J. Fenimore Cooper
Part 8 out of 8
importance by dragging into its consideration most of the leading
measures of the day, as well as six or seven of the principal
ordinances of the Great National Allegory, the respective partisans
logically contending that, for the time being, nothing should
advance a foot in Leaplow that did not travel along that causeway,
Noah determined to take an independent stand. This resolution was
not lightly formed, for he remained rather undecided, until, by
waiting a sufficient time, he felt quite persuaded that nothing was
to be got by following any other course. His God-like luckily was in
the same predicament, and everything promised a speedy occasion to
show the world what it was to act on principle; and this, too, in
the middle of a moral eclipse.
When the question came to be discussed, the landholders along the
first line of the causeway were soon reasoned down by the superior
interests of those who lived on the island. The rub was, the point
of permitting the work to go any further. The islanders manifested
great liberality, according to their account of themselves; for they
even consented that the causeway should be constructed on the other
marsh to precisely such a distance as would enable any one to go as
near as possible to the hostile quarter, without absolutely entering
it. To admit the latter, they proved to demonstration, would be
changing the character of their own island from that of an entrepot
to that of a mere thoroughfare. No reasonable monikin could expect
it of them.
As the Horizontals, by some calculation that I never understood, had
satisfied themselves it might better answer their purposes to
construct the entire work, than to stop anywhere between the two
extremes, my duty was luckily, on this occasion, in exact accordance
with my opinions; and, as a matter of course, I voted, this time, in
a way of which I could approve. Noah, finding himself a free agent,
now made his push for character, and took sides with us. Very
fortunately we prevailed, all the beaten interests joining
themselves, at the last moment, to the weakest side, or, in other
words, to that which was right; and Leaplow presented the singular
spectacle of having a just enactment passed during the occultation
of the great moral postulate, so often named. I ought to mention
that I have termed principle a postulate, throughout this narrative,
simply because it is usually in the dilemma of a disputed
No sooner was the result known, than my worthy colleague came round
to the Horizontal side of the house, to express his satisfaction
with himself for the course he had just taken. He said it was
certainly very convenient and very labor-saving to obey a God-like,
and that he got on much better with his charts now he was at liberty
to give his whole mind to the subject; but there was suthin'--he
didn't know what--but "a sort of Stunin'tun feeling" in doing what
one thought right, after all, that caused him to be glad that he had
voted for the whole causeway. He did not own any land in Leaplow,
and therefore he concluded that what he had done, he had done for
the best; at any rate, if he had got nothin' by it, he had lost
nothin' by it, and he hoped all would come right in the end. The
people of the island, it is true, had talked pretty fair about what
they would do for those who should sustain their interests, but he
had got sick of a currency in promises; and fair words, at his time
of life, didn't go for much; and so, on the whole, he had pretty
much concluded to do as he had done. He thought no one could call in
question his vote, for he was just as poor and as badly off now he
had voted, as he was while he was making up his mind. For his part,
he shouldn't be ashamed, hereafter, to look both Deacon Snort and
the Parson in the face, when he got home, or even Miss Poke. He knew
what it was to have a clean conscience, as well as any man; for none
so well knew what it was to be without anything, as they who had
felt by experience its want. His God-like was a very labor-saving
God-like, but he had found, on inquiry, that he came from another
part of the island, and that he didn't care a straw which way his
kite-tail (Noah's manner of pronouncing clientele) voted. In short,
he defied any one to say ought ag'in' him this time, and he was not
sorry the occasion had offered to show his independence, for his
enemies had not been backward in remarking that, for some days, he
had been little better than a speaking-trumpet to roar out anything
his God-like might wish to have proclaimed. He concluded by stating
that he could not hold out much longer without meat of some sort or
other, and by begging that I would second a resolution he thought of
offering, by which regular substantial rations were to be dealt out
to all the human part of the house. The inhumans might live upon
nuts still, if they liked them.
I remonstrated against the project of the rations, made a strong
appeal to his pride, by demonstrating that we should be deemed
little better than brutes if we were seen eating flesh, and advised
him to cause some of his nuts to be roasted, by way of variety.
After a good deal of persuasion, he promised further abstinence,
although he went away with a singularly carnivorous look about the
mouth, and an eye that spoke pork in every glance.
I was at home the next day, busy with my friend the brigadier, in
looking over the Great National Allegory, with a view to prevent
falling, unwittingly, into any more offences of quoting its
opinions, when Noah burst into the room, as rabid as a wolf that had
been bitten by a whole pack of hounds. Such, indeed, was, in some
measure, his situation; for, according to his statement, he had been
baited that morning, in the public streets even, by every monikin,
monikina, monikino, brat, and beggar, that he had seen. Astonished
to hear that my colleague had fallen into this disfavor with his
constitutents, I was not slow in asking an explanation.
The captain affirmed that the matter was beyond the reach of any
explanation it was in his power to give. He had voted in the affair
of the causeway, in strict conformity with the dictates of his
conscience, and yet here was the whole population accusing him of
bribery--nay, even the journals had openly flouted at him for what
they called his barefaced and flagrant corruption. Here the captain
laid before us six or seven of the leading journals of Bivouac, in
all of which his late vote was treated with quite as little ceremony
as if it had been an unequivocal act of sheep-stealing.
I looked at my friend the brigadier for an explanation. After
running his eye over the articles in the journals, the latter
smiled, and cast a look of commiseration at our colleague.
"You have certainly committed a grave fault here, my friend," he
said, "and one that is seldom forgiven in Leaplow--perhaps I might
say never, during the occultation of the great moral postulate, as
happens to be the case at present."
"Tell me my sins at once, brigadier," cried Noah, with the look of a
martyr, "and put me out of pain."
"You have forgotten to display a motive for your stand during the
late hot discussion; and, as a matter of course, the community
ascribes the worst that monikin ingenuity can devise. Such an
oversight would ruin even a God-like!"
"But, my dear Mr. Downright," I kindly interposed, "our colleague,
in this instance, is supposed to have acted on principle."
The brigadier looked up, turning his nose into the air, like a pup
that has not yet opened its eyes, and then intimated that he could
not see the quality I had named, it being obscured by the passage of
the orb of Pecuniary Interest before its disc. I now began to
comprehend the case, which really was much more grave than, at
first, I could have believed possible. Noah himself seemed
staggered; for, I believe, he had fallen on the simple and natural
expedient of inquiring what he himself would have thought of the
conduct of a colleague who had given a vote on a subject so weighty,
without exposing a motive.
"Had the captain owned but a foot square of earth, at the end of the
causeway," observed the brigadier, mournfully, "the matter might be
cleared up; but as things are, it is beyond dispute, a most
"But Sir John voted with me, and he is no more a free-holder in
Leaplow, than I am myself."
"True; but Sir John voted with the bulk of his political friends."
"All the Horizontals were not in the majority; for at least twenty
went, on this occasion, with the minority."
"Undeniable--yet every monikin of them had a visible motive. This
owned a lot by the wayside; that had houses on the island, and
another was the heir of a great proprietor at the same point of the
road. Each and all had their distinct and positive interests at
stake, and not one of them was guilty of so great a weakness as to
leave his cause to be defended by the extravagant pretension of mere
"My God-like, the greatest of all the Riddles, absented himself, and
did not vote at all."
"Simply because he had no good ground to justify any course he might
take. No public monikin can expect to escape censure, if he fail to
put his friends, in the way of citing some plausible and
intelligible motive for his conduct."
"How, sir! cannot a man, once in his life, do an act without being
bought like a horse or a dog, and escape with an inch of character?"
"I shall not take upon myself to say what MEN can do," returned the
brigadier; "no doubt they manage this affair better than it is
managed here; but, so far as monikins are concerned, there is no
course more certain to involve a total loss of character--I may say
so destructive to reputation even for intellect--as to act without a
good, apparent, and substantial MOTIVE."
"In the name of God, what is to be done, brigadier?"
"I see no other course than to resign. Your constituents must very
naturally have lost all confidence in you; for one who so very
obviously neglects his own interests, it cannot be supposed will be
very tenacious about protecting the interests of others. If you
would escape with the little character that is left, you will
forthwith resign. I do not perceive the smallest chance for you by
going through gyration No. 4, both public opinions uniformly
condemning the monikin who acts without a pretty obvious, as well as
a pretty weighty motive."
Noah made a merit of necessity; and, after some further deliberation
between us, he signed his name to the following letter to the
speaker, which was drawn up on the spot, by the brigadier.
"Mr. Speaker:--The state of my health obliges me to return the high
political trust which has been confided to me by the citizens of
Bivouac, into the hands from which it was received. In tendering my
resignation, I wish to express the great regret with which I part
from colleagues so every way worthy of profound respect and esteem,
and I beg you to assure them, that wherever fate may hereafter lead
me, I shall ever retain the deepest regard for every honorable
member with whom it has been my good fortune to serve. The emigrant
interest, in particular, will ever be the nearest and dearest to my
The captain did not affix his name to this letter without many heavy
sighs, and divers throes of ambition; for even a mistaken politician
yields to necessity with regret. Having changed the word emigrant to
that of "immigrunt," however, he put as good a face as possible on
the matter, and wrote the fatal signature. He then left the house,
declaring he didn't so much begrudge his successor the pay, as
nothing but nuts were to be had with the money; and that, as for
himself, he felt as sneaking as he believed was the case with
Nebuchadnezzar, when he was compelled to get down on all-fours, and
SOME EXPLANATIONS--A HUMAN APPETITE--A DINNER AND A BONNE BOUCHE.
The brigadier and myself remained behind to discuss the general
bearings of this unexpected event.
"Your rigid demand for motives, my good sir," I remarked, "reduces
the Leaplow political morality very much, after all, to the level of
the social-stake system of our part of the world."
"They both depend on the crutch of personal Interests, it is true;
though there is, between them, the difference of the interests of a
part and of the interests of the whole."
"And could a part act less commendably than the whole appear to have
acted in this instance?"
"You forget that Leaplow, just at this moment, is under a moral
eclipse. I shall not say that these eclipses do not occur often, but
they occur quite as frequently in other parts of the region, as they
occur here. We have three great modes of controlling monikin
affairs, viz., the one, the few, and the many--"
"Precisely the same classification exists among men!" I interrupted.
"Some of our improvements are reflected backward; twilight following
as well as preceding the passage of the sun," quite coolly returned
the brigadier. "We think that the many come nearest to balancing the
evil, although we are far from believing even them to be immaculate.
Admitting that the tendencies to wrong are equal in the three
systems (which we do not, however, for we think our own has the
least), it is contended that the many escape one great source of
oppression and injustice, by escaping the onerous provisions which
physical weakness is compelled to make, in order to protect itself
against physical strength."
"This is reversing a very prevalent opinion among men, sir, who
usually maintain that the tyranny of the many is the worst sort of
"This opinion has got abroad simply because the lion has not been
permitted to draw his own picture. As cruelty is commonly the
concomitant of cowardice, so is oppression nine times out of ten the
result of weakness. It is natural for the few to dread the many,
while it is not natural for the many to dread the few. Then, under
institutions in which the many rule, certain great principles that
are founded on natural justice, as a matter of course, are openly
recognized; and it is rare, indeed, that they do not, more or less,
influence the public acts. On the other hand, the control of a few
requires that these same truths should be either mystified or
entirely smothered: and the consequence is injustice."
"But, admitting all your maxims, brigadier, as regards the few and
the many, you must yourself allow that here, in your beloved Leaplow
itself, monikins consult their own interests; and this, after all,
is acting on the fundamental principle of the great European social-
"Meaning that the goods of the world ought to be the test of
political power. By the sad confusion which exists among us, at this
moment, Sir John, you must perceive that we are not exactly under
the most salutary of all possible influences. I take it that the
great desideratum of society is to be governed by certain great
moral truths. The inferences and corollaries of these truths are
principles, which come of heaven. Now, agreeably to the monikin
dogmas, the love of money is 'of the earth, earthy'; and, at the
first blush, it would not seem to be quite safe to receive such an
inducement as the governing motive of one monikin, and, by a pretty
fair induction, it would seem to be equally unwise to admit it for a
good many. You will remember, also, that when none but the rich have
authority, they control not only their own property, but that of
others who have less. Your principle supposes, that in taking care
of his own, the elector of wealth must take care of what belongs to
the rest of the community; but our experience shows that a monikin
can be particularly careful of himself, and singularly negligent of
his neighbor. Therefore do we hold that money is a bad foundation
"You unsettle everything, brigadier, without finding a substitute."
"Simply because it is easy to unsettle everything and very difficult
to find substitutes. But, as respects the base of society, I merely
doubt the wisdom of setting up a qualification that we all know
depends on an unsound principle. I much fear, Sir John, that, so
long as monikins are monikins, we shall never be quite perfect; and
as to your social-stake system, I am of opinion that as society is
composed of all, it may be well to hear what all have to say about
"Many men, and, I dare say, many monikins, are not to be trusted
even with the management of their own concerns."
"Very true; but it does not follow that other men, or other
monikins, will lose sight of their own interests on this account, if
vested with the right to act as their substitutes. You have been
long enough a legislator, now, to have got some idea how difficult
it is to make even a direct and responsible representative respect
entirely the interests and wishes of his constituents; and the fact
will show you how little he will be likely to think of others, who
believes that he acts as their master and not as their servant."
"The amount of all this, brigadier, is that you have little faith in
monikin disinterestedness, in any shape; that you believe he who is
intrusted with power will abuse it; and therefore, you choose to
divide the trust, in order to divide the abuses; that the love of
money is an 'earthy' quality, and not to be confided in as the
controlling power of a state; and, finally, that the social-stake
system is radically wrong, inasmuch as it is no more than carrying
out a principle that is in itself defective."
My companion gaped, like one content to leave the matter there. I
wished him a good morning, and walked upstairs in quest of Noah,
whose carnivorous looks had given me considerable uneasiness. The
captain was out; and, after searching for him in the streets for an
hour or two, I returned to our abode fatigued and hungry.
At no great distance from our own door, I met Judge People's Friend,
shorn and dejected, and I stopped to say a kind word, before going
up the ladder. It was quite impossible to see a gentleman, whom one
had met in good society and in better fortunes, with every hair
shaved from his body, his apology for a tail still sore from its
recent amputation, and his entire mien expressive of republican
humility, without a desire to condole with him. I expressed my
regrets, therefore, as succinctly as possible, encouraging him with
the hope of seeing a new covering of down before long, but
delicately abstaining from any allusion to the cauda, whose loss I
knew was irretrievable. To my great surprise, however, the judge
answered cheerfully; discarding, for the moment, every appearance of
self-abasement and mortification.
"How is this?" I cried; "you are not then miserable?"
"Very far from it, Sir John--I never was in better spirits, or had
better prospects, in my life."
I remembered the extraordinary manner in which the brigadier had
saved Noah's head, and was fully resolved not to be astonished at
any manifestation of monikin ingenuity. Still I could not forbear
demanding an explanation.
"Why, it may seem odd to you, Sir John, to find a politician, who is
apparently in the depths of despair, really on the eve of a glorious
preferment. Such, however, is in fact my case. In Leaplow, humility
is everything. The monikin who will take care and repeat
sufficiently often that he is just the poorest devil going, that he
is absolutely unfit for even the meanest employment in the land, and
in other respects ought to be hooted out of society, may very safely
consider himself in a fair way to be elevated to some of the
dignities he declares himself the least fitted to fill."
"In such a case, all he will have to do then, will be to make his
choice, and denounce himself loudest touching his especial
disqualifications for that very station?"
"You are apt, Sir John, and would succeed, if you would only consent
to remain among us!" said the judge, winking.
"I begin to see into your management--after all, you are neither
miserable nor ashamed?"
"Not the least in the world. It is of more importance for monikins
of my calibre to seem to be anything than to be it. My fellow-
citizens are usually satisfied with this sacrifice; and, now
principle is eclipsed, nothing is easier."
"But how happens it, judge, that one of your surprising dexterity
and agility should be caught tripping? I had thought you
particularly expert, and infallible in all the gyrations. Perhaps
the little affair of the cauda has leaked out?"
The judge laughed in my face.
"I see you know little of us, after all, Sir John. Here have we
proscribed caudae, as anti-republican, both public opinions setting
their faces against them; and yet a monikin may wear one abroad a
mile long with impunity if he will just submit to a new dock when he
comes home, and swear that he is the most miserable wretch going. If
he can throw in a favorable word, too, touching the Leaplow cats and
dogs--Lord bless you, sir! they would pardon treason!"
"I begin to comprehend your policy, judge, if not your polity.
Leaplow being a popular government, it becomes necessary that its
public agents should be popular too. Now, as monikins naturally
delight in their own excellences, nothing so disposes them to give
credit to another, as his professions that he is worse than
The judge nodded and grinned.
"But another word, dear sir--as you feel yourself constrained to
commend the cats and dogs of Leaplow, do you belong to that school
of philocats, who take their revenge for their amenity to the
quadrupeds, by berating their fellow-creatures?"
The judge started, and glanced about him as if he dreaded a thief-
taker. Then earnestly imploring me to respect his situation, he
added in a whisper, that the subject of the people was sacred with
him, that he rarely spoke of them without a reverence, and that his
favorable sentiments in relation to the cats and dogs were not
dependent on any particular merits of the animals themselves, but
merely because they were the people's cats and dogs. Fearful that I
might say something still more disagreeable, the judge hastened to
take his leave, and I never saw him afterward. I make no doubt,
however, that in good time his hair grew as he grew again into
favor, and that he found the means to exhibit the proper length of
tail on all suitable occasions.
A crowd in the street now caught my attention. On approaching it, a
colleague who was there was kind enough to explain its cause.
It would seem that certain Leaphighers had been travelling in
Leaplow; and, not satisfied with this liberty, they had actually
written books concerning things that they had seen, and things that
they had not seen. As respects the latter, neither of the public
opinions was very sensitive, although many of them reflected on the
Great National Allegory and the sacred rights of monikins; but as
respects the former, there was a very lively excitement. These
writers had the audacity to say that the Leaplowers had cut off all
their caudae, and the whole community was convulsed at an outrage so
unprecedented. It was one thing to take such a step, and another to
have it proclaimed to the world in books. If the Leaplowers had no
tails, it was clearly their own fault. Nature had formed them with
tails. They had bobbed themselves on a republican principle; and no
one's principles ought to be thrown into his face, in this rude
manner, more especially during a moral eclipse.
The dispensers of the essence of lopped tails threatened vengeance;
caricaturists were put in requisition; some grinned, some menaced,
some swore, and all read!
I left the crowd, taking the direction of my door again, pondering
on this singular state of society, in which a peculiarity that had
been deliberately and publicly adopted, should give rise to a
sensitiveness of a character so unusual. I very well knew that men
are commonly more ashamed of natural imperfections than those which,
in a great measure, depend on themselves; but then men are, in their
own estimation at least, placed by nature at the head of creation,
and in that capacity it is reasonable to suppose they will be
jealous of their natural privileges. The present case was rather
Leaplow than generic; and I could only account for it, by supposing
that nature had placed certain nerves in the wrong part of the
On entering the house, a strong smell of roasted meat saluted my
nostrils, causing a very unphilosophical pleasure to the olfactory
nerves, a pleasure which acted very directly, too, on the gastric
juices of the stomach. In plain English, I had very sensible
evidence that it was not enough to transport a man to the monikin
region, send him to parliament, and keep him on nuts for a week, to
render him exclusively ethereal, I found it was vain "to kick
against the pricks." The odor of roasted meat was stronger than all
the facts just named, and I was fain to abandon philosophy, and
surrender to the belly. I descended incontinently to the kitchen,
guided by a sense no more spiritual than that which directs the
hound in the chase.
On opening the door of our refectory, such a delicious perfume
greeted the nose, that I melted like a romantic girl at the murmur
of a waterfall, and, losing sight of all the sublime truths so
lately acquired, I was guilty of the particular human weakness which
is usually described as having the "mouth water."
The sealer had quite taken leave of his monikin forbearance, and was
enjoying himself in a peculiarly human manner. A dish of roasted
meat was lying before him, and his eyes fairly glared as he turned
them from me to the viand, in a way to render it a little doubtful
whether I was a welcome visitor. But that honest old principle of
seamen which never refuses to share equally with an ancient mess-
mate, got the better even of his voracity.
"Sit down, Sir John," the captain cried, without ceasing to
masticate, "and make no bones of it. To own the fact, the latter are
almost as good as the flesh. I never tasted a sweeter morsel!"
I did not wait for a second invitation, the reader may be sure; and
in less than ten minutes the dish was as clear as a table that had
been swept by harpies. As this work is intended for one in which
truth is rigidly respected, I shall avow that I do not remember any
cultivation of sentiment which gave me half so much satisfaction as
that short and hurried repast. I look back to it, even now, as to
the very beau ideal of a dinner! Its fault was in the quantity, and
not in quality.
I gazed greedily about for more. Just then, I caught a glimpse of a
face that seemed looking at me with melancholy reproach. The truth
flashed upon me in a flood of horrible remorse. Rushing upon Noah
like a tiger, I seized him by the throat, and cried, in a voice of
"Cannibal! what hast thou done?"
"Loosen your grip, Sir John--we do not relish these hugs at
"Wretch! thou hast made me the participator of thy crime! We have
eaten Brigadier Downright."
"Loosen, Sir John, or human natur' will rebel."
"Monster! give up thy unholy repast--dost not see a million
reproaches in the eyes of the innocent victim of thy insatiable
"Cast off, Sir John, cast off, while we are friends, I care not if I
have swallowed all the brigadiers in Leaplow--off hands!"
"Never, monster! until thou disgorgest thy unholy meal!"
Noah could endure no more; but, seizing me by the throat, on the
retaliating principle, I soon had some such sensations as one would
be apt to feel if his gullet were in a vice. I shall not attempt to
describe very minutely the miracle that followed. Hanging ought to
be an effectual remedy for many delusions; for, in my case, the
bowstring I was under certainly did wonders in a very short time.
Gradually the whole scene changed. First came a mist, then a
vertigo; and finally, as the captain relaxed his hold, objects
appeared in new forms, and instead of being in our lodgings in
Bivouac, I found myself in my old apartment in the Rue de Rivoli,
"King!" exclaimed Noah, who stood before me, red in the face with
exertion; "this is no boy's play, and if it's to be repeated, I
shall use a lashing! Where would be the harm, Sir John, if a man had
eaten a monkey?"
Astonishment kept me mute. Every object, just as I had left it the
morning we started for London, on our way to Leaphigh, was there. A
table, in the centre of the room, was covered with sheets of paper
closely written over, which, on examination, I found contained this
manuscript as far as the last chapter. Both the captain and myself
were attired as usual; I a la Parisien and he a la Stunin'tun. A
small ship, very ingeniously made, and very accurately rigged, lay
on the floor, with "Walrus" written on her stern. As my bewildered
eye caught a glimpse of this vessel, Noah informed me that, having
nothing to do except to look after my welfare (a polite way of
characterizing his ward over my person, as I afterward found), he
had employed his leisure in constructing the toy.
All was inexplicable. There was really the smell of meat. I had also
that peculiar sensation of fulness which is apt to succeed a dinner,
and a dish well filled with bones was in plain view. I took up one
of the latter, in order to ascertain its genus. The captain kindly
informed me that it was the remains of a pig, which had cost him a
great deal of trouble to obtain, as the French viewed the act of
eating a pig as very little less heinous than the act of eating a
child. Suspicions began to trouble me, and I now turned to look for
the head and reproachful eye of the brigadier.
The head was where I had just before seen it, visible over the top
of a trunk; but it was so far raised as to enable me to see that it
was still planted on its shoulders. A second look enabled me to
distinguish the meditative, philosophical countenance of Dr.
Reasono, who was still in the hussar-jacket and petticoat, though,
being in the house, he had very properly laid aside the Spanish hat
with bedraggled feathers.
A movement followed in the antechamber, and a hurried conversation,
in a low, earnest tone, succeeded. The captain disappeared, and
joined the speakers. I listened intently, but could not catch any of
the intonations of a dialect founded on the decimal principle.
Presently the door opened, and Dr. Etherington stood before me!
The good divine regarded me long and earnestly. Tears filled his
eyes, and, stretching out both hands towards me, he asked:
"Do you know me, Jack?"
"Know you, dear sir!--Why should I not?"
"And do you forgive me, dear boy?"
"For what, sir?--I am sure, I have most reason to demand your pardon
for a thousand follies."
"Ah! the letter--the unkind--the inconsiderate letter!"
"I have not had a letter from you, sir, in a twelvemonth; the last
was anything but unkind."
"Though Anna wrote, it was at my dictation."
I passed a hand over my brow, and had dawnings of the truth.
"Is here--in Paris--and miserable--most miserable!--on your
Every particle of monikinity that was left in my system instantly
gave way to a flood of human sensations.
"Let me fly to her, dear sir--a moment is an age!"
"Not just yet, my boy. We have much to say to each other, nor is she
in this hotel. To-morrow, when both are better prepared, you shall
"Add, never to separate, sir, and I will be patient as a lamb."
"Never to separate, I believe it will be better to say."
I hugged my venerable guardian, and found a delicious relief from a
most oppressive burden of sensations, in a flow of tears,
Dr. Etherington soon led me into a calmer tone of mind. In the
course of the day, many matters were discussed and settled. I was
told that Captain Poke had been a good nurse, though in a sealing
fashion; and that the least I could do was to send him back to
Stunin'tun, free of cost. This was agreed to, and the worthy but
dogmatical mariner was promised the means of fitting out a new
"Debby and Dolly."
"These philosophers had better be presented to some academy,"
observed the doctor, smiling, as he pointed to the family of amiable
strangers, "being already F. U. D. G. E.'s and H. O. A. X.'s. Mr.
Reasono, in particular, is unfit for ordinary society."
"Do with them as you please, my more than father. Let the poor
animals, however, be kept from physical suffering."
"Attention shall be paid to all their wants, both physical and
"And in a day or two, we shall proceed to the rectory?"
"The day after to-morrow, if you have strength."
"Anna will see you."
"And the next day?"
"Nay, not quite so soon, Jack; but the moment we think you perfectly
restored, she shall share your fortunes for the remainder of your
EXPLANATIONS--A LEAVE-TAKING--LOVE--CONFESSIONS, BUT NO PENITENCE.
A night of sweet repose left me refreshed, and with a pulse that
denoted less agitation than on the preceding day. I awoke early, had
a bath, and sent for Captain Poke to take his coffee with me, before
we parted; for it had been settled, the previous evening, that he
was to proceed towards Stunin'tun forthwith. My old messmate,
colleague, co-adventurer, and fellow-traveller, was not slow in
obeying the summons. I confess his presence was a comfort to me, for
I did not like looking at objects that had been so inexplicably
replaced before my eyes, unsupported by the countenance of one who
had gone through so many grave scenes in my company.
"This has been a very extraordinary voyage of ours, Captain Poke," I
remarked, after the worthy sealer had swallowed sixteen eggs, an
omelet, seven cotelettes, and divers accessories. "Do you think of
publishing your private journal?"
"Why, in my opinion, Sir John, the less that either of us says of
the v'y'ge the better."
"And why so? We have had the discoveries of Columbus, Cook,
Vancouver, and Hudson--why not those of Captain Poke?"
"To own the truth, we sealers do not like to speak of our cruising
grounds--and, as for these monikins, after all, what are they good
for? A thousand of them wouldn't make a quart of 'ile, and by all
accounts their fur is worth next to nothin'."
"Do you account their philosophy for nothing? and their
jurisprudence?--you, who were so near losing your head, and who did
actually lose your tail, by the axe of the executioner?"
Noah placed a hand behind him, fumbling about the seat of reason,
with evident uneasiness. Satisfied that no harm had been done, he
very coolly placed half a muffin in what he called his "provision
"You will give me this pretty model of our good old 'Walrus,'
"Take it, o' Heaven's sake, Sir John, and good luck to you with it.
You, who give me a full-grown schooner, will be but poorly paid with
"It's as like the dear old craft as one pea is like another!"
"I dare say it may be. I never knew a model that hadn't suthin' of
the original in it."
"Well, my good shipmate, we must part. You know I am to go and see
the lady who is soon to be my wife, and the diligence will be ready
to take you to Havre, before I return."
"God bless you! Sir John--God bless you!" Noah blew his nose till it
rung like a French horn. I thought his little coals of eyes were
glittering, too, more than common, most probably with moisture.
"You're a droll navigator, and make no more of the ice than a colt
makes of a rail. But though the man at the wheel is not always awake
the heart seldom sleeps."
"When the 'Debby and Dolly' is fairly in the water, you will do me
the pleasure of letting me know it."
"Count on me, Sir John. Before we part, I have, however, a small
favor to ask."
Here Noah drew out of his pocket a sort of basso relievo carved in
pine. It represented Neptune armed with a harpoon instead of a
trident; the captain always contending that the god of the seas
should never carry the latter, but that, in its place, he should be
armed either with the weapon he had given him, or with a boat-hook.
On the right of Neptune was an English gentleman holding out a bag
of guineas. On the other was a female who, I was told, represented
the goddess of liberty, while it was secretly a rather flattering
likeness of Miss Poke. The face of Neptune was supposed to have some
similitude to that of her husband. The captain, with that modesty
which is invariably the companion of merit in the arts, asked
permission to have a copy of this design placed on the schooner's
stern. It would have been churlish to refuse such a compliment; and
I now offered Noah my hand, as the time for parting had arrived. The
sealer grasped me rather tightly, and seemed disposed to say more
"You are going to see an angel, Sir John."
"How!--Do you know anything of Miss Etherington?"
"I should be as blind as an old bumboat else. During our late
v'y'ge, I saw her often."
"This is strange!--But there is evidently something on your mind, my
friend; speak freely."
"Well, then, Sir John, talk of anything but of our v'y'ge, to the
dear crittur. I do not think she is quite prepared yet to hear of
all the wonders we saw."
I promised to be prudent; and the captain, shaking me cordially by
the hand, finally wished me farewell. There were some rude touches
of feeling in his manner, which reacted on certain chords in my own
system; and he had been gone several minutes before I recollected
that it was time to go to the Hotel de Castile. Too impatient to
wait for a carriage, I flew along the streets on foot, believing
that my own fiery speed would outstrip the zigzag movement of a
fiacre or a cabriolet tie flace.
Dr. Etherington met me at the door of his appartement, and led me to
an inner room without speaking. Here he stood gazing, for some time,
in my face, with paternal concern.
"She expects you, Jack, and believes that you rang the bell."
"So much the better, dear sir. Let us not lose a moment; let me fly
and throw myself at her feet, and implore her pardon."
"For what, my good boy?"
"For believing that any social stake can equal that which a man
feels in the nearest, dearest ties of earth!"
The excellent rector smiled, but he wished to curb my impatience.
"You have already every stake in society, Sir John Goldencalf," he
answered--assuming the air which human beings have, by a general
convention, settled shall be dignified--"that any reasonable man can
desire. The large fortune left by your late father, raises you, in
this respect, to the height of the richest in the land; and now that
you are a baronet, no one will dispute your claim to participate in
the councils of the nation. It would perhaps be better, did your
creation date a century or two nearer the commencement of the
monarchy; but, in this age of innovations, we must take things as
they are, and not as we might wish to have them."
I rubbed my forehead, for the doctor had incidentally thrown out an
"On your principle, my dear sir, society would be obliged to begin
with its great-grandfathers to qualify itself for its own
"Pardon me, Jack, if I have said anything disagreeable--no doubt all
will come right in heaven. Anna will be uneasy at our delay."
This suggestion drove all recollection of the good rector's social-
stake system, which was exactly the converse of the social-stake
system of my late ancestor, quite out of my head. Springing forward,
I gave him reason to see that he would have no farther trouble in
changing the subject. When we had passed an antechamber, he pointed
to a door, and admonishing me to be prudent, withdrew.
My hand trembled as it touched the door-knob, but the lock yielded.
Anna was standing in the middle of the room (she had heard my
footsteps), an image of womanly loveliness, womanly faith, and
womanly feeling. By a desperate effort, she was, however, mistress
of her emotions. Though her pure soul seemed willing to fly to meet
me, she obviously restrained the impulse, in order to spare my
"Dear Jack!"--and both her soft, white, pretty little hands met me,
as I eagerly approached.
"Anna!--dearest Anna!"--I covered the rosy fingers with kisses.
"Let us be tranquil, Jack, and if possible, endeavor to be
"If I thought this could really cost one habitually discreet as you
an effort, Anna?"
"One habitually discreet as I, is as likely to feel strongly on
meeting an old friend, as another."
"I think it would make me perfectly happy, could I see thee weep."
As if waiting only for this hint, Anna burst into a flood of tears.
I was frightened, for her sobs became hysterical and convulsed.
Those precious sentiments which had been so long imprisoned in her
gentle bosom, obtained the mastery, and I was well paid for my
selfishness, by experiencing an alarm little less violent than her
own outpouring of feeling.
Touching the incidents, emotions, and language of the next half
hour, it is not my intention to be very communicative. Anna was
ingenuous, unreserved, and, if I might judge by the rosy blushes
that suffused her sweet face, and the manner in which she extricated
herself from my protecting arms, I believe I must add, she deemed
herself indiscreet in that she had been so unreserved and ingenuous.
"We can now converse more calmly, Jack," the dear creature resumed,
after she had erased the signs of emotion from her cheeks--"more
calmly, if not more sensibly."
"The wisdom of Solomon is not half so precious as the words I have
just heard--and as for the music of spheres--"
"It is a melody that angels only enjoy."
"And art not thou an angel?"
"No, Jack, only a poor, confiding girl; one instinct with the
affections and weaknesses of her sex, and one whom it must be your
part to sustain and direct. If we begin by calling each other by
these superhuman epithets, we may awake from the delusion sooner
than if we commence with believing ourselves to be no other than
what we really are. I love you for your kind, excellent, and
generous heart, Jack; and as for these poetical beings, they are
rather proverbial, I believe, for having no hearts at all."
As Anna mildly checked my exaggeration of language--after ten years
of marriage I am unwilling to admit there was any exaggeration of
idea--she placed her little velvet hand in mine again, smiling away
all the severity of the reproof.
"Of one thing, I think you may rest perfectly assured, dear girl," I
resumed, after a moment's reflection. "All my old opinions
concerning expansion and contraction are radically changed. I have
carried out the principle of the social-stake system in the extreme,
and cannot say that I have been at all satisfied with its success.
At this moment I am the proprietor of vested interests which are
scattered over half the world. So far from finding that I love my
kind any more for all these social stakes, I am compelled to see
that the wish to protect one, is constantly driving me into acts of
injustice against all the others. There is something wrong, depend
on it, Anna, in the old dogmas of political economists!"
"I know little of these things, Sir John, but to one ignorant as
myself, it would appear that the most certain security for the
righteous exercise of power is to be found in just principles."
"If available, beyond a question. They who contend that the debased
and ignorant are unfit to express their opinions concerning the
public weal, are obliged to own that they can only be restrained by
force. Now, as knowledge is power, their first precaution is to keep
them ignorant; and then they quote this very ignorance, with all its
debasing consequences, as an argument against their participating in
authority with themselves. I believe there can be no safe medium
between a frank admission of the whole principle--"
"You should remember, dear Goldencalf, that this is a subject on
which I know but little. It ought to be sufficient for us that we
find things as they are; if change is actually necessary, we should
endeavor to effect it with prudence and a proper regard to justice."
Anna, while kindly leading me back from my speculations, looked both
anxious and pained.
"True--true"--I hurriedly rejoined, for a world would not tempt me
to prolong her suffering for a moment. "I am foolish and forgetful,
to be talking thus at such a moment; but I have endured too much to
be altogether unmindful of ancient theories. I thought it might be
grateful to you, at least, to know, Anna, that I have ceased to look
for happiness in my affections for all, and am only so much the
better disposed to turn in search of it to one,"
"To love our neighbor as ourself, is the latest and highest of the
divine commands," the dear girl answered, looking a thousand times
more lovely than ever, for my conclusion was very far from being
displeasing to her. "I do not know that this object is to be
attained by centring in our persons as many of the goods of life as
possible; but I do think, Jack, that the heart which loves one
truly, will be so much the better disposed to entertain kind
feelings towards all others."
I kissed the hand she had given me, and we now began to talk a
little more like people of the world, concerning our movements. The
interview lasted an hour longer, when the heaven. "You never yet
were so unkind to one who was offensive; much less could you
willingly have plotted this cruelty to one you regard!"
Anna could no longer control herself, but her cheeks were wetted
with the usual signs of feeling in her sex. Then smiling in the
midst of this little outbreaking of womanly sensibility, her
countenance became playful and radiant.
"That letter ought not to be altogether proscribed, neither, Jack.
Had it not been written, you would never have visited Leaphigh, nor
Leaplow, nor have seen any of those wonderful spectacles which are
The dear creature laid her hand on a roll of manuscript which she
had just returned to me, after its perusal. At the same time, her
face flushed, as vivid and transient feelings are reflected from the
features of the innocent and ingenuous, and she made a faint effort
I passed a hand over my brow, for whenever this subject is alluded
to between us, I invariably feel that there is a species of
mistiness, in and about the region of thought. I was not displeased,
however, for I knew that a heart which loved so truly would not
willingly cause me pain, nor would one habitually so gentle and
considerate, utter a syllable that she might have reason to think
would seriously displease.
"Hadst thou been with me, love, that journey would always be
remembered as one of the pleasantest events of my life, for, while
it had its perils and its disagreeables, it had also its moments of
"You will never be an adept in political saltation, John!"
"Perhaps not--but here is a document that will render it less
necessary than formerly."
I threw her a packet which had been received that morning from town,
by a special messenger, but of whose contents I had not yet spoken.
Anna was too young a wife to open it without an approving look from
my fond eye. On glancing over its contents, she perceived that I was
raised to the House of Peers by the title of Viscount Householder.
The purchase of three more boroughs, and the influence of my old
friend Lord Pledge, had done it all.
The sweet girl looked pleased, for I believe it is in female nature
to like to be a viscountess; but, throwing herself into my arms, she
protested that her joy was at my elevation and not at her own.
"I owed you this effort, Anna, as some acknowledgment for your faith
and disinterestedness in the affair of Lord M'Dee."
"And yet, Jack, he had neither high cheek-bones, nor red hair; and
his accent was such as might please a girl less capricious than
This was said playfully and coquettishly, but in a way to make me
feel how near folly would have been to depriving me of a treasure,
had the heart I so much prized been less ingenuous and pure. I drew
the dear creature to my bosom, as if afraid my rival might yet rob
me of her possession. Anna looked up, smiling through her tears;
and, making an effort to be calm, she said, in a voice so smothered
as to prove how delicate she felt the subject to be:--
"We will speak seldom of this journey, dear John, and try to think
of the long and dark journey which is yet before us. We will speak
of it, however, for there should be nothing totally concealed
I kissed her serene and humid eyes, and repeated what she had just
said, syllable for syllable. Anna has not been unmindful of her
words; for rarely, indeed, has she touched on the past, and then
oftener in allusion to her own sorrows, than in reference to my
But, while the subject of my voyage to the monikin region is, in a
measure, forbidden between me and my wife, there exists no such
restraint as between me and other people. The reader may like to
know, therefore, what effect this extraordinary adventure has left
on my mind, after an interval of ten years.
There have been moments when the whole has appeared a dream; but, on
looking back, and comparing it with other scenes in which I have
been an actor, I cannot perceive that this is not quite as indelibly
stamped on my memory as those. The facts themselves, moreover, are
so very like what I see daily in the course of occurrence around me,
that I have come to the conclusion, I did go to Leaphigh in the way
related, and that I must have been brought back during the temporary
insanity of a fever. I believe, therefore, that there are such
countries as Leaphigh and Leaplow; and after much thought, I am of
opinion that great justice has here been done to the monikin
character in general.
The result of much meditation on what I witnessed, has been to
produce sundry material changes in my former opinions, and to
unsettle even many of the notions in which I may be said to have
been born and bred. In order to consume as little of the reader's
time as possible, I shall set down a summary of my conclusions, and
then take my leave of him, with many thanks for his politeness in
reading what I have written. Before completing my task in this way,
however, it will be well to add a word on the subject of one or two
of my fellow-travellers.
I never could make up my mind relating to the fact whether we did or
did not actually eat Brigadier Downright. The flesh was so savory,
and it tasted so delicious after a week of philosophical meditation
on nuts, and the recollection of its pleasures is so very vivid,
that I am inclined to think nothing but a good material dinner could
have left behind it impressions so lively, I have had many
melancholy thoughts on this subject, especially in November; but
observing that men are constantly devouring each other, in one shape
or another, I endeavor to make the best of it, and to persuade
myself that a slight difference in species may exonerate me from the
imputation of cannibalism.
I often get letters from Captain Poke. He is not very explicit on
the subject of our voyage, it is true; but, on the whole, I have
decided that the little ship he constructed was built on the model
of, and named after, our own Walrus instead of our own Walrus being
built on the model of, and named after, the little ship constructed
by Captain Poke. I keep the latter, therefore, to show my friends as
a proof of what I tell them, knowing the importance of visible
testimony with ordinary minds.
As for Bob and the mates, I never heard any more of them. The former
most probably continued a "kickee" until years and experience
enabled him to turn the tables on humanity, when, as is usually the
case with Christians, he would be very likely to take up the
business of a "kicker" with so much the greater zeal on account of
his early sufferings.
To conclude, my own adventures and observations lead to the
following inferences, viz.:
That every man loves liberty for his own sake and very few for the
sake of other people.
That moral saltation is very necessary to political success at
Leaplow, and quite probably in many other places.
That civilization is very arbitrary, meaning one thing in France,
another thing at Leaphigh, and still a third in Dorsetshire.
That there is no sensible difference between motives in the polar
region and motives anywhere else.
That truth is a comparative and local property, being much
influenced by circumstances; particularly by climate and by
different public opinions.
That there is no portion of human wisdom so select and faultless
that it does not contain the seeds of its own refutation.
That of all the 'ocracies (aristocracy and democracy included)
hypocrisy is the most flourishing.
That he who is in the clutches of the law may think himself lucky if
he escape with the loss of his tail.
That liberty is a convertible term, which means exclusive privileges
in one country, no privileges in another, and inclusive privileges
That religion is a paradox, in which self-denial and humility are
proposed as tenets, in direct contradiction to every man's senses.
That phrenology and caudology are sister sciences, one being quite
as demonstrable as the other, and more too.
That philosophy, sound principles and virtue, are really delightful;
but, after all, that they are no more than so many slaves of the
belly; a man usually preferring to eat his best friend to starving.
That a little wheel and a great wheel are as necessary to the motion
of a commonweath, as to the motion of a stage-coach, and that what
this gains in periphery that makes up in activity, on the rotatory
That it is one thing to have a king, another to have a throne, and
another to have neither.
That the reasoning which is drawn from particular abuses, is no
reasoning for general uses.
That, in England, if we did not use blinkers, our cattle would break
our necks; whereas, in Germany we travel at a good pace, allowing
the horse the use of his eyes; and in Naples we fly, without even a
That the converse of what has just been said of horses is true of
men, in the three countries named.
That occultations of truth are just as certain as the aurora boreal
is, and quite as easily accounted for.
That men who will not shrink from the danger and toil of penetrating
the polar basin, will shrink from the trouble of doing their own
thinking, and put themselves, like Captain Poke, under the convoy of
That all our wisdom is insufficient to protect us from frauds, one
outwitting us by gyrations and flapjacks, and another by adding new
joints to the cauda.
That men are not very scrupulous touching the humility due to God,
but are so tenacious of their own privileges in this particular,
they will confide in plausible rogues rather than in plain-dealing
That they who rightly appreciate the foregoing facts, are People's
Friends, and become the salt of the earth--yea, even the Most
That it is fortunate "all will come right in heaven," for it is
certain too much goes wrong on earth.
That the social-stake system has one distinctive merit: that of
causing the owners of vested rights to set their own interests in
motion, while those of their fellow-citizens must follow, as a
matter of course, though perhaps a little clouded by the dust raised
by their leaders.
That he who has an Anna, has the best investment in humanity; and
that if he has any repetition of his treasure, it is better still.
That money commonly purifies the spirit as wine quenches thirst; and
therefore it is wise to commit all our concerns to the keeping of
those who have most of it.
That others seldom regard us in the same light we regard ourselves;
witness the manner in which Dr. Reasono converted me from a
benefactor into the travelling tutor of Prince Bob.
That honors are sweet even to the most humble, as is shown by the
satisfaction of Noah in being made a lord high admiral.
That there is no such stimulant of humanity, as a good moneyed stake
in its advancement.
That though the mind may be set on a very improper and base object,
it will not fail to seek a good motive for its justification, few
men being so hardened in any grovelling passion, that they will not
endeavor to deceive themselves, as well as their neighbors.
That academies promote good fellowship in knowledge, and good
fellowship in knowledge promotes F. U. D. G. E.'s, and H. O. A.
That a political rolling-pin, though a very good thing to level
rights and privileges, is a very bad thing to level houses, temples,
and other matters that might be named.
That the system of governing by proxy is more extended than is
commonly supposed; in one country a king resorting to its use, and
in another the people.
That there is no method by which a man can be made to covet a tail,
so sure as by supplying all his neighbors, and excluding him by an
That the perfection of consistency in a nation, is to dock itself at
home, while its foreign agents furiously cultivate caudae abroad.
That names are far more useful than things, being more generally
understood, less liable to objections, of greater circulation,
besides occupying much less room.
That ambassadors turn the back of the throne outward, aristocrats
draw a crimson curtain before it, and a king sits on it.
That nature has created inequalities in men and things, and, as
human institutions are intended to prevent the strong from
oppressing the weak, ergo, the laws should encourage natural
inequalities as a legitimate consequence.
That, moreover, the laws of nature having made one man wise and
another man foolish--this strong, and that weak, human laws should
reverse it all, by making another man wise and one man foolish--that
strong, and this weak. On this conclusion I obtained a peerage.
That God-likes are commonly Riddles, and Riddles, with many people,
are, as a matter of course, God-likes. That the expediency of
establishing the base of society on a principle of the most sordid
character, one that is denounced by the revelations of God, and
proved to be insufficient by the experience of man, may at least be
questioned without properly subjecting the dissenter to the
imputation of being a sheep-stealer.
That we seldom learn moderation under any political excitement,
until forty thousand square miles of territory are blown from
beneath our feet.
That it is not an infallible sign of great mental refinement to
bespatter our fellow-creatures, while every nerve is writhing in
honor of our pigs, our cats, our stocks, and our stones.
That select political wisdom, like select schools, propagates much
That the whole people is not infallible, neither is a part of the
That love for the species is a godlike and pure sentiment; but the
philanthropy which is dependent on buying land by the square mile,
and selling it by the square foot, is stench in the nostrils of the
That one thoroughly imbued with republican simplicity invariably
squeezes himself into a little wheel, in order to show how small he
can become at need.
That habit is invincible, an Esquimaux preferring whale's blubber to
beefsteak, a native of the Gold Coast cherishing his tom-tom before
a band of music, and certain travelled countrymen of our own saying,
"Commend me to the English skies."
That arranging a fact by reason is embarrassing, and admits of
cavilling; while adapting a reason to a fact is a very natural,
easy, every-day, and sometimes necessary, process.
That what men affirm for their own particular interests they will
swear to in the end, although it should be a proposition as much
beyond the necessity of an oath, as that "black is white."
That national allegories exist everywhere, the only difference
between them arising from gradations in the richness of
That men have more of the habits, propensities, dispositions,
cravings, antics, gratitude, flapjacks, and honesty of monikins,
than is generally known.
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