J. Fenimore Cooper
Part 6 out of 8
political moderation that is unlikely to derange the balance of the
state. But it is quite a different thing to govern. His majesty is
required to govern nothing, the slight interests just mentioned
excepted; no, not even himself. The case is far otherwise with his
first-cousin. This high functionary is charged with the important
trust of governing. It had been found, in the early ages of the
monarchy, that one conscience, or indeed one set of faculties
generally, scarcely sufficed for him whose duty it was both to reign
and to govern. We all know, my lords, how insufficient for our
personal objects are our own private faculties; how difficult we
find it to restrain even ourselves, assisted merely by our own
judgments, consciences, and memories; and in this fact do we
perceive the great importance of investing him who governs others,
with an additional set of these grave faculties. Under a due
impression of the exigency of such a state of things, the common
law--not statute law, my lords, which is apt to be tainted with the
imperfections of monikin reason in its isolated or individual state,
usually bearing the impress of the single cauda from which it
emanated--but the common law, the known receptacle of all the common
sense of the nation--in such a state of things, then, has the common
law long since decreed that his majesty's first-cousin should be the
keeper of his majesty's conscience; and, by necessary legal
implication, endowed with his majesty's judgment, his majesty's
reason, and finally, his majesty's memory.
"My lords, this is the legal presumption. It would, in addition, be
easy for me to show, in a thousand facts, that not only the
sovereign of Leaphigh, but most other sovereigns, are and ever have
been, destitute of the faculty of a memory. It might be said to be
incompatible with the royal condition to be possessed of this
obtrusive faculty. Were a prince endowed with a memory, he might
lose sight of his high estate, in the recollection that he was born,
and that he is destined, like another, to die; he might be troubled
with visions of the past; nay, the consciousness of his very dignity
might be unsettled and weakened by a vivid view of the origin of his
royal race. Promises, obligations, attachments, duties, principles,
and even debts, might interfere with the due discharge of his sacred
trusts, were the sovereign invested with a memory; and it has,
therefore, been decided, from time immemorial, that his majesty is
utterly without the properties of reason, judgment, and memory, as a
legitimate inference from his being destitute of a conscience."
Mr. Attorney-General now directed the attention of the court and
jury to a statute of the 3d of Firstborn 6th, by which it was
enacted that any person attributing to his majesty the possession of
any faculty, with felonious intent, that might endanger the
tranquillity of the state, should suffer decaudization, without
benefit of clergy. Here he rested the case on behalf of the crown.
There was a solemn pause, after the speaker had resumed his seat.
His argument, logic, and above all, his good sense and undeniable
law, made a very sensible impression; and I had occasion to observe
that Noah began to chew tobacco ravenously. After a decent interval,
however, Brigadier Downright--who, it would seem, in spite of his
military appellation, was neither more nor less than a practising
attorney and counsellor in the city of Bivouac, the commercial
capital of the Republic of Leaplow--arose, and claimed a right to be
heard in reply. The court now took it into its head to start the
objection, for the first time, that the advocate had not been duly
qualified to plead, or to argue, at their bar. My brother Downright
instantly referred their lordships to the law of adoption, and to
that provision of the criminal code which permitted the accused to
be heard by his next of kin.
"Prisoner at the bar," said the chief-justice, "you hear the
statement of counsel. Is it your desire to commit the management of
your defence to your next of kin?"
"To anybody, your honors, if the court please," returned Noah,
furiously masticating his beloved weed; "to anybody who will do it
well, my honorables, and do it cheap."
"And do you adopt, under the provisions of the statute in such cases
made and provided, Aaron Downright as one of your next of kin, and
if so, in what capacity?"
"I do--I do--my lords and your honors--I do, body and soul--if you
please, I adopt the brigadier as my father; and my fellow human
being and tried friend, Sir John Goldencalf, here, I adopt him as my
The court now formally assenting, the facts were entered of record,
and my brother Downright was requested to proceed with the defence.
The counsel for the prisoner, like Dandin, in Racine's comedy of Les
Plaideurs, was disposed to pass over the deluge, and to plunge
instantly into the core of his subject. He commenced with a review
of the royal prerogatives, and with a definition of the words "to
reign." Referring to the dictionary of the academy, he showed
triumphantly, that to reign, was no other than to "govern as a
sovereign"; while to govern, in the familiar signification, was no
more than to govern in the name of a prince, or as a deputy. Having
successfully established this point, he laid down the position, that
the greater might contain the less, but that the less could not
possibly contain the greater. That the right to reign, or to govern,
in the generic signification of the term, must include all the
lawful attributes of him who only governed, in the secondary
signification; and that, consequently, the king not only reigned,
but governed. He then proceeded to show that memory was
indispensable to him who governed, since, without one he could
neither recollect the laws, make a suitable disposition of rewards
and punishments, nor, in fact, do any other intelligent or necessary
act. Again, it was contended that by the law of the land the king's
conscience was in the keeping of his first-cousin. Now, in order
that the king's conscience should be in such keeping, it was clear
that he must HAVE a conscience, since a nonentity could not be in
keeping, or even put in commission; and, having a conscience, it
followed, ex necessitate rei, that he must have the attributes of a
conscience, of which memory formed one of the most essential
features. Conscience was defined to be "the faculty by which we
judge of the goodness or wickedness of our own actions. (See
Johnson's Dictionary, page 162, letter C. London edition. Rivington,
publisher.) Now, in what manner can one judge of the goodness or
wickedness of his acts, or of those of any other person, if he knows
nothing about them? and how can he know anything of the past, unless
endowed with the faculty of a memory?"
Again; it was a political corollary from the institutions of
Leaphigh, that the king could do no wrong--
"I beg your pardon, my brother Downright," interrupted the chief-
justice, "it is not a corollary, but a proposition--and one, too,
that is held to be demonstrated. It is the paramount law of the
"I thank you, my lord," continued the brigadier, "as your lordship's
high authority makes my case so much the stronger. It is, then,
settled law, gentle monikins of the jury, that the sovereign of this
realm can do no wrong. It is also settled law--their lordships will
correct me, if I misstate--it is also settled law that the sovereign
is the fountain of honor, that he can make war and peace, that he
administers justice, sees the laws executed--"
"I beg your pardon, again, brother Downright," interrupted the
chief-justice. "This is not the law, but the prerogative. It is the
king's prerogative to be and do all this, but it is very far from
"Am I to understand, my lord, that the court makes a distinction
between that which is prerogative, and that which is law?"
"Beyond a doubt, brother Downright! If all that is prerogative was
also law, we could not get on an hour."
"Prerogative, if your lordship pleases, or prerogativa, is defined
to be 'an exclusive or peculiar privilege.' (Johnson. Letter P, page
139, fifth clause from bottom; edition as aforesaid. Speaking slow,
in order to enable Baron Longbeard to make his notes.) Now, an
exclusive privilege, I humbly urge, must supersede all enactments,
"Not at all, sir--not at all, sir--not at all, sir," put in my lord
chief-justice, dogmatically-looking out of the window at the clouds,
in a way to show that his mind was quite made up. "Not at all, good
sir. The king has his prerogatives, beyond a question; and they are
sacred--a part of the constitution. They are, moreover, exclusive
and peculiar, as stated by Johnson; but their exclusiveness and
peculiarity are not to be constructed in the vulgar acceptations. In
treating of the vast interests of a state, the mind must take a wide
range; and I hold, brother Longbeard, there is no principle more
settled than the fact, that prerogativa is one thing, and lex, or
the law, another." The baron bowed assent. "By exclusion, in this
case, is meant that the prerogative touches only his majesty. The
prerogative is exclusively his property, and he may do what he
pleases with it; but the law is made for the nation, and is
altogether a different matter. Again: by peculiar, is clearly meant
peculiarity, or that this case is analogous to no other, and must be
reasoned on by the aid of a peculiar logic. No, sir--the king can
make peace and war, it is true, under his prerogative; but then his
conscience is hard and fast in the keeping of another, who alone can
perform all legal acts."
"But, my lord, justice, though administered by others, is still
administered in the king's name."
"No doubt, in his name: this is a part of the peculiar privilege.
War is made in his majesty's name, too--so is peace. What is war? It
is the personal conflicts between bodies of men of different
nations. Does his majesty engage in these conflicts? Certainly not.
The war is maintained by taxes. Does his majesty pay them? No. Thus
we see that while the war is constitutionally the king's, it is
practically the people's. It follows, as a corollary--since you
quote corollaries, brother Downright--that there are two wars--or
the war of the prerogative, and the war of the fact. Now, the
prerogative is a constitutional principle--a very sacred one,
certainly--but a fact is a thing that comes home to every monikin's
fireside; and therefore the courts have decided, ever since the
reign of Timid II., or ever since they dared, that the prerogative
was one thing, and the law another."
My brother Downright seemed a good deal perplexed by the
distinctions of the court, and he concluded much sooner than he
otherwise would have done; summing up the whole of his arguments, by
showing, or attempting to show, that if the king had even these
peculiar privileges, and nothing else, he must be supposed to have a
The court now called upon the attorney-general to reply; but that
person appeared to think his case strong enough as it was, and the
matter, by agreement, was submitted to the jury, after a short
charge from the bench.
"You are not to suffer your intellects to be confused,
gentlemonikins, by the argument of the prisoner's counsel,"
concluded the chief-justice. "He has done his duty, and it remains
for you to be equally conscientious. You are, in this case, the
judges of the law and the fact; but it is a part of my functions to
inform you what they both are. By the law, the king is supposed to
have no faculties. The inference drawn by counsel, that, not being
capable of erring, the king must have the highest possible moral
attributes, and consequently a memory, is unsound. The constitution
says his majesty CAN do no wrong. This inability may proceed from a
variety of causes. If he can do NOTHING, for instance, he can do no
wrong. The constitution does not say that the sovereign WILL do no
wrong--but, that he CAN do no wrong. Now, gentlemonikins, when a
thing cannot be done, it becomes impossible; and it is, of course,
beyond the reach of argument. It is of no moment whether a person
has a memory, if he cannot use it, and, in such a case, the legal
presumption is, that he is without a memory; for, otherwise, nature,
who is ever wise and beneficent, would be throwing away her gifts.
"Gentlemonikins, I have already said you are the judges, in this
case, of both the law and the fact. The fate of the prisoner is in
your hands. God forbid that it should be, in any manner, influenced
by me; but this is an offence against the king's dignity, and the
security of the realm; the law is against the prisoner, the facts
are all against the prisoner, and I do not doubt that your verdict
will be the spontaneous decision of your own excellent judgments,
and of such a nature as will prevent the necessity of our ordering a
The jurors put their tails together, and in less than a minute,
their foremonikin rendered a verdict of guilty. Noah sighed, and
took a fresh supply of tobacco.
The case of the queen was immediately opened by her majesty's
attorney-general; the prisoner having been previously arraigned, and
a plea entered of "not guilty."
The queen's advocate made a bitter attack on the animus of the
unfortunate prisoner. He described her majesty as a paragon of
excellences; as the depositary of all the monikin virtues, and the
model of her sex. "If she, who was so justly celebrated for the
gifts of charity, meekness, religion, justice, and submission to
feminine duties, had no memory," he asked leave to demand, in the
name of God, who had? "Without a memory, in what manner was this
illustrious personage to recall her duties to her royal consort, her
duties to her royal offspring, her duties to her royal self? Memory
was peculiarly a royal attribute; and without its possession no one
could properly be deemed of high and ancient lineage. Memory
referred to the past, and the consideration due to royalty was
scarcely ever a present consideration, but a consideration connected
with the past. We venerated the past. Time was divided into the
past, present, and future. The past was invariably a monarchical
interest--the present was claimed by republicans--the future
belonged to fate. If it were decided that the queen had no memory,
we should strike a blow at royalty. It was by memory, as connected
with the public archives, that the king derived his title to his
throne; it was by memory, which recalled the deeds of his ancestors,
that he became entitled to our most profound respect."
In this manner did the queen's attorney-general speak for about an
hour, when he gave way to the counsel for the prisoner. But, to my
great surprise, for I knew that this accusation was much the gravest
of the two, since the head of Noah would be the price of conviction,
my brother Downright, instead of making a very ingenious reply, as I
had fully anticipated, merely said a few words, in which he
expressed so firm a confidence in the acquittal of his client, as to
appear to think a further defence altogether unnecessary. He had no
sooner seated himself, than I expressed a strong dissatisfaction
with this course, and avowed an intention to make an effort in
behalf of my poor friend, myself.
"Keep silence, Sir John," whispered my brother Downright; "the
advocate who makes many unsuccessful applications gets to be
disrespected. I charge myself with the care of the lord high
admiral's interests; at the proper time they shall be duly attended
Having the profoundest respect for the brigadier's legal
attainments, and no great confidence in my own, I was fain to
submit. In the meantime, the business of the court proceeded; and
the jury, having received a short charge from the bench, which was
quite as impartial as a positive injunction to convict could very
well be, again rendered the verdict of "guilty."
In Leaphigh, although it is deemed indecent to wear clothes, it is
also esteemed exceedingly decorous for certain high functionaries to
adorn their persons with suitable badges of their official rank. We
have already had an account of the hierarchy of tails, and a general
description of the mantle composed of tenth-hairs; but I had
forgotten to say that both my lord chief-justice and Baron Longbeard
had tail-cases made of the skins of deceased monikins, which gave
the appearance of greater development to their intellectual organs,
and most probably had some influence in the way of coddling their
brains, which required great care and attention on account of
incessant use. They now drew over these tail-cases a sort of box-
coat of a very bloodthirsty color, which, we were given to
understand, was a sign that they were in earnest, and about to
pronounce sentence; justice in Leaphigh being of singularly
"Prisoner at the bar," the chief-justice began, in a voice of
reproof, "you have heard the decision of your peers. You have been
arraigned and tried on the heinous charge of having accused the
sovereign of this realm of being in possession of the faculty called
'a memory,' thereby endangering the peace of society, unsettling the
social relations, and setting a dangerous example of insubordination
and of contempt of the laws. Of this crime, after a singularly
patient and impartial hearing, you have been found guilty. The law
allows the court no discretion in the case. It is my duty to pass
sentence forthwith; and I now solemnly ask you, if you have anything
to say why sentence of decaudization should not be pronounced
against you. "Here the chief-justice took just time enough to gape,
and then proceeded--"You are right in throwing yourself altogether
on the mercy of the court, which better knows what is fittest for
you, than you can possibly know for yourself. You will be taken,
Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color, forthwith, to the centre of
the public square, between the hours of sunrise and sunset of this
day, where your cauda will be cut off; and after it has been divided
into four parts, a part will be exposed towards each of the cardinal
points of the compass; and the brush thereof being consumed by fire,
the ashes will be thrown into your face, and this without benefit of
clergy. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul!"
"Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color," put in Baron Longbeard,
without giving the culprit breathing-time, "you have been indicted,
tried, and found guilty of the enormous crime of charging the queen-
consort of this realm of being wanting in the ordinary, important,
and every-day faculty of a memory. Have you anything to say why
sentence should not be forthwith passed against you? No; I am sure
you are very right in throwing yourself altogether on the mercy of
the court, which is quite disposed to show you all that is in its
power, which happens, in this case, to be none at all. I need not
dwell on the gravity of your offence. If the law should allow that
the queen has no memory, other females might put in claims to the
same privilege, and society would become a chaos. Marriage vows,
duties, affections, and all our nearest and dearest interests would
be unhinged, and this pleasant state of being would degenerate into
a moral, or rather an immoral pandemonium. Keeping in view these
all-important considerations, and more especially the imperativeness
of the law, which does not admit of discretion, the court sentences
you to be carried hence, without delay, to the centre of the great
square, where your head will be severed from your body by the public
executioner, without benefit of clergy; after which your remains are
to be consigned to the public hospitals for the purposes of
The words were scarcely out of Baron Longbeard's mouth, before both
the attorneys-general started up, to move the court in behalf of the
separate dignities of their respective principals. Mr. Attorney-
General of the crown prayed the court so far to amend its sentence,
as to give precedency to the punishment on account of the offence
against the king; and Mr. Attorney-General for the queen, to pray
the court it would not be so far forgetful of her majesty's rights
and dignity, as to establish a precedent so destructive of both. I
caught a glimpse of hope glancing about the eyes of my brother
Downright, who, waiting just long enough to let the two advocates
warm themselves over these points of law, arose and moved the court
for a stay of execution, on the plea that neither sentence was
legal--that delivered by my lord chief-justice containing a
contradiction, inasmuch as it ordered the decaudization to take
place between THE HOURS OF SUNRISE AND SUNSET, and also FORTHWITH;
and that delivered by Baron Longbeard, on account of its ordering
the body to be given up to dissection, contrary to the law, which
merely made that provision in the case of condemned MONIKINS, the
prisoner at the bar being entirely of another species.
The court deemed all these objections serious, but decided on its
own incompetency to take cognizance of them. It was a question for
the twelve judges, who were now on the point of assembling, and to
whom they referred the whole affair on appeal. In the meantime,
justice could not be stayed. The prisoner must be carried out into
the square, and matters must proceed; but, should either of the
points be finally determined in his favor, he could have the benefit
of it, so far as circumstances would then allow. Hereupon the court
rose, and the judges, counsel, and clerks repaired in a body to the
hall of the twelve judges.
BETTER AND BETTER--MORE LAW AND MORE JUSTICE--TAILS AND HEADS: THE
IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING EACH IN ITS PROPER PLACE.
Noah was incontinently transferred to the place of execution, where
I promised to meet him in time to receive his parting sigh,
curiosity inducing me first to learn the issue on the appeal. The
brigadier told me in confidence, as we went to the other hall, that
the affair was now getting to be one of great interest; that
hitherto it had been mere boy's play, but it would in future require
counsel of great reading and research to handle the arguments, and
that he flattered himself there was a good occasion likely to
present itself, for him to show what monikin reason really was.
The whole of the twelve wore tail-cases, and altogether they
presented a formidable array of intellectual development. As the
cause of Noah was admitted to be one of more than common urgency,
after hearing only three or four other short applications on behalf
of the crown, whose rights always have precedence on such occasions,
the attorney-general of the king was desired to open his case.
The learned counsel spoke, in anticipation, to the objections of
both his adversaries, beginning with those of my brother Downright.
Forthwith, he contended, might be at any period of the twenty-four
hours, according to the actual time of using the term. Thus,
forthwith of a morning, would mean in the morning; forthwith at
noon, would mean at noon; and so on to the close of the legal day.
Moreover, in a legal signification, forthwith must mean between
sunrise and sunset, the statute commanding that all executions shall
take place by the light of the sun, and consequently the two terms
ratified and confirmed each other, instead of conveying a
contradiction, or of neutralizing each other, as would most probably
be contended by the opposite counsel.
To all this my brother Downright, as is usual on such occasions,
objected pretty much the converse. He maintained that ALL light
proceeded from the sun; and that the statute, therefore, could only
mean that there should be no executions during eclipses, a period
when the whole monikin race ought to be occupied in adoration.
Forthwith, moreover, did not necessarily mean forthwith, for
forthwith meant immediately; and "between sunrise and sunset" meant
between sunrise and sunset; which might be immediately, or might
On this point the twelve judges decided, firstly, that forthwith did
not mean forthwith; secondly, that forthwith did mean forthwith;
thirdly, that forthwith had two legal meanings; fourthly, that it
was illegal to apply one of these legal meanings to a wrong legal
purpose; and fifthly, that the objection was of no avail, as
respected the case of No. 1, sea-water-color. Ordered, therefore,
that the criminal lose his tail forthwith.
The objection to the other sentence met with no better fate. Men and
monikins did not differ more than some men differed from other men,
or some monikins differed from other monikins. Ordered, that the
sentence be confirmed, with costs. I thought this decision the
soundest of the two; for I had often had occasion to observe, that
there were very startling points of resemblance between monkeys and
our own species.
The contest now commenced between the two attorneys-general in
earnest; and, as the point at issue was a question of mere rank, it
excited a lively--I may say an engrossing--interest in all the
hearers. It was settled, however, after a vigorous discussion, in
favor of the king, whose royal dignity the twelve judges were
unanimously of opinion was entitled to precedency over that of the
queen. To my great surprise, my brother Downright volunteered an
argument on this intricate point, making an exceedingly clever
speech in favor of the king's dignity, as was admitted by every one
who heard it. It rested chiefly on the point that the ashes of the
tail were, by the sentence, to be thrown into the culprit's face. It
is true this might be done physically after decapitation, but it
could not be done morally. This part of the punishment was designed
for a moral effect; and to produce that effect, consciousness and
shame were both necessary. Therefore the moral act of throwing the
ashes into the face of the criminal could only be done while he was
living, and capable of being ashamed.
Meditation, chief-justice, delivered the opinion of the bench. It
contained the usual amount of legal ingenuity and logic, was
esteemed as very eloquent in that part which touched on the sacred
and inviolable character of the royal prerogatives (prerogativae as
he termed them), and was so lucid in pointing out the general
inferiority of the queen-consort, that I felt happy her majesty was
not present to hear herself and sex undervalued. As might have been
expected, it allowed great weight to the distinction taken by the
brigadier. The decision was in the following words, viz.: "Rex et
Regina versus No. 1, sea-water-color: ordered, that the officers of
justice shall proceed forthwith to decaudizate the defendant before
they decapitate him; provided he has not been forthwith decapitated
before he can be decaudizated."
The moment this mandamus was put into the hands of the proper
officer, Brigadier Downright caught me by the knee, and led me out
of the hall of justice, as if both out lives depended on our
expedition. I was about to reproach him for having volunteered to
aid the king's attorney-general, when, seizing me by the root of the
tail, for the want of a button-hole, he said, with evident
"Affairs go on swimmingly, my dear Sir John! I do not remember to
have been employed, for some years, in a more interesting
litigation. Now this cause, which, no doubt, you think is drawing to
a close, has just reached its pivot, or turning-point; and I see
every prospect of extricating our client with great credit to
"How! my brother Downright!" I interrupted; "the accused is finally
sentenced, if not actually executed!"
"Not so fast, my good Sir John--not so fast, by any means. Nothing
is final in law, while there is a farthing to meet the costs, or the
criminal can yet gasp. I hold our case to be in an excellent way;
much better than I have deemed it at any time since the accused was
Surprise left me no other power than that which was necessary to
demand an explanation.
"All depends on the single fact, dear sir," continued my brother
Downright, "whether the head is still on the body of the accused or
not. Do you proceed, as fast as possible, to the place of execution;
and, should our client still have a head, keep up his spirits by a
proper religious discourse, always preparing him for the worst, for
this is no more than wisdom; but, the instant his tail is separated
from his body, run hither as fast as you can, to apprise me of the
fact. I ask but two things of you--speed in coming with the news,
and perfect certainty that the tail is not yet attached to the rest
of the frame, by even a hair. A hair often turns the scales of
"The case seems desperate--would it not be as well for me to run
down to the palace, at once; demand an audience of their majesties,
throw myself on my knees before the royal pair, and implore a
"Your project is impracticable, for three sufficient reasons:
firstly, there is not time; secondly, you would not be admitted
without a special appointment; thirdly, there is neither a king nor
"No king in Leaphigh!"
"I have said it."
"Explain yourself, brother Downright, or I shall be obliged to
refute what you say, by the evidence of my own senses."
"Your senses will prove to be false witnesses then. Formerly there
was a king in Leaphigh, and one who governed, as well as reigned.
But the nobles and grandees of the country, deeming it indecent to
trouble his majesty with affairs of state any longer, took upon
themselves all the trouble of governing, leaving to the sovereign
the sole duty of reigning. This was done in a way to save his
feelings, under the pretence of setting up a barrier to the physical
force and abuses of the mass. After a time, it was found
inconvenient and expensive to feed and otherwise support the royal
family, and all its members were privately shipped to a distant
region, which had not yet got to be so far advanced in civilization,
as to know how to keep up a monarchy without a monarch."
"And does Leaphigh succeed in effecting this prodigy?"
"Wonderfully well. By means of decapitations and decaudizations
enough, even greater exploits may be performed."
"But am I to understand literally, brother Downright, there is no
such thing as a monarch in this country?"
"And the presentations?"
"Are like these trials, to maintain the monarchy."
"And the crimson curtains?--"
"Conceal empty seats."
"Why not, then, dispense with so much costly representation?"
"In what way could the grandees cry out that the throne is in
danger, if there were no throne? It is one thing to have no monarch,
and another to have no throne. But all this time our client is in
great jeopardy. Hasten, therefore, and be particular to act as I
have just instructed you."
I stopped to hear no more, but in a minute was flying towards the
centre of the square. It was easy enough to perceive the tail of my
friend waving over the crowd; but grief and apprehension had already
rendered his countenance so rueful, that, at the first glance, I did
not recognize his head. He was, however, still in the body; for,
luckily for himself, and more especially for the success of his
principal counsel, the gravity of his crimes had rendered unusual
preparations necessary for the execution. As the mandate of the
court had not yet arrived--justice being as prompt in Leaphigh as
her ministers are dilatory--two blocks were prepared, and the
culprit was about to get down on his hands and knees between them,
just as I forced my way through the crowd to his side.
"Ah! Sir John, this is an awful predicament!" exclaimed the rebuked
Noah; "a ra'ally awful situation for a human Christian to have his
enemies lying athwart both bows and starn!"
"While there is life there is hope; but it is always best to be
prepared for the worst--he who is thus prepared never can meet with
a disagreeable surprise. Messrs. Executioners"--for there were two,
that of the king, and that of the queen, or one at each end of the
unhappy criminal--"Messrs. Executioners, I pray you to give the
culprit a moment to arrange his thoughts, and to communicate his
last requests in behalf of his distant family and friends!"
To this reasonable petition neither of the higher functionaries of
the law made any objection, although both insisted if they did not
forthwith bring the culprit to the last stages of preparation, they
might lose their places. They did not see, however, but a man might
pause for a moment on the brink of the grave. It would seem that
there had been a little misunderstanding between the executioners
themselves on the point of precedency, which had been one cause of
the delay, and which had been disposed of by an arrangement that
both should operate at the same instant. Noah was now brought down
to his hands and knees, "moored head and starn," as that unfeeling
blackguard Bob, who was in the crowd, expressed it, between the two
blocks, his neck lying on one and his tail on the other. While in
this edifying attitude, I was permitted to address him.
"It may be well to bethink you of your soul, my dear captain," I
said; "for, to speak truth, these axes have a very prompt and
"I know it, Sir John, I know it; and, not to mislead you, I will own
that I have been repenting with all my might, ever since that first
vardict. That affair of the lord high admiral, in particular, has
given me a good deal of consarn; and I now humbly ask your pardon
for being led away by such a miserable deception, which is all owing
to that riptyle Dr. Reasono, who, I hope, will yet meet with his
desarts. I forgive everybody, and hope everybody will forgive me. As
for Miss Poke, it will be a hard case; for she is altogether past
expecting another consort, and she must be satisfied to be a relic
the rest of her days."
"Repentance, repentance, my dear Noah--repentance is the one thing
needful for a man in your extremity."
"I do--I do, Sir John, body and soul--I repent, from the bottom of
my heart, ever having come on this v'y'ge--nay, I don't know but I
repent ever having come outside of Montauk Point. I might, at this
moment, have been a school-master or a tavern-keeper in Stunnin'tun;
and they are both good wholesome berths, particularly the last. Lord
love you! Sir John, if repentance would do any good, I should be
pardoned on the spot."
Here Noah caught a glimpse of Bob grinning in the crowd, and he
asked of the executioners, as a last favor, that they would have the
boy brought near, that he might take an affectionate leave of him.
This reasonable request was complied with, despite of poor Bob's
struggles; and the youngster had quite as good reasons for hearty
repentance as the culprit himself. Just at this trying moment the
mandate for the order of the punishments arrived, and the officials
seriously declared that the condemned must be prepared to meet his
The unflinching manner in which Captain Poke submitted to the mortal
process of decaudization extracted plaudits from, and awakened
sympathy in every monikin present. Having satisfied myself that the
tail was actually separated from the body, I ran, as fast as legs
could carry me, towards the hall of the twelve judges. My brother
Downright, who was impatiently expecting my appearance, instantly
arose and moved the bench to issue a mandamus for a stay of
execution in the case of "Regina versus Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-
water-color. By the statute of the 2d of Longevity and Flirtilla, it
was enacted, my lords," put in the brigadier, "that in no case shall
a convicted felon suffer loss of life, or limb, while it can be
established that he is non compos mentis. This is also a rule, my
lords, of common law--but being common sense and common monikinity,
it has been thought prudent to enforce it by an especial enactment.
I presume Mr. Attorney-General for the queen will scarcely dispute
the law of the case--"
"Not at all, my lords--though I have some doubts as to the fact. The
fact remains to be established," answered the other, taking snuff.
"The fact is certain, and will not admit of cavil. In the case of
Rex versus Noah Poke, the court ordered the punishment of
decaudization to take precedence of that of decapitation, in the
case of Regina versus the same. Process had been issued from the
bench to that effect; the culprit has, in consequence, lost his
cauda, and with it his reason; a creature without reason has always
been held to be non compos mentis, and by the law of the land is not
liable to the punishments of life or limb."
"Your law is plausible, my brother Downright," observed my lord
chief-justice, "but it remains for the bench to be put in possession
of the facts. At the next term, you will perhaps be better prepared--"
"I pray you, my lord, to remember that this is a case which will not
admit of three months' delay."
"We can decide the principle a year hence, as well as to-day; and we
have now sat longer in banco," looking at his watch, "than is either
usual, agreeable, or expedient."
"But, my lords, the proof is at hand. Here is a witness to establish
that the cauda of Noah Poke, the defendant of record, has actually
been separated from his body--"
"Nay--nay--my brother Downright, a barrister of your experience must
know that the twelve can only take evidence on affidavit. If you had
an affidavit prepared, we might possibly find time to hear it,
before we adjourn; as it is, the affair must lie over to another
I was now in a cold sweat, for I could distinctly scent the peculiar
odor of the burning tail; the ashes of which being fairly thrown
into Noah's face, there remained no further obstacle to the process
of decapitation--the sentence, it will be remembered, having kept
his countenance on his shoulders expressly for that object. My
brother Downright, however, was not a lawyer to be defeated by so
simple a stumbling-block. Seizing a paper that was already written
over in a good legal hand, which happened to be lying before him, he
read it, without pause or hesitation, in the following manner:
"Regina versus Noah Poke."
"Kingdom of Leaphigh, Season of Nuts, } Personally
this fourth day of the Moon. } appeared before me,
Meditation, Lord Chief-Justice of the Court of King's Bench, John
Goldencalf, baronet, of the Kingdom of Great Britain, who, being
duly sworn, doth depose and say, viz., that he, the said deponent,
was present at, and did witness, the decaudization of the defendant
in this suit, and that the tail of the said Noah Poke, or No. 1,
sea-water-color, hath been truly and physically separated from his
body.--And further this deponent sayeth not. Signature, etc."
Having read, in the most fluent manner, the foregoing affidavit,
which existed only in his own brain, my brother Downright desired
the court to take my deposition to its truth.
"John Goldencalf, baronet," said the chief-justice, "you have heard
what has just been read; do you swear to its truth?"
Here the affidavit was signed by both my lord chief-justice and
myself, and it was duly put on file. I afterwards learned that the
paper used by my brother Downright on this memorable occasion was no
other than the notes which the chief-justice himself had taken on
one of the arguments in the case in question, and that, seeing the
names and title of the cause, besides finding it no easy matter to
read his own writing, that high officer of the crown had, very
naturally, supposed that all was right. As to the rest of the bench,
they were in too great a hurry to go to dinner, to stop and read
affidavits, and the case was instantly disposed of, by the following
"Regina versus Noah Poke, etc. Ordered, that the culprit be
considered non compos mentis, and that he be discharged, on finding
security to keep the peace for the remainder of his natural life."
An officer was instantly dispatched to the great square with this
reprieve, and the court rose. I delayed a little in order to enter
into the necessary recognizances in behalf of Noah, taking up at the
same time the bonds given the previous night, for his appearance to
answer to the indictments. These forms being duly complied with, my
brother Downright and myself repaired to the place of execution, in
order to congratulate our client--the former justly elated with his
success, which he assured me was not a little to the credit of his
We found Noah surprisingly relieved by his liberation from the hands
of the Philistines; nor was he at all backwards in expressing his
satisfaction at the unexpected turn things had taken. According to
his account of the matter, he did not set a higher value on his head
than another; still, it was convenient to have one; had it been
necessary to part with it, he made no doubt he should have submitted
to do so like a man, referring to the fortitude with which he had
borne the amputation of his cauda, as a proof of his resolution; for
his part, he should take very good care how he accused any one with
having a memory, or anything else, again, and he now saw the
excellence of those wise provisions of the laws, which cut up a
criminal in order to prevent the repetition of his offences; he did
not intend to stay much longer on shore, believing he should be less
in the way of temptation on board the Walrus than among the
monikins; and, as for his own people, he was sure of soon catching
them on board again, for they had now been off their pork twenty-
four hours, and nuts were but poor grub for foremast hands, after
all; philosophers might say what they pleased about governments,
but, in his opinion, the only ra'al tyrant on 'arth was the belly;
he did not remember ever to have had a struggle with his belly--and
he had a thousand--that the belly didn't get the better; that it
would be awkward to lay down the title of lord high admiral, but it
was easier to lay down that than to lay down his head; that as for
cauda, though it was certainly agreeable to be in the fashion, he
could do very well without one, and when he got back to Stunnin'tun,
should the worst come to the worst, there was a certain saddler in
the place who could give him as good a fit as the one he had lost;
that Miss Poke would have been greatly scandalized, however, had he
come home after decapitation; that it might be well to sail for
Leaplow as soon as convenient, for in that country he understood
bobs were in fashion, and he admitted that he should not like to
cruise about Leaphigh, for any great length of time, unless he could
look as other people look; for his part, he bore no one a grudge,
and he freely forgave everybody but Bob, out of whom, the Lord
willing, he proposed to have full satisfaction, before the ship
should be twenty-four hours at sea, etc., etc., etc.
Such was the general tendency of the remarks of Captain Poke, as we
proceeded towards the port, where he embarked and went on board the
Walrus, with some eagerness, having learned that our rear-admirals
and post-captains had, indeed, yielded to the calls of nature, and
had all gone to their duty, swearing they would rather be foremast
Jacks in a well-victualled ship, than the king of Leaphigh upon
The captain had no sooner entered the boat, taking his head with
him, than I began to make my acknowledgments to my brother Downright
for the able manner in which he had defended my fellow human being;
paying, at the same time, some well-merited compliments to the
ingenious and truly philosophical distinctions of the Leaphigh
system of jurisprudence.
"Spare your thanks and your commendations, I beg of you, good Sir
John," returned the brigadier, as we walked back towards my
lodgings. "We did as well as circumstances would allow; though our
whole defence would have been upset, had not the chief-justice very
luckily been unable to read his own handwriting. As for the
principles and forms of the monikin law--for in these particulars
Leaplow is very much like Leaphigh--as you have seen them displayed
in these two suits, why, they are such as we have. I do not pretend
that they are faultless; on the contrary, I could point out
improvements myself--but we get on with them as well as we can: no
doubt, among men, you have codes that will better bear examination."
A NEOPHYTE IN DIPLOMACY--DIPLOMATIC INTRODUCTION--A CALCULATION--A
SHIPMENT OF OPINIONS--HOW TO CHOOSE AN INVOICE, WITH AN ASSORTMENT.
I now began seriously to think of sailing for Leaplow; for, I
confess, I was heartily tired of being thought the governor of His
Royal Highness Prince Bob, and pined to be restored once more to my
proper place in society. I was the more incited to make the change
by the representations of the brigadier, who assured me that it was
sufficient to come from foreign parts to be esteemed a nobleman in
Leaplow, and that I need not apprehend in his country any of the
ill-treatment I had received in the one in which I now was. After
talking over the matter, therefore, in a familiar way, we determined
to repair at once to the Leaplow legation, in order to ask for our
passports, and to offer, at the same time, to carry any dispatches
that Judge People's Friend might have prepared for his government--
it being the custom of the Leaplowers to trust to these godsends in
carrying on their diplomatic correspondence.
We found the judge in undress, and a very different figure he cut,
certainly, from that which he made when I saw him the previous night
at court. Then he was all queue; now he was all bob. He seemed glad
to see us, however, and quite delighted when I told him of the
intention to sail for Leaplow, as soon as the wind served. He
instantly asked a passage for himself, with republican simplicity.
There was to be another turn of the great and little wheels, he
said, and it was quite important to himself to be on the spot; for,
although everything was, beyond all question, managed with perfect
republican propriety, yet, somehow (and yet he did not know exactly
how, but SOMEHOW), those who are on the spot always get the best
prizes. If I could give him a passage, therefore, he would esteem it
a great personal favor; and I might depend on it, the circumstance
would be well received by the party. Although I did not very well
understand what he meant by this party, which was to view the act so
kindly, I very cheerfully told the judge that the apartments lately
occupied by my lord Chatterino and his friends were perfectly at his
disposal. I was then asked when I intended to sail; and the answer
was, the instant the wind hauled, so we could lay out of the harbor.
It might be within half an hour. Hereupon Judge People's Friend
begged I would have the goodness to wait until he could hunt up a
charge d'affaires. His instructions were most peremptory never to
leave the legation without a charge d'affaires; but he would just
brush his bob, and run into the street, and look up one in five
minutes, if I would promise to wait so long. It would have been
unkind to refuse so trifling a favor, and the promise was given. The
judge must have run as fast as his legs would carry him; for, in
about ten minutes, he was back again, with a diplomatic recruit. He
told me his heart had misgiven him sadly. The three first to whom he
offered the place had plumply refused it, and, indeed, he did not
know but he should have a quarrel or two on his hands; but, at last,
he had luckily found one who could get nothing else to do, and he
pinned him on the spot.
So far everything had gone on swimmingly; but the new charge had,
most unfortunately, a very long cauda, a fashion that was inexorably
proscribed by the Leaplow usages, except in cases when the
representative went to court; for it seems the Leaplow political
ethics, like your country buck, has two dresses--one for every-day
wear, and one for Sundays. The judge intimated to his intended
substitute, that it was absolutely indispensable he should submit to
an amputation, or he could not possibly confer the appointment,
queues being proscribed at home by both public opinions, the
horizontal and the perpendicular. To this the candidate objected,
that he very well knew the Leaplow usages on this head, but that he
had seen his excellency himself going to court with a singularly
apparent brush; and he had supposed from that, and from sundry other
little occurrences he did not care to particularize, that the
Leaplowers were not so bigoted in their notions but they could act
on the principle of doing at Rome as is done by the Romans. To this
the judge replied, that this principle was certainly recognized in
all things that were agreeable, and that he knew, from experience,
how hard it was to go in a bob, when all around him went in cauda;
but that tails were essentially anti-republican, and, as such, had
been formally voted down in Leaplow, where even the Great Sachem did
not dare to wear one, let him long for it as much as he would; and
if it were known that a public charge offended in this particular,
although he might be momentarily protected by one of the public
opinions, the matter would certainly be taken up by the opposition
public opinion, and then the people might order a new turn of the
little wheel, which heaven it knew! occurred now a great deal
oftener than was either profitable or convenient.
Hereupon the candidate deliberately undid the fastenings and removed
the queue, showing, to our admiration, that it was false, and that
he was, after all neither more nor less than a Leaplower in
masquerade; which, by the way, I afterwards learned, was very apt to
be the case with a great many of that eminently original people,
when they got without the limits of their own beloved land. Judge
People's Friend was now perfectly delighted. He told us this was
exactly what he could most have wished for. "Here is a bob," said
he, "for the horizontals and perpendiculars, and there is a capital
ready-made cauda for his majesty and his majesty's first-cousin! A
Leaphighized Leaplower, more especially if there be a dash of
caricature about him, is the very thing in our diplomacy." Finding
matters so much to his mind, the judge made out the letter of
appointment on the spot, and then proceeded to give his substitute
the usual instructions.
"You are on all occasions," he said, "to take the utmost care not to
offend the court of Leaphigh, or the meanest of the courtiers, by
advancing any of our peculiar opinions, all of which, beyond
dispute, you have at your finger-ends; on this score, you are to be
so particular that you may even, in your own person, pro tempore,
abandon republicanism--yea, sacred republicanism itself!--knowing
that it can easily be resumed on your return home again. You are to
remember there is nothing so undiplomatic, or even vulgar, as to
have an opinion on any subject, unless it should be the opinion of
the persons you may happen to be in company with; and, as we have
the reputation of possessing that quality in an eminent degree,
everywhere but at home, take especial heed to eschew vulgarity--if
you can. You will have the greatest care, also, to wear the shortest
bob in all your private, and the longest tail in all your public
relations, this being one of the most important of the celebrated
checks and balances of our government. Our institutions being
expressly formed by the mass, for the particular benefit of all, you
will be excessively careful not to let the claims of any one
citizen, or even any set of citizens, interfere with that harmony
which it is so necessary, for the purposes of trade, to maintain
with all foreign courts; which courts being accustomed themselves to
consider their subjects as cattle, to be worked in the traces of the
state, are singularly restive whenever they hear of any individual
being made of so much importance. Should any Leaplower become
troublesome on this score, give him a bad name at once; and in order
to effect that object with your own single-minded and right-loving
countrymen, swear that he is a disorganizer, and, my life on it,
both public opinions at home will sustain you; for there is nothing
on which our public opinions agree so well as the absolute deference
which they pay to foreign public opinions--and this the more
especially, in all matters that are likely to affect profits, by
deranging commerce. You will, above all things, make it a point to
be in constant relations with some of the readiest paragraph-writers
of the newspapers, in order to see that facts are properly stated at
home. I would advise you to look out some foreigner, who has never
seen Leaplow, for this employment; one that is also paid to write
for the journals of Leapup, or Leapdown, or some other foreign
country; by which means you will be sure to get an impartial agent,
or one who can state things in your own way, who is already half
paid for his services, and who will not be likely to make blunders
by meddling with distinctive thought. When a person of this
character is found, let him drop a line now and then in favor of
your own sagacity and patriotism; and if he should say a pleasant
thing occasionally about me, it will do no harm, but may help the
little wheel to turn more readily. In order to conceal his origin,
let your paragraph-agent use the word OUR freely; the use of this
word, as you know, being the only qualification of citizenship in
Leaplow. Let him begin to spell the word O-U-R, and then proceed to
pronounce it, and be careful that he does not spell it H-O-U-R,
which might betray his origin. Above all things, you will be
patriotic and republican, avoiding the least vindication of your
country and its institutions, and satisfying yourself with saying
that the latter are, at least, well suited to the former, if you
should say this in a way to leave the impression on your hearers,
that you think the former fitted for nothing else, it will be
particularly agreeable and thoroughly republican, and most eminently
modest and praiseworthy. You will find the diplomatic agents of all
other states sensitive on the point of their peculiar political
usages, and prompt to defend them; but this is a weakness you will
rigidly abstain from imitating, for our polity being exclusively
based on reason, you are to show a dignified confidence in the
potency of that fundamental principle, nor in any way lessen the
high character that reason already enjoys, by giving any one cause
to suspect you think reason is not fully able to take care of
itself. With these leading hints, and your own natural tendencies,
which I am glad to see are eminently fitted for the great objects of
diplomacy--being ductile, imitative, yielding, calculating, and,
above all, of a foreign disposition--I think you will be able to get
on very cleverly. Cultivate, above all things, your foreign
dispositions, for you are now on foreign duty, and your country
reposes on your shoulders and eminent talents the whole burden of
its foreign interests in this part of the world."
Here the judge closed his address, which was oral, apparently well
satisfied with himself and with his raw-hand in diplomacy. He then
"That he would now go to court to present his substitute, and to
take leave himself; after which he would return as fast as possible,
and detain us no longer than was necessary to put his cauda in
pepper, to protect it against the moths; for heaven knew what prize
he might draw in the next turn of the little wheel!"
We promised to meet him at the port, where a messenger just then
informed us Captain Poke had landed, and was anxiously waiting our
appearance. With this understanding we separated; the judge
undertaking to redeem all our promises paid in at the tavern, by
giving his own in their stead.
The brigadier and myself found Noah and the cook bargaining for some
private adventures with a Leaphigh broker or two, who, finding that
the ship was about to sail in ballast, were recommending their wares
to the notice of these two worthies.
"It would be a ra'al sin, Sir John," commenced the captain, "to
neglect an occasion like this to turn a penny. The ship could carry
ten thousand immigrants, and they say there are millions of them
going over to Leaplow; or it might stow half the goods in
Aggregation. I'm resolved, at any rate, to use my cabin privilege;
and I would advise you, as owner, to look out for suthin' to pay
port-charges with, to say the least."
"The idea is not a bad one, friend Poke; but, as we are ignorant of
the state of the market on the other side, it might be well to
consult some inhabitant of the country about the choice of articles.
Here is the Brigadier Downright, whom I have found to be a monikin
of experience and judgment, and if you please, we will first hear
what he has to say about it."
"I dabble very little in merchandise," returned the brigadier; "but,
as a general principle, I should say that no article of Leaphigh
manufacture would command so certain a market in Leaplow as
"Have you any of these opinions for sale?" I inquired of the broker.
"Plenty of them, sir, and of all qualities--from the very lowest to
the very 'ighest prices--those that may be had for next to nothing,
to those that we think a great deal of ourselves. We always keeps
them ready packed for exportation, and send wast invoices of them,
hannually, to Leaplow in particular. Opinions are harticles that
help to sell each other; and a ship of the tonnage of yours might
stow enough, provided they were properly assorted, to carry all
before them for the season."
Expressing a wish to see the packages, we were immediately led into
an adjoining warehouse, where, sure enough, there were goodly lots
of the manufactures in question. I passed along the shelves, reading
the inscriptions of the different packages. Pointing to several
bundles that had "Opinions on Free Trade" written on their labels, I
asked the brigadier what he thought of that article.
"Why, they would have done better, a year or two since, when we were
settling a new tariff; but I should think there would be less demand
for them now."
"You are quite right, sir," added the broker; "we did send large
invoices of them to Leaplow formerly, and they were all eagerly
bought up, the moment they arrived. A great many were dyed over
again, and sold as of 'ome manufacture. Most of these harticles are
now shipped for Leapup, with whom we have negotiations that give
them a certain value."
"'Opinions on Democracy, and on the Policy of Governments in
General': I should think these would be of no use in Leaplow?"
"Why, sir, they goes pretty much hover the whole world. We sell
powers on 'em on hour own continent, near by, and a great many do go
even to Leaplow; though what they does with 'em there, I never could
say, seeing they are all government monikins in that queer country."
An inquiring look extorted a clearer answer from the brigadier:--
"To admit the fact, we have a class among us who buy up these
articles with some eagerness. I can only account for it, by
supposing they think differing in their tastes from the mass, makes
them more enlightened and peculiar."
"I'll take them all. An article that catches these propensities is
sure of sale. 'Opinions on Events': what can possibly be done with
"That depends a little on their classification," returned the
brigadier. "If they relate to Leaplow events, while they have a
certain value, they cannot be termed of current value; but if they
refer to the events of all the rest of the earth, take them for
heaven's sake! for we trust altogether to this market for our
On this hint I ordered the whole lot, trusting to dispose of the
least fashionable by aid of those that were more in vogue.
"'Opinions on Domestic Literature.'"
"You may buy all he has; we use no other."
"'Opinions on Continental Literature.'"
"Why, we know little about the goods themselves--but I think a
selection might answer."
I ordered the bale cut in two, and took one half, at a venture.
"'Opinions of Leaplow Literature, From No. 1 up to No. 100.'"
"Ah! it is proper I should explain," put in the broker, "that we has
two varieties of them 'ere harticles. One is the true harticle, as
is got up by our great wits and philosophers, they says, on the most
approved models; but the other is nothing but a sham harticle that
is really manufactured in Leaplow, and is sent out here to get hour
stamp. That's all--I never deceives a customer--both sell well, I
hear, on the other side, 'owever."
I looked again at the brigadier, who quietly nodding assent, I took
the whole hundred bales.
"'Opinions of the Institutions of Leaphigh.'"
"Why, them 'ere is assorted, being of all sizes, forms, and colors.
They came coastwise, and are chiefly for domestic consumption;
though I have known 'em sent to Leaplow, with success."
"The consumers of this article among us," observed the brigadier,
"are very select, and rarely take any but of the very best quality.
But then they are usually so well stocked, that I question if a new
importation would pay freight. Indeed, our consumers cling very
generally to the old fashions in this article, not even admitting
the changes produced by time. There was an old manufacturer called
Whiterock, who has a sort of Barlow-knife reputation among us, and
it is not easy to get another article to compete with his. Unless
they are very antiquated, I would have nothing to do with them."
"Yes. this is all true. sir. We still sends to Leaplow quantities of
that 'ere manufacture; and the more hantiquated the harticle, the
better it sells; but then the new fashions has a most wonderful run
"I'll stick to the real Barlow, through thick or thin. Hunt me up a
bale of his notions; let them be as old as the flood. What have we
here?--'opinions on the Institutions of Leaplow.'"
"Take them," said the brigadier, promptly.
"This 'ere gentleman has an hidear of the state of his own market,"
added the broker, giggling. "Wast lots of these things go across
yearly--and I don't find that any on 'em ever comes back."
"'Opinions on the State of Manners and Society in Leaplow.'"
"I believe I'll take an interest in that article myself, Sir John,
if you can give me a ton or two between decks. Have you many of this
"Lots on 'em, sir--and they DO sell so! That 'ere are a good
harticle both at 'ome and abroad. My eye! how they does go off in
"This appears to be also your expectation, brigadier, by your
readiness to take an interest!"
"To speak the truth, nothing sells better in our beloved country."
"Permit me to remark that I find your readiness to purchase this and
the last article, a little singular. If I have rightly comprehended
our previous conversations, you Leaplowers profess to have improved
not only on the ancient principles of polity, but on the social
"We will talk of this during the passage homewards, Sir John
Goldencalf; but, by your leave, I will take a share in the
investment in 'Opinions on the State of Society and Manners in
Leaplow,' especially if they treat at large on the deformities of
the government, while they allow us to be genteel. This is the true
notch--some of these goods have been condemned because the
manufacturers hadn't sufficient skill in dyeing."
"You shall have a share, brigadier. Harkee, Mr. Broker; I take it
these said opinions come from some very well-known and approved
"All sorts, sir. Some good, and some good for nothing--everything
sells, 'owever. I never was in Leaplow, but we says over 'ere, that
the Leaplowers eat, and drink, and sleep on our opinions. Lord, sir,
it would really do your heart good to see the stuff, in these
harticles, that they does take from us without higgling!"
"I presume, brigadier, that you use them as an amusement--as a means
to pass a pleasant hour, of an evening--a sort of moral segar?"
"No, sir," put in the broker, "they doesn't smoke 'em, my word on't,
or they wouldn't buy 'em in such lots!"
I now thought enough had been laid in on my own account, and I
turned to see what the captain was about. He was higgling for a bale
marked "Opinions on the Lost Condition of the Monikin Soul." A
little curious to know why he had made this selection, I led him
aside, and frankly put the question.
"Why, to own the truth, Sir John," he said, "religion is an article
that sells in every market, in some shape or other. Now, we are all
in the dark about the Leaplow tastes and usages, for I always
suspect a native of the country to which I am bound, on such a
p'int; and if the things shouldn't sell there, they'll at least do
at Stunnin'tun. Miss Poke alone would use up what there is in that
there bale, in a twelvemonth. To give the woman her due, she's a
desperate consumer of snuff and religion."
We had now pretty effectually cleared the shelves, and the cook, who
had come ashore to dispose of his slush, had not yet been able to
"Here is a small bale as come FROM Leaplow, and a pinched little
thing it is," said the broker, laughing; "it don't take at all,
here, and it might do to go 'ome again--at any rate, you will get
the drawback. It is filled with 'Distinctive Opinions of the
Republic of Leaplow.'" The cook looked at the brigadier, who
appeared to think the speculation doubtful. Still it was Hobson's
choice; and, after a good deal of grumbling, the doctor, as Noah
always called his cook, consented to take the "harticle," at half
the prime cost.
Judge People's Friend now came trotting down to the port, thoroughly
en republican, when we immediately embarked, and in half an hour,
Bob was kicked to Noah's heart's content, and the Walrus was fairly
under way for Leaplow.
POLITICAL BOUNDARIES--POLITICAL RIGHTS--POLITICAL SELECTIONS, AND
POLITICAL DISQUISITIONS; WITH POLITICAL RESULTS.
The aquatic mile-stones of the monikin seas have been already
mentioned; but I believe I omitted to say, that there was a line of
demarcation drawn in the water, by means of a similar invention, to
point out the limits of the jurisdiction of each state. Thus, all
within these water-marks was under the laws of Leaphigh; all between
them and those of some other country, was the high seas; and all
within those of the other country, Leaplow for instance, was under
the exclusive jurisdiction of that other country.
With a favorable wind, the Walrus could run to the watermarks in
about half a day; from thence to the water-marks of Leaplow was two
days' sail, and another half day was necessary to reach our haven.
As we drew near the legal frontiers of Leaphigh, several small fast-
sailing schooners were seen hovering just without the jurisdiction
of the king, quite evidently waiting our approach. One boarded us,
just as the outer edge of the spanker-boom got clear of the Leaphigh
sovereignty. Judge People's Friend rushed to the side of the ship,
and before the crew of the boat could get on deck, he had
ascertained that the usual number of prizes had been put into the
A monikin in a bob of a most pronounced character, or which appeared
to have been subjected to the second amputation, being what is
called in Leaplow a bob-upon-bob, now approached, and inquired if
there were any emigrants on board. He was made acquainted with our
characters and objects. When he understood that our stay would most
likely be short, he was evidently a little disappointed.
"Perhaps, gentlemen," he added, "you may still remain long enough to
make naturalization desirable?"
"It is always agreeable to be at home in foreign countries--but are
there no legal objections?"
"I see none, sir--you have no tails, I believe?"
"None but what are in our trunks. I did not know, however, but the
circumstance of our being of a different species might throw some
obstacles in the way."
"None in the world, sir. We act on principles much too liberal for
so narrow an objection. You are but little acquainted with the
institutions and policy of our beloved and most happy country, I
see, sir. This is not Leaphigh, nor Leapup, nor Leapdown, nor
Leapover, nor Leapthrough, nor Leapunder; but good old, hearty,
liberal, free and independent, most beloved, happy, and prosperous
beyond example, Leaplow. Species is of no account under our system.
We would as soon naturalize one animal as another, provided it be a
republican animal. I see no deficiency about any of you. All we ask
is certain general principles. You go on two legs--"
"So do turkeys, sir."
"Very true--but you have no feathers."
"Neither has a donkey."
"All very right, gentlemen--you do not bray, however."
"I will not answer for that," put in the captain, sending his leg
forwards in a straight line, in a way to raise an outcry in Bob,
that almost upset the Leaplower's proposition.
"At all events, gentlemen," he observed, "there is a test that will
put the matter at rest, at once."
He then desired us, in turn, to pronounce the word "our"--"OUR
liberties"--"OUR country"--"OUR firesides"--"OUR altars," Whoever
expressed a wish to be naturalized, and could use this word in the
proper manner, and in the proper place, was entitled to be a
citizen. We all did very well but the second mate, who, being a
Herefordshire man, could not, for the life of him, get any nearer to
the Doric, in the latter shibboleth, than "our halters." Now, it
would seem that, in carrying out a great philanthropic principle in
Leaplow, halters had been proscribed; for, whenever a rogue did
anything amiss, it had been discovered that, instead of punishing
him for the offence, the true way to remedy the evil was to punish
the society against which he had offended. By this ingenious turn,
society was naturally made to look out sharp how it permitted any
one to offend it. This excellent idea is like that of certain
Dutchmen, who, when they cut themselves with an ax, always apply
salve and lint to the cruel steel, and leave the wound to heal as
fast as possible.
To return to our examination: we all passed but the second mate, who
hung in his halter, and was pronounced to be incorrigible.
Certificates of naturalization were delivered on the spot, the fees
were paid, and the schooner left us.
That night it blew a gale, and we had no more visitors until the
following morning. As the sun rose, however, we fell in with three
schooners, under the Leaplow flag, all of which seemed bound on
errands of life or death. The first that reached us sent a boat on
board, and a committee of six bob-upon-bobs hurried up our sides,
and lost no time in introducing themselves. I shall give their own
account of their business and characters.
It would seem that they were what is called a "nominating committee"
of the Horizontals, for the City of Bivouac, the port to which we
were bound, where an election was about to take place for members of
the great National Council. Bivouac was entitled to send seven
members; and having nominated themselves, the committee were now in
quest of a seventh candidate to fill the vacancy. In order to secure
the naturalized interests, it had been determined to select as new a
comer as possible. This would also be maintaining the principle of
liberality, in the abstract. For this reason they had been cruising
for a week, as near as the law would allow to the Leaphigh
boundaries, and they were now ready to take any one who would serve.
To this proposition I again objected the difference of species. Here
they all fairly laughed in my face, Brigadier Downright included,
giving me very distinctly to understand that they thought I had very
contracted notions on matters and things, to suppose so trifling an
obstacle could disturb the harmony and unity of a Horizontal vote.
They went for a principle, and the devil himself could not make them
swerve from the pursuit of so sacred an object.
I then candidly admitted that nature had not fitted me, as admirably
as it had fitted my friend the judge, for the throwing of
summersets; and I feared that when the order was given "to go to the
right about," I might be found no better than a bungler. This
staggered them a little; and I perceived that they looked at each
other in doubt.
"But you can, at least, turn round suddenly, at need?" one of them
asked, after a pause.
"Certainly, sir," I answered, giving ocular evidence that I was no
idle boaster, making a complete gyration on my heels, in very good
"Very well!--admirably well!" they all cried in a breath. "The great
political essential is to be able to perform the evolutions in their
essence--the facility with which they are performed being no more
than a personal merit."
"But, gentlemen, I know little more of your constitution and laws,
than I have learned in a few broken discussions with my fellow-
"This is a matter of no moment, sir. Our constitution, unlike that
of Leaphigh, is written down, and he who runs can read; and then we
have a political fugleman in the house, who saves an immense deal of
unnecessary study and reflection to the members. All you will have
to do, will be to watch his movements; and, my life on it, you will
go as well through the manual exercise as the oldest member there."
"How, sir, do all the members take the manoeuvres from this
"All the Horizontals, sir--the Perpendiculars having a fugleman of
"Well, gentlemen, I conceive this to be an affair in which I am no
judge, and I put myself entirely in the hands of my friends."
This answer met with much commendation, and manifested, as they all
protested, great political capabilities; the statesman who submitted
all to his friends never failing to rise to eminence in Leaplow. The
committee took my name in writing and hastened back to their
schooner, in order to get into port to promulgate the nomination.
These persons were hardly off the deck, before another party came up
the opposite side of the ship. They announced themselves to be a
nominating committee of the Perpendiculars, on exactly the same
errand as their opponents. They, too, wished to propitiate the
foreign interests, and were in search of a proper candidate. Captain
Poke had been an attentive listener to all that occurred during the
circumstances that preceded my nomination; and he now stepped
promptly forward, and declared his readiness to serve. As there was
quite as little squeamishness on one side as on the other, and the
Perpendicular committee, as it owned itself, was greatly pressed for
time, the Horizontals having the start of them, the affair was
arranged in five minutes, and the strangers departed with the name
of NOAH POKE, THE TRIED PATRIOT, THE PROFOUND JURIST, AND THE HONEST
MONIKIN, handsomely placarded on a large board--all but the name
having been carefully prepared in advance.
When the committee were fairly out of the ship, Noah look me aside,
and made his apologies for opposing me in this important election.
His reasons were numerous and ingenious, and, as usual, a little
discursive. They might be summed up as follows: He never had sat in
a parliament, and he was curious to know how it would feel; it would
increase the respect of the ship's company, to find their commander
of so much account in a strange port; he had had some experience at
Stunnin'tun by reading the newspapers, and he didn't doubt of his
abilities at all, a circumstance that rarely failed of making a good
legislator; the congressman in his part of the country was some such
man as himself, and what was good for the goose was good for the
gander; he knew Miss Poke would be pleased to hear he had been
chosen; he wondered if he should be called the Honorable Noah Poke,
and whether he should receive eight dollars a day, and mileage from
the spot where the ship then was; the Perpendiculars might count on
him, for his word was as good as his bond; as for the constitution,
he had got on under the constitution at home, and he believed a man
who could do that might get on under any constitution; he didn't
intend to say a great deal in parliament, but what he did say he
hoped might be recorded for the use of his children; together with a
great deal more of the same sort of argumentation and apology.
The third schooner now brought us to. This vessel sent another
committee, who announced themselves to be the representatives of a
party that was termed the Tangents. They were not numerous, but
sufficiently so to hold the balance whenever the Horizontals and the
Perpendiculars crossed each other directly at right angles, as was
the case at present; and they had now determined to run a single
candidate of their own. They, too, wished to fortify themselves by
the foreign interest, as was natural, and had come out in quest of a
proper person. I suggested the first mate; but against this Noah
protested, declaring that come what would, the ship must on no
account be deserted. Time pressed; and, while the captain and the
subordinate were hotly disputing the propriety of permitting the
latter to serve, Bob, who had already tasted the sweets of political
importance, in his assumed character of prince-royal, stepped slyly
up to the committee, and gave in his name. Noah was too much
occupied to discover this well-managed movement; and by the time he
had sworn to throw the mate overboard if he did not instantly
relinquish all ambitious projects of this nature, he found that the
Tangents were off. Supposing they had gone to some other vessel, the
captain allowed himself to be soothed, and all went on smoothly
From this time until we anchored in the bay of Bivouac, the
tranquillity and discipline of the Walrus were undisturbed. I
improved the occasion to study the constitution of Leaplow, of which
the judge had a copy, and to glean such information from my
companions as I believed might be useful in my future career. I
thought how pleasant it would be for a foreigner to teach the
Leaplowers their own laws, and to explain to them the application of
their own principles! Little, however, was to be got from the judge,
who was just then too much occupied with some calculations
concerning the chances of the little wheel, with which he had been
furnished by a leading man of one of the nominating committees.
I now questioned the brigadier touching that peculiar usage of his
country which rendered Leaphigh opinions concerning the Leaplow
institutions, society, and manners of so much value in the market of
the latter. To this I got but an indifferent answer, except it was
to say, that his countrymen, having cleared the interests connected
with the subjects from the rubbish of time, and set everything at
work, on the philosophical basis of reason and common sense, were
exceedingly desirous of knowing what other people thought of the
success of the experiment.
"I expect to see a nation of sages, I can assure you, brigadier; one
in which even the very children are profoundly instructed in the
great truths of your system; and, as to the monikinas, I am not
without dread of bringing my theoretical ignorance in collision with
their great practical knowledge of the principles of your
"They are early fed on political pap."
"No doubt, sir, no doubt. How different must they be from the
females of other countries! Deeply imbued with the great distinctive
principles of your system, devoted to the education of their
children in the same sublime truths, and indefatigable in their
discrimination, among the meanest of their households!"
"Now, sir, even in England, a country which I trust is not the most
debased on earth, you will find women, beautiful, intellectual,
accomplished and patriotic, who limit their knowledge of these
fundamental points to a zeal for a clique, and the whole of whose
eloquence on great national questions is bounded by a few heartfelt
wishes for the downfall of their opponents;--"
"It is very much so at Stunnin'tun, too, if truth must be spoken,"
remarked Noah, who had been a listener.
"Who, instead of instructing the young suckers that cling to their
sides in just notions of general social distinctions, nurture their
young antipathies with pettish philippics against some luckless
chief of the adverse party;--"
"Tis pretty much the same at Stunnin'tun, as I live!"
"Who rarely study the great lessons of history in order to point out
to the future statesmen and heroes of the empire the beacons of
crime, the incentives for public virtue, or the charters of their
liberties; but who are indefatigable in echoing the cry of the hour,
however false or vulgar, and who humanize their attentive offspring
by softly expressed wishes that Mr. Canning, or some other
frustrator of the designs of their friends, were fairly hanged!"
"Stunnin'tun, all over!"
"Beings that are angels in form--soft, gentle, refined, and tearful
as the evening with its dews, when there is a question of humanity
or suffering; but who seem strangely transformed into she-tigers,
whenever any but those of whom they can approve attain to power; and
who, instead of entwining their soft arms around their husbands and
brothers, to restrain them from the hot strife of opinions, cheer
them on by their encouragement and throw dirt with the volubility
and wit of fish-women."
"Miss Poke, to the backbone!"
"In short, sir, I expect to see an entirely different state of
things at Leaplow. There, when a political adversary is bespattered
with mud, your gentle monikinas, doubtless, appease anger by mild
soothings of philosophy, tempering zeal by wisdom, and regulating
error by apt and unanswerable quotations from that great charter
which is based on the eternal and immutable principles of right."
"Well, Sir John, if you speak in this elocutionary manner in the
house," cried the delighted Noah, "I shall be shy of answering. I
doubt, now, if the brigadier himself could repeat all you have just
"I have forgotten to inquire, Mr. Downright, a little about your
Leaplow constituency. The suffrage is, beyond question, confined to
those members of society who possess a 'social stake.'"
"Certainly, Sir John, They who live and breathe."
"Surely none vote but those who possess the money, and houses, and
lands of the country?"
"Sir, you are altogether in error; all vote who possess ears, and
eyes, and noses, and bobs, and lives, and hopes, and wishes, and
feelings, and wants. Wants we conceive to be a much truer test of
political fidelity, than possessions."
"This is novel doctrine, indeed! but it is in direct hostility to
the social-stake system."
"You were never more right, Sir John, as respects your own theory,
or never more wrong as respects the truth. In Leaplow we contend--
and contend justly--that there is no broader or bolder fallacy than
to say that a representation of mere effects, whether in houses,
lands, merchandise, or money, is a security for a good government.
Property is affected by measures; and the more a monikin has, the
greater is the bribe to induce him to consult his own interests,
although it should be at the expense of those of everybody else."
"But, sir, the interest of the community is composed of the
aggregate of these interests."
"Your pardon, Sir John; nothing is composed of it, but the aggregate
of the interests of a class. If your government is instituted for
their benefit only, your social-stake system is all well enough; but
if the object be the general good, you have no choice but to trust
its custody to the general keeping. Let us suppose two men--since
you happen to be a man, and not a monikin--let us suppose two men
perfectly equal in morals, intelligence, public virtue and
patriotism, one of whom shall be rich and the other shall have
nothing. A crisis arrives in the affairs of their common country,
and both are called upon to exercise their franchise, on a question-
-as almost all great questions must--that unavoidably will have some
influence on property generally. Which would give the most impartial
vote--he who, of necessity, must be swayed by his personal interest,
or he who has no inducement of the sort to go astray?"
"Certainly he who has nothing to influence him to go wrong. But the
question is not fairly put--"
"Your pardon, Sir John--it is put fairly as an abstract question,
and one that is to prove a principle. I am glad to hear you say that
a man would be apt to decide in this manner; for it shows his
identity with a monikin. We hold that all of us are apt to think
most of ourselves on such occasions."
"My dear brigadier, do not mistake sophistry for reason. Surely, if
power belonged only to the poor--and the poor, or the comparatively
poor, always compose the mass--they would exercise it in a way to
strip the rich of their possessions."
"We think not, in Leaplow. Cases might exist, in which such a state
of things would occur under a reaction; but reactions imply abuses,
and are not to be quoted to maintain a principle. He who was drunk
yesterday, may need an unnatural stimulus to-day; while he who is
uniformly temperate preserves his proper tone of body without
recourse to a remedy so dangerous. Such an experiment, under a
strong provocation, might possibly be made; but it could scarcely be
made twice among any people, and not even once among a people that
submits in season to a just division of its authority, since it is
obviously destructive of a leading principle of civilization.
According to our monikin histories, all the attacks upon property
have been produced by property's grasping at more than fairly
belongs to its immunities. If you make political power a concomitant
of property, both may go together, certainly; but if kept separate,
the danger to the latter will never exceed the danger in which it is
put daily by the arts of the money-getters, who are, in truth, the
greatest foes of property, as it belongs to others."
I remembered Sir Joseph Job, and could not but admit that the
brigadier had, at least, some truth on his side.
"But do you deny that the sentiment of property elevates the mind,
ennobles, and purifies?"
"Sir, I do not pretend to determine what may be the fact among men,
but we hold among monikins, that 'the love of money is the root of
"How, sir, do you account the education which is a consequence of
property as nothing?"
"If you mean, my dear Sir John, that which property is most apt to
teach, we hold it to be selfishness; but if you mean that he who has
money, as a rule, will also have in formation to guide him aright, I
must answer, that experience, which is worth a thousand theories,
tells us differently. We find that on questions which are purely
between those who have, and those who have not, the HAVES are
commonly united, and we think this would be the fact if they were as
unschooled as bears; but on all other questions, they certainly do
great discredit to education, unless you admit that there are in
every case TWO rights; for, with us, the most highly educated
generally take the two extremes of every argument. I state this to
be the fact with monikins, you will remember--doubtless, educated
men agree much better."
"But, my good brigadier, if your position about the greater
impartiality and independence of the elector who is not influenced
by his private interests be true, a country would do well to submit
its elections to a body of foreign umpires."
"It would indeed, Sir John, if it were certain these foreign umpires
would not abuse the power to their own particular advantage, if they
could have the feelings and sentiments which ennoble and purify a
nation far more than money, and if it were possible they could
thoroughly understand the character, habits, wants, and resources of
another people. As things are, therefore, we believe it is wisest to
trust our own elections to ourselves--not to a portion of ourselves,
but to all of ourselves."
"Immigrants included," put in the captain.
"Why, we do carry the principle well out in the case of gentlemen
like yourselves," returned the brigadier, politely, "but liberality
is a virtue. As a principle, Sir John, your idea of referring the
choice of our representatives to strangers has more merit than you
probably imagine, though, certainly, impracticable, for the reasons
already given. When we seek justice, we commonly look out for some
impartial judge. Such a judge is unattainable, however, in the
matter of the interests of a state, for the simple reason that power
of this sort, permanently wielded, would be perverted on a principle
which, after a most scrupulous analysis, we have been compelled to
admit is incorporated with the very monikin nature--viz.,
selfishness. I make no manner of doubt that you men, however, are
altogether superior to an influence so unworthy?"
Here I could only borrow the use of the brigadier's "Hum!"
"Having ascertained that it would not do to submit the control of
our affairs to utter strangers, or to those whose interests are not
identified with our own, we set about seeing what could be done with
a selection from among ourselves. Here we were again met by that
same obstinate principle of selfishness; and we were finally driven
to take shelter in the experiment of intrusting the interests of all
to the management of all."
"And, sir, are these the opinions of Leaphigh?"
"Very far from it. The difference between Leaphigh and Leaplow is
just this: the Leaphighers, being an ancient people, with a thousand
vested interests, are induced, as time improves the mind, to seek
reasons for their facts; while we Leaplowers, being unshackled by
any such restraints, have been able to make an effort to form our
facts on our reasons."
"Why do you, then, so much prize Leaphigh opinions on Leaplow
"Why does every little monikin believe his own father and mother to
be just the two wisest, best, most virtuous, and discreetest old
monikins in the whole world, until time, opportunity, and experience
show him his error?"
"Do you make no exceptions, then, in your franchise, but admit every
citizen who, as you say, has a nose, ears, bob, and wants, to the
exercise of the suffrage?"
"Perhaps we are less scrupulous on this head than we ought to be,
since we do not make ignorance and want of character bars to the
privilege. Qualifications beyond mere birth and existence may be
useful, but they are badly chosen when they are brought to the test
of purely material possessions. This practice has arisen in the
world from the fact that they who had property had power, and not
because they ought to have it."
"My dear brigadier, this is flying in the face of all experience."
"For the reason just given, and because all experience has hitherto
commenced at the wrong end. Society should be constructed as you
erect a house; not from the roof down, but from the foundation
"Admitting, however, that your house has been badly constructed at
first, in repairing it, would you tear away the walls at random, at
the risk of bringing all down about your ears?"
"I would first see that sufficient props were reared, and then
proceed with vigor, though always with caution. Courage in such an
experiment is less to be dreaded than timidity. Half the evils of
life, social, personal and political, are as much the effects of
moral cowardice as of fraud."
I then told the brigadier, that as his countrymen rejected the
inducements of property in the selection of the political base of
their social compact, I expected to find a capital substitute in
"I have always heard that virtue is the great essential of a free
people, and doubtless you Leaplowers are perfect models in this
The brigadier smiled before he answered me, first looking about to
the right and left, as if to regale himself with the odor of
"Many theories have been broached on these subjects," he replied,
"in which there has been some confusion between cause and effect.
Virtue is no more a cause of freedom, except as it is connected with
intelligence, than vice is a cause of slavery. Both may be
consequences, but it is not easy to say how either is necessarily a
cause. There is a homely saying among us monikins, which is quite to
the point in this matter: 'Set a rogue to catch a rogue.' Now, the
essence of a free government is to be found in the responsibility of
its agents. He who governs without responsibility is a master, while
he who discharges the duties of a functionary under a practical
responsibility is a servant. This is the only true test of
governments, let them be mystified as they may in other respects.
Responsibility to the mass of the nation is the criterion of
freedom. Now responsibility is the SUBSTITUTE for virtue in a
politician, as discipline is the substitute for courage in a
soldier. An army of brave monikins without discipline, would be very
apt to be worsted by an army of monikins of less natural spirit,
with discipline. So a corps of originally virtuous politicians,
without responsibility, would be very apt to do more selfish,
lawless, and profligate acts, than a corps of less virtue, who were
kept rigidly under the rod of responsibility. Unrestrained power is
a great corrupter of virtue, of itself; while the liabilities of a
restrained authority are very apt to keep it in check. At least,
such is the fact with us monikins--men very possibly get along
"Let me tell you, Mr. Downright, you are now uttering opinions that
are diametrically opposed to those of the world, which considers
virtue an indispensable ingredient in a republic."
"The world--meaning always the monikin world--knows very little
about real political liberty, except as a theory. We of Leaplow are,
in effect, the only people who have had much to do with it, and I am
now telling you what is the result of my own observation, in my own
country. If monikins were purely virtuous, there would be no
necessity for government at all; but, being what they are, we think
it wisest to set them to watch each other."
"But yours is self-government, which implies self-restraint; and
self-restraint is but another word for virtue."
"If the merit of our system depended on self-government, in your
signification, or on self-restraint, in any signification, it would
not be worth the trouble of this argument, Sir John Goldencalf. This
is one of those balmy fallacies with which ill-judging moralists
endeavor to stimulate monikins to good deeds. Our government is
based on a directly opposite principle; that of watching and
restraining each other, instead of trusting to our ability to
restrain ourselves. It is the want of responsibility, and not of
constant and active presence, which infers virtue and self-control.
No one would willingly lay legal restraints on himself in anything,
while all are very happy to restrain their neighbors. This refers to
the positive and necessary rules of intercourse, and the
establishment of rights; as to mere morality, laws do very little
towards enforcing its ordinances. Morals usually come of
instruction; and when all have political power, instruction is a
security that all desire."
"But when all vote, all may wish to abuse their trust to their own
especial advantage, and a political chaos will be the consequence."
"Such a result is impossible, except as especial advantage is
identified with general advantage. A community can no more buy
itself in this manner, than a monikin can eat himself, let him be as
ravenous as he will. Admitting that all are rogues, necessity would
compel a compromise."
"You make out a plausible theory, and I have little doubt that I
shall find you the wisest, the most logical, the discreetest, and
the most consistent community I have yet visited. But another word:
how is it that our friend the judge gave such equivocal instructions
to his charge; and why, in particular, did he lay so much stress on
the employment of means, which gave the lie flatly to all you have
Brigadier Downright hereupon stroked his chin, and observed that he
thought there might possibly be a shift of wind; and he also
wondered (quite audibly), when we should make the land. I afterwards
persuaded him to allow that a monikin was but a monikin, after all,
whether he had the advantages of universal suffrage, or lived under
AN ARRIVAL--AN ELECTION--ARCHITECTURE--A ROLLING-PIN, AND PATRIOTISM
OF THE MOST APPROVED WATER.
In due time the coast of Leaplow made its appearance, close under
our larboard bow. So sudden was our arrival in this novel and
extraordinary country, that we were very near running on it, before
we got a glimpse of its shores. The seamanship of Captain Poke,
however, stood us in hand; and, by the aid of a very clever pilot,
we were soon safely moored in the harbor of Bivouac. In this happy
land, there was no registration, no passports, "no nothin'"--as Mr.
Poke pointedly expressed it. The formalities were soon observed,
although I had occasion to remark, how much easier, after all, it is
to get along in this world with vice than with virtue. A bribe
offered to a custom-house officer was refused; and the only trouble
I had, on the occasion, arose from this awkward obtrusion of a
conscience. However, the difficulty was overcome, though not quite
as easily as if douceurs had happened to be in fashion; and we were
permitted to land with all our necessary effects.
The city of Bivouac presented a singular aspect as I first put foot
within its hallowed streets. The houses were all covered with large
placards, which, at first, I took to be lists of the wares to be
vended, for the place is notoriously commercial; but which, on
examination, I soon discovered were merely electioneering handbills.
The reader will figure to himself my pleasure and surprise, on
reading the first that offered. It ran as follows:
"Your sacred rights are in danger; your dearest liberties are
menaced; your wives and children are on the point of dissolution;
the infamous and unconstitutional position that the sun gives light
by day, and the moon by night, is openly and impudently propagated,
and now is the only occasion that will probably ever offer to arrest
an error so pregnant with deception and domestic evils. We present
to your notice a suitable defender of all those near and dear
interests, in the person of"
"the known patriot, the approved legislator, the profound
philosopher, the incorruptible statesman. To our adopted fellow-
citizens we need not recommend Mr. Goldencalf, for he is truly one
of themselves; to the native citizens we will only say, 'Try him,
and you will be more than satisfied.'"
I found this placard of great use, for it gave me the first
information I had yet had of the duty I was expected to perform in
the coming session of the great council; which was merely to
demonstrate that the moon gave light by day, and that the sun gave
light by night. Of course, I immediately set about, in my own mind,
hunting up the proper arguments by which this grave political
hypothesis was to be properly maintained. The next placard was in
"the experienced navigator, who will conduct the ship of state into
the haven of prosperity--the practical astronomer who knows by
frequent observations, that lunars are not to be got in the dark."
"Perpendiculars, be plumb, and lay your enemies on their backs!"
After this I fell in with--
"THE HONORABLE ROBERT SMUT,"
"is confidently recommended to all their fellow-citizens by the
nominating committee of the Anti-Approved-Sublimated-Politico-
Tangents, as the real gentleman, a ripe scholar, [Footnote: I
afterwards found this was a common phrase in Leaplow, being
uniformly applied to every monikin who wore spectacles.] an
enlightened politician, and a sound Democrat."
"But I should fill the manuscript with nothing else, were I to record
a tithe of the commendations and abuse that were heaped on us all,
by a community to whom, as yet, we were absolutely strangers. A
single sample of the latter will suffice."
"Personally appeared before me, John Equity, justice of the peace,
Peter Veracious, etc., etc., who, being duly sworn upon the Holy
Evangelists, doth depose and say, viz.: That he was intimately
acquainted with one John Goldencalf in his native country, and that
he is personally knowing to the fact that he, the said John
Goldencalf, has three wives, seven illegitimate children, is
moreover a bankrupt without character, and that he was obliged to
emigrate in consequence of having stolen a sheep."
"(Signed,) PETER VERACIOUS."
I naturally felt a little indignant at this impudent statement, and
was about to call upon the first passer-by for the address of Mr.
Veracious, when the skirts of my skin were seized by one of the
Horizontal nominating committee, and I was covered with
congratulations on my being happily elected. Success is an admirable
plaster for all wounds, and I really forgot to have the affair of
the sheep and of the illegitimate children inquired into; although I
still protest, that had fortune been less propitious, the rascal who
promulgated this calumny would have been made to smart for his
temerity. In less than five minutes it was the turn of Captain Poke.
He, too, was congratulated in due form; for, as it appeared, the
"immigrant interest," as Noah termed it, had actually carried a
candidate on each of the two great opposing tickets. Thus far, all
was well; for, after sharing his mess so long, I had not the
smallest objection to sit in the Leaplow parliament with the worthy
sealer; but our mutual surprise, and I believe I might add,
indignation, were a good deal excited, by shortly encountering a
walking notice, which contained a programme of the proceedings to be
observed at the "Reception of the Honorable Robert Smut."
It would seem that the Horizontals and the Perpendiculars had made
so many spurious and mystified ballots, in order to propitiate the
Tangents, and to cheat each other, that this young blackguard
actually stood at the head of the poll!--a political phenomenon, as
I subsequently discovered, however, by no means of rare occurrence
in the Leaplow history of the periodical selection of the wisest and
There was certainly an accumulation of interest on arriving in a
strange land, to find one's self both extolled and vituperated on
most of the corners in its capital, and to be elected to its
parliament, all in the same day. Still, I did not permit myself to
be either so much elated or so much depressed, as not to have all my
eyes about me, in order to get as correctly as possible, and as
quickly as possible, some insight into the characters, tastes,
habits, wishes, and wants of my constituents.
I have already declared that it is my intention to dwell chiefly on
the moral excellences and peculiarities of the people of the monikin
world. Still I could not walk through the streets of Bivouac without
observing a few physical usages, that I shall mention, because they
have an evident connection with the state of society, and the
historical recollections of this interesting portion of the polar
In the first place, I remarked that all sorts of quadrupeds are just
as much at home in the promenades of the town, as the inhabitants
themselves, a fact that I make no doubt has some very proper
connection with that principle of equal rights on which the
institutions of the country are established. In the second place, I
could not but see that their dwellings are constructed on the very
minimum of base, propping each other, as emblematic of the mutual
support obtained by the republican system, and seeking their
development in height for the want of breadth; a singularity of
customs that I did not hesitate at once to refer to a usage of
living in trees, at an epoch not very remote. In the third place, I
noted, instead of entering their dwellings near the ground like men,
and indeed like most other unfledged animals, that they ascend by
means of external steps to an aperture about half-way between the
roof and the earth, where, having obtained admission, they go up or
down within the building, as occasion requires. This usage, I made
no question, was preserved from the period (and that, too, no
distant one), when the savage condition of the country induced them
to seek protection against the ravages of wild beasts, by having
recourse to ladders, which were drawn up after the family into the
top of the tree, as the sun sank beneath the horizon. These steps or
ladders are generally of some white material, in order that they
may, even now, be found in the dark, should the danger be urgent;
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