J. Fenimore Cooper

Part 7 out of 8

although I do not know that Bivouac is a more disorderly or unsafe
town than another, in the present day. But habits linger in the
usages of a people, and are often found to exist as fashions, long
after the motive of their origin has ceased and been forgotten. As a
proof of this, many of the dwellings of Bivouac have still enormous
iron chevaux-de-frise before the doors, and near the base of the
stone-ladders; a practice unquestionably taken from the original,
unsophisticated, domestic defences of this wary and enterprising
race. Among a great many of these chevaux-de-frise, I remarked
certain iron images, that resemble the kings of chess-men, and which
I took, at first, to be symbols of the calculating qualities of the
owners of the mansions--a species of republican heraldry--but which
the brigadier told me, on inquiry, were no more than a fashion that
had descended from the custom of having stuffed images before the
doors, in the early days of the settlement, to frighten away the
beasts at night, precisely as we station scarecrows in a corn-field.
Two of these well-padded sentinels, with a stick stuck up in a fire-
lock attitude, he assured me, had often been known to maintain a
siege of a week, against a she-bear and a numerous family of hungry
cubs, in the olden times; and, now that the danger was gone, he
presumed the families which had caused these iron monuments to be
erected, had done so to record some marvellous risks of this nature,
from which their forefathers had escaped by means of so ingenious an

Everything in Bivouac bears the impress of the sublime principle of
the institutions. The houses of the private citizens, for instance,
overtop the roofs of all the public edifices, to show that the
public is merely a servant of the citizen. Even the churches have
this peculiarity, proving that the road to heaven is not independent
of the popular will. The great Hall of Justice, an edifice of which
the Bivouackers are exceedingly proud, is constructed in the same
recumbent style, the architect, with a view to protect himself from
the imputation of believing that the firmament was within reach of
his hand, having taken the precaution to run up a wooden finger-
board from the centre of the building, which points to the place
where, according to the notions of all other people, the ridge of
the roof itself should have been raised. So very apparent was this
peculiarity, Noah observed, that it seemed to him as if the whole
"'arth" had been rolled down by a great political rolling-pin, by
way of giving the country its finishing touch.

While making these remarks, one drew near at a brisk trot, who, Mr.
Downright observed, eagerly desired our acquaintance. Surprised at
his pretending to know such a fact without any previous
communication, I took the liberty of asking why he thought that we
were the particular objects of the other's haste.

"Simply because you are fresh arrivals. This person is one of a
sufficiently numerous class among us, who, devoured by a small
ambition, seek notoriety--which, by the way, they are near obtaining
in more respects than they probably desire--by obtruding themselves
on every stranger who touches our shore. Theirs is not a generous
and frank hospitality that would fain serve others, but an irritable
vanity that would glorify themselves. The liberal and enlightened
monikin is easily to be distinguished from all of this clique. He is
neither ashamed of, nor bigoted in favor of any usages, simply
because they are domestic. With him the criterions of merit are
propriety, taste, expediency, and fitness. He distinguishes, while
these crave; he neither wholly rejects, nor wholly lives by,
imitation, but judges for himself, and uses his experience as a
respectable and useful guide; while these think that all they can
attain that is beyond the reach of their neighbors, is, as a matter
of course, the sole aim of life. Strangers they seek, because they
have long since decreed that this country, with its usages, its
people, and all it contains, being founded on popular rights, is all
that is debased and vulgar, themselves and a few of their own
particular friends excepted; and they are never so happy as when
they are gloating on, and basking in, the secondary refinements of
what we call the 'old region.' Their own attainments, however, being
pretty much godsends, or such as we all pick up in our daily
intercourse, they know nothing of any foreign country but Leaphigh,
whose language we happen to speak; and, as Leaphigh is also the very
beau ideal of exclusion, in its usages, opinions, and laws, they
deem all who come from that part of the earth, as rather more
entitled to their profound homage than any other strangers."

Here Judge People's Friend, who had been vigorously pumping the
nominating committee on the subject of the chances of the little
wheel, suddenly left us, with a sneaking, self-abased air, and with
his nose to the ground, like a dog who has just caught a fresh

The next time we met with the ex-envoy, he was in mourning for some
political backsliding that I never comprehended. He had submitted to
a fresh amputation of the bob, and had so thoroughly humbled the
seat of reason, that it was not possible for the most envious and
malignant disposition to fancy he had a particle of brains left. He
had, moreover, caused every hair to be shaved off his body, which
was as naked as the hand, and altogether he presented an edifying
picture of penitence and self-abasement. I afterwards understood
that this purification was considered perfectly satisfactory, and
that he was thought to be, again, within the limits of the most
patriotic patriots.

In the meantime the Bivouacker had approached me, and was introduced
as Mr. Gilded Wriggle.

"Count Poke de Stunnin'tun, my good sir," said the brigadier, who
was the master of ceremonies on this occasion, "and the Mogul
Goldencalf--both noblemen of ancient lineage, admirable privileges,
and of the purest water; gentlemen who, when they are at home, have
six dinners daily, always sleep on diamonds, and whose castles are
none of them less than six leagues in extent."

"My friend General Downright has taken too much pains, gentlemen,"
interrupted our new acquaintance, "your rank and extraction being
self-evident. Welcome to Leaplow! I beg you will make free with my
house, my dog, my cat, my horse, and myself. I particularly beg that
your first, your last, and all the intermediate visits, will be to
me. Well, Mogul, what do you really think of us? You have now been
on shore long enough to have formed a pretty accurate notion of our
institutions and habits. I beg you will not judge of all of us by
what you see in the streets--"

"It is not my intention, sir."

"You are cautious, I perceive? We are in an awful condition, I
confess; trampled on by the vulgar, and far--very far from being the
people that, I dare say, you expected to see. I couldn't be made the
assistant alderman of my ward, if I wished it, sir--too much
jacobism; the people are fools, sir; know nothing, sir; not fit to
rule themselves, much less their betters, sir. Here have a set of
us, some hundreds in this very town, been telling them what fools
they are, how unfit they are to manage their own affairs, and how
fast they are going to the devil, any time these twenty years, and
still we have not yet persuaded them to entrust one of us with
authority! To say the truth, we are in a most miserable condition,
and, if anything COULD ruin this country, democracy would have
ruined it just thirty-five years ago."

Here the wailings of Mr. Wriggle were interrupted by the wailings of
Count Poke de Stunnin'tun. The latter, by gazing in admiration at
the speaker, had inadvertently struck his toe against one of the
forty-three thousand seven hundred and sixty inequalities of the
pavement (for everything in Leaplow is exactly equal, except the
streets and highways), and fallen forwards on his nose. I have
already had occasion to allude to the sealer's readiness in using
opprobrious epithets. This contre-temps happened in the principal
street of Bivouac, or in what is called the Wide-path, an avenue of
more than a league in extent; but notwithstanding its great length,
Noah took it up at one end and abused it all the way to the other,
with a precision, fidelity, rapidity and point, that excited general
admiration. "It was the dirtiest, worst paved, meanest, vilest,
street he had ever seen, and if they had it at Stunnin'tun, instead
of using it as a street at all, they would fence it up at each end,
and turn it into a hog-lot." Here Brigadier Downright betrayed
unequivocal signs of alarm. Drawing us aside, he vehemently demanded
of the captain if he were mad, to berate in this unheard-of manner
the touchstone of Bivouac sentiment, nationality, taste, and
elegance! This street was never spoken of except by the use of
superlatives; a usage, by the way, that Noah himself had by no means
neglected. It was commonly thought to be the longest and the
shortest, the widest and the narrowest, the best built and the worst
built avenue in the universe. "Whatever you say or do," he
continued, "whatever you think or believe, never deny the
superlatives of the Wide-path. If asked if you ever saw a street so
crowded, although there be room to wheel a regiment, swear it is
stifling; if required to name another promenade so free from
interruption, protest, by your soul, that the place is a desert! Say
what you will of the institutions of the country--"

"How!" I exclaimed; "of the sacred rights of monikins?"

"Bedaub them, and the mass of the monikins, too, with just as much
filth as you please. Indeed, if you wish to circulate freely in
genteel society, I would advise you to get a pretty free use of the
words, 'jacobins,' 'rabble,' 'mob,' 'agrarians,' 'canaille' and
'democrats'; for they recommend many to notice who possess nothing
else. In our happy and independent country it is a sure sign of
lofty sentiment, a finished education, a regulated intellect, and a
genteel intercourse, to know how to bespatter all that portion of
your fellow-creatures, for instance, who live in one-story

"I find all this very extraordinary, your government being
professedly a government of the mass!"

"You have intuitively discovered the reason--is it not fashionable
to abuse the government everywhere? Whatever you do, in genteel
life, ought to be based on liberal and elevated principles; and
therefore, abuse all that is animate in Leaplow, the present
company, with their relatives and quadrupeds, excepted; but do not
raise your blaspheming tongue against anything that is inanimate!
Respect, I entreat of you, the houses, the trees, the rivers, the
mountains, and, above all, in Bivouac, respect the Wide-path! We are
a people of lively sensibilities, and are tender of the reputations
of even our stocks and stones. Even the Leaplow philosophers are all
of a mind on this subject."


"Can you account for this very extraordinary peculiarity,

"Surely you cannot be ignorant that all which is property is sacred!
We have a great respect for property, sir, and do not like to hear
our wares underrated. But lay it on the mass so much the harder, and
you will only be thought to be in possession of a superior and a
refined intelligence."

Here we turned again to Mr. Wriggle, who was dying to be noticed
once more.

"Ah! gentlemen, last from Leaphigh!"--he had been questioning one of
our attendants--"how comes on that great and consistent people?"

"As usual, sir;--great and consistent."

"I think, however, we are quite their equals, eh?--chips of the same

"No, sir--blocks of the same chips."

Mr. Wriggle laughed, and appeared pleased with the compliment; and I
wished I had even laid it on a little thicker.

"Well, Mogul, what are our great forefathers about? Still pulling to
pieces that sublime fabric of a constitution, which has so long been
the wonder of the world, and my especial admiration?"

"They are talking of changes, sir, although I believe they have
effected no great matter. The primate of all Leaphigh, I had
occasion to remark, still has seven joints to his tail."

"Ah! they are a wonderful people, sir!" said Wriggle, looking
ruefully at his own bob, which, as I afterwards understood, was a
mere natural abortion. "I detest change, sir; were I a Leaphigher, I
would die in my tail!"

"One for whom nature has done so much in this way, is to be excused
a little enthusiasm."

"A most miraculous people, sir--the wonder of the world--and their
institutions are the greatest prodigy of the times!"

"That is well remarked, Wriggle," put in the brigadier; "for they
have been tinkering them, and altering them, any time these five
hundred and fifty years, and still they remain precisely the same!"

"Very true, brigadier, very true--the marvel of our times! But,
gentlemen, what do you indeed think of us? I shall not let you off
with generalities. You have now been long enough on shore to have
formed some pretty distinct notions about us, and I confess I should
be glad to hear them. Speak the truth with candor--are we not most
miserable, forlorn, disreputable devils, after all?"

I disclaimed the ability to judge of the social condition of a
people on so short an acquaintance; but to this Mr. Wriggle would
not listen. He insisted that I must have been particularly disgusted
with the coarseness and want of refinement in the rabble, as he
called the mass, who, by the way, had already struck me as being
relatively much the better part of the population, so far as I had
seen things--more than commonly decent, quiet, and civil. Mr.
Wriggle, also, very earnestly and piteously begged I would not judge
of the whole country by such samples as I might happen to fall in
with in the highways.

"I trust, Mogul, you will have charity to believe we are not all of
us quite so bad as appearances, no doubt, make us in your polished
eyes. These rude beings are spoiled by our jacobinical laws; but we
have a class, sir, that IS different. But, if you will not touch on
the people, how do you like the town, sir? A poor place, no doubt,
after your own ancient capitals?"

"Time will remedy all that, Mr. Wriggle."

"Do you then think we really want time? Now, that house at the
corner, there, to my taste is fit for a gentleman in any country--

"No doubt, sir, fit for one."

"This is but a poor street in the eyes of you travellers, I know,
this Wide-path of ours; though we think it rather sublime?"

"You do yourself injustice, Mr. Wriggle; though not equal to many of

"How, sir, the Wide-path not equal to anything on earth! I know
several people who have been in the old world [so the Leaplowers
call the regions of Leaphigh, Leapup, Leapdown, etc.] and they swear
there is not as fine a street in any part of it. I have not had the
good fortune to travel, sir; but, sir, permit me, sir, to say, sir,
that some of them, sir, that HAVE travelled, sir, think, sir, the
Wide-path, the most magnificent public avenue, sir, that their
experienced eyes ever beheld, sir--yes, sir, that their very
experienced eyes ever beheld, sir."

"I have seen so little of it, as yet, Mr. Wriggle, that you will
pardon me if I have spoken hastily."

"Oh! no offence--I despise the monikin who is not above local
vanities and provincial admiration! You ought to have seen that,
sir, for I frankly admit, sir, that no rabble can be worse than
ours, and that we are all going to the devil, as fast as ever we
can. No, sir, a most miserable rabble, sir.--But as for this street,
and our houses, and our cats, and our dogs, and certain exceptions--
you understand me, sir--it is quite a different thing. Pray, Mogul,
who is the greatest personage, now, in your nation?"

"Perhaps I ought to say the Duke of Wellington, sir."

"Well, sir, allow me to ask if he lives in a better house than that
before us?--I see you are delighted, eh? We are a poor, new nation
of pitiful traders, sir, half savage, as everybody knows; but we DO
flatter ourselves that we know how to build a house! Will you just
step in and see a new sofa that its owner bought only yesterday--I
know him intimately, and nothing gives me so much pleasure as to
show his new sofa."

I declined the invitation on the plea of fatigue, and by this means
got rid of so troublesome an acquaintance. On leaving me, however,
he begged that I would not fail to make his house my home, swore
terribly at the rabble, and invited me to admire a very ordinary
view that was to be obtained by looking up the Wide-path in a
particular direction, but which embraced his own abode. When Mr.
Wriggle was fairly out of earshot, I demanded of the brigadier if
Bivouac, or Leaplow, contained many such prodigies.

"Enough to make themselves very troublesome, and us ridiculous,"
returned Mr. Downright. "We are a young nation, Sir John, covering a
great surface, with a comparatively small population, and, as you
are aware, separated from the other parts of the monikin region by a
belt of ocean. In some respects we are like people in the country,
and we possess the merits and failings of those who are so situated.
Perhaps no nation has a larger share of reflecting and essentially
respectable inhabitants than Leaplow; but, not satisfied with being
what circumstances so admirably fit them to be, there is a clique
among us, who, influenced by the greater authority of older nations,
pine to be that which neither nature, education, manners, nor
facilities will just yet allow them to become. In short, sir, we
have the besetting sin of a young community--imitation. In our case
the imitation is not always happy, either; it being necessarily an
imitation that is founded on descriptions. If the evil were limited
to mere social absurdities, it might be laughed at--but that
inherent desire of distinction, which is the most morbid and
irritable, unhappily, in the minds of those who are the least able
to attain anything more than a very vulgar notoriety, is just as
active here, as it is elsewhere; and some who have got wealth, and
who can never get more than what is purely dependent on wealth,
affect to despise those who are not as fortunate as themselves in
this particular. In their longings for pre-eminence, they turn to
other states (Leaphigh, more especially, which is the beau ideal of
all nations and people who wish to set up a caste in opposition to
despotism) for rules of thought, and declaim against that very mass
which is at the bottom of all their prosperity, by obstinately
refusing to allow of any essential innovation on the common rights.
In addition to these social pretenders, we have our political

"Indoctrinated! Will you explain the meaning of the term?"

"Sir, an Indoctrinated is one of a political school who holds to the
validity of certain theories which have been made to justify a set
of adventitious facts, as is eminently the case in our own great
model, Leaphigh. We are peculiarly placed in this country. Here, as
a rule, facts--meaning political and social facts--are greatly in
advance of opinion, simply because the former are left chiefly to
their own free action, and the latter is necessarily trammelled by
habit and prejudice; while in the 'old region' opinion, as a rule--
and meaning the leading or better opinion--is greatly in advance of
facts, because facts are restrained by usage and personal interests,
and opinion is incited by study, and the necessity of change."

"Permit me to say, brigadier, that I find your present institutions
a remarkable result to follow such a state of things."

"They are a cause, rather than a consequence. Opinion, as a whole,
is everywhere on the advance; and it is further advanced even here,
as a whole, than anywhere else. Accident has favored the foundation
of the social compact; and once founded, the facts have been
hastening to their consummation faster than the monikin mind has
been able to keep company with them. This is a remarkable but true
state of the whole region. In other monikin countries, you see
opinion tugging at rooted practices, and making desperate efforts to
eradicate them from their bed of vested interests, while here you
see facts dragging opinion after them like a tail wriggling behind a
kite. [Footnote: One would think that Brigadier Downright had lately
paid a visit to our own happy and much enlightened land. Fifty years
since, the negro was a slave in New York, and incapable of
contracting marriage with a white. Facts have, however, been
progressive; and, from one privilege to another, he has at length
obtained that of consulting his own tastes in this matter, and, so
far as he himself is concerned, of doing as he pleases. This is the
fact, but he who presumes to speak of it has his windows broken by
opinion, for his pains! NOTE BY THE EDITOR] As to our purely social
imitation and social follies, absurd as they are, they are
necessarily confined to a small and an immaterial class; but the
Indoctrinated spirit is a much more serious affair. That unsettles
confidence, innovates on the right, often innocently and ignorantly,
and causes the vessel of state to sail like a ship with a drag
towing in her wake."

"This is truly a novel condition for an enlightened monikin nation."

"No doubt, men manage better; but of all this you will learn more in
the great council. You may, perhaps, think it strange that our facts
should preserve their ascendency in opposition to so powerful a foe
as opinion; but you will remember that a great majority of our
people, if not absolutely on a level with circumstances, being
purely practical, are much nearer to this level, than the class
termed the endoctrinated. The last are troublesome and delusive,
rather than overwhelming."

"To return to Mr. Wriggle--is his sect numerous?"

"His class flourishes most in the towns. In Leaplow we are greatly
in want of a capital, where the cultivated, educated, and well-
mannered can assemble, and, placed by their habits and tastes above
the ordinary motives and feelings of the less instructed, they might
form a more healthful, independent, appropriate, and manly public
sentiment than that which now pervades the country. As things are,
the real elite of this community are so scattered, as rather to
receive an impression FROM, than to impart one TO society, The
Leaplow Wriggles, as you have just witnessed, are selfish and
exacting as to their personal pretensions, irritably confident as to
the merit of any particular excellence which limits their own
experience, and furiously proscribing to those whom they fancy less
fortunate than themselves."

"Good heavens!--brigadier--all this is excessively human!"

"Ah! it is--is it? Well, this is certainly the way with us monikins.
Our Wriggles are ashamed of exactly that portion of our population
of which they have most reason to be proud, viz., the mass; and they
are proud of precisely that portion of which they have most reason
to be ashamed, viz., themselves. But plenty of opportunities will
offer to look further into this; and we will now hasten to the inn."

As the brigadier appeared to chafe under the subject, I remained
silent, following him as fast as I could, but keeping my eyes open,
the reader may be very sure, as we went along. There was one
peculiarity I could not but remark in this singular town. It was
this:--all the houses were smeared over with some colored earth, and
then, after all this pains had been taken to cover the material, an
artist was employed to make white marks around every separate
particle of the fabric (and they were in millions), which ingenious
particularity gives the dwellings a most agreeable air of detail,
imparting to the architecture, in general, a sublimity that is based
on the multiplication table. If to this be added the black of the
chevaux-de-frise, the white of the entrance-ladders, and a sort of
standing-collar to the whole, immediately under the eves, of some
very dazzling hue, the effect is not unlike that of a platoon of
drummers, in scarlet coats, cotton lace, and cuffs and capes of
white. What renders the similitude more striking, is the fact that
no two of the same plantoon appear to be exactly of a size, as is
very apt to be the case with your votaries in military music.



The people of Leaplow are remarkable for the deliberation of their
acts, the moderation of their views, and the accumulation of their
wisdom. As a matter of course such a people is never in an indecent
haste. Although I have now been legally naturalized, and regularly
elected to the great council fully twenty-four hours, three entire
days were allowed for the study of the institutions, and to become
acquainted with the genius of a nation, who, according to their own
account of the matter, have no parallel in heaven or earth, or in
the waters under the earth, before I was called upon to exercise my
novel and important functions. I profited by the delay and shall
seize a favorable moment to make the reader acquainted with some of
my acquisitions on this interesting topic.

The institutions of Leaplow are divided into two great moral
categories, viz.: the LEGAL and the SUBSTITUTIVE. The former
embraces the provisions of the great ELEMENTARY, and the latter all
the provisions of the great ALIMENTARY principle. The first,
accordingly, is limited by the constitution, or the Great National
Allegory, while the last is limited by nothing but practice; one
contains the proposition, and the other its deductions; this is all
hypothesis, that, all corollary. The two great political landmarks,
the two public opinions, the bob-upon-bobs, the rotatory action, and
the great and little wheels, are merely inferential, and I shall,
therefore, say nothing about them in my present treatise, which has
a strict relation only to the fundamental law of the land, or to the
Great and Sacred National Allegory.

It has been already stated that Leaplow was originally a scion of
Leaphigh. The political separation took place in the last
generation, when the Leaplowers publicly renounced Leaphigh and all
it contained, just as your catechumen is made to renounce the devil
and all his works. This renunciation, which is also sometimes called
the DENUNCIATION, was much more to the liking of Leaplow than to
that of Leaphigh; and a long and sanguinary war was the consequence.
The Leaplowers, after a smart struggle, however, prevailed in their
firm determination to have no more to do with Leaphigh. The sequel
will show how far they were right.

Even preceding the struggle, so active was the sentiment of
patriotism and independence, that the citizens of Leaplow, though
ill-provided with the productions of their own industry, proudly
resorted to the self-denial of refusing to import even a pin from
the mother country, actually preferring nakedness to submission.
They even solemnly voted that their venerable progenitor, instead of
being, as she clearly ought to have been, a fond, protecting, and
indulgent parent, was, in truth, no other than a rapacious,
vindictive and tyrannical step-mother. This was the opinion, it will
be remembered, when the two communities were legally united, had but
one head, wore clothes, and necessarily pursued a multitude of their
interests in common.

By the lucky termination of the war, all this was radically changed.
Leaplow pointed her thumb at Leaphigh, and declared her intention
henceforth to manage her own affairs in her own way. In order to do
this the more effectually, and, at the same time, to throw dirt into
the countenance of her late step-mother, she determined that her own
polity should run so near a parallel, and yet should be so obviously
an improvement on that of Leaphigh, as to demonstrate the
imperfections of the latter to the most superficial observer. That
this patriotic resolution was faithfully carried out in practice, I
am now about to demonstrate.

In Leaphigh, the old human principle had long prevailed, that
political authority came from God; though why such a theory should
ever have prevailed anywhere, as Mr. Downright once expressed it, I
cannot see, the devil very evidently having a greater agency in its
exercise than any other influence, or intelligence, whatever.
However, the jus divinum was the regulator of the Leaphigh social
compact, until the nobility managed to get the better of the jus,
when the divinum was left to shift for itself. It was at this epocha
the present constitution found its birth. Any one may have observed
that one stick placed on end will fall, as a matter of course,
unless rooted in the earth. Two sticks fare no better, even with
their tops united; but three sticks form a standard. This simple and
beautiful idea gave rise to the Leaphigh polity. Three moral props
were erected in the midst of the community, at the foot of one of
which was placed the king, to prevent it from slipping; for all the
danger, under such a system, came from that of the base slipping; at
the foot of the second, the nobles; and at the foot of the third,
the people. On the summit of this tripod was raised the machine of
state. This was found to be a capital invention in theory, though
practice, as practice is very apt to do, subjected it to some
essential modifications. The king, having his stick all his own way,
gave a great deal of trouble to the two other sets of stick-holders;
and, unwilling to disturb the theory, for that was deemed to be
irrevocably settled and sacred, the nobility, who, for their own
particular convenience, paid the principal workmen at the base of
the people's stick to stand steady, set about the means of keeping
the king's stick, also, in a more uniform and serviceable attitude.
It was on this occasion that, discovering the king never could keep
his end of the great social stick in the place where he had sworn to
keep it, they solemnly declared that he must have forgotten where
the constitutional foot-hole was, and that he had irretrievably lost
his memory--a decision that was the remote cause of the recent
calamity of Captain Poke. The king was no sooner constitutionally
deprived of his memory, than it was an easy matter to strip him of
all his other faculties; after which it was humanely decreed, as
indeed it ought to be in the case of a being so destitute, that he
could do no wrong. By way of following out the idea on a humane and
Christian-like principle, and in order to make one part of the
practice conform to the other, it was shortly after determined that
he should do nothing; his eldest first-cousin of the masculine
gender being legally proclaimed his substitute. In the end, the
crimson curtain was drawn before the throne. As, however, this
cousin might begin to wriggle the stick in his turn, and derange the
balance of the tripod, the other two sets of stick-holders next
decided that, though his majesty had an undeniable constitutional
right to say who SHOULD BE his eldest first-cousin of the masculine
gender, they had an undoubted constitutional right to say who he
SHOULD NOT BE. The result of all this was a compromise; his majesty,
who, like other people, found the sweets of authority more palatable
than the bitter, agreeing to get up on top of the tripod, where he
might appear seated on the machine of state, to receive salutations,
and eat and drink in peace, leaving the others to settle among
themselves who should do the work at the bottom, as well as they
could. In brief, such is the history, and such was the polity of
Leaphigh, when I had the honor of visiting that country.

The Leaplowers were resolute to prove that all this was radically
wrong. They determined, in the first place, that there should be but
one great social beam; and, in order that it should stand perfectly
steady, they made it the duty of every citizen to prop its base.
They liked the idea of a tripod well enough, but, instead of setting
one up in the Leaphigh fashion, they just reversed its form, and
stuck it on top of their beam, legs uppermost, placing a separate
agent on each leg, to work their machine of state; taking care,
also, to send a new one aloft periodically. They reasoned thus: If
one of the Leaphigh beams slip (and they will be very apt to slip in
wet weather, with the king, nobles and people wriggling and shoving
against each other), down will come the whole machine of state, or,
to say the least, it will get so much awry as never to work as well
as at first; and therefore we will have none of it. If, on the other
hand, one of our agents makes a blunder and falls, why, he will only
break his own neck. He will, moreover, fall in the midst of us, and,
should he escape with life, we can either catch him and throw him
back again, or we can send a better hand up in his place, to serve
out the rest of his time. They also maintain that one beam,
supported by all the citizens, is much less likely to slip than
three beams, supported by three powers of very uncertain, not to say
unequal, forces.

Such, in effect, is the substance of the respective national
allegories of Leaphigh and of Leaplow; I say allegories, for both
governments seem to rely on this ingenious form of exhibiting their
great distinctive national sentiments. It would, in fact, be an
improvement, were all constitutions henceforth to be written in this
manner, since they would necessarily be more explicit, intelligible,
and sacred than they are by the present attempt at literality.

Having explained the governing principles of these two important
states, I now crave the reader's attention, for a moment, while I go
a little into the details of the MODUS OPERANDI, in both cases.

Leaphigh acknowledged a principle, in the outset, that Leaplow
totally disclaimed, viz., that of primogeniture. Being an only child
myself, and having no occasion for research on this interesting
subject, I never knew the basis of this peculiar right, until I came
to read the great Leaphigh commentator, Whiterock, on the governing
rules of the social compact. I there found that the first-born,
MORALLY considered, is thought to have better claims to the honors
of the genealogical tree, on the father's side, than those offspring
whose origin is to be referred to a later period in connubial life.
On this obvious and highly discriminating principle, the crown, the
rights of the nobles, and indeed all other rights, are transferred
from father to son, in the direct male line, according to

Nothing of this is practised in Leaplow. There, the supposition of
legitimacy is as much in favor of the youngest as of the oldest
born, and the practice is in conformity. As there is no hereditary
chief to poise on one of the legs of the great tripod, the people at
the foot of the beam choose one from among themselves, periodically,
who is called the Great Sachem. The same people choose another set,
few in number, who occupy a common seat, on another leg. These they
term the Riddles. Another set, still more numerous and popular in
aspect, if not in fact, fills a large seat on the third leg. These
last, from their being supposed to be supereminently popular and
disinterested, are familiarly known as the Legion. They are also
pleasantly nicknamed the Bobees, an appellation that took its rise
in the circumstance that most of the members of their body have
submitted to the second dock, and, indeed, have nearly obliterated
every sign of a CAUDA. I had, most luckily, been chosen to sit in
the House of Bobees, a station for which I felt myself well
qualified, in this great essential at least; for all the anointing
and forcing resorted to by Noah and myself, during our voyage out,
and our residence in Leaphigh, had not produced so much as a visible
sprout in either.

The Great Sachem, the Riddles, and the Legion, had conjoint duties
to perform, in certain respects, and separate duties in others. All
three, as they owed their allegorical elevation to, so were they
dependent on, the people at the foot of the great social stick, for
approbation and reward--that is to say for all rewards other than
those which they have it in their power to bestow on themselves.
There was another authority, or agent of the public, that is equally
perched on the social beam, though not quite so dependent as the
three just named, upon the main prop of the people--being also
propped by a mechanical disposition of the tripod itself. These are
termed the Supreme Arbitrators, and their duties are to revise the
acts of the other three agents of the people, and to decide whether
they are or are not in conformity with the recognized principles of
the Sacred Allegory.

I was greatly delighted with my own progress in the study of the
Leaplow institutions. In the first place, I soon discovered that the
principal thing was to reverse the political knowledge I had
acquired in Leaphigh, as one would turn a tub upside-down, when he
wished to draw from its stores at a fresh end, and then I was pretty
sure of being within at least the spirit of the Leaplow law.
Everything seemed simple, for all was dependent on the common prop,
at the base of the great social beam.

Having got a thorough insight myself into the governing principles
of the system under which I had been chosen to serve, I went to look
up my colleague, Captain Poke, in order to ascertain how he
understood the great Leaplow Allegory.

I found the mind of the sealer, according to a beautiful form of
speech already introduced in this narrative, "considerably
exercised," on the several subjects that so naturally presented
themselves to a man in his situation. In the first place, he was in
a towering passion at the impudence of Bob in presuming to offer
himself as a candidate for the great council; and having offered
himself, the rage of the Captain was in no degree abated by the
circumstance of the young rascal's being at the head of the poll. He
most unreservedly swore "that no subordinate of his should ever sit
in the same legislative body with himself; that he was a republican
by birth, and knew the usages of republican governments quite as
well as the best patriot among them; and although he admitted that
all sorts of critters were sent to Congress in his country, no man
ever knew an instance of a cabin-boy's being sent there. They might
elect just as much as they pleased; but coming ashore, and playing
politician were very different things from cleaning his boots, and
making his coffee, and mixing his grog." The captain had just been
waited on by a committee of the Perpendiculars (half the Leaplow
community is on some committee or other), by whom he had been
elected, and they had given notice, that instructions would be sent
in, forthwith, to all their representatives, to perform gyration No.
3, as soon after the meeting of the council as possible. He was no
tumbler, and he had sent for a master of political saltation, who
had just been with him practising. According to Noah's own
statement, his success was anything but flattering. "If they would
give a body room, Sir John," he said, in a complaining accent," I
should think nothing of it--but you are expected to stand shoulder
to shoulder--yard-arm and yard-arm--and throw a flap-jack as handy
as an old woman would toss a johnny-cake! It's unreasonable to think
of wearing ship without room; but give me room, and I'll engage to
get round on the other tack, and to luff into the line again, as
safely as the oldest cruiser among 'em, though not quite so quick.
They do go about spitefully, that's sartain."

Nor were the Great National Allegories without their difficulties.
Noah perfectly understood the images of the two tripods, though he
was disposed to think that neither was properly secured. A mast
would make but bad weather, he maintained, let it be ever so well
rigged and stayed, without being also securely stepped. He saw no
use in trusting the heels of the beams to anybody. Good lashings
were what were wanted, and then the people might go about their
private affairs, and not fear the work would fall. That the king of
Leaphigh had no memory, he could testify from bitter experience; nor
did he believe that he had any conscience; and, chiefly he desired
to know if we, when we got up into our places on the top of the
three inverted beams, among the other Bobees, were to make war on
the Great Sachem and the Riddles, or whether we were to consider the
whole affair as a good thing, in which the wisest course would be to
make fair weather of it?

To all these remarks and questions I answered as well as my own
limited experience would allow; taking care to inform my friend that
he had conceived the whole matter a little too literally, as all
that he had been reading about the great political beams, the
tripods, and the legislative boxes, was merely an allegory.

"And pray, then, Sir John, what may an allegory be?"

"In this case, my good sir, it is a constitution."

"And what is a constitution?"

"Why, it is sometimes as you perceive, an allegory."

"And are we not to be mast-headed, then, according to the book?"

"Figuratively, only."

"But there are actually such critters as the Great Sachem, and
Riddles, and above all, the Bobees!--We are boney fie-diddle-di-dee

"Boney fie-diddle-di-dee."

"And may I take the liberty of asking, what it is our duty to do?"

"We are to act practically--according to the literality of the
legal, implied, figurative, allegorical significations of the Great
National Compact under a legitimate construction."

"I fear we shall have to work doubletides, Sir John, to do so much
in so short a time! Do you mean that, in honest truth, there is no

"There is, and there is not."

"No fore, main, and mizzen tops, according to what is here written

"There is not, and there is."

"Sir John, in the name of God, speak out! Is all this about eight
dollars a day, no better than a take in?"

"That, I believe is strictly literal."

As Noah now seemed a little mollified, I seized the opportunity to
tell him he must beware how he attempted to stop Bob from attending
the council. Members were privileged, going and coming; and unless
he was guarded in his course, he might have some unpleasant
collision with the sergeant-at-arms. Besides, it was unbecoming the
dignity of a legislator to be wrangling about trifles, and he, to
whom was confided the great affairs of a state, ought to attach the
utmost importance to a grave exterior, which commonly was of more
account with his constituents than any other quality. Any one could
tell whether he was grave or not, but it was by no means so easy a
matter to tell whether he or his constituents had the greater cause
to appear so. Noah promised to be discreet, and we parted, not to
meet again until we assembled to be sworn in.

Before continuing the narrative, I will just mention that we
disposed of our commercial investments that morning. All the
Leaphigh opinions brought good prices; and I had occasion to see how
well the brigadier understood the market by the eagerness with
which, in particular, the Opinions on the State of Society in
Leaplow were bought up. But, by one of those unexpected windfalls
which raise up so many of the chosen of the earth to their high
places, the cook did better than any of us. It will be remembered,
that he had bartered an article of merchandise that he called slush
against a neglected bale of Distinctive Leaplow Opinions, which had
no success at all in Leaphigh. Coming as they did from abroad, these
articles had taken as novelties in Bivouac, and he sold them all
before night, at enormous advances; the cry being that something new
and extraordinary had found its way into the market.



Political oaths are very much the same sort of thing everywhere, and
I shall say no more about our inauguration than simply to state it
took place as usual. The two houses were duly organized, and we
proceeded, without delay, to the transaction of business. I will
here state that I was much rejoiced to find Brigadier Downright
among the Bobees, the captain whispering that most probably he had
been mistaken for an "immigrunt," and chosen accordingly.

It was not a great while before the Great Sachem sent us a
communication, which contained a compte rendue of the state of the
nation. Like most accounts it is my good fortune to receive, I
thought it particularly long. Agreeably to the opinions of this
document, the people of Leaplow were, by a good deal, the happiest
people in the world; they were also considerably more respected,
esteemed, beloved, honored, and properly appreciated, than any other
monikin community, and, in short, they were the admiration and glory
of the universe. I was exceedingly glad to hear this, for some of
the facts were quite new to me; a circumstance which shows one can
never get correct notions of a nation except from itself.

These important facts properly digested, we all of us set about our
several duties with a zeal that spoke fairly for our industry and
integrity. Things commenced swimmingly, and it was not long before
the Riddles sent us a resolution for concurrence, by way of opening
the ball. It was conceived in the following terms: "Resolved, that
the color which has hitherto been deemed to be black, is really

As this was the first resolution that involved a principle on which
we had been required to vote, I suggested to Noah the propriety of
our going round to the brigadier, and inquiring what might be the
drift of so singular a proposition. Our colleague answered the
question with great good-nature, giving us to understand that the
Perpendiculars and the Horizontals had long been at variance on the
mere coloring property of various important questions, and the real
matter involved in the resolution was not visible. The former had
always maintained (by always, he meant ever since the time they
maintained the contrary) the doctrine of the resolution, and the
latter its converse. A majority of the Riddles, just at this moment,
are Perpendiculars; and, as it was now seen, they had succeeded in
getting a vote on their favorite principle.

"According to this account of the matter, Sir John," observed the
captain, "I shall be compelled to maintain that black is white,
seeing that I am in on the Parpendic'lar interest?"

I thought with the captain, and was pleased that my own legislative
debut was not to be characterized by the promulgation of any
doctrine so much at variance with my preconceived ways of thinking.
Curious, however, to know his opinion, I asked the brigadier in what
light he felt disposed to view the matter himself.

"I am elected by the Tangents," he said; "and, by what I can learn,
it is the intention of our friends to steer a middle course; and one
of our leaders is already selected, who, at a proper stage of the
affair, is to move an amendment."

"Can you refer me, my dear friend, to anything connected with the
Great National Allegory that bears on this point?"

"Why, there is a clause among the fundamental and immutable laws,
which it is thought was intended to meet this very case; but,
unhappily, the sages by whom our Allegory was drawn up have not paid
quite as much attention to the phraseology as the importance of the
subject demanded."

Here the brigadier laid his finger on the clause in question, and I
returned to a seat to study its meaning. It was conceived as
follows:--Art. IV. Clause 6: "The Great National Council shall, in
no case whatever, pass any law, or resolution, declaring white to be

After studying this fundamental enactment to the bottom, turning it
on every side, and finally considering it upside-down, I came to the
conclusion that its tenor was, on the whole, rather more favorable
than unfavorable to the Horizontal doctrine. It struck me, a very
good argument was to be made out of the constitutional question, and
that it presented a very fair occasion for a new member to venture
on a maiden speech. Having so settled the matter, entirely to my own
satisfaction, I held myself in reserve, waiting for the proper
moment to produce an effect.

It was not long before the chairman of the committee on the
judiciary (one of the effects of the resolution was entirely to
change the coloring of all testimony throughout the vast Republic of
Leaplow) made his report on the subject-matter of the resolution.
This person was a Tangent, who had a besetting wish to become a
Riddle, although the leaning of our house was decidedly Horizontal;
and, as a matter of course, he took the Riddle side of this
question. The report, itself, required seven hours in the reading,
commencing with the subject at the epocha of the celebrated caucus
that was adjourned sine die, by the disruption of the earth's crust,
and previously to the distribution of the great monikin family into
separate communities, and ending with the subject of the resolution
in his hand. The reporter had set his political palette with the
utmost care, having completely covered the subject with neutral
tints, before he got through with it, and glazing the whole down
with ultramarine, in such a way as to cause the eye to regard the
matter through a fictitious atmosphere. Finally, he repeated the
resolution, verbatim, and as it came from the other house.

Mr. Speaker now called upon gentlemen to deliver their sentiments.
To my utter amazement, Captain Poke arose, put his tobacco back into
its box, and opened the debate without apology.

The honorable captain said he understood this question to be one
implicating the liberties of everybody. He understood the matter
literally, as it was propounded in the Allegory, and set forth in
the resolution; and, as such, he intended to look at it with
unprejudiced eyes. "The natur' of this proposal lay altogether in
color. What is color, after all? Make the most of it, and in the
most favorable position, which, perhaps, is the cheek of a comely
young woman, and it is but skin-deep. He remembered the time when a
certain female in another part of the univarse, who is commonly
called Miss Poke, might have out-rosed the best rose in a placed
called Stunnin'tun; and what did it all amount to? He shouldn't ask
Miss Poke herself, for obvious reasons--but he would ask any of the
neighbors how she looked now? Quitting female natur', he would come
to human natur' generally. He had often remarked that sea water was
blue, and he had frequently caused pails to be lowered, and the
water brought on deck, to see if he could come at any of this
blueing matter--for indigo was both scarce and dear in his part of
the world, but he never could make out anything by the experiment;
from which he concluded that, on the whull, there was pretty much no
such thing as color, at all.

"As for the resolution before the house, it depended entirely on the
meaning of words. Now, after all, what is a word? Why, some people's
words are good, and other people's words are good for nothing. For
his part, he liked sealed instruments--which might be because he was
a sealer--but as for mere words, he set but little store by them. He
once tuck a man's word for his wages; and the long and short of it
was, that he lost his money. He had known a thousand instances in
which words had proved to be of no value, and he did not see why
some gentlemen wished to make them of so much importance here. For
his part, he was for puffing up nothing, no, not even a word or a
color, above its desarts. The people seemed to call for a change in
the color of things, and he called upon gentlemen to remember that
this was a free country, and one in which the laws ruled; and
therefore he trusted they would be disposed to adapt the laws to the
wants of the people. What had the people asked of the house in this
matter? So far as his knowledge went, they had really asked nothing
in words, but he understood there was great discontent on the
subject of the old colors; and he construed their silence into an
expression of contempt for words in general. He was a Parpendic'lar,
and he should always maintain Parpendic'lar sentiments. Gentlemen
might not agree with him, but, for one, he was not disposed to
jipordyze the liberties of his constituents, and therefore he gave
the rizolution just as it came from the Riddles, without altering a
letter--although he did think there was one word misspelt--he meant
'really,' which he had been taught to spell 'ra'aily'--but he was
ready to sacrifice even his opinions on this point to the good of
the country; and therefore he went with the Riddles, even to their
misprints. He hoped the rizolution would pass, with the entire
unanimity so important a subject demanded."

This speech produced a very strong sensation. Up to this time, the
principal orators of the house had been much in the practice of
splitting hairs about some nice technicality in the Great Allegory;
but Noah, with the simplicity of a truly great mind, had made a home
thrust at the root of the whole matter; laying about him with the
single-first, I made a few apposite remarks on the necessity of
respecting the vital ordinances of the body politic, and asked the
attention of my hearers while I read to them a particular clause,
which it had struck me had some allusion to the very point now in
consideration. Having thus cleared the way, I had not the folly to
defeat the objects of so much preparation, by an indiscreet
precipitancy. So far from it, previously to reading the extract from
the constitution, I waited until the attention of every member
present was attracted more forcibly by the dignity, deliberation,
and gravity of my manner, than by the substance of what had yet been
said. In the midst of this deep silence and expectation I read
aloud, in a voice that reached every cranny in the hall--

"The great council shall, in no case whatever, pass any law, or
resolution, declaring white to be black."

If I had been calm in the presentation of this authority, I was
equally self-possessed in waiting for its effect. Looking about me I
saw surprise, perplexity, doubt, wonder, and uncertainty in every
countenance, if I did not find conviction. One fact embarrassed even
me. Our friends the Horizontals were evidently quite as much at
fault as our opponents the Perpendiculars, instead of being, as I
had good reason to hope, in an ecstasy of pleasure on hearing their
cause sustained by an authority so weighty.

"Will the honorable member have the goodness to explain from what
author he has quoted?" one of the leading Perpendiculars at length
ventured to inquire.

"The language you have just heard, Mr. Speaker," I resumed,
believing that now was the favorable instant to follow up the
matter, "is language that must find an echo in every heart--it is
language that can never be used in vain in this venerable hall,
language that carries with it conviction and command."--I observed
that the members were now fairly gaping at each other with wonder.--
"Sir, I am asked to name the author from whom I have quoted these
sententious and explicit words--Sir, what you have just heard is to
be found in the Article IV., Clause 6, of the Great National

"Order--order--order!" shouted a hundred raven throats.

I stood aghast, even more amazed than the house itself had been only
the instant before.

"Order--order--order--order--order!" continued to be yelled, as if a
million of demons were screeching in the hall.

"The honorable member will please to recollect," said the bland and
ex-officio impartial speaker, who, by the way, was a Perpendicular,
elected by fraud, "that it is out of order to use personalities."

"Personalities! I do not understand, sir--"

"The instrument to which the honorable member has alluded, his own
good sense will tell him, was never written by itself--so far from
this, the very members of the convention by which it was drawn up,
are at this instant members of this house, and most of them
supporters of the resolution now before the house; and it will be
deemed personal to throw into their faces former official acts, in
this unheard-of manner. I am sorry it is my duty to say, that the
honorable member is entirely out of order."

"But, sir, the Sacred National--"

"Sacred, sir, beyond a doubt--but in a sense different from what you
imagine--much too sacred, sir, ever to be alluded to here. There are
the works of the commentators, the books of constructions, and
specially the writings of various foreign and perfectly
disinterested statesmen--need I name Ekrub in particular!--that are
at the command of members; but so long as I am honored with a seat
in this chair, I shall peremptorily decide against all

I was dumfounded. The idea that the authority itself would be
refused never crossed my mind, though I had anticipated a sharp
struggle on its construction. The constitution only required that no
law should be passed declaring black to be white, whereas the
resolution merely ordered that henceforth white should be black.
Here was matter for discussion, nor was I at all sanguine as to the
result; but to be thus knocked on the head by a club, in the outset,
was too much for the modesty of a maiden speech. I took my seat in
confusion; and I plainly saw that the Perpendiculars, by their
sneers, now expected to carry everything triumphantly their own way.
This, most probably, would have been the case, had not one of the
Tangents immediately got the floor, to move the amendment. To the
vast indignation of Captain Poke, and, in some degree, to my own
mortification, this duty was intrusted to the Hon. Robert Smut. Mr.
Smut commenced with entreating members not to be led away by the
sophistry of the first speaker. That honorable member, no doubt,
felt himself called upon to defend the position taken by his
friends; but those that knew him well, as it had been his fate to
know him, must be persuaded that his sentiments had, at least,
undergone a sudden and miraculous change. That honorable member
denied the existence of color at all! He would ask that honorable
member if he had never been instrumental himself in producing what
is generally called "black and blue color"? He should like to know
if that honorable member placed as little value, at present, on
blows as he now seemed to set on words. He begged pardon of the
house--but this was a matter of great interest to himself--he knew
that there never had been a greater manufacturer of "black and blue
color" than that honorable member, and he wondered at his now so
pertinaciously denying the existence of colors, and at his wish to
underrate their value. For his part, he trusted he understood the
importance of words, and the value of hues; and while he did not
exactly see the necessity of deeming black so inviolable as some
gentlemen appeared to think it, he was not by any means prepared to
go as far as those who had introduced this resolution. He did not
believe that public opinion was satisfied with maintaining that
black was black, but he thought it was not yet disposed to affirm
that black was white. He did not say that such a day might not
arrive; he only maintained that it had not yet arrived, and with a
view to meet that which he believed was the public sentiment, he
should move, by way of amendment, to strike out the whole of the
resolution after the word "really," and insert that which would
cause the whole resolution to read as follows, viz.:

"Resolved, that the color which has hitherto been deemed to be
black, is really lead-color."

Hereupon, the Honorable Mr. Smut took his seat, leaving the house to
its own ruminations. The leaders of the Perpendiculars, foreseeing
that if they got half-way this session, they might effect the rest
of their object the next, determined to accept the compromise; and
the resolution, amended, passed by a handsome majority. So this
important point was finally decided for the moment, leaving great
hopes among the Perpendiculars of being able to lay the Horizontals
even flatter on their backs than they were just then.

The next question that presented itself was of far less interest,
exciting no great attention. To understand it, however, it will be
necessary to refer a little to history. The government of
Leapthrough had, about sixty-three years before, caused one hundred
and twenty-six Leaplow ships to be burned on the high seas, or
otherwise destroyed. The pretence was, that they incommoded
Leapthrough. Leaplow was much too great a nation to submit to so
heinous an outrage, while, at the same time, she was much too
magnanimous and wise a nation to resent it in an every-day and
vulgar manner. Instead of getting in a passion and loading her
cannon, she summoned all her logic and began to reason. After
reasoning the matter with Leapthrough for fifty-two years, or until
all the parties who had been wronged were dead, and could no longer
be benefited by her logic, she determined to abate two-thirds of her
pretensions in a pecuniary sense, and all her pretensions in an
honorary sense, and to compromise the affair by accepting a certain
insignificant sum of money as a salve to the whole wrong.
Leapthrough conditioned to pay this money, in the most solemn and
satisfactory manner; and everybody was delighted with the amicable
termination of a very vexatious and a seemingly interminable
discussion. Leapthrough was quite as glad to get rid of the matter
as Leaplow, and very naturally, under all the circumstances, thought
the whole thing at length done with, when she conditioned to pay the
money. The Great Sachem of Leaplow, most unfortunately, however, had
a "will of iron," or, in other words, he thought the money ought to
be paid as well as conditioned to be paid. This despotic
construction of the bargain had given rise to unheard-of
dissatisfaction in Leapthrough, as indeed might have been expected;
but it was, oddly enough, condemned with some heat even in Leaplow
itself, where it was stoutly maintained by certain ingenious
logicians, that the only true way to settle a bargain to pay money,
was to make a new one for a less sum whenever the amount fell due; a
plan that, with a proper moderation and patience would be certain,
in time, to extinguish the whole debt.

Several very elaborate patriots had taken this matter in hand, and
it was now about to be presented to the house under four different
categories. Category No. 1, had the merit of simplicity and
precision. It proposed merely that Leaplow should pay the money
itself, and take up the bond, using its own funds. Category No. 2,
embraced a recommendation of the Great Sachem for Leaplow to pay
itself, using, however, certain funds of Leapthrough. Category No. 3
was a proposal to offer ten millions to Leapthrough to say no more
about the transaction at all. Category No. 4, was to commence the
negotiating or abating system mentioned, without delay, in order to
extinguish the claim by instalments as soon as possible.

The question came up on the consideration of the different projects
connected with these four leading principles. My limits will not
admit of a detailed history of the debate. All I can do, is merely
to give an outline of the logic that these various propositions set
in motion, of the legislative ingenuity of which they were the
parents, and of the multitude of legitimate conclusions that so
naturally followed.

In favor of category No 1, it was urged that, by adopting its
leading idea, the affair would be altogether in our own hands, and
might consequently be settled with greater attention to purely
Leaplow interests; that further delay could only proceed from our
own negligence; that no other project was so likely to get rid of
this protracted negotiation in so short a time; that by paying the
debt with the Leaplow funds, we should be sure of receiving its
amount in the good legal currency of the republic; that it would be
singularly economical, as the agent who paid might also be
authorized to receive, whereby there would be a saving in salary;
and, finally, that under this category, the whole affair might be
brought within the limits of a nutshell, and the compass of any
one's understanding.

In favor of category No. 2, little more than very equivocal
sophisms, which savored strongly of commonplace opinions, were
presented. It was pretended, for instance, that he who signed a bond
was in equity bound to pay it; that, if he refused, the other party
had the natural and legal remedy of compulsion; that it might not
always be convenient for a creditor to pay all the obligations of
other people which he might happen to hold; that if his transactions
were extensive, money might be wanting to carry out such a
principle; and that, as a precedent, it would comport much more with
Leaplow prudence and discretion to maintain the old and tried
notions of probity and justice, than to enter on the unknown ocean
of uncertainty that was connected with the new opinions, by
admitting which, we could never know when we were fairly out of

Category No. 3, was discussed on an entirely new system of logic,
which appeared to have great favor with that class of the members
who were of the more refined school of ethics. These orators
referred the whole matter to a sentiment of honor. They commenced by
drawing vivid pictures of the outrages in which the original wrongs
had been committed. They spoke of ruined families, plundered
mariners, and blasted hopes. They presented minute arithmetical
calculations to show that just forty times as much wrong had, in
fact, been done, as this bond assumed; and that, as the case
actually stood, Leaplow ought, in strict justice, to receive exactly
forty times the amount of the money that was actually included in
the instrument. Turning from these interesting details, they next
presented the question of honor. Leapthrough, by attacking the
Leaplow flag, and invading Leaplow rights, had made it principally a
question of honor, and, in disposing of it, the principle of honor
ought never to be lost sight of. It was honorable to PAY ones'
debts--this no one could dispute but it was not so clear, by any
means, that there was any honor in RECEIVING ones' dues. The
national honor was concerned; and they called on members, as they
cherished the sacred sentiment, to come forward and sustain it by
their votes. As the matter stood, Leaplow had the best of it. In
compounding with her creditor, as had been done in the treaty,
Leapthrough lost some honor--in refusing to pay the bond, she lost
still more; and now, if we should send her the ten millions
proposed, and she should have the weakness to accept it, we should
fairly get our foot upon her neck, and she could never look us in
the face again!

The category No. 4, brought up a member who had made political
economy his chief study. This person presented the following case:--
According to his calculations, the wrong had been committed
precisely sixty-three years, and twenty-six days, and two-thirds of
a day ago. For the whole of that long period Leaplow had been
troubled with this vexatious question, which had hung like a cloud
over the otherwise unimpaired brightness of her political landscape.
It was time to get rid of it. The sum stipulated was just twenty-
five millions, to be paid in twenty-five annual instalments, of a
million each. Now, he proposed to reduce the instalments to one-half
the number, but in no way to change the sum. That point ought to be
considered as irrevocably settled. This would diminish the debt one-
half. Before the first instalment should become due he would effect
a postponement, by diminishing the instalments again to six,
referring the time to the latest periods named in the last treaty,
and always most sacredly keeping the sums precisely the same. It
would be impossible to touch the sums, which, he repeated, ought to
be considered as sacred. Before the expiration of the first seven
years, a new arrangement might reduce the instalments to two, or
even to one--always respecting the sum; and finally, at the proper
moment, a treaty could be concluded, declaring that there should be
no instalment at all, reserving the point, that if there HAD been an
instalment, Leaplow could never have consented to reduce it below
one million. The result would be that in about five-and-twenty years
the country would be fairly rid of the matter, and the national
character, which it was agreed on all hands was even now as high as
it well could be, would probably be raised many degrees higher. The
negotiations had commenced in a spirit of compromise; and our
character for consistency required that this spirit of compromise
should continue to govern our conduct as long as a single farthing
remained unpaid.

This idea took wonderfully; and I do believe it would have passed by
a handsome majority, had not a new proposition been presented, by an
orator of singularly pathetic powers.

The new speaker objected to all four of the categories. He said that
each and every one of them would lead to war. Leapthrough was a
chivalrous and high-minded nation, as was apparent by the present
aspect of things. Should we presume to take up the bond, using our
own funds, it would mortally offend her pride, and she would fight
us; did we presume to take up the bond, using her funds, it would
offend her financial system, and she would fight us; did we presume
to offer her ten millions to say no more about the matter, it would
offend her dignity by intimating that she was to be bought off from
her rights, and she would fight us; did we presume to adopt the
system of new negotiations, it would mortally offend her honor, by
intimating that she would not respect her old negotiations, and she
would fight us. He saw war in all four of the categories. He was for
a peace category, and he thought he held in his hand a proposition,
that by proper management, using the most tender delicacy, and
otherwise respecting the sensibilities of the high and honorable
nation in question, we might possibly get out of this embarrassing
dilemma without actually coming to blows--he said to blows, for he
wished to impress on honorable members the penalties of war. He
invited gentlemen to recollect that a conflict between two great
nations was a serious affair. If Leapthrough were a little nation,
it would be a different matter, and the contest might be conducted
in a corner; our honor was intimately connected with all we did with
great nations. What was war? Did gentlemen know? He would tell them.

Here the orator drew a picture of war that caused suffering
monikinity to shudder. He viewed it in its four leading points: its
religious, its pecuniary, its political, and its domestic penalties.
He described war to be the demon state of the monikin mind; as
opposed to worship, to charity, brotherly love, and all the virtues.
On its pecuniary penalties, he touched by exhibiting a tax-sheet.
Buttons which cost sixpence a gross, he assured the house, would
shortly cost sevenpence a gross.--Here he was reminded that monikins
no longer wore buttons.--No matter, they bought and sold buttons,
and the effects on trade were just the same. The political penalties
of war he fairly showed to be frightful; but when he came to speak
of the domestic penalties, there was not a dry eye in the house.
Captain Poke blubbered so loud that I was in an agony lest he should
be called to order.

"Regard that pure spirit," he cried, "crushed as it has been in the
whirlwind of war. Behold her standing over the sod that covers the
hero of his country, the husband of her virgin affections. In vain
the orphan at her side turns its tearful eye upwards, and asks for
the plumes that so lately pleased its infant fancy; in vain its
gentle voice inquires when he is to return, when he is to gladden
their hearts with his presence--" But I can write no more. Sobs
interrupted the speaker, and he took his seat in an ecstasy of
godliness and benevolence.

I hurried across the house, to beg the brigadier would introduce me
to this just monikin without a moment's delay. I felt as if I could
take him to my heart at once, and swear an eternal friendship with a
spirit so benevolent. The brigadier was too much agitated, at first,
to attend to me; but, after wiping his eyes at least a hundred
times, he finally succeeded in arresting the torrents, and looked
upwards with a bland smile.

"Is he not a wonderful monikin?"

"Wonderful indeed! How completely he puts us all to shame!--Such a
monikin can only be influenced by the purest love for the species."

"Yes, he is of a class that we call the third monikinity. Nothing
excites our zeal like the principles of the class of which he is a

"How! Have you more than one class of the humane?"

"Certainly--the Original, the Representative, and the Speculative."

"I am devoured by the desire to understand the distinctions, my dear

"The Original is an every-day class, that feels under the natural
impulses. The Representative is a more intellectual division, that
feels chiefly by proxy. The Speculatives are those whose sympathies
are excited by positive interests, like the last speaker. This
person has lately bought a farm by the acre, which he is about to
sell, in village lots, by the foot, and war will knock the whole
thing in the head. It is this which stimulates his benevolence in so
lively a manner."

"Why, this is no more than a development of the social-stake system-

I was interrupted by the speaker, who called the house to order. The
vote on the resolution of the last orator was to be taken. It read
as follows:--

"Resolved, that it is altogether unbecoming the dignity and
character of Leapthrough, for Leaplow to legislate on the subject of
so petty a consideration as a certain pitiful treaty between the two

"Unanimity--unanimity!" was shouted by fifty voices. Unanimity there
was; and then the whole house set to work shaking hands and hugging
each other, in pure joy at the success of the honorable and
ingenious manner in which it had got rid of this embarrassing and
impertinent question.



The house had not long adjourned before Captain Poke and myself were
favored with a visit from our colleague Mr. Downright, who came on
an affair of absorbing interest. He carried in his hand a small
pamphlet; and the usual salutations were scarcely over, before he
directed our attention to a portion of its contents. It would seem
that Leaplow was on the eve of experiencing a great moral eclipse.
The periods and dates of the phenomenon (if that can be called a
phenomenon which was of too frequent occurrence) had been
calculated, with surprising accuracy, by the Academy of Leaphigh,
and sent, through its minister, as an especial favor, to our beloved
country in order that we should not be taken by surprise. The
account of the affair read as follows:--

"On the third day of the season of nuts, there will be the
commencement of a great moral eclipse, in that portion of the
monikin region which lies immediately about the pole. The property
in eclipse will be the great moral postulate usually designated by
the term Principle; and the intervening body will be the great
immoral postulate, usually known as Interest. The frequent
occurrence of the conjunction of these two important postulates has
caused our moral mathematicians to be rather negligent of their
calculations on this subject of late years; but, to atone for this
inexcusable indifference to one of the most important concerns of
life, the calculating committee was instructed to pay unusual
attention to all the obscurations of the present year, and this
phenomenon, one of the most decided of our age, has been calculated
with the utmost nicety and care. We give the results.

"The eclipse will commence by a motive of monikin vanity coming in
contact with the sub-postulate of charity, at 1 A. M. The postulate
in question will be totally hid from view, in the course of 6 h. 17
m. from the moment of contact. The passage of a political intrigue
will instantly follow, when the several sub-postulates of truth,
honesty, disinterestedness, and patriotism, will all be obscured in
succession, beginning with the lower limb of the first, and ending
with all the limbs of the whole of them, in 3 h. 42 m. from the
moment of contact. The shadow of vanity and political intrigue will
first be deepened by the approach of prosperity, and this will be
soon succeeded by the contact of a great pecuniary interest, at 10
h. 2 m. 1s.; and in exactly 2 m. and 3-7 s., the whole of the great
moral postulate of Principle will be totally hid from view. In
consequence of this early passage of the darkest shadow that is ever
cast by Interest, the passages of the respective shadows of
ambition, hatred, jealousy, and all the other minor satellites of
Interest, will be invisible.

"The country principally affected by this eclipse will be the
Republic of Leaplow, a community whose known intelligence and
virtues are perhaps better qualified to resist its influence than
any other. The time of occultation will be 9 y. 7 m. 26 d. 4 h. 16 m.
2 s. Principle will begin to reappear to the moral eye at the end of
this period, first by the approach of Misfortune, whose atmosphere
being much less dense than that of Interest, will allow of imperfect
views of the obscured postulate; but the radiance of the latter will
not be completely restored until the arrival of Misery, whose
chastening colors invariably permit all truths to be discernible,
although through a sombre medium. To resume:

"Beginning of eclipse, 1 A. M.

Ecliptic opposition, in 4 y. 6 m. 12 d. 9 h. from beginning of

Middle, in 4 y. 9 m. 0 d. 7 h. 9 m. from beginning of eclipse.

End of eclipse, 9 y. 11 m. 20 d. 3 h. 2 m. from beginning.

Period of occultation, 9 y. 7 m. 26 d. 4 h. 16 m. 2 s."

I gazed at the brigadier in admiration and awe. There was nothing
remarkable in the eclipse itself, which was quite an every-day
affair; but the precision with which it had been calculated added to
its other phenomena the terrible circumstance of obtaining a glimpse
into the future, I now began to perceive the immense difference
between living consciously under a moral shadow, and living under it
unconsciously. The latter was evidently a trifle compared with the
former. Providence had most kindly provided for our happiness in
denying the ability to see beyond the present moment.

Noah took the affair even more at heart than myself. He told me,
with a rueful and prognosticating countenance, that we were fast
drawing near to the autumnal equinox, when we should reach the
commencement of a natural night of six months' duration; and
although the benevolent substitute of steam might certainly in some
degree lessen the evil, that it was a furious evil, after all, to
exist for a period so weary without enjoying the light of the sun.
He found the external glare of day bad enough, but he did not
believe he should be able to endure its total absence. "Natur' had
made him a 'watch and watch' critter. As for the twilight of which
so much was said, it was worse than nothin', being neither one thing
nor the other. For his part, he liked things 'made out of whole
cloth.' Then he had sent the ship round to a distant roadstead, in
order that there might be no more post-captains and rear-admirals
among the people; and here had he been as much as four days on
nothing but nuts. Nuts might do for the philosophy of a monkey, but
he found, on trial, that it played the devil with the philosophy of
a man. Things were bad enough as they were. He pined for a little
pork--he cared not who knew it; it might not be very sentimental, he
knew, but it was capital sea-food; his natur' was pretty much pork;
he believed most men had, in some way or other, more or less pork in
their human natur's; nuts might do for monikin natur', but human
natur' loved meat; if monikins did not like it, monikins need not
eat it; there would be so much the more for those who did like it--
he pined for his natural aliment, and as for living nine years in an
eclipse, it was quite out of the question. The longest Stunnin'tun
eclipses seldom went over three hours--he once knew Deacon Spiteful
pray quite through one, from apogee to perigee. He therefore
proposed that Sir John and he should resign their seats without
delay, and that they should try to get the Walrus to the north'ard
as quick as possible, lest they should be caught in the polar night.
As for the Hon. Robert Smut, he wished him no better luck than to
remain where he was all his life, and to receive his eight dollars a
day in acorns."

Although it was impossible not to hear, and, having heard, not to
record the sentiments of Noah, still my attention was much more
strongly attracted by the demeanor of the brigadier, than by the
jeremiad of the sealer. To an anxious inquiry if he were not well,
our worthy colleague answered plaintively, that he mourned over the
misfortune of his country.

"I have often witnessed the passage of the passions, and of the
minor motives, across the disc of the great moral postulate,
Principle; but an occultation of its light by a pecuniary Interest,
and for so long a period, is fearful! Heaven only knows what will
become of us!"

"Are not these eclipses, after all, so many mere illustrations of
the social-stake system? I confess this occultation, of which you
seem to have so much dread, is not so formidable a thing, on
reflection, as it at first appeared to be."

"You are quite right, Sir John, as to the character of the eclipse
itself, which, as a matter of course, must depend on the character
of the intervening body. But the wisest and best of our philosophers
hold that the entire system of which we are but insignificant parts,
is based on certain immutable truths of a divine origin. The
premises, or postulates, of all these truths, are so many moral
guides in the management of monikin affairs; and, the moment they
are lost sight of, as will be the case during these frightful nine
years that are to come, we shall be abandoned entirely to
selfishness. Now selfishness is only too formidable when restrained
by Principle; but left to its own grasping desires and audacious
sophisms, to me the moral perspective is terrible. We are only too
much addicted to turn our eyes from Principle, when it is shining in
heavenly radiance, and in full glory, before us; it is not
difficult, therefore, to foresee the nature of the consequences
which are to follow its total and protracted obscuration."

"You then conceive there is a rule superior to interest, which ought
to be respected in the control of monikin affairs?"

"Beyond a doubt; else in what should we differ from the beasts of

"I do not exactly see whether this does, or does not accord with the
notions of the political economists of the social-stake system."

"As you say, Sir John, it does, and it does not. Your social-stake
system supposes that he who has what is termed a distinct and
prominent interest in society, will be the most likely to conduct
its affairs wisely, justly, and disinterestedly. This would be true,
if those great principles which lie at the root of all happiness
were respected; but unluckily, the stake in question, instead of
being a stake in justice and virtue, is usually reduced to be merely
a stake in property. Now, all experience shows that the great
property-incentives are to increase property, protect property, and
to buy with property those advantages which ought to be independent
of property, viz., honors, dignities, power, and immunities. I
cannot say how it is with men, but our histories are eloquent on
this head. We have had the property-principle carried out thoroughly
in our practice, and the result has shown that its chief operation
is to render property as intact as possible, and the bones, and
sinews, and marrow of all who do not possess it, its slaves. In
short, the time has been, when the rich were even exempt from
contributing to the ordinary exigencies of the state. But it is
quite useless to theorize on this subject, for, by that cry in the
streets, the lower limb of the great postulate is beginning to be
obscured, and, alas! we shall soon have too much practical

The brigadier was right. On referring to the clocks, it was found
that, in truth, the eclipse had commenced some time before, and that
we were on the verge of an absolute occultation of Principle, by the
basest and most sordid of all motives, pecuniary Interest.

The first proof that was given of the true state of things, was in
the language of the people. The word Interest was in every monikin's
mouth, while the word Principle, as indeed was no more than
suitable, seemed to be quite blotted out of the Leaplow vocabulary.
To render a local term into English, half of the vernacular of the
country appeared to be compressed into the single word "dollar."
"Dollar--dollar--dollar"--nothing but "dollar! Fifty thousand
dollars--twenty thousand dollars--a hundred thousand dollars"--met
one at every turn. The words rang at the corners--in the public
ways--at the exchange--in the drawing-rooms--ay, even in the
churches. If a temple had been reared for the worship of the
Creator, the first question was, how much did it cost? If an artist
submitted the fruits of his labors to the taste of his fellow-
citizens, conjectures were whispered among the spectators, touching
its value in the current coin of the republic. If an author
presented the offspring of his genius to the same arbiters, its
merits were settled by a similar standard; and one divine, who had
made a strenuous, but an ill-timed appeal to the charity of his
countrymen, by setting forth the beauties as well as the rewards of
the god-like property, was fairly put down by a demonstration that
his proposition involved a considerable outlay, while it did not
clearly show much was to be gained by going to heaven!

Brigadier Downright had good reasons for his sombre anticipations,
for all the acquirements, knowledge, and experience, obtained in
many years of travel, were now found to be worse than useless. If my
honorable colleague and covoyager ventured a remark on the subject
of foreign policy, a portion of politics to which he had given
considerable attention, it was answered by a quotation from the
stock market; an observation on a matter of taste was certain to
draw forth a nice distinction between the tastes of certain liquors,
together with a shrewd investigation of their several prices; and
once, when the worthy monikin undertook to show, from what struck me
to be singularly good data, that the foreign relations of the
country were in a condition to require great firmness, a proper
prudence, and much foresight, he was completely silenced by an
antagonist showing, from the last sales, the high value of lots up

In short, there was no dealing with any subject that could not
resolve itself into dollars, by means of the customary exchanges.
The infatuation spread from father to son; from husband to wife;
from brother to sister; and from one collateral to another, until it
pretty effectually assailed the whole of what is usually termed
"society." Noah swore bitterly at this antagonist state of things.
He affirmed that he could not even crack a walnut in a corner, but
every monikin that passed appeared to grudge him the satisfaction,
small as it was; and that Stunin'tun, though a scramble-penny place
as any he knew, was paradise to Leaplow, in the present state of

It was melancholy to remark how the lustre of the ordinary virtues
grew dim, as the period of occultation continued, and the eye
gradually got to be accustomed to the atmosphere cast by the shadow
of pecuniary interest. I involuntarily shuddered at the open and
undisguised manner in which individuals, who might otherwise pass
for respectable monikins, spoke of the means that they habitually
employed in effecting their objects, and laid bare their utter
forgetfulness of the great postulate that was hid. One coolly
vaunted how much cleverer he was than the law; another proved to
demonstration that he had outwitted his neighbor; while a third,
more daring or more expert, applied the same grounds of exultation
to the entire neighborhood. This had the merit of cunning; that of
dissimulation; another of deception, and all of success!

The shadow cast its malign influence on every interest connected
with monikin life. Temples were raised to God on speculation; the
government was perverted to a money-investment, in which profit, and
not justice and security, was the object; holy wedlock fast took the
aspect of buying and selling, and few prayed who did not identify
spiritual benefits with gold and silver.

The besetting propensity of my ancestor soon began to appear in
Leaplow. Many of those pure and unsophisticated republicans shouted,
"Property is in danger!" as stoutly as it was ever roared by Sir
Joseph Job, and dark allusions were made to "revolutions" and
"bayonets." But certain proof of the prevalence of the eclipse, and
that the shadow of pecuniary interest lay dark on the land, was to
be found in the language of what are called the "few." They began to
throw dirt at all opposed to them, like so many fish-women: a sure
symptom that the spirit of selfishness was thoroughly awakened. From
much experience, I hold this sign to be infallible, that the
sentiment of aristocracy is active and vigilant. I never yet visited
a country in which a minority got into its head the crotchet it was
alone fit to dictate to the rest of its fellow-creatures, that it
did not, without delay, set about proving its position, by reviling
and calling names. In this particular "the few" are like women, who,
conscious of their weakness, seldom fail to make up for the want of
vigor in their limbs, by having recourse to the vigor of the tongue.
The "one" hangs; the "many" command by the dignity of force; the
"few" vituperate and scold. This is, I believe, the case all over
the world, except in those peculiar instances in which the "few"
happen also to enjoy the privilege of hanging.

It is worthy of remark that the terms, "rabble," "disorganizers,"
"jacobins," and "agrarians," [Footnote: It is scarcely necessary to
tell the intelligent reader there is no proof that any political
community was ever so bent on self-destruction as to enact agrarian
laws, in the vulgar sense in which it has suited the arts of narrow-
minded politicians to represent them ever since the revival of
letters. The celebrated agrarian laws of Rome did not essentially
differ from the distribution of our own military lands, or perhaps
the similitude is greater to the modern Russian military colonies.
Those who feel an interest in this subject would do well to consult
Niebuhr. NOTE BY THE EDITOR.] were bandied from one to the other, in
Leaplow, under this malign influence, with precisely the same
justice, discrimination, and taste, as they had been used by my
ancestor in London, a few years before. Like causes notoriously
produce like effects; and there is no one thing so much like an
Englishman under the property-fever, as a Leaplow monikin suffering
under the same malady.

The effect produced on the state of parties by the passage of the
shadow of Pecuniary Interest, was so singular as to deserve our
notice. Patriots who had long been known for an indomitable
resolution to support their friends, openly abandoned their claims
on the rewards of the little wheel, and went over to the enemy; and
this, too, without recourse to the mysteries of the "flapjack."
Judge People's Friend was completely annihilated for the moment--so
much so, indeed, as to think seriously of taking another mission--
for, during these eclipses, long service, public virtue, calculated
amenity, and all the other bland qualities of your patriot, pass for
nothing, when weighed in the scale against profit and loss. It was
fortunate the Leapthrough question was, in its essence, so well
disposed of, though the uneasiness of those who bought and sold land
by the inch, pushed even that interest before the public again by
insisting that a few millions should be expended in destroying the
munitions of war, lest the nation might improvidently be tempted to
make use of them in the natural way. The cruisers were accordingly
hauled into the stream and converted into tide-mills, the gun-
barrels were transformed into gas-pipes, and the forts were
converted, as fast as possible, into warehouses and tea-gardens.
After this, it was much the fashion to affirm that the advanced
state of civilization had rendered all future wars quite out of the
question. Indeed, the impetus that was given, by the effects of the
shadow, in this way, to humanity in gross, was quite as remarkable
as were its contrary tendencies on humanity in detail.

Public opinion was not backward in showing how completely it was
acting under the influence of the shadow. Virtue began to be
estimated by rent-rolls. The affluent, without hesitation, or,
indeed, opposition, appropriated to themselves the sole use of the
word respectable, while taste, judgment, honesty, and wisdom,
dropped like so many heirlooms quietly into the possession of those
who had money. The Leaplowers are a people of great acuteness, and
of singular knowledge of details. Every considerable man in Bivouac
soon had his social station assigned him, the whole community being
divided into classes of "hundred-thousand-dollar monikins"--"fifty-
thousand-dollar monikins"--"twenty-thousand-dollar monikins." Great
conciseness in language was a consequence of this state of feeling.
The old questions of "is he honest?" "is he capable?" "is he
enlightened?" "is he wise?" "is he good?" being all comprehended in
the single interrogatory of "is he rich?"

There was one effect of this very unusual state of things, that I
had not anticipated. All the money-getting classes, without
exception, showed a singular predilection in favor of what is
commonly called a strong government; being not only a republic, but
virtually a democracy, I found that much the larger portion of this
highly respectable class of citizens, were not at all backward in
expressing their wish for a change.

"How is this?" I demanded of the brigadier, whom I rarely quitted;
for his advice and opinions were of great moment to me, just at this
particular crisis--"how is this, my good friend? I have always been
led to think trade is especially favorable to liberty; and here are
all your commercial interests the loudest in their declamations
against the institutions."

The brigadier smiled; it was but a melancholy smile, after all; for
his spirits appeared to have quite deserted him.

"There are three great divisions among politicians," he said--"they
who do not like liberty at all--they who like it, as low down as
their own particular class--and they who like it for the sake of
their fellow-creatures. The first are not numerous, but powerful by
means of combinations; the second is a very irregular corps,
including, as a matter of course, nearly everybody, but is wanting,
of necessity, in concert and discipline, since no one descends below
his own level; the third are but few, alas, how few! and are
composed of those who look beyond their own selfishness. Now, your
merchants, dwelling in towns, and possessing concert, means, and
identity of interests, have been able to make themselves remarkable
for contending with despotic power, a fact which has obtained for
them a cheap reputation for liberality of opinion; but, so far as
monikin experience goes--men may have proved to be better disposed--
no government that is essentially influenced by commerce has ever
been otherwise than exclusive, or aristocratic."

I bethought me of Venice, Genoa, Pisa, the Hanse Towns, and all the
other remarkable places of this character in Europe, and I felt the
justice of my friend's distinction, at the same time I could not but
observe how much more the minds of men are under the influence of
names and abstractions than under the influence of positive things.
To this opinion the brigadier very readily assented, remarking, at
the same time, that a well-wrought theory had generally more effect
on opinion than fifty facts; a result that he attributed to the
circumstance of monikins having a besetting predisposition to save
themselves the trouble of thinking.

I was, in particular, struck with the effect of the occultation of
Principle on motives. I had often remarked that it was by no means
safe to depend on one's own motives, for two sufficient reasons;
first, that we did not always know what our own motives were; and
secondly, admitting that we did, it was quite unreasonable to
suppose that our friends would believe them what we thought them to
be ourselves. In the present instance, every monikin seemed
perfectly aware of the difficulty; and, instead of waiting for his
acquaintances to attribute some moral enormity as his governing
reason, he prudently adopted a moderately selfish inducement for his
acts, which he proclaimed with a simplicity and frankness that
generally obtained credit. Indeed, the fact once conceded that the
motive was not offensively disinterested and just, no one was
indisposed to listen to the projects of his friend, who usually rose
in estimation, as he was found to be ingenious, calculating, and
shrewd. The effect of all this was to render society singularly
sincere and plain-spoken; and one unaccustomed to so much
ingenuousness, or who was ignorant of the cause, might, plausibly
enough, suppose, at times, that accident had thrown him into an
extraordinary association with so many ARTISTES, who, as it is
commonly expressed, lived by their wits. I will avow that, had it
been the fashion to wear pockets at Leaplow, I should often have
been concerned for their contents; for sentiments so purely
unsophisticated, were so openly advanced under the influence of the
shadow, that one was inevitably led, oftener than was pleasant, to
think of the relations between meum and tuum, as well as of the
unexpected causes by which they were sometimes disturbed.

A vacancy occurred, the second day of the eclipse, among the
representatives of Bivouac, and the candidate of the Horizontals
would certainly have been chosen to fill it, but for a contretemps
connected with this affair of motives. The individual in question
had lately performed that which, in most other countries, and under
other circumstances, would have passed for an act of creditable
national feeling; but which, quite as a matter of course, was
eagerly presented to the electors, by his opponents, as a proof of
his utter unfitness to be intrusted with their interests. The
friends of the candidate took the alarm, and indignantly denied the
charges of the Perpendiculars, affirming that their monikin had been
well paid for what he had done. In an evil hour, the candidate
undertook to explain, by means of a handbill, in which he stated
that he had been influenced by no other motive than a desire to do
that which he believed to be right. Such a person was deemed to be
wanting in natural abilities, and, as a matter of course, he was
defeated; for your Leaplow elector was not such an ass as to confide
the care of his interests to one who knew so little how to take care
of his own.

About this time, too, a celebrated dramatist produced a piece in
which the hero performed prodigies under the excitement of
patriotism, and the labor of his pen was incontinently damned for
his pains; both pit and boxes--the galleries dissenting--deciding
that it was out of all nature to represent a monikin incurring
danger in this unheard-of manner, without a motive. The unhappy
wight altered the last scene, by causing his hero to be rewarded by
a good, round sum of money, when the piece had a very respectable
run for the rest of the season, though I question if it ever were as
popular as it would have been, had this precaution been taken before
it was first acted.



Legislation, during the occultation of the great moral postulate
Principle by the passage of Pecuniary Interest, is, at the best, but
a melancholy affair. It proved to be peculiarly so with us just at
that moment, for the radiance of the divine property had been a good
deal obscured in the houses, for a long time previously, by the
interference of various minor satellites. In nothing, therefore, did
the deplorable state of things which existed make itself more
apparent, than in our proceedings.

As Captain Poke and myself, notwithstanding our having taken
different stands in politics, still continued to live together, I
had better opportunities to note the workings of the obscuration on
the ingenuous mind of my colleague than on that of most other
persons. He early began to keep a diary of his expenses, regularly
deducting the amount at night from the sum of eight dollars, and
regarding the balance as so much clear gain. His conversation, too,
soon betrayed a leaning to his personal interests, instead of being
of that pure and elevated cast which should characterize the
language of a statesman. He laid down the position, pretty
dogmatically, that legislation, after all, was work; that "the
laborer was worthy of his hire"; and that, for his part, he felt no
great disposition to go through the vexation and trouble of helping
to make laws, unless he could see, with a reasonable certainty, that
something was to be got by it. He thought Leaplow had quite laws
enough as it was--more than she respected or enforced--and if she
wanted any more, all she had to do was to pay for them. He should
take an early occasion to propose that all our wages--or, at any
rate, his own; others might do as they pleased--should be raised, at
the very least, two dollars a day, and this while he merely sat in
the house; for he wished to engage me to move, by way of amendment,
that as much more should be given to the committees. He did not
think it was fair to exact of a member to be a committee-man for
nothin', although most of them were committee-men for nothin'; and
if we were called on to keep two watches, in this manner, the least
that could be done would be to give us TWO PAYS. He said,
considering it in the most favorable point of view, that there was
great wear and tear of brain in legislation, and he should never be
the man he was before he engaged in the trade; he assured me that
his idees, sometimes, were so complicated that he did not know where
to find the one he wanted, and that he had wished for a cauda, a
thousand times, since he had been in the house, for, by keeping the
end of it in his hand, like the bight of a rope, he might always
have suthin' tangible to cling to. He told me, as a great secret,
that he was fairly tired of rummaging among his thoughts for the
knowledge necessary to understand what was going on, and that he had
finally concluded to put himself, for the rest of the session, under
the convoy of a God-like. He had been looking out for a fit fugleman
of this sort, and he had pretty much determined to follow the signal
of the great God-like of the Parpendic'lars, like the rest of them,
for it would occasion less confusion in the ranks, and enable him to
save himself a vast deal of trouble in making up his mind. He didn't
know, on the whole, but eight dollars a day might give a living
profit, provided he could throw all the thinking on his God-like,
and turn his attention to suthin' else; he thought of writing his
v'y'ges, for he understood that anything from foreign parts took
like wild-fire in Leaplow; and if they didn't take, he could always
project charts for a living.

Perhaps it will be necessary to explain what Noah meant by saying
that he thought of engaging a God-like. The reader has had some
insight into the nature of one set of political leaders in Leaplow,
who are known by the name of the Most Patriotic Patriots. These
persons, it is scarcely necessary to say, are always with the
majority, or in a situation to avail themselves of the evolutions of
the little wheel. Their great rotatory principle keeps them pretty
constantly in motion, it is true; but while there is a centrifugal
force to maintain this action, great care has been had to provide a
centripetal counterpoise, in order to prevent them from bolting out
of the political orbit. It is supposed to be owing to this
peculiarity in their party organizations, that your Leaplow patriot
is so very remarkable for going round and round a subject, without
ever touching it.

As an offset to this party arrangement, the Perpendiculars have
taken refuge in the God-likes. A God-like, in Leaplow politics, in
some respects resembles a saint in the Catholic calendar; that is to
say, he is canonized, after passing through a certain amount of
temptation and vice with a whole skin; after having his cause
pleaded for a certain number of years before the high authorities of
his party; and, usually, after having had a pretty good taste of
purgatory. Canonization attained, however, all gets to be plain
sailing with him. He is spared, singular as it may appear, even a
large portion of his former "wear and tear" of brains, as Noah had
termed it, for nothing puts one so much at liberty in this respect,
as to have full powers to do all the thinking. Thinking in company,
like travelling in company, requires that we should have some
respect to the movements, wishes, and opinions of others; but he who
gets a carte blanche for his sentiments, resembles the uncaged bird,
and may fly in whatever direction most pleases himself, and feel
confident, as he goes, that his ears will be saluted with the usual
traveller's signal of "all's right." I can best compare the
operation of your God-like and his votaries, to the action of a
locomotive with its railroad train. As that goes, this follows;
faster or slower, the movement is certain to be accompanied; when
the steam is up they fly, when the fire is out they crawl, and that,
too, with a very uneasy sort of motion; and when a bolt is broken,
they who have just been riding without the smallest trouble to
themselves, are compelled to get out and push the load ahead as well
as they can, frequently with very rueful faces, and in very dirty
ways. The cars whisk about, precisely as the locomotive whisks
about, all the turn-outs are necessarily imitated, and, in short,
one goes after the other very much as it is reasonable to suppose
will happen when two bodies are chained together, and the entire
moving power is given to only one of them. A God-like in Leaplow,
moreover, is usually a Riddle. It was the object of Noah to hitch on
to one of these moral steam-tugs, in order that he too might be
dragged through his duties without effort to himself; an expedient,
as the old sealer expressed it, that would in some degree remedy his
natural want of a cauda, by rendering him nothing but tail.

"I expect, Sir John," he said, for he had a practice of expecting by
way of conjecture, "I expect this is the reason why the Leaplowers
dock themselves. They find it more convenient to give up the
management of their affairs to some one of these God-likes, and fall
into his wake like the tail of a comet, which makes it quite
unnecessary to have any other cauda."

"I understand you; they amputate to prevent tautology."

Noah rarely spoke of any project until his mind was fairly made up;
and the execution usually soon followed the proposition. The next
thing I heard of him, therefore, he was fairly under the convoy, as
he called it, of one of the most prominent of the Riddles. Curious
to know how he liked the experiment, after a week's practice, I
called his attention to the subject, by a pretty direct inquiry.

He told me it was altogether the pleasantest mode of legislating
that had ever been devised. He was now perfectly master of his own
time, and in fact, he was making out a set of charts for the Leaplow
marine, a task that was likely to bring him in a good round sum, as
pumpkins were cheap, and in the polar seas he merely copied the
monikin authorities, and out of it he had things pretty much his own
way. As for the Great Allegory, when he wanted a hint about it, or,
indeed, about any other point at issue, all he had to do was to
inquire what his God-like thought about it, and to vote accordingly.
Then he saved himself a great deal of breath in the way of argument
out of doors, for he and the rest of the clientele of this Riddle,
having officially invested their patron with all their own parts,
the result had been such an accumulation of knowledge in this one
individual, as enabled them ordinarily to floor any antagonist by
the simple quotation of his authority. Such or such is the opinion
of God-like this or of God-like that, was commonly sufficient; and
then there was no lack of material, for he had taken care to provide
himself with a Riddle who, he really believed, had given an opinion,
at some time or other, on every side of every subject that had ever
been mooted in Leaplow. He could nullify, or mollify, or qualify,
with the best of them; and these, which he termed the three fies, he
believed were the great requisites of a Leaplow legislator. He
admitted, however, that some show of independence was necessary, in
order to give value to the opinion of even a God-like, for monikin
nature revolted at anything like total mental dependence; and that
he had pretty much made up his mind to think for himself on a
question that was to be decided that very day.

The case to which the captain alluded was this. The city of Bivouac
was divided in three pretty nearly equal parts which were separated
from each other by two branches of a marsh; one part of the town
being on a sort of island, and the other two parts on the respective
margins of the low land. It was very desirable to connect these
different portions of the capital by causeways, and a law to that
effect had been introduced in the house. Everybody, in or out of the
house, was in favor of the project, for the causeways had become, in
some measure, indispensable. The only disputed point was the length
of the works in question. One who is but little acquainted with
legislation, and who has never witnessed the effects of an
occultation of the great moral postulate Principle, by the orb
Pecuniary Interest, would very plausibly suppose that the whole
affair lay in a nutshell, and that all we had to do was to pass a
law ordering the causeways to extend just as far as the public
convenience rendered it necessary. But these are mere tyros in the
affairs of monikins. The fact was that there were just as many
different opinions and interests at work to regulate the length of
the causeways, as there were, owners of land along their line of
route. The great object was to start in what was called the business
quarter of the town, and then to proceed with the work as far as
circumstances would allow. We had propositions before us in favor of
from one hundred feet as far as up to ten thousand. Every inch was
fought for with as much obstinacy as if it were an important breach
that was defended; and combinations and conspiracies were as rife as
if we were in the midst of a revolution. It was the general idea
that by filling in with dirt, a new town might be built wherever the
causeway terminated, and fortunes made by an act of parliament. The
inhabitants of the island rallied en masse against the causeway
leading one inch from their quarter, after it had fairly reached it;
and, so throughout the entire line, monikins battled for what they
called their interests, with an obstinacy worthy of heroes.

On this great question, for it had, in truth, become of the last


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