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to order the young blackguard to be soundly threshed."

The majesty of Leaphigh stood aghast, by proxy! It would seem Noah had
now actually fallen into a more serious error than the mistake he had
made with the king. By the law of Leaphigh, the queen is not a feme
couverte. She can sue and be sued in her own name, holds her separate
estate, without the intervention of trustees, and IS supposed to have a
memory, a will, an inclination, or anything else in that way, except a
"royal pleasure," to which she cannot, of right, lay claim. As to her,
the king's first-cousin is a dead letter; he having no more control over
her conscience than he has over the conscience of an apple-woman. In
short, her majesty is quite as much the mistress of her own convictions
and conscience as it probably ever falls to the lot of women in such
high stations to be the mistress of interests that are of so much
importance to those around them. Noah, innocently enough, I do firmly
believe, had seriously wounded all those nice sensibilities which
are naturally dependent on such an improved condition of society.
Forbearance could go no further, and I saw, by the dark looks around
me, that the captain had committed a serious crime. He was immediately
arrested, and conducted from the presence to an adjoining room, into
which I obtained admission, after a good deal of solicitation and
some very strong appeals to the sacred character of the rights of

It now appeared that, in Leaphigh, the merits of a law are decided on a
principle very similar to the one we employ in England in judging of the
quality of our wines, viz., its age. The older a law, the more it is to
be respected, no doubt because, having proved its fitness by outlasting
all the changes of society, it has become more mellow, if not more
palatable. Now, by a law of Leaphigh that is coeval with the monarchy,
he who offends the queen's majesty at a levee is to lose his head;
and he who, under the same circumstances, offends the king's majesty,
necessarily the more heinous offence, is to lose his tail. In
consequence of the former punishment, the criminal is invariably buried,
and he is consigned to the usual course of monikin regeneration and
resuscitation; but in consequence of the latter, it is thought that
he is completely thrown without the pale of reason, and is thereby
consigned to the class of the retrogressive animals. His mind
diminishes, and his body increases; the brain, for want of the means
of development, takes the ascending movement of sap again; his forehead
dilates; bumps reappear; and, finally, after passing gradually downwards
in the scale of intellect, he becomes a mass of insensible matter. Such,
at least, is the theory of his punishment.

By another law, that is even older than the monarchy, any one who
offends in the king's palace may be tried by a very summary process, the
king's pages acting as his judges; in which case the sentence is to be
executed without delay.

Such was the dilemma to which Noah, by an indiscretion at court, was
suddenly reduced; and, but for my prompt interference, he would probably
have been simultaneously decapitated at both extremities, in obedience
to an etiquette which prescribes that, under the circumstances of a
court trial, neither the king's nor the queen's rights shall be entitled
to precedence. In defence of my client I urged his ignorance of the
usages of the country, and, indeed, of all other civilized countries,
Stunnin'tun alone excepted. I stated that the criminal was an object
altogether unworthy of their notice; that he was not a lord high admiral
at all, but a mere pitiful sealer; I laid some stress on the importance
of maintaining friendly relations with the sealers, who cruise so near
the monikin region; I tried to convince the judges that Noah meant no
harm in imputing moral properties to the king, and that so long as he
did not impute immoral properties to his royal consort, she might very
well afford to pardon him. I then quoted Shakspeare's celebrated lines
on mercy, which seemed to be well enough received, and committed the
whole affair to their better judgment.

I should have got along very creditably, and most probably obtained
the immediate discharge of my friend, had not the attorney-general of
Leaphigh been drawn by curiosity into the room. Although he had nothing
to say to the merits of my arguments, he objected to every one of them,
on the ground of formality. This was too long, and that was too short;
one was too high, and another too low; a fifth was too broad, and a
sixth too narrow; in short, there was no figure of speech of this nature
to which he did not resort, in order to prove their worthlessness, with
the exception that I do not remember he charged any of my reasons with
being too deep.

Matters were now beginning to look serious for poor Noah, when a page
came skipping in to say that the wedding was about to take place,
and that if his comrades wished to witness it, they must sentence the
prisoner without delay. Many a man, it is said, has been hanged, in
order that the judge might dine; but, in the present instance, I do
believe Captain Poke was spared, in order that his judges might not
miss a fine spectacle. I entered into recognizance, in fifty thousand
promises, for the due appearance of the criminal on the following
morning; and we all returned, in a body, to the presence-chamber,
treading on each other's tails, in the eagerness to be foremost.

Any one who has ever been at a human court, must very well know that,
while it is the easiest thing in the world to throw it into commotion by
a violation of etiquette, matters of mere life and death are not at all
of a nature to disturb its tranquillity. There, everything is a matter
of routine and propriety; and, to judge from experience, nothing is so
unseemly as to appear to possess human sympathies. The fact is not very
different at Leaphigh, for the monikin sympathies, apparently, are quite
as obtuse as those of men; although justice compels me to allow, that in
the case of Captain Poke, the appeal was made in behalf of a creature
of a different species. It is also a settled principle of Leaphigh
jurisprudence, that it would be monstrous for the king to interfere in
behalf of justice-justice, however, being always administered in his
name; although it certainly is not held to be quite so improper for him
to interfere in behalf of those who have offended justice.

As a consequence of these nice distinctions, which it requires a very
advanced stage of civilization fully to comprehend, both the king and
queen received our whole party, when we came back into the presence,
exactly as if nothing particular had occurred. Noah wore both head and
tail erect, like another; and the lord high admiral of Leaphigh dropped
into a familiar conversation with him, on the subject of ballasting
ships, in just as friendly a manner as if he were on the best possible
terms with the whole royal family. This moral sang froid is not to
be ascribed to phlegm, but is, in fact, the result of high mental
discipline, which causes the courtier to be utterly destitute of all
feeling, except in cases that affect himself.

It was high time now that I should be presented. Judge People's Friend,
who had witnessed the dilemma of Noah with diplomatic unconcern, very
politely renewed the offer of his services in my favor, and I went
forward and stood before the throne.

"Sire, allow me to present a very eminent literary character among men,
a cunning clerk, by name Goldencalf," said the envoy, bowing to his

"He is welcome to my court," returned the king by proxy.

"Pray, Mr. People's Friend, is not this one of the human beings who have
lately arrived in my dominions, and who have shown so much cleverness in
getting Chatterino and his governor through the ice?"

"The very same, please your majesty; and a very arduous service it was,
and right cleverly performed."

"This reminds me of a duty. - Let my cousin be summoned."

I now began to see a ray of hope, and to feel the truth of the saying
which teaches us that justice, though sometimes slow, never fails to
arrive at last. I had also, now, and for the first time, a good view of
the king's eldest first-cousin of the masculine gender, who drew near at
the summons; and, while he had the appearance of listening with the most
profound attention to the instructions of the king of Leaphigh, was very
evidently telling that potentate what he ought to do. The conference
ended, his majesty's proxy spoke in a way to be heard by all who had the
good fortune to be near the royal person.

"Reasono did a good thing," he said; "really, a very good thing, in
bringing us these specimens of the human family. But for his cleverness,
I might have died without ever dreaming that men were gifted with
tails." [Kings never get hold of the truth at the right end.] "I wonder
if the queen knew it. Pray, did you know, my Augusta, that men had

"Our exemption from state affairs gives us females better opportunities
than your majesty enjoys, to study these matters," returned his royal
consort, by the mouth of her lady of the bed-chamber.

"I dare say I'm very silly - but our cousin, here, thinks it might be
well to do something for these good people, for it may encourage their
king himself to visit us some day."

An exclamation of pleasure escaped the ladies; who declared, one and
all, it would be delightful to see a real human king - it would be so

"Well, well," added the good-natured monarch, "Heaven knows what
may happen, for I have seen stranger things. Really, we ought to do
something for these good people; for, although we owe the pleasure of
their visit, in a great degree, to the cleverness of Reasono - who,
by the way, I'm glad to hear is declared an H. O. A. X. - yet he very
handsomely admits, that but for their exertions - none of our seamikins
being within reach - it would have been quite impossible to get through
the ice. I wish I knew, now, which was the cleverest and the most useful
of their party."

Here the queen, always thinking and speaking by proxy, suggested the
propriety of leaving the point to Prince Bob.

"It would be no more than is due to his rank; for though they are men, I
dare say they have feelings like ourselves."

The question was now submitted to Bob, who sat in judgment on us all,
with as much gravity as if accustomed to such duties from infancy. It is
said that men soon get to be familiar with elevation, and that, while
he who has fallen never fails to look backwards, he who has risen
invariably limits his vision to the present horizon. Such proved to be
the case with the princely Bob.

"This person," observed the jackanapes, pointing to me, "is a very good
sort of person, it is true, but he is hardly the sort of person your
majesty wants just now. There is the lord high admiral, too - but - "
(Bob's but was envenomed by a thousand kicks!) - "but - you wish, sire,
to know which of my father's subjects was the most useful in getting the
ship to Leaphigh?"

"That is precisely the fact I desire to know."

Bob hereupon pointed to the cook; who, it will be remembered, was
present as one of his train-bearers. "I believe I must say, sire,
that this is the man. He fed us all; and without food, and that in
considerable quantities, too, nothing could have been done."

The little blackguard was rewarded for his impudence, by exclamations
of pleasure from all around him. - "It was so clever a distinction," - "it
showed so much reflection," - "it was so very profound," - "it proved
how much he regarded the base of society;" - in short, "it was evident
England would be a happy country, when he should be called to the
throne!" In the meantime the cook was required to come forth, and kneel
before his majesty.

"What is your name?" whispered the lord of the bed-chamber, who now
spoke for himself.

"Jack Coppers, your honor."

The lord of the bed-chamber made a communication to his majesty, when
the sovereign turned round by proxy, with his back towards Jack, and,
giving him the accolade with his tail, he bade him rise, as "Sir Jack

I was a silent, an admiring, an astounded witness of this act of gross
and flagrant injustice. Some one pulled me aside, and then I recognized
the voice of Brigadier Downright.

"You think that honors have alighted where they are least due. You think
that the saying of your crown prince has more smartness than truth,
more malice than honesty. You think that the court has judged on false
principles, and acted on an impulse rather than on reason; that the
king has consulted his own ease in affecting to do justice; that the
courtiers have paid a homage to their master, in affecting to pay a
homage to merit; and that nothing in this life is pure or free from the
taint of falsehood, selfishness, or vanity. Alas! this is too much the
case with us monikins, I must allow; though, doubtless, among men you
manage a vast deal more cleverly."


Perceiving that Brigadier Downright had an observant mind, and that
he was altogether superior to the clannish feeling which is so apt to
render a particular species inimical to all others, I asked permission
to cultivate his acquaintance; begging, at the same time, that he would
kindly favor me with such remarks as might be suggested by his superior
wisdom and extensive travels, on any of those customs or opinions
that would naturally present themselves in our actual situation. The
brigadier took the request in good part, and we began to promenade the
rooms in company. As the Archbishop of Aggregation, who was to perform
the marriage ceremony, was shortly expected, the conversation very
naturally turned on the general state of religion in the monikin region.

I was delighted to find that the clerical dogmas of this insulated
portion of the world were based on principles absolutely identical with
those of all Christendom. The monikins believe that they are a miserable
lost set of wretches, who are so debased by nature, so eaten up by
envy, uncharitableness, and all other evil passions, that it is quite
impossible they can do anything that is good of themselves; that their
sole dependence is on the moral interference of the great superior power
of creation; and that the very first, and the one needful step of their
own, is to cast themselves entirely on this power for support, in
a proper spirit of dependence and humility. As collateral to, and
consequent on, this condition of the mind, they lay the utmost stress
on a disregard of all the vanities of life, a proper subjection of the
lusts of the flesh, and an abstaining from the pomp and vainglory of
ambition, riches, power, and the faculties. In short, the one thing
needful was humility - humility - humility. Once thoroughly humbled to
a degree that put them above the danger of backsliding, they obtained
glimpses of security, and were gradually elevated to the hopes and the
condition of the just.

The brigadier was still eloquently discoursing on this interesting
topic, when a distant door opened, and a gold stick, or some other sort
of stick, announced the right reverend father in God, his grace the most
eminent and most serene prelate, the very puissant and thrice gracious
and glorified saint, the Primate of All Leaphigh!

The reader will anticipate the eager curiosity with which I advanced
to get a glimpse of a saint under a system as sublimated as that of the
great monikin family. Civilization having made such progress as to strip
all the people, even to the king and queen, entirely of everything
in the shape of clothes, I did not well see under what new mantle of
simplicity the heads of the church could take refuge! Perhaps they
shaved off all the hair from their bodies in sign of supereminent
self-abasement, leaving themselves naked to the cuticle, that they might
prove, by ocular evidence, what a poor ungainly set of wretches they
really were, carnally considered; or perhaps they went on all-fours to
heaven, in sign of their unfitness to enter into the presence of the
pure of mind in an attitude more erect and confident. Well, these
fancies of mine only went to prove how erroneous and false are
the conclusions of one whose capacity has not been amplified and
concatenated by the ingenuities of a very refined civilization. His
grace the most gracious father in God, wore a mantle of extraordinary
fineness and beauty, the material of which was composed of every tenth
hair taken from all the citizens of Leaphigh, who most cheerfully
submitted to be shaved, in order that the wants of his most eminent
humility might be decently supplied. The mantle, wove from such a warp
and such a woof, was necessarily very large; and it really appeared to
me that the prelate did not very well know what to do with so much of
it, more especially as the contributions include a new robe annually. I
was now desirous of getting a sight of his tail; for, knowing that
the Leaphighers take great pride in the length and beauty of that
appurtenance, I very naturally supposed that a saint who wore so fine
and glorious a robe, by way of humility, must have recourse to some
novel expedient to mortify himself on his sensitive subject, at least.
I found that the ample proportions of the mantle concealed not only the
person, but most of the movements of the archbishop; and it was with
many doubts of my success that I led the brigadier behind the episcopal
train to reconnoitre. The result disappointed expectation again. Instead
of being destitute of a tail, or of concealing that with which nature
had supplied him beneath his mantle, the most gracious dignitary wore
no less than six caudae, viz., his own, and five others added to it, by
some subtle process of clerical ingenuity that I shall not attempt to
explain; one "bent on the other," as the captain described them in a
subsequent conversation. This extraordinary train was allowed to sweep
the floor; the only sign of humility, according to my uninstructed
faculties, I could discern about the person and appearance of this
illustrious model of clerical self-mortification and humility.

The brigadier, however, was not tardy in setting me right. In the first
place, he gave me to understand that the hierarchy of Leaphigh was
illustrated by the order of their tails. Thus, a deacon wore one and a
half; a curate, if a minister, one and three-quarters, and a rector
two; a dean, two and a half, an archdeacon, three; a bishop, four; the
Primate of Leaphigh, five, and the Primate of ALL Leaphigh, six. The
origin of the custom, which was very ancient, and of course very much
respected, was imputed to the doctrine of a saint of great celebrity,
who had satisfactorily proved that as the tail was the intellectual or
the spiritual part of a monikin, the farther it was removed from the
mass of matter, or the body, the more likely it was to be independent,
consecutive, logical, and spiritualized. The idea had succeeded
astonishingly at first; but time, which will wear out even a cauda, had
given birth to schisms in the church on this interesting subject;
one party contending that two more joints ought to be added to the
archbishop's embellishment, by way of sustaining the church, and the
other that two joints ought to be incontinently abstracted, in the way
of reform.

These explanations were interrupted by the appearance of the bride and
bridegroom, at different doors. The charming Chatterissa advanced with
a most prepossessing modesty, followed by a glorious train of noble
maidens, all keeping their eyes, by a rigid ordinance of hymeneal
etiquette, dropped to the level of the queen's feet. On the other hand,
my lord Chatterino, attended by that coxcomb Hightail, and others of
his kidney, stepped towards the altar with a lofty confidence, which the
same etiquette exacted of the bridegroom. The parties were no sooner in
their places, than the prelate commenced.

The marriage ceremony, according to the formula of the established
church of Leaphigh, is a very solemn and imposing ceremony. The
bridegroom is required to swear that he loves the bride and none but
the bride; that he has made his choice solely on account of her merits,
uninfluenced even by her beauty; and that he will so far command his
inclinations as, on no account, ever to love another a jot. The bride,
on her part, calls heaven and earth to witness, that she will do just
what the bridegroom shall ask of her; that she will be his bondwoman,
his slave, his solace and his delight; that she is quite certain no
other monikin could make her happy, but, on the other hand, she is
absolutely sure that any other monikin would be certain to make her
miserable. When these pledges, oaths, and asseverations were duly
made and recorded, the archbishop caused the happy pair to be wreathed
together, by encircling them with his episcopal tail, and they were then
pronounced monikin and monikina. I pass over the congratulations, which
were quite in rule, to relate a short conversation I held with the

"Sir," said I, addressing that person, as soon as the prelate said
'amen,' "how is this? I have seen a certificate, myself, which showed
that there was a just admeasurement of the fitness of this union, on the
score of other considerations than those mentioned in the ceremony?"

"That certificate has no connection with this ceremony."

"And yet this ceremony repudiates all the considerations enumerated in
the certificate?"

"This ceremony has no connection with that certificate."

"So it would seem; and yet both refer to the same solemn engagement!"

"Why, to tell you the truth, Sir John Goldencalf, we monikins (for
in these particulars Leaphigh is Leaplow) have two distinct governing
principles in all that we say or do, which may be divided into
the theoretical and the practical - moral and immoral would not be
inapposite - but, by the first we control all our interests, down as far
as facts, when we immediately submit to the latter. There may possibly
be something inconsistent in appearance in such an arrangement; but then
our most knowing ones say that it works well. No doubt among men, you
get along without the embarrassment of so much contradiction."

I now advanced to pay my respects to the Countess of Chatterino, who
stood supported by the countess-dowager, a lady of great dignity and
elegance of demeanor. The moment I appeared, the elaborate air of
modesty, vanished from the charming countenance of the bride, in a look
of natural pleasure; and, turning to her new mother, she pointed me
out as a man! The courteous old dowager gave me a very kind reception,
inquiring if I had enough good things to eat, whether I was not much
astonished at the multitude of strange sights I beheld in Leaphigh, said
I ought to be much obliged to her son for consenting to bring me over,
and invited me to come and see her some fine morning.

I bowed my thanks, and then returned to join the brigadier, with a
view to seek an introduction to the archbishop. Before I relate the
particulars of my interview with that pious prelate, however, it may be
well to say that this was the last I ever saw of any of the Chatterino
set, as they retired from the presence immediately after the
congratulations were ended. I heard, however, previously to leaving the
region, which was within a month of the marriage, that the noble pair
kept separate establishments, on account of some disagreement about an
incompatibility of temper - or a young officer of the guards - I never
knew exactly which; but as the estates suited each other so well, there
is little doubt that, on the whole, the match was as happy as could be

The archbishop received me with a great deal of professional
benevolence, the conversation dropping very naturally into a comparison
of the respective religious systems of Great Britain and Leaphigh. He
was delighted when he found we had an establishment; and I believe I was
indebted to his knowledge of this fact for his treating me more as an
equal than he might otherwise have done, considering the difference in
species. I was much relieved by this; for, at the commencement of the
conversation, he had sounded me a little on doctrine, at which I am far
from being expert, never having taken an interest in the church, and
I thought he looked frowning at some of my answers; but, when he heard
that we really had a national religion, he seemed to think all safe,

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperThe Monikins → online text (page 21 of 34)