J. Fenimore Cooper
Part 2 out of 8
"Property is in danger, Sir Joseph!" I dryly remarked, as I gathered
together the papers in order to secure them.
"This will may be set aside, gentlemen!" cried the knight in a fury.
"It contains a libel!"
"And for whose benefit, Sir Joseph?" I quietly inquired. "With or
without the will my title to my father's assets would seem to be
This was so evidently true that the more prudent retired in silence;
and even Sir Joseph after a short delay, during which he appeared to
be strangely agitated, withdrew. The next week his failure was
announced, in consequence of some extravagant risks on 'Change, and
eventually I received but three shillings and fourpence in the pound
for my bond of sixty-three thousand.
When the money was paid I could not help exclaiming mentally,
"Property is in danger!"
The following morning Sir Joseph Job balanced his account with the
world by cutting his throat.
ABOUT THE SOCIAL-STAKE SYSTEM, THE DANGERS OF CONCENTRATION, AND
OTHER MORAL AND IMMORAL CURIOSITIES.
The affairs of my father were almost as easy of settlement as those
of a pauper. In twenty-four hours I was completely master of them,
and found myself if not the richest, certainly one of the richest
subjects of Europe. I say subjects, for sovereigns frequently have a
way of appropriating the effects of others that would render a
pretension to rivalry ridiculous. Debts there were none: and if
there had been, ready money was not wanting; the balance in cash in
my favor at the bank amounted in itself to a fortune.
The reader may now suppose that I was perfectly happy. Without a
solitary claim on either my time or my estate, I was in the
enjoyment of an income that materially exceeded the revenues of many
reigning princes. I had not an ex-pensive nor a vicious habit of any
sort. Of houses, horses, hounds, packs, and menials, there were none
to vex or perplex me. In every particular save one I was completely
my own master. That one was the near, dear, cherished sentiment that
rendered Anna in my eyes an angel (and truly she was little short of
it in those of other people), and made her the polar star to which
every wish pointed. How gladly would I have paid half a million just
then to be the grandson of a baronet with precedency from the
There was, however, another and a present cause for un-easiness that
gave me even more concern than the fact that my family reached the
dark ages with so much embarrassing facility. In witnessing the
dying agony of my ancestor I had got a dread lesson on the vanity,
the hopeless character, the dangers, and the delusions of wealth
that time can never eradicate. The history of its accumulation was
ever present to mar the pleasure of its possession. I do not mean
that I suspected what by the world's convention is deemed
dishonesty--of that there had been no necessity--but simply that the
heartless and estranged existence, the waste of energies, the
blunted charities, and the isolated and distrustful habits of my
father appeared to me to be but poorly requited by the joyless
ownership of its millions. I would have given largely to be directed
in such a way as while escaping the wastefulness of the shoals of
Scylla I might in my own case steer clear of the miserly rocks of
When I drove from between the smoky lines of the London houses into
the green fields and amid the blossoming hedges, this earth looked
beautiful and as if it were made to be loved. I saw in it the
workmanship of a divine and beneficent Creator, and it was not
difficult to persuade myself that he who dwelt in the confusion of a
town in order to transfer gold from the pocket of his neighbor to
his own had mistaken the objects of his being. My poor ancestor who
had never quitted London stood before me with his dying regrets; and
my first resolution was to live in open communion with my kind. So
intense, indeed, did my anxiety to execute this purpose become that
it might have led even to frenzy had not a fortunate circumstance
interposed to save me from so dire a calamity.
The coach in which I had taken passage (for I purposely avoided the
parade and trouble of post-chaise and servants), passed through a
market town of known loyalty on the eve of a contested election.
This appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the constituency
had occurred in consequence of the late incumbent having taken
office. The new minister, for he was a member of the cabinet, had
just ended his canvass, and he was about to address his fellow-
subjects from a window of the tavern in which he lodged. Fatigued,
but ready to seek mental relief by any means, I threw myself from
the coach, secured a room, and made one of the multitude.
The favorite candidate occupied a large balcony surrounded by his
principal friends, among whom it was delightful to see earls, lords
John, baronets, dignitaries of the church, tradesmen of influence in
the borough, and even a mechanic or two, all squeezed together in
the agreeable amalgamation of political affinity. Here then, thought
I, is an example of the heavenly charities I The candidate himself,
the son and heir of a peer, feels that he is truly of the same flesh
and blood as his constituents; how amiably he smiles!--how bland are
his manners!--and with what cordiality does he shake hands with the
greasiest and the worst! There must be a corrective to human pride,
a stimulus to the charities, a never-ending lesson of benevolence in
this part of our excellent system, and I will look farther into it.
The candidate appeared and his harangue commenced.
Memory would fail me were I to attempt recording the precise
language of the orator, but his opinions and precepts are so deeply
graven on my recollection that I do not fear misrepresenting them.
He commenced with a very proper and eloquent eulogium on the
constitution, which he fearlessly pronounced to be in its way the
very perfection of human reason; in proof of which he adduced the
well-ascertained fact that it had always been known throughout the
vicissitudes and trials of so many centuries to accommodate itself
to circumstances, abhorring change. "Yes, my friends," he exclaimed,
in a burst of patriotic and constitutional fervor, "whether under
the roses or the lilies--the Tudors, the Stuarts, or the illustrious
house of Brunswick, this glorious structure has resisted the storms
of faction, has been able to receive under its sheltering roof the
most opposite elements of domestic strife, affording protection,
warmth, aye, and food and raiment"-(here the orator happily laid his
hand on the shoulder of a butcher, who wore a frieze overcoat that
made him look not unlike a stall-fed beast)--"yes, food and raiment,
victuals and drink, to the meanest subject in the realm. Nor is this
all; it is a constitution peculiarly English: and who is there so
base, so vile, so untrue to himself, to his fathers, to his
descendants, as to turn his back on a constitution that is
thoroughly and inherently English, a constitution that he has
inherited from his ancestors, and which by every obligation both
human and divine he is bound to transmit unchanged to posterity";--
here the orator, who continued to speak, however, was deafened by
shouts of applause, and that part of the subject might very fairly
be considered as definitively settled.
From the constitution as a whole the candidate next proceeded to
extol the particular feature of it that was known as the borough of
Householder. According to his account of this portion of the
government, its dwellers were animated by the noblest spirit of
independence, the most rooted determination to uphold the ministry
of which he was the least worthy member, and were distinguished by
what in an ecstasy of political eloquence he happily termed the most
freeborn understanding of its rights and privileges. This loyal and
judicious borough had never been known to waste its favors on those
who had not a stake in the community. It understood that fundamental
principle of good government which lays down the axiom that none
were to be trusted but those who had a visible and an extended
interest in the country; for without these pledges of honesty and
independence what had the elector to expect but bribery and
corruption--a traffic in his dearest rights, and a bargaining that
might destroy the glorious institutions under which he dwelt. This
part of the harangue was listened to in respectful silence, and
shortly after the orator concluded; when the electors dispersed,
with, no doubt, a better opinion of themselves and the constitution
than it had probably been their good fortune to entertain since the
Accident placed me at dinner (the house being crowded) at the same
table with an attorney who had been very active the whole morning
among the Householders, and who I soon learned, from himself, was
the especial agent of the owner of the independent borough in
question. He told me that he had came down with the expectation of
disposing of the whole property to Lord Pledge, the ministerial
candidate named; but the means had not been forthcoming as he had
been led to hope, and the bargain was unluckily broken off at the
very moment when it was of the utmost importance to know to whom the
independent electors rightfully belonged.
"His lordship, however," continued the attorney, winking, "has done
what is handsome; and there can be no more doubt of his election
than there would be of yours did you happen to own the borough."
"And is the property now open for sale?" I asked.
"Certainly-my principal can hold out no longer. The price is
settled, and I have his power of attorney to make the preliminary
bargain. 'Tis a thousand pities that the public mind should be left
in this undecided state on the eve of an election."
"Then, sir, I will be the purchaser."
My companion looked at me with astonishment and doubt. He had
transacted too much business of this nature, however, not to feel
his way before he was either off or on.
"The price of the estate is three hundred and twenty-five thousand
pounds, sir, and the rental is only six!"
"Be it so. My name is Goldencalf: by accompanying me to town you
shall receive the money."
"Goldencalf! What, sir, the only son and heir of the late Thomas
Goldencalf of Cheapside?"
"The same. My father has not been dead a month."
"Pardon me, sir--convince me of your identity--we must be particular
in matters of this sort--and you shall have possession of the
property in season to secure your own election or that of any of
your friends. I will return Lord Pledge his small advances, and
another time he will know better than to fail of keeping his
promises. What is a borough good for if a nobleman's word is not
sacred? You will find the electors, in particular, every way worthy
of your favor. They are as frank, loyal, and straightforward a
constituency as any in England. No skulking behind the ballot for
them!--and in all respects they are fearless Englishmen who will do
what they say, and say whatever their landlord shall please to
require of them."
As I had sundry letters and other documents about me, nothing was
easier than to convince the attorney of my identity. He called for
pen and ink; drew out of his pocket the contract that had been
prepared for Lord Pledge; gave it to me to read; filled the blanks;
and affixing his name, called the waiters as witnesses, and
presented me the paper with a promptitude and respect that I found
really delightful. So much, thought I, for having given pledges to
society by the purchase of a borough. I drew on my bankers for three
hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds, and arose from table
virtually the owner of the estate of Householder and of the
political consciences of its tenantry.
A fact so important could not long be unknown; and in a few minutes
all eyes in the coffee-room were upon me. The landlord presented
himself and begged I would do him the honor to take possession of
his family parlor, there being no other at his disposal. I was
hardly installed before a servant in a handsome livery presented the
"DEAR MR. GOLDENCALF:
"I have this moment heard of your being in town, and am exceedingly
rejoiced to learn it. A long intimacy with your late excellent and
most loyal father justifies my claiming you for a friend, and I
waive all ceremony (official, of course, is meant, there being no
reason for any other between us), and beg to be admitted for half an
"Dear Mr. Goldencalf,"
"Yours very faithfully and sincerely,"
" Monday evening."
I begged that the noble visitor might not be made to wait a moment.
Lord Pledge met me like an old and intimate friend. He made a
hundred handsome inquiries after my dead ancestor; spoke feelingly
of his regret at not having been summoned to attend his death-bed;
and then very ingenuously and warmly congratulated me on my
succession to so large a property.
"I hear, too, you have bought this borough, my dear sir. I could not
make it convenient just at this particular moment to conclude my own
arrangement--but it is a good thing. Three hundred and twenty
thousand, I suppose, as was mentioned between me and the other
"Three hundred and twenty-five thousand, Lord Pledge."
I perceived by the countenance of the noble candidate that I had
paid the odd five thousand as a fine--a circumstance which accounted
for the promptitude of the attorney in the transaction, he most
probably pocketing the difference himself.
"You mean to sit, of course?"
"I do, my lord, as one of the members, at the next general election;
but at present I shall be most happy to aid your return."
"My dear Mr. Goldencalf--"
"Really, without presuming to compliment, Lord Pledge, the noble
sentiments I heard you express this morning were so very proper, so
exceedingly statesmanlike, so truly English, that I shall feel
infinitely more satisfaction in knowing that you fill the vacant
seat than if it were in my own possession."
"I honor your public spirit, Mr. Goldencalf, and only wish to God
there was more of it in the world. But you can count on our
friendship, sir. What you have just remarked is true, very true,
only too true, true to a hair-a-a-a--I mean, my dear Mr. Goldencalf,
most especially those sentiments of mine which-a-a-a-I say it,
before God, without vanity--but which, as you have so very ably
intimated, are so truly proper and English."
"I sincerely think so, Lord Pledge, or I should not have said it. I
am peculiarly situated myself. With an immense fortune, without
rank, name, or connections, nothing is easier than for one of my
years to be led astray; and it is my ardent desire to hit upon some
expedient that may connect me properly with society."
"Marry, my dear young friend--select a wife from among the fair and
virtuous of this happy isle--unluckily I can propose nothing in this
way myself--for both my own sisters are disposed of."
"I have made choice, already, I thank you a thousand times, my dear
Lord Pledge; although I scarcely dare execute my own wishes. There
are objections--if I were only the child, now, of a baronet's second
"Become a baronet yourself," once more interrupted my noble friend,
with an evident relief from suspense; for I verily believe he
thought I was about to ask for something better. "Your affair shall
be arranged by the end of the week--and if there is anything else I
can do for you, I beg you to name it without reserve."
"If I could hear a few more of those remarkable sentiments of yours,
concerning the stake we should all have in society, I think it would
relieve my mind."
My companion looked at me a moment with a very awkward sort of an
intensity, drew his hand across his brows, reflected, and then
"You attach too much importance, Mr. Goldencalf, to a few certainly
very just but very ill-arranged ideas. That a man without a proper
stake in society is little better than the beasts of the fields, I
hold to be so obvious that it is unnecessary to dwell on the point.
Reason as you will, forward or backward, you arrive at the same
result--he that hath nothing is usually treated by mankind little
better than a dog, and he that is little better than a dog usually
has nothing. Again. What distinguishes the savage from the civilized
man? Why, civilization to be sure. Now, what is civilization? The
arts of life. What feeds, nourishes, sustains the arts of life?
Money or property. By consequence, civilization is property, and
property is civilization. If the control of a country is in the
hands of those who possess the property, the government is a
civilized government; but, on the other hand, if it is in the hands
of those who have no property, the government is necessarily an
uncivilized government. It is quite impossible that any one should
become a safe statesman who does not possess a direct property
interest in society. You know there is not a tyro of our political
sect who does not fully admit the truth of this axiom."
"Why, Pitt was certainly an exception in one way; but then, you will
recollect, he was the immediate representative of the tories, who
own most of the property of England."
"Fox represented the whigs, who own all the rest, you know. No, my
dear Goldencalf, reason as you will, we shall always arrive at the
same results. You will, of course, as you have just said, take one
of the seats yourself at the next general election?"
"I shall be too proud of being your colleague to hesitate."
This speech sealed our friendship; for it was a pledge to my noble
acquaintance of his future connection with the borough. He was much
too high-bred to express his thanks in vulgar phrases (though high-
breeding rarely exhibits all its finer qualities pending an
election), but--a man of the world, and one of a class whose main
business it is to put the suaviter in modo, as the French have it en
evidence,--the reader may be sure that when we parted that night I
was in perfect good humor with myself and, as a matter of course,
with my new acquaintance.
The next day the canvass was renewed, and we had another convincing
speech on the subject of the virtue of "a stake in society"; for
Lord Pledge was tactician enough to attack the citadel, once assured
of its weak point, rather than expend his efforts on the outworks of
the place. That night the attorney arrived from town with the title-
deeds all properly executed (they had been some time in preparation
for Lord Pledge), and the following morning early the tenants were
served with the usual notices, with a handsomely expressed sentiment
on my part in favor of "a stake in society." About noon Lord Pledge
walked over the course, as it is expressed at Newmarket and
Doncaster. After dinner we separated, my noble friend returning to
town, while I pursued my way to the rectory.
Anna never appeared more fresh, more serene, more elevated above
mortality, than when we met, a week after I had quitted Householder,
in the breakfast-parlor of her father's abode.
"You are beginning to look like yourself again, Jack," she said,
extending her hand with the simple cordiality of an Englishwoman;
"and I hope we shall find you more rational."
"Ah, Anna, if I could only presume to throw myself at your feet, and
tell you how much and what I feel, I should be the happiest fellow
in all England."
"As it is you are the most miserable!" the laughing girl answered
as, crimsoned to the temples, she drew away the hand I was foolishly
pressing against my heart. "Let us go to breakfast, Mr. Goldencalf--
my father has ridden across the country to visit Dr. Liturgy."
"Anna," I said, after seating myself and taking a cup of tea from
fingers that were rosy as the morn, "I fear you are the greatest
enemy that I have on earth."
"John Goldencalf!" exclaimed the startled girl, turning pale and
then flushing violently. "Pray explain yourself."
"I love you to my heart's core--could marry you, and then, I fear,
worship you, as man never before worshipped woman."
Anna laughed faintly.
"And you feel in danger of the sin of idolatry?" she at length
succeeded in saying.
"No, I am in danger of narrowing my sympathies--of losing a broad
and safe hold of life--of losing my proper stake in society--of--in
short, of becoming as useless to my fellows as my poor, poor father,
and of making an end as miserable. Oh! Anna, could you have
witnessed the hopelessness of that death-bed, you could never wish
me a fate like his!"
My pen is unequal to convey an adequate idea of the expression with
which Anna regarded me. Wonder, doubt, apprehension, affection, and
anguish were all beaming in her eyes; but the unnatural brightness
of these conflicting sentiments was tempered by a softness that
resembled the pearly lustre of an Italian sky.
"If I yield to my fondness, Anna, in what will my condition differ
from that of my miserable father's? He concentrated his feelings in
the love of money, and I--yes, I feel it here, I know it is here--I
should love you so intensely as to shut out every generous sentiment
in favor of others. I have a fearful responsibility on my shoulders-
-wealth, gold; gold beyond limits; and to save my very soul I must
extend not narrow my interest in my fellow-creatures. Were there a
hundred such Annas I might press you all to my heart--but, one!--no-
-no--'twould be misery--'twould be perdition! The very excess of
such a passion would render me a heartless miser, unworthy of the
confidence of my fellow-men!"
The radiant and yet serene eyes of Anna seemed to read my soul; and
when I had done speaking she arose, stole timidly to my side of the
table, as woman approaches when she feels most, placed her velvet-
like hand on my burning forehead, pressed its throbbing pulses
gently to her heart, burst into tears, and fled.
We dined alone, nor did we meet again until the dinner hour. The
manner of Anna was soothing, gentle, even affectionate; but she
carefully avoided the subject of the morning. As for myself, I was
constantly brooding over the danger of concentrating interests, and
of the excellence of the social-stake system. "Your spirits will be
better, Jack, in a day or two," said Anna, when we had taken wine
after the soup. "Country air and old friends will restore your
freshness and color."
"If there were a thousand Annas I could be happy as man was never
happy before! But I must not, dare not, lessen my hold on society."
"All of which proves my insufficiency to render you happy. But here
comes Francis with yesterday morning's paper--let us see what
society is about in London."
After a few moments of intense occupation with the journal, an
exclamation of pleasure and surprise escaped the sweet girl. On
raising my eyes I saw her gazing (as I fancied) fondly at myself.
"Read what you have that seems to give you so much pleasure."
She complied, reading with an eager and tremulous voice the
"His majesty has been most graciously pleased to raise John
Goldencalf of Householder Hall, in the county of Dorset, and of
Cheapside, Esquire, to the dignity of a baronet of the united
kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland."
"Sir John Goldencalf, I have the honor to drink to your health and
happiness!" cried the delighted girl, brightening like the dawn, and
wetting her pouting lip with liquor less ruby than itself. "Here,
Francis, fill a bumper and drink to the new baronet."
The gray-headed butler did as ordered with a very good grace, and
then hurried into the servants' hall to communicate the news.
"Here at least, Jack, is a new hold that society has on you,
whatever hold you may have on society."
I was pleased because she was pleased, and because it showed that
Lord Pledge had some sense of gratitude (although he afterward took
occasion to intimate that I owed the favor chiefly to HOPE), and I
believe my eyes never expressed more fondness.
"Lady Goldencalf would not have an awkward sound after all, dearest
"As applied to one, Sir John, it might possibly do; but not as
applied to a hundred." Anna laughed, blushed, burst into tears once
more, and again fled.
What right have I to trifle with the feelings of this single-hearted
and excellent girl, said I to myself; it is evident that the subject
distresses her--she is unequal to its discussion, and it is unmanly
and improper in me to treat it in this manner. I must be true to my
character as a gentleman and a man--aye, and, under present
circumstances, as a baronet; and--I will never speak of it again as
long as I live.
The following day I took leave of Dr. Etherington and his daughter,
with the avowed intention of travelling for a year or two. The good
rector gave me much friendly advice, flattered me with expressions
of confidence in my discretion, and, squeezing me warmly by the
hand, begged me to recollect that I had always a home at the
rectory. When I had made my adieus to the father, I went, with a
sorrowful heart, in quest of the daughter. She was still in the
little breakfast-parlor--that parlor so loved! I found her pale,
timid, sensitive, bland, but serene. Little could ever disturb that
heavenly quality in the dear girl; if she laughed, it was with a
restrained and moderated joy; if she wept, it was like rain falling
from a sky that still shone with the lustre of the sun. It was only
when feeling and nature were unutterably big within her, that some
irresistible impulse of her sex betrayed her into emotions like
those I had twice witnessed so lately.
"You are about to leave us, Jack," she said, holding out her hand
kindly and without the affectation of an indifference she did not
feel; "you will see many strange faces, but you will see none who--"
I waited for the completion of the sentence, but, although she
struggled hard for self-possession, it was never finished.
"At my age, Anna, and with my means, it would be unbecoming to
remain at home, when, if I may so express it, 'human nature is
abroad.' I go to quicken my sympathies, to open my heart to my kind,
and to avoid the cruel regrets that tortured the death-bed of my
"Well--well," interrupted the sobbing girl, "we will talk of it no
more. It is best that you should travel; and so adieu, with a
thousand--nay, millions of good wishes for your happiness and safe
return. You will come back to us, Jack, when tired of other scenes."
This was said with gentle earnestness and a sincerity so winning
that it came near upsetting all my philosophy; but I could not marry
the whole sex, and to bind down my affections in one would have been
giving the death-blow to the development of that sublime principle
on which I was bent, and which I had already decided was to make me
worthy of my fortune and the ornament of my species. Had I been
offered a kingdom, however, I could not speak. I took the
unresisting girl in my arms, folded her to my heart, pressed a
burning kiss on her cheek, and withdrew.
"You will come back to us, Jack?" she half whispered, as her hand
was reluctantly drawn through my own.
Oh! Anna, it was indeed painful to abandon thy frank and gentle
confidence, thy radiant beauty, thy serene affections, and all thy
womanly virtues, in order to practise my newly-discovered theory!
Long did thy presence haunt me--nay, never did it entirely desert
me--putting my constancy to a severe proof, and threatening at each
remove to contract the lengthening chain that still bound me to
thee, thy fireside, and thy altars! But I triumphed, and went abroad
upon the earth with a heart expanding towards all the creatures of
God, though thy image was still enshrined in its inmost core,
shining in womanly glory, pure, radiant, and without spot, like the
floating prism that forms the lustre of the diamond.
A THEORY OF PALPABLE SUBLIMITY--SOME PRACTICAL IDEAS, AND THE
COMMENCEMENT OF ADVENTURES.
The recollection of the intense feelings of that important period of
my life has, in some measure, disturbed the connection of the
narrative, and may possibly have left some little obscurity in the
mind of the reader on the subject of the new sources of happiness
that had broken on my own intelligence. A word here in the way of
elucidation, therefore, may not be misapplied, although it is my
purpose to refer more to my acts, and to the wonderful incidents it
will shortly be my duty to lay before the world, for a just
understanding of my views, than to mere verbal explanations.
Happiness--happiness, here and hereafter, was my goal. I aimed at a
life of useful and active benevolence, a deathbed of hope and joy,
and an eternity of fruition. With such an object before me, my
thoughts, from the moment that I witnessed the dying regrets of my
father, had been intensely brooding over the means of attainment.
Surprising as, no doubt, it will appear to vulgar minds, I obtained
the clew to this sublime mystery at the late election for the
borough of Householder, and from the lips of my Lord Pledge. Like
other important discoveries, it is very simple when understood,
being easily rendered intelligible to the dullest capacities, as,
indeed, in equity, ought to be the case with every principle that is
so intimately connected with the well-being of man.
It is a universally admitted truth that happiness is the only
legitimate object of all human associations. The ruled concede a
certain portion of their natural rights for the benefits of peace,
security, and order, with the understanding that they are to enjoy
the remainder as their own proper indefeasible estate. It is true
that there exist in different nations some material differences of
opinion on the subject of the quantities to be bestowed and
retained; but these aberrations from a just medium are no more than
so many caprices of the human judgment, and in no manner do they
affect the principle. I found also that all the wisest and best of
the species, or what is much the same thing, the most responsible,
uniformly maintain that he who has the largest stake in society is,
in the nature of things, the most qualified to administer its
affairs. By a stake in society is meant, agreeable to universal
convention, a multiplication of those interests which occupy us in
our daily concerns--or what is vulgarly called property. This
principle works by exciting us to do right through those heavy
investments of our own which would inevitably suffer were we to do
wrong. The proposition is now clear, nor can the premises readily be
mistaken. Happiness is the aim of society; and property, or a vested
interest in that society, is the best pledge of our
disinterestedness and justice, and the best qualification for its
proper control. It follows as a legitimate corollary that a
multiplication of those interests will increase the stake, and
render us more and more worthy of the trust by elevating us as near
as may be to the pure and ethereal condition of the angels. One of
those happy accidents which sometimes make men emperors and kings,
had made me, perhaps, the richest subject of Europe. With this polar
star of theory shining before my eyes, and with practical means so
ample, it would have been clearly my own fault had I not steered my
bark into the right haven. If he who had the heaviest investments
was the most likely to love his fellows, there could be no great
difficulty for one in my situation to take the lead in philanthropy.
It is true that with superficial observers the instance of my own
immediate ancestor might be supposed to form an exception, or rather
an objection, to the theory. So far from this being the case,
however, it proves the very reverse. My father in a great measure
had concentrated all his investments in the national debt! Now,
beyond all cavil, he loved the funds intensely; grew violent when
they were assailed; cried out for bayonets when the mass declaimed
against taxation; eulogized the gallows when there were menaces of
revolt, and in a hundred other ways prove that "where the treasure
is, there will the heart be also." The instance of my father,
therefore, like all exceptions, only went to prove the excellence of
the rule. He had merely fallen into the error of contraction, when
the only safe course was that of expansion. I resolved to expand; to
do that which probably no political economist had ever yet thought
of doing--in short, to carry out the principle of the social stake
in such a way as should cause me to love all things, and
consequently to become worthy of being intrusted with the care of
On reaching town my earliest visit was one of thanks to my Lord
Pledge. At first I had felt some doubts whether the baronetcy would
or would not aid the system of philanthropy; for by raising me above
a large portion of my kind, it was in so much at least a removal
from philanthropical sympathies; but by the time the patent was
received and the fees were paid, I found that it might fairly be
considered a pecuniary investment, and that it was consequently
brought within the rule I had prescribed for my own government.
The next thing was to employ suitable agents to aid in making the
purchases that were necessary to attach me to mankind. A month was
diligently occupied in this way. As ready money was not wanting, and
I was not very particular on the subject of prices, at the end of
that time I began to have certain incipient sentiments which went to
prove the triumphant success of the experiment. In other words I
owned much, and was beginning to take a lively interest in all I
I made purchases of estates in England, Scotland, Ireland, and
Wales. This division of real property was meant to equalize my
sentiments justly between the different portions of my native
country. Not satisfied with this, however, I extended the system to
the colonies. I had East India shares, a running ship, Canada land,
a plantation in Jamaica, sheep at the Cape and at New South Wales,
an indigo concern at Bengal, an establishment for the collection of
antiques in the Ionian Isles, and a connection with a shipping house
for the general supply of our various dependencies with beer, bacon,
cheese, broadcloths, and ironmongery. From the British empire my
interests were soon extended into other countries. On the Garonne
and Xeres I bought vineyards. In Germany I took some shares in
different salt and coal mines; the same in South America in the
precious metals; in Russia I dipped deeply into tallow; in
Switzerland I set up an extensive manufactory of watches, and bought
all the horses for a voiturier on a large scale. I had silkworms in
Lombardy, olives and hats in Tuscany, a bath in Lucca, and a
maccaroni establishment at Naples. To Sicily I sent funds for the
purchase of wheat, and at Rome I kept a connoisseur to conduct a
general agency in the supply of British articles, such as mustard,
porter, pickles, and corned beef, as well as for the forwarding of
pictures and statues to the lovers of the arts and of VIRTU.
By the time all this was effected I found my hands full of business.
Method, suitable agents, and a resolution to succeed smoothed the
way, however, and I began to look about me and to take breath. By
way of relaxation I now descended into details; and for a few days I
frequented the meetings of those who are called "the Saints," in
order to see if something might be done towards the attainment of my
object through their instrumentality. I cannot say that this
experiment met with all the success I had anticipated. I heard a
great deal of subtle discussion, found that manner was of more
account than matter, and had unreasonable and ceaseless appeals to
my pocket. So near a view of charity had a tendency to expose its
blemishes, as the brilliancy of the sun is known to exhibit defects
on the face of beauty, which escape the eye when seen through the
medium of that artificial light for which they are best adapted; and
I soon contented myself with sending my contributions at proper
intervals, keeping aloof in person. This experiment gave me occasion
to perceive that human virtues, like little candles, shine best in
the dark, and that their radiance is chiefly owing to the atmosphere
of a "naughty world." From speculating I returned to facts.
The question of slavery had agitated the benevolent for some years,
and finding a singular apathy in ray own bosom on this important
subject, I bought five hundred of each sex to stimulate my
sympathies. This led me nearer to the United States of America, a
country that I had endeavored to blot out of my recollection; for
while thus encouraging a love for the species, I had scarcely
thought it necessary to go so far from home. As no rule exists
without an exception, I confess I was a good deal disposed to
believe that a Yankee might very fairly be an omission in an
Englishman's philanthropy. But "in for a penny in for a pound." The
negroes led me to the banks of the Mississippi, where I was soon the
owner of both a sugar and a cotton plantation. In addition to these
purchases I took shares in divers South-Seamen, owned a coral and
pearl fishery of my own, and sent an agent with a proposition to
King Tamamamaah to create a monopoly of sandalwood in our joint
The earth and all it contained assumed new glories in my eyes. I had
fulfilled the essential condition of the political economists, the
jurists, the constitution-mongers, and all the "talents and
decency," and had stakes in half the societies of the world. I was
fit to govern, I was fit to advise, to dictate to most of the people
of Christendom; for I had taken a direct interest in their welfares
by making them my own. Twenty times was I about to jump into a post-
chaise, and to gallop down to the rectory in order to lay my newborn
alliance with the species, and all its attendant felicity, at the
feet of Anna, but the terrible thought of monogamy, and of its
sympathy-withering consequences, as often stayed my course. I wrote
to her weekly, however, making her the participator of a portion of
my happiness, though I never had the satisfaction of receiving a
single line in reply.
Fairly emancipated from selfishness, and pledged to the species, I
now quitted England on a tour of philanthropical inspection. I shall
not weary the reader with an account of my journeys over the beaten
tracks of the continent, but transport him and myself at once to
Paris, in which city I arrived on the 17th of May, Anno Domini
1819. I had seen much, fancied myself improved, and, by constant
dwelling on my system, saw its excellences as plainly as Napoleon
saw the celebrated star which defied the duller vision of his uncle
the cardinal. At the same time, as usually happens with those who
direct all their energies to a given point, the opinions originally
formed of certain portions of my theory began to undergo mutations,
as nearer and more practical views pointed out inconsistencies and
exposed defects. As regards Anna in particular, the quiet, gentle,
unobtrusive, and yet distinct picture of womanly loveliness that was
rarely absent from my mind, had for the past twelvemonth haunted me
with a constancy of argument that might have unsettled the Newtonian
scheme of philosophy itself. I already more than questioned whether
the benefit to be derived from the support of one so affectionate
and true would not fully counterbalance the disadvantage of a
concentration of interest, so far as the sex was concerned. This
growing opinion was fast getting to be conviction, when I
encountered on the boulevards one day an old country neighbor of the
rector's, who gave me the best account of the family, adding, after
descanting on the beauty and excellence of Anna herself, that the
dear girl had quite lately actually refused a peer of the realm, who
enjoyed all the acknowledged advantages of youth, riches, birth,
rank, and a good name, and who had selected her from a deep
conviction of her worth, and of her ability to make any sensible man
happy. As to my own power over the heart of Anna I never entertained
a doubt. She had betrayed it in a thousand ways and on a hundred
occasions; nor had I been at all backward in letting her understand
how highly I valued her dear self, although I had never yet screwed
up my resolution so high as distinctly to propose for her hand. But
all my unsettled purposes became concentrated on hearing this
welcome intelligence; and, taking an abrupt leave of my old
acquaintance, I hurried home and wrote the following letter:
Dear--very dear, nay--dearest ANNA:
"I met your old neighbor--this morning on the boulevards, and during
an interview of an hour we did little else but talk of thee.
Although it has been my most ardent and most predominant wish to
open my heart to the whole species, yet, Anna, I fear I have loved
thee alone! Absence, so far from expanding, appears to contract my
affections, too many of which centre in thy sweet form and excellent
virtues. The remedy I proposed is insufficient, and I begin to think
that matrimony alone can leave me master of sufficient freedom of
thought and action to turn the attention I ought to the rest of the
human race. Thou hast been with me in idea in the four corners of
the earth, by sea and by land, in dangers and in safety, in all
seasons, regions, and situations, and there is no sufficient reason
why those who are ever present in the spirit should be materially
separated. Thou hast only to say a word, to whisper a hope, to
breathe a wish, and I will throw myself a repentant truant at thy
feet and implore thy pity. When united, however, we will not lose
ourselves in the sordid and narrow paths of selfishness, but come
forth again in company to acquire a new and still more powerful hold
on this beautiful creation, of which, by this act, I acknowledge
thee to be the most divine portion.
"Dearest, dearest Anna, thine and the species',
"TO MISS ETHERINGTON."
If there was ever a happy fellow on earth it was myself when this
letter was written, sealed, and fairly despatched. The die was cast,
and I walked into the air a regenerated and an elastic being! Let
what might happen, I was sure of Anna. Her gentleness would calm my
irritability; her prudence temper my energies; her bland but
enduring affections soothe my soul. I felt at peace with all around
me, myself included, and I found a sweet assurance of the wisdom of
the step I had just taken in the expanding sentiment. If such were
my sensations now that every thought centred in Anna, what would
they not become when these personal transports were cooled by habit,
and nature was left to the action of the ordinary impulses! I began
to doubt of the infallibility of that part of my system which had
given me so much pain, and to incline to the new doctrine that by
concentration on particular parts we come most to love the whole. On
examination there was reason to question whether it was not on this
principle even that, as an especial landholder, I attained so great
an interest in my native island; for while I certainly did not own
the whole of Great Britain, I felt that I had a profound respect for
everything in it that was in any, even the most remote manner,
connected with my own particular possessions.
A week flew by in delightful anticipations. The happiness of this
short but heavenly period became so exciting, so exquisite, that I
was on the point of giving birth to an improvement on my theory (or
rather on the theory of the political economists and constitution-
mongers, for it is in fact theirs and not mine), when the answer of
Anna was received. If anticipation be a state of so much happiness--
happiness being the great pursuit of man--why not invent a purely
probationary condition of society?--why not change its elementary
features from positive to anticipating interests, which would give
more zest to life, and bestow felicity unimpaired by the dross of
realities? I had determined to carry out this principle in practice
by an experiment, and left the hotel to order an agent to advertise,
and to enter into a treaty or two, for some new investments (without
the smallest intention of bringing them to a conclusion), when the
porter delivered me the ardently expected letter. I never knew what
would be the effect of taking a stake in society by anticipation,
therefore; the contents of Anna's missive driving every subject that
was not immediately connected with the dear writer, and with sad
realities, completely out of my head. It is not improbable, however,
that the new theory would have proved to be faulty, for I have often
had occasion to remark that heirs (in remainder, for instance),
manifest an hostility to the estate, by carrying out the principle
of anticipation, rather than any of that prudent respect for social
consequences to which the legislator looks with so much anxiety.
The letter of Anna was in the following words:
"Good--nay, Dear JOHN:
"Thy letter was put into my hands yesterday. This is the fifth
answer I have commenced, and you will therefore see that I do not
write without reflection. I know thy excellent heart, John, better
than it is known to thyself. It has either led thee to the discovery
of a secret of the last importance to thy fellow-creatures, or it
has led thee cruelly astray. An experiment so noble and so
praiseworthy ought not to be abandoned on account of a few momentary
misgivings concerning the result. Do not stay thy eagle flight at
the instant thou art soaring so near the sun! Should we both judge
it for our mutual happiness, I can become thy wife at a future day.
We are still young, and there is no urgency for an immediate union.
In the mean time, I will endeavor to prepare myself to be the
companion of a philanthropist by practising on thy theory, and, by
expanding my own affections, render myself worthy to be the wife of
one who has so large a stake in society, and who loves so many and
"Thine imitator and friend,
"To Sir JOHN GOLDENCALF, Bart.
"P.S.--You may perceive that I am in a state of improvement, for I
have just refused the hand of Lord M'Dee, because I found I loved
all his neighbors quite as well as I loved the young peer himself."
Ten thousand furies took possession of my soul, in the shape of so
many demons of jealousy. Anna expanding her affections! Anna taking
any other stake in society than that I made sure she would accept
through me! Anna teaching herself to love more than one, and that
one myself! The thought was madness. I did not believe in the
sincerity of her refusal of Lord M'Dee. I ran for a copy of the
Peerage (for since my own elevation in life I regularly bought both
that work and the Baronetage), and turned to the page that contained
his name. He was a Scottish viscount who had just been created a
baron of the united kingdom, and his age was precisely that of my
own. Here was a rival to excite distrust. By a singular
contradiction in sentiments, the more I dreaded his power to injure
me, the more I undervalued his means. While I fancied Anna was
merely playing with me, and had in secret made up her mind to be a
peeress, I had no doubt that the subject of her choice was both ill-
favored and awkward, and had cheek-bones like a Tartar. While
reading of the great antiquity of his family (which reached
obscurity in the thirteenth century), I set it down as established
that the first of his unknown predecessors was a bare-legged thief,
and, at the very moment that I imagined Anna was smiling on him, and
retracting her coquettish denial, I could have sworn that he spoke
with an unintelligible border accent, and that he had red hair!
The torment of such pictures grew to be intolerable, and I rushed
into the open air for relief. How long or whither I wandered I know
not; but on the morning of the following day I found I was seated in
a guinguette near the base of Montmartre, eagerly devouring a roll
and refreshing myself with sour wine. When a little recovered from
the shock of discovering myself in a situation so novel (for having
no investment in guinguettes, I had not taken sufficient interest in
these popular establishments ever to enter one before), I had
leisure to look about and survey the company. Some fifty Frenchmen
of the laboring classes were drinking on every side, and talking
with a vehemence of gesticulation and a clamor that completely
annihilated thought. This then, thought I, is a scene of popular
happiness. These creatures are excellent fellows, enjoying
themselves on liquor that has not paid the city duty, and perhaps I
may seize upon some point that favors my system among spirits so
frank and clamorous. Doubtless if any one among them is in
possession of any important social secret it will not fail to escape
him here. From meditations of this philosophical character I was
suddenly aroused by a violent blow before me, accompanied with an
exclamation in very tolerable English of the word,
On the centre of the board which did the office of a table, and
directly beneath my eyes, lay a clenched fist of fearful dimensions,
that in color and protuberances bore a good deal of resemblance to a
freshly unearthed Jerusalem artichoke. Its sinews seemed to be
cracking with tension, and the whole knob was so expressive of
intense pugnacity that my eyes involuntarily sought its owner's
face. I had unconsciously taken my seat directly opposite a man
whose stature was nearly double that of the compact, bustling
sputtering, and sturdy little fellows who were bawling on every side
of us, and whose skinny lips, instead of joining in the noise, were
so firmly compressed as to render the crevice of the mouth no more
strongly marked than a wrinkle in the brow of a man of sixty. His
complexion was naturally fair, but exposure had tanned the skin of
his face to the color of the crackle of a roasted pig; those parts
which a painter would be apt to term the "high lights" being
indicated by touches of red, nearly as bright as fourth-proof
brandy. His eyes were small, stern, fiery, and very gray; and just
at the instant they met my admiring look they resembled two stray
coals that by some means had got separated from the body of adjacent
heat in the face. He had a prominent, well-shaped nose, athwart
which the skin was stretched like leather in the process of being
rubbed down on the currier's bench, and his ropy black hair was
carefully smoothed over his temples and brows, in a way to show that
he was abroad on a holiday excursion.
When our eyes met, this singular-looking being gave me a nod of
friendly recognition, for no better reason that I could discover
than the fact that I did not appear to be a Frenchman. "Did mortal
man ever listen to such fools, captain?" he observed, as if certain
we must think alike on the subject.
"Really I did not attend to what was said; there certainly is much
"I don't pretend to understand a word of what they are saying
myself; but it SOUNDS like thorough nonsense."
"My ear is not yet sufficiently acute to distinguish sense from
nonsense by mere intonation and sound--but it would seem, sir, that
you speak English only."
"Therein you are mistaken; for, being a great traveller, I have been
compelled to look about me, and as a nat'ral consequence I speak a
little of all languages. I do not say that I use the foreign parts
of speech always fundamentally, but then I worry through an idee so
as to make it legible and of use, especially in the way of eating
and drinking. As to French, now, I can say 'don-nez-me some van,'
and 'don-nez-vous some pan,' as well as the best of them; but when
there are a dozen throats bawling at once, as is the case with these
here chaps, why one might as well go on the top of Ape's Hill and
hold a conversation with the people he will meet with there, as to
pretend to hold a rational or a discussional discourse. For my part,
where there is to be a conversation, I like every one to have his
turn, keeping up the talk, as it might be, watch and watch; but
among these Frenchmen it is pretty much as if their idees had been
caged, and the door being suddenly opened, they fly out in a flock,
just for the pleasure of saying they are at liberty."
I now perceived that my companion was a reflecting being, his
ratiocination being connected by regular links, and that he did not
boost his philosophy on the leaping-staff of impulse, like most of
those who were sputtering, and arguing, and wrangling, with untiring
lungs, in all corners of the guinguette. I frankly proposed,
therefore, that we should quit the place and walk into the road,
where our discourse would be less disturbed, and consequently more
satisfactory. The proposal was well received, and we left the
brawlers, walking by the outer boulevards towards my hotel in the
Rue de Rivoli, by the way of the Champs Elysees.
TOUCHING AN AMPHIBIOUS ANIMAL, A SPECIAL INTRODUCTION, AND ITS
I soon took an interest in my new acquaintance. He was
communicative, shrewd, and peculiar; and though apt to express
himself quaintly, it was always with the pith of one who had seen a
great deal of at least one portion of his fellow-creatures. The
conversation, under such circumstances, did not flag; on the
contrary, it soon grew more interesting by the stranger's beginning
to touch on his private interests. He told me that he was a mariner
who had been cast ashore by one of the accidents of his calling,
and, by way of cutting in a word in his own favor, he gave me to
understand that he had seen a great deal, more especially of that
castle of his fellow-creatures who like himself live by frequenting
the mighty deep.
"I am very happy," I said, "to have met with a stranger who can give
me information touching an entire class of human beings with whom I
have as yet had but little communion. In order that we may improve
the occasion to the utmost, I propose that we introduce ourselves to
each other at once, and swear an eternal friendship, or, at least,
until we may find it convenient to dispense with the obligation."
"For my part, I am one who likes the friendship of a dog better than
his enmity," returned my companion, with a singleness of purpose
that left him no disposition to waste his breath in idle
compliments. "I accept the offer, therefore, with all my heart; and
this the more readily because you are the only one I have met for a
week who can ask me how I do without saying, 'Come on, cong portez-
vous.' Being used to meet with squalls, however, I shall accept your
offer under the last condition named."
I liked the stranger's caution. It denoted a proper care of
character, and furnished a proof of responsibility. The condition
was therefore accepted on my part as frankly as it had been urged on
"And now, sir," I added, when we had shaken each other very
cordially by the hand, "may I presume to ask your name?"
"I am called Noah, and I don't care who knows it. I am not ashamed
of either of my names, whatever else I may be ashamed of."
"Poke, at your service." He pronounced the word slowly and very
distinctly, as if what he had just said of his self-confidence were
true. As I had afterward occasion to take his signature, I shall at
once give it in the proper form--"Capt. Noah Poke."
"Of what part of England are you a native, Mr. Poke?"
"I believe I may say of the new parts."
"I do not know that any portion of the island was so designated.
Will you have the good-nature to explain yourself?"
"I'm a native of Stunin'tun, in the State of Connecticut, in old New
England. My parents being dead, I was sent to sea a four-year-old,
and here I am, walking about the kingdom of France without a cent in
my pocket, a shipwrecked mariner. Hard as my lot is, to say the
truth, I'd about as leave starve as live by speaking their d--d
"Shipwrecked--a mariner--starving--and a Yankee!"
"All that, and maybe more, too; though, by your leave, commodore,
we'll drop the last title. I'm proud enough to call myself a Yankee,
but my back is apt to get up when I hear an Englishman use the word.
We are yet friends, and it may be well enough to continue so until
some good comes of it to one or other of the parties."
"I ask your pardon, Mr. Poke, and will not offend again. Have you
circumnavigated the globe?"
Captain Poke snapped his fingers, in pure contempt of the simplicity
of the question.
"Has the moon ever sailed round the 'arth! Look here, a moment,
commodore"--he took from his pocket an apple, of which he had been
munching half a-dozen during the walk, and held it up to view--"draw
your lines which way you will on this sphere; crosswise or
lengthwise, up or down, zigzag or parpendic'lar, and you will not
find more traverses than I've worked about the old ball!"
"By land as well as by sea?"
"Why, as to the land, I've had my share of that, too; for it has
been my hard fortune to run upon it, when a softer bed would have
given a more quiet nap. This is just the present difficulty with me,
for I am now tacking about among these Frenchmen in order to get
afloat again, like an alligator floundering in the mud. I lost my
schooner on the northeast coast of Russia--somewhere hereabouts,"
pointing to the precise spot on the apple; "we were up there trading
in skins-and finding no means of reaching home by the road I'd come,
and smelling salt water down hereaway, I've been shaping my course
westward for the last eighteen months, steering as near as might be
directly athwart Europe and Asia; and here I am at last within two
days' run of Havre, which is, if I can get good Yankee planks
beneath me once more, within some eighteen or twenty days' run of
"You allow me, then, to call the planks Yankee?"
"Call 'em what you please, commodore; though I should prefar to call
'em the 'Debby and Dolly of Stunin'tun,' to anything else, for that
was the name of the craft I lost. Well, the best of us are but
frail, and the longest-winded man is no dolphin to swim with his
head under water!"
"Pray, Mr. Poke, permit me to ask where you learned to speak the
English language with so much purity?"
"Stunin'tun--I never had a mouthful of schooling but what I got at
home. It's all homespun. I make no boast of scholarship; but as for
navigating, or for finding my way about the 'arth, I'll turn my back
on no man, unless it be to leave him behind. Now we have people with
us that think a great deal of their geometry and astronomies, but I
hold to no such slender threads. My way is, when there is occasion
to go anywhere, to settle it well in my mind as to the place, and
then to make as straight a wake as natur' will allow, taking little
account of charts, which are as apt to put you wrong as right; and
when they do get you into a scrape it's a smasher! Depend on
yourself and human natur', is my rule; though I admit there is some
accommodation in a compass, particularly in cold weather."
"Cold weather! I do not well comprehend the distinction."
"Why, I rather conclude that one's scent gets to be dullish in a
frost; but this may be no more than a conceit after all, for the two
times I've been wrecked were in summer, and both the accidents
happened by sheer dint of hard blowing, and in broad daylight, when
nothing human short of a change of wind could have saved us."
"And you prefer this peculiar sort of navigation?"
"To all others, especially in the sealing business, which is my raal
occupation. It's the very best way in the world to discover islands;
and everybody knows that we sealers are always on the lookout for
su'thin' of that sort."
"Will you suffer me to inquire, Captain Poke, how many times you
have doubled Cape Horn?"
My navigator threw a quick, jealous glance at me, as if he
distrusted the nature of the question.
"Why, that is neither here nor there; perhaps I don't double either
of the capes, perhaps I do. I get into the South Sea with my craft,
and it's of no great moment how it's done. A skin is worth just as
much in the market, though the furrier may not happen to have a
glossary of the road it has travelled."
"What matters a signification, commodore, when people understand
each other? This overland journey has put me to my wits, for you
will understand that I've had to travel among natives that cannot
speak a syllable of the homespun; so I brought the schooner's
dictionary with me as a sort of terrestrial almanac, and I fancied
that, as they spoke gibberish to me, the best way was to give it to
them back again as near as might be in their own coin, hoping I
might hit on su'thin' to their liking. By this means I've come to be
rather more voluble than formerly."
"The idea was happy."
"No doubt it was, as is just evinced. But having given you a pretty
clear insight into my natur' and occupation, it is time that I ask a
few questions of you. This is a business, you must know, at which we
do a good deal at Stunin'tun, and at which we are commonly thought
to be handy,"
"Put your questions, Captain Poke; I hope the answers will be
"John Goldencalf--by the favor of his majesty, Sir John Goldencalf,
"Sir John Goldencalf--by the favor of his majesty, a baronet! Is
baronet a calling? or what sort of a crittur or thing is it?"
"It is my rank in the kingdom to which I belong."
"I begin to understand what you mean. Among your nation mankind is
what we call stationed, like a ship's people that are called to go
about; you have a certain berth in that kingdom of yours, much as I
should have in a sealing schooner."
"Exactly so; and I presume you will allow that order, and propriety,
and safety result from this method among mariners?"
"No doubt--no doubt, we station anew, however, each v'yage,
according to experience; I'm not so sure that it would do to take
even the cook from father to son, or we might have a pretty mess of
Here the sealer commenced a series of questions, which he put with a
vigor and perseverance that I fear left me without a single fact of
my life unrevealed, except those connected with the sacred sentiment
that bound me to Anna, and which were far too hallowed to escape me
even under the ordeal of a Stunin'tun inquisitor. In short, finding
that I was nearly helpless in such hands, I made a merit of
necessity, and yielded up my secrets as wood in a vice discharges
its moisture. It was scarcely possible that a mind like mine,
subjected to the action of such a pair of moral screws, should not
yield some hints touching its besetting propensities. The Captain
seized this clew, and he went at the theory like a bulldog at the
muzzle of an ox.
To oblige him, therefore, I entered at some length into an
explanation of my system. After the general remarks that were
necessary to give a stranger an insight into its leading principles,
I gave him to understand that I had long been looking for one like
him, for a purpose that shall now be explained to the reader. I had
entertained some negotiations with Tamahamaah, and had certain
investments in the pearl and whale fisheries, it is true; but on the
whole my relations with all that portion of mankind who inhabit the
islands of the Pacific, the northwest coast of America, and the
northeast coast of the old continent, were rather loose, and
generally in an unsettled and vague condition; and it appeared to me
that I had been singularly favored in having a man so well adapted
to their regeneration thrown as it were by Providence, and in a
manner so unusual, directly in my way. I now frankly proposed,
therefore, to fit out an expedition, that should be partly of trade
and partly of discovery, in order to expand my interests in this new
direction, and to place my new acquaintance at its head. Ten minutes
of earnest explanation on my part sufficed to put my companion in
possession of the leading features of the plan. When I had ended
this direct appeal to his love of enterprise, I was answered by the
favorite exclamation of--
"I do not wonder, Captain Poke, that your admiration breaks out in
this manner; for I believe few men fairly enter into the beauty of
this benevolent system who are not struck equally with its grandeur
and its simplicity. May I count on your assistance?"
"This is a new idee, Sir Goldencalf--"
"Sir John Goldencalf, if you please, sir."
"A new idee, Sir John Goldencalf, and it needs circumspection.
Circumspection in a bargain is the certain way to steer clear of
misunderstandings. You wish a navigator to take your craft, let her
be what she will, into unknown seas, and I wish, naturally, to make
a straight course for Stunin'tun. You see the bargain is in apogee,
from the start."
"Money is no consideration with me, Captain Poke."
"Well, this is an idee that has brought many a more difficult
contract at once into perigee, Sir John Goldencalf. Money is always
a considerable consideration with me, and I may say, also, just now
it is rather more so than usual. But when a gentleman clears the way
as handsomely as you have now done, any bargain may be counted as a
good deal more than half made."
A few explicit explanations disposed of this part of the subject,
and Captain Poke accepted of my terms in the spirit of frankness
with which they were made. Perhaps his decision was quickened by an
offer of twenty Napoleons, which I did not neglect making on the
spot. Amicable and in some respects confidential relations were now
established between my new acquaintance and myself; and we pursued
our walk, discussing the details necessary to the execution of our
project. After an hour or two passed in this manner, I invited my
companion to go to my hotel, meaning that he should partake of my
board until we could both depart for England, where it was my
intention to purchase without delay a vessel for the contemplated
voyage, in which I also had decided to embark in person.
We were obliged to make our way through the throng that usually
frequents the lower part of the Champs Elysees during the season of
good weather and towards the close of the day. This task was nearly
over when my attention was particularly drawn to a group that was
just entering the place of general resort, apparently with the
design of adding to the scene of thoughtlessness and amusement. But
as I am now approaching the most material part of this extraordinary
work, it will be proper to reserve the opening for a new chapter.
AN INTRODUCTION TO FOUR NEW CHARACTERS, SOME TOUCHES OF PHILOSOPHY,
AND A FEW CAPITAL THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL ECONOMY.
The group which drew my attention was composed of six individuals,
two of which were animals of the genus homo, or what is vulgarly
termed man; and the remainder were of the order primates, and of the
class mammalia; or what in common parlance are called monkeys.
The first were Savoyards, and may be generally described as being
unwashed, ragged, and carnivorous; in color swarthy; in lineaments
and expression avaricious and shrewd; and in appetites voracious.
The latter were of the common species, of the usual size, and of
approved gravity. There were two of each sex; being very equally
paired as to years and external advantages.
The monkeys were all habited with more or less of the ordinary
attire of our modern European civilization; but peculiar care had
been taken with the toilet of the senior of the two males. This
individual had on the coat of a hussar, a cut that would have given
a particular part of his body a more military contour than comported
with his real character were it not for a red petticoat that was
made shorter than common; less, however, with a view to show a
pretty foot and ankle than to leave the nether limbs at liberty to
go through with certain extravagant efforts which the Savoyards were
unmercifully exacting from his natural agility. He wore a Spanish
hat, decorated with a few bedraggled feathers, a white cockade, and
a wooden sword. In addition to the latter, he carried in his hand a
Observing that my attention was strongly attracted to this party,
the ill-favored Savoyards immediately commenced a series of
experiments in saltation, with the sole view, beyond a question, to
profit by my curiosity. The inoffensive victims of this act of
brutal tyranny submitted with a patience worthy of the profoundest
philosophy, meeting the wishes of their masters with a readiness and
dexterity that was beyond all praise. One swept the earth, another
leaped on the back of a dog, a third threw himself head-over-heels
again and again without a murmur, and the fourth moved gracefully to
and fro, like a young girl in a quadrille. All this might have
passed without calling for particular remark (since, alas! the
spectacle is only too common), were it not for certain eloquent
appeals that were made to me through the eyes by the individual in
the hussar jacket. His look was rarely averted from my face for a
moment, and in this way a silent communion was soon established
between us. I observed that his gravity was indomitable. Nothing
could elicit a smile or a change of countenance. Obedient to the
whip of his brutal master, he never refused the required leap; for
minutes at a time his legs and petticoat described confused circles
in the air, appearing to have taken a final leave of the earth; but,
the effort ended, he invariably descended to the ground with a quiet
dignity and composure that showed how little the inward monkey
partook of the antics of the outward animal. Drawing my companion a
little aside, I ventured to suggest a few thoughts to him on the
"Really, Captain Poke, it appears to me there is great injustice in
the treatment of these poor creatures!" I said. "What right have
these two foul-looking blackguards to seize upon beings much more
interesting to the eye and, I dare say, far more intellectual than
themselves, and cause them to throw their legs about in this
extravagant manner, under the penalty of stripes, and without regard
to their feelings or their convenience? I say, sir, the measure
appears to me intolerably oppressive, and it calls for prompt
"King or subject, it does not alter the moral deformity of the act.
What have these innocent beings done that they should be subjected
to this disgrace? Are they not flesh and blood like ourselves--do
they not approach nearer to our form and, for aught we know to the
contrary, to our reason, than any other animal? and is it tolerable
that our nearest imitations, our very cousins, should be thus dealt
by? Are they dogs that they are treated like dogs?"
"Why, to my notion, Sir John, there isn't a dog on 'arth that can
take such a summerset. Their flapjacks are quite extraor'nary!"
"Yes, sir, and more than extraordinary; they are oppressive. Place
yourself, Mr. Poke, for a single instant, in the situation of one of
these persons; fancy that you had a hussar jacket squeezed upon your
brawny shoulders, a petticoat placed over your lower extremities, a
Spanish hat with bedraggled feathers set upon your head, a wooden
sword stuck at your side, and a broom put into your hand; and that
these two Savoyards were to menace you with stripes unless you
consented to throw summersets for the amusement of strangers--I only
ask you to make the case your own sir, and then say what course you
would take and what you would do?"
"I would lick both of these young blackguards, Sir John, without
remorse, break the sword and broom over their heads, kick their
sensibilities till they couldn't see, and take my course for
Stunin'tun, where I belong."
"Yes, sir, this might do with the Savoyards, who are young and
"'Twouldn't alter the case much if two of these Frenchmen were in
their places," put in the Captain, glaring wolfishly about him. "To
be plain with you, Sir John Goldencalf, being human, I'd submit to
no such monkey tricks."
"Do not use the term reproachfully, Mr. Poke, I entreat of you. We
call these animals monkeys, it is true; but we do not know what they
call themselves. Man is merely an animal, and you must very well
"Harkee, Sir John," interrupted the Captain, "I'm no botanist, and
do not pretend to more schooling than a sealer has need of for
finding his way about the 'arth; but as for a man's being an animal,
I just wish to ask you, now, if in your judgment a hog is also an
"Beyond a doubt--and fleas, and toads, and sea-serpents, and
lizards, and water-devils--we are all neither more nor less than
"Well, if a hog is an animal, I am willing to allow the
relationship; for in the course of my experience, which is not
small, I have met with men that you might have mistaken for hogs, in
everything but the bristles, the snout, and the tail. I'll never
deny what I've seen with my own eyes, though I suffer for it; and
therefore I admit that, hogs being animals, it is more than likely
that some men must be animals too."
"We call these interesting beings monkeys; but how do we know that
they do not return the compliment, and call us, in their own
particular dialect, something quite as offensive? It would become
our species to manifest a more equitable and philosophical spirit,
and to consider these interesting strangers as an unfortunate family
which has fallen into the hands of brutes, and which is in every way
entitled to our commiseration and our active interference. Hitherto
I have never sufficiently stimulated my sympathies for the animal
world by any investment in quadrupeds; but it is my intention to
write to-morrow to my English agent to purchase a pack of hounds and
a suitable stud of horses; and by way of quickening so laudable a
resolution, I shall forthwith make propositions to the Savoyards for
the speedy emancipation of this family of amiable foreigners. The
slave-trade is an innocent pastime compared to the cruel oppression
that the gentleman in the Spanish hat, in particular, is compelled
"He may be a king, sure enough, in his own country, Captain Poke; a
fact that would add tenfold agony to his unmerited sufferings."
Hereupon I proceeded without more ado to open a negotiation with the
Savoyards. The judicious application of a few Napoleons soon brought
about a happy understanding between the contracting parties, when
the Savoyards transferred to my hands the strings which confined
their vassals, as the formal and usual acknowledgment of the right
of ownership. Committing the three others to the keeping of Mr.
Poke, I led the individual in the hussar jacket a little on one
side, and raising my hat to show that I was superior to the vulgar
feelings of feudal superiority, I addressed him briefly in the
"Although I have ostensibly bought the right which these Savoyards
professed to have in your person and services, I seize an early
occasion to inform you that virtually you are now free. As we are
among a people accustomed to see your race in subjection, however,
it may not be prudent to proclaim the nature of the present
transaction, lest there might be some further conspiracies against
your natural rights. We will retire to my hotel forthwith,
therefore, where your future happiness shall be the subject of our
more mature and of our united deliberations."
The respectable stranger in the hussar jacket heard me with
inimitable gravity and self-command until, in the warmth of feeling,
I raised an arm in earnest gesticulation, when, most probably
overcome by the emotions of delight that were naturally awakened in
his bosom by this sudden change in his fortune, he threw three
summersets, or flapjacks, as Captain Poke had quaintly designated
his evolutions, in such rapid succession as to render it for a
moment a matter of doubt whether nature had placed his head or his
Making a sign for Captain Poke to follow, I now took my way directly
to the Rue de Rivoli. We were attended by a constantly increasing
crowd until the gate of the hotel was fairly entered; and glad was I
to see my charge safely housed, for there were abundant indications
of another design upon their rights in the taunts and ridicule of
the living mass that rolled up as it were upon our heels. On
reaching my own apartments, a courier who had been waiting my
return, and who had just arrived express from England, put a packet
into my hands, stating that it came from my principal English agent.
Hasty orders were given to attend to the comfort and wants of
Captain Poke and the strangers (orders that were in no danger of
being neglected, since Sir John Goldencalf, with the reputed annual
revenue of three millions of francs, had unlimited credit with all
the inhabitants of the hotel); and I hurried into my cabinet and sat
down to the eager perusal of the different communications.
Alas! there was not a line from Anna! The obdurate girl still
trifled with my misery; and in revenge I entertained a momentary
resolution of adopting the notions of Mahmoud, in order to qualify
myself to set up a harem.
The letters were from a variety of correspondents, embracing many of
those who were entrusted with the care of my interests in very
opposite quarters of the world. Half an hour before I had been dying
to open more intimate relations with the interesting strangers; but
my thoughts instantly took a new direction, and I soon found that
the painful sentiments I had entertained touching their welfare and
happiness were quite lost in the newly awakened interests that lay
before me. It is in this simple manner, no doubt, that the system to
which I am a convert effects no small part of its own great
purposes. No sooner does any one interest grow painful by excess
than a new claim arises to divert the thoughts, a new demand is made
on the sensibilities; and by lowering our affections from the
intensity of selfishness to the more bland and equable feeling of
impartiality, forms that just and generous condition of the mind at
which the political economists aim when they dilate on the glories
and advantages of their favorite theory of the social stake.
In this happy frame of mind I fell to reading the letters with
avidity and with the godlike determination to reverence Providence
and to do justice. Fiat justitia ruat coelum!
The first epistle was from the agent of the principal West India
estate. He acquainted me with the fact that all hopes from the
expected crop were destroyed by a hurricane, and he begged that I
would furnish the means necessary to carry on the affairs of the
plantation until another season might repair the loss. Priding
myself on punctuality as a man of business, before I broke another
seal a letter was written to a banker in London requesting him to
supply the necessary credits, and to notify the agents in the West
Indies of the circumstance. As he was a member of parliament, I
seized the occasion also to press upon him the necessity of
government's introducing some early measure for the protection of
the sugar-growers, a most meritorious class of his fellow-subjects,
and one whose exposures and actual losses called loudly for relief
of this nature. As I closed the letter I could not help dwelling
with complacency on the zeal and promptitude with which I had acted-
-the certain proof of the usefulness of the theory of investments.
The second communication was from the manager of an East India
property, that very happily came with its offering to fill the
vacuum left by the failure of the crops just mentioned. Sugar was
likely to be a drug in the peninsula, and my correspondent stated
that the cost of transportation being so much greater than from the
other colonies, this advantage would be entirely lost unless
government did something to restore the East Indian to his natural
equality. I enclosed this letter in one to my Lord Say and Do, who
was in the ministry, asking him in the most laconic and pointed
terms whether it were possible for the empire to prosper when one
portion of it was left in possession of exclusive advantages, to the
prejudice of all the others? As this question was put with a truly
British spirit, I hope it had some tendency to open the eyes of his
majesty's ministers; for much was shortly after said, both in the
journals and in parliament, on the necessity of protecting our East
Indian fellow-subjects, and of doing natural justice by establishing
the national prosperity on the only firm basis, that of free trade.
The next letter was from the acting partner of a large manufacturing
house to which I had advanced quite half the capital, in order to
enter into a sympathetic communion with the cotton-spinners. The
writer complained heavily of the import duty on the raw material,
made some poignant allusions to the increasing competition on the
continent and in America, and pretty clearly intimated that the lord
of the manor of Householder ought to make himself felt by the
administration in a question of so much magnitude to the nation. On
this hint I spake. I sat down on the spot and wrote a long letter to
my friend Lord Pledge, in which I pointed out to him the danger that
threatened our political economy; that we were imitating the false
theories of the Americans (the countrymen of Captain Poke), that
trade was clearly never so prosperous as when it was the most
successful, that success depended on effort, and effort was the most
efficient when the least encumbered, and in short that as it was
self-evident a man would jump farther without being in foot-irons,
or strike harder without being hand-cuffed, so it was equally
apparent that a merchant would make a better bargain for himself
when he could have things all his own way than when his enterprise
and industry were shackled by the impertinent and selfish
interposition of the interests of others. In conclusion there was an
eloquent description of the demoralizing consequences of smuggling,
and a pungent attack on the tendencies of taxation in general. I
have written and said some good things in my time, as several of my
dependents have sworn to me in a way that even my natural modesty
cannot repudiate; but I shall be excused for the weakness if I now
add that I believe this letter to Lord Pledge contained some as
clever points as anything I remember in their way; the last
paragraph in particular being positively the neatest and the best
turned moral I ever produced.
Letter fourth was from the steward of the Householder estate. He
spoke of the difficulty of getting the rents; a difficulty that he
imputed altogether to the low price of corn. He said that it would
soon be necessary to relet certain farms; and he feared that the
unthinking cry against the corn-laws would affect the conditions. It
was incumbent on the landed interest to keep an eye on the popular
tendencies as respected this subject, for any material variation
from the present system would lower the rental of all the grain-
growing counties in England thirty per cent, at least at a blow. He
concluded with a very hard rap at the agrarians, a party that was
just coming a little into notice in Great Britain, and by a very
ingenious turn, in which he completely demonstrated that the
protection of the landlord and the support of the Protestant
religion were indissolubly connected. There was also a vigorous
appeal to the common sense of the subject on the danger to be
apprehended by the people from themselves; which he treated in a way
that, a little more expanded, would have made a delightful homily on
the rights of man.
I believe I meditated on the contents of this letter fully an hour.
Its writer, John Dobbs, was as worthy and upright a fellow as ever
breathed; and I could not but admire the surprising knowledge of men
which shone through every line he had indited. Something must be
done it was clear; and at length I determined to take the bull by
the horns and to address Mr. Huskisson at once, as the shortest way
of coming at the evil. He was the political sponsor for all the new
notions on the subject of our foreign mercantile policy; and by
laying before him in a strong point of view the fatal consequences
of carrying his system to extremes, I hoped something might yet be
done for the owners of real estate, the bones and sinews of the
I shall just add in this place that Mr. Huskisson sent me a very
polite and a very statesman-like reply, in which he disclaimed any
intention of meddling improperly with British interests in any way;
that taxation was necessary to our system, and of course every
nation was the best judge of its own means and resources; but that
he merely aimed at the establishment of just and generous
principles, by which nations that had no occasion for British
measures should not unhandsomely resort to them; and that certain
external truths should stand, like so many well-constructed tubs,
each on its own bottom. I must say I was pleased with this attention
from a man generally reputed as clever as Mr. Huskisson, and from
that time I became a convert to most of his opinions.
The next communication that I opened was from the overseer of the
estate in Louisiana, who informed me that the general aspect of
things in that quarter of the world was favorable, but the smallpox
had found its way among the negroes, and the business of the
plantation would immediately require the services of fifteen able-
bodied men, with the usual sprinkling of women and children. He
added that the laws of America prohibited the further importation of
blacks from any country without the limits of the Union, but that
there was a very pretty and profitable internal trade in the
article, and that the supply might be obtained in sufficient season
either from the Carolinas, Virginia, or Maryland. He admitted,
however, that there was some choice between the different stocks of
these several States, and that some discretion might be necessary in
making the selection. The negro of the Carolinas was the most used
to the cotton-field, had less occasion for clothes, and it had been
proved by experiment could be fattened on red herrings; while, on
the other hand, the negro farther north had the highest instinct,
could sometimes reason, and that he had even been known to preach
when he had got as high up as Philadelphia. He much affected, also,
bacon and poultry. Perhaps it might be well to purchase samples of
lots from all the different stocks in market.
In reply I assented to the latter idea, suggesting the expediency of
getting one or two of the higher castes from the north; I had no
objection to preaching provided they preached work; but I cautioned
the overseer particularly against schismatics. Preaching, in the
abstract, could do no harm; all depending on doctrine.
This advice was given as the result of much earnest observation.
Those European states that had the most obstinately resisted the
introduction of letters, I had recently had occasion to remark were
changing their systems, and were about to act on the principle of
causing "fire to fight fire." They were fast having recourse to
school-books, using no other precaution than the simple expedient of
writing them themselves. By this ingenious invention poison was
converted into food, and truths of all classes were at once put
above the dangers of disputations and heresies.
Having disposed of the Louisianian, I very gladly turned to the
opening of the sixth seal. The letter was from the efficient trustee
of a company to whose funds I had largely contributed by way of
making an investment in charity. It had struck me, a short time
previously to quitting home, that interests positive as most of
those I had embarked in had a tendency to render the spirit worldly;
and I saw no other check to such an evil than by seeking for some
association with the saints, in order to set up a balance against
the dangerous propensity. A lucky occasion offered through the wants
of the Philo-African-anti-compulsion-free-labor Society, whose
meritorious efforts were about to cease for the want of the great
charity-power--gold. A draft for five thousand pounds had obtained
me the honor of being advertised as a shareholder and a patron; and,
I know not why!--but it certainly caused me to inquire into the
results with far more interest than I had ever before felt in any
similar institution. Perhaps this benevolent anxiety arose from that
principle in our nature which induces us to look after whatever has
been our own as long as any part of it can be seen.
The principal trustee of the Philo-African-anti-compulsion-free-
labor Society now wrote to state that some of the speculations which
had gone pari passu with the charity had been successful, and that
the shareholders were, by the fundamental provisions of the
association, entitled to a dividend, but--how often that awkward
word stands between the cup and the lip!--BUT that he was of opinion
the establishment of a new factory near a point where the slavers
most resorted, and where gold-dust and palm-oil were also to be had
in the greatest quantities, and consequently at the lowest prices,
would equally benefit trade and philanthropy; that by a judicious
application of our means these two interests might be made to see-
saw very cleverly, as cause and effect, effect and cause; that the
black man would be spared an incalculable amount of misery, the
white man a grievous burden of sin, and the particular agents of so
manifest a good might quite reasonably calculate on making at the
very least forty per cent. per annum on their money besides having
all their souls saved in the bargain. Of course I assented to a
proposition so reasonable in itself, and which offered benefits so
The next epistle was from the head of a great commercial house in
Spain in which I had taken some shares, and whose interests had been
temporarily deranged by the throes of the people in their efforts to
obtain redress for real or imaginary wrongs. My correspondent showed
a proper indignation on the occasion, and was not sparing in his
language whenever he was called to speak of popular tumults. "What
do the wretches wish?" he asked with much point--"Our lives as well
as our property? Ah! my dear sir, this bitter fact impresses us all
(by us he meant the mercantile interests) with the importance of
strong executives. Where should we have been but for the bayonets of
the king? or what would have become of our altars, our firesides,
and our persons, had it not pleased God to grant us a monarch
indomitable in will, brave in spirit, and quick in action?" I wrote
a proper answer of congratulation and turned to the next epistle,
which was the last of the communications.
The eighth letter was from the acting head of another commercial
house in New York, United States of America, or the country of
Captain Poke, where it would seem the president by a decided
exercise of his authority had drawn upon himself the execrations of
a large portion of the commercial interests of the country; since
the effect of the measure, right or wrong, as a legitimate
consequence or not, by hook or by crook, had been to render money
scarce. There is no man so keen in his philippics, so acute in
discovering and so prompt in analyzing facts, so animated in his
philosophy, and so eloquent in his complaints, as your debtor when
money unexpectedly gets to be scarce. Credit, comfort, bones,
sinews, marrow and all appear to depend on the result; and it is no
wonder that, under so lively impressions, men who have hitherto been
content to jog on in the regular and quiet habits of barter, should
suddenly start up into logicians, politicians, aye, or even into
magicians. Such had been the case with my present correspondent, who
seemed to know and to care as little in general of the polity of his
own country as if he had never been in it, but who now was ready to
split hairs with a metaphysician, and who could not have written
more complacently of the constitution if he had even read it. My
limits will not allow an insertion of the whole letter, but one or
two of its sentences shall be given. "Is it tolerable, my dear sir,"
he went on to say, "that the executive of ANY country, I will not
say merely of our own, should possess, or exercise, even admitting
that he does possess them, such unheard of powers? Our condition is
worse than that of the Mussulmans, who in losing their money usually
lose their heads, and are left in a happy insensibility to their
sufferings: but, alas! there is an end of the much boasted liberty
of America! The executive has swallowed up all the other branches of
the government, and the next thing will be to swallow up us. Our
altars, our firesides, and our persons will shortly be invaded; and
I much fear that my next letter will be received by you long after
all correspondence shall be prohibited, every means of communication
cut off, and we ourselves shall be precluded from writing, by being
chained like beasts of burden to the car of a bloody tyrant." Then
followed as pretty a string of epithets as I remember to have heard
from the mouth of the veriest shrew at Billingsgate.
I could not but admire the virtue of the "social-stake system,"
which kept men so sensibly alive to all their rights, let them live
where they would, or under what form of government, which was so
admirably suited to sustain truth and render us just. In reply I
sent back epithet for epithet, echoed all the groans of my
correspondent, and railed as became a man who was connected with a
This closed my correspondence for the present, and I arose wearied
with my labors, and yet greatly rejoicing in their fruits. It was
now late, but excitement prevented sleep; and before retiring for
the night I could not help looking in upon my guests. Captain Poke
had gone to a room in another part of the hotel, but the family of
amiable strangers were fast asleep in the antechamber. They had
supped heartily as I was assured, and were now indulging in a happy
but temporary oblivion--to use an improved expression--of all their
wrongs. Satisfied with this state of things, I now sought my own
pillow, or, according to a favorite phrase of Mr. Noah Poke, I also
THE COMMENCEMENT OF WONDERS, WHICH ARE THE MORE EXTRAORDINARY ON
ACCOUNT OF THEIR TRUTH.
I dare say my head had been on the pillow fully an hour before sleep
closed my eyes. During this time I had abundant occasion to
understand the activity of what are called the "busy thoughts." Mine
were feverish, glowing, and restless. They wandered over a wild
field; one that included Anna, with her beauty, her mild truth, her
womanly softness, and her womanly cruelty; Captain Poke and his
peculiar opinions; the amiable family of quadrupeds and their
wounded sensibilities; the excellences of the social-stake system;
and, in short, most of that which I had seen and heard during the
last four-and-twenty hours. When sleep did tardily arrive, it
overtook me at the very moment that I had inwardly vowed to forget
my heartless mistress, and to devote the remainder of my life to the
promulgation of the doctrine of the expansive-super-human-
generalized-affection-principle, to the utter exclusion of all
narrow and selfish views, and in which I resolved to associate
myself with Mr. Poke, as with one who had seen a great deal of this
earth and its inhabitants, without narrowing down his sympathies in
favor of any one place or person in particular, Stunin'tun and
himself very properly excepted.
It was broad daylight when I awoke on the following morning. My
spirits were calmed by rest, and my nerves had been soothed by the
balmy freshness of the atmosphere. It appeared that my valet had
entered and admitted the morning air, and then had withdrawn as
usual to await the signal of the bell before he presumed to
reappear. I lay many minutes in delicious repose, enjoying the
periodical return of life and reason, bringing with it the pleasures
of thought and its ten thousand agreeable associations. The
delightful reverie into which I was insensibly dropping was,
however, ere long arrested by low, murmuring, and, as I thought,
plaintive voices at no great distance from my own bed. Seating
myself erect, I listened intently and with a good deal of surprise;
for it was not easy to imagine whence sounds so unusual for that
place and hour could proceed. The discourse was earnest and even
animated; but it was carried on in so low a tone that it would have
been utterly inaudible but for the deep quiet of the hotel.
Occasionally a word reached my ear, and I was completely at fault in
endeavoring to ascertain even the language. That it was in neither
of the five great European tongues I was certain, for all these I
either spoke or read; and there were particular sounds and
inflections that induced me to think that it savored of the most
ancient of the two classics. It is true that the prosody of these
dialects, at the same time that it is a shibboleth of learning, is a
disputed point, the very sounds of the vowels even being a matter of
national convention; the Latin word dux, for instance, being ducks
in England, docks in Italy, and dukes in France: yet there is a 'je
ne sais quoi,' a delicacy in the auricular taste of a true scholar,
that will rarely lead him astray when his ears are greeted with
words that have been used by Demosthenes or Cicero. [Footnote: Or
Chichero, or Kickero, whichever may happen to suit the prejudices of
the reader.] In the present instance I distinctly heard the word my-
bom-y-nos-fos-kom-i-ton, which I made sure was a verb in the dual
number and second person, of a Greek root, but of a signification
that I could not on the instant master, but which beyond a question
every scholar will recognize as having a strong analogy to a well-
known line in Homer. If I was puzzled with the syllables that
accidentally reached me, I was no less perplexed with the
intonations of the voices of the different speakers. While it was
easy to understand they were of the two sexes, they had no direct
affinity to the mumbling sibilations of the English, the vehement
monotony of the French, the gagging sonorousness of the Spaniards,
the noisy melody of the Italians, the ear-splitting octaves of the
Germans, or the undulating, head-over-heels enunciation of the
countrymen of my particular acquaintance Captain Noah Poke. Of all
the living languages of which I had any knowledge, the resemblance
was nearer to the Danish and Swedish than to any other; but I much
doubted at the time I first heard the syllables, and still question,
if there is exactly such a word as my-bom-y-nos-fos-kom-i-ton to be
found in even either of those tongues. I could no longer support the
suspense. The classical and learned doubts that beset me grew
intensely painful; and arising with the greatest caution, in order
not to alarm the speakers, I prepared to put an end to them all by
the simple and natural process of actual observation.
The voices came from the antechamber, the door of which was slightly
open. Throwing on a dressing-gown, and thrusting my feet into
slippers, I moved on tiptoe to the aperture, and placed my eye in
such a situation as enabled me to command a view of the persons of
those who were still earnestly talking in the adjoining room. All
surprise vanished the moment I found that the four monkeys were
grouped in a corner of the apartment, where they were carrying on a
very animated dialogue, the two oldest of the party (a male and a
female) being the principal speakers. It was not to be expected that
even a graduate of Oxford, although belonging to a sect so
proverbial for classical lore that many of them knew nothing else,
could at the first hearing decide upon the analogies and character
of a tongue that is so little cultivated even in that ancient sea of
learning. Although I had now certainly a direct clew to the root of
the dialect of the speakers, I found it quite impossible to get any
useful acquaintance with the general drift of what was passing among
them. As they were my guests, however, and might possibly be in want
of some of the conveniences that were necessary to their habits, or
might even be suffering under still graver embarrassments, I
conceived it to be a duty to waive the ordinary usages of society,
and at once offer whatever it was in my power to bestow, at the risk
of interrupting concerns that they might possibly wish to consider
private. Using the precaution, therefore, to make a little noise, as
the best means of announcing my approach, the door was gently
opened, and I presented myself to view. At first I was a little at a
loss in what manner to address the strangers; but believing that a
people who spoke a language so difficult of utterance and so rich as
that I had just heard, like those who use dialects derived from the
Slavonian root, were most probably the masters of all others; and
remembering, moreover, that French was a medium of thought among all
polite people, I determined to have recourse to that
tongue. "Messieurs et mesdames," I said, inclining my body in
salutation, "mille pardons four cette intrusion feu convenable"--but
as I am writing in English it may be well to translate the speeches
as I proceed; although I abandon with regret the advantage of going
through them literally, and in the appropriate dialect in which they
were originally spoken.
"Gentlemen and ladies," I said, inclining my body in salutation, "I
ask a thousand pardons for this inopportune intrusion on your
retirement; but overhearing a few of what I much fear are but too
well-grounded complaints, touching the false position in which you
are placed as the occupant of this apartment, and in that light your
host, I have ventured to approach, with no other desire than the
wish that you would make me the repository of all your griefs, in
order, if possible, that they may be repaired as soon as
circumstances shall in any manner allow."
The strangers were very naturally a little startled at my unexpected
appearance, and at the substance of what I had just said. I observed
that the two ladies were apparently in some slight degree even
distressed, the younger turning her head on one side in maiden
modesty, while the elder, a duenna sort of looking person, dropped
her eyes to the floor, but succeeded in better maintaining her self-
possession and gravity. The eldest of the two gentlemen approached
me with dignified composure, after a moment of hesitation, and
returning my salute by waving his tail with singular grace and
decorum, he answered as follows. I may as well state in this place
that he spoke the French about as well as an Englishman who has
lived long enough on the continent to fancy he can travel in the
provinces without being detected for a foreigner. Au reste, his
accent was slightly Russian, and his enunciation whistling and
harmonious. The females, especially in some of the lower keys of
their voices, made sounds not unlike the sighing tones of the Eolian
harp. It was really a pleasure to hear them; but I have often had
occasion to remark that, in every country but one, which I do not
care to name, the language when uttered by the softer sex takes new
charms, and is rendered more delightful to the ear.
"Sir," said the stranger, when he had done waving his tail, "I
should do great injustice to my feelings, and to the monikin
character in general, were I to neglect expressing some small
portion of the gratitude I feel on the present occasion. Destitute,
houseless, insulted wanderers and captives, fortune has at length
shed a ray of happiness on our miserable condition, and hope begins
to shine through the cloud of our distress, like a passing gleam of
the sun. From my very tail, sir, in my own name and in that of this
excellent and most prudent matron, and in those of these two noble
and youthful lovers, I thank you. Yes! honorable and humane being of
the genus homo, species Anglicus, we all return our most tail-felt
acknowledgments of your goodness!"
Here the whole party gracefully bent the ornaments in question over
their heads, touching their receding foreheads with the several
tips, and bowed. I would have given ten thousand pounds at that
moment to have had a good investment in tails, in order to emulate
their form of courtesy; but naked, shorn, and destitute as I was,
with a feeling of humility I was obliged to put my head a little on
one shoulder and give the ordinary English bob, in return for their
more elaborate politeness.
"If I were merely to say, sir," I continued, when the opening
salutations were thus properly exchanged, "that I am charmed at this
accidental interview, the word would prove very insufficient to
express my delight. Consider this hotel as your own; its domestics
as your domestics; its stores of condiments as your stores of
condiments, and its nominal tenant as your most humble servant and
friend. I have been greatly shocked at the indignities to which you
have hitherto been exposed, and now promise you liberty, kindness,
and all those attentions to which it is very apparent you are fully
entitled by your birth, breeding, and the delicacy of your
sentiments. I congratulate myself a thousand times for having been
so fortunate as to make your acquaintance. My greatest desire has
always been to stimulate the sympathies; but until to-day various
accidents have confined the cultivation of this heaven-born property
in a great measure to my own species; I now look forward, however,
to a delicious career of new-born interests in the whole of the
animal creation, I need scarcely say in that of quadrupeds of your
family in particular."
"Whether we belong to the class of quadrupeds or not, is a question
that has a good deal embarrassed our own savans" returned the
stranger. "There is an ambiguity in our physical action that renders
the point a little questionable; and therefore, I think, the higher
castes of our natural philosophers rather prefer classing the entire
monikin species, with all its varieties, as caudae-jactans, or tail-
wavers; adopting the term from the nobler part of the animal
formation. Is not this the better opinion at home, my Lord
Chatterino?" he asked, turning to the youth, who stood respectfully
at his side.
"Such, I believe, my dear Doctor, was the last classification
sanctioned by the academy," the young noble replied, with a
readiness that proved him to be both well-informed and intelligent,
and at the same time with a reserve of manner that did equal credit
to his modesty and breeding. "The question of whether we are or are
not bipeds has greatly agitated the schools for more than three
"The use of this gentleman's name," I hastily rejoined, "my dear
sir, reminds me that we are but half acquainted with each other.
Permit me to waive ceremony, and to announce myself at once as Sir
John Goldencalf, Baronet, of Householder Hall, in the kingdom of
Great Britain, a poor admirer of excellence wherever it is to be
found, or under whatever form, and a devotee of the system of the
"I am happy to be admitted to the honor of this formal introduction,
Sir John. In return I beg you will suffer me to say that this young
nobleman is, in our own dialect, No. 6, purple; or, to translate the
appellation, my Lord Chat-terino. This young lady is No. 4, violet,
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