This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Language:
Forms:
Genres:
Published:
  • 1835
Collection:
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

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 expedient.

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 scent.

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 edifices.”

“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.”

“King!”

“Can you account for this very extraordinary peculiarity, brigadier?”

“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 blocks?”

“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– eh?”

“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 the—“

“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.”

“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.

CHAPTER XXV.

A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE, A FUNDAMENTAL LAW, AND A FUNDAMENTAL ERROR.

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 primogeniture.

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 elected?”

“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 beam?”

“There is, and there is not.”

“No fore, main, and mizzen tops, according to what is here written down?”

“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.

CHAPTER XXVI.

HOW TO ENACT LAWS–ORATORY, LOGIC, AND ELOQUENCE; ALL CONSIDERED IN THEIR EVERY-DAY ASPECTS.

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 white.”

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 black.”

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 Allegory–“

“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 personalities.”

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 debt.

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 member!”

“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 brigadier.”

“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 countries.”

“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.

CHAPTER XXVII.

AN EFFECT OF LOGARITHMS ON MORALS–AN OBSCURATION, A DISSERTATION, AND A CALCULATION.

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 eclipse.

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 prey?”

“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 information.”

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 town!

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 things.

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.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MOTIVES TO A LEGISLATOR–MORAL CONSECUTIVENESS, COMETS, KITES, AND A CONVOY; WITH SOME EVERY-DAY LEGISLATION; TOGETHER WITH CAUSE AND EFFECT.

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