J. Fenimore Cooper
Part 5 out of 8
week on shore.
Of the island of St. Helena he gave a long, scientific, and
certainly an interesting account. It was reported to be volcanic, by
the human savans, he said, but a minute examination and a comparison
of the geological formation, etc., had quite satisfied him that
their own ancient account, which was contained in the mineralogical
works of Leaphigh, was the true one; or, in other words, that this
rock was a fragment of the polar world that had been blown away at
the great eruption, and which had become separated from the rest of
the mass at this spot, where it had fallen and become a fixture of
the ocean. Here the Doctor produced certain specimens of rock, which
he submitted to the learned present, inviting their attention to its
character, and asking, with great mineralogical confidence, if it
did not intimately resemble a well-known stratum of a mountain,
within two leagues of the very spot they were in? This triumphant
proof of the truth of his proposition was admirably received; and
the philosopher was in particular rewarded by the smiles of all the
females present; for ladies usually are well pleased with any
demonstration that saves them the trouble of comparison and
Before quitting this branch of his subject, the Doctor observed
that, interesting as were these proofs of the accuracy of their
histories, and of the great revolutions of inanimate nature, there
was another topic connected with St. Helena, which, he felt certain,
would excite a lively emotion in the breasts of all who heard him.
At the period of his visit, the island had been selected as a prison
for a great conqueror and disturber of his fellow-creatures; and
public attention was much drawn to the spot by this circumstance,
few men coming there who did not permit all their thoughts to be
absorbed by the past acts and the present fortunes of the individual
in question. As for himself, there was, of course, no great
attraction in any events connected with mere human greatness, the
little struggles and convulsions of the species containing no
particular interest for a devotee of the monikin philosophy; but the
manner in which all eyes were drawn in one direction, afforded him a
liberty of action that he had eagerly improved, in a way that, he
humbly trusted, would not be thought altogether unworthy of their
approbation. While searching for minerals among the cliffs, his
attention had been drawn to certain animals that are called monkeys,
in the language of those regions; which, from very obvious
affinities of a physical nature, there was some reason to believe
might have had a common origin with the monikin species. The academy
would at once see how desirable it was to learn all the interesting
particulars of the habits, language, customs, marriages, funerals,
religious opinions, traditions, state of learning, and general moral
condition of this interesting people, with a view to ascertain
whether they were merely one of those abortions, to which, it is
known, nature is in the practice of giving birth, in the outward
appearance of their own species, or whether, as several of their
best writers had plausibly maintained, they were indeed a portion of
those whom they had been in the habit of designating as the "lost
monikins." He had succeeded in getting access to a family of these
beings, and in passing an entire day in their society. The result of
his investigations was, that they were truly of the monikin family,
retaining much of the ingenuity and many of the spiritual notions of
their origin, but with their intellects sadly blunted, and perhaps
their improvable qualities annihilated, by the concussion of the
elements that had scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth,
houseless, hopeless, regionless wanderers. The vicissitudes of
climate, and a great alteration of habits, had certainly wrought
some physical changes; but there still remained sufficient
scientific identity to prove they were monikins. They even retained,
in their traditions, some glimmerings of the awful catastrophe by
which they were separated from the rest of their fellow-creatures;
but these necessarily were vague and profitless. Having touched on
several other points connected with these very extraordinary facts,
the Doctor concluded by saying that he saw but one way in which this
discovery could be turned to any practical advantage, beyond the
confirmation it afforded of the truth of their own annals. He
suggested the expediency of fitting out expeditions to go among
these islands and seize upon a number of families, which, being
transported into Leaphigh, might found a race of useful menials,
who, while they would prove much less troublesome than those who
possessed all the knowledge of monikins, would probably be found
more intelligent and useful than any domestic animal which they at
present owned. This happy application of the subject met with
decided commendation. I observed that most of the elderly females
put their heads together on the spot, and appeared to be
congratulating each other on the prospect of being speedily relieved
from their household cares.
Dr. Reasono next spoke of his departure from St. Helena, and of his
finally landing in Portugal. Here, agreeably to his account, he
engaged certain Savoyards to act as his couriers and guides during a
tour he intended to make through Portugal, Spain, Switzerland,
France, etc., etc., etc. I listened with admiration. Never before
had I so lively a perception of the vast difference that is effected
in our views of matters and things, by the agency of an active
philosophy, as was now furnished by the narrative of the speaker.
Instead of complaining of the treatment he had received, and of the
degradations to which he and his companions had been subjected, he
spoke of it all as so much prudent submission, on his part, to the
customs of the countries in which he happened to find himself, and
as the means of ascertaining a thousand important facts, both moral
and physical, which he proposed to submit to the academy in a
separate memoir another day. At present, he was admonished by the
clock to conclude, and he would therefore hasten his narrative as
much as possible.
The Doctor, with great ingenuousness, confessed that he could gladly
have passed a year or two longer in those distant and highly
interesting portions of the earth; but he could not forget that he
had a duty to perform to the friends of two noble families. The
Journey of Trial had been completed under the most favorable
auspices, and the ladies naturally became anxious to return home.
They had accordingly passed into Great Britain, a country remarkable
for maritime enterprise, where he immediately commenced the
necessary preparations for their sailing. A ship had been procured
under the promise of allowing it to be freighted, free of custom-
house charges, with the products of Leaphigh. A thousand
applications had been made to him for permission to be of his party,
the natives naturally enough wishing to see a civilized country; but
prudence had admonished him to accept of those only who were the
most likely to make themselves useful. The king of Great Britain, no
mean prince in human estimation, had committed his only son and
heir-apparent to his care, with a view to his improvement by
travelling; and the lord high admiral himself had asked permission
to take command of an expedition that was of so much importance to
knowledge in general, and to his own profession in particular.
Here Dr. Reasono ascended our tribune and presented Bob to the
academy as the Prince-Royal of Great Britain, and Captain Poke as
her lord high admiral! He pointed out certain peculiarities about
the former, the smut in particular, which had become pretty
effectually incorporated with the skin, as so many signs of royal
birth; and ordering the youngster to uncase, he drew forth the
union-jack that the lad carefully kept about his nether part as a
fender, and exhibited it as his armorial bearings--a modification of
its uses that would not have been very far out of the way, had
another limb been substituted for the agent. As for Captain Poke, he
requested the academicians to study his nautical air in general, as
furnishing sufficient proof of his pursuits, and of the ordinary
appearance of human sea-men.
Turning to me, I was then introduced to all present as the
travelling governor and personal attendant of Bob, and as a very
respectable person in my way. He added, that he believed, also, I
had some pretension to be the discoverer of something that was
called the social-stake system; which, he dared to say, was a very
creditable discovery for one of my opportunities.
By this prompt substitution of employments, I found I had
effectually changed places with the cabin-boy; who, instead of
waiting on me, was, in future, to receive that trifling attention at
my hands. The mates were presented as two rear-admirals at nurse,
and the crew was said to be composed of so many post-captains in the
navy of Great Britain. To conclude, the audience was given to
understand that we were all brought to Leaphigh, like the minerals
from St. Helena, as so many specimens of the human species!
I shall not deny that Dr. Reasono had taken a very different view of
himself and his acts, as well as of me and my acts, from those I had
all along entertained myself; and yet, on reflection, it is so
common to consider ourselves in lights very different from those in
which we are viewed by others that I could not, on the whole,
complain as much of his representations as I had at first thought it
might become me to do. At all events, I was completely spared the
necessity of blushing for my generosity and disinterestedness, and
in other respects was saved the pain of viewing any part of my own
conduct under a consciousness of its attracting attention by its
singularity on the score of merit. I must say, nevertheless, that I
was both surprised and a little indignant; but the sudden and
unexpected turn that had been given to the whole affair, threw me so
completely off my centre, that for the life of me, I could not say a
word in my own behalf. To make the matter worse, that monkey
Chatterino nodded to me kindly, as if he would show the spectators
that, on the whole, he thought me a very good sort of fellow!
After the lecture was over, the audience approached to examine us,
taking a great many amiable liberties with our persons, and
otherwise showing that we were deemed curiosities worthy of their
study. The king's cousin, too, was not neglectful of us, but he had
it announced to the assembly that we were entirely welcome to
Leaphigh; and that, out of respect to Dr. Reasono, we were all
promoted to the dignity of "honorary monikins," for the entire
period of our stay in the country. He also caused it to be
proclaimed that, if the boys annoyed us in the streets, they should
have their tails curled with birch curling-irons. As for the Doctor
himself, it was proclaimed that, in addition to his former title of
F. U. D. G. E., he was now perferred* to be even M. O. R. E., and
that he was also raised to the dignity of an H. O. A. X., the very
highest honor to which any savant of Leaphigh could attain.
At length curiosity was appeased, and we we're permitted to descend
from the tribune; the company ceasing to attend to us, in order to
pay attention to each other. As I had time now to recollect myself,
I did not lose a moment in taking the two mates aside, to present a
proposition that we should go, in a body, before a notary, and enter
a protest against the unaccountable errors into which Dr. Reasono
had permitted himself to fall, whereby the truth was violated, the
rights of persons invaded, humanity dishonored, and the Leaphigh
philosophy misled. I cannot say that my arguments were well
received; and I was compelled to quit the two rear-admirals, and to
go in quest of the crew, with the conviction that the former had
been purchased. An appeal to the reckless, frank, loyal natures of
the common seamen, I thought, would not fail to meet with better
success. Here, too, I was fated to encounter disappointment. The men
swore a few hearty oaths, and affirmed that Leaphigh was a good
country. They expected pay and rations, as a matter of course, in
proportion to their new rank; and having tasted the sweets of
command, they were not yet prepared to quarrel with their good
fortune, and to lay aside the silver tankard for the tar-pot.
Quitting the rascals, whose heads really appeared to be turned by
their unexpected elevation, I determined to hunt up Bob, and by dint
of Mr. Poke's ordinary application, compel him, at least, in despite
of the union-jack, to return to a sense of his duty, and to reassume
his old post as the servitor of my wants. I found the little
blackguard in the midst of a bevy of monikinas of all ages, who were
lavishing their attentions on his worthless person, and otherwise
doing all they could to eradicate everything like humility, or any
good quality that might happen to remain in him. He certainly gave
me a fair opportunity to commence the attack, for he wore the union-
jack over his shoulder, in the manner of a royal mantle, while the
females of inferior rank pressed about him to kiss its hem! The air
with which he received this adulation, fairly imposed on even me;
and fearful that the monikinas might mob me, should I attempt to
undeceive them--for monikinas, let them be of what species they may,
always hug a delusion--I abandoned my hostile intentions for the
moment, and hurried after Mr. Poke, little doubting my ability of
bringing one of his natural rectitude of mind to a right way of
The captain heard my remonstrances with a decent respect. He even
seemed to enter into my feelings with a proper degree of sympathy.
He very frankly admitted that I had not been well treated by Dr.
Reasono, and he appeared to think that a private conversation with
that individual might yet possibly have the effect of bringing him
to a more reasonable representation of facts. But, as to any sudden
and violent appeal to public opinion for justice, or an ill-advised
recourse to a notary, he strenuously objected to both. The purport
of his remarks was somewhat as follows:--
He was not acquainted with the Leaphigh law of protests, and, in
consequence, we might spend our money in paying fees, without
reaping any advantage; the Doctor, moreover, was a philosopher, an
F. U. D. G. E., and an H. O. A. X., and these were fearful odds to
contend against in any country, and more especially in a foreign
country; he had an innate dislike for lawsuits; the loss of my
station was certainly a grievance, but still it might be borne; as
for himself, he never asked for the office of lord high admiral of
Great Britain, but as it had been thrust upon him, why, he would do
his best to sustain the character; he knew his friends at Stunin'tun
would be glad to hear of his promotion, for, though in his country
there were no lords, nor even any admirals, his countrymen were
always exceedingly rejoiced whenever any of their fellow-citizens
were preferred to those stations by anybody but themselves, seeming
to think an honor conferred on one, was an honor conferred on the
whole nation; he liked to confer honor on his own nation, for no
people on 'arth tuck up a notion of this sort and divided it among
themselves in a way to give each a share, sooner than the people of
the States, though they were very cautious about leaving any portion
of the credit in first hands, and therefore he was disposed to keep
as much as he could while it was in his power; he believed he was a
better seaman than most of the lord high admirals who had gone
before him, and he had no fears on that score; he wondered whether
his promotion made Miss Poke lady high admiral; as I seemed greatly
put out about my own rank, he would give me the acting appointment
of a chaplain (he didn't think I was qualified to be a sea-officer),
and do doubt I had interest enough at home to get it confirmed; a
great statesman in his country had said "that few die and none
resigned," and he didn't like to be the first to set new fashions;
for his part, he rather looked upon Dr. Reasono as his friend, and
it was unpleasant to quarrel with one's friends; he was willing to
do anything in reason, but resign, and if I could persuade the
Doctor to say he had fallen into a mistake in my particular case,
and that I had been sent to Leaphigh as a lord high ambassador, lord
high priest, or lord high anything else, except lord high admiral,
why, he was ready to swear to it--though he now gave notice, that in
the event of such an arrangement, he should claim to rank me in
virtue of the date of his own commission; if he gave up his
appointment a minute sooner than was absolutely necessary, he should
lose his own self-respect, and never dare look Miss Poke in the face
again--on the whole, he should do no such thing; and, finally, he
wished me a good morning, as he was about to make a call on the lord
high admiral of Leaphigh.
NEW LORDS, NEW LAWS--GYRATION, ROTATION, AND ANOTHER NATION; ALSO AN
I felt that my situation had now become exceedingly peculiar. It is
true that my modesty had been unexpectedly spared, by the very
ingenious turn Dr. Reasono had given to the history of our
connection with each other; but I could not see that I had gained
any other advantage by the expedient. All my own species had, in a
sense, cut me; and I was obliged to turn despondingly, and not
without humiliation, towards the inn, where the banquet ordered by
Mr. Poke waited our appearance.
I had reached the great square, when a tap on the knee drew my
attention to one at my side. The applicant for notice was a monikin,
who had all the physical peculiarities of a subject of Leaphigh, and
yet, who was to be distinguished from most of the inhabitants of
that country, by a longer and less cultivated nap to his natural
garment, greater shrewdness about the expression of the eyes and the
mouth, a general air of business, and, for a novelty, a bob-cauda.
He was accompanied by positively the least well-favored being of the
species I had yet seen. I was addressed by the former.
"Good morning, Sir John Goldencalf," he commenced, with a sort of
jerk, that I afterwards learned was meant for a diplomatic
salutation; "you have not met with the very best treatment to-day,
and I have been waiting for a good opportunity to make my
condolences, and to offer my services."
"Sir, you are only too good. I do feel a little wronged, and, I must
say, sympathy is most grateful to my feelings. You will, however,
allow me to express my surprise at your being acquainted with my
real name, as well as with my misfortunes?"
"Why, sir, to own the truth, I belong to an examining people. The
population is very much scattered in my country, and we have fallen
into a practice of inquiry that is very natural to such a state of
things. I think you must have observed that in passing along a
common highway, you rarely meet another without a nod; while
thousands are met in a crowded street without even a glance of the
eye. We develop this principle, sir; and never let any fact escape
us for the want of a laudable curiosity."
"You are not a subject of Leaphigh, then?"
"God forbid! No, sir, I am a citizen of Leaplow, a great and a
glorious republic that lies three days' sail from this island; a new
nation, which is in the enjoyment of all the advantages of youth and
vigor, and which is a perfect miracle for the boldness of its
conceptions, the purity of its institutions, and its sacred respect
for the rights of monikins. I have the honor to be, moreover, the
envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary of the republic to
the king of Leaphigh, a nation from which we originally sprung, but
which we have left far behind us in the race of glory and
usefulness. I ought to acquaint you with my name, sir, in return for
the advantage I possess on this head, in relation to yourself."
Hereupon my new acquaintance put into my hand one of his visiting-
cards, which contained as follows:--
Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister-Plenipotentiary from the Republic
of Leaplow, near his Majesty the King of Leaphigh.
"Sir," said I, pulling off my hat with a profound reverence, "I was
not aware to whom I had the honor of speaking. You appear to fill a
variety of employments, and I make no doubt, with equal skill."
"Yes, sir, I believe I am about as good at one of my professions as
"You will permit me to observe, however, General--a--a Judge--a--a--
I scarcely know, dear sir, which of these titles is the most to your
"Use which you please, sir--I began with General, but had got as low
as Colonel before I left home. People's Friend is the only
appellation of which I am at all tenacious. Call me People's Friend,
sir, and you may call me anything else you find most convenient."
"Sir, you are only too obliging. May I venture to ask if you have
really, propria persona, filled all these different stations in
"Certainly, sir--I hope you do not mistake me for an impostor!"
"As far from it as possible.--But a judge and a commodore, for
instance, are characters whose duties are so utterly at variance in
human affairs, that I will allow I find the conjunction, even in a
monikin, a little extraordinary."
"Not at all, sir. I was duly elected to each, served my time out in
them all, and have honorable discharges to show in every instance."
"You must have found some perplexity in the performance of duties so
"Ah--I see you have been long enough in Leaphigh to imbibe some of
its prejudices! It is a sad country for prejudice. I got my foot
mired in some of them myself, as soon as it touched the land. Why
sir, my card is an illustration of what we call, in Leaplow,
rotation in office."
"Rotation in office!"
"Yes, sir, rotation in office; a system that we invented for our
personal convenience, and which is likely to be firm, as it depends
on principles that are eternal."
"Will you suffer me to inquire, colonel, if it has any affinity to
the social-stake system?"
"Not in the least. That, as I understand it, is a stationary, while
this is a rotatory system. Nothing is simpler. We have in Leaplow
two enormous boxes made in the form of wheels. Into one we put the
names of the citizens, and into the other the names of the offices.
We then draw forth, in the manner of a lottery, and the thing is
settled for a twelvemonth."
"I find this rotatory plan exceedingly simple--pray, sir, does it
work as well as it promises?"
"To perfection.--We grease the wheels, of course, periodically."
"And are not frauds sometimes committed by those who are selected to
draw the tickets?"
"Oh! they are chosen precisely in the same way."
"But those who draw THEIR tickets?"
"All rotatory--they are drawn exactly on the same principle."
"But there must be a beginning. Those, again, who draw THEIR
tickets--they may betray their trusts?"
"Impossible--THEY are always the most patriotic patriots of the
land! No, no, sir--we are not such dunces as to leave anything to
corruption. Chance does it all. Chance makes me a commodore to-day--
a judge to-morrow. Chance makes the lottery boys, and chance makes
the patriots. It is necessary to see in order to understand how much
purer and useful is your chance patriot, for instance, than one that
is bred to the calling."
"Why, this savors, after all, of the doctrine of descents, which is
little more than matter of chance."
"It would be so, sir, I confess, were it not that our chances centre
in a system of patriots. Our approved patriots are our guarantees
"Hem!"--interrupted the companion of Commodore People's Friend, with
an awkward distinctness, as if to recall himself to our
"Sir John, I crave pardon for great remissness--allow me to present
my fellow-citizen, Brigadier Downright, a gentleman who is on his
travels, like yourself; and as excellent a fellow as is to be found
in the whole monikin region."
"Brigadier Downright, I crave the honor of your acquaintance.--But,
gentlemen, I too have been sadly negligent of politeness. A banquet
that has cost a hundred promises is waiting my appearance; and, as
some of the expected guests are unavoidably absent, if you would
favor me with your excellent society, we might spend an agreeable
hour, in the further discussion of these important interests."
As neither of the strangers made the smallest objection to the
proposal, we were all soon comfortably situated at the dinner-table.
The commodore, who, it would seem, was habitually well fed, merely
paid a little complimentary attention to the banquet; but Mr.
Downright attacked it tooth and nail, and I had no great reason to
regret the absence of Mr. Poke. In the meantime, the conversation
did not flag.
"I think I understand the outline of your system, Judge People's
Friend," I resumed, "with the exception of the part that relates to
the patriots. Would it be asking too much to request a little
explanation on that particular point?"
"Not in the least, sir. Our social arrangement is founded on a hint
from nature; a base, as you will concede, that is broad enough to
sustain a universe. As a people, we are a hive that formerly swarmed
from Leaphigh; and finding ourselves free and independent, we set
about forthwith building the social system on not only a sure
foundation, but on sure principles. Observing that nature dealt in
duplicates, we pursued the hint, as the leading idea--"
"In duplicates, commodore!"
"Certainly, Sir John--a monikin has two eyes two ears, two nostrils,
two lungs, two arms, two hands, two legs, two feet, and so on to the
end of the chapter. On this hint, we ordered that there should be
drawn, morally, in every district of Leaplow, two distinct and
separate lines, that should run at right angles to each other. These
were termed the "political landmarks" of the country; and it was
expected that every citizen should range himself along one or the
other. All this you will understand, however, was a moral
contrivance, not a physical one."
"Is the obligation of this moral contrivance imperative?"
"Not legally, it is true; but then, he who does not respect it is
like one who is out of fashion, and he is so generally esteemed a
poor devil, that the usage has a good deal more than the force of a
law. At first, it was intended to make it a part of the
constitution; but one of our most experienced statesmen so clearly
demonstrated that, by so doing, we should not only weaken the nature
of the obligation, but most probably raise a party against it, that
the idea was abandoned. Indeed, if anything, both the letter and the
spirit of the fundamental law have been made to lean a little
against the practice; but having been cleverly introduced, in the
way of construction, it is now bone of our bone, and flesh of our
flesh. Well, sir, these two great political landmarks being fairly
drawn, the first effort of one who aspires to be thought a patriot
is to acquire the practice of 'toeing the mark' promptly and with
facility. But should I illustrate my positions by a few experiments,
you might comprehend the subject all the better.--For though, in
fact, the true evolutions are purely moral, as I have just had the
honor to explain, yet we have instituted a physical parallel that is
very congenial to our habits, with which the neophyte always
Here the commodore took a bit of chalk and drew two very distinct
lines, crossing each other at right angles, through the centre of
the room. When this was done, he placed his feet together, and then
he invited me to examine if it were possible to see any part of the
planks between the extremities of his toes and the lines. After a
rigid look, I was compelled to confess it was not.
"This is what we call 'toeing the mark'; it is social position, No.
1. Almost every citizen gets to be expert in practising it, on one
or the other of the two great political lines. After this, he who
would push his fortunes further, commences his career on the great
"Your pardon, commodore, we call the word rotary, in English."
"Sir, it is not expressive enough for our meaning; and therefore we
term it 'rotatory.' I shall now give you an example of position No.
Here the commodore made a spring, throwing his body, as a soldier
would express it, to the "right about," bringing, at the same time,
his feet entirely on the other side of the line; always rigidly
toeing the mark.
"Sir," said I, "this was extremely well done; but is this evolution
as useful as certainly it is dexterous?"
"It has the advantage of changing front, Sir John; a manoeuvre quite
as useful in politics as in war. Most all in the line get to
practise this, too, as my friend Downright, there, could show you,
were he so disposed."
"I don't like to expose my flanks, or my rear, more than another,"
growled the brigadier.
"If agreeable, I will now show you gyration 2d, or position No. 3."
On my expressing a strong desire to see it, the commodore put
himself again in position No. 1; and then he threw what Captain Poke
was in the habit of calling a "flap-jack," or a summerset; coming
down in a way tenaciously to toe the mark.
I was much gratified with the dexterity of the commodore, and
frankly expressed as much; inquiring, at the same time, if many
attained to the same skill. Both the commodore and the brigadier
laughed at the simplicity of the question; the former answering that
the people of Leaplow were exceedingly active and adventurous, and
both lines had got to be so expert, that, at the word of command,
they would throw their summersets in as exact time, and quite as
promptly, as a regiment of guards would go through the evolution of
slapping their cartridge-boxes.
"What, sir," I exclaimed, in admiration, "the entire population!"
"Virtually, sir. There is, now and then, a stumbler; but he is
instantly kicked out of sight, and uniformly counts for nothing."
"But as yet, commodore, your evolutions are altogether too general
to admit of the chance selection of patriots, since patriotism is
usually a monopoly."
"Very true, Sir John; I shall therefore come to the main point
without delay. Thus far, it is pretty much an affair of the whole
population, as you say; few refusing to toe the mark, or to throw
the necessary flap-jacks, as you have ingeniously termed them. The
lines, as you may perceive, cross each other at right angles; and
there is consequently some crowding, and occasionally, a good deal
of jostling, at and near the point of junction. We begin to term a
monikin a patriot when he can perform this evolution."
Here the commodore threw his heels into the air with such rapidity
that I could not very well tell what he was about, though it was
sufficiently apparent that he was acting entirely on the rotatory
principle. I observed that he alighted, with singular accuracy, on
the very spot where he had stood before, toeing the mark with
"That is what we call gyration 3d, or position No. 4. He who can
execute it is considered an adept in our politics; and he invariably
takes his position near the enemy, or at the junction of the hostile
"How, sir, are these lines, then, manned as they are with citizens
of the same country, deemed hostile?"
"Are cats and dogs hostile, sir?--Certainly. Although standing, as
it might be, face to face, acting on precisely the same principle,
or the rotatory impulse, and professing to have exactly the same
object in view, viz., the common good, they are social, political,
and I might almost say, the moral antipodes of each other. They
rarely intermarry, never extol, and frequently refuse to speak to
one another. In short, as the brigadier could tell you, if he were
so disposed, they are antagonist, body and soul. To be plain, sir,
they are enemies."
"This is very extraordinary for fellow-citizens!"
"'Tis the monikin nature," observed Mr. Downright; "no doubt, sir,
men are much wiser?"
As I did not wish to divert the discourse from the present topic, I
merely bowed to this remark, and begged the judge to proceed.
"Well, sir," continued the latter, "you can easily imagine that they
who are placed near the point where the two lines meet, have no
sinecures. To speak the truth, they blackguard each other with all
their abilities, he who manifests the most inventive genius in this
high accomplishment, being commonly thought the cleverest fellow.
Now, sir, none but a patriot could, in the nature of things, endure
this without some other motive than his country's good, and so we
"But the most patriotic patriots, commodore?"
The minister of Leaphigh now toed the mark again, placing himself
within a few feet of the point of junction between the two lines,
and then he begged me to pay particular attention to his evolution.
When all was ready, the commodore threw himself, as it were,
invisibly into the air, again head over heels, so far as I could
discover, and alighted on the antagonist line, toeing the mark with
a most astonishing particularity. It was a clever gyration, beyond a
doubt; and the performer looked towards me, as if inviting
"Admirably executed, judge, and in a way to induce one to believe
that you must have paid great attention to the practice."
"I have performed this manoeuvre, Sir John, five times in real life;
and my claim to be a patriotic patriot is founded on its invariable
success. A single false step might have ruined me; but as you say,
practice makes perfect, and perfection is the parent of success."
"And yet I do not rightly understand how so sudden a desertion of
one's own side, to go over in this active manner head over heels, I
may say, to another side, constitutes a fair claim to be deemed so
pure a character as that of a patriot."
"What, sir, is not he who throws himself defencelessly into the very
middle of the ranks of the enemy, the hero of the combat? Now, as
this is a political struggle, and not a warlike struggle, but one in
which the good of the country is alone uppermost, the monikin who
thus manifests the greatest devotion to the cause, must be the
purest patriot. I give you my honor, sir, all my own claims are
founded entirely on this particular merit."
"He is right, Sir John; you may believe every word he says,"
observed the brigadier, nodding.
"I begin to understand your system, which is certainly well adapted
to the monikin habits, and must give rise to a noble emulation in
the practice of the rotatory principle. But I understood you to say,
colonel, that the people of Leaplow are from the hive of Leaphigh?"
"Just so, sir."
"How happens it, then, that you dock yourselves of the nobler
member, while the inhabitants of this country cherish it as the
apple of the eye--nay, as the seat of reason itself?"
"You allude to our tails?--Why, sir, nature has dealt out these
ornaments with a very unequal hand, as you may perceive on looking
out of the window. We agree that the tail is the seat of reason, and
that the extremities are the most intellectual parts; but, as
governments are framed to equalize these natural inequalities, we
denounce them as anti-republican. The law requires, therefore, that
every citizen, on attaining his majority, shall be docked agreeably
to a standard measure that is kept in each district. Without some
such expedient, there might be an aristocracy of intellect among us,
and there would be an end of our liberties. This is the
qualification of a voter, too, and of course we all seek to obtain
Here the brigadier leaned across the table and whispered that a
great patriot, on a most trying occasion, had succeeded in throwing
a summerset out of his own into the antagonist line, and that, as he
carried with him all the sacred principles for which his party had
been furiously contending for many years, he had been
unceremoniously dragged back by his tail, which unfortunately came
within reach of those quondam friends on whom he had turned his
back; and that the law had, in truth, been passed in the interests
of the patriots. He added, that the lawful measure allowed a longer
stump than was commonly used; but that it was considered underbred
for any one to wear a dock that reached more than two inches and
three quarters of an inch into society, and that most of their
political aspirants, in particular, chose to limit themselves to one
inch and one quarter of an inch, as a proof of excessive humility.
Thanking Mr. Downright for his clear and sensible explanation, the
conversation was resumed.
"I had thought, as your institutions are founded on reason and
nature, judge," I continued, "that you would be more disposed ta
cultivate this member than to mutilate it; and this the more
especially, as I understand all monikins believe it to be the very
quintessence of reason."
"No doubt, sir; we do cultivate our tails, but it is on the
vegetable principle, or as the skilful gardener lops the branch that
it may throw out more vigorous shoots. It is true, we do not expect
to see the tail itself sprouting out anew; but then we look to the
increase of its reason, and to its more general diffusion in
society. The extremities of our cauda, as fast as they are lopped,
are sent to a great intellectual mill, where the mind is extracted
from the matter, and the former is sold, on public account, to the
editors of the daily journals. This is the reason our Leaplow
journalists are so distinguished for their ingenuity and capacity,
and the reason, too, why they so faithfully represent the average of
the Leaplow knowledge."
"And honesty, you ought to add," growled the brigadier.
"I see the beauty of the system, judge, and very beautiful it is!
This essence of lopped tails represents the average of Leaplow
brains, being a compound of all the tails in the country; and, as a
daily journal is addressed to the average intellect of the
community, there is a singular fitness between the readers and the
readees. To complete my stock of information on this head, however,
will you just allow me to inquire what is the effect of this system
on the totality of Leaplow intelligence?"
"Wonderful! As we are a commonwealth, it is necessary to have a
unity of sentiment on all leading matters, and by thus compounding
all the extremes of our reasons we get what is called 'public
opinion'; which public opinion is uttered through the public
"And a most patriotic patriot is always chosen to be the inspector
of the mill," interrupted the brigadier.
"Better and better! you send all the finer parts of your several
intellects to be ground up and kneaded together; the compound is
sold to the journalists, who utter it anew, as the results of the
united wisdom of the country--"
"Or, as public opinion. We make great account of reason in all our
affairs, invariably calling ourselves the most enlightened nation on
earth; but then we are especially averse to anything like an
insulated effort of the mind, which is offensive, anti-republican,
aristocratic and dangerous. We put all our trust in this
representation of brains, which is singularly in accordance with the
fundamental base of our society, as you must perceive."
"We are a commercial people, too," put in the brigadier; "and being
much accustomed to the laws of insurance, we like to deal in
"Very true, brother Downright, very true; we are particularly averse
to anything like inequality. Ods zooks! it is almost as great an
offence for a monikin to know more than his neighbors, as it is for
him to act on his own impulses. No--no--we are truly a free and an
independent commonwealth, and we hold every citizen as amenable to
public opinion, in all he does, says, thinks, or wishes."
"Pray, sir, do both of the two great political lines send their
tails to the same mills, and respect the same general sentiments?"
"No, sir; we have two public opinions in Leaplow."
"TWO public opinions!"
"Certainly, sir; the horizontal and the perpendicular."
"This infers a most extraordinary fertility of thought, and one that
I hold to be almost impossible!"
Here the commodore and the brigadier incontinently both laughed as
hard as they could; and that, too, directly in my face.
"Dear me, Sir John--why, my dear Sir John! you are really the
drollest creature!"--gasped the judge, holding his sides--"the very
funniest question I have ev--ev--ever encountered!" He now stopped
to wipe his eyes; after which he was better able to express himself.
"The same public opinion, forsooth!--Dear me--dear me, that I should
not have made myself understood!--I commenced, my good Sir John, by
telling you that we deal in duplicates, on a hint from nature; and
that we act on the rotatory principle. In obedience to the first, we
have always two public opinions; and, although the great political
landmarks are drawn in what may be called a stationary sense, they,
too, are in truth rotatory. One, which is thought to lie parallel to
the fundamental law, or the constitutional meridian of the country,
is termed the horizontal, and the other the perpendicular line. Now,
as nothing is really stationary in Leaplow, these two great
landmarks are always acting, likewise, on the rotatory principle,
changing places periodically; the perpendicular becoming the
horizontal, and vice versa; they who toe their respective marks,
necessarily taking new views of things as they vary the line of
sight. These great revolutions are, however, very slow, and are
quite as imperceptible to those who accompany them, as are the
revolutions of our planet to its inhabitants."
"And the gyrations of the patriots, of which the judge has just now
spoken," added the brigadier, "are much the same as the eccentric
movements of the comets that embellish the solar system, without
deranging it by their uncertain courses."
"No, sir, we should be poorly off, indeed, if we had but ONE public
opinion," resumed the judge. "Ecod, I do not know what would become
of the most patriotic patriots in such a dilemma!"
"Pray, sir, let me ask, as you draw for places, if you have as many
places as there are citizens?"
"Certainly, sir. Our places are divided, firstly, into the two great
subdivisions of the 'inner' and the 'outer.' Those who toe the mark
on the most popular line occupy the former, and those who toe the
mark on the least popular line take all the rest, as a matter of
course. The first, however, it is necessary to explain, are the only
places worth having. As great care is had to keep the community
pretty nearly equally divided--"
"Excuse the interruption--but in what manner is this effected?"
"Why, as only a certain number can toe the mark, we count all those
who are not successful in getting up to the line, as outcasts; and,
after fruitlessly hanging about our skirts for a time, they
invariably go over to the other line; since it is better to be first
in a village than second in Rome. We thus keep up something like an
equilibrium in the state, which, as you must know, is necessary to
liberty. The minority take the outer places, and all the inner are
left to the majority. Then comes another subdivision of the places;
that is to say, one division is formed of the honorary, and another
of the profitable places. The honorary, or about nine-tenths of all
the inner places, are divided, with great impartiality, among the
mass of those who have toed the mark on the strongest side, and who
usually are satisfied with the glory of the victory. The names of
the remainder are put into the wheels to be drawn for against the
prizes, on the rotatory principle."
"And the patriots, sir;--are they included in this chance medley?"
"Far from it. As a reward for their dangers, they have a little
wheel to themselves, although they, also, are compelled to submit to
the rotatory principle. Their cases differ from those of the others,
merely in the fact that they always get something."
I would gladly have pursued the conversation, which was opening a
flood of light upon my political understanding; but just then, a
fellow with the air of a footman entered, carrying a packet tied to
the end of his cauda. Turning round, he presented his burden, with
profound respect, and withdrew. I found that the packet contained
three notes with the following addresses:
"To His Royal Highness Bob, Prince of Wales, etc., etc., etc."
"To My Lord High Admiral Poke, etc., etc., etc."
"To Master Goldencalf, Clerk, etc., etc., etc."
Apologizing to my guests, the seal of my own note was eagerly
opened. It read as follows:
"The Right Honorable the Earl of Chatterino, lord of the bed-chamber
in waiting on his majesty, informs Master John Goldencalf, clerk,
that he is commanded to attend the drawing-room, this evening, when
the nuptial ceremony will take place between the Earl of Chatterino
and the Lady Chatterissa, the first maid of honor to Her Majesty the
"N. B. The gentlemen will appear full dress."
On explaining the contents of my note to the judge, he informed me
that he was aware of the approaching ceremony, as he had also an
invitation to be present, in his official character. I begged, as a
particular favor, England having no representative at Leaphigh, that
he would do me the honor to present me, in his capacity of a foreign
minister. The envoy made no sort of objection, and I inquired as to
the costume necessary to be observed; as, so far as I had seen, it
was good-breeding at Leaphigh to go naked. The envoy had the
goodness to explain, that, although, in point of mere attire,
clothing was extremely offensive to the people of both Leaphigh and
Leaplow, yet, in the former country, no one could present himself at
court, foreign ministers excepted, without a cauda. As soon as we
understood each other on these points, we separated, with an
understanding that I was to be in readiness (together with my
companions, of whose interest I had not been forgetful) to attend
the envoy and the brigadier, when they should call for me, at an
hour that was named.
A COURT, A COURT-DRESS, AND A COURTIER--JUSTICE IN VARIOUS ASPECTS,
AS WELL AS HONOR.
My guests were no sooner gone, than I sent for the landlady, to
inquire if any court-dresses were to be had in the neighborhood. She
told me plenty might certainly be had, that were suited to the
monikin dimensions, but she much doubted whether there was a tail in
all Leaphigh, natural or artificial, that was at all fit for a
person of my stature. This was vexatious; and I was in a brown
study, calling up all my resources for the occasion, when Mr. Poke
entered the inn, carrying in his hand two as formidable ox-tails as
I remember ever to have seen. Throwing one towards me, he said the
lord high admiral of Leaphigh had acquainted him that there was an
invitation out for the prince and himself, as well as for the
governor of the former, to be present at court within an hour. He
had hurried off from what he called a very good dinner, considering
there was nothing solid (the captain was particularly fond of
pickled pork), to let me know the honor that was intended us; and on
the way home, he had fallen in with Dr. Reasono, who, on being
acquainted with his errand, had not failed to point out the
necessity of the whole party coming en habit de cour. Here was a
dilemma, with a vengeance; for the first idea that struck the
captain was, "the utter impossibility of finding anything in this
way, in all Leaphigh, befitting a lord high admiral of his length of
keel; for, as to going in an ordinary monikin queue, why, he should
look like a three-decked ship, with a brig's spar stepped for a
lower mast!" Dr. Reasono, however, had kindly removed the
embarrassment, by conducting him to the cabinet of natural history,
where three suitable appendages had been found, viz., two fine
relics of oxen, [Footnote: Cauda Bovum.--BUF.] and another, a
capital specimen, that had formerly been the mental lever, or, as
the captain expressed it, "the steering oar" of a kangaroo. The
latter had been sent off, express, with a kind consideration for the
honor of Great Britain, to Prince Bob, who was at a villa of one of
the royal family, in the neighborhood of Aggregation.
I was greatly indebted to Noah, for his dexterity in helping me to a
good fit with my court-dress. There was not time for much
particularity, for we were in momentary expectation of Judge
People's Friend's return. All we could do, therefore, was to make a
belt of canvas (the captain being always provided with needles,
palm, etc., in his bag), and to introduce the smaller end of the
tail through a hole in the belt, drawing its base tight up to the
cloth, which, in its turn, was stitched round our bodies. This was
but an indifferent substitute for the natural appendage, it is true;
and the hide had got to be so dry and unyielding, that it was
impossible for the least observant person to imagine there was a
particle of brains in it. The arrangement had also another
disadvantage. The cauda stuck out nearly at right angles with the
position of the body, and besides occupying much more space than
would probably be permitted in the royal presence, "it gave any
jackanapes," as Noah observed, "the great advantage over us, of
making us yaw at pleasure, since he might use the outriggers as
levers." But a seaman is inexhaustible in expedients. Two "back-
stays," or "bob-stays" (for the captain facetiously gave them both
appellations) were soon "turned in," and the tails were "stayed in,
in a way to bring them as upright as trysail masts"; to which spars,
indeed, according to Noah's account of the matter, they bore no
The envoy-extraordinary of Leaplow, accompanied by his friend,
Brigadier Downright, arrived just as we were dressed; and a most
extraordinary figure the former cut, if truth must be said. Although
obliged to be docked, according to the Leaplow law, to six inches,
and brought down to a real bob, by both the public opinions of his
country, for this was one of the few points on which these
antagonist sentiments were perfectly agreed, he now appeared in just
the largest brush I remember to have seen appended to a monikin! I
felt a strong inclination to joke the rotatory republican on this
coquetry; but then I remembered how sweet any stolen indulgence
becomes; and, for the life of me, I could not give utterance to a
bon-mot. The elegance of the minister was rendered the more
conspicuous by the simplicity of the brigadier, who had contrived to
moustache his dock, a very short one at the best, in such a manner
as to render it nearly invisible. On my expressing a doubt to Mr.
Downright about his being admitted in such a costume, he snapped his
fingers, and gave me to understand he knew better. He appeared as a
brigadier of Leaplow (I found afterwards that he was in truth no
soldier, but that it was a fashion among his countrymen to travel
under the title of brigadier), and this was his uniform; and he
should like to see the chamberlain who would presume to call in
question the state of his wardrobe! As it was no affair of mine, I
prudently dropped the subject, and we were soon in the court of the
I shall pass over the parade of guards, the state bands, the
sergeant-trumpeters, the crowd of footmen and pages, and conduct the
reader at once to the ante-chamber. Here we found the usual throng
composed of those who live in the smiles of princes. There was a
great deal of politeness, much bowing and curtseying, and the
customary amount of genteel empressement to be the first to bask in
the sunshine of royalty. Judge People's Friend, in his character of
a foreign minister, was privileged; and we had enjoyed the private
entree, and were now, of right, placed nearest to the great doors of
the royal apartments. Most of the diplomatic corps were already in
attendance, and, quite as a matter of course, there were a great
many cordial manifestations, of the ardent attachment that bound
them and their masters together, in the inviolable bonds of a most
sacred amity. Judge People's Friend, according to his own account of
the matter, represented a great nation--a very great nation--and yet
I did not perceive that he met with a warm--a very warm--reception.
However, as he seemed satisfied with himself, and all around him, it
would have been unkind, not to say rude, in a stranger to disturb
his self-esteem; and I took especial care, therefore, not to betray,
by the slightest hint, my opinion that a good many near his person
seemed to think him and his artificial queue somewhat in the way.
The courtiers of Leaphigh, in particular, who are an exceedingly
exclusive and fastidious corps, appeared to regard the privileges of
the judge with an evil eye; and one or two of them actually held
their noses as he flourished his brush a little too near their
sacred faces, as if they found its odor out of fashion. While making
these silent observations, a page cried out from the lower part of
the saloon, "Room for His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Great
Britain!" The crowd opened, and that young blackguard Bob walked up
the avenue, in state. He wore the turnspit garment as the base of
his toilet; but the superstructure was altogether more in keeping
with the rascal's assumed character. The union-jack was thrown over
his shoulder in the fashion of a mantle, and it was supported by the
cook and steward of the Walrus (two blacks), both clothed as
alligators. The kangaroo's tail was rigged in a way to excite
audible evidences of envy in the heart of Mr. Poke. The stepping of
it, the captain whispered, "did the young dog great credit, for it
looked as natural as the best wig he had ever seen; and then, in
addition to the bob-stay, it had two guys, which acted like the
yoke-lines of a boat, or in such a way, that by holding one in each
hand, the brush could be worked 'starboard and larboard' like a
rudder." I have taken this description mainly from the mouth of the
captain, and most sincerely do I hope it may be intelligible to the
Bob appeared to be conscious of his advantages; for, on reaching the
upper end of the room, he began whisking his tail, and flourishing
it to the right and left, so as to excite a very perceptible and
lively admiration in the mind of Judge People's Friend--an effect
that so much the more proved the wearer's address, for that high
functionary was bound ex officio to entertain a sovereign contempt
for all courtly vanities. I saw the eye of the captain kindle,
however, and when the insolent young coxcomb actually had the
temerity to turn his back on his master, and to work his brush under
his very nose, human nature could endure no more. The right leg of
my lord high admiral slowly retired, with somewhat of the caution of
the cat about to spring, and then it was projected forward, with a
rapidity that absolutely lifted the crown prince from the floor.
The royal self-possession of Bob could not prevent an exclamation of
pain, as well as of surprise, and some of the courtiers ran forward
involuntarily to aid him--for courtiers always ran involuntarily to
the succor of princes. At least a dozen of the ladies offered their
smelling-bottles, with the most amiable assiduity and concern. To
prevent any disagreeable consequences, however, I hastened to
acquaint the crowd that in Great Britain, it is the usage to cuff
and kick the whole royal family; and that, in short, it is no more
than the customary tribute of the subject to the prince. In proof of
what I said, I took good care to give the saucy young scoundrel a
touch of my own homage. The monikins, who know that different
customs prevail in different nations, hastened to compliment the
young scion of royalty in the same manner; and both the cook and
steward relieved their ennui by falling into the track of imitation.
Bob could not stand the last applications; and he was about to beat
a retreat, when the master of ceremonies appeared, to conduct him to
the royal presence.
The reader is not to be misled by the honors that were paid to the
imaginary crown prince, and to suppose that the court of Leaphigh
entertained any peculiar respect for that of Great Britain. It was
merely done on the principle that governed the conduct of our own
learned sovereign, King James I., when he refused to see the amiable
Pocahontas of Virginia, because she had degraded royalty by
intermarrying with a subject. The respect was paid to the caste, and
not to the individual, to his species, or to his nation.
Let his privileges come from what cause they would, Bob was glad
enough to get out of the presence of Captain Poke--who had already
pretty plainly threatened, in the Stunin'tun dialect, to unship his
cauda--into that of the majesty of Leaphigh. A few minutes
afterwards, the doors were thrown open, and the whole company
advanced into the royal apartments.
The etiquette of the court of Leaphigh differs in many essential
particulars from the etiquette of any other court in the monikin
region. Neither the king, nor his royal consort, is ever visible to
any one in the country, so far as is vulgarly known. On the present
occasion, two thrones were placed at opposite extremities of the
salon, and a magnificent crimson damask curtain was so closely drawn
before each, that it was quite impossible to see who occupied it. On
the lowest step there stood a chamberlain or a lady of the bed-
chamber, who, severally, made all the speeches, and otherwise
enacted the parts of the illustrious couple. The reader will
understand, therefore, that all which is here attributed to either
of these great personages, was in fact performed by one or the other
of the substitutes named, and that I never had the honor of actually
standing face to face with their majesties. Everything that is now
about to be related, in short, was actually done by deputy, on the
part of the monarch and his wife.
The king himself merely represents a sentiment, all the power
belonging to his eldest first cousin of the masculine gender, and
any intercourse with him is entirely of a disinterested or of a
sentimental character. He is the head of the church--after a very
secular fashion, however;--all the bishops and clergy therefore got
down on their knees and said their prayers; though the captain
suggested that it might be their catechisms; I never knew which. I
observed, also, that all his law officers did the same thing; but as
THEY never pray, and do not know their catechisms, I presume the
genuflections were to beg something better than the places they
actually filled. After this, came a long train of military and naval
officers, who, soldier-like, kissed his paw. The civilians next had
a chance, and then it was our turn to be presented.
"I have the honor to present the lord high admiral of Great Britain
to your majesty," said Judge People's Friend, who had waived his
official privilege of going first, in order to do us this favor in
person; it having been decided, on a review of all the principles
that touched the case, that nothing human could take precedence of a
monikin at court, always making the exception in favor of royalty,
as in the case of Prince Bob.
"I am happy to see you at my court, Admiral Poke," the king politely
rejoined, manifesting the tact of high rank in recognizing Noah by
his family name, to the great surprise of the old sealer.
"You were about to remark?--" most graciously inquired his majesty,
a little at a loss to understand what his visitor would be at.
"Why, I could not contain my astonishment at your memory, Mr. King,
which has enabled you to recall a name that you probably never
There was now a great, and to me, a very unaccountable confusion in
the circle. It would seem, that the captain had unwittingly
trespassed on two of the most important of the rules of etiquette,
in very mortal points. He had confessed to the admission of an
emotion as vulgar as that of astonishment in the royal presence, and
he had intimated that his majesty had a memory; a property of the
mind which, as it might prove dangerous to the liberties of
Leaphigh, were it left in the keeping of any but a responsible
minister, it had long been decided it was felony to impute to the
king. By the fundamental law of the land, the king's eldest first-
cousin of the masculine gender, may have as many memories as he
please, and he may use them, or abuse them, as he shall see fit,
either in private or in the public service; but it is held to be
utterly unconstitutional and unparliamentary, and, by consequence,
extremely underbred, to insinuate, even in the most remote manner,
that the king himself has either a memory, a will, a determination,
a resolution, a desire, a conceit, an intention, or, in short, any
other intellectual property, that of a "royal pleasure" alone
excepted. It is both constitutional and parliamentary to say the
king has a "royal pleasure" provided the context goes to prove that
this "royal pleasure" is entirely at the disposition of his eldest
first-cousin of the masculine gender.
When Mr. Poke was made acquainted with his mistake, he discovered a
proper contrition; and the final decision of the affair was
postponed, in order to have the opinion of the judges on the
propriety of taking bail, which I promptly offered to put in, in
behalf of my old shipmate. This disagreeable little interruption
temporarily disposed of, the business of the drawing-room went on.
Noah was next conducted to the queen, who was much inclined (always
by deputy) to overlook the little mistake into which he had fallen
with her royal consort, and to receive him graciously.
"May it please your majesty, I have the honor to present to your
majesty's royal notice the Lord Noah Poke, the lord high admiral of
a distant and but little known country, called Great Britain," said
the gold stick of the evening--Judge People's Friend being afraid of
committing Leaplow, and declining to introduce the captain to any
"Lord Poke is a countryman of our royal cousin, the Prince Bob!"
observed the queen, in an exceedingly gracious manner.
"No, marm," put in the sealer, promptly, "your cousin Bob is no
cousin of mine; and if it were lawful for your majesty to have a
memory, or an inclination, or anything else in that way, I should
beg the favor of you to order the young blackguard to be soundly
The majesty of Leaphigh stood aghast, by proxy! It would seem Noah
had now actually fallen into a more serious error than the mistake
he had made with the king. By the law of Leaphigh, the queen is not
a feme couverte. She can sue and be sued in her own name, holds her
separate estate, without the intervention of trustees, and IS
supposed to have a memory, a will, an inclination, or anything else
in that way, except a "royal pleasure," to which she cannot, of
right, lay claim. As to her, the king's first-cousin is a dead
letter; he having no more control over her conscience than he has
over the conscience of an apple-woman. In short, her majesty is
quite as much the mistress of her own convictions and conscience as
it probably ever falls to the lot of women in such high stations to
be the mistress of interests that are of so much importance to those
around them. Noah, innocently enough, I do firmly believe, had
seriously wounded all those nice sensibilities which are naturally
dependent on such an improved condition of society. Forbearance
could go no further, and I saw, by the dark looks around me, that
the captain had committed a serious crime. He was immediately
arrested, and conducted from the presence to an adjoining room, into
which I obtained admission, after a good deal of solicitation and
some very strong appeals to the sacred character of the rights of
It now appeared that, in Leaphigh, the merits of a law are decided
on a principle very similar to the one we employ in England in
judging of the quality of our wines, viz., its age. The older a law,
the more it is to be respected, no doubt because, having proved its
fitness by outlasting all the changes of society, it has become more
mellow, if not more palatable. Now, by a law of Leaphigh that is
coeval with the monarchy, he who offends the queen's majesty at a
levee is to lose his head; and he who, under the same circumstances,
offends the king's majesty, necessarily the more heinous offence, is
to lose his tail. In consequence of the former punishment, the
criminal is invariably buried, and he is consigned to the usual
course of monikin regeneration and resuscitation; but in consequence
of the latter, it is thought that he is completely thrown without
the pale of reason, and is thereby consigned to the class of the
retrogressive animals. His mind diminishes, and his body increases;
the brain, for want of the means of development, takes the ascending
movement of sap again; his forehead dilates; bumps reappear; and,
finally, after passing gradually downwards in the scale of
intellect, he becomes a mass of insensible matter. Such, at least,
is the theory of his punishment.
By another law, that is even older than the monarchy, any one who
offends in the king's palace may be tried by a very summary process,
the king's pages acting as his judges; in which case the sentence is
to be executed without delay.
Such was the dilemma to which Noah, by an indiscretion at court, was
suddenly reduced; and, but for my prompt interference, he would
probably have been simultaneously decapitated at both extremities,
in obedience to an etiquette which prescribes that, under the
circumstances of a court trial, neither the king's nor the queen's
rights shall be entitled to precedence. In defence of my client I
urged his ignorance of the usages of the country, and, indeed, of
all other civilized countries, Stunnin'tun alone excepted. I stated
that the criminal was an object altogether unworthy of their notice;
that he was not a lord high admiral at all, but a mere pitiful
sealer; I laid some stress on the importance of maintaining friendly
relations with the sealers, who cruise so near the monikin region; I
tried to convince the judges that Noah meant no harm in imputing
moral properties to the king, and that so long as he did not impute
immoral properties to his royal consort, she might very well afford
to pardon him. I then quoted Shakspeare's celebrated lines on mercy,
which seemed to be well enough received, and committed the whole
affair to their better judgment.
I should have got along very creditably, and most probably obtained
the immediate discharge of my friend, had not the attorney-general
of Leaphigh been drawn by curiosity into the room. Although he had
nothing to say to the merits of my arguments, he objected to every
one of them, on the ground of formality. This was too long, and that
was too short; one was too high, and another too low; a fifth was
too broad, and a sixth too narrow; in short, there was no figure of
speech of this nature to which he did not resort, in order to prove
their worthlessness, with the exception that I do not remember he
charged any of my reasons with being too deep.
Matters were now beginning to look serious for poor Noah, when a
page came skipping in to say that the wedding was about to take
place, and that if his comrades wished to witness it, they must
sentence the prisoner without delay. Many a man, it is said, has
been hanged, in order that the judge might dine; but, in the present
instance, I do believe Captain Poke was spared, in order that his
judges might not miss a fine spectacle. I entered into recognizance,
in fifty thousand promises, for the due appearance of the criminal
on the following morning; and we all returned, in a body, to the
presence-chamber, treading on each other's tails, in the eagerness
to be foremost.
Any one who has ever been at a human court, must very well know
that, while it is the easiest thing in the world to throw it into
commotion by a violation of etiquette, matters of mere life and
death are not at all of a nature to disturb its tranquillity. There,
everything is a matter of routine and propriety; and, to judge from
experience, nothing is so unseemly as to appear to possess human
sympathies. The fact is not very different at Leaphigh, for the
monikin sympathies, apparently, are quite as obtuse as those of men;
although justice compels me to allow, that in the case of Captain
Poke, the appeal was made in behalf of a creature of a different
species. It is also a settled principle of Leaphigh jurisprudence,
that it would be monstrous for the king to interfere in behalf of
justice-justice, however, being always administered in his name;
although it certainly is not held to be quite so improper for him to
interfere in behalf of those who have offended justice.
As a consequence of these nice distinctions, which it requires a
very advanced stage of civilization fully to comprehend, both the
king and queen received our whole party, when we came back into the
presence, exactly as if nothing particular had occurred. Noah wore
both head and tail erect, like another; and the lord high admiral of
Leaphigh dropped into a familiar conversation with him, on the
subject of ballasting ships, in just as friendly a manner as if he
were on the best possible terms with the whole royal family. This
moral sang froid is not to be ascribed to phlegm, but is, in fact,
the result of high mental discipline, which causes the courtier to
be utterly destitute of all feeling, except in cases that affect
It was high time now that I should be presented. Judge People's
Friend, who had witnessed the dilemma of Noah with diplomatic
unconcern, very politely renewed the offer of his services in my
favor, and I went forward and stood before the throne.
"Sire, allow me to present a very eminent literary character among
men, a cunning clerk, by name Goldencalf," said the envoy, bowing to
"He is welcome to my court," returned the king by proxy.
"Pray, Mr. People's Friend, is not this one of the human beings who
have lately arrived in my dominions, and who have shown so much
cleverness in getting Chatterino and his governor through the ice?"
"The very same, please your majesty; and a very arduous service it
was, and right cleverly performed."
"This reminds me of a duty.--Let my cousin be summoned."
I now began to see a ray of hope, and to feel the truth of the
saying which teaches us that justice, though sometimes slow, never
fails to arrive at last. I had also, now, and for the first time, a
good view of the king's eldest first-cousin of the masculine gender,
who drew near at the summons; and, while he had the appearance of
listening with the most profound attention to the instructions of
the king of Leaphigh, was very evidently telling that potentate what
he ought to do. The conference ended, his majesty's proxy spoke in a
way to be heard by all who had the good fortune to be near the royal
"Reasono did a good thing," he said; "really, a very good thing, in
bringing us these specimens of the human family. But for his
cleverness, I might have died without ever dreaming that men were
gifted with tails." [Kings never get hold of the truth at the right
end.] "I wonder if the queen knew it. Pray, did you know, my
Augusta, that men had tails?"
"Our exemption from state affairs gives us females better
opportunities than your majesty enjoys, to study these matters,"
returned his royal consort, by the mouth of her lady of the bed-
"I dare say I'm very silly--but our cousin, here, thinks it might be
well to do something for these good people, for it may encourage
their king himself to visit us some day."
An exclamation of pleasure escaped the ladies; who declared, one and
all, it would be delightful to see a real human king--it would be so
"Well, well," added the good-natured monarch, "Heaven knows what may
happen, for I have seen stranger things. Really, we ought to do
something for these good people; for, although we owe the pleasure
of their visit, in a great degree, to the cleverness of Reasono--
who, by the way, I'm glad to hear is declared an H. O. A. X.--yet he
very handsomely admits, that but for their exertions--none of our
seamikins being within reach--it would have been quite impossible to
get through the ice. I wish I knew, now, which was the cleverest and
the most useful of their party."
Here the queen, always thinking and speaking by proxy, suggested the
propriety of leaving the point to Prince Bob.
"It would be no more than is due to his rank; for though they are
men, I dare say they have feelings like ourselves."
The question was now submitted to Bob, who sat in judgment on us
all, with as much gravity as if accustomed to such duties from
infancy. It is said that men soon get to be familiar with elevation,
and that, while he who has fallen never fails to look backwards, he
who has risen invariably limits his vision to the present horizon.
Such proved to be the case with the princely Bob.
"This person," observed the jackanapes, pointing to me, "is a very
good sort of person, it is true, but he is hardly the sort of person
your majesty wants just now. There is the lord high admiral, too--
but--" (Bob's but was envenomed by a thousand kicks!)--"but--you
wish, sire, to know which of my father's subjects was the most
useful in getting the ship to Leaphigh?"
"That is precisely the fact I desire to know."
Bob hereupon pointed to the cook; who, it will be remembered, was
present as one of his train-bearers. "I believe I must say, sire,
that this is the man. He fed us all; and without food, and that in
considerable quantities, too, nothing could have been done."
The little blackguard was rewarded for his impudence, by
exclamations of pleasure from all around him.--"It was so clever a
distinction,"--"it showed so much reflection,"--"it was so very
profound,"--"it proved how much he regarded the base of society;"--
in short, "it was evident England would be a happy country, when he
should be called to the throne!" In the meantime the cook was
required to come forth, and kneel before his majesty.
"What is your name?" whispered the lord of the bed-chamber, who now
spoke for himself.
"Jack Coppers, your honor."
The lord of the bed-chamber made a communication to his majesty,
when the sovereign turned round by proxy, with his back towards
Jack, and, giving him the accolade with his tail, he bade him rise,
as "Sir Jack Coppers."
I was a silent, an admiring, an astounded witness of this act of
gross and flagrant injustice. Some one pulled me aside, and then I
recognized the voice of Brigadier Downright.
"You think that honors have alighted where they are least due. You
think that the saying of your crown prince has more smartness than
truth, more malice than honesty. You think that the court has judged
on false principles, and acted on an impulse rather than on reason;
that the king has consulted his own ease in affecting to do justice;
that the courtiers have paid a homage to their master, in affecting
to pay a homage to merit; and that nothing in this life is pure or
free from the taint of falsehood, selfishness, or vanity. Alas! this
is too much the case with us monikins, I must allow; though,
doubtless, among men you manage a vast deal more cleverly."
ABOUT THE HUMILITY OF PROFESSIONAL SAINTS, A SUCCESSION OF TAILS, A
BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM, AND OTHER HEAVENLY MATTERS, DIPLOMACY
Perceiving that Brigadier Downright had an observant mind, and that
he was altogether superior to the clannish feeling which is so apt
to render a particular species inimical to all others, I asked
permission to cultivate his acquaintance; begging, at the same time,
that he would kindly favor me with such remarks as might be
suggested by his superior wisdom and extensive travels, on any of
those customs or opinions that would naturally present themselves in
our actual situation. The brigadier took the request in good part,
and we began to promenade the rooms in company. As the Archbishop of
Aggregation, who was to perform the marriage ceremony, was shortly
expected, the conversation very naturally turned on the general
state of religion in the monikin region.
I was delighted to find that the clerical dogmas of this insulated
portion of the world were based on principles absolutely identical
with those of all Christendom. The monikins believe that they are a
miserable lost set of wretches, who are so debased by nature, so
eaten up by envy, uncharitableness, and all other evil passions,
that it is quite impossible they can do anything that is good of
themselves; that their sole dependence is on the moral interference
of the great superior power of creation; and that the very first,
and the one needful step of their own, is to cast themselves
entirely on this power for support, in a proper spirit of dependence
and humility. As collateral to, and consequent on, this condition of
the mind, they lay the utmost stress on a disregard of all the
vanities of life, a proper subjection of the lusts of the flesh, and
an abstaining from the pomp and vainglory of ambition, riches,
power, and the faculties. In short, the one thing needful was
humility--humility--humility. Once thoroughly humbled to a degree
that put them above the danger of backsliding, they obtained
glimpses of security, and were gradually elevated to the hopes and
the condition of the just.
The brigadier was still eloquently discoursing on this interesting
topic, when a distant door opened, and a gold stick, or some other
sort of stick, announced the right reverend father in God, his grace
the most eminent and most serene prelate, the very puissant and
thrice gracious and glorified saint, the Primate of All Leaphigh!
The reader will anticipate the eager curiosity with which I advanced
to get a glimpse of a saint under a system as sublimated as that of
the great monikin family. Civilization having made such progress as
to strip all the people, even to the king and queen, entirely of
everything in the shape of clothes, I did not well see under what
new mantle of simplicity the heads of the church could take refuge!
Perhaps they shaved off all the hair from their bodies in sign of
supereminent self-abasement, leaving themselves naked to the
cuticle, that they might prove, by ocular evidence, what a poor
ungainly set of wretches they really were, carnally considered; or
perhaps they went on all-fours to heaven, in sign of their unfitness
to enter into the presence of the pure of mind in an attitude more
erect and confident. Well, these fancies of mine only went to prove
how erroneous and false are the conclusions of one whose capacity
has not been amplified and concatenated by the ingenuities of a very
refined civilization. His grace the most gracious father in God,
wore a mantle of extraordinary fineness and beauty, the material of
which was composed of every tenth hair taken from all the citizens
of Leaphigh, who most cheerfully submitted to be shaved, in order
that the wants of his most eminent humility might be decently
supplied. The mantle, wove from such a warp and such a woof, was
necessarily very large; and it really appeared to me that the
prelate did not very well know what to do with so much of it, more
especially as the contributions include a new robe annually. I was
now desirous of getting a sight of his tail; for, knowing that the
Leaphighers take great pride in the length and beauty of that
appurtenance, I very naturally supposed that a saint who wore so
fine and glorious a robe, by way of humility, must have recourse to
some novel expedient to mortify himself on his sensitive subject, at
least. I found that the ample proportions of the mantle concealed
not only the person, but most of the movements of the archbishop;
and it was with many doubts of my success that I led the brigadier
behind the episcopal train to reconnoitre. The result disappointed
expectation again. Instead of being destitute of a tail, or of
concealing that with which nature had supplied him beneath his
mantle, the most gracious dignitary wore no less than six caudae,
viz., his own, and five others added to it, by some subtle process
of clerical ingenuity that I shall not attempt to explain; one "bent
on the other," as the captain described them in a subsequent
conversation. This extraordinary train was allowed to sweep the
floor; the only sign of humility, according to my uninstructed
faculties, I could discern about the person and appearance of this
illustrious model of clerical self-mortification and humility.
The brigadier, however, was not tardy in setting me right. In the
first place, he gave me to understand that the hierarchy of Leaphigh
was illustrated by the order of their tails. Thus, a deacon wore one
and a half; a curate, if a minister, one and three-quarters, and a
rector two; a dean, two and a half, an archdeacon, three; a bishop,
four; the Primate of Leaphigh, five, and the Primate of ALL
Leaphigh, six. The origin of the custom, which was very ancient, and
of course very much respected, was imputed to the doctrine of a
saint of great celebrity, who had satisfactorily proved that as the
tail was the intellectual or the spiritual part of a monikin, the
farther it was removed from the mass of matter, or the body, the
more likely it was to be independent, consecutive, logical, and
spiritualized. The idea had succeeded astonishingly at first; but
time, which will wear out even a cauda, had given birth to schisms
in the church on this interesting subject; one party contending that
two more joints ought to be added to the archbishop's embellishment,
by way of sustaining the church, and the other that two joints ought
to be incontinently abstracted, in the way of reform.
These explanations were interrupted by the appearance of the bride
and bridegroom, at different doors. The charming Chatterissa
advanced with a most prepossessing modesty, followed by a glorious
train of noble maidens, all keeping their eyes, by a rigid ordinance
of hymeneal etiquette, dropped to the level of the queen's feet. On
the other hand, my lord Chatterino, attended by that coxcomb
Hightail, and others of his kidney, stepped towards the altar with a
lofty confidence, which the same etiquette exacted of the
bridegroom. The parties were no sooner in their places, than the
The marriage ceremony, according to the formula of the established
church of Leaphigh, is a very solemn and imposing ceremony. The
bridegroom is required to swear that he loves the bride and none but
the bride; that he has made his choice solely on account of her
merits, uninfluenced even by her beauty; and that he will so far
command his inclinations as, on no account, ever to love another a
jot. The bride, on her part, calls heaven and earth to witness, that
she will do just what the bridegroom shall ask of her; that she will
be his bondwoman, his slave, his solace and his delight; that she is
quite certain no other monikin could make her happy, but, on the
other hand, she is absolutely sure that any other monikin would be
certain to make her miserable. When these pledges, oaths, and
asseverations were duly made and recorded, the archbishop caused the
happy pair to be wreathed together, by encircling them with his
episcopal tail, and they were then pronounced monikin and monikina.
I pass over the congratulations, which were quite in rule, to relate
a short conversation I held with the brigadier.
"Sir," said I, addressing that person, as soon as the prelate said
"amen," "how is this? I have seen a certificate, myself, which
showed that there was a just admeasurement of the fitness of this
union, on the score of other considerations than those mentioned in
"That certificate has no connection with this ceremony."
"And yet this ceremony repudiates all the considerations enumerated
in the certificate?"
"This ceremony has no connection with that certificate."
"So it would seem; and yet both refer to the same solemn
"Why, to tell you the truth, Sir John Goldencalf, we monikins (for
in these particulars Leaphigh is Leaplow) have two distinct
governing principles in all that we say or do, which may be divided
into the theoretical and the practical--moral and immoral would not
be inapposite--but, by the first we control all our interests, down
as far as facts, when we immediately submit to the latter. There may
possibly be something inconsistent in appearance in such an
arrangement; but then our most knowing ones say that it works well.
No doubt among men, you get along without the embarrassment of so
I now advanced to pay my respects to the Countess of Chatterino, who
stood supported by the countess-dowager, a lady of great dignity and
elegance of demeanor. The moment I appeared, the elaborate air of
modesty, vanished from the charming countenance of the bride, in a
look of natural pleasure; and, turning to her new mother, she
pointed me out as a man! The courteous old dowager gave me a very
kind reception, inquiring if I had enough good things to eat,
whether I was not much astonished at the multitude of strange sights
I beheld in Leaphigh, said I ought to be much obliged to her son for
consenting to bring me over, and invited me to come and see her some
I bowed my thanks, and then returned to join the brigadier, with a
view to seek an introduction to the archbishop. Before I relate the
particulars of my interview with that pious prelate, however, it may
be well to say that this was the last I ever saw of any of the
Chatterino set, as they retired from the presence immediately after
the congratulations were ended. I heard, however, previously to
leaving the region, which was within a month of the marriage, that
the noble pair kept separate establishments, on account of some
disagreement about an incompatibility of temper--or a young officer
of the guards--I never knew exactly which; but as the estates suited
each other so well, there is little doubt that, on the whole, the
match was as happy as could be expected.
The archbishop received me with a great deal of professional
benevolence, the conversation dropping very naturally into a
comparison of the respective religious systems of Great Britain and
Leaphigh. He was delighted when he found we had an establishment;
and I believe I was indebted to his knowledge of this fact for his
treating me more as an equal than he might otherwise have done,
considering the difference in species. I was much relieved by this;
for, at the commencement of the conversation, he had sounded me a
little on doctrine, at which I am far from being expert, never
having taken an interest in the church, and I thought he looked
frowning at some of my answers; but, when he heard that we really
had a national religion, he seemed to think all safe, nor did he
once, after that, inquire whether we were pagans or Presbyterians.
But when I told him we had actually a hierarchy, I thought the good
old prelate would have shaken my hand off, and beatified me on the
"We shall meet in heaven some day!" he exclaimed, with holy delight;
"men or monikins, it can make no great difference, after all. We
shall meet in heaven; and that, too, in the upper mansions!"
The reader will suppose that, an alien, and otherwise unknown, I was
much elated by this distinction. To go to heaven in company with the
Archbishop of Leaphigh was in itself no small favor; but to be thus
noticed by him at court was really enough to upset the philosophy of
a stranger. I was sorely afraid, all the while, he would descend to
particulars, and that he might have found some essential points of
difference to nip his new-born admiration. Had he asked me, for
instance, how many caudae our bishops wear, I should have been
badgered; for, as near as I could recollect, their personal
illustration was of another character. The venerable prelate,
however, soon gave me his blessing, pressed me warmly to come to his
palace before I sailed, promised to send some tracts by me to
England, and then hurried away, as he said, to sign a sentence of
excommunication against an unruly presbyter, who had much disturbed
the harmony of the church, of late, by an attempt to introduce a
schism that he called "piety."
The brigadier and myself discussed the subject of religion at some
length, when the illustrious prelate had taken his leave. I was told
that the monikin world was pretty nearly equally divided into two
parts, the old and the new. The latter had remained uninhabited,
until within a few generations, when certain monikins, who were too
good to live in the old world, emigrated in a body, and set up for
themselves in the new. This, the brigadier admitted, was the Leaplow
account of the matter; the inhabitants of the old countries, on the
other hand, invariably maintaining that they had peopled the new
countries by sending all those of their own communities there, who
were not fit to stay at home. This little obscurity in the history
of the new world, he considers of no great moment, as such trifling
discrepancies must always depend on the character of the historian.
Leaphigh was by no means the only country in the elder monikin
region. There were among others, for instance, Leapup and Leapdown;
Leapover and Leapthrough; Leaplong and Leapshort; Leapround and
Leapunder. Each of these countries had a religious establishment,
though Leaplow, being founded on a new social principle, had none.
The brigadier thought, himself, on the whole, that the chief
consequences of the two systems were, that the countries which had
establishments had a great reputation for possessing religion, and
those that had no establishments were well enough off in the article
itself, though but indifferently supplied on the score of
I inquired of the brigadier if he did not think an establishment had
the beneficial effect of sustaining truth, by suppressing heresies,
limiting and curtailing prurient theological fancies, and otherwise
setting limits to innovations. My friend did not absolutely agree
with me in all these particulars; though he very frankly allowed
that it had the effect of keeping TWO truths from falling out, by
separating them. Thus, Leapup maintained one set of religious dogmas
under its establishment, and Leapdown maintained their converse. By
keeping these truths apart, no doubt, religious harmony was
promoted, and the several ministers of the gospel were enabled to
turn all their attention to the sins of the community, instead of
allowing it to be diverted to the sins of each other, as was very
apt to be the case when there was an antagonist interest to oppose.
Shortly after, the king and queen gave us all our conges. Noah and
myself got through the crowd without injury to our trains, and we
separated in the court of the palace; he to go to his bed and dream
of his trial on the morrow, and I to go home with Judge People's
Friend and the brigadier, who had invited me to finish the evening
with a supper. I was left chatting with the last, while the first
went into his closet to indite a dispatch to his government,
relating to the events of the evening.
The brigadier was rather caustic in his comments on the incidents of
the drawing-room. A republican himself, he certainly did love to
give royalty and nobility some occasional rubs; though I must do
this worthy, upright monikin the justice to say, he was quite
superior to that vulgar hostility which is apt to distinguish many
of his caste, and which is founded on a principle as simple as the
fact that they cannot be kings and nobles themselves.
While we were chatting very pleasantly, quite at our ease, and in
undress as it were, the brigadier in his bob, and I with my tail
aside, Judge People's Friend rejoined us, with his dispatch open in
his hand. He read aloud what he had written, to my great
astonishment, for I had been accustomed to think diplomatic
communications sacred. But the judge observed, that in this case it
was useless to affect secrecy, for two very good reasons; firstly,
because he had been obliged to employ a common Leaphigh scrivener to
copy what he had written--his government depending on a noble
republican economy, which taught it that, if it did get into
difficulties by the betrayal of its correspondence, it would still
have the money that a clerk would cost, to help it out of the
embarrassment; and, secondly, because he knew the government itself
would print it as soon as it arrived. For his part, he liked to have
the publishing of his own works. Under these circumstances, I was
even allowed to take a copy of the letter, of which I now furnish a
"SIR:--The undersigned, envoy-extraordinary and minister-
plenipotentiary of the North-Western Leaplow Confederate Union, has
the honor to inform the secretary of state, that our interests in
this portion of the earth are, in general, on the best possible
footing; our national character is getting every day to be more and
more elevated; our rights are more and more respected, and our flag
is more and more whitening every sea. After this flattering and
honorable account of the state of our general concerns, I hasten to
communicate the following interesting particulars.
"The treaty between our beloved North-Western Confederate Union and
Leaphigh, has been dishonored in every one of its articles; nineteen
Leaplow seamen have been forcibly impressed into a Leapthrough
vessel of war; the king of Leapup has made an unequivocal
demonstration with a very improper part of his person, at us; and
the king of Leapover has caused seven of our ships to be seized and
sold, and the money to be given to his mistress.
"Sir, I congratulate you on this very flattering condition of our
foreign relations; which can only be imputed to the glorious
constitution of which we are the common servants, and to the just
dread which the Leaplow name has so universally inspired in other
"The king has just had a drawing-room, in which I took great care to
see that the honor of our beloved country should be faithfully
attended to. My cauda was at least three inches longer than that of
the representative of Leapup, the minister most favored by nature in
this important particular; and I have the pleasure of adding, that
her majesty the queen deigned to give me a very gracious smile. Of
the sincerity of that smile there can be no earthly doubt, sir; for,
though there is abundant evidence that she did apply certain
unseemly words to our beloved country lately, it would quite exceed
the rules of diplomatic courtesy, and be unsustained by proof, were
we to call in question her royal sincerity on this public occasion.
Indeed, sir, at all the recent drawing-rooms I have received smiles
of the most sincere and encouraging character, not only from the
king, but from all his ministers, his first-cousin in particular;
and I trust they will have the most beneficial effects on the
questions at issue between the Kingdom of Leaphigh and our beloved
country. If they would now only do us justice in the very important
affair of the long-standing and long-neglected redress, which we
have been seeking in vain at their hands for the last seventy-two
years, I should say that our relations were on the best possible
"Sir, I congratulate you on the profound respect with which the
Leaplow name is treated, in the most distant quarters of the earth,
and on the benign influence this fortunate circumstance is likely to
exercise on all our important interests.
"I see but little probability of effecting the object of my special
mission, but the utmost credit is to be attached to the sincerity of
the smiles of the king and queen, and of all the royal family."
"In a late conversation with his majesty, he inquired in the kindest
manner after the health of the Great Sachem [this is the title of
the head of the Leaplow government], and observed that our growth
and prosperity put all other nations to shame; and that we might, on
all occasions, depend on his most profound respect and perpetual
friendship. In short, sir, all nations, far and near, desire our
alliance, are anxious to open new sources of commerce, and entertain
for us the profoundest respect, and the most inviolable esteem. You
can tell the Great Sachem that this feeling is surprisingly
augmented under his administration, and that it has at least
quadrupled during my mission. If Leaphigh would only respect its
treaties, Leapthrough would cease taking our seamen, Leapup have
greater deference for the usages of good society, and the king of
Leapover would seize no more of our ships to supply his mistress
with pocket-money, our foreign relations might be considered to be
without spot. As it is, sir, they are far better off than I could
have expected, or indeed had ever hoped to see them; and of one
thing you may be diplomatically certain, that we are universally
respected, and that the Leaplow name is never mentioned without all
in company rising and waving their caudae."
"(Signed.) JUDAS PEOPLE'S FRIEND."
"P. S. (Private.)"
"Dear Sir:--If you publish this dispatch, omit the part where the
difficulties are repeated, I beg you will see that my name is put in
with those of the other patriots, against the periodical rotation of
the little wheel, as I shall certainly be obliged to return home
soon, having consumed all my means. Indeed, the expense of
maintaining a tail, of which our people have no notion, is so very
great, that I think none of our missions should exceed a week in
"I would especially advise that the message should dilate on the
subject of the high standing of the Leaplow character in foreign
nations; for, to be frank with you, facts require that this
statement should be made as often as possible."
When this letter was read, the conversation reverted to religion.
The brigadier explained that the law of Leaphigh had various
peculiarities on this subject, that I do not remember to have heard
of before. Thus, a monikin could not be born without paying
something to the church, a practice which early initiated him into
his duties towards that important branch of the public welfare; and,
even when he died, he left a fee behind him, for the parson, as an
admonition to those who still existed in the flesh, not to forget
their obligations. He added that this sacred interest was, in short,
so rigidly protected, that, whenever a monikin refused to be plucked
for a new clerical or episcopal mantle, there was a method of
fleecing him, by the application of red-hot iron rods, which
generally singed so much of his skin, that he was commonly willing,
in the end, to let the hair-proctors pick and choose at pleasure.
I confess I was indignant at this picture, and did not hesitate to
stigmatize the practice as barbarous.
"Your indignation is very natural, Sir John, and is just what a
stranger would be likely to feel, when he found mercy, and charity,
and brotherly love, and virtue, and, above all, humility, made the
stalking-horses of pride, selfishness, and avarice. But this is the
way with us monikins; no doubt, men manage better."
A VERY COMMON CASE: OR A GREAT DEAL OF LAW, AND VERY LITTLE JUSTICE-
-HEADS AND TAILS, WITH THE DANGERS OF EACH.
I was early with Noah on the following morning. The poor fellow,
when it is remembered that he was about to be tried for a capital
offence, in a foreign country, under novel institutions, and before
a jury of a different species, manifested a surprising degree of
fortitude. Still, the love of life was strong within him, as was
apparent by the way in which he opened the discourse.
"Did you observe how the wind was this morning, Sir John, as you
came in?" the straightforward sealer inquired, with a peculiar
"It is a pleasant gale from the southward."
"Right off shore! If one knew where all them blackguards of rear
admirals and post captains were to be found, I don't think, Sir,
John, that you would care much about paying those fifty thousand
"My recognizances?--Not in the least, my dear friend, were it not
for our honor. It would scarcely be creditable for the Walrus to
sail, however, leaving an unsettled account of her captain's behind
us. What would they say at Stunin'tun--what would your own consort
think of an act so unmanly?"
"Why, at Stunin'tun, we think him the smartest who gets the easiest
out of any difficulty; and I don't well see why Miss Poke should
know it--or, if she did, why she should think the worse of her
husband, for saving his life."
"Away with these unworthy thoughts, and brace yourself to meet the
trial. We shall, at least, get some insight into the Leaphigh
jurisprudence. Come, I see you are already dressed for the occasion;
let us be as prompt as duellists."
Noah made up his mind to submit with dignity; although he lingered
in the great square, in order to study the clouds, in a way to show
he might have settled the whole affair with the fore-topsail, had he
known where to find his crew. Fortunately for the reputations of all
concerned, however, he did not; and, discarding everything like
apprehension from his countenance, the sturdy mariner entered the
Old Bailey with the tread of a man and the firmness of innocence. I
ought to have said sooner, that we had received notice early in the
morning, that the proceedings had been taken from before the pages,
on appeal, and that a new venue had been laid in the High Criminal
Court of Leaphigh.
Brigadier Downright met us at the door; where also a dozen grave,
greasy-looking counsellors gathered about us, in a way to show that
they were ready to volunteer in behalf of the stranger, on receiving
no more than the customary fee. But I had determined to defend Noah
myself (the court consenting) for I had forebodings that our safety
would depend more on an appeal to the rights of hospitality, than on
any legal defence it was in our power to offer. As the brigadier
kindly volunteered to aid me for nothing, I thought proper not to
refuse his services, however.
I pass over the appearance of the court, the empanelling of the
jury, and the arraignment; for, in matters of mere legal forms,
there is no great difference between civilized countries, all of
them wearing the same semblance of justice. The first indictment,
for unhappily there were two, charged Noah with having committed an
assault, with malice prepense, on the king's dignity, with "sticks,
daggers, muskets, blunderbusses, air-guns, and other unlawful
weapons, more especially with the tongue, in that he had accused his
majesty, face to face, with having a memory, etc., etc." The other
indictment, repeating the formula of the first, charged the honest
sealer with feloniously accusing her majesty the queen, "in defiance
of the law, to the injury of good morals and the peace of society,
with having no memory, etc., etc." To both these charges the plea of
"not guilty," was entered as fast as possible, in behalf of our
I ought to have said before, that both Brigadier Downright and
myself had applied to be admitted of counsel for the accused, under
an ancient law of Leaphigh, as next of kin; I as a fellow human
being, and the brigadier by adoption.
The preliminary forms observed, the attorney-general was about to go
into proof, in behalf of the crown, when my brother Downright arose
and said that he intended to save the precious time of the court, by
admitting the facts; and that it was intended to rest the defence
altogether on the law of the case. He presumed the jury were the
judges of the law as well as of the facts, according to the rule of
Leaplow, and that "he and his brother Goldencalf were quite prepared
to show that the law was altogether with us, in this affair." The
court received the admission, and the facts were submitted to the
jury, by consent, as proven; although the chief-justice took
occasion to remark, Longbeard dissenting, that, while the jury were
certainly judges of the law, in one sense, yet there was another
sense in which they were not judges of the law. The dissent of Baron
Longbeard went to maintain that while the jury were the judges of
the law in the "another sense" mentioned, they were not judges of
the law in the "one sense" named. This difficulty disposed of, Mr.
Attorney-General arose and opened for the crown.
I soon found that we had one of a very comprehensive and
philosophical turn of mind against us, in the advocate of the other
side. He commenced his argument by a vigorous and lucid sketch of
the condition of the world previously to the subdivisions of its
different inhabitants into nations, and tribes, and clans, while in
the human or chrysalis condition. From this statement, he deduced
the regular gradations by which men become separated into
communities, and subjected to the laws of civilization, or what is
called society. Having proceeded thus far, he touched lightly on the
different phases that the institutions of men had presented, and
descended gradually and consecutively to the fundamental principles
of the social compact, as they were known to exist among monikins.
After a few general observations that properly belonged to the
subject, he came to speak of those portions of the elementary
principles of society that are connected with the rights of the
sovereign. These he divided into the rights of the king's
prerogative, the rights of the king's person, and the rights of the
king's conscience. Here he again generalized a little, and in a very
happy manner; so well, indeed, as to leave all his hearers in doubt
as to what he would next be at; when, by a fierce logical swoop, he
descended suddenly on the last of the king's rights, as the one that
was most connected with the subject.
He triumphantly showed that the branch of the royal immunities that
was chiefly affected by the offence of the prisoner at the bar, was
very clearly connected with the rights of the king's conscience.
"The attributes of royalty," observed the sagacious advocate, "are
not to be estimated in the same manner as the attributes of the
subject. In the sacred person of the king are centred many, if not
most, of the interesting privileges of monikinism. That royal
personage, in apolitical sense, can do no wrong: official
infallibility is the consequence. Such a being has no occasion for
the ordinary faculties of the monikin condition. Of what use, for
instance, is a judgment, or a conscience, to a functionary who can
do no wrong? The law, in order to relieve one on whose shoulders was
imposed the burden of the state, had consequently placed the latter
especially in the keeping of another. His majesty's first-cousin is
the keeper of his conscience, as is known throughout the realm of
Leaphigh. A memory is the faculty of the least account to a
personage who has no conscience; and, while it is not contended that
the sovereign is relieved from the possession of his memory by any
positive statute law, or direct constitutional provision, it
follows, by unavoidable implication, and by all legitimate
construction, that, having no occasion to possess such a faculty, it
is the legal presumption he is altogether without it.
"That simplicity, lucidity and distinctness, my lords," continued
Mr. Attorney-General, "which are necessary to every well-ordered
mind, would be impaired, in the case of his majesty, were his
intellectual faculties unnecessarily crowded in this useless manner,
and the state would be the sufferer. My lords, the king reigns, but
he does not govern. This is a fundamental principle of the
constitution; nay, it is more--it is the palladium of our liberties!
My lords, it is an easy matter to reign in Leaphigh. It requires no
more than the rights of primogeniture, sufficient discretion to
understand the distinction between reigning and governing, and a
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