavement (for everything in Leaplow is exactly equal, except the streets and highways), and fallen forwards on his nose. I have already had occasion to allude to the sealer's readiness in using opprobrious epithets. This contre- tems happened in the principal street of Bivouac, or in what is called the Wide-path, an avenue of more than a league in extent; but notwithstanding its great length, Noah took it up at one end and abused it all the way to the other, with a precision, fidelity, rapidity and point, that excited general admiration. "It was the dirtiest, worst paved, meanest, vilest, street he had ever seen, and if they had it at Stunnin'tun, instead of using it as a street at all, they would fence it up at each end, and turn it into a hog-lot." Here Brigadier Downright betrayed unequivocal signs of alarm. Drawing us aside, he vehemently demanded of the captain if he were mad, to berate in this unheard-of manner the touchstone of Bivouac sentiment, nationality, taste, and elegance! This street was never spoken of except by the use of superlatives; a usage, by the way, that Noah himself had by no means neglected. It was commonly thought to be the longest and the shortest, the widest and the narrowest, the best built and the worst built avenue in the universe. "Whatever you say or do," he continued, "whatever you think or believe, never deny the superlatives of the Wide-path. If asked if you ever saw a street so crowded, although there be room to wheel a regiment, swear it is stifling; if required to name another promenade so free from interruption, protest, by your soul, that the place is a desert! Say what you will of the institutions of the country -- "
"How!" I exclaimed; "of the sacred rights of monikins?"
"Bedaub them, and the mass of the monikins, too, with just as much filth as you please. Indeed, if you wish to circulate freely in genteel society, I would advise you to get a pretty free use of the words, 'jacobins,' 'rabble,' 'mob,' 'agrarians,' 'canaille' and 'democrats'; for they recommend many to notice who possess nothing else. In our happy and independent country it is a sure sign of lofty sentiment, a finished education, a regulated intellect, and a genteel intercourse, to know how to bespatter all that portion of your fellow-creatures, for instance, who live in one-story edifices."
"I find all this very extraordinary, your government being professedly a government of the mass!"
"You have intuitively discovered the reason -- is it not fashionable to abuse the government everywhere? Whatever you do, in genteel life, ought to be based on liberal and elevated principles; and therefore, abuse all that is animate in Leaplow, the present company, with their relatives and quadrupeds, excepted; but do not raise your blaspheming tongue against anything that is inanimate! Respect, I entreat of you, the houses, the trees, the rivers, the mountains, and, above all, in Bivouac, respect the Wide-path! We are a people of lively sensibilities, and are tender of the reputations of even our stocks and stones. Even the Leaplow philosophers are all of a mind on this subject."
"Can you account for this very extraordinary peculiarity, brigadier?"
"Surely you cannot be ignorant that all which is property is sacred! We have a great respect for property, sir, and do not like to hear our wares underrated. But lay it on the mass so much the harder, and you will only be thought to be in possession of a superior and a refined intelligence."
Here we turned again to Mr. Wriggle, who was dying to be noticed once more.
"Ah! gentlemen, last from Leaphigh!" -- he had been questioning one of our attendants -- "how comes on that great and consistent people?"
"As usual, sir; -- great and consistent."
"I think, however, we are quite their equals, eh? -- chips of the same blocks?"
"No, sir -- blocks of the same chips."
Mr. Wriggle laughed, and appeared pleased with the compliment; and I wished I had even laid it on a little thicker.
"Well, Mogul, what are our great forefathers about? Still pulling to pieces that sublime fabric of a constitution, which has so long been the wonder of the world, and my especial admiration?"
"They are talking of changes, sir, although I believe they have effected no great matter. The primate of all Leaphigh, I had occasion to remark, still has seven joints to his tail."
"Ah! they are a wonderful people, sir!" said Wriggle, looking ruefully at his own bob, which, as I afterwards understood, was a mere natural abortion. "I detest change, sir; were I a Leaphigher, I would die in my tail!"
"One for whom nature has done so much in this way, is to be excused a little enthusiasm."
"A most miraculous people, sir -- the wonder of the world -- and their institutions are the greatest prodigy of the times!"
"That is well remarked, Wriggle," put in the brigadier; "for they have been tinkering them, and altering them, any time these five hundred and fifty years, and still they remain precisely the same!"
"Very true, brigadier, very true -- the marvel of our times! But, gentlemen, what do you indeed think of us? I shall not let you off with generalities. You have now been long enough on shore to have formed some pretty distinct notions about us, and I confess I should be glad to hear them. Speak the truth with candor -- are we not most miserable, forlorn, disreputable devils, after all?"
I disclaimed the ability to judge of the social condition of a people on so short an acquaintance; but to this Mr. Wriggle would not listen. He insisted that I must have been particularly disgusted with the coarseness and want of refinement in the rabble, as he called the mass, who, by the way, had already struck me as being relatively much the better part of the population, so far as I had seen things -- more than commonly decent, quiet, and civil. Mr. Wriggle, also, very earnestly and piteously begged I would not judge of the whole country by such samples as I might happen to fall in with in the highways.
"I trust, Mogul, you will have charity to believe we are not all of us quite so bad as appearances, no doubt, make us in your polished eyes. These rude beings are spoiled by our jacobinical laws; but we have a class, sir, that IS different. But, if you will not touch on the people, how do you like the town, sir? A poor place, no doubt, after your own ancient capitals?"
"Time will remedy all that, Mr. Wriggle."
"Do you then think we really want time? Now, that house at the corner, there, to my taste is fit for a gentleman in any country-eh?"
"No doubt, sir, fit for one."
"This is but a poor street in the eyes of you travellers, I know, this Wide-path of ours; though we think it rather sublime?"
"You do yourself injustice, Mr. Wriggle; though not equal to many of the -- -"
"How, sir, the Wide-path not equal to anything on earth! I know several people who have been in the old world [so the Leaplowers call the regions of Leaphigh, Leapup, Leapdown, etc.] and they swear there is not as fine a street in any part of it. I have not had the good fortune to travel, sir; but, sir, permit me, sir, to say, sir, that some of them, sir, that have travelled, sir, think, sir, the Wide-path, the most magnificent public avenue, sir, that their experienced eyes ever beheld, sir -- yes, sir, that their very experienced eyes ever beheld, sir."
"I have seen so little of it, as yet, Mr. Wriggle, that you will pardon me if I have spoken hastily."
"Oh! no offence -- I despise the monikin who is not above local vanities and provincial admiration! You ought to have seen that, sir, for I frankly admit, sir, that no rabble can be worse than ours, and that we are all going to the devil, as fast as ever we can. No, sir, a most miserable rabble, sir. -- But as for this street, and our houses, and our cats, and our dogs, and certain exceptions-you understand me, sir -- it is quite a different thing. Pray, Mogul, who is the greatest personage, now, in your nation?"
"Perhaps I ought to say the Duke of Wellington, sir."
"Well, sir, allow me to ask if he lives in a better house than that before us? -- I see you are delighted, eh? We are a poor, new nation of pitiful traders, sir, half savage, as everybody knows; but we do flatter ourselves that we know how to build a house! Will you just step in and see a new sofa that its owner bought only yesterday -- I know him intimately, and nothing gives me so much pleasure as to show his new sofa."
I declined the invitation on the plea of fatigue, and by this means got rid of so troublesome an acquaintance. On leaving me, however, he begged that I would not fail to make his house my home, swore terribly at the rabble, and invited me to admire a very ordinary view that was to be obtained by looking up the Wide-path in a particular direction, but which embraced his own abode. When Mr. Wriggle was fairly out of earshot, I demanded of the brigadier if Bivouac, or Leaplow, contained many such prodigies.
"Enough to make themselves very troublesome, and us ridiculous," returned Mr. Downright. "We are a young nation, Sir John, covering a great surface, with a comparatively small population, and, as you are aware, separated from the other parts of the monikin region by a belt of ocean. In some respects we are like people in the country, and we possess the merits and failings of those who are so situated. Perhaps no nation has a larger share of reflecting and essentially respectable inhabitants than Leaplow; but, not satisfied with being what circumstances so admirably fit them to be, there is a clique among us, who, influenced by the greater authority of older nations, pine to be that which neither nature, education, manners, nor facilities will just yet allow them to become. In short, sir, we have the besetting sin of a young community -- imitation. In our case the imitation is not always happy, either; it being necessarily an imitation that is founded on descriptions. If the evil were limited to mere social absurdities, it might be laughed at -- but that inherent desire of distinction, which is the most morbid and irritable, unhappily, in the minds of those who are the least able to attain anything more than a very vulgar notoriety, is just as active here, as it is elsewhere; and some who have got wealth, and who can never get more than what is purely dependent on wealth, affect to despise those who are not as fortunate as themselves in this particular. In their longings for pre-eminence, they turn to other states (Leaphigh, more especially, which is the beau idéal of all nations and people who wish to set up a caste in opposition to despotism) for rules of thought, and declaim against that very mass which is at the bottom of all their prosperity, by obstinately refusing to allow of any essential innovation on the common rights. In addition to these social pretenders, we have our political Indoctrinated."
"Indoctrinated! Will you explain the meaning of the term?"
"Sir, an Indoctrinated is one of a political school who holds to the validity of certain theories which have been made to justify a set of adventitious facts, as is eminently the case in our own great model, Leaphigh. We are peculiarly placed in this country. Here, as a rule, facts -- meaning political and social facts -- are greatly in advance of opinion, simply because the former are left chiefly to their own free action, and the latter is necessarily trammelled by habit and prejudice; while in the 'old region' opinion, as a rule- and meaning the leading or better opinion -- is greatly in advance of facts, because facts are restrained by usage and personal interests, and opinion is incited by study, and the necessity of change."
"Permit me to say, brigadier, that I find your present institutions a remarkable result to follow such a state of things."
"They are a cause, rather than a consequence. Opinion, as a whole, is everywhere on the advance; and it is further advanced even here, as a whole, than anywhere else. Accident has favored the foundation of the social compact; and once founded, the facts have been hastening to their consummation faster than the monikin mind has been able to keep company with them. This is a remarkable but true state of the whole region. In other monikin countries, you see opinion tugging at rooted practices, and making desperate efforts to eradicate them from their bed of vested interests, while here you see facts dragging opinion after them like a tail wriggling behind a kite.(4) As to our purely social imitation and social follies, absurd as they are, they are necessarily confined to a small and an immaterial class; but the Indoctrinated spirit is a much more serious affair. That unsettles confidence, innovates on the right, often innocently and ignorantly, and causes the vessel of state to sail like a ship with a drag towing in her wake."
"This is truly a novel condition for an enlightened monikin nation."
"No doubt, men manage better; but of all this you will learn more in the great council. You may, perhaps, think it strange that our facts should preserve their ascendency in opposition to so powerful a foe as opinion; but you will remember that a great majority of our people, if not absolutely on a level with circumstances, being purely practical, are much nearer to this level, than the class termed the endoctrinated. The last are troublesome and delusive, rather than overwhelming."
"To return to Mr. Wriggle -- is his sect numerous?"
"His class flourishes most in the towns. In Leaplow we are greatly in want of a capital, where the cultivated, educated, and wellmannered can assemble, and, placed by their habits and tastes above the ordinary motives and feelings of the less instructed, they might form a more healthful, independent, appropriate, and manly public sentiment than that which now pervades the country. As things are, the real élite of this community are so scattered, as rather to receive an impression from, than to impart one to society, The Leaplow Wriggles, as you have just witnessed, are selfish and exacting as to their personal pretensions, irritably confident as to the merit of any particular excellence which limits their own experience, and furiously proscribing to those whom they fancy less fortunate than themselves."
"Good heavens! -- brigadier -- all this is excessively human!"
"Ah! it is -- is it? Well, this is certainly the way with us monikins. Our Wriggles are ashamed of exactly that portion of our population of which they have most reason to be proud, viz., the mass; and they are proud of precisely that portion of which they have most reason to be ashamed, viz., themselves. But plenty of opportunities will offer to look further into this; and we will now hasten to the inn."
As the brigadier appeared to chafe under the subject, I remained silent, following him as fast as I could, but keeping my eyes open, the reader may be very sure, as we went along. There was one peculiarity I could not but remark in this singular town. It was this: -- all the houses were smeared over with some colored earth, and then, after all this pains had been taken to cover the material, an artist was employed to make white marks around every separate particle of the fabric (and they were in millions), which ingenious particularity gives the dwellings a most agreeable air of detail, imparting to the architecture, in general, a sublimity that is based on the multiplication table. If to this be added the black of the chevaux-de-frise, the white of the entrance-ladders, and a sort of standing-collar to the whole, immediately under the eves, of some very dazzling hue, the effect is not unlike that of a platoon of drummers, in scarlet coats, cotton lace, and cuffs and capes of white. What renders the similitude more striking, is the fact that no two of the same plantoon appear to be exactly of a size, as is very apt to be the case with your votaries in military music.
The institutions of Leaplow are divided into two great moral categories, viz.: the legal and the substitutive. The former embraces the provisions of the great elementary, and the latter all the provisions of the great alimentary principle. The first, accordingly, is limited by the constitution, or the Great National Allegory, while the last is limited by nothing but practice; one contains the proposition, and the other its deductions; this is all hypothesis, that, all corollary. The two great political landmarks, the two public opinions, the bob-upon-bobs, the rotatory action, and the great and little wheels, are merely inferential, and I shall, therefore, say nothing about them in my present treatise, which has a strict relation only to the fundamental law of the land, or to the Great and Sacred National Allegory.
It has been already stated that Leaplow was originally a scion of Leaphigh. The political separation took place in the last generation, when the Leaplowers publicly renounced Leaphigh and all it contained, just as your catechumen is made to renounce the devil and all his works. This renunciation, which is also sometimes called the denunciation, was much more to the liking of Leaplow than to that of Leaphigh; and a long and sanguinary war was the consequence. The Leaplowers, after a smart struggle, however, prevailed in their firm determination to have no more to do with Leaphigh. The sequel will show how far they were right.
Even preceding the struggle, so active was the sentiment of patriotism and independence, that the citizens of Leaplow, though ill-provided with the productions of their own industry, proudly resorted to the self-denial of refusing to import even a pin from the mother country, actually preferring nakedness to submission. They even solemnly voted that their venerable progenitor, instead of being, as she clearly ought to have been, a fond, protecting, and indulgent parent, was, in truth, no other than a rapacious, vindictive and tyrannical step- mother. This was the opinion, it will be remembered, when the two communities were legally united, had but one head, wore clothes, and necessarily pursued a multitude of their interests in common.
By the lucky termination of the war, all this was radically changed. Leaplow pointed her thumb at Leaphigh, and declared her intention henceforth to manage her own affairs in her own way. In order to do this the more effectually, and, at the same time, to throw dirt into the countenance of her late step-mother, she determined that her own polity should run so near a parallel, and yet should be so obviously an improvement on that of Leaphigh, as to demonstrate the imperfections of the latter to the most superficial observer. That this patriotic resolution was faithfully carried out in practice, I am now about to demonstrate.
In Leaphigh, the old human principle had long prevailed, that political authority came from God; though why such a theory should ever have prevailed anywhere, as Mr. Downright once expressed it, I cannot see, the devil very evidently having a greater agency in its exercise than any other influence, or intelligence, whatever. However, the jus divinum was the regulator of the Leaphigh social compact, until the nobility managed to get the better of the jus, when the divinum was left to shift for itself. It was at this epocha the present constitution found its birth. Any one may have observed that one stick placed on end will fall, as a matter of course, unless rooted in the earth. Two sticks fare no better, even with their tops united; but three sticks form a standard. This simple and beautiful idea gave rise to the Leaphigh polity. Three moral props were erected in the midst of the community, at the foot of one of which was placed the king, to prevent it from slipping; for all the danger, under such a system, came from that of the base slipping; at the foot of the second, the nobles; and at the foot of the third, the people. On the summit of this tripod was raised the machine of state. This was found to be a capital invention in theory, though practice, as practice is very apt to do, subjected it to some essential modifications. The king, having his stick all his own way, gave a great deal of trouble to the two other sets of stick-holders; and, unwilling to disturb the theory, for that was deemed to be irrevocably settled and sacred, the nobility, who, for their own particular convenience, paid the principal workmen at the base of the people's stick to stand steady, set about the means of keeping the king's stick, also, in a more uniform and serviceable attitude. It was on this occasion that, discovering the king never could keep his end of the great social stick in the place where he had sworn to keep it, they solemnly declared that he must have forgotten where the constitutional foot-hole was, and that he had irretrievably lost his memory -- a decision that was the remote cause of the recent calamity of Captain Poke. The king was no sooner constitutionally deprived of his memory, than it was an easy matter to strip him of all his other faculties; after which it was humanely decreed, as indeed it ought to be in the case of a being so destitute, that he could do no wrong. By way of following out the idea on a humane and Christian-like principle, and in order to make one part of the practice conform to the other, it was shortly after determined that he should do nothing; his eldest first-cousin of the masculine gender being legally proclaimed his substitute. In the end, the crimson curtain was drawn before the throne. As, however, this cousin might begin to wriggle the stick in his turn, and derange the balance of the tripod, the other two sets of stick-holders next decided that, though his majesty had an undeniable constitutional right to say who should be his eldest first-cousin of the masculine gender, they had an undoubted constitutional right to say who he should not be. The result of all this was a compromise; his majesty, who, like other people, found the sweets of authority more palatable than the bitter, agreeing to get up on top of the tripod, where he might appear seated on the machine of state, to receive salutations, and eat and drink in peace, leaving the others to settle among themselves who should do the work at the bottom, as well as they could. In brief, such is the history, and such was the polity of Leaphigh, when I had the honor of visiting that country.
The Leaplowers were resolute to prove that all this was radically wrong. They determined, in the first place, that there should be but one great social beam; and, in order that it should stand perfectly steady, they made it the duty of every citizen to prop its base. They liked the idea of a tripod well enough, but, instead of setting one up in the Leaphigh fashion, they just reversed its form, and stuck it on top of their beam, legs uppermost, placing a separate agent on each leg, to work their machine of state; taking care, also, to send a new one aloft periodically. They reasoned thus: If one of the Leaphigh beams slip (and they will be very apt to slip in wet weather, with the king, nobles and people wriggling and shoving against each other), down will come the whole machine of state, or, to say the least, it will get so much awry as never to work as well as at first; and therefore we will have none of it. If, on the other hand, one of our agents makes a blunder and falls, why, he will only break his own neck. He will, moreover, fall in the midst of us, and, should he escape with life, we can either catch him and throw him back again, or we can send a better hand up in his place, to serve out the rest of his time. They also maintain that one beam, supported by all the citizens, is much less likely to slip than three beams, supported by three powers of very uncertain, not to say unequal, forces.
Such, in effect, is the substance of the respective national allegories of Leaphigh and of Leaplow; I say allegories, for both governments seem to rely on this ingenious form of exhibiting their great distinctive national sentiments. It would, in fact, be an improvement, were all constitutions henceforth to be written in this manner, since they would necessarily be more explicit, intelligible, and sacred than they are by the present attempt at literality.
Having explained the governing principles of these two important states, I now crave the reader's attention, for a moment, while I go a little into the details of the modus operandi, in both cases.
Leaphigh acknowledged a principle, in the outset, that Leaplow totally disclaimed, viz., that of primogeniture. Being an only child myself, and having no occasion for research on this interesting subject, I never knew the basis of this peculiar right, until I came to read the great Leaphigh commentator, Whiterock, on the governing rules of the social compact. I there found that the first-born, morally considered, is thought to have better claims to the honors of the genealogical tree, on the father's side, than those offspring whose origin is to be referred to a later period in connubial life. On this obvious and highly discriminating principle, the crown, the rights of the nobles, and indeed all other rights, are transferred from father to son, in the direct male line, according to primogeniture.
Nothing of this is practised in Leaplow. There, the supposition of legitimacy is as much in favor of the youngest as of the oldest born, and the practice is in conformity. As there is no hereditary chief to poise on one of the legs of the great tripod, the people at the foot of the beam choose one from among themselves, periodically, who is called the Great Sachem. The same people choose another set, few in number, who occupy a common seat, on another leg. These they term the Riddles. Another set, still more numerous and popular in aspect, if not in fact, fills a large seat on the third leg. These last, from their being supposed to be supereminently popular and disinterested, are familiarly known as the Legion. They are also pleasantly nicknamed the Bobees, an appellation that took its rise in the circumstance that most of the members of their body have submitted to the second dock, and, indeed, have nearly obliterated every sign of a cauda. I had, most luckily, been chosen to sit in the House of Bobees, a station for which I felt myself well qualified, in this great essential at least; for all the anointing and forcing resorted to by Noah and myself, during our voyage out, and our residence in Leaphigh, had not produced so much as a visible sprout in either.
The Great Sachem, the Riddles, and the Legion, had conjoint duties to perform, in certain respects, and separate duties in others. All three, as they owed their allegorical elevation to, so were they dependent on, the people at the foot of the great social stick, for approbation and reward -- that is to say for all rewards other than those which they have it in their power to bestow on themselves. There was another authority, or agent of the public, that is equally perched on the social beam, though not quite so dependent as the three just named, upon the main prop of the people -- being also propped by a mechanical disposition of the tripod itself. These are termed the Supreme Arbitrators, and their duties are to revise the acts of the other three agents of the people, and to decide whether they are or are not in conformity with the recognized principles of the Sacred Allegory.
I was greatly delighted with my own progress in the study of the Leaplow institutions. In the first place, I soon discovered that the principal thing was to reverse the political knowledge I had acquired in Leaphigh, as one would turn a tub upside-down, when he wished to draw from its stores at a fresh end, and then I was pretty sure of being within at least the spirit of the Leaplow law. Everything seemed simple, for all was dependent on the common prop, at the base of the great social beam.
Having got a thorough insight myself into the governing principles of the system under which I had been chosen to serve, I went to look up my colleague, Captain Poke, in order to ascertain how he understood the great Leaplow Allegory.
I found the mind of the sealer, according to a beautiful form of speech already introduced in this narrative, "considerably exercised," on the several subjects that so naturally presented themselves to a man in his situation. In the first place, he was in a towering passion at the impudence of Bob in presuming to offer himself as a candidate for the great council; and having offered himself, the rage of the Captain was in no degree abated by the circumstance of the young rascal's being at the head of the poll. He most unreservedly swore "that no subordinate of his should ever sit in the same legislative body with himself; that he was a republican by birth, and knew the usages of republican governments quite as well as the best patriot among them; and although he admitted that all sorts of critters were sent to Congress in his country, no man ever knew an instance of a cabin-boy's being sent there. They might elect just as much as they pleased; but coming ashore, and playing politician were very different things from cleaning his boots, and making his coffee, and mixing his grog." The captain had just been waited on by a committee of the Perpendiculars (half the Leaplow community is on some committee or other), by whom he had been elected, and they had given notice, that instructions would be sent in, forthwith, to all their representatives, to perform gyration No. 3, as soon after the meeting of the council as possible. He was no tumbler, and he had sent for a master of political saltation, who had just been with him practising. According to Noah's own statement, his success was anything but flattering. "If they would give a body room, Sir John," he said, in a complaining accent," I should think nothing of it -- but you are expected to stand shoulder to shoulder -- yard- arm and yard-arm -- and throw a flap-jack as handy as an old woman would toss a johnny-cake! It's unreasonable to think of wearing ship without room; but give me room, and I'll engage to get round on the other tack, and to luff into the line again, as safely as the oldest cruiser among 'em, though not quite so quick. They do go about spitefully, that's sartain."
Nor were the Great National Allegories without their difficulties. Noah perfectly understood the images of the two tripods, though he was disposed to think that neither was properly secured. A mast would make but bad weather, he maintained, let it be ever so well rigged and stayed, without being also securely stepped. He saw no use in trusting the heels of the beams to anybody. Good lashings were what were wanted, and then the people might go about their private affairs, and not fear the work would fall. That the king of Leaphigh had no memory, he could testify from bitter experience; nor did he believe that he had any conscience; and, chiefly he desired to know if we, when we got up into our places on the top of the three inverted beams, among the other Bobees, were to make war on the Great Sachem and the Riddles, or whether we were to consider the whole affair as a good thing, in which the wisest course would be to make fair weather of it?
To all these remarks and questions I answered as well as my own limited experience would allow; taking care to inform my friend that he had conceived the whole matter a little too literally, as all that he had been reading about the great political beams, the tripods, and the legislative boxes, was merely an allegory.
"And pray, then, Sir John, what may an allegory be?"
"In this case, my good sir, it is a constitution."
"And what is a constitution?"
"Why, it is sometimes as you perceive, an allegory."
"And are we not to be mast-headed, then, according to the book?"
"But there are actually such critters as the Great Sachem, and Riddles, and above all, the Bobees! -- We are boney fie-diddle-di-dee elected?"
"And may I take the liberty of asking, what it is our duty to do?"
"We are to act practically -- according to the literality of the legal, implied, figurative, allegorical significations of the Great National Compact under a legitimate construction."
"I fear we shall have to work doubletides, Sir John, to do so much in so short a time! Do you mean that, in honest truth, there is no beam?"
"There is, and there is not."
"No fore, main, and mizzen tops, according to what is here written down?"
"There is not, and there is."
"Sir John, in the name of God, speak out! Is all this about eight dollars a day, no better than a take in?"
"That, I believe is strictly literal."
As Noah now seemed a little mollified, I seized the opportunity to tell him he must beware how he attempted to stop Bob from attending the council. Members were privileged, going and coming; and unless he was guarded in his course, he might have some unpleasant collision with the sergeant-at-arms. Besides, it was unbecoming the dignity of a legislator to be wrangling about trifles, and he, to whom was confided the great affairs of a state, ought to attach the utmost importance to a grave exterior, which commonly was of more account with his constituents than any other quality. Any one could tell whether he was grave or not, but it was by no means so easy a matter to tell whether he or his constituents had the greater cause to appear so. Noah promised to be discreet, and we parted, not to meet again until we assembled to be sworn in.
Before continuing the narrative, I will just mention that we disposed of our commercial investments that morning. All the Leaphigh opinions brought good prices; and I had occasion to see how well the brigadier understood the market by the eagerness with which, in particular, the Opinions on the State of Society in Leaplow were bought up. But, by one of those unexpected windfalls which raise up so many of the chosen of the earth to their high places, the cook did better than any of us. It will be remembered, that he had bartered an article of merchandise that he called slush against a neglected bale of Distinctive Leaplow Opinions, which had no success at all in Leaphigh. Coming as they did from abroad, these articles had taken as novelties in Bivouac, and he sold them all before night, at enormous advances; the cry being that something new and extraordinary had found its way into the market.
It was not a great while before the Great Sachem sent us a communication, which contained a compte rendue of the state of the nation. Like most accounts it is my good fortune to receive, I thought it particularly long. Agreeably to the opinions of this document, the people of Leaplow were, by a good deal, the happiest people in the world; they were also considerably more respected, esteemed, beloved, honored, and properly appreciated, than any other monikin community, and, in short, they were the admiration and glory of the universe. I was exceedingly glad to hear this, for some of the facts were quite new to me; a circumstance which shows one can never get correct notions of a nation except from itself.
These important facts properly digested, we all of us set about our several duties with a zeal that spoke fairly for our industry and integrity. Things commenced swimmingly, and it was not long before the Riddles sent us a resolution for concurrence, by way of opening the ball. It was conceived in the following terms: "Resolved, that the color which has hitherto been deemed to be black, is really white."
As this was the first resolution that involved a principle on which we had been required to vote, I suggested to Noah the propriety of our going round to the brigadier, and inquiring what might be the drift of so singular a proposition. Our colleague answered the question with great good-nature, giving us to understand that the Perpendiculars and the Horizontals had long been at variance on the mere coloring property of various important questions, and the real matter involved in the resolution was not visible. The former had always maintained (by always, he meant ever since the time they maintained the contrary) the doctrine of the resolution, and the latter its converse. A majority of the Riddles, just at this moment, are Perpendiculars; and, as it was now seen, they had succeeded in getting a vote on their favorite principle.
"According to this account of the matter, Sir John," observed the captain, "I shall be compelled to maintain that black is white, seeing that I am in on the Parpendic'lar interest?"
I thought with the captain, and was pleased that my own legislative debut was not to be characterized by the promulgation of any doctrine so much at variance with my preconceived ways of thinking. Curious, however, to know his opinion, I asked the brigadier in what light he felt disposed to view the matter himself.
"I am elected by the Tangents," he said; "and, by what I can learn, it is the intention of our friends to steer a middle course; and one of our leaders is already selected, who, at a proper stage of the affair, is to move an amendment."
"Can you refer me, my dear friend, to anything connected with the Great National Allegory that bears on this point?"
"Why, there is a clause among the fundamental and immutable laws, which it is thought was intended to meet this very case; but, unhappily, the sages by whom our Allegory was drawn up have not paid quite as much attention to the phraseology as the importance of the subject demanded."
Here the brigadier laid his finger on the clause in question, and I returned to a seat to study its meaning. It was conceived as follows: -- Art. IV. Clause 6: "The Great National Council shall, in no case whatever, pass any law, or resolution, declaring white to be black."
After studying this fundamental enactment to the bottom, turning it on every side, and finally considering it upside-down, I came to the conclusion that its tenor was, on the whole, rather more favorable than unfavorable to the Horizontal doctrine. It struck me, a very good argument was to be made out of the constitutional question, and that it presented a very fair occasion for a new member to venture on a maiden speech. Having so settled the matter, entirely to my own satisfaction, I held myself in reserve, waiting for the proper moment to produce an effect.
It was not long before the chairman of the committee on the judiciary (one of the effects of the resolution was entirely to change the coloring of all testimony throughout the vast Republic of Leaplow) made his report on the subject-matter of the resolution. This person was a Tangent, who had a besetting wish to become a Riddle, although the leaning of our house was decidedly Horizontal; and, as a matter of course, he took the Riddle side of this question. The report, itself, required seven hours in the reading, commencing with the subject at the epocha of the celebrated caucus that was adjourned sine die, by the disruption of the earth's crust, and previously to the distribution of the great monikin family into separate communities, and ending with the subject of the resolution in his hand. The reporter had set his political palette with the utmost care, having completely covered the subject with neutral tints, before he got through with it, and glazing the whole down with ultramarine, in such a way as to cause the eye to regard the matter through a fictitious atmosphere. Finally, he repeated the resolution, verbatim, and as it came from the other house.
Mr. Speaker now called upon gentlemen to deliver their sentiments. To my utter amazement, Captain Poke arose, put his tobacco back into its box, and opened the debate without apology.
The honorable captain said he understood this question to be one implicating the liberties of everybody. He understood the matter literally, as it was propounded in the Allegory, and set forth in the resolution; and, as such, he intended to look at it with unprejudiced eyes. "The natur' of this proposal lay altogether in color. What is color, after all? Make the most of it, and in the most favorable position, which, perhaps, is the cheek of a comely young woman, and it is but skin-deep. He remembered the time when a certain female in another part of the univarse, who is commonly called Miss Poke, might have out-rosed the best rose in a placed called Stunnin'tun; and what did it all amount to? He shouldn't ask Miss Poke herself, for obvious reasons -- but he would ask any of the neighbors how she looked now? Quitting female natur', he would come to human natur' generally. He had often remarked that sea water was blue, and he had frequently caused pails to be lowered, and the water brought on deck, to see if he could come at any of this blueing matter -- for indigo was both scarce and dear in his part of the world, but he never could make out anything by the experiment; from which he concluded that, on the whull, there was pretty much no such thing as color, at all.
"As for the resolution before the house, it depended entirely on the meaning of words. Now, after all, what is a word? Why, some people's words are good, and other people's words are good for nothing. For his part, he liked sealed instruments -- which might be because he was a sealer -- but as for mere words, he set but little store by them. He once tuck a man's word for his wages; and the long and short of it was, that he lost his money. He had known a thousand instances in which words had proved to be of no value, and he did not see why some gentlemen wished to make them of so much importance here. For his part, he was for puffing up nothing, no, not even a word or a color, above its desarts. The people seemed to call for a change in the color of things, and he called upon gentlemen to remember that this was a free country, and one in which the laws ruled; and therefore he trusted they would be disposed to adapt the laws to the wants of the people. What had the people asked of the house in this matter? So far as his knowledge went, they had really asked nothing in words, but he understood there was great discontent on the subject of the old colors; and he construed their silence into an expression of contempt for words in general. He was a Parpendic'lar, and he should always maintain Parpendic'lar sentiments. Gentlemen might not agree with him, but, for one, he was not disposed to jipordyze the liberties of his constituents, and therefore he gave the rizolution just as it came from the Riddles, without altering a letter -- although he did think there was one word misspelt -- he meant 'really,' which he had been taught to spell 'ra'aily' -- but he was ready to sacrifice even his opinions on this point to the good of the country; and therefore he went with the Riddles, even to their misprints. He hoped the rizolution would pass, with the entire unanimity so important a subject demanded."
This speech produced a very strong sensation. Up to this time, the principal orators of the house had been much in the practice of splitting hairs about some nice technicality in the Great Allegory; but Noah, with the simplicity of a truly great mind, had made a home thrust at the root of the whole matter; laying about him with the single-heartedness of the illustrious Manchechan, when he couched his lance against the wind-mills. The points admitted, that there were no such things as colors, and that words were of no moment, this, or indeed any other resolution, might be passed with impunity. The Perpendiculars in the house were singularly satisfied, for, to say the truth, their arguments hitherto had been rather flimsy. Out of doors, the effect was greater still; for it wrought a complete change in the whole tenor of the Perpendicular argument. Monikins who the day before had strenuously affirmed that their strength lay in the phraseology of the Great Allegory, now suddenly had tneir eyes opened, clearly perceiving that words had no just value. The argument had certainly undergone some modifications; but, luckily, the deduction was undisturbed. The Brigadier noticed this apparent anomaly; explaining, however, that it was quite common in Leaplow, more especially in all matters affecting politics; though he felt persuaded men must be more consistent.
No great time is required to put a well-organized political corps to
the right-about, when proper attention has been paid to the preparatory
drills. Although several of the best speakers among the Perpendiculars
had appeared in their places, with ample notes, and otherwise in readiness
to show that the phraseology of the resolution was altogether in favor
of their views of the question, every monikin of them promptly rejected
his previous argument, for the simple and more conclusive views of Captain
Poke. On the other hand, the Horizontals were so completely taken by surprise,
that not an orator among them all had a word to say for himself. So far
from replying, they actually permitted one of their antagonists to rise
and to follow up the blow of the Captain; a pretty certain sign that they
The new speaker was a very prominent leader of the Perpendiculars. He was one-of those politicians who are only the more dexterous from having been of all sides, knowing by experience the weak and the strong points of each, and being familiar with every subdivision of political sentiment that had ever existed in the country. This ingenious orator took up the subject with spirit, treating it throughout on the principle of the honorable member who had last spoken. According to his views of the question, the gist of a resolution, or a law, was to be found in things and not in words. Words were so many false lights to mislead, and -- he need not tell this house a fact that was familiar to all who heard him -- words would be, and were, daily moulded to suit the convenience of all sorts of persons. It was a capital error in political life to be lavish of words, for the time might come when the garrulous and voluble would have cause to repent of having used them. He asked the house if the thing proposed were necessary-did the public interests require it -- was the public mind prepared for it; if so, he begged gentlemen to do their duties to themselves, their characters, their consciences, their religion, their property, and, lastly, their constituents.
This orator had endeavored to destroy words by words, and I thought the house regarded his effort rather favorably. I now determined to make a rally in favor of the fundamental law, which evidently had as yet been but little regarded in the discussion. I caught the Speaker's eye, accordingly, and was on my feet in a moment.
I commenced by paying elaborate compliments to the talents and motives of those who had preceded me, and made some proper allusions to the known intelligence, patriotism, virtue, and legal attainments of the house. All this was so well received, that talking courage, I determined to come down upon my adversaries, at once, with the text of the written law. Prefacing the blow with an eulogium on the admirable nature of those institutions which were universally admitted to be the wonder of the world, and which were commonly pronounced to be the second perfection of monikin reason, those of Leaphigh being invariably deemed the first, I made a few apposite remarks on the necessity of respecting the vital ordinances of the body politic, and asked the attention of my hearers while I read to them a particular clause, which it had struck me had some allusion to the very point now in consideration. Having thus cleared the way, I had not the folly to defeat the objects of so much preparation, by an indiscreet precipitancy. So far from it, previously to reading the extract from the constitution, I waited until the attention of every member present was attracted more forcibly by the dignity, deliberation, and gravity of my manner, than by the substance of what had yet been said. In the midst of this deep silence and expectation I read aloud, in a voice that reached every cranny in the hall --
"The great council shall, in no case whatever, pass any law, or resolution, declaring white to be black."
If I had been calm in the presentation of this authority, I was equally self-possessed in waiting for its effect. Looking about me I saw surprise, perplexity, doubt, wonder, and uncertainty in every countenance, if I did not find conviction. One fact embarrassed even me. Our friends the Horizontals were evidently quite as much at fault as our opponents the Perpendiculars, instead of being, as I had good reason to hope, in an ecstasy of pleasure on hearing their cause sustained by an authority so weighty.
"Will the honorable member have the goodness to explain from what author he has quoted?" one of the leading Perpendiculars at length ventured to inquire.
"The language you have just heard, Mr. Speaker," I resumed, believing that now was the favorable instant to follow up the matter, "is language that must find an echo in every heart -- it is language that can never be used in vain in this venerable hall, language that carries with it conviction and command." -- I observed that the members were now fairly gaping at each other with wonder.-"Sir, I am asked to name the author from whom I have quoted these sententious and explicit words -- Sir, what you have just heard is to be found in the Article IV., Clause 6, of the Great National Allegory -- "
"Order -- order -- order!" shouted a hundred raven throats.
I stood aghast, even more amazed than the house itself had been only the instant before.
"Order -- order -- order -- order -- order!" continued to be yelled, as if a million of demons were screeching in the hall.
"The honorable member will please to recollect," said the bland and ex-officio impartial speaker, who, by the way, was a Perpendicular, elected by fraud, "that it is out of order to use personalities."
"Personalities! I do not understand, sir -- "
"The instrument to which the honorable member has alluded, his own good sense will tell him, was never written by itself -- so far from this, the very members of the convention by which it was drawn up, are at this instant members of this house, and most of them supporters of the resolution now before the house; and it will be deemed personal to throw into their faces former official acts, in this unheard-of manner. I am sorry it is my duty to say, that the honorable member is entirely out of order."
"But, sir, the Sacred National -- "
"Sacred, sir, beyond a doubt -- but in a sense different from what you imagine -- much too sacred, sir, ever to be alluded to here. There are the works of the commentators, the books of constructions, and specially the writings of various foreign and perfectly disinterested statesmen -- need I name Ekrub in particular! -- that are at the command of members; but so long as I am honored with a seat in this chair, I shall peremptorily decide against all personalities."
I was dumfounded. The idea that the authority itself would be refused never crossed my mind, though I had anticipated a sharp struggle on its construction. The constitution only required that no law should be passed declaring black to be white, whereas the resolution merely ordered that henceforth white should be black. Here was matter for discussion, nor was I at all sanguine as to the result; but to be thus knocked on the head by a club, in the outset, was too much for the modesty of a maiden speech. I took my seat in confusion; and I plainly saw that the Perpendiculars, by their sneers, now expected to carry everything triumphantly their own way. This, most probably, would have been the case, had not one of the Tangents immediately got the floor, to move the amendment. To the vast indignation of Captain Poke, and, in some degree, to my own mortification, this duty was intrusted to the Hon. Robert Smut. Mr. Smut commenced with entreating members not to be led away by the sophistry of the first speaker. That honorable member, no doubt, felt himself called upon to defend the position taken by his friends; but those that knew him well, as it had been his fate to know him, must be persuaded that his sentiments had, at least, undergone a sudden and miraculous change. That honorable member denied the existence of color at all! He would ask that honorable member if he had never been instrumental himself in producing what is generally called "black and blue color"? He should like to know if that honorable member placed as little value, at present, on blows as he now seemed to set on words. He begged pardon of the house -- but this was a matter of great interest to himself -- he knew that there never had been a greater manufacturer of "black and blue color" than that honorable member, and he wondered at his now so pertinaciously denying the existence of colors, and at his wish to underrate their value. For his part, he trusted he understood the importance of words, and the value of hues; and while he did not exactly see the necessity of deeming black so inviolable as some gentlemen appeared to think it, he was not by any means prepared to go as far as those who had introduced this resolution. He did not believe that public opinion was satisfied with maintaining that black was black, but he thought it was not yet disposed to affirm that black was white. He did not say that such a day might not arrive; he only maintained that it had not yet arrived, and with a view to meet that which he believed was the public sentiment, he should move, by way of amendment, to strike out the whole of the resolution after the word "really," and insert that which would cause the whole resolution to read as follows, viz.:
"Resolved, that the color which has hitherto been deemed to be black, is really lead-color."
Hereupon, the Honorable Mr. Smut took his seat, leaving the house to its own ruminations. The leaders of the Perpendiculars, foreseeing that if they got half-way this session, they might effect the rest of their object the next, determined to accept the compromise; and the resolution, amended, passed by a handsome majority. So this important point was finally decided for the moment, leaving great hopes among the Perpendiculars of being able to lay the Horizontals even flatter on their backs than they were just then.
The next question that presented itself was of far less interest, exciting no great attention. To understand it, however, it will be necessary to refer a little to history. The government of Leapthrough had, about sixty- three years before, caused one hundred and twenty-six Leaplow ships to be burned on the high seas, or otherwise destroyed. The pretence was, that they incommoded Leapthrough. Leaplow was much too great a nation to submit to so heinous an outrage, while, at the same time, she was much too magnanimous and wise a nation to resent it in an every-day and vulgar manner. Instead of getting in a passion and loading her cannon, she summoned all her logic and began to reason. After reasoning the matter with Leapthrough for fifty-two years, or until all the parties who had been wronged were dead, and could no longer be benefited by her logic, she determined to abate two-thirds of her pretensions in a pecuniary sense, and all her pretensions in an honorary sense, and to compromise the affair by accepting a certain insignificant sum of money as a salve to the whole wrong. Leapthrough conditioned to pay this money, in the most solemn and satisfactory manner; and everybody was delighted with the amicable termination of a very vexatious and a seemingly interminable discussion. Leapthrough was quite as glad to get rid of the matter as Leaplow, and very naturally, under all the circumstances, thought the whole thing at length done with, when she conditioned to pay the money. The Great Sachem of Leaplow, most unfortunately, however, had a "will of iron," or, in other words, he thought the money ought to be paid as well as conditioned to be paid. This despotic construction of the bargain had given rise to unheard-of dissatisfaction in Leapthrough, as indeed might have been expected; but it was, oddly enough, condemned with some heat even in Leaplow itself, where it was stoutly maintained by certain ingenious logicians, that the only true way to settle a bargain to pay money, was to make a new one for a less sum whenever the amount fell due; a plan that, with a proper moderation and patience would be certain, in time, to extinguish the whole debt.
Several very elaborate patriots had taken this matter in hand, and it was now about to be presented to the house under four different categories. Category No. 1, had the merit of simplicity and precision. It proposed merely that Leaplow should pay the money itself, and take up the bond, using its own funds. Category No. 2, embraced a recommendation of the Great Sachem for Leaplow to pay itself, using, however, certain funds of Leapthrough. Category No. 3 was a proposal to offer ten millions to Leapthrough to say no more about the transaction at all. Category No. 4, was to commence the negotiating or abating system mentioned, without delay, in order to extinguish the claim by instalments as soon as possible.
The question came up on the consideration of the different projects connected with these four leading principles. My limits will not admit of a detailed history of the debate. All I can do, is merely to give an outline of the logic that these various propositions set in motion, of the legislative ingenuity of which they were the parents, and of the multitude of legitimate conclusions that so naturally followed.
In favor of category No 1, it was urged that, by adopting its leading idea, the affair would be altogether in our own hands, and might consequently be settled with greater attention to purely Leaplow interests; that further delay could only proceed from our own negligence; that no other project was so likely to get rid of this protracted negotiation in so short a time; that by paying the debt with the Leaplow funds, we should be sure of receiving its amount in the good legal currency of the republic; that it would be singularly economical, as the agent who paid might also be authorized to receive, whereby there would be a saving in salary; and, finally, that under this category, the whole affair might be brought within the limits of a nutshell, and the compass of any one's understanding.
In favor of category No. 2, little more than very equivocal sophisms, which savored strongly of commonplace opinions, were presented. It was pretended, for instance, that he who signed a bond was in equity bound to pay it; that, if he refused, the other party had the natural and legal remedy of compulsion; that it might not always be convenient for a creditor to pay all the obligations of other people which he might happen to hold; that if his transactions were extensive, money might be wanting to carry out such a principle; and that, as a precedent, it would comport much more with Leaplow prudence and discretion to maintain the old and tried notions of probity and justice, than to enter on the unknown ocean of uncertainty that was connected with the new opinions, by admitting which, we could never know when we were fairly out of debt.
Category No. 3, was discussed on an entirely new system of logic, which appeared to have great favor with that class of the members who were of the more refined school of ethics. These orators referred the whole matter to a sentiment of honor. They commenced by drawing vivid pictures of the outrages in which the original wrongs had been committed. They spoke of ruined families, plundered mariners, and blasted hopes. They presented minute arithmetical calculations to show that just forty times as much wrong had, in fact, been done, as this bond assumed; and that, as the case actually stood, Leaplow ought, in strict justice, to receive exactly forty times the amount of the money that was actually included in the instrument. Turning from these interesting details, they next presented the question of honor. Leapthrough, by attacking the Leaplow flag, and invading Leaplow rights, had made it principally a question of honor, and, in disposing of it, the principle of honor ought never to be lost sight of. It was honorable to pay ones' debts -- this no one could dispute but it was not so clear, by any means, that there was any honor in receiving ones' dues. The national honor was concerned; and they called on members, as they cherished the sacred sentiment, to come forward and sustain it by their votes. As the matter stood, Leaplow had the best of it. In compounding with her creditor, as had been done in the treaty, Leapthrough lost some honor -- in refusing to pay the bond, she lost still more; and now, if we should send her the ten millions proposed, and she should have the weakness to accept it, we should fairly get our foot upon her neck, and she could never look us in the face again!
The category No. 4, brought up a member who had made political economy his chief study. This person presented the following case:-According to his calculations, the wrong had been committed precisely sixty-three years, and twenty-six days, and two-thirds of a day ago. For the whole of that long period Leaplow had been troubled with this vexatious question, which had hung like a cloud over the otherwise unimpaired brightness of her political landscape. It was time to get rid of it. The sum stipulated was just twentyfive millions, to be paid in twenty-five annual instalments, of a million each. Now, he proposed to reduce the instalments to one-half the number, but in no way to change the sum. That point ought to be considered as irrevocably settled. This would diminish the debt onehalf. Before the first instalment should become due he would effect a postponement, by diminishing the instalments again to six, referring the time to the latest periods named in the last treaty, and always most sacredly keeping the sums precisely the same. It would be impossible to touch the sums, which, he repeated, ought to be considered as sacred. Before the expiration of the first seven years, a new arrangement might reduce the instalments to two, or even to one -- always respecting the sum; and finally, at the proper moment, a treaty could be concluded, declaring that there should be no instalment at all, reserving the point, that if there had been an instalment, Leaplow could never have consented to reduce it below one million. The result would be that in about five-and-twenty years the country would be fairly rid of the matter, and the national character, which it was agreed on all hands was even now as high as it well could be, would probably be raised many degrees higher. The negotiations had commenced in a spirit of compromise; and our character for consistency required that this spirit of compromise should continue to govern our conduct as long as a single farthing remained unpaid.
This idea took wonderfully; and I do believe it would have passed by a handsome majority, had not a new proposition been presented, by an orator of singularly pathetic powers.
The new speaker objected to all four of the categories. He said that each and every one of them would lead to war. Leapthrough was a chivalrous and high-minded nation, as was apparent by the present aspect of things. Should we presume to take up the bond, using our own funds, it would mortally offend her pride, and she would fight us; did we presume to take up the bond, using her funds, it would offend her financial system, and she would fight us; did we presume to offer her ten millions to say no more about the matter, it would offend her dignity by intimating that she was to be bought off from her rights, and she would fight us; did we presume to adopt the system of new negotiations, it would mortally offend her honor, by intimating that she would not respect her old negotiations, and she would fight us. He saw war in all four of the categories. He was for a peace category, and he thought he held in his hand a proposition, that by proper management, using the most tender delicacy, and otherwise respecting the sensibilities of the high and honorable nation in question, we might possibly get out of this embarrassing dilemma without actually coming to blows -- he said to blows, for he wished to impress on honorable members the penalties of war. He invited gentlemen to recollect that a conflict between two great nations was a serious affair. If Leapthrough were a little nation, it would be a different matter, and the contest might be conducted in a corner; our honor was intimately connected with all we did with great nations. What was war? Did gentlemen know? He would tell them.
Here the orator drew a picture of war that caused suffering monikinity to shudder. He viewed it in its four leading points: its religious, its pecuniary, its political, and its domestic penalties. He described war to be the demon state of the monikin mind; as opposed to worship, to charity, brotherly love, and all the virtues. On its pecuniary penalties, he touched by exhibiting a tax-sheet. Buttons which cost sixpence a gross, he assured the house, would shortly cost sevenpence a gross. -- Here he was reminded that monikins no longer wore buttons. -- No matter, they bought and sold buttons, and the effects on trade were just the same. The political penalties of war he fairly showed to be frightful; but when he came to speak of the domestic penalties, there was not a dry eye in the house. Captain Poke blubbered so loud that I was in an agony lest he should be called to order.
"Regard that pure spirit," he cried, "crushed as it has been in the whirlwind of war. Behold her standing over the sod that covers the hero of his country, the husband of her virgin affections. In vain the orphan at her side turns its tearful eye upwards, and asks for the plumes that so lately pleased its infant fancy; in vain its gentle voice inquires when he is to return, when he is to gladden their hearts with his presence -- " But I can write no more. Sobs interrupted the speaker, and he took his seat in an ecstasy of godliness and benevolence.
I hurried across the house, to beg the brigadier would introduce me to this just monikin without a moment's delay. I felt as if I could take him to my heart at once, and swear an eternal friendship with a spirit so benevolent. The brigadier was too much agitated, at first, to attend to me; but, after wiping his eyes at least a hundred times, he finally succeeded in arresting the torrents, and looked upwards with a bland smile.
"Is he not a wonderful monikin?"
"Wonderful indeed! How completely he puts us all to shame! -- Such a monikin can only be influenced by the purest love for the species."
"Yes, he is of a class that we call the third monikinity. Nothing excites our zeal like the principles of the class of which he is a member!"
"How! Have you more than one class of the humane?"
"Certainly -- the Original, the Representative, and the Speculative."
"I am devoured by the desire to understand the distinctions, my dear brigadier."
"The Original is an every-day class, that feels under the natural impulses. The Representative is a more intellectual division, that feels chiefly by proxy. The Speculatives are those whose sympathies are excited by positive interests, like the last speaker. This person has lately bought a farm by the acre, which he is about to sell, in village lots, by the foot, and war will knock the whole thing in the head. It is this which stimulates his benevolence in so lively a manner."
"Why, this is no more than a development of the social- stake system-"
I was interrupted by the speaker, who called the house to order. The vote on the resolution of the last orator was to be taken. It read as follows: --
"Resolved, that it is altogether unbecoming the dignity and character of Leapthrough, for Leaplow to legislate on the subject of so petty a consideration as a certain pitiful treaty between the two countries."
"Unanimity -- unanimity!" was shouted by fifty voices. Unanimity there was; and then the whole house set to work shaking hands and hugging each other, in pure joy at the success of the honorable and ingenious manner in which it had got rid of this embarrassing and impertinent question.
"On the third day of the season of nuts, there will be the commencement of a great moral eclipse, in that portion of the monikin region which lies immediately about the pole. The property in eclipse will be the great moral postulate usually designated by the term Principle; and the intervening body will be the great immoral postulate, usually known as Interest. The frequent occurrence of the conjunction of these two important postulates has caused our moral mathematicians to be rather negligent of their calculations on this subject of late years; but, to atone for this inexcusable indifference to one of the most important concerns of life, the calculating committee was instructed to pay unusual attention to all the obscurations of the present year, and this phenomenon, one of the most decided of our age, has been calculated with the utmost nicety and care. We give the results.
"The eclipse will commence by a motive of monikin vanity coming in contact with the sub-postulate of charity, at 1 A. M. The postulate in question will be totally hid from view, in the course of 6 h. 17 m. from the moment of contact. The passage of a political intrigue will instantly follow, when the several sub-postulates of truth, honesty, disinterestedness, and patriotism, will all be obscured in succession, beginning with the lower limb of the first, and ending with all the limbs of the whole of them, in 3 h. 42 m. from the moment of contact. The shadow of vanity and political intrigue will first be deepened by the approach of prosperity, and this will be soon succeeded by the contact of a great pecuniary interest, at 10 h. 2 m. 1s.; and in exactly 2 m. and 3-7 s., the whole of the great moral postulate of Principle will be totally hid from view. In consequence of this early passage of the darkest shadow that is ever cast by Interest, the passages of the respective shadows of ambition, hatred, jealousy, and all the other minor satellites of Interest, will be invisible.
"The country principally affected by this eclipse will be the Republic of Leaplow, a community whose known intelligence and virtues are perhaps better qualified to resist its influence than any other. The time of occultation will be 9 y. 7 m. 26 d. 4 h. 16 m. 2 s. Principle will begin to reappear to the moral eye at the end of this period, first by the approach of Misfortune, whose atmosphere being much less dense than that of Interest, will allow of imperfect views of the obscured postulate; but the radiance of the latter will not be completely restored until the arrival of Misery, whose chastening colors invariably permit all truths to be discernible, although through a sombre medium. To resume:
"Beginning of eclipse, 1 A. M.I gazed at the brigadier in admiration and awe. There was nothing remarkable in the eclipse itself, which was quite an every-day affair; but the precision with which it had been calculated added to its other phenomena the terrible circumstance of obtaining a glimpse into the future, I now began to perceive the immense difference between living consciously under a moral shadow, and living under it unconsciously. The latter was evidently a trifle compared with the former. Providence had most kindly provided for our happiness in denying the ability to see beyond the present moment.
Ecliptic opposition, in 4 y. 6 m. 12 d. 9 h. from beginning of eclipse.
Middle, in 4 y. 9 m. 0 d. 7 h. 9 m. from beginning of eclipse.
End of eclipse, 9 y. 11 m. 20 d. 3 h. 2 m. from beginning.
Period of occultation, 9 y. 7 m. 26 d. 4 h. 16 m. 2 s."
Noah took the affair even more at heart than myself. He told me, with a rueful and prognosticating countenance, that we were fast drawing near to the autumnal equinox, when we should reach the commencement of a natural night of six months' duration; and although the benevolent substitute of steam might certainly in some degree lessen the evil, that it was a furious evil, after all, to exist for a period so weary without enjoying the light of the sun. He found the external glare of day bad enough, but he did not believe he should be able to endure its total absence. "Natur' had made him a 'watch and watch' critter. As for the twilight of which so much was said, it was worse than nothin', being neither one thing nor the other. For his part, he liked things 'made out of whole cloth.' Then he had sent the ship round to a distant roadstead, in order that there might be no more post-captains and rear-admirals among the people; and here had he been as much as four days on nothing but nuts. Nuts might do for the philosophy of a monkey, but he found, on trial, that it played the devil with the philosophy of a man. Things were bad enough as they were. He pined for a little pork -- he cared not who knew it; it might not be very sentimental, he knew, but it was capital sea-food; his natur' was pretty much pork; he believed most men had, in some way or other, more or less pork in their human natur's; nuts might do for monikin natur', but human natur' loved meat; if monikins did not like it, monikins need not eat it; there would be so much the more for those who did like it-he pined for his natural aliment, and as for living nine years in an eclipse, it was quite out of the question. The longest Stunnin'tun eclipses seldom went over three hours -- he once knew Deacon Spiteful pray quite through one, from apogee to perigee. He therefore proposed that Sir John and he should resign their seats without delay, and that they should try to get the Walrus to the north'ard as quick as possible, lest they should be caught in the polar night. As for the Hon. Robert Smut, he wished him no better luck than to remain where he was all his life, and to receive his eight dollars a day in acorns."
Although it was impossible not to hear, and, having heard, not to record the sentiments of Noah, still my attention was much more strongly attracted by the demeanor of the brigadier, than by the jeremiad of the sealer. To an anxious inquiry if he were not well, our worthy colleague answered plaintively, that he mourned over the misfortune of his country.
"I have often witnessed the passage of the passions, and of the minor motives, across the disc of the great moral postulate, Principle; but an occultation of its light by a pecuniary Interest, and for so long a period, is fearful! Heaven only knows what will become of us!"
"Are not these eclipses, after all, so many mere illustrations of the social-stake system? I confess this occultation, of which you seem to have so much dread, is not so formidable a thing, on reflection, as it at first appeared to be."
"You are quite right, Sir John, as to the character of the eclipse itself, which, as a matter of course, must depend on the character of the intervening body. But the wisest and best of our philosophers hold that the entire system of which we are but insignificant parts, is based on certain immutable truths of a divine origin. The premises, or postulates, of all these truths, are so many moral guides in the management of monikin affairs; and, the moment they are lost sight of, as will be the case during these frightful nine years that are to come, we shall be abandoned entirely to selfishness. Now selfishness is only too formidable when restrained by Principle; but left to its own grasping desires and audacious sophisms, to me the moral perspective is terrible. We are only too much addicted to turn our eyes from Principle, when it is shining in heavenly radiance, and in full glory, before us; it is not difficult, therefore, to foresee the nature of the consequences which are to follow its total and protracted obscuration."
"You then conceive there is a rule superior to interest, which ought to be respected in the control of monikin affairs?"
"Beyond a doubt; else in what should we differ from the beasts of prey?"
"I do not exactly see whether this does, or does not accord with the notions of the political economists of the social-stake system."
"As you say, Sir John, it does, and it does not. Your social-stake system supposes that he who has what is termed a distinct and prominent interest in society, will be the most likely to conduct its affairs wisely, justly, and disinterestedly. This would be true, if those great principles which lie at the root of all happiness were respected; but unluckily, the stake in question, instead of being a stake in justice and virtue, is usually reduced to be merely a stake in property. Now, all experience shows that the great property-incentives are to increase property, protect property, and to buy with property those advantages which ought to be independent of property, viz., honors, dignities, power, and immunities. I cannot say how it is with men, but our histories are eloquent on this head. We have had the property-principle carried out thoroughly in our practice, and the result has shown that its chief operation is to render property as intact as possible, and the bones, and sinews, and marrow of all who do not possess it, its slaves. In short, the time has been, when the rich were even exempt from contributing to the ordinary exigencies of the state. But it is quite useless to theorize on this subject, for, by that cry in the streets, the lower limb of the great postulate is beginning to be obscured, and, alas! we shall soon have too much practical information."
The brigadier was right. On referring to the clocks, it was found that, in truth, the eclipse had commenced some time before, and that we were on the verge of an absolute occultation of Principle, by the basest and most sordid of all motives, pecuniary Interest.
The first proof that was given of the true state of things, was in the language of the people. The word Interest was in every monikin's mouth, while the word Principle, as indeed was no more than suitable, seemed to be quite blotted out of the Leaplow vocabulary. To render a local term into English, half of the vernacular of the country appeared to be compressed into the single word "dollar." "Dollar -- dollar -- dollar" -- nothing but "dollar! Fifty thousand dollars -- twenty thousand dollars -- a hundred thousand dollars" -- met one at every turn. The words rang at the corners -- in the public ways -- at the exchange -- in the drawing-rooms -- ay, even in the churches. If a temple had been reared for the worship of the Creator, the first question was, how much did it cost? If an artist submitted the fruits of his labors to the taste of his fellowcitizens, conjectures were whispered among the spectators, touching its value in the current coin of the republic. If an author presented the offspring of his genius to the same arbiters, its merits were settled by a similar standard; and one divine, who had made a strenuous, but an ill- timed appeal to the charity of his countrymen, by setting forth the beauties as well as the rewards of the god-like property, was fairly put down by a demonstration that his proposition involved a considerable outlay, while it did not clearly show much was to be gained by going to heaven!
Brigadier Downright had good reasons for his sombre anticipations, for all the acquirements, knowledge, and experience, obtained in many years of travel, were now found to be worse than useless. If my honorable colleague and covoyager ventured a remark on the subject of foreign policy, a portion of politics to which he had given considerable attention, it was answered by a quotation from the stock market; an observation on a matter of taste was certain to draw forth a nice distinction between the tastes of certain liquors, together with a shrewd investigation of their several prices; and once, when the worthy monikin undertook to show, from what struck me to be singularly good data, that the foreign relations of the country were in a condition to require great firmness, a proper prudence, and much foresight, he was completely silenced by an antagonist showing, from the last sales, the high value of lots up town!
In short, there was no dealing with any subject that could not resolve itself into dollars, by means of the customary exchanges. The infatuation spread from father to son; from husband to wife; from brother to sister; and from one collateral to another, until it pretty effectually assailed the whole of what is usually termed "society." Noah swore bitterly at this antagonist state of things. He affirmed that he could not even crack a walnut in a corner, but every monikin that passed appeared to grudge him the satisfaction, small as it was; and that Stunin'tun, though a scramble-penny place as any he knew, was paradise to Leaplow, in the present state of things.
It was melancholy to remark how the lustre of the ordinary virtues grew dim, as the period of occultation continued, and the eye gradually got to be accustomed to the atmosphere cast by the shadow of pecuniary interest. I involuntarily shuddered at the open and undisguised manner in which individuals, who might otherwise pass for respectable monikins, spoke of the means that they habitually employed in effecting their objects, and laid bare their utter forgetfulness of the great postulate that was hid. One coolly vaunted how much cleverer he was than the law; another proved to demonstration that he had outwitted his neighbor; while a third, more daring or more expert, applied the same grounds of exultation to the entire neighborhood. This had the merit of cunning; that of dissimulation; another of deception, and all of success!
The shadow cast its malign influence on every interest connected with monikin life. Temples were raised to God on speculation; the government was perverted to a money- investment, in which profit, and not justice and security, was the object; holy wedlock fast took the aspect of buying and selling, and few prayed who did not identify spiritual benefits with gold and silver.
The besetting propensity of my ancestor soon began to appear in Leaplow. Many of those pure and unsophisticated republicans shouted, "Property is in danger!" as stoutly as it was ever roared by Sir Joseph Job, and dark allusions were made to "revolutions" and "bayonets." But certain proof of the prevalence of the eclipse, and that the shadow of pecuniary interest lay dark on the land, was to be found in the language of what are called the "few." They began to throw dirt at all opposed to them, like so many fish-women: a sure symptom that the spirit of selfishness was thoroughly awakened. From much experience, I hold this sign to be infallible, that the sentiment of aristocracy is active and vigilant. I never yet visited a country in which a minority got into its head the crotchet it was alone fit to dictate to the rest of its fellow-creatures, that it did not, without delay, set about proving its position, by reviling and calling names. In this particular "the few" are like women, who, conscious of their weakness, seldom fail to make up for the want of vigor in their limbs, by having recourse to the vigor of the tongue. The "one" hangs; the "many" command by the dignity of force; the "few" vituperate and scold. This is, I believe, the case all over the world, except in those peculiar instances in which the "few" happen also to enjoy the privilege of hanging.
It is worthy of remark that the terms, "rabble," "disorganizers," "jacobins," and "agrarians,(5)" were bandied from one to the other, in Leaplow, under this malign influence, with precisely the same justice, discrimination, and taste, as they had been used by my ancestor in London, a few years before. Like causes notoriously produce like effects; and there is no one thing so much like an Englishman under the property- fever, as a Leaplow monikin suffering under the same malady.
The effect produced on the state of parties by the passage of the shadow of Pecuniary Interest, was so singular as to deserve our notice. Patriots who had long been known for an indomitable resolution to support their friends, openly abandoned their claims on the rewards of the little wheel, and went over to the enemy; and this, too, without recourse to the mysteries of the "flapjack." Judge People's Friend was completely annihilated for the moment -- so much so, indeed, as to think seriously of taking another mission-for, during these eclipses, long service, public virtue, calculated amenity, and all the other bland qualities of your patriot, pass for nothing, when weighed in the scale against profit and loss. It was fortunate the Leapthrough question was, in its essence, so well disposed of, though the uneasiness of those who bought and sold land by the inch, pushed even that interest before the public again by insisting that a few millions should be expended in destroying the munitions of war, lest the nation might improvidently be tempted to make use of them in the natural way. The cruisers were accordingly hauled into the stream and converted into tide-mills, the gunbarrels were transformed into gas- pipes, and the forts were converted, as fast as possible, into warehouses and tea-gardens. After this, it was much the fashion to affirm that the advanced state of civilization had rendered all future wars quite out of the question. Indeed, the impetus that was given, by the effects of the shadow, in this way, to humanity in gross, was quite as remarkable as were its contrary tendencies on humanity in detail.
Public opinion was not backward in showing how completely it was acting under the influence of the shadow. Virtue began to be estimated by rent-rolls. The affluent, without hesitation, or, indeed, opposition, appropriated to themselves the sole use of the word respectable, while taste, judgment, honesty, and wisdom, dropped like so many heirlooms quietly into the possession of those who had money. The Leaplowers are a people of great acuteness, and of singular knowledge of details. Every considerable man in Bivouac soon had his social station assigned him, the whole community being divided into classes of "hundred-thousand-dollar monikins" -- "fiftythousand-dollar monikins" -- "twenty-thousand-dollar monikins." Great conciseness in language was a consequence of this state of feeling. The old questions of "is he honest?" "is he capable?" "is he enlightened?" "is he wise?" "is he good?" being all comprehended in the single interrogatory of "is he rich?"
There was one effect of this very unusual state of things, that I had not anticipated. All the money- getting classes, without exception, showed a singular predilection in favor of what is commonly called a strong government; being not only a republic, but virtually a democracy, I found that much the larger portion of this highly respectable class of citizens, were not at all backward in expressing their wish for a change.
"How is this?" I demanded of the brigadier, whom I rarely quitted; for his advice and opinions were of great moment to me, just at this particular crisis -- "how is this, my good friend? I have always been led to think trade is especially favorable to liberty; and here are all your commercial interests the loudest in their declamations against the institutions."
The brigadier smiled; it was but a melancholy smile, after all; for his spirits appeared to have quite deserted him.
"There are three great divisions among politicians," he said -- "they who do not like liberty at all -- they who like it, as low down as their own particular class -- and they who like it for the sake of their fellow-creatures. The first are not numerous, but powerful by means of combinations; the second is a very irregular corps, including, as a matter of course, nearly everybody, but is wanting, of necessity, in concert and discipline, since no one descends below his own level; the third are but few, alas, how few! and are composed of those who look beyond their own selfishness. Now, your merchants, dwelling in towns, and possessing concert, means, and identity of interests, have been able to make themselves remarkable for contending with despotic power, a fact which has obtained for them a cheap reputation for liberality of opinion; but, so far as monikin experience goes -- men may have proved to be better disposed-no government that is essentially influenced by commerce has ever been otherwise than exclusive, or aristocratic."
I bethought me of Venice, Genoa, Pisa, the Hanse Towns, and all the other remarkable places of this character in Europe, and I felt the justice of my friend's distinction, at the same time I could not but observe how much more the minds of men are under the influence of names and abstractions than under the influence of positive things. To this opinion the brigadier very readily assented, remarking, at the same time, that a well-wrought theory had generally more effect on opinion than fifty facts; a result that he attributed to the circumstance of monikins having a besetting predisposition to save themselves the trouble of thinking.
I was, in particular, struck with the effect of the occultation of Principle on motives. I had often remarked that it was by no means safe to depend on one's own motives, for two sufficient reasons; first, that we did not always know what our own motives were; and secondly, admitting that we did, it was quite unreasonable to suppose that our friends would believe them what we thought them to be ourselves. In the present instance, every monikin seemed perfectly aware of the difficulty; and, instead of waiting for his acquaintances to attribute some moral enormity as his governing reason, he prudently adopted a moderately selfish inducement for his acts, which he proclaimed with a simplicity and frankness that generally obtained credit. Indeed, the fact once conceded that the motive was not offensively disinterested and just, no one was indisposed to listen to the projects of his friend, who usually rose in estimation, as he was found to be ingenious, calculating, and shrewd. The effect of all this was to render society singularly sincere and plain- spoken; and one unaccustomed to so much ingenuousness, or who was ignorant of the cause, might, plausibly enough, suppose, at times, that accident had thrown him into an extraordinary association with so many ARTISTES, who, as it is commonly expressed, lived by their wits. I will avow that, had it been the fashion to wear pockets at Leaplow, I should often have been concerned for their contents; for sentiments so purely unsophisticated, were so openly advanced under the influence of the shadow, that one was inevitably led, oftener than was pleasant, to think of the relations between meum and tuum, as well as of the unexpected causes by which they were sometimes disturbed.
A vacancy occurred, the second day of the eclipse, among the representatives of Bivouac, and the candidate of the Horizontals would certainly have been chosen to fill it, but for a contre-tems connected with this affair of motives. The individual in question had lately performed that which, in most other countries, and under other circumstances, would have passed for an act of creditable national feeling; but which, quite as a matter of course, was eagerly presented to the electors, by his opponents, as a proof of his utter unfitness to be intrusted with their interests. The friends of the candidate took the alarm, and indignantly denied the charges of the Perpendiculars, affirming that their monikin had been well paid for what he had done. In an evil hour, the candidate undertook to explain, by means of a handbill, in which he stated that he had been influenced by no other motive than a desire to do that which he believed to be right. Such a person was deemed to be wanting in natural abilities, and, as a matter of course, he was defeated; for your Leaplow elector was not such an ass as to confide the care of his interests to one who knew so little how to take care of his own.
About this time, too, a celebrated dramatist produced a piece in which the hero performed prodigies under the excitement of patriotism, and the labor of his pen was incontinently damned for his pains; both pit and boxes -- the galleries dissenting -- deciding that it was out of all nature to represent a monikin incurring danger in this unheard-of manner, without a motive. The unhappy wight altered the last scene, by causing his hero to be rewarded by a good, round sum of money, when the piece had a very respectable run for the rest of the season, though I question if it ever were as popular as it would have been, had this precaution been taken before it was first acted.
As Captain Poke and myself, notwithstanding our having taken different stands in politics, still continued to live together, I had better opportunities to note the workings of the obscuration on the ingenuous mind of my colleague than on that of most other persons. He early began to keep a diary of his expenses, regularly deducting the amount at night from the sum of eight dollars, and regarding the balance as so much clear gain. His conversation, too, soon betrayed a leaning to his personal interests, instead of being of that pure and elevated cast which should characterize the language of a statesman. He laid down the position, pretty dogmatically, that legislation, after all, was work; that "the laborer was worthy of his hire"; and that, for his part, he felt no great disposition to go through the vexation and trouble of helping to make laws, unless he could see, with a reasonable certainty, that something was to be got by it. He thought Leaplow had quite laws enough as it was -- more than she respected or enforced -- and if she wanted any more, all she had to do was to pay for them. He should take an early occasion to propose that all our wages -- or, at any rate, his own; others might do as they pleased -- should be raised, at the very least, two dollars a day, and this while he merely sat in the house; for he wished to engage me to move, by way of amendment, that as much more should be given to the committees. He did not think it was fair to exact of a member to be a committee-man for nothin', although most of them were committee-men for nothin'; and if we were called on to keep two watches, in this manner, the least that could be done would be to give us TWO PAYS. He said, considering it in the most favorable point of view, that there was great wear and tear of brain in legislation, and he should never be the man he was before he engaged in the trade; he assured me that his idees, sometimes, were so complicated that he did not know where to find the one he wanted, and that he had wished for a cauda, a thousand times, since he had been in the house, for, by keeping the end of it in his hand, like the bight of a rope, he might always have suthin' tangible to cling to. He told me, as a great secret, that he was fairly tired of rummaging among his thoughts for the knowledge necessary to understand what was going on, and that he had finally concluded to put himself, for the rest of the session, under the convoy of a God-like. He had been looking out for a fit fugleman of this sort, and he had pretty much determined to follow the signal of the great God-like of the Parpendic'lars, like the rest of them, for it would occasion less confusion in the ranks, and enable him to save himself a vast deal of trouble in making up his mind. He didn't know, on the whole, but eight dollars a day might give a living profit, provided he could throw all the thinking on his God-like, and turn his attention to suthin' else; he thought of writing his v'y'ges, for he understood that anything from foreign parts took like wild-fire in Leaplow; and if they didn't take, he could always project charts for a living.
Perhaps it will be necessary to explain what Noah meant by saying that he thought of engaging a God-like. The reader has had some insight into the nature of one set of political leaders in Leaplow, who are known by the name of the Most Patriotic Patriots. These persons, it is scarcely necessary to say, are always with the majority, or in a situation to avail themselves of the evolutions of the little wheel. Their great rotatory principle keeps them pretty constantly in motion, it is true; but while there is a centrifugal force to maintain this action, great care has been had to provide a centripetal counterpoise, in order to prevent them from bolting out of the political orbit. It is supposed to be owing to this peculiarity in their party organizations, that your Leaplow patriot is so very remarkable for going round and round a subject, without ever touching it.
As an offset to this party arrangement, the Perpendiculars have taken refuge in the God-likes. A God- like, in Leaplow politics, in some respects resembles a saint in the Catholic calendar; that is to say, he is canonized, after passing through a certain amount of temptation and vice with a whole skin; after having his cause pleaded for a certain number of years before the high authorities of his party; and, usually, after having had a pretty good taste of purgatory. Canonization attained, however, all gets to be plain sailing with him. He is spared, singular as it may appear, even a large portion of his former "wear and tear" of brains, as Noah had termed it, for nothing puts one so much at liberty in this respect, as to have full powers to do all the thinking. Thinking in company, like travelling in company, requires that we should have some respect to the movements, wishes, and opinions of others; but he who gets a carte blanche for his sentiments, resembles the uncaged bird, and may fly in whatever direction most pleases himself, and feel confident, as he goes, that his ears will be saluted with the usual traveller's signal of "all's right." I can best compare the operation of your God-like and his votaries, to the action of a locomotive with its railroad train. As that goes, this follows; faster or slower, the movement is certain to be accompanied; when the steam is up they fly, when the fire is out they crawl, and that, too, with a very uneasy sort of motion; and when a bolt is broken, they who have just been riding without the smallest trouble to themselves, are compelled to get out and push the load ahead as well as they can, frequently with very rueful faces, and in very dirty ways. The cars whisk about, precisely as the locomotive whisks about, all the turn-outs are necessarily imitated, and, in short, one goes after the other very much as it is reasonable to suppose will happen when two bodies are chained together, and the entire moving power is given to only one of them. A God- like in Leaplow, moreover, is usually a Riddle. It was the object of Noah to hitch on to one of these moral steam-tugs, in order that he too might be dragged through his duties without effort to himself; an expedient, as the old sealer expressed it, that would in some degree remedy his natural want of a cauda, by rendering him nothing but tail.
"I expect, Sir John," he said, for he had a practice of expecting by way of conjecture, "I expect this is the reason why the Leaplowers dock themselves. They find it more convenient to give up the management of their affairs to some one of these God-likes, and fall into his wake like the tail of a comet, which makes it quite unnecessary to have any other cauda."
"I understand you; they amputate to prevent tautology."
Noah rarely spoke of any project until his mind was fairly made up; and the execution usually soon followed the proposition. The next thing I heard of him, therefore, he was fairly under the convoy, as he called it, of one of the most prominent of the Riddles. Curious to know how he liked the experiment, after a week's practice, I called his attention to the subject, by a pretty direct inquiry.
He told me it was altogether the pleasantest mode of legislating that had ever been devised. He was now perfectly master of his own time, and in fact, he was making out a set of charts for the Leaplow marine, a task that was likely to bring him in a good round sum, as pumpkins were cheap, and in the polar seas he merely copied the monikin authorities, and out of it he had things pretty much his own way. As for the Great Allegory, when he wanted a hint about it, or, indeed, about any other point at issue, all he had to do was to inquire what his God-like thought about it, and to vote accordingly. Then he saved himself a great deal of breath in the way of argument out of doors, for he and the rest of the clientelle of this Riddle, having officially invested their patron with all their own parts, the result had been such an accumulation of knowledge in this one individual, as enabled them ordinarily to floor any antagonist by the simple quotation of his authority. Such or such is the opinion of God-like this or of God-like that, was commonly sufficient; and then there was no lack of material, for he had taken care to provide himself with a Riddle who, he really believed, had given an opinion, at some time or other, on every side of every subject that had ever been mooted in Leaplow. He could nullify, or mollify, or qualify, with the best of them; and these, which he termed the three fies, he believed were the great requisites of a Leaplow legislator. He admitted, however, that some show of independence was necessary, in order to give value to the opinion of even a God- like, for monikin nature revolted at anything like total mental dependence; and that he had pretty much made up his mind to think for himself on a question that was to be decided that very day.
The case to which the captain alluded was this. The city of Bivouac was divided in three pretty nearly equal parts which were separated from each other by two branches of a marsh; one part of the town being on a sort of island, and the other two parts on the respective margins of the low land. It was very desirable to connect these different portions of the capital by causeways, and a law to that effect had been introduced in the house. Everybody, in or out of the house, was in favor of the project, for the causeways had become, in some measure, indispensable. The only disputed point was the length of the works in question. One who is but little acquainted with legislation, and who has never witnessed the effects of an occultation of the great moral postulate Principle, by the orb Pecuniary Interest, would very plausibly suppose that the whole affair lay in a nutshell, and that all we had to do was to pass a law ordering the causeways to extend just as far as the public convenience rendered it necessary. But these are mere tyros in the affairs of monikins. The fact was that there were just as many different opinions and interests at work to regulate the length of the causeways, as there were, owners of land along their line of route. The great object was to start in what was called the business quarter of the town, and then to proceed with the work as far as circumstances would allow. We had propositions before us in favor of from one hundred feet as far as up to ten thousand. Every inch was fought for with as much obstinacy as if it were an important breach that was defended; and combinations and conspiracies were as rife as if we were in the midst of a revolution. It was the general idea that by filling in with dirt, a new town might be built wherever the causeway terminated, and fortunes made by an act of parliament. The inhabitants of the island rallied en masse against the causeway leading one inch from their quarter, after it had fairly reached it; and, so throughout the entire line, monikins battled for what they called their interests, with an obstinacy worthy of heroes.
On this great question, for it had, in truth, become of the last importance by dragging into its consideration most of the leading measures of the day, as well as six or seven of the principal ordinances of the Great National Allegory, the respective partisans logically contending that, for the time being, nothing should advance a foot in Leaplow that did not travel along that causeway, Noah determined to take an independent stand. This resolution was not lightly formed, for he remained rather undecided, until, by waiting a sufficient time, he felt quite persuaded that nothing was to be got by following any other course. His God-like luckily was in the same predicament, and everything promised a speedy occasion to show the world what it was to act on principle; and this, too, in the middle of a moral eclipse.
When the question came to be discussed, the landholders along the first line of the causeway were soon reasoned down by the superior interests of those who lived on the island. The rub was, the point of permitting the work to go any further. The islanders manifested great liberality, according to their account of themselves; for they even consented that the causeway should be constructed on the other marsh to precisely such a distance as would enable any one to go as near as possible to the hostile quarter, without absolutely entering it. To admit the latter, they proved to demonstration, would be changing the character of their own island from that of an entrepôt to that of a mere thoroughfare. No reasonable monikin could expect it of them.
As the Horizontals, by some calculation that I never understood, had satisfied themselves it might better answer their purposes to construct the entire work, than to stop anywhere between the two extremes, my duty was luckily, on this occasion, in exact accordance with my opinions; and, as a matter of course, I voted, this time, in a way of which I could approve. Noah, finding himself a free agent, now made his push for character, and took sides with us. Very fortunately we prevailed, all the beaten interests joining themselves, at the last moment, to the weakest side, or, in other words, to that which was right; and Leaplow presented the singular spectacle of having a just enactment passed during the occultation of the great moral postulate, so often named. I ought to mention that I have termed principle a postulate, throughout this narrative, simply because it is usually in the dilemma of a disputed proposition.
No sooner was the result known, than my worthy colleague came round to the Horizontal side of the house, to express his satisfaction with himself for the course he had just taken. He said it was certainly very convenient and very labor-saving to obey a God-like, and that he got on much better with his charts now he was at liberty to give his whole mind to the subject; but there was suthin' -- he didn't know what -- but "a sort of Stunin'tun feeling" in doing what one thought right, after all, that caused him to be glad that he had voted for the whole causeway. He did not own any land in Leaplow, and therefore he concluded that what he had done, he had done for the best; at any rate, if he had got nothin' by it, he had lost nothin' by it, and he hoped all would come right in the end. The people of the island, it is true, had talked pretty fair about what they would do for those who should sustain their interests, but he had got sick of a currency in promises; and fair words, at his time of life, didn't go for much; and so, on the whole, he had pretty much concluded to do as he had done. He thought no one could call in question his vote, for he was just as poor and as badly off now he had voted, as he was while he was making up his mind. For his part, he shouldn't be ashamed, hereafter, to look both Deacon Snort and the Parson in the face, when he got home, or even Miss Poke. He knew what it was to have a clean conscience, as well as any man; for none so well knew what it was to be without anything, as they who had felt by experience its want. His God-like was a very labor-saving God-like, but he had found, on inquiry, that he came from another part of the island, and that he didn't care a straw which way his kite-tail (Noah's manner of pronouncing clientelle) voted. In short, he defied any one to say ought ag'in' him this time, and he was not sorry the occasion had offered to show his independence, for his enemies had not been backward in remarking that, for some days, he had been little better than a speaking-trumpet to roar out anything his God-like might wish to have proclaimed. He concluded by stating that he could not hold out much longer without meat of some sort or other, and by begging that I would second a resolution he thought of offering, by which regular substantial rations were to be dealt out to all the human part of the house. The inhumans might live upon nuts still, if they liked them.
I remonstrated against the project of the rations, made a strong appeal to his pride, by demonstrating that we should be deemed little better than brutes if we were seen eating flesh, and advised him to cause some of his nuts to be roasted, by way of variety. After a good deal of persuasion, he promised further abstinence, although he went away with a singularly carnivorous look about the mouth, and an eye that spoke pork in every glance.
I was at home the next day, busy with my friend the brigadier, in looking over the Great National Allegory, with a view to prevent falling, unwittingly, into any more offences of quoting its opinions, when Noah burst into the room, as rabid as a wolf that had been bitten by a whole pack of hounds. Such, indeed, was, in some measure, his situation; for, according to his statement, he had been baited that morning, in the public streets even, by every monikin, monikina, monikino, brat, and beggar, that he had seen. Astonished to hear that my colleague had fallen into this disfavor with his constitutents, I was not slow in asking an explanation.
The captain affirmed that the matter was beyond the reach of any explanation it was in his power to give. He had voted in the affair of the causeway, in strict conformity with the dictates of his conscience, and yet here was the whole population accusing him of bribery -- nay, even the journals had openly flouted at him for what they called his barefaced and flagrant corruption. Here the captain laid before us six or seven of the leading journals of Bivouac, in all of which his late vote was treated with quite as little ceremony as if it had been an unequivocal act of sheep-stealing.
I looked at my friend the brigadier for an explanation. After running his eye over the articles in the journals, the latter smiled, and cast a look of commiseration at our colleague.
"You have certainly committed a grave fault here, my friend," he said, "and one that is seldom forgiven in Leaplow -- perhaps I might say never, during the occultation of the great moral postulate, as happens to be the case at present."
"Tell me my sins at once, brigadier," cried Noah, with the look of a martyr, "and put me out of pain."
"You have forgotten to display a motive for your stand during the late hot discussion; and, as a matter of course, the community ascribes the worst that monikin ingenuity can devise. Such an oversight would ruin even a God-like!"
"But, my dear Mr. Downright," I kindly interposed, "our colleague, in this instance, is supposed to have acted on principle."
The brigadier looked up, turning his nose into the air, like a pup that has not yet opened its eyes, and then intimated that he could not see the quality I had named, it being obscured by the passage of the orb of Pecuniary Interest before its disc. I now began to comprehend the case, which really was much more grave than, at first, I could have believed possible. Noah himself seemed staggered; for, I believe, he had fallen on the simple and natural expedient of inquiring what he himself would have thought of the conduct of a colleague who had given a vote on a subject so weighty, without exposing a motive.
"Had the captain owned but a foot square of earth, at the end of the causeway," observed the brigadier, mournfully, "the matter might be cleared up; but as things are, it is beyond dispute, a most unfortunate occurrence."
"But Sir John voted with me, and he is no more a free- holder in Leaplow, than I am myself."
"True; but Sir John voted with the bulk of his political friends."
"All the Horizontals were not in the majority; for at least twenty went, on this occasion, with the minority."
"Undeniable -- yet every monikin of them had a visible motive. This owned a lot by the wayside; that had houses on the island, and another was the heir of a great proprietor at the same point of the road. Each and all had their distinct and positive interests at stake, and not one of them was guilty of so great a weakness as to leave his cause to be defended by the extravagant pretension of mere principle!"
"My God-like, the greatest of all the Riddles, absented himself, and did not vote at all."
"Simply because he had no good ground to justify any course he might take. No public monikin can expect to escape censure, if he fail to put his friends, in the way of citing some plausible and intelligible motive for his conduct."
"How, sir! cannot a man, once in his life, do an act without being bought like a horse or a dog, and escape with an inch of character?"
"I shall not take upon myself to say what MEN can do," returned the brigadier; "no doubt they manage this affair better than it is managed here; but, so far as monikins are concerned, there is no course more certain to involve a total loss of character -- I may say so destructive to reputation even for intellect -- as to act without a good, apparent, and substantial motive."
"In the name of God, what is to be done, brigadier?"
"I see no other course than to resign. Your constituents must very naturally have lost all confidence in you; for one who so very obviously neglects his own interests, it cannot be supposed will be very tenacious about protecting the interests of others. If you would escape with the little character that is left, you will forthwith resign. I do not perceive the smallest chance for you by going through gyration No. 4, both public opinions uniformly condemning the monikin who acts without a pretty obvious, as well as a pretty weighty motive."
Noah made a merit of necessity; and, after some further deliberation between us, he signed his name to the following letter to the speaker, which was drawn up on the spot, by the brigadier.
"Mr. Speaker: -- The state of my health obliges me to return the high political trust which has been confided to me by the citizens of Bivouac, into the hands from which it was received. In tendering my resignation, I wish to express the great regret with which I part from colleagues so every way worthy of profound respect and esteem, and I beg you to assure them, that wherever fate may hereafter lead me, I shall ever retain the deepest regard for every honorable member with whom it has been my good fortune to serve. The emigrant interest, in particular, will ever be the nearest and dearest to my heart." Signed,The captain did not affix his name to this letter without many heavy sighs, and divers throes of ambition; for even a mistaken politician yields to necessity with regret. Having changed the word emigrant to that of "immigrunt," however, he put as good a face as possible on the matter, and wrote the fatal signature. He then left the house, declaring he didn't so much begrudge his successor the pay, as nothing but nuts were to be had with the money; and that, as for himself, he felt as sneaking as he believed was the case with Nebuchadnezzar, when he was compelled to get down on all- fours, and eat grass.
"Your rigid demand for motives, my good sir," I remarked, "reduces the Leaplow political morality very much, after all, to the level of the social-stake system of our part of the world."
"They both depend on the crutch of personal Interests, it is true; though there is, between them, the difference of the interests of a part and of the interests of the whole."
"And could a part act less commendably than the whole appear to have acted in this instance?"
"You forget that Leaplow, just at this moment, is under a moral eclipse. I shall not say that these eclipses do not occur often, but they occur quite as frequently in other parts of the region, as they occur here. We have three great modes of controlling monikin affairs, viz., the one, the few, and the many -- "
"Precisely the same classification exists among men!" I interrupted.
"Some of our improvements are reflected backward; twilight following as well as preceding the passage of the sun," quite coolly returned the brigadier. "We think that the many come nearest to balancing the evil, although we are far from believing even them to be immaculate. Admitting that the tendencies to wrong are equal in the three systems (which we do not, however, for we think our own has the least), it is contended that the many escape one great source of oppression and injustice, by escaping the onerous provisions which physical weakness is compelled to make, in order to protect itself against physical strength."
"This is reversing a very prevalent opinion among men, sir, who usually maintain that the tyranny of the many is the worst sort of all tyrannies."
"This opinion has got abroad simply because the lion has not been permitted to draw his own picture. As cruelty is commonly the concomitant of cowardice, so is oppression nine times out of ten the result of weakness. It is natural for the few to dread the many, while it is not natural for the many to dread the few. Then, under institutions in which the many rule, certain great principles that are founded on natural justice, as a matter of course, are openly recognized; and it is rare, indeed, that they do not, more or less, influence the public acts. On the other hand, the control of a few requires that these same truths should be either mystified or entirely smothered: and the consequence is injustice."
"But, admitting all your maxims, brigadier, as regards the few and the many, you must yourself allow that here, in your beloved Leaplow itself, monikins consult their own interests; and this, after all, is acting on the fundamental principle of the great European socialstake system."
"Meaning that the goods of the world ought to be the test of political power. By the sad confusion which exists among us, at this moment, Sir John, you must perceive that we are not exactly under the most salutary of all possible influences. I take it that the great desideratum of society is to be governed by certain great moral truths. The inferences and corollaries of these truths are principles, which come of heaven. Now, agreeably to the monikin dogmas, the love of money is 'of the earth, earthy'; and, at the first blush, it would not seem to be quite safe to receive such an inducement as the governing motive of one monikin, and, by a pretty fair induction, it would seem to be equally unwise to admit it for a good many. You will remember, also, that when none but the rich have authority, they control not only their own property, but that of others who have less. Your principle supposes, that in taking care of his own, the elector of wealth must take care of what belongs to the rest of the community; but our experience shows that a monikin can be particularly careful of himself, and singularly negligent of his neighbor. Therefore do we hold that money is a bad foundation for power."
"You unsettle everything, brigadier, without finding a substitute."
"Simply because it is easy to unsettle everything and very difficult to find substitutes. But, as respects the base of society, I merely doubt the wisdom of setting up a qualification that we all know depends on an unsound principle. I much fear, Sir John, that, so long as monikins are monikins, we shall never be quite perfect; and as to your social-stake system, I am of opinion that as society is composed of all, it may be well to hear what all have to say about its management."
"Many men, and, I dare say, many monikins, are not to be trusted even with the management of their own concerns."
"Very true; but it does not follow that other men, or other monikins, will lose sight of their own interests on this account, if vested with the right to act as their substitutes. You have been long enough a legislator, now, to have got some idea how difficult it is to make even a direct and responsible representative respect entirely the interests and wishes of his constituents; and the fact will show you how little he will be likely to think of others, who believes that he acts as their master and not as their servant."
"The amount of all this, brigadier, is that you have little faith in monikin disinterestedness, in any shape; that you believe he who is intrusted with power will abuse it; and therefore, you choose to divide the trust, in order to divide the abuses; that the love of money is an 'earthy' quality, and not to be confided in as the controlling power of a state; and, finally, that the social-stake system is radically wrong, inasmuch as it is no more than carrying out a principle that is in itself defective."
My companion gaped, like one content to leave the matter there. I wished him a good morning, and walked upstairs in quest of Noah, whose carnivorous looks had given me considerable uneasiness. The captain was out; and, after searching for him in the streets for an hour or two, I returned to our abode fatigued and hungry.
At no great distance from our own door, I met Judge People's Friend, shorn and dejected, and I stopped to say a kind word, before going up the ladder. It was quite impossible to see a gentleman, whom one had met in good society and in better fortunes, with every hair shaved from his body, his apology for a tail still sore from its recent amputation, and his entire mien expressive of republican humility, without a desire to condole with him. I expressed my regrets, therefore, as succinctly as possible, encouraging him with the hope of seeing a new covering of down before long, but delicately abstaining from any allusion to the cauda, whose loss I knew was irretrievable. To my great surprise, however, the judge answered cheerfully; discarding, for the moment, every appearance of self- abasement and mortification.
"How is this?" I cried; "you are not then miserable?"
"Very far from it, Sir John -- I never was in better spirits, or had better prospects, in my life."
I remembered the extraordinary manner in which the brigadier had saved Noah's head, and was fully resolved not to be astonished at any manifestation of monikin ingenuity. Still I could not forbear demanding an explanation.
"Why, it may seem odd to you, Sir John, to find a politician, who is apparently in the depths of despair, really on the eve of a glorious preferment. Such, however, is in fact my case. In Leaplow, humility is everything. The monikin who will take care and repeat sufficiently often that he is just the poorest devil going, that he is absolutely unfit for even the meanest employment in the land, and in other respects ought to be hooted out of society, may very safely consider himself in a fair way to be elevated to some of the dignities he declares himself the least fitted to fill."
"In such a case, all he will have to do then, will be to make his choice, and denounce himself loudest touching his especial disqualifications for that very station?"
"You are apt, Sir John, and would succeed, if you would only consent to remain among us!" said the judge, winking.
"I begin to see into your management -- after all, you are neither miserable nor ashamed?"
"Not the least in the world. It is of more importance for monikins of my calibre to seem to be anything than to be it. My fellowcitizens are usually satisfied with this sacrifice; and, now principle is eclipsed, nothing is easier."
"But how happens it, judge, that one of your surprising dexterity and agility should be caught tripping? I had thought you particularly expert, and infallible in all the gyrations. Perhaps the little affair of the cauda has leaked out?"
The judge laughed in my face.
"I see you know little of us, after all, Sir John. Here have we proscribed caudæ, as anti-republican, both public opinions setting their faces against them; and yet a monikin may wear one abroad a mile long with impunity if he will just submit to a new dock when he comes home, and swear that he is the most miserable wretch going. If he can throw in a favorable word, too, touching the Leaplow cats and dogs -- Lord bless you, sir! they would pardon treason!"
"I begin to comprehend your policy, judge, if not your polity. Leaplow being a popular government, it becomes necessary that its public agents should be popular too. Now, as monikins naturally delight in their own excellences, nothing so disposes them to give credit to another, as his professions that he is worse than themselves."
The judge nodded and grinned.
"But another word, dear sir -- as you feel yourself constrained to commend the cats and dogs of Leaplow, do you belong to that school of philocats, who take their revenge for their amenity to the quadrupeds, by berating their fellow-creatures?"
The judge started, and glanced about him as if he dreaded a thieftaker. Then earnestly imploring me to respect his situation, he added in a whisper, that the subject of the people was sacred with him, that he rarely spoke of them without a reverence, and that his favorable sentiments in relation to the cats and dogs were not dependent on any particular merits of the animals themselves, but merely because they were the people's cats and dogs. Fearful that I might say something still more disagreeable, the judge hastened to take his leave, and I never saw him afterward. I make no doubt, however, that in good time his hair grew as he grew again into favor, and that he found the means to exhibit the proper length of tail on all suitable occasions.
A crowd in the street now caught my attention. On approaching it, a colleague who was there was kind enough to explain its cause.
It would seem that certain Leaphighers had been travelling in Leaplow; and, not satisfied with this liberty, they had actually written books concerning things that they had seen, and things that they had not seen. As respects the latter, neither of the public opinions was very sensitive, although many of them reflected on the Great National Allegory and the sacred rights of monikins; but as respects the former, there was a very lively excitement. These writers had the audacity to say that the Leaplowers had cut off all their caudæ, and the whole community was convulsed at an outrage so unprecedented. It was one thing to take such a step, and another to have it proclaimed to the world in books. If the Leaplowers had no tails, it was clearly their own fault. Nature had formed them with tails. They had bobbed themselves on a republican principle; and no one's principles ought to be thrown into his face, in this rude manner, more especially during a moral eclipse.
The dispensers of the essence of lopped tails threatened vengeance; caricaturists were put in requisition; some grinned, some menaced, some swore, and all read!
I left the crowd, taking the direction of my door again, pondering on this singular state of society, in which a peculiarity that had been deliberately and publicly adopted, should give rise to a sensitiveness of a character so unusual. I very well knew that men are commonly more ashamed of natural imperfections than those which, in a great measure, depend on themselves; but then men are, in their own estimation at least, placed by nature at the head of creation, and in that capacity it is reasonable to suppose they will be jealous of their natural privileges. The present case was rather Leaplow than generic; and I could only account for it, by supposing that nature had placed certain nerves in the wrong part of the Leaplow anatomy.
On entering the house, a strong smell of roasted meat saluted my nostrils, causing a very unphilosophical pleasure to the olfactory nerves, a pleasure which acted very directly, too, on the gastric juices of the stomach. In plain English, I had very sensible evidence that it was not enough to transport a man to the monikin region, send him to parliament, and keep him on nuts for a week, to render him exclusively ethereal, I found it was vain "to kick against the pricks." The odor of roasted meat was stronger than all the facts just named, and I was fain to abandon philosophy, and surrender to the belly. I descended incontinently to the kitchen, guided by a sense no more spiritual than that which directs the hound in the chase.
On opening the door of our refectory, such a delicious perfume greeted the nose, that I melted like a romantic girl at the murmur of a waterfall, and, losing sight of all the sublime truths so lately acquired, I was guilty of the particular human weakness which is usually described as having the "mouth water."
The sealer had quite taken leave of his monikin forbearance, and was enjoying himself in a peculiarly human manner. A dish of roasted meat was lying before him, and his eyes fairly glared as he turned them from me to the viand, in a way to render it a little doubtful whether I was a welcome visitor. But that honest old principle of seamen which never refuses to share equally with an ancient messmate, got the better even of his voracity.
"Sit down, Sir John," the captain cried, without ceasing to masticate, "and make no bones of it. To own the fact, the latter are almost as good as the flesh. I never tasted a sweeter morsel!"
I did not wait for a second invitation, the reader may be sure; and in less than ten minutes the dish was as clear as a table that had been swept by harpies. As this work is intended for one in which truth is rigidly respected, I shall avow that I do not remember any cultivation of sentiment which gave me half so much satisfaction as that short and hurried repast. I look back to it, even now, as to the very beau idéal of a dinner! Its fault was in the quantity, and not in quality.
I gazed greedily about for more. Just then, I caught a glimpse of a face that seemed looking at me with melancholy reproach. The truth flashed upon me in a flood of horrible remorse. Rushing upon Noah like a tiger, I seized him by the throat, and cried, in a voice of despair:
"Cannibal! what hast thou done?"
"Loosen your grip, Sir John -- we do not relish these hugs at Stunin'tun."
"Wretch! thou hast made me the participator of thy crime! We have eaten Brigadier Downright."
"Loosen, Sir John, or human natur' will rebel."
"Monster! give up thy unholy repast -- dost not see a million reproaches in the eyes of the innocent victim of thy insatiable appetites?"
"Cast off, Sir John, cast off, while we are friends, I care not if I have swallowed all the brigadiers in Leaplow -- off hands!"
"Never, monster! until thou disgorgest thy unholy meal!"
Noah could endure no more; but, seizing me by the throat, on the retaliating principle, I soon had some such sensations as one would be apt to feel if his gullet were in a vice. I shall not attempt to describe very minutely the miracle that followed. Hanging ought to be an effectual remedy for many delusions; for, in my case, the bowstring I was under certainly did wonders in a very short time. Gradually the whole scene changed. First came a mist, then a vertigo; and finally, as the captain relaxed his hold, objects appeared in new forms, and instead of being in our lodgings in Bivouac, I found myself in my old apartment in the Rue de Rivoli, Paris.
"King!" exclaimed Noah, who stood before me, red in the face with exertion; "this is no boy's play, and if it's to be repeated, I shall use a lashing! Where would be the harm, Sir John, if a man had eaten a monkey?"
Astonishment kept me mute. Every object, just as I had left it the morning we started for London, on our way to Leaphigh, was there. A table, in the centre of the room, was covered with sheets of paper closely written over, which, on examination, I found contained this manuscript as far as the last chapter. Both the captain and myself were attired as usual; I a la Parisien and he a la Stunin'tun. A small ship, very ingeniously made, and very accurately rigged, lay on the floor, with "Walrus" written on her stern. As my bewildered eye caught a glimpse of this vessel, Noah informed me that, having nothing to do except to look after my welfare (a polite way of characterizing his ward over my person, as I afterward found), he had employed his leisure in constructing the toy.
All was inexplicable. There was really the smell of meat. I had also that peculiar sensation of fulness which is apt to succeed a dinner, and a dish well filled with bones was in plain view. I took up one of the latter, in order to ascertain its genus. The captain kindly informed me that it was the remains of a pig, which had cost him a great deal of trouble to obtain, as the French viewed the act of eating a pig as very little less heinous than the act of eating a child. Suspicions began to trouble me, and I now turned to look for the head and reproachful eye of the brigadier.
The head was where I had just before seen it, visible over the top of a trunk; but it was so far raised as to enable me to see that it was still planted on its shoulders. A second look enabled me to distinguish the meditative, philosophical countenance of Dr. Reasono, who was still in the hussar-jacket and petticoat, though, being in the house, he had very properly laid aside the Spanish hat with bedraggled feathers.
A movement followed in the antechamber, and a hurried conversation, in a low, earnest tone, succeeded. The captain disappeared, and joined the speakers. I listened intently, but could not catch any of the intonations of a dialect founded on the decimal principle. Presently the door opened, and Dr. Etherington stood before me!
The good divine regarded me long and earnestly. Tears filled his eyes, and, stretching out both hands towards me, he asked:
"Do you know me, Jack?"
"Know you, dear sir! -- Why should I not?"
"And do you forgive me, dear boy?"
"For what, sir? -- I am sure, I have most reason to demand your pardon for a thousand follies."
"Ah! the letter -- the unkind -- the inconsiderate letter!"
"I have not had a letter from you, sir, in a twelvemonth; the last was anything but unkind."
"Though Anna wrote, it was at my dictation."
I passed a hand over my brow, and had dawnings of the truth.
"Is here -- in Paris -- and miserable -- most miserable! -- on your account."
Every particle of monikinity that was left in my system instantly gave way to a flood of human sensations.
"Let me fly to her, dear sir -- a moment is an age!"
"Not just yet, my boy. We have much to say to each other, nor is she in this hotel. To-morrow, when both are better prepared, you shall meet."
"Add, never to separate, sir, and I will be patient as a lamb."
"Never to separate, I believe it will be better to say."
I hugged my venerable guardian, and found a delicious relief from a most oppressive burden of sensations, in a flow of tears,
Dr. Etherington soon led me into a calmer tone of mind. In the course of the day, many matters were discussed and settled. I was told that Captain Poke had been a good nurse, though in a sealing fashion; and that the least I could do was to send him back to Stunin'tun, free of cost. This was agreed to, and the worthy but dogmatical mariner was promised the means of fitting out a new "Debby and Dolly."
"These philosophers had better be presented to some academy," observed the doctor, smiling, as he pointed to the family of amiable strangers, "being already F. U. D. G. E.'s and H. O. A. X.'s. Mr. Reasono, in particular, is unfit for ordinary society."
"Do with them as you please, my more than father. Let the poor animals, however, be kept from physical suffering."
"Attention shall be paid to all their wants, both physical and moral."
"And in a day or two, we shall proceed to the rectory?"
"The day after to-morrow, if you have strength."
"Anna will see you."
"And the next day?"
"Nay, not quite so soon, Jack; but the moment we think you perfectly restored, she shall share your fortunes for the remainder of your common probation."
"This has been a very extraordinary voyage of ours, Captain Poke," I remarked, after the worthy sealer had swallowed sixteen eggs, an omelette, seven cotelettes, and divers accessories. "Do you think of publishing your private journal?"
"Why, in my opinion, Sir John, the less that either of us says of the v'y'ge the better."
"And why so? We have had the discoveries of Columbus, Cook, Vancouver, and Hudson -- why not those of Captain Poke?"
"To own the truth, we sealers do not like to speak of our cruising grounds -- and, as for these monikins, after all, what are they good for? A thousand of them wouldn't make a quart of 'ile, and by all accounts their fur is worth next to nothin'."
"Do you account their philosophy for nothing? and their jurisprudence? -- you, who were so near losing your head, and who did actually lose your tail, by the axe of the executioner?"
Noah placed a hand behind him, fumbling about the seat of reason, with evident uneasiness. Satisfied that no harm had been done, he very coolly placed half a muffin in what he called his "provision hatchway."
"You will give me this pretty model of our good old 'Walrus,' captain?"
"Take it, o' Heaven's sake, Sir John, and good luck to you with it. You, who give me a full-grown schooner, will be but poorly paid with a toy."
"It's as like the dear old craft as one pea is like another!"
"I dare say it may be. I never knew a model that hadn't suthin' of the original in it."
"Well, my good shipmate, we must part. You know I am to go and see the lady who is soon to be my wife, and the diligence will be ready to take you to Havre, before I return."
"God bless you! Sir John -- God bless you!" Noah blew his nose till it rung like a French horn. I thought his little coals of eyes were glittering, too, more than common, most probably with moisture. "You're a droll navigator, and make no more of the ice than a colt makes of a rail. But though the man at the wheel is not always awake the heart seldom sleeps."
"When the 'Debby and Dolly' is fairly in the water, you will do me the pleasure of letting me know it."
"Count on me, Sir John. Before we part, I have, however, a small favor to ask."
Here Noah drew out of his pocket a sort of basso relievo carved in pine. It represented Neptune armed with a harpoon instead of a trident; the captain always contending that the god of the seas should never carry the latter, but that, in its place, he should be armed either with the weapon he had given him, or with a boat- hook. On the right of Neptune was an English gentleman holding out a bag of guineas. On the other was a female who, I was told, represented the goddess of liberty, while it was secretly a rather flattering likeness of Miss Poke. The face of Neptune was supposed to have some similitude to that of her husband. The captain, with that modesty which is invariably the companion of merit in the arts, asked permission to have a copy of this design placed on the schooner's stern. It would have been churlish to refuse such a compliment; and I now offered Noah my hand, as the time for parting had arrived. The sealer grasped me rather tightly, and seemed disposed to say more than adieu.
"You are going to see an angel, Sir John."
"How! -- Do you know anything of Miss Etherington?"
"I should be as blind as an old bumboat else. During our late v'y'ge, I saw her often."
"This is strange! -- But there is evidently something on your mind, my friend; speak freely."
"Well, then, Sir John, talk of anything but of our v'y'ge, to the dear crittur. I do not think she is quite prepared yet to hear of all the wonders we saw."
I promised to be prudent; and the captain, shaking me cordially by the hand, finally wished me farewell. There were some rude touches of feeling in his manner, which reacted on certain chords in my own system; and he had been gone several minutes before I recollected that it was time to go to the Hotel de Castile. Too impatient to wait for a carriage, I flew along the streets on foot, believing that my own fiery speed would outstrip the zigzag movement of a fiacre or a cabriolet de place.
Dr. Etherington met me at the door of his appartement, and led me to an inner room without speaking. Here he stood gazing, for some time, in my face, with paternal concern.
"She expects you, Jack, and believes that you rang the bell."
"So much the better, dear sir. Let us not lose a moment; let me fly and throw myself at her feet, and implore her pardon."
"For what, my good boy?"
"For believing that any social stake can equal that which a man feels in the nearest, dearest ties of earth!"
The excellent rector smiled, but he wished to curb my impatience.
"You have already every stake in society, Sir John Goldencalf," he answered -- assuming the air which human beings have, by a general convention, settled shall be dignified -- "that any reasonable man can desire. The large fortune left by your late father, raises you, in this respect, to the height of the richest in the land; and now that you are a baronet, no one will dispute your claim to participate in the councils of the nation. It would perhaps be better, did your creation date a century or two nearer the commencement of the monarchy; but, in this age of innovations, we must take things as they are, and not as we might wish to have them."
I rubbed my forehead, for the doctor had incidentally thrown out an embarrassing idea.
"On your principle, my dear sir, society would be obliged to begin with its great-grandfathers to qualify itself for its own government."
"Pardon me, Jack, if I have said anything disagreeable -- no doubt all will come right in heaven. Anna will be uneasy at our delay."
This suggestion drove all recollection of the good rector's socialstake system, which was exactly the converse of the social-stake system of my late ancestor, quite out of my head. Springing forward, I gave him reason to see that he would have no farther trouble in changing the subject. When we had passed an antechamber, he pointed to a door, and admonishing me to be prudent, withdrew.
My hand trembled as it touched the door-knob, but the lock yielded. Anna was standing in the middle of the room (she had heard my footsteps), an image of womanly loveliness, womanly faith, and womanly feeling. By a desperate effort, she was, however, mistress of her emotions. Though her pure soul seemed willing to fly to meet me, she obviously restrained the impulse, in order to spare my nerves.
"Dear Jack!" -- and both her soft, white, pretty little hands met me, as I eagerly approached.
"Anna! -- dearest Anna!" -- I covered the rosy fingers with kisses.
"Let us be tranquil, Jack, and if possible, endeavor to be reasonable, too."
"If I thought this could really cost one habitually discreet as you an effort, Anna?"
"One habitually discreet as I, is as likely to feel strongly on meeting an old friend, as another."
"I think it would make me perfectly happy, could I see thee weep."
As if waiting only for this hint, Anna burst into a flood of tears. I was frightened, for her sobs became hysterical and convulsed. Those precious sentiments which had been so long imprisoned in her gentle bosom, obtained the mastery, and I was well paid for my selfishness, by experiencing an alarm little less violent than her own outpouring of feeling.
Touching the incidents, emotions, and language of the next half hour, it is not my intention to be very communicative. Anna was ingenuous, unreserved, and, if I might judge by the rosy blushes that suffused her sweet face, and the manner in which she extricated herself from my protecting arms, I believe I must add, she deemed herself indiscreet in that she had been so unreserved and ingenuous.
"We can now converse more calmly, Jack," the dear creature resumed, after she had erased the signs of emotion from her cheeks -- "more calmly, if not more sensibly."
"The wisdom of Solomon is not half so precious as the words I have just heard -- and as for the music of spheres -- "
"It is a melody that angels only enjoy."
"And art not thou an angel?"
"No, Jack, only a poor, confiding girl; one instinct with the affections and weaknesses of her sex, and one whom it must be your part to sustain and direct. If we begin by calling each other by these superhuman epithets, we may awake from the delusion sooner than if we commence with believing ourselves to be no other than what we really are. I love you for your kind, excellent, and generous heart, Jack; and as for these poetical beings, they are rather proverbial, I believe, for having no hearts at all."
As Anna mildly checked my exaggeration of language -- after ten years of marriage I am unwilling to admit there was any exaggeration of idea -- she placed her little velvet hand in mine again, smiling away all the severity of the reproof.
"Of one thing, I think you may rest perfectly assured, dear girl," I resumed, after a moment's reflection. "All my old opinions concerning expansion and contraction are radically changed. I have carried out the principle of the social-stake system in the extreme, and cannot say that I have been at all satisfied with its success. At this moment I am the proprietor of vested interests which are scattered over half the world. So far from finding that I love my kind any more for all these social stakes, I am compelled to see that the wish to protect one, is constantly driving me into acts of injustice against all the others. There is something wrong, depend on it, Anna, in the old dogmas of political economists!"
"I know little of these things, Sir John, but to one ignorant as myself, it would appear that the most certain security for the righteous exercise of power is to be found in just principles."
"If available, beyond a question. They who contend that the debased and ignorant are unfit to express their opinions concerning the public weal, are obliged to own that they can only be restrained by force. Now, as knowledge is power, their first precaution is to keep them ignorant; and then they quote this very ignorance, with all its debasing consequences, as an argument against their participating in authority with themselves. I believe there can be no safe medium between a frank admission of the whole principle -- "
"You should remember, dear Goldencalf, that this is a subject on which I know but little. It ought to be sufficient for us that we find things as they are; if change is actually necessary, we should endeavor to effect it with prudence and a proper regard to justice."
Anna, while kindly leading me back from my speculations, looked both anxious and pained.
"True -- true" -- I hurriedly rejoined, for a world would not tempt me to prolong her suffering for a moment. "I am foolish and forgetful, to be talking thus at such a moment; but I have endured too much to be altogether unmindful of ancient theories. I thought it might be grateful to you, at least, to know, Anna, that I have ceased to look for happiness in my affections for all, and am only so much the better disposed to turn in search of it to one,"
"To love our neighbor as ourself, is the latest and highest of the divine commands," the dear girl answered, looking a thousand times more lovely than ever, for my conclusion was very far from being displeasing to her. "I do not know that this object is to be attained by centring in our persons as many of the goods of life as possible; but I do think, Jack, that the heart which loves one truly, will be so much the better disposed to entertain kind feelings towards all others."
I kissed the hand she had given me, and we now began to talk a little more like people of the world, concerning our movements. The interview lasted an hour longer, when the good Doctor interposed and sent me home, to prepare for our return to England.
In a week we were again in the old island. Anna and her father proceeded to the rectory, while I was left in town, busied with lawyers, and looking after the results of my numerous investments.
Contrary to what many people will be apt to suppose, most of them had been successful. On the whole, I was richer for the adventures; and with such prospects accompanying the risks, I had little difficulty in disposing of them to advantage. The proceeds, together with a large balance of dividends that had accrued during my absence, was lodged with my banker, and I advertised for further landed property.
Knowing the taste of Anna, I purchased one of those town residences which look out on St. James's Park, where the sight of fragrant shrubbery and verdant fields will be constantly before her serene eyes, during the period of what is called a London winter, -- or from the Easter holidays to midsummer.
I had a long and friendly interview with my Lord Pledge, who was not a man to abandon a ministry, but who continued in place just as active, as respectable, as logical and as useful as ever. Indeed, so conspicuous was he for the third of these qualities, that I caught myself peeping, once or twice, to see if he were actually destitute of a cauda. He gave me the comfortable assurance that all had gone on well in parliament during my absence, politely intimating, at the same time, that he did not believe I had been missed. We settled certain preliminaries together, which will be explained in the next chapter; when I hurried, on the wings of love, alias, in a post-chaise and four, towards the rectory, and to the sweetest, kindest, gentlest, truest girl in an island which has so many of the sweet, the kind, the gentle and the true.
Anna was seated so near the window that the tints of the rose-bush suffused her spotless robe, rendering her whole figure a perfect picture of that attractive creature the poets have so often sung -- a blushing bride. The quiet light had to traverse a wilderness of sweets before it fell on her bland features, every polished lineament of which was eloquent of felicity, and yet, if it be not a contradiction, I would also add, not entirely without the shadows of thought. She was never more lovely, and I had never known her so subdued and tender, as within the last half-hour. We had been speaking, without reserve, of the past, and Anna had just faithfully described the extreme suffering with which she had complied with the command of the good rector, in writing the letter that had so completely unmanned me.
I ought to have known you better, love than to suspect you of the act," I rejoined to one of her earnest protestations of regret, and gazing fondly Into those eyes which have so much of the serenity, as they have the hues, of heaven. "You never yet were so unkind to one who was offensive; much less could you willingly have plotted this cruelty to one you regard!"
Anna could no longer control herself, but her cheeks were wetted with the usual signs of feeling in her sex. Then smiling in the midst of this little outbreaking of womanly sensibility, her countenance became playful and radiant.
"That letter ought not to be altogether proscribed, neither, Jack. Had it not been written, you would never have visited Leaphigh, nor Leaplow, nor have seen any of those wonderful spectacles which are here recorded."
The dear creature laid her hand on a roll of manuscript which she had just returned to me, after its perusal. At the same time, her face flushed, as vivid and transient feelings are reflected from the features of the innocent and ingenuous, and she made a faint effort to laugh.
I passed a hand over my brow, for whenever this subject is alluded to between us, I invariably feel that there is a species of mistiness, in and about the region of thought. I was not displeased, however, for I knew that a heart which loved so truly would not willingly cause me pain, nor would one habitually so gentle and considerate, utter a syllable that she might have reason to think would seriously displease.
"Hadst thou been with me, love, that journey would always be remembered as one of the pleasantest events of my life, for, while it had its perils and its disagreeables, it had also its moments of extreme satisfaction."
"You will never be an adept in political saltation, John!"
"Perhaps not -- but here is a document that will render it less necessary than formerly."
I threw her a packet which had been received that morning from town, by a special messenger, but of whose contents I had not yet spoken. Anna was too young a wife to open it without an approving look from my fond eye. On glancing over its contents, she perceived that I was raised to the House of Peers by the title of Viscount Householder. The purchase of three more boroughs, and the influence of my old friend Lord Pledge, had done it all.
The sweet girl looked pleased, for I believe it is in female nature to like to be a viscountess; but, throwing herself into my arms, she protested that her joy was at my elevation and not at her own.
"I owed you this effort, Anna, as some acknowledgment for your faith and disinterestedness in the affair of Lord M'Dee."
"And yet, Jack, he had neither high cheek-bones, nor red hair; and his accent was such as might please a girl less capricious than myself!"
This was said playfully and coquettishly, but in a way to make me feel how near folly would have been to depriving me of a treasure, had the heart I so much prized been less ingenuous and pure. I drew the dear creature to my bosom, as if afraid my rival might yet rob me of her possession. Anna looked up, smiling through her tears; and, making an effort to be calm, she said, in a voice so smothered as to prove how delicate she felt the subject to be: --
"We will speak seldom of this journey, dear John, and try to think of the long and dark journey which is yet before us. We will speak of it, however, for there should be nothing totally concealed between us."
I kissed her serene and humid eyes, and repeated what she had just said, syllable for syllable. Anna has not been unmindful of her words; for rarely, indeed, has she touched on the past, and then oftener in allusion to her own sorrows, than in reference to my impressions.
But, while the subject of my voyage to the monikin region is, in a measure, forbidden between me and my wife, there exists no such restraint as between me and other people. The reader may like to know, therefore, what effect this extraordinary adventure has left on my mind, after an interval of ten years.
There have been moments when the whole has appeared a dream; but, on looking back, and comparing it with other scenes in which I have been an actor, I cannot perceive that this is not quite as indelibly stamped on my memory as those. The facts themselves, moreover, are so very like what I see daily in the course of occurrence around me, that I have come to the conclusion, I did go to Leaphigh in the way related, and that I must have been brought back during the temporary insanity of a fever. I believe, therefore, that there are such countries as Leaphigh and Leaplow; and after much thought, I am of opinion that great justice has here been done to the monikin character in general.
The result of much meditation on what I witnessed, has been to produce sundry material changes in my former opinions, and to unsettle even many of the notions in which I may be said to have been born and bred. In order to consume as little of the reader's time as possible, I shall set down a summary of my conclusions, and then take my leave of him, with many thanks for his politeness in reading what I have written. Before completing my task in this way, however, it will be well to add a word on the subject of one or two of my fellow- travellers.
I never could make up my mind relating to the fact whether we did or did not actually eat Brigadier Downright. The flesh was so savory, and it tasted so delicious after a week of philosophical meditation on nuts, and the recollection of its pleasures is so very vivid, that I am inclined to think nothing but a good material dinner could have left behind it impressions so lively, I have had many melancholy thoughts on this subject, especially in November; but observing that men are constantly devouring each other, in one shape or another, I endeavor to make the best of it, and to persuade myself that a slight difference in species may exonerate me from the imputation of cannibalism.
I often get letters from Captain Poke. He is not very explicit on the subject of our voyage, it is true; but, on the whole, I have decided that the little ship he constructed was built on the model of, and named after, our own Walrus instead of our own Walrus being built on the model of, and named after, the little ship constructed by Captain Poke. I keep the latter, therefore, to show my friends as a proof of what I tell them, knowing the importance of visible testimony with ordinary minds.
As for Bob and the mates, I never heard any more of them. The former most probably continued a "kickee" until years and experience enabled him to turn the tables on humanity, when, as is usually the case with Christians, he would be very likely to take up the business of a "kicker" with so much the greater zeal on account of his early sufferings.
To conclude, my own adventures and observations lead to the following inferences, viz.:
That every man loves liberty for his own sake and very few for the sake of other people.
That moral saltation is very necessary to political success at Leaplow, and quite probably in many other places.
That civilization is very arbitrary, meaning one thing in France, another thing at Leaphigh, and still a third in Dorsetshire.
That there is no sensible difference between motives in the polar region and motives anywhere else.
That truth is a comparative and local property, being much influenced by circumstances; particularly by climate and by different public opinions.
That there is no portion of human wisdom so select and faultless that it does not contain the seeds of its own refutation.
That of all the 'ocracies (aristocracy and democracy included) hypocrisy is the most flourishing.
That he who is in the clutches of the law may think himself lucky if he escape with the loss of his tail.
That liberty is a convertible term, which means exclusive privileges in one country, no privileges in another, and inclusive privileges in all.
That religion is a paradox, in which self-denial and humility are proposed as tenets, in direct contradiction to every man's senses.
That phrenology and caudology are sister sciences, one being quite as demonstrable as the other, and more too.
That philosophy, sound principles and virtue, are really delightful; but, after all, that they are no more than so many slaves of the belly; a man usually preferring to eat his best friend to starving.
That a little wheel and a great wheel are as necessary to the motion of a commonweath, as to the motion of a stage-coach, and that what this gains in periphery that makes up in activity, on the rotatory principle.
That it is one thing to have a king, another to have a throne, and another to have neither.
That the reasoning which is drawn from particular abuses, is no reasoning for general uses.
That, in England, if we did not use blinkers, our cattle would break our necks; whereas, in Germany we travel at a good pace, allowing the horse the use of his eyes; and in Naples we fly, without even a bit!
That the converse of what has just been said of horses is true of men, in the three countries named.
That occultations of truth are just as certain as the aurora boreal is, and quite as easily accounted for.
That men who will not shrink from the danger and toil of penetrating the polar basin, will shrink from the trouble of doing their own thinking, and put themselves, like Captain Poke, under the convoy of a God-like.
That all our wisdom is insufficient to protect us from frauds, one outwitting us by gyrations and flapjacks, and another by adding new joints to the cauda.
That men are not very scrupulous touching the humility due to God, but are so tenacious of their own privileges in this particular, they will confide in plausible rogues rather than in plain-dealing honesty.
That they who rightly appreciate the foregoing facts, are People's Friends, and become the salt of the earth -- yea, even the Most Patriotic Patriots!
That it is fortunate "all will come right in heaven," for it is certain too much goes wrong on earth.
That the social-stake system has one distinctive merit: that of causing the owners of vested rights to set their own interests in motion, while those of their fellow- citizens must follow, as a matter of course, though perhaps a little clouded by the dust raised by their leaders.
That he who has an Anna, has the best investment in humanity; and that if he has any repetition of his treasure, it is better still.
That money commonly purifies the spirit as wine quenches thirst; and therefore it is wise to commit all our concerns to the keeping of those who have most of it.
That others seldom regard us in the same light we regard ourselves; witness the manner in which Dr. Reasono converted me from a benefactor into the travelling tutor of Prince Bob.
That honors are sweet even to the most humble, as is shown by the satisfaction of Noah in being made a lord high admiral.
That there is no such stimulant of humanity, as a good moneyed stake in its advancement.
That though the mind may be set on a very improper and base object, it will not fail to seek a good motive for its justification, few men being so hardened in any grovelling passion, that they will not endeavor to deceive themselves, as well as their neighbors.
That academies promote good fellowship in knowledge, and good fellowship in knowledge promotes F. U. D. G. E.'s, and H. O. A. X.'s.
That a political rolling-pin, though a very good thing to level rights and privileges, is a very bad thing to level houses, temples, and other matters that might be named.
That the system of governing by proxy is more extended than is commonly supposed; in one country a king resorting to its use, and in another the people.
That there is no method by which a man can be made to covet a tail, so sure as by supplying all his neighbors, and excluding him by an especial edict.
That the perfection of consistency in a nation, is to dock itself at home, while its foreign agents furiously cultivate caudæ abroad.
That names are far more useful than things, being more generally understood, less liable to objections, of greater circulation, besides occupying much less room.
That ambassadors turn the back of the throne outward, aristocrats draw a crimson curtain before it, and a king sits on it.
That nature has created inequalities in men and things, and, as human institutions are intended to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, ergo, the laws should encourage natural inequalities as a legitimate consequence.
That, moreover, the laws of nature having made one man wise and another man foolish -- this strong, and that weak, human laws should reverse it all, by making another man wise and one man foolish -- that strong, and this weak. On this conclusion I obtained a peerage.
That God-likes are commonly Riddles, and Riddles, with many people, are, as a matter of course, God-likes. That the expediency of establishing the base of society on a principle of the most sordid character, one that is denounced by the revelations of God, and proved to be insufficient by the experience of man, may at least be questioned without properly subjecting the dissenter to the imputation of being a sheep-stealer.
That we seldom learn moderation under any political excitement, until forty thousand square miles of territory are blown from beneath our feet.
That it is not an infallible sign of great mental refinement to bespatter our fellow-creatures, while every nerve is writhing in honor of our pigs, our cats, our stocks, and our stones.
That select political wisdom, like select schools, propagates much questionable knowledge.
That the whole people is not infallible, neither is a part of the people infallible.
That love for the species is a godlike and pure sentiment; but the philanthropy which is dependent on buying land by the square mile, and selling it by the square foot, is stench in the nostrils of the just.
That one thoroughly imbued with republican simplicity invariably squeezes himself into a little wheel, in order to show how small he can become at need.
That habit is invincible, an Esquimaux preferring whale's blubber to beefsteak, a native of the Gold Coast cherishing his tom-tom before a band of music, and certain travelled countrymen of our own saying, "Commend me to the English skies."
That arranging a fact by reason is embarrassing, and admits of cavilling; while adapting a reason to a fact is a very natural, easy, every-day, and sometimes necessary, process.
That what men affirm for their own particular interests they will swear to in the end, although it should be a proposition as much beyond the necessity of an oath, as that "black is white."
That national allegories exist everywhere, the only difference between them arising from gradations in the richness of imaginations.
And finally: --
That men have more of the habits, propensities, dispositions, cravings, antics, gratitude, flapjacks, and honesty of monikins, than is generally known.
(2)Caudæ Bovûm. -- BUF.
(3) I afterwards found this was a common phrase in Leaplow, being uniformly applied to every monikin who wore spectacles.
(4) One would think that Brigadier Downright had lately paid a visit to our own happy and much enlightened land. Fifty years since, the negro was a slave in New York, and incapable of contracting marriage with a white. Facts have, however, been progressive; and, from one privilege to another, he has at length obtained that of consulting his own tastes in this matter, and, so far as he himself is concerned, of doing as he pleases. This is the fact, but he who presumes to speak of it has his windows broken by opinion, for his pains! -- NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
(5) It is scarcely necessary to tell the intelligent reader there is no proof that any political community was ever so bent on self-destruction as to enact agrarian laws, in the vulgar sense in which it has suited the arts of narrowminded politicians to represent them ever since the revival of letters. The celebrated agrarian laws of Rome did not essentially differ from the distribution of our own military lands, or perhaps the similitude is greater to the modern Russian military colonies. Those who feel an interest in this subject would do well to consult Niebuhr. --- NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
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