J. Fenimore Cooper
Part 3 out of 8
or, my Lady Chatterissa. This excellent and prudent matron is No.
4,626,243, russet, or, Mistress Vigilance Lynx, to translate her
appellation also into the English tongue; and that I am No. 22,817,
brown-study color, or, Dr. Reasono, to give you a literal
signification of my name--a poor disciple of the philosophers of our
race, an LL.D., and a F.U.D.G.E., the travelling tutor of this heir
of one of the most illustrious and the most ancient houses of the
island of Leaphigh, in the monikin section of mortality."
"Every syllable, learned Dr. Reasono, that falls from your revered
lips only whets curiosity and adds fuel to the flame of desire,
tempting me to inquire further into your private history, your
future intentions, the polity of your species, and all those
interesting topics that will readily suggest themselves to one of
your quick apprehension and extensive acquirements. I dread being
thought indiscreet, and yet, putting yourself in my position, I
trust you will overlook a wish so natural and so ardent."
"Apology is unnecessary, Sir John, and nothing would afford me
greater satisfaction than to answer any and every inquiry you may be
disposed to make."
"Then, sir, to cut short all useless circumlocution, suffer me to
ask at once an explanation of the system of enumeration by which you
indicate individuals? You are called No. 22,817, brown-study color--
"Or Dr. Reasono. As you are an Englishman, you will perhaps
understand me better if I refer to a recent practice of the new
London police. You may have observed that the men wear letters in
red or white, and numbers on the capes of their coats. By the
letters the passenger can refer to the company of the officer, while
the number indicates the individual. Now, the idea of this
improvement came, I make no doubt, from our system, under which
society is divided into castes, for the sake of harmony and
subordination, and these castes are designated by colors and shades
of colors that are significant of their stations and pursuits--the
individual, as in the new police, being known by the number. Our own
language being exceedingly sententious, is capable of expressing the
most elaborate of these combinations in a very few sounds. I should
add that there is no difference in the manner of distinguishing the
sexes, with the exception that each is numbered apart, and each has
a counterpart color to that of the same caste in the other sex. Thus
purple and violet are both noble, the former being masculine and the
latter feminine, and russet being the counterpart of brown-study
"And--excuse my natural ardor to know more--and do you bear these
numbers and colors marked on your attire in your own region?"
"As for attire, Sir John, the monikins are too highly improved,
mentally and physically, to need any. It is known that in all cases
extremes meet. The savage is nearer to nature than the merely
civilized being, and the creature that has passed the mystifications
of a middle state of improvement finds himself again approaching
nearer to the habits, the wishes, and the opinions of our common
mother. As the real gentleman is more simple in manners than the
distant imitator of his deportment; as fashions and habits are
always more exaggerated in provincial towns than in polished
capitals; or as the profound philosopher has less pretensions than
the tyro, so does our common genus, as it draws nearer to the
consummation of its destiny and its highest attainments, learn to
reject the most valued usages of the middle condition, and to return
with ardor towards nature as to a first love. It is on this
principle, sir, that the monikin family never wear clothes."
"I could not but perceive that the ladies have manifested some
embarrassment ever since I entered--is it possible that their
delicacy has taken the alarm at the state of my toilet?"
"At the toilet itself, Sir John, rather than at its state, if I must
speak plainly. The female mind, trained as it is with us from
infancy upwards in the habits and usages of nature, is shocked by
any departure from her rules. You will know how to make allowances
for the squeamishness of the sex, for I believe it is much alike in
this particular, let it come from what quarter of the earth it may."
"I can only excuse the seeming want of politeness by my ignorance,
Dr. Reasono. Before I ask another question the oversight shall be
repaired. I must retire into my own chamber for an instant,
gentlemen and ladies, and I beg you will find such sources of
amusement as first offer until I can return. There are nuts, I
believe, in this closet; sugar is usually kept on that table, and
perhaps the ladies might find some relaxation by exercising
themselves on the chairs. In a single moment I shall be with you
Hereupon I withdrew into my bed-chamber, and began to lay aside the
dressing-gown as well as my shirt. Remembering, however, that I was
but too liable to colds in the head, I returned to ask Dr. Reasono
to step in where I was for an instant. On mentioning the difficulty,
this excellent person assumed the office of preparing his female
friends to overlook the slight innovation of my still wearing the
nightcap and slippers.
"The ladies would think nothing of it," the philosopher good-
humoredly remarked, by way of lessening my regrets at having wounded
their sensibilities, "were you even to appear in a military cloak
and Hessian boots, provided it was not thought that you were of
their acquaintance and in their immediate society. I think you must
have often remarked among the sex of your own species, who are
frequently quite indifferent to nudities (their prejudices running
counter to ours) that appear in the streets, but which would cause
them instantly to run out of the room when exhibited in the person
of an acquaintance; these conventional asides being tolerated
everywhere by a judicious concession of punctilios that might
otherwise become insupportable."
"The distinction is too reasonable to require another word of
explanation, dear sir. Now let us rejoin the ladies, since I am at
length in some degree fit to be seen."
I was rewarded for this bit of delicate attention by an approving
smile from the lovely Chatterissa, and good Mistress Lynx no longer
kept her eyes riveted on the floor, but bent them on me with looks
of admiration and gratitude.
"Now that this little contre-temps is no longer an obstacle," I
resumed, "permit me to continue those inquiries which you have
hitherto answered with so much amenity and so satisfactorily. As you
have no clothes, in what manner is the parallel between your usage
and that of the new London police practically completed?"
"Although we have no clothes, nature, whose laws are never violated
with impunity, but who is as beneficent as she is absolute, has
furnished us with a downy covering to supply their places wherever
clothes are needed for comfort. We have coats that defy fashions,
require no tailors, and never lose their naps. But it would be
inconvenient to be totally clad in this manner; and, therefore, the
palms of the hands are, as you see, ungloved; the portions of the
frame on which we seat ourselves are left uncovered, most probably
lest some inconvenience should arise from taking accidental and
unfavorable positions. This is the part of the monikin frame the
best adapted for receiving paint, and the numbers of which I have
spoken are periodically renewed there, at public offices appointed
for that purpose. Our characters are so minute as to escape the
human eye; but by using that opera-glass, I make no doubt that you
may still see some of my own enregistration, although, alas! unusual
friction, great misery, and, I may say, unmerited wrongs, have
nearly un-monikined me in this, as well as in various other
As Dr. Reasono had the complaisance to turn round, and to use his
tail like the index of a black-board, by aid of the glass I very
distinctly traced the figures to which he alluded. Instead of being
in paint, however, as he had given me reason to anticipate, they
seemed to be branded, or burnt in, indelibly, as we commonly mark
horses, thieves, and negroes. On mentioning the fact to the
philosopher, it was explained with his usual facility and
"You are quite right, sir," he said; "the omission of paint was to
prevent tautology, an offence against the simplicity of the monikin
dialect, as well as against monikin taste, that would have been
sufficient, under our opinions, even to overturn the government."
"Tautology, Sir John; on examining the background of the picture,
you will perceive that it is already of a dusky, sombre hue; now,
this being of a meditative and grave character, has been denominated
by our academy the 'brown-study color'; and it would clearly have
been supererogatory to lay the same tint upon it. No, sir; we avoid
repetitions even in our prayers, deeming them to be so many proofs
of an illogical and of an anti-consecutive mind."
"The system is admirable, and I see new beauties at each moment. You
enjoy the advantage, for instance, under this mode of enumeration,
of knowing your acquaintances from behind, quite as well as if you
met them face to face!"
"The suggestion is ingenious, showing an active and an observant
mind; but it does not quite reach the motive of the politico-
numerical-identity system of which we are speaking. The objects of
this arrangement are altogether of a higher and more useful nature;
nor do we usually recognize our friends by their countenances, which
at the best are no more than so many false signals, but by their
"This is admirable! What a facility you possess for recognizing an
acquaintance who may happen to be up a tree! But may I presume to
inquire, Dr. Reasono, what are the most approved of the advantages
of the politico-numerical-identity system? For impatience is
devouring my vitals."
"They are connected with the interests of government. You know, sir,
that society is established for the purposes of governments, and
governments, themselves, mainly to facilitate contributions and
taxations. Now, by the numerical system, we have every opportunity
of including the whole monikin race in the collections, as they are
periodically checked off by their numbers. The idea was a happy
thought of an eminent statistician of ours, who gained great credit
at court by the invention, and, in fact, who was admitted to the
academy in consequence of its ingenuity."
"Still it must be admitted, my dear Doctor," put in Lord Chatterino,
always with the modesty, and, perhaps I might add, with the
generosity of youth, "that there are some among us who deny that
society was made for governments, and who maintain that governments
were made for society; or, in other words, for monikins."
"Mere theorists, my good lord; and their opinions, even if true, are
never practised on. Practice is everything in political matters; and
theories are of no use, except as they confirm practice."
"Both theory and practice are perfect," I cried, "and I make no
doubt that the classification into colors, or castes, enables the
authorities to commence the imposts with the richest, or the
"Sir, monikin prudence never lays the foundation-stone at the
summit; it seeks the base of the edifice; and as contributions are
the walls of society, we commence with the bottom. When you shall
know us better, Sir John Goldencalf, you will begin to comprehend
the beauty and benevolence of the entire monikin economy."
I now adverted to the frequent use of this word "monikin"; and,
admitting my ignorance, desired an explanation of the term, as well
as a more general insight into the origin, history, hopes, and
polity of the interesting strangers; if they can be so called who
were already so well known to me. Dr. Reasono admitted that the
request was natural and was entitled to respect; but he delicately
suggested the necessity of sustaining the animal function by
nutriment, intimating that the ladies had supped but in an
indifferent way the evening before, and acknowledging that,
philosopher as he was, he should go through the desired explanations
after improving the slight acquaintance he had already made with
certain condiments in one of the armoires, with far more zeal and
point, than could possibly be done in the present state of his
appetite. The suggestion was so very plausible that there was. no
resisting it; and, suppressing my curiosity as well as I could, the
bell was rung. I retired to my bed-chamber to resume so much of my
attire as was necessary to the semi-civilization of man, and then
the necessary orders were given to the domestics, who, by the way,
were suffered to remain under the influence of those ordinary and
vulgar prejudices that are pretty generally entertained by the
human, against the monikin family.
Previously to separating from my new friend Dr. Reasono, however, I
took him aside, and stated that I had an acquaintance in the hotel,
a person of singular philosophy, after the human fashion, and a
great traveller; and that I desired permission to let him into the
secret of our intended lecture on the monikin economy, and to bring
him with me as an auditor. To this request, No. 22,817, brown-study
color, or Dr. Reasono, gave a very cordial assent; hinting
delicately, at the same time, his expectation that this new auditor,
who, of course, was no other than Captain Noah Poke, would not deem
it disparaging to his manhood, to consult the sensibilities of the
ladies, by appearing in the garments of that only decent and
respectable tailor and draper, nature. To this suggestion I gave a
ready approval; when each went his way, after the usual salutations
of bowing and tail-waving, with a mutual promise of being punctual
to the appointment.
A GREAT DEAL OF NEGOTIATION, IN WHICH HUMAN SHREWDNESS IS COMPLETELY
SHAMED, AND HUMAN INGENUITY IS SHOWN TO BE OF A VERY SECONDARY
Mr. Poke listened to my account of all that had passed, with a very
sedate gravity. He informed me that he had witnessed so much
ingenuity among the seals, and had known so many brutes that seemed
to have the sagacity of men, and so many men who appeared to have
the stupidity of brutes, that he had no difficulty whatever in
believing every word I told him. He expressed his satisfaction, too,
at the prospect of hearing a lecture on natural philosophy and
political economy from the lips of a monkey; although he took
occasion to intimate that no desire to learn anything lay at the
bottom of his compliance; for, in his country, these matters were
pretty generally studied in the district schools, the very children
who ran about the streets of 'Stunin'tun' usually knowing more than
most of the old people in foreign parts. Still a monkey might have
some new ideas; and for his part, he was willing to hear what every
one had to say; for, if a man didn't put in a word for himself in
this world, he might be certain no one else would take the pains to
speak for him. But when I came to mention the details of the
programme of the forthcoming interview, and stated that it was
expected the audience would wear their own skins, out of respect to
the ladies, I greatly feared that my friend would have so far
excited himself as to go into fits. The rough old sealer swore some
terrible oaths, protesting "that he would not make a monkey of
himself, by appearing in this garb, for all the monikin
philosophers, or high-born females, that could be stowed in a ship's
hold; that he was very liable to take cold; that he once knew a man
who undertook to play beast in this manner, and the first thing the
poor devil knew, he had great claws and a tail sprouting out of him;
a circumstance that he had always attributed to a just judgment for
striving to make himself more than Providence had intended him for;
that, provided a man's ears were naked, he could hear just as well
as if his whole body was naked; that he did not complain of the
monkeys going in their skins, and that they ought, in reason, not to
meddle with his clothes; that he should be scratching himself the
whole time, and thinking what a miserable figure he cut; that he
would have no place to keep his tobacco; that he was apt to be deaf
when he was cold; that he would be d----d if he did any such thing;
that human natur' and monkey natur' were not the same, and it was
not to be expected that men and monkeys should follow exactly the
same fashions; that the meeting would have the appearance of a
boxing match, instead of a philosophical lecture; that he never
heard of such a thing at Stunin'tun; that he should feel sneaking at
seeing his own shins in the presence of ladies; that a ship always
made better weather under some canvas than under bare poles; that he
might possibly be brought to his shirt and pantaloons, but as for
giving up these, he would as soon think of cutting the sheet-anchor
off his bows, with the vessel driving on a lee-shore; that flesh and
blood were flesh and blood, and they liked their comfort; that he
should think the whole time he was about to go in a-swimming, and
should be looking about for a good place to dive"; together with a
great many more similar objections, that have escaped me in the
multitude of things of greater interest which have since occupied my
time. I have frequently had occasion to observe, that, when a man
has one good, solid reason for his decision, it is no easy matter to
shake it; but, that he who has a great many, usually finds them of
far less account in the struggle of opinions. Such proved to be the
fact with Captain Poke on the present occasion. I succeeded in
stripping him of his garments, one by one, until I got him reduced
to the shirt, where, like a stout ship that is easily brought to her
bearings by the breeze, he "stuck and hung" in a manner to manifest
it would require a heavy strain to bring him down any lower. A lucky
thought relieved us all from the dilemma. There were a couple of
good large bison-skins among my effects, and on suggesting to Dr.
Reasono the expediency of encasing Captain Poke in the folds of one
of them, the philosopher cheerfully assented, observing that any
object of a natural and simple formation was agreeable to the
monikin senses; their objections were merely to the deformities of
art, which they deemed to be so many offences against Providence. On
this explanation, I ventured to hint that, being still in the
infancy of the new civilization, it would be very agreeable to my
ancient habits, could I be permitted to use one of the skins, also,
while Mr. Poke occupied the other. Not the slightest objection was
raised to the proposal, and measures were immediately taken to
prepare us to appear in good company. Soon after I received from Dr.
Reasono a protocol of the conditions that were to regulate the
approaching interview. This document was written in Latin, out of
respect to the ancients, and as I afterwards understood, it was
drawn up by my Lord Chatterino, who had been educated for the
diplomatic career at home, previously to the accident which had
thrown him, alas! into human hands. I translate it freely, for the
benefit of the ladies, who usually prefer their own tongues to any
Protocol of an interview that is to take place between Sir John
Goldencalf, Bart., of Householder Hall, in the kingdom of Great
Britain, and No. 22,817, brown-study color, or Socrates Reasono,
F.U.D.G.E., Professor of Probabilities in the University of
Monikinia, and in the kingdom of Leaphigh:
The contracting parties agree as follows, viz.:
ARTICLE 1. That there shall be an interview.
ART. 2. That the said interview shall be a peaceable interview, and
not a belligerent interview.
ART. 3. That the said interview shall be logical, explanatory, and
ART. 4. That during said interview, Dr. Reasono shall have the
privilege of speaking most, and Sir John Goldencalf the privilege of
ART. 5. That Sir John Goldencalf shall have the privilege of asking
questions, and Dr. Reasono the privilege of answering them.
ART. 6. That a due regard shall be had to both human and monikin
prejudices and sensibilities.
ART. 7. That Dr. Reasono, and any monikins who may accompany him,
shall smooth their coats, and otherwise dispose of their natural
vestments, in a way that shall be as agreeable as possible to Sir
John Goldencalf and his friend.
ART. 8. That Sir John Goldencalf, and any man who may accompany him,
shall appear in bison-skins, wearing no other clothing, in order to
render themselves as agreeable as possible to Dr. Reasono and his
ART. 9. That the conditions of this protocol shall be respected.
ART. 10. That any doubtful significations in this protocol shall be
interpreted, as near as may be, in favor of both parties.
ART. 11. That no precedent shall be established to the prejudice of
either the human or the monikin dialect, by the adoption of the
Latin language on this occasion.
Delighted with this proof of attention on the part of my Lord
Chatterino, I immediately left a card for that young nobleman, and
then seriously set about preparing myself, with an increased
scrupulousness, for the fulfilment of the smallest condition of the
compact. Captain Poke was soon ready, and I must say that he looked
more like a quadruped on its hind legs, in his new attire, than a
human being. As for my own appearance, I trust it was such as became
my station and character.
At the appointed time all the parties were assembled, Lord
Chatterino appearing with a copy of the protocol in his hand. This
instrument was formally read, by the young peer, in a very
creditable manner, when a silence ensued, as if to invite comment. I
know not how it is, but I never yet heard the positive stipulations
of any bargain, that I did not feel a propensity to look out for
weak places in them. I had begun to see that the discussion might
lead to argument, argument to comparisons between the two species,
and something like an esprit de corps was stirring within me. It now
struck me that a question might be fairly raised as to the propriety
of Dr. Reasono's appearing with THREE backers, while I had but ONE.
The objection was therefore urged on my part, I hope, in a modest
and conciliatory manner. In reply, my Lord Chatterino observed, it
was true the protocol spoke in general terms of mutual supporters,
"Sir John Goldencalf would be at the trouble of referring to the
instrument itself, he would see that the backers of Dr. Reasono were
mentioned in the plural number, while that of Sir John himself was
alluded to only in the singular number."
"Perfectly true, my lord; but you will, however, permit me to remark
that two monikins would completely fulfil the conditions in favor of
Dr. Reasono, while he appears here with three; there certainly must
be some limits to this plurality, or the Doctor would have a right
to attend the interview accompanied by all the inhabitants of
"The objection is highly ingenious, and creditable in the last
degree to the diplomatic abilities of Sir John Goldencalf; but,
among monikins, two females are deemed equal to only one male, in
the eye of the law. Thus, in cases which require two witnesses, as
in conveyances of real estate, two male monikins are sufficient,
whereas it would be necessary to have four female signatures, in
order to give the instrument validity. In the legal sense,
therefore, I conceive that Dr. Reasono is attended by only two
Captain Poke hereupon observed that this provision in the law of
Leaphigh was a good one; for he often had occasion to remark that
women, quite half the time, did not know what they were about; and
he thought, in general, that they require more ballast than men.
"This reply would completely cover the case, my lord," I answered,
"were the protocol purely a monikin document, and this assembly
purely a monikin assembly. But the facts are notoriously otherwise.
The document is drawn up in a common vehicle of thought among
scholars, and I gladly seize the opportunity to add, that I do not
remember to have seen a better specimen of modern latinity."
"It is undeniable, Sir John," returned Lord Chatterino, waving his
tail in acknowledgment of the compliment, "that the protocol itself
is in a language that has now become common property; but the mere
medium of thought, on such occasions, is of no great moment,
provided it is neutral as respects the contracting parties;
moreover, in this particular case, article 11 of the protocol
contains a stipulation that no legal consequences whatever are to
follow the use of the Latin language; a stipulation that leaves the
contracting parties in possession of their original rights. Now, as
the lecture is to be a monikin lecture, given by a monikin
philosopher, and on monikin grounds, I humbly urge that it is proper
the interview should generally be conducted on monikin principles."
"If by monikin grounds, is meant monikin ground (which I have a
right to assume, since the greater necessarily includes the less), I
beg leave to remind your lordship, that the parties are, at this
moment, in a neutral country, and that, if either of them can set up
a claim of territorial jurisdiction, or the rights of the flag,
these claims must be admitted to be human, since the locataire of
this apartment is a man, in control of the locus in quo, and pro hac
vice, the suzerain."
"Your ingenuity has greatly exceeded my construction, Sir John, and
I beg leave to amend my plea. All I mean is, that the leading
consideration in this interview, is a monikin interest--that we are
met to propound, explain, digest, animadvert on, and embellish a
monikin theme--that the accessory must be secondary to the
principal--that the lesser must merge, not in your sense, but in my
sense, in the greater--and, by consequence, that--"
"You will accord me your pardon, my dear lord, but I hold--"
"Nay, my good Sir John, I trust to your intelligence to be excused
if I say--"
"One word, my Lord Chatterino, I pray you, in order that--"
"A thousand, very cheerfully, Sir John, but--"
"My Lord Chatterino!"
"Sir John Goldencalf!"
Hereupon we both began talking at the same time, the noble young
monikin gradually narrowing down the direction of his observations
to the single person of Mrs. Vigilance Lynx, who, I afterwards had
occasion to know, was an excellent listener; and I, in my turn,
after wandering from eye to eye, settled down into a sort of oration
that was especially addressed to the understanding of Captain Noah
Poke. My auditor contrived to get one ear entirely clear of the
bison's skin, and nodded approbation of what fell from me, with a
proper degree of human and clannish spirit. We might possibly have
harangued in this desultory manner, to the present time, had not the
amiable Chatterissa advanced, and, with the tact and delicacy which
distinguish her sex, by placing her pretty patte on the mouth of the
young nobleman, effectually checked his volubility. When a horse is
running away, he usually comes to a dead stop, after driving through
lanes, and gates, and turnpikes, the moment he finds himself master
of his own movements, in an open field. Thus, in my own case, no
sooner did I find myself in sole possession of the argument, than I
brought it to a close. Dr. Reasono improved the pause, to introduce
a proposition that, the experiment already made by myself and Lord
Chatterino being evidently a failure, he and Mr. Poke should retire
and make an effort to agree upon an entirely new programme of the
proceedings. This happy thought suddenly restored peace; and, while
the two negotiators were absent, I improved the opportunity to
become better acquainted with the lovely Chatterissa and her female
Mentor. Lord Chatterino, who possessed all the graces of diplomacy,
who could turn from a hot and angry discussion, on the instant, to
the most bland and winning courtesy, was foremost in promoting my
wishes, inducing his charming mistress to throw aside the reserve of
a short acquaintance, and to enter, at once, into a free and
Some time elapsed before the plenipotentiaries returned, for it
appears that, owing to a constitutional peculiarity, or, as he
subsequently explained it himself, a "Stunin'tun principle," Captain
Poke conceived he was bound, in a bargain, to dispute every
proposition which came from the other party. This difficulty would
probably have proved insuperable, had not Dr. Reasono luckily
bethought him of a frank and liberal proposal to leave every other
article, without reserve, to the sole dictation of his colleague,
reserving to himself the same privilege for all the rest. Noah,
after being well assured that the philosopher was no lawyer,
assented; and the affair, once begun in this spirit of concession,
was soon brought to a close. And here I would recommend this happy
expedient to all negotiators of knotty and embarrassing treaties,
since it enables each party to gain his point, and probably leaves
as few openings for subsequent disputes, as any other mode that has
yet been adopted. The new instrument ran as follows, it having been
written, in duplicate, in English and in Monikin. It will be seen
that the pertinacity of one of the negotiators gave it very much the
character of a capitulation.
PROTOCOL of an Interview, &c., &c., &c.
The contracting parties agree as follows, viz.:
ARTICLE 1. There shall be an interview.
ART. 2. Agreed; provided all the parties can come and go at
ART. 3. The said interview shall be conducted, generally, on
philosophical and liberal principles.
ART. 4. Agreed; provided tobacco may be used at discretion.
ART. 5. That either party shall have the privilege of propounding
questions, and either party the privilege of answering them.
ART. 6. Agreed; provided no one need listen, or no one talk, unless
ART. 7. The attire of all present shall be conformable to the
abstract rules of propriety and decorum.
ART. 8. Agreed; provided the bison-skins may be reefed, from time to
time, according to the state of the weather.
ART. 9. The provisions of this protocol shall be rigidly respected.
ART. 10. Agreed; provided no advantage be taken by lawyers.
Lord Chatterino and myself pounced upon the respective documents
like two hawks, eagerly looking for flaws, or the means of
maintaining the opinions we had before advanced, and which we had
both shown so much cleverness in supporting.
"Why, my lord, there is no provision for the appearance of any
monikins at all at this interview!"
"The generality of the terms leaves it to be inferred that all may
come and go who may be so disposed."
"Your pardon, my lord; article 8 contains a direct allusion to
BISON-SKINS in the PLURAL, and under circumstances from which it
follows, by a just deduction, that it was contemplated that more
than ONE wearer of the said skins should be present at the said
"Perfectly just, Sir John; but you will suffer me to observe that by
article 1, it is conditioned that there shall be an interview; and
by article 3, it is furthermore agreed that the said interview shall
be conducted 'on philosophical and liberal principles'; now, it need
scarcely be urged, good Sir John, that it would be the extreme of
illiberality to deny to one party any privilege that was possessed
by the other."
"Perfectly just my lord, were this an affair of mere courtesy; but
legal constructions must be made on legal principles, or else, as
jurists and diplomatists, we are all afloat on the illimitable ocean
"And yet article 10 expressly stipulates that 'no advantage shall be
taken by lawyers.' By considering articles 3 and 10 profoundly and
in conjunction, we learn that it was the intention of the
negotiators to spread the mantle of liberality, apart from all the
subtleties and devices of mere legal practitioners, over the whole
proceedings. Permit me, in corroboration of what is now urged, to
appeal to the voices of those who framed the very conditions about
which we are now arguing. Did YOU, sir," continued my Lord
Chatterino, turning to Captain Poke, with emphasis and dignity; "did
you, sir, when you drew up this celebrated article 10--did you deem
that you were publishing authority of which the lawyers could take
A deep and very sonorous "No," was the energetic reply of Mr. Poke.
My Lord Chatterino, then turning, with equal grace, to the Doctor,
first diplomatically waving his tail three times, continued:
"And you, sir, in drawing up article 3, did you conceive that you
were supporting and promulgating illiberal principles?"
The question was met by a prompt negative, when the young noble
paused, and looked at me like one who had completely triumphed.
"Perfectly eloquent, completely convincing, irrefutably
argumentative, and unanswerably just, my lord," I put in; "but I
must be permitted to hint that the validity of all laws is derived
from the enactment; now the enactment, or, in the case of a treaty,
the virtue of the stipulation, is not derived from the intention of
the party who may happen to draw up a law or a clause, but from the
assent of the legal deputies. In the present instance, there are two
negotiators, and I now ask permission to address a few questions to
them, reversing the order of your own interrogatories; and the
result may possibly furnish a clue to the quo animo, in a new
light." Addressing the philosopher, I continued--"Did YOU, sir, in
assenting to article 10, imagine that you were defeating justice,
countenancing oppression, and succoring might to the injury of
The answer was a solemn, and, I do not doubt, a very conscientious,
"And YOU, sir," turning to Captain Poke, "did you, in assenting to
article 3, in the least conceive that, by any possibility, the foes
of humanity could torture your approbation into the means of
determining that the bison-skin wearers were not to be upon a
perfect footing with the best monikins of the land?"
"Blast me, if I did!"
But, Sir John Goldencalf, the Socratic method of reasoning--"
"Was first resorted to by yourself, my lord--"
"Nay, good Sir--"
"Permit me, my dear lord--"
Hereupon the gentle Chatterissa again advanced, and by another
timely interposition of her graceful tact, she succeeded in
preventing the reply. The parallel of the runaway horse was acted
over, and I came to another stand-still. Lord Chatterino now
gallantly proposed that the whole affair should be referred, with
full powers, to the ladies. I could not refuse; and the
plenipotentiaries retired, under a growling accompaniment of Captain
Poke, who pretty plainly declared that women caused more quarrels
than all the rest of the world, and, from the little he had seen, he
expected it would turn out the same with monikinas.
The female sex certainly possess a facility of composition that is
denied our portion of the creation. In an incredibly short time, the
referees returned with the following programme:
PROTOCOL of an Interview between, &c., &c.
The contracting parties agree as follows, viz.:
ARTICLE 1. There shall be an amicable, logical, philosophical,
ethical, liberal, general, and controversial interview.
ART. 2. The interview shall be amicable.
ART. 3. The interview shall be general.
ART. 4. The interview shall be logical.
ART. 5. The interview shall be ethical.
ART. 6. The interview shall be philosophical.
ART. 7. The interview shall be liberal.
ART. 8. The interview shall be controversial.
ART. 9. The interview shall be controversial, liberal,
philosophical, ethical, logical, general, and amicable.
ART. 10. The interview shall be as particularly agreed upon.
The cat does not leap upon the mouse with more avidity than Lord
Chatterino and myself pounced upon the third protocol, seeking new
grounds for the argument that each was resolved on.
"Auguste! cher Auguste!" exclaimed the lovely Chatterissa, in the
prettiest Parisian accent I thought I had ever heard--"Pour moi!"
"A moi! monseignear!" I put in, flourishing my copy of the protocol-
-I was checked n the midst of this controversial ardor by a tug at
the bison-skin; when, casting a look behind me, I saw Captain Poke
winking and making other signs that he wished to say a word in a
"I think, Sir John," observed the worthy sealer, "if we ever mean to
let this bargain come to a catastrophe, it might as well be done
now. The females have been cunning, but the deuce is in it if we
cannot weather upon two women before the matter is well over. In
Stunin'tun, when it is thought best to accommodate proposals, why we
object and raise a breeze in the beginning, but towards the end we
kinder soften and mollify, or else trade would come to a stand. The
hardest gale must blow its pipe out. Trust to me to floor the best
argument the best monkey of them all can agitate!"
"This matter is getting serious, Noah, and I am filled with an
esprit de corps. Do you not begin yourself to feel human?"
"Kinder; but more bisonish than anything else. Let them go on, Sir
John; and, when the time comes, we will take them aback, or set me
down as a pettifogger."
The Captain winked knowingly; and I began to see that there was some
sense in his opinion. On rejoining our friends, or allies, I scarce
know which to call them, I found that the amiable Chatterissa had
equally calmed the diplomatic ardor of her lover, again, and we now
met on the best possible terms. The protocol was accepted by
acclamation; and preparations were instantly commenced for the
lecture of Dr. Reasono.
A PHILOSOPHY THAT IS BOTTOMED ON SOMETHING SUBSTANTIAL--SOME REASONS
PLAINLY PRESENTED, AND CAVILLING OBJECTIONS PUT TO FLIGHT BY A
CHARGE OF LOGICAL BAYONETS.
Dr. Reasono was quite as reasonable, in the personal embellishments
of his lyceum, as any public lecturer I remember to have seen, who
was required to execute his functions in the presence of ladies. If
I say that his coat had been brushed, his tail newly curled, and
that his air was a little more than usually "solemnized," as Captain
Poke described it in a decent whisper, I believe all will be said
that is either necessary or true. He placed himself behind a foot-
stool, which served as a table, smoothed its covering a little with
his paws, and at once proceeded to business. It may be well to add
that he lectured without notes, and, as the subject did not
immediately call for experiments, without any apparatus.
Waving his tail towards the different parts of the room in which his
audience were seated, the philosopher commenced.
"As the present occasion, my hearers," he said, "is one of those
accidental calls upon science, to which all belonging to the
academies are liable, and does not demand more than the heads of our
thesis to be explained, I shall not dig into the roots of the
subject, but limit myself to such general remarks as may serve to
furnish the outlines of our philosophy, natural, moral, and
"How, sir," I cried, "have you a political as well as a moral
"Beyond a question; and a very useful philosophy it is. No interests
require more philosophy than those connected with politics. To
resume--our philosophy, natural, moral and political, reserving most
of the propositions, demonstrations, and corollaries, for greater
leisure, and a more advanced state of information in the class.
Prescribing to myself these salutary limits, therefore, I shall
begin only with nature.
"Nature is a term that we use to express the pervading and governing
principle of created things. It is known both as a generic and a
specific term, signifying in the former character the elements and
combinations of omnipotence, as applied to matter in general, and in
the latter its particular subdivisions, in connection with matter in
its infinite varieties. It is moreover subdivided into its physical
and moral attributes, which admit also of the two grand distinctions
just named. Thus, when we say nature, in the abstract, meaning
physically, we should be understood as alluding to those general,
uniform, absolute, consistent, and beautiful laws, which control and
render harmonious, as a great whole, the entire action, affinities,
and destinies of the universe; and when we say nature in the
speciality, we would be understood to speak of the nature of a rock,
of a tree, of air, fire, water, and land. Again, in alluding to a
moral nature in the abstract, we mean sin, and its weaknesses, its
attractions, its deformities-in a word, its totality; while, on the
other hand, when we use the term, in this sense, under the limits of
a speciality, we confine its signification to the particular shades
of natural qualities that mark the precise object named. Let us
illustrate our positions by a few brief examples.
"When we say 'Oh nature, how art thou glorious, sublime,
instructive!'--we mean that her laws emanate from a power of
infinite intelligence and perfection; and when we say 'Oh nature,
how art thou frail, vain and insufficient!' we mean that she is,
after all, but a secondary quality, inferior to that which brought
her into existence, for definite, limited, and, doubtless, useful
purposes. In these examples we treat the principle in the abstract.
"The examples of nature in the speciality will be more familiar,
and, although in no degree more true, will be better understood by
the generality of my auditors. Especial nature, in the physical
signification, is apparent to the senses, and is betrayed in the
outward forms of things, through their force, magnitude, substance,
and proportions, and, in its more mysterious properties, to
examination, by their laws, harmony, and action. Especial moral
nature is denoted in the different propensities, capacities, and
conduct of the different classes of all moral beings. In this latter
sense we have monikin nature, dog nature, horse nature, hog nature,
"Permit me, Dr. Reasono," I interrupted, "to inquire if, by this
classification, you intend to convey more than may be understood by
the accidental arrangement of your examples?"
"Purely the latter, I do assure you, Sir John."
"And do you admit the great distinctions of animal and vegetable
"Our academies are divided on this point. One school contends that
all living nature is to be embraced in a great comprehensive genus,
while another admits of the distinctions you have named. I am of the
latter opinion, inclining to the belief that nature herself has
drawn the line between the two classes, by bestowing on one the
double gift of the moral and physical nature, and by withdrawing the
former from the other. The existence of the moral nature is denoted
by the presence of the will. The academy of Leaphigh has made an
elaborate classification of all the known animals, of which the
sponge is at the bottom of the list, and the monikin at the top!"
"Sponges are commonly uppermost," growled Noah.
"Sir," said I, with a disagreeable rising at the throat, "am I to
understand that your savans account man an animal in a middle state
between a sponge and a monkey?"
"Really, Sir John, this warmth is quite unsuited to philosophical
discussion--if you continue to indulge in it, I shall find myself
compelled to postpone the lecture."
At this rebuke I made a successful effort to restrain myself,
although my esprit de corps nearly choked me. Intimating, as well as
I could, a change of purpose, Dr. Reasono, who had stood suspended
over his table with an air of doubt, waved his tail, and proceeded:-
"Sponges, oysters, crabs, sturgeons, clams, toads, snakes, lizards,
skunks, opossums, ant-eaters, baboons, negroes, wood-chucks, lions,
Esquimaux, sloths, hogs, Hottentots, ourang-outangs, men and
monikins, are, beyond a question, all animals. The only disputed
point among us is, whether they are all of the same genus, forming
varieties or species, or whether they are to be divided into the
three great families of the improvables, the unimprovables, and the
retrogressives. They who maintain that we form but one great family,
reason by certain conspicuous analogies, that serve as so many links
to unite the great chain of the animal world. Taking man as a
centre, for instance, they show that this creature possesses, in
common with every other creature, some observable property. Thus,
man is, in one particular, like a sponge; in another, he is like an
oyster; a hog is like a man; the skunk has one peculiarity of a man;
the ourang-outang another; the sloth another--"
"And so on, to the end of the chapter. This school of philosophers,
while it has been very ingeniously supported, is not, however, the
one most in favor just at this moment in the academy of Leaphigh--"
"Just at this moment, Doctor!"
"Certainly, sir. Do you not know that truths, physical as well as
moral, undergo their revolutions, the same as all created nature?
The academy has paid great attention to this subject; and it issues
annually an almanac, in which the different phases, the revolutions,
the periods, the eclipses, whether partial or total, the distances
from the centre of light, the apogee and perigee of all the more
prominent truths, are calculated with singular accuracy; and by the
aid of which the cautious are enabled to keep themselves, as near as
possible, within the bounds of reason. We deem this effort of the
monikin mind as the sublimest of all its inventions, and as
furnishing the strongest known evidence of its near approach to the
consummation of our earthly destiny. This is not the place to dwell
on that particular point of our philosophy, however; and, for the
present, we will postpone the subject."
"Yet you will permit me, Dr. Reasono, in virtue of clause 1, article
5, protocol No. 1 (which protocol, if not absolutely adopted, must
be supposed to contain the spirit of that which was), to inquire
whether the calculations of the revolutions of truth, do not lead to
dangerous moral extravagances, ruinous speculations in ideas, and
serve to unsettle society?"
The philosopher withdrew a moment with my Lord Chatterino, to
consult whether it would be prudent to admit of the validity of
protocol No. 1, even in this indirect manner; whereupon it was
decided between them, that, as such admission would lay open all the
vexatious questions that had just been so happily disposed of,
clause 1 of article 5 having a direct connection with clause 2;
clauses 1 and 2 forming the whole article; and the said article 5,
in its entirety, forming an integral portion of the whole
instrument; and the doctrine of constructions, enjoining that
instruments are to be construed like wills, by their general, and
not by their especial tendencies, it would be dangerous to the
objects of the interview to allow the application to be granted.
But, reserving a protest against the concession being interpreted
into a precedent, it might be well to concede that as an act of
courtesy, which was denied as a right. Hereupon, Dr. Reasono
informed me that these calculations of the revolutions of truth DID
lead to certain moral extravagances, and in many instances to
ruinous speculations in ideas; that the academy of Leaphigh. and, so
far as his information extended, the academy of every other country,
had found the subject of truth, more particularly moral truth, the
one of all others the most difficult to manage, the most likely to
be abused, and the most dangerous to promulgate. I was moreover
promised, at a future day, some illustrations of this branch of the
"To pursue the more regular thread of my lecture," continued Dr.
Reasono, when he had politely made this little digression, "we now
divide these portions of the created world into animated and
vegetable nature; the former is again divided into the improvable,
and the unimprovable, and the retrogressive. The improvable embraces
all those species which are marching, by slow, progressive, but
immutable mutations, towards the perfection of terrestrial life, or
to that last, elevated, and sublime condition of mortality, in which
the material makes its final struggle with the immaterial--mind with
matter. The improvable class of animals, agreeably to the monikin
dogmas, commences with those species in which matter has the most
unequivocal ascendency, and terminates with those in which mind is
as near perfection as this mortal coil will allow. We hold that mind
and matter, in that mysterious union which connects the spiritual
with the physical being, commence in the medium state, undergoing,
not, as some men have pretended, transmigrations of the soul only,
but such gradual and imperceptible changes of both soul and body, as
have peopled the world with so many wonderful beings--wonderful,
mentally and physically; and all of which (meaning all of the
improvable class) are no more than animals of the same great genus,
on the high road of tendencies, who are advancing towards the last
stage of improvement, previously to their final translation to
another planet, and a new existence.
"The retrogressive class is composed of those specimens which, owing
to their destiny, take a false direction; which, instead of tending
to the immaterial, tend to the material; which gradually become more
and more under the influence of matter, until, by a succession of
physical translations, the will is eventually lost, and they become
incorporated with the earth itself. Under this last transformation,
these purely materialized beings are chemically analyzed in the
great laboratory of nature, and their component parts are separated;
thus the bones become rocks, the flesh earth, the spirits air, the
blood water, the gristle clay and the ashes of the will are
converted into the element of fire. In this class we enumerate
whales, elephants, hippopotami, and divers other brutes, which
visibly exhibit accumulations of matter that must speedily triumph
over the less material portions of their natures."
"And yet, Doctor, there are facts that militate against the theory;
the elephant, for instance, is accounted one of the most intelligent
of all the quadrupeds."
"A mere false demonstration, sir. Nature delights in these little
equivocations; thus, we have false suns, false rainbows, false
prophets, false vision, and even false philosophy. There are entire
races of both our species, too, as the Congo and the Esquimaux, for
yours, and baboons and the common monkeys, that inhabit various
parts of the world possessed by the human species, for ours, which
are mere shadows of the forms and qualities that properly
distinguish the animal in its state of protection."
"How, sir! are you not, then, of the same family as all the other
monkeys that we see hopping and skipping about the streets?"
"No more, sir, than you are of the same family as the flat-nosed,
thick-lipped, low-browed, ink-skinned negro, or the squalid,
passionless, brutalized Esquimaux. I have said that nature delights
in vagaries; and all these are no more than some of her
mystifications. Of this class is the elephant, who, while verging
nearest to pure materialism, makes a deceptive parade of the quality
he is fast losing. Instances of this species of playing trumps, if I
may so express it, are common in all classes of beings. How often,
for instance, do men, just as they are about to fail, make a parade
of wealth, women seem obdurate an hour before they capitulate, and
diplomatists call Heaven to be a witness of their resolutions to the
contrary, the day before they sign and seal! In the case of the
elephant, however, there is a slight exception to the general rule,
which is founded on an extraordinary struggle between mind and
matter, the former making an effort that is unusual, and which may
be said to form an exception to the ordinary warfare between these
two principles, as it is commonly conducted in the retrogressive
class of animals. The most infallible sign of the triumph of mind
over matter, is in the development of the tail--"
"Of the tail, Dr. Reasono?"
"By all means, sir--that seat of reason, the tail! Pray, Sir John,
what other portion of our frames did you imagine was indicative of
"Among men, Dr. Reasono, it is commonly thought the head is the more
honorable member, and, of late, we have made analytical maps of this
part of our physical formation, by which it is pretended to know the
breadth and length of a moral quality, no less than its boundaries."
"You have made the best use of your materials, such as they were,
and I dare say the map in question, all things considered, is a very
clever performance. But in the complication and abstruseness of this
very moral chart (one of which I perceive standing on your
mantelpiece), you may learn the confusion which still reigns over
the human intellect. Now, in regarding us, you can understand the
very converse of your dilemma. How much easier, for instance, is it
to take a yard-stick, and by a simple admeasurement of a tail, come
to a sound, obvious and incontrovertible conclusion as to the extent
of the intellect of the specimen, than by the complicated,
contradictory, self-balancing and questionable process to which you
are reduced! Were there only this fact, it would abundantly
establish the higher moral condition of the monikinrace, as it is
compared with that of man."
"Dr. Reasono, am I to understand that the monikin family seriously
entertain a position so extravagant as this; that a monkey is a
creature more intellectual and more highly civilized than man?"
"Seriously, good Sir John! Why you are the first respectable person
it has been my fortune to meet, who has even affected to doubt the
fact. It is well known that both belong to the improvable class of
animals, and that monkeys, as you are pleased to term us, were once
men, with all their passions, weaknesses, inconsistencies, mode of
philosophy, unsound ethics, frailties, incongruities and
subserviency to matter; that they passed into the monikin state by
degrees, and that large divisions of them are constantly evaporating
into the immaterial world, completely spiritualized and free from
the dross of flesh. I do not mean in what is called death--for that
is no more than an occasional deposit of matter to be resumed in a
new aspect, and with a nearer approach to the grand results (whether
of the improvable or of the retrogressive classes)--but those final
mutations which transfer us to another planet, to enjoy a higher
state of being, and leaving us always on the high road towards final
"All this is very ingenious, sir; but before you can persuade me
into the belief that man is an animal inferior to a monkey, Dr.
Reasono, you will allow me to say that you must prove it."
"Ay, ay, or me, either," put in Captain Poke, waspishly.
"Were I to cite my proofs, gentlemen," continued the philosopher,
whose spirit appeared to be much less moved by our doubts than ours
were by his position--"I should in the first place refer you to
history. All the monikin writers are agreed in recording the gradual
translation of the species from the human family--"
"This may do very well, sir, for the latitude of Leaphigh, but
permit me to say that no human historian, from Moses down to Buffon,
has ever taken such a view of our respective races. There is not a
word in any of all these writers on the subject."
"How should there be, sir? History is not a prediction, but a record
of the past. Their silence is so much negative proof in our favor.
Does Tacitus, for instance, speak of the French revolution? Is not
Herodotus silent on the subject of the independence of the American
continent?--or do any of the Greek and Roman writers give us the
annals of Stunin'tun--a city whose foundations were most probably
laid some time after the commencement of the Christian era? It is
morally impossible that men or monikins can faithfully relate events
that have never happened; and as it has never yet happened to any
man, who is still a man, to be translated to the monikin state of
being, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that he can know
nothing about it. If you want historical proof, therefore, of what I
say, you must search the monikin annals for evidence. There it is to
be found with an infinity of curious details; and I trust the time
is not far distant, when I shall have great pleasure in pointing out
to you some of the most approved chapters of our best writers on
this subject. But we are not confined to the testimony of history,
in establishing our condition to be of the secondary formation. The
internal evidence is triumphant; we appeal to our simplicity, our
philosophy, the state of the arts among us, in short, to all those
concurrent proofs which are dependent on the highest possible state
of civilization. In addition to this, we have the infallible
testimony which is to be derived from the development of our tails.
Our system of caudology is, in itself, a triumphant proof of the
high improvement of the monikin reason."
"Do I comprehend you aright, Dr. Reasono, when I understand your
system of caudology, or tailology, to render it into the vernacular,
to dogmatize on the possibility that the seat of reason in man,
which to-day is certainly in his brains, can ever descend into a
"If you deem development, improvement and simplification a descent,
beyond a question, sir. But your figure is a bad one, Sir John; for
ocular demonstration is before you, that a monikin can carry his
tail as high as a man can possibly carry his head. Our species, in
this sense, is morally nicked; and it costs us no effort to be on a
level with human kings. We hold, with you, that the brain is the
seat of reason, while the animal is in what we call the human
probation, but that it is a reason undeveloped, imperfect, and
confused; cased, as it were, in an envelope unsuited to its
functions; but that, as it gradually oozes out of this straitened
receptable towards the base of the animal, it acquires solidity,
lucidity, and, finally, by elongation and development, point. If you
examine the human brain, you will find it, though capable of being
stretched to a great length, compressed in a diminutive compass,
involved and snarled; whereas the same physical portion of the genus
gets simplicity, a beginning and an end, a directness and
consecutiveness that are necessary to logic, and, as has just been
mentioned, a point, in the monikin seat of reason, which, by all
analogy, go to prove the superiority of the animal possessing
advantages so great."
"Nay, sir, if you come to analogies, they will be found to prove
more than you may wish. In vegetation, for instance, saps ascend for
the purposes of fructification and usefulness; and, reasoning from
the analogies of the vegetable world, it is far more probable that
tails have ascended into brains than that brains have descended into
tails; and, consequently, that men are much more likely to be an
improvement on monkeys, than monkeys an improvement on men."
I spoke with warmth, I know; for the doctrine of Dr. Reasono was new
to me; and by this time, my esprit de corps had pretty effectually
"You gave him a red-hot shot that time, Sir John," whispered Captain
Poke at my elbow; "now, if you are so disposed, I will wring the
necks of all these little blackguards, and throw them out of the
I immediately intimated that any display of brute force would
militate directly against our cause; as the object, just at that
moment, was to be as immaterial as possible.
"Well, well, manage it in your own way, Sir John, and I'm quite as
immaterial as you can wish; but should these cunning varments
ra'ally get the better of us in the argument, I shall never dare
look at Miss Poke, or show my face ag'in in Stunin'tun."
This little aside was secretly conducted, while Dr. Reasono was
drinking a glass of eau sucre; but he soon returned to the subject,
with the dignified gravity that never forsook him.
"Your remark touching saps has the usual savor of human ingenuity,
blended, however, with the proverbial short-sightedness of the
species. It is very true that saps ascend for fructification; but
what is this fructification, to which you allude? It is no more than
a false demonstration of the energies of the plant. For all the
purposes of growth, life, durability, and the final conversion of
the vegetable matter into an element, the root is the seat of power
and authority; and, in particular, the tap-root above or rather
below all others. This tap-root may be termed the tail of
vegetation. You may pluck fruits with impunity--nay, you may even
top all the branches, and the tree shall survive; but, put the axe
to the root, and the pride of the forest falls."
All this was too evidently true to be denied, and I felt worried and
badgered; for no man likes to be beaten in a discussion of this
sort, and more especially by a monkey. I bethought me of the
elephant, and determined to make one more thrust, by the aid of his
powerful tusks, before I gave up the point.
"I am inclined to think, Dr. Reasono," I put in as soon as possible,
"that your savans have not been very happy in illustrating their
theory by means of the elephant. This animal, besides being a mass
of flesh, is too well provided with intellect to be passed off for a
dunce; and he not only has ONE, but he might almost be said to be
provided with TWO tails."
"That has been his chief misfortune, sir. Matter, in the great
warfare between itself and mind, has gone on the principle of
'divide and conquer.' You are nearer the truth than you imagined,
for the trunk of the elephant is merely the abortion of a tail; and
yet, you see, it contains nearly all the intelligence that the
animal possesses. On the subject of the fate of the elephant,
however, theory is confirmed by actual experiment. Do not your
geologists and naturalists speak of the remains of animals, which
are no longer to be found among living things?"
"Certainly, sir; the mastodon--the megatherium, iguanodon; and the
"And do you not also find unequivocal evidences of animal matter
incorporated with rocks?"
"This fact must be admitted, too."
"These phenomena, as you call them, are no more than the final
deposits which nature has made in the cases of those creatures in
which matter has completely overcome its rival, mind. So soon as the
will is entirely extinct, the being ceases to live; or it is no
longer an animal. It falls and reverts altogether to the element of
matter. The processes of decomposition and incorporation are longer,
or shorter, according to circumstances; and these fossil remains of
which your writers say so much, are merely cases that have met with
accidental obstacles to their final decomposition. As respects our
two species, a very cursory examination of their qualities ought to
convince any candid mind of the truth of our philosophy. Thus, the
physical part of man is much greater in proportion to the spiritual,
than it is in the monikin; his habits are grosser and less
intellectual; he requires sauce and condiments in his food; he is
farther removed from simplicity, and, by necessary implication, from
high civilization; he eats flesh, a certain proof that the material
principle is still strong in the ascendant; he has no cauda---"
"On this point, Dr. Reasono, I would inquire if your scholars attach
any weight to traditions?"
"The greatest possible, sir. It is the monikin tradition that our
species is composed of men refined, of diminished matter and
augmented minds, with the seat of reason extricated from the
confinement and confusion of the caput, and extended, unravelled,
and rendered logical and consecutive, in the cauda."
Well, sir, WE too have our traditions; and an eminent writer, at no
great distance of time, has laid it down as incontrovertible, that
men once HAD caudae."
"A mere prophetic glance into the future, as coming events are known
to cast their shadows before."
"Sir, the philosopher in question establishes his position, by
pointing to the stumps."
"He has unluckily mistaken a foundation-stone for a ruin! Such
errors are not unfrequent with the ardent and ingenious. That men
WILL have tails, I make no doubt; but that they HAVE ever reached
this point of perfection, I do most solemnly deny. There are many
premonitory symptoms of their approaching this condition; the
current opinions of the day, the dress, habits, fashions, and
philosophy of the species, encourage the belief; but hitherto you
have never reached the enviable distinction. As to traditions, even
your own are all in favor of our theory. Thus, for instance, you
have a tradition that the earth was once peopled by giants. Now,
this is owing to the fact that men were formerly more under the
influence of matter, and less under that of mind than to day. You
admit that you diminish in size, and improve in moral attainments;
all of which goes to establish the truth of the monikin philosophy.
You begin to lay less stress on physical, and more on moral
excellences; and, in short, many things show that the time for the
final liberation and grand development of your brains, is not far
distant. This much I very gladly concede; for, while the dogmas of
our schools are not to be disregarded, I very cheerfully admit that
you are our fellow-creatures, though in a more infant and less
improved condition of society."
Here Dr. Reasono announced the necessity of taking a short
intermission in order to refresh himself. I retired with Captain
Poke, to have a little communication with my fellow-mortal, under
the peculiar circumstances in which we were placed, and to ask his
opinion of what had been said. Noah swore bitterly at some of the
conclusions of the monikin philosopher, affirming that he should
like no better sport than to hear him lecture in the streets of
Stunin'tun, where, he assured me, such doctrine would not be
tolerated any longer than was necessary to sharpen a harpoon, or to
load a gun. Indeed, he did not know but the Doctor would be
incontinently kicked over into Rhode Island, without ceremony.
"For that matter," continued the indignant old sealer, "I should ask
no better sport than to have permission to put the big toe of my
right foot, under full sail, against the part of the blackguard
where his beloved tail is stepped. That would soon bring him to
reason. Why, as for his cauda, if you will believe me, Sir John, I
once saw a man, on the coast of Patagonia--a savage, to be sure, and
not a philosopher, as this fellow pretends to be--who had an
outrigger of this sort, as long as a ship's ringtail-boom. And what
was he, after all, but a poor devil who did not know a sea-lion from
This assertion of Captain Poke relieved my mind considerably; and
laying aside the bison-skin, I asked him to have the goodness to
examine the localities, with some particularity, about the
termination of the dorsal bone, in order to ascertain if there were
any encouraging signs to be discovered. Captain Poke put on his
spectacles, for time had brought the worthy mariner to their use, as
he said, "whenever he had occasion to read fine print"; and, after
some time, I had the satisfaction to hear him declare, that if it
was a cauda I wanted, there was as good a place to step one, as
could be found about any monkey in the universe; "and you have only
to say the word, Sir John, and I will just step into the next room,
and by the help of my knife and a little judgment in choosing, I'll
fit you out with a jury-article, which, if there be any ra'al vartue
in this sort of thing, will qualify you at once to be a judge, or,
for that matter, a bishop."
We were now summoned again to the lecture-room, and I had barely
time to thank Captain Poke for his obliging offer, which
circumstances just then, however, forbade my accepting.
BETTER AND BETTER--A HIGHER FLIGHT OF REASON--MORE OBVIOUS TRUTHS,
DEEPER PHILOSOPHY, AND FACTS THAT EVEN AN OSTRICH MIGHT DIGEST.
"I gladly quit what I fear some present may have considered the
personal part of my lecture," resumed Dr. Reasono, "to turn to those
portions of the theme that should possess a common interest, awaken
common pride, and excite common felicitations. I now propose to say
a few words on that part of our natural philosophy which is
connected with the planetary system, the monikin location--and, as a
consequence from both, the creation of the world."
"Although dying with impatience to be enlightened on all these
interesting points, you will grant me leave to inquire en passant,
Dr. Reasono, if your savans receive the Mosaic account of the
creation or not."
"As far as it corroborates our own system, sir, and no farther.
There would be a manifest inconsistency in our giving an
antagonistic validity to any hostile theory, let it come from Moses
or Aaron; as one of your native good sense and subsequent
cultivation will readily perceive."
"Permit me to intimate, Dr. Reasono, that the distinction your
philosophers take in this matter, is directly opposed to a very
arbitrary canon in the law of evidence, which dictates the necessity
of repudiating the whole of a witness's testimony, when we repudiate
"That may be a human, but it is not a monikin distinction. So far
from admitting the soundness of the principle, we hold that no
monikin is ever wholly right, or that he will be wholly right, so
long as he remains in the least under the influence of matter; and
we therefore winnow the false from the true, rejecting the former as
worse than useless, while we take the latter as the nutriment of
"I now repeat my apologies for so often interrupting you, venerable
and learned sir; and I entreat you will not waste another moment in
replying to my interrogatories, but proceed at once to an
explanation of your planetary system, or of any other little thing
it may suit your convenience to mention. When one listens to a real
philosopher, one is certain to learn something that is either useful
or agreeable, let the subject be what it may."
"By the monikin philosophy, gentlemen," continued Dr. Reasono, "we
divide the great component parts of this earth into land and water.
These two principles we term the primary elements. Human philosophy
has added air and fire to the list; but these we reject either
entirely, or admit them only as secondary elements. That neither air
nor fire is a primary element, may be proved by experiment. Thus,
air can be formed, in the quality of gases, can be rendered pure or
foul; is dependent on evaporation, being no more than ordinary
matter in a state of high rarefaction. Fire has no independent
existence, requires fuel for its support, and is evidently a
property that is derived from the combinations of other principles.
Thus, by putting two or more billets of wood together, by rapid
friction you produce fire. Abstract the air suddenly, and your fire
becomes extinct; abstract the wood, and you have the same result.
From these two experiments it is shown that fire has no independent
existence, and therefore is not an element. On the other hand, take
a billet of wood and let it be completely saturated with water; the
wood acquires a new property (as also by the application of fire,
which converts it into ashes and air), for its specific gravity is
increased, it becomes less inflammable, emits vapor more readily,
and yields less readily to the blow of the axe. Place the same
billet under a powerful screw, and a vessel beneath. Compress the
billet, and by a sufficient application of force, you will have the
wood, perfectly dry, left beneath the screw, and the vessel will
contain water. Thus is it shown that land (all vegetable matter
being no more than fungi of the earth) is a. primary element, and
that water is also a primary element; while air and fire are not.
"Having established the elements, I shall, for brevity's sake,
suppose the world created. In the beginning, the orb was placed in
vacuum, stationary, and with its axis perpendicular to the plane of
what is now called its orbit. Its only revolution was the diurnal."
"And the changes of the seasons?"
"Had not yet taken place. The days and nights were equal; there were
no eclipses; the same stars were always visible. This state of the
earth is supposed, from certain geological proofs, to have continued
about a thousand years, during which time the struggle between mind
and matter was solely confined to quadrupeds. Man is thought to have
made his appearance, so far as our documents go to establish the
fact, about the year of the world one thousand and three. About this
period, too, it is supposed that fire was generated by the friction
of the earth's axis, while making the diurnal movement; or, as some
imagine, by the friction of the periphery of the orb, rubbing
against vacuum at the rate of so many miles in a minute. The fire
penetrating the crust, soon got access to the bodies of water that
fill the cavities of the earth. From this time is to be dated the
existence of a new and most important agent in the terrestrial
phenomena, called steam. Vegetation now began to appear, as the
earth received warmth from within--"
"Pray, sir, may I ask in what manner all the animals existed
"By feeding on each other. The strong devoured the weak, until the
most diminutive of the animalcula were reached, when these turned on
their persecutors, and profiting by their insignificance, commenced
devouring the strongest. You find daily parallels to this phenomenon
in the history of man. He who by his energy and force has triumphed
over his equals, is frequently the prey of the insignificant and
vile. You doubtless know that the polar regions even in the original
attitude of the earth, owing to their receiving the rays of the sun
obliquely, must have possessed a less genial climate than the parts
of the orb that lie between the arctic and the antarctic circles.
This was a wise provision of Providence to prevent a premature
occupation of those chosen regions, or to cause them to be left
uninhabited, until mind had so far mastered matter, as to have
brought into existence the first monikin."
"May I venture to ask to what epoch you refer the appearance of the
first of your species?"
"To the monikin epocha, beyond a doubt, sir--but if you mean to ask
in what year of the world this event took place, I should answer,
about the year 4017. It is true that certain of our writers affect
to think that divers men were approaching to the sublimation of the
monikin mind, previously to this period; but the better opinion is,
that these cases were no more than what are termed premonitory.
Thus, Socrates, Plato, Confucius, Aristotle, Euclid, Zeno, Diogenes,
and Seneca, were merely so many admonishing types of the future
condition of man, indicating their near approach to the monikin, or
to the final translation."
"Was an exaggeration of the material principle, that denoted the
retrogression of a large portion of the race towards brutality and
matter. These phenomena are still of daily occurrence."
"Do you then hold the opinion, for instance, Dr. Reasono, that
Socrates is now a monikin philosopher, with his brain unravelled and
rendered logically consecutive, and that Epicurus is transformed
perchance into a hippopotamus or a rhinoceros, with tusks, horns,
"You quite mistake our dogmas, Sir John. We do not believe in
transmigration in the individual at all, but in the transmigration
of classes. Thus, we hold that whenever a given generation of men,
in a peculiar state of society, attain, in the aggregate, a certain
degree of moral improvement, or mentality, as we term it in the
schools, that there is an admixture of their qualities in masses,
some believe by scores, others think by hundreds, and others again
pretend by thousands; and if it is found, by the analysis that is
regularly instituted by nature, that the proportions are just, the
material is consigned to the monikin birth; if not, it is
repudiated, and either kneaded anew for another human experiment, or
consigned to the vast stores of dormant matter. Thus all
individuality, so far as it is connected with the past, is lost."
"But, sir, existing facts contradict one of the most important of
your propositions; while you admit that a want of a change in the
seasons would be a consequence of the perpendicularity of the
earth's axis to the plane of its present orbit, this change in the
seasons is a matter not to be denied. Flesh and blood testify
against you here, no less than reason."
"I spoke of things as they were, sir, previously to the birth of the
monikinia; since which time a great, salutary, harmonious, and
contemplated alteration has occurred. Nature had reserved the polar
region for the new species, with divers obvious and benevolent
purposes. They were rendered uninhabitable by the obliquity of the
sun's rays; and though matter, in the shape of mastodons and whales,
with an instinct of its antagonistic destination, had frequently
invaded their precincts, it was only to leave the remains of the
first embedded in fields of ice, memorials of the uselessness of
struggling against destiny, and to furnish proofs of the same great
truth in the instance of the others; who, if they did enter the
polar basins as masters of the great deep, either left their bones
there, or returned in the same characters as they went. From the
appearance of animal nature on the earth, down to the period when
the monikin race arose, the regions in question were not only
uninhabited, but virtually uninhabitable. When, however, nature,
always wary, wise, beneficent, and never to be thwarted, had
prepared the way, those phenomena were exhibited that cleared the
road for the new species. I have alluded to the internal struggle
between fire and water, and to their progeny, steam. This new agent
was now required to act. A moment's attention to the manner in which
the next great step in the progress of civilization was made, will
show with what foresight and calculation our common mother had
established her laws. The earth is flattened at the poles, as is
well imagined by some of the human philosophers, in consequence of
its diurnal movement commencing while the ball was still in a state
of fusion, which naturally threw off a portion of the unkneaded
matter towards the periphery. This was not done without the design
of accomplishing a desired end. The matter that was thus accumulated
at the equator, was necessarily abstracted from other parts; and in
this manner the crust of the globe became thinnest at the poles.
When a sufficiency of steam had been generated in the centre of the
ball, a safety-valve was evidently necessary to prevent a total
disruption. As there was no other machinist than nature, she worked
with her own tools, and agreeably to her own established laws. The
thinnest portions of the crust opportunely yielded to prevent a
catastrophe, when the superfluous and heated vapor escaped, in a
right line with the earth's axis, into vacuum. This phenomenon
occurred, as nearly as we have been able to ascertain, about the
year 700 before the Christian era commenced, or some two centuries
previously to the birth of the first monikins."
"And why so early, may I presume to inquire, Doctor?"
"Simply that there might be time for the new climate to melt the ice
that had accumulated about the islands and continents of that region
(for it was only at the southern extremity of the earth that the
explosion had taken place), in the course of so many centuries. Two
hundred and seventy years of the active and unremitted agency of
steam sufficed for this end; since the accomplishment of which, the
monikin race has been in the undisturbed enjoyment of the whole
territory, together with its blessed fruits."
"Am I to understand," asked Captain Poke, with more interest than he
had before manifested in the philosopher's lecture, "that your
folks, when at hum', live to the south'ard of the belt of ice that
we mariners always fall in with somewhere about the parallel of 77
degrees south latitude?"
"Precisely so--alas! that we should, this day, be so far from those
regions of peace, delight, intelligence, and salubrity! But the will
of Providence be done!--doubtless there is a wise motive for our
captivity and sufferings, which may yet lead to the further glory of
the monikin race!"
"Will you have the kindness to proceed with your explanations,
Doctor? If you deny the annual revolution of the earth, in what
manner do you account for the changes of the seasons, and other
astronomical phenomena, such as the eclipses which so frequently
"You remind me that the subject is not yet exhausted," the
philosopher hurriedly rejoined, hastily and covertly dashing a tear
from his eye. "Prosperity produced some of its usual effects among
the founders of our species. For a few centuries, they went on
multiplying in numbers, elongating and rendering still more
consecutive their cauda, improving in knowledge and the arts, until
some spirits, more audacious than the rest, became restive under the
slow march of events, which led them towards perfection at a rate
ill-suited to their fiery impatience. At this time, the mechanic
arts were at the highest pitch of perfection amongst us--we have
since, in a great measure, abandoned them, as unsuited to, and
unnecessary for, an advanced state of civilization--we wore clothes,
constructed canals, and effected other works that were greatly
esteemed among the species from which we had emigrated. At this
time, also, the whole monikin family lived together as one people,
enjoyed the same laws, and pursued the same objects. But a political
sect arose in the region, under the direction of misguided and hot-
headed leaders, who brought down upon us the just judgment of
Providence, and a multitude of evils that it will require ages to
remedy. This sect soon had recourse to religious fanaticism and
philosophical sophisms, to attain its ends. It grew rapidly in power
and numbers; for we monikins, like men, as I have had occasion to
observe, are seekers of novelties. At last it proceeded to absolute
overt acts of treason against the laws of Providence itself. The
first violent demonstration of its madness and folly was, setting up
the doctrine that injustice had been done the monikin race, by
causing the safety-valve of the world to be opened within their
region. Although we were manifestly indebted to this very
circumstance for the benignity of our climate, the value of our
possessions, the general healthfulness of our families-nay, for our
separate existence itself, as an independent species, yet did these
excited and ill-judging wretches absolutely wage war upon the most
benevolent and the most unequivocal friend they had. Specious
promises led to theories, theories to declamations, declamation to
combination, combination to denunciation, and denunciation to open
hostilities. The matter in dispute was debated for two generations,
when the necessary degree of madness having been excited, the
leaders of the party, who by this time had worked themselves through
their hobby, into the general control of the monikin affairs, called
a meeting of all their partisans and passed certain resolutions,
which will never be blotted from the monikin memory, so fatal were
their consequences, so ruinous for a time their effects! They were
conceived in the following terms:--
"'At a full and overflowing meeting of the most monikinized of the
monikin race, holden at the house of Peleg Pat (we still used the
human appellations, at that epoch), in the year of the world 3,007,
and of the monikin era 317, Plausible Shout was called to the chair,
and Ready Quill was named secretary.'"
"'After several excellent and eloquent addresses from all present,
it was unanimously resolved as follows, viz.:'"
"'That steam is a curse, and not a blessing; and that it deserves to
be denounced by all patriotic and true monikins.'"
"'That we deem it the height of oppression and injustice in nature,
that she has placed the great safety-valve of the world within the
lawful limits of the monikin territories.'"
"'That the said safety-valve ought to be removed forthwith; and that
it shall be so removed, peaceably if it can, forcibly if it must.'"
"'That we cordially approve of the sentiments of John Jaw, our
present estimable chief magistrate, the incorruptible partisan, the
undaunted friend of his friends, the uncompromising enemy of steam,
and the sound, pure, orthodox, and true monikin.''
"'That we recommend the said Jaw to the confidence of all
"'That we call upon the country to sustain us in our great, holy,
and glorious design, pledging ourselves, posterity, the bones of our
ancestors, and all who have gone before or who may come after us, to
the faithful execution of our intentions.
"'PLAUSIBLE SHOUT, Chairman.'"
"'READY QUILL, Secretary.'"
"No sooner were these resolutions promulgated (for instead of being
passed at a full meeting, it is now understood they were drawn up
between Messrs. Shout and Quill, under the private dictation of Mr.
Jaw), than the public mind began seriously to meditate proceeding to
extremities. That perfection in the mechanic arts, which had
hitherto formed our pride and boast, now proved to be our greatest
enemy. It is thought that the leaders of this ill-directed party
meant, in truth, to confine themselves to certain electioneering
effects; but who can stay the torrent, or avert the current of
prejudice! The stream was setting against steam; the whole invention
of the species was put in motion; and in one year from the passage
of the resolutions I have recited, mountains were transported,
endless piles of rocks were thrown into the gulf, arches were
constructed, and the hole of the safety-valve was hermetically
sealed. You will form some idea of the waste of intelligence and
energy on this occasion, when I add that it was found, by actual
observation, that this artificial portion of the earth was thicker,
stronger, and more likely to be durable than the natural. So far did
infatuation lead the victims, that they actually caused the whole
region to be sounded, and, having ascertained the precise locality
of the thinnest portion of the crust, John Jaw, and all the most
zealous of his followers, removed to the spot, where they
established the seat of their government in triumph. All this time
nature rested upon her arms, in the quiet of conscious force. It was
not long, however, before our ancestors began to perceive the
consequences of their act, in the increase of the cold, in the
scarcity of fruits, and in the rapid augmentation of the ice. The
monikin enthusiasm is easily awakened in favor of any plausible
theory, but it invariably yields to physical pressure. No doubt the
human race, better furnished with the material of physical
resistance, does not exhibit so much of this weakness, but--"
"Do not flatter us with the exception, Doctor. I find so many points
of resemblance between us, that I really begin to think we must have
had the same origin; and if you would only admit that man is of the
secondary formation, and the monikins of the primary, I would accept
the whole of your philosophy without a moment's delay."
"As such an admission would be contrary to both fact and doctrine, I
trust, my dear sir, you will see the utter impossibility of a
Professor in the University of Leaphigh making the concession, even
in this remote part of the world. As I was about to observe, the
people began to betray uneasiness at the increasing and constant
inclemency of the weather; and Mr. John Jaw found it necessary to
stimulate their passions by a new development of his principles. His
friends and partisans were all assembled in the great square of the
new capital, and the following resolutions were, to use the language
of a handbill that is still preserved in the archives of the
Leaphigh Historical Society (for it would seem they were printed
before they were passed), 'unanimously, enthusiastically, and
finally adopted,' viz.:
"'Resolved, That this meeting has the utmost contempt for steam.'"
"'Resolved, That this meeting defies snow, and sterility, and all
other natural disadvantages.'"
"'Resolved, That we will live forever.'"
"'Resolved, That we will henceforward go naked, as the most
effectual means of setting the frost at defiance.'"
"'Resolved, That we are now over the thinnest part of the earth's
crust in the polar regions.'"
"'Resolved, That henceforth we will support no monikin for any
public trust, who will not give a pledge to put out all his fires,
and to dispense with cooking altogether.'"
"'Resolved, That we are animated by the true spirit of patriotism,
reason, good faith, and firmness.'"
"'Resolved, That this meeting now adjourn sine die.'"
"We are told that the last resolution was just carried by
acclamation, when nature arose in her might, and took ample
vengeance for all her wrongs. The great boiler of the earth burst
with a tremendous explosion, carrying away, as the thinnest part of
the workmanship, not only Mr. John Jaw, and all his partisans, but
forty thousand square miles of territory. The last that was seen of
them was about thirty seconds after the occurrence of the explosion,
when the whole mass disappeared near the northern horizon, going at
a rate a little surpassing that of a cannon ball which has just left
"King!" exclaimed Noah; "that is what we sailors call 'to cut and
"Was nothing ever heard of Mr. Jaw and his companions, my good
"Nothing that could be depended on. Some of our naturalists assume
that the monkeys which frequent the other parts of the earth are
their descendants, who, stunned by the shock, have lost their
reasoning powers, while, at the same time, they show glimmerings of
their origin. This is, in truth, the better opinion of our savans;
and it is usual with us, to distinguish all the human species of
monkeys by the name of 'the lost monikins.' Since my captivity,
chance has thrown me in the way of several of these animals, who
were equally under the control of the cruel Savoyards; and in
conversing with them, in order to inquire into their traditions and
to trace the analogies of language, I have been led to think there
is some foundation for the opinion. Of this, however, hereafter."
"Pray, Dr. Reasono, what became of the forty thousand square miles
"Of that we have a better account; for one of our vessels, which was
far to the northward, on an exploring expedition, fell in with it in
longitude 2 degrees from Leaphigh, latitude 6 degrees S., and by her
means it was ascertained that divers islands had been already formed
by falling fragments; and, judging by the direction of the main body
when last seen, the fertility of that part of the world, and various
geological proofs, we hold that the great western archipelago is the
deposit of the remainder."
"And the monikin region, sir--what was the consequence of this
phenomenon to that part of the world?"
"Awful--sublime--various--and durable! The more important, or the
personal consequences, shall be mentioned first. Fully one-third of
the monikin species were scalded to death. A great many contracted
asthmas and other diseases of the lungs, by inhaling steam. Most of
the bridges were swept away by the sudden melting of the snows, and
large stores of provisions were spoiled by the unexpected appearance
and violent character of the thaw. These may be enumerated among the
unpleasant consequences. Among the pleasant, we esteem a final and
agreeable melioration of the climate, which regained most of its
ancient character, and a rapid and distinct elongation of our
caudtz, by a sudden acquisition of wisdom.
"The secondary, or the terrestrial consequences, were as follows:--
By the suddenness and force with which so much steam rushed into
space, finding its outlet several degrees from the pole, the earth
was canted from its perpendicular attitude, and remained fixed, with
its axis having an inclination of 23 degrees 27' to the plane of its
orbit. At the same time the orb began to move in vacuum, and,
restrained by antagonistic attractions, to perform what is called
its annual revolution."
"I can very well understand, friend Reasono," observed Noah, "why
the 'arth should heel under so sudden a flaw, though a well-
ballasted ship would right again when the puff was over; but I
cannot understand how a little steam leaking out at one end of a
craft should set her agoing at the rate we are told this world
"If the escape of the steam were constant, the diurnal motion giving
it every moment a new position, the earth would not be propelled in
its orbit, of a certainty, Captain Poke; but as, in fact, this
escape of the steam has the character of pulsation, being periodical
and regular, nature has ordained that it shall occur but once in the
twenty-four hours, and this at such a time as to render its action
uniform, and its impulsion always in the same direction. The
principle on which the earth receives this impetus, can be easily
illustrated by a familiar experiment. Take, for instance, a double-
barrelled fowling-piece, load both barrels with extra quantities of
powder, introduce a ball and two wads into each barrel, place the
breech within 4 628/1000 inches of the abdomen, and take care to
fire both barrels at once. In this case, the balls will give an
example of the action of the forty thousand square miles of
territory, and the person experimenting will not fail to imitate the
impulsion, or the backward movement of the earth."
"While I do not deny that such an experiment would be likely to set
both parties in motion, friend Reasono, I do not see why the 'arth
should not finally stop, as the man would be sure to do, after he
had got through with hopping, and kicking, and swearing."
"The reason why the earth, once set in motion in vacuum, does not
stop, can also be elucidated by experiment, as follows:--Take
Captain Noah Poke, provided as he is by nature with legs and the
power of motion; lead him to the Place Vendome; cause him to pay
three sous, which will gain him admission to the base of the column;
let him ascend to the summit; thence let him leap with all his
energy, in a direction at right angles with the shaft of the column,
into the open air; and it will be found that, though the original
impulsion would not probably impel the body more than ten or twelve
feet, motion would continue until it had reached the earth.
Corollary: hence it is proved that all bodies in which the vis
inertia has been overcome will continue in motion, until they come
in contact with some power capable of stopping them."
"King!--Do you not think, Mr. Reasono, that the 'arth makes its
circuit, as much owing to this said steam of yours shoving, as it
were, always a little on one side, acting thereby in some fashion as
a rudder, which causes her to keep waring as we seamen call it, and
as big crafts take more room than small ones in waring, why, she is
compelled to run so many millions of miles, before, as it were, she
comes up to the wind ag'in? Now, there is reason in such an idee;
whereas, I never could reconcile it to my natur', that these little
bits of stars should keep a craft like the 'arth in her course, with
such a devil of a way on her, as we know in reason she must have, to
run so far in a twelvemonth. Why, the smallest yaw--and, for a
hooker of her keel, a thousand miles wouldn't be a broader yaw than
a hundred feet in a ship--the smallest yaw would send her aboard of
the Jupiter, or the Marcury, when there would be a smashing of out-
board work such as mortal never before witnessed!"
"We rather lean to the opinion of the efficacy of attraction, sir;
nor do I see that your proposition would at all obviate your own
"Then, sir, I will just explain myself. Let us suppose there was a
steamer with a hundred miles of keel; let us suppose the steam up,
and the craft with a broad offing; let us suppose her helm lash'd
hard aport, and she going at the rate of ten thousand knots the
hour, without bringing up or shortening sail for years at a time.
Now, all this being admitted, what would be her course? Why, sir,
any child could tell you, she would keep turning in a circle of some
fifty or a hundred thousand miles in circumference; and such, it
appears to me, it is much more rational to suppose is the natur' of
the 'arth's traversing, than all this steering small among stars and
"There is truly something very plausible, Captain Poke, in your
suggestion; and I propose that you shall profit by the first
occasion to lay your opinions on the subject, more at large, before
the Academy of Leaphigh."
"With all my heart, Doctor; for I hold that knowledge, like good
liquor, is given to be passed round from one to another, and not to
be gulped in a corner by any particular individle. And now I'm
throwing out hints of this natur' I will just intimate another that
you may add to your next demonstration, by way of what you call a
corollary; which is this--that is to say--if all you tell us about
the bursting of the boiler, and the polar kick be true, then is the
'arth the first steamboat that was ever invented, and the boastings
of the French, and the English, and the Spaniards, and the Italians,
on this point, are no more than so much smoke."
"And of the Americans, too, Captain Poke," I ventured to observe.
"Why, Sir John, that is as it may happen. I don't well see how
Fulton could have stolen the idee, seeing that he did not know the
Doctor, and most probably never heard of Leaphigh in his life."
We all smiled, even to the amiable Chatterissa, at the nicety of the
navigator's distinctions; and the philosopher's lecture, in its more
didactic form, being now virtually at an end, a long and desultory
conversation took place, in which a multitude of ingenious questions
were put by Captain Poke and myself, and which were as cleverly
answered by the Doctor and his friends.
At length, Dr. Reasono, who, philosopher as he was, and much as he
loved science, had not given himself all this trouble without a view
to what are called ulterior considerations, came out with a frank
expose of his wishes. Accident had apparently combined all the means
for gratifying the burning desire I betrayed to be let into further
details of the monikin polity, morals, philosophy, and all the other
great social interests of the part of the world they inhabit. I was
wealthy beyond bounds, and the equipment of a proper vessel would be
an expenditure of no moment; both the Doctor and Lord Chatterino
were good practical geographers, after they were once within the
parallel of 77 degrees south, and Captain Poke, according to his own
account of himself, had passed half his life in poking about among
the sterile and uninhabited islands of the frozen ocean. What was
there to prevent the most earnest wishes of all present from being
gratified? The captain was out of employment, and no doubt would be
glad to get the command of a good tight sea-boat; the strangers
pined for home, and it was my most ardent wish to increase my stake
in society, by taking a further interest in monikins.
On this hint, I frankly made a proposal to the old sealer to
undertake the task of restoring these amiable and enlightened
strangers to their own firesides and families. The Captain soon
began to discover a little of his Stunin'tun propensity; for the
more I pressed the matter on him, the more readily he found
objections. The several motives he urged for declining the proposal,
may be succinctly given as follows:--
It was true that he wanted employment, but then he wanted to see
Stunin'tun too; he doubted whether monkeys would make good sailors;
it was no joke to run in among the ice, and it might be still less
of one to find our way back again; he had seen the bodies of dead
seals and bears that were frozen as hard as stone, and which might,
for anything he knew, have lain in that state a hundred years, and,
for his part, he should like to be buried when he was good for
nothing else. How did he know these monikins might not catch the
men, when they had once fairly got them in their country, and strip
them, and make them throw summersets, as the Savoyards had compelled
the Doctor, and even the Lady Chatterissa to do?--he knew he should
break his neck the very first flap-jack; if he were ten years
younger, perhaps he should like the frolic; he did not believe the
right sort of craft could be found in England, and for his part, he
liked sailing under the stars and stripes; he didn't know but he
might go if he had a crew of Stunin'tunners; he always knew how to
get along with such people; he could scare one by threatening to
tell his marm how he behaved, and bring another to reason by hinting
that the gals would shy him if he wasn't more accommodating; then
there might be no such place as Leaphigh, after all; or, if there
was, he might never find it; as for wearing a bison-skin under the
equator, it was quite out of the question, a human skin being a
heavy load to carry in the calm latitudes; and finally that he
didn't exactly see what he was to get by it.
These objections were met, one by one, reversing the order in which
they were made, and commencing with the last.
I offered a thousand pounds sterling as the reward. This proposal
brought a gleam of satisfaction into Noah's eyes, though he shook
his head, as if he thought it very little. It was then suggested
that there was no doubt we should discover certain islands that were
well stored with seals, and that I would waive all claims as owner,
and that hereafter he might turn these discoveries to his own
private account. At this bait he nibbled, and, at one time, I
thought he was about to suffer himself to be caught. But he remained
obstinate. After trying all our united rhetoric, and doubling the
amount of the pecuniary offer, Dr. Reasono luckily bethought him of
the universal engine of human weakness, and the old sealer, who had
resisted money--an influence of known efficacy at Stunin'tun--
ambition, the secret of new sealing grounds, and all the ordinary
inducements that might be thought to have weight with men of his
class, was, in the end, hooked by his own vanity!
The philosopher cunningly expatiated on the pleasure there would be
in reading a paper before the Academy of Leaphigh, on the subject of
the captain's peculiar views touching the earth's annual revolution,
and of the virtue of sailing planets, with their helms lashed hard
aport, when all the dogmatical old navigator's scruples melted away
like snow in a thaw.
A CHAPTER OF PREPARATIONS--DISCRIMINATION IN CHARACTER--A TIGHT FIT,
AND OTHER CONVENIENCES, WITH SOME JUDGMENT.
I shall pass lightly over the events of the succeeding month. During
this time, the whole party were transferred to England, a proper
ship had been bought and equipped, the family of strangers were put
in quiet possession of their cabins, and I had made all ray
arrangements for being absent from England for the next two years.
The vessel was a stout-built, comfortable ship of about three
hundred tons burden, and had been properly constructed to encounter
the dangers of the ice. Her accommodations were suitably arranged to
meet all the exigencies of both monikin and human wants, the
apartments of the ladies being very properly separated from those of
the gentlemen, and otherwise rendered decorous and commodious. The
Lady Chatterissa very pleasantly called their private room the
gynecee, which, as I afterwards ascertained, was a term for the
women's apartment, obtained from the Greek, the monikins being quite
as much addicted as we are ourselves, to showing their acquirements
by the introduction of words from foreign tongues.
Noah showed great care in the selection of the ship's company, the
service being known to be arduous, and the duties of a very
responsible character. For this purpose, he made a journey expressly
to Liverpool (the ship lying in the Greenland Dock at London), where
he was fortunate enough to engage five Yankees, as many Englishmen,
two Norwegians, and a Swede, all of whom had been accustomed to
cruising as near the poles as ordinary men ever succeeded in
reaching. He was also well suited in his cook and mates; but I
observed that he had great difficulty in finding a cabin-boy to his
mind. More than twenty applicants were rejected, some for the want
of one qualification, and some for the want of another. As I was
present at several examinations of different candidates for the
office, I got a little insight into his manner of ascertaining their
The invariable practice was, first, to place a bottle of rum and a
pitcher of water before the lad, and to order him to try his hand at
mixing a glass of grog. Four applicants were incontinently rejected
for manifesting a natural inaptitude at hitting the juste milieu, in
this important part of the duty of a cabin-boy. Most of the
candidates, however, were reasonably expert in the art; and the
captain soon came to the next requisite, which was, to say "Sir," in
a tone, as Noah expressed it, somewhere between the snap of a steel-
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