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nor did he once, after that, inquire whether we were pagans or
Presbyterians. But when I told him we had actually a hierarchy,
I thought the good old prelate would have shaken my hand off, and
beatified me on the spot!

"We shall meet in heaven some day!" he exclaimed, with holy delight;
"men or monikins, it can make no great difference, after all. We shall
meet in heaven; and that, too, in the upper mansions!"

The reader will suppose that, an alien, and otherwise unknown, I was
much elated by this distinction. To go to heaven in company with the
Archbishop of Leaphigh was in itself no small favor; but to be thus
noticed by him at court was really enough to upset the philosophy of
a stranger. I was sorely afraid, all the while, he would descend to
particulars, and that he might have found some essential points
of difference to nip his new-born admiration. Had he asked me, for
instance, how many caudae our bishops wear, I should have been badgered;
for, as near as I could recollect, their personal illustration was of
another character. The venerable prelate, however, soon gave me his
blessing, pressed me warmly to come to his palace before I sailed,
promised to send some tracts by me to England, and then hurried away,
as he said, to sign a sentence of excommunication against an unruly
presbyter, who had much disturbed the harmony of the church, of late, by
an attempt to introduce a schism that he called "piety."

The brigadier and myself discussed the subject of religion at some
length, when the illustrious prelate had taken his leave. I was told
that the monikin world was pretty nearly equally divided into two parts,
the old and the new. The latter had remained uninhabited, until within a
few generations, when certain monikins, who were too good to live in the
old world, emigrated in a body, and set up for themselves in the new.
This, the brigadier admitted, was the Leaplow account of the matter;
the inhabitants of the old countries, on the other hand, invariably
maintaining that they had peopled the new countries by sending all those
of their own communities there, who were not fit to stay at home. This
little obscurity in the history of the new world, he considers of no
great moment, as such trifling discrepancies must always depend on the
character of the historian. Leaphigh was by no means the only country in
the elder monikin region. There were among others, for instance,
Leapup and Leapdown; Leapover and Leapthrough; Leaplong and Leapshort;
Leapround and Leapunder. Each of these countries had a religious
establishment, though Leaplow, being founded on a new social principle,
had none. The brigadier thought, himself, on the whole, that the chief
consequences of the two systems were, that the countries which had
establishments had a great reputation for possessing religion, and those
that had no establishments were well enough off in the article itself,
though but indifferently supplied on the score of reputation.

I inquired of the brigadier if he did not think an establishment had the
beneficial effect of sustaining truth, by suppressing heresies, limiting
and curtailing prurient theological fancies, and otherwise setting
limits to innovations. My friend did not absolutely agree with me in all
these particulars; though he very frankly allowed that it had the effect
of keeping TWO truths from falling out, by separating them. Thus, Leapup
maintained one set of religious dogmas under its establishment, and
Leapdown maintained their converse. By keeping these truths apart, no
doubt, religious harmony was promoted, and the several ministers of
the gospel were enabled to turn all their attention to the sins of the
community, instead of allowing it to be diverted to the sins of each
other, as was very apt to be the case when there was an antagonist
interest to oppose.

Shortly after, the king and queen gave us all our conges. Noah and
myself got through the crowd without injury to our trains, and we
separated in the court of the palace; he to go to his bed and dream of
his trial on the morrow, and I to go home with Judge People's Friend and
the brigadier, who had invited me to finish the evening with a supper. I
was left chatting with the last, while the first went into his closet
to indite a dispatch to his government, relating to the events of the
evening.

The brigadier was rather caustic in his comments on the incidents of
the drawing-room. A republican himself, he certainly did love to give
royalty and nobility some occasional rubs; though I must do this worthy,
upright monikin the justice to say, he was quite superior to that vulgar
hostility which is apt to distinguish many of his caste, and which is
founded on a principle as simple as the fact that they cannot be kings
and nobles themselves.

While we were chatting very pleasantly, quite at our ease, and in
undress as it were, the brigadier in his bob, and I with my tail aside,
Judge People's Friend rejoined us, with his dispatch open in his hand.
He read aloud what he had written, to my great astonishment, for I had
been accustomed to think diplomatic communications sacred. But the judge
observed, that in this case it was useless to affect secrecy, for two
very good reasons; firstly, because he had been obliged to employ a
common Leaphigh scrivener to copy what he had written - his government
depending on a noble republican economy, which taught it that, if it did
get into difficulties by the betrayal of its correspondence, it would
still have the money that a clerk would cost, to help it out of the
embarrassment; and, secondly, because he knew the government itself
would print it as soon as it arrived. For his part, he liked to have
the publishing of his own works. Under these circumstances, I was
even allowed to take a copy of the letter, of which I now furnish a
fac-simile.

"SIR: - The undersigned, envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary
of the North-Western Leaplow Confederate Union, has the honor to inform
the secretary of state, that our interests in this portion of the earth
are, in general, on the best possible footing; our national character is
getting every day to be more and more elevated; our rights are more and
more respected, and our flag is more and more whitening every sea.
After this flattering and honorable account of the state of our general
concerns, I hasten to communicate the following interesting particulars.

"The treaty between our beloved North-Western Confederate Union and
Leaphigh, has been dishonored in every one of its articles; nineteen
Leaplow seamen have been forcibly impressed into a Leapthrough vessel
of war; the king of Leapup has made an unequivocal demonstration with
a very improper part of his person, at us; and the king of Leapover has
caused seven of our ships to be seized and sold, and the money to be
given to his mistress.

"Sir, I congratulate you on this very flattering condition of
our foreign relations; which can only be imputed to the glorious
constitution of which we are the common servants, and to the just dread
which the Leaplow name has so universally inspired in other nations.

"The king has just had a drawing-room, in which I took great care to see
that the honor of our beloved country should be faithfully attended
to. My cauda was at least three inches longer than that of the
representative of Leapup, the minister most favored by nature in this
important particular; and I have the pleasure of adding, that her
majesty the queen deigned to give me a very gracious smile. Of the
sincerity of that smile there can be no earthly doubt, sir; for, though
there is abundant evidence that she did apply certain unseemly words
to our beloved country lately, it would quite exceed the rules of
diplomatic courtesy, and be unsustained by proof, were we to call in
question her royal sincerity on this public occasion. Indeed, sir, at
all the recent drawing-rooms I have received smiles of the most sincere
and encouraging character, not only from the king, but from all his
ministers, his first-cousin in particular; and I trust they will have
the most beneficial effects on the questions at issue between the
Kingdom of Leaphigh and our beloved country. If they would now only
do us justice in the very important affair of the long-standing and
long-neglected redress, which we have been seeking in vain at their
hands for the last seventy-two years, I should say that our relations
were on the best possible footing.

"Sir, I congratulate you on the profound respect with which the Leaplow
name is treated, in the most distant quarters of the earth, and on the
benign influence this fortunate circumstance is likely to exercise on
all our important interests.

"I see but little probability of effecting the object of my special
mission, but the utmost credit is to be attached to the sincerity of the
smiles of the king and queen, and of all the royal family."

"In a late conversation with his majesty, he inquired in the kindest
manner after the health of the Great Sachem [this is the title of
the head of the Leaplow government], and observed that our growth and
prosperity put all other nations to shame; and that we might, on all
occasions, depend on his most profound respect and perpetual friendship.
In short, sir, all nations, far and near, desire our alliance, are
anxious to open new sources of commerce, and entertain for us the
profoundest respect, and the most inviolable esteem. You can tell the
Great Sachem that this feeling is surprisingly augmented under his
administration, and that it has at least quadrupled during my mission.
If Leaphigh would only respect its treaties, Leapthrough would cease
taking our seamen, Leapup have greater deference for the usages of good
society, and the king of Leapover would seize no more of our ships to
supply his mistress with pocket-money, our foreign relations might be
considered to be without spot. As it is, sir, they are far better off
than I could have expected, or indeed had ever hoped to see them; and
of one thing you may be diplomatically certain, that we are universally
respected, and that the Leaplow name is never mentioned without all in
company rising and waving their caudae."

"(Signed.) JUDAS PEOPLE'S FRIEND."

"Hon. - - - - -, etc."

"P. S. (Private.)"

"Dear Sir: - If you publish this dispatch, omit the part where the
difficulties are repeated, I beg you will see that my name is put in
with those of the other patriots, against the periodical rotation of
the little wheel, as I shall certainly be obliged to return home soon,
having consumed all my means. Indeed, the expense of maintaining a tail,
of which our people have no notion, is so very great, that I think none
of our missions should exceed a week in duration.

"I would especially advise that the message should dilate on the subject
of the high standing of the Leaplow character in foreign nations; for,
to be frank with you, facts require that this statement should be made
as often as possible."

When this letter was read, the conversation reverted to religion. The
brigadier explained that the law of Leaphigh had various peculiarities
on this subject, that I do not remember to have heard of before. Thus,
a monikin could not be born without paying something to the church,
a practice which early initiated him into his duties towards that
important branch of the public welfare; and, even when he died, he left
a fee behind him, for the parson, as an admonition to those who still
existed in the flesh, not to forget their obligations. He added that
this sacred interest was, in short, so rigidly protected, that, whenever
a monikin refused to be plucked for a new clerical or episcopal mantle,
there was a method of fleecing him, by the application of red-hot iron
rods, which generally singed so much of his skin, that he was commonly
willing, in the end, to let the hair-proctors pick and choose at
pleasure.

I confess I was indignant at this picture, and did not hesitate to
stigmatize the practice as barbarous.

"Your indignation is very natural, Sir John, and is just what a stranger
would be likely to feel, when he found mercy, and charity, and brotherly
love, and virtue, and, above all, humility, made the stalking-horses of
pride, selfishness, and avarice. But this is the way with us monikins;
no doubt, men manage better."




CHAPTER XX. A VERY COMMON CASE: OR A GREAT DEAL OF LAW, AND VERY LITTLE
JUSTICE - HEADS AND TAILS, WITH THE DANGERS OF EACH.


I was early with Noah on the following morning. The poor fellow, when it
is remembered that he was about to be tried for a capital offence, in
a foreign country, under novel institutions, and before a jury of a
different species, manifested a surprising degree of fortitude. Still,
the love of life was strong within him, as was apparent by the way in
which he opened the discourse.

"Did you observe how the wind was this morning, Sir John, as you came
in?" the straightforward sealer inquired, with a peculiar interest.

"It is a pleasant gale from the southward."

"Right off shore! If one knew where all them blackguards of rear
admirals and post captains were to be found, I don't think, Sir, John,
that you would care much about paying those fifty thousand promises?"

"My recognizances? - Not in the least, my dear friend, were it not for
our honor. It would scarcely be creditable for the Walrus to sail,
however, leaving an unsettled account of her captain's behind us. What
would they say at Stunin'tun - what would your own consort think of an
act so unmanly?"

"Why, at Stunin'tun, we think him the smartest who gets the easiest
out of any difficulty; and I don't well see why Miss Poke should know
it - or, if she did, why she should think the worse of her husband, for
saving his life."

"Away with these unworthy thoughts, and brace yourself to meet
the trial. We shall, at least, get some insight into the Leaphigh
jurisprudence. Come, I see you are already dressed for the occasion; let
us be as prompt as duellists."

Noah made up his mind to submit with dignity; although he lingered in
the great square, in order to study the clouds, in a way to show he
might have settled the whole affair with the fore-topsail, had he
known where to find his crew. Fortunately for the reputations of
all concerned, however, he did not; and, discarding everything like
apprehension from his countenance, the sturdy mariner entered the Old
Bailey with the tread of a man and the firmness of innocence. I ought to
have said sooner, that we had received notice early in the morning, that
the proceedings had been taken from before the pages, on appeal, and
that a new venue had been laid in the High Criminal Court of Leaphigh.

Brigadier Downright met us at the door; where also a dozen grave,
greasy-looking counsellors gathered about us, in a way to show that they
were ready to volunteer in behalf of the stranger, on receiving no more
than the customary fee. But I had determined to defend Noah myself (the
court consenting) for I had forebodings that our safety would depend
more on an appeal to the rights of hospitality, than on any legal
defence it was in our power to offer. As the brigadier kindly
volunteered to aid me for nothing, I thought proper not to refuse his
services, however.

I pass over the appearance of the court, the empanelling of the jury,
and the arraignment; for, in matters of mere legal forms, there is no
great difference between civilized countries, all of them wearing the
same semblance of justice. The first indictment, for unhappily there
were two, charged Noah with having committed an assault, with malice
prepense, on the king's dignity, with "sticks, daggers, muskets,
blunderbusses, air-guns, and other unlawful weapons, more especially
with the tongue, in that he had accused his majesty, face to face, with
having a memory, etc., etc." The other indictment, repeating the formula
of the first, charged the honest sealer with feloniously accusing her
majesty the queen, "in defiance of the law, to the injury of good morals
and the peace of society, with having no memory, etc., etc." To both
these charges the plea of "not guilty," was entered as fast as possible,
in behalf of our client.

I ought to have said before, that both Brigadier Downright and myself
had applied to be admitted of counsel for the accused, under an ancient
law of Leaphigh, as next of kin; I as a fellow human being, and the
brigadier by adoption.

The preliminary forms observed, the attorney-general was about to go
into proof, in behalf of the crown, when my brother Downright arose
and said that he intended to save the precious time of the court,
by admitting the facts; and that it was intended to rest the defence
altogether on the law of the case. He presumed the jury were the judges
of the law as well as of the facts, according to the rule of Leaplow,
and that "he and his brother Goldencalf were quite prepared to show that
the law was altogether with us, in this affair." The court received
the admission, and the facts were submitted to the jury, by consent, as
proven; although the chief-justice took occasion to remark, Longbeard
dissenting, that, while the jury were certainly judges of the law, in
one sense, yet there was another sense in which they were not judges of
the law. The dissent of Baron Longbeard went to maintain that while the
jury were the judges of the law in the "another sense" mentioned, they
were not judges of the law in the "one sense" named. This difficulty
disposed of, Mr. Attorney-General arose and opened for the crown.

I soon found that we had one of a very comprehensive and philosophical
turn of mind against us, in the advocate of the other side. He commenced
his argument by a vigorous and lucid sketch of the condition of the
world previously to the subdivisions of its different inhabitants
into nations, and tribes, and clans, while in the human or chrysalis
condition. From this statement, he deduced the regular gradations by
which men become separated into communities, and subjected to the laws
of civilization, or what is called society. Having proceeded thus far,
he touched lightly on the different phases that the institutions of
men had presented, and descended gradually and consecutively to the
fundamental principles of the social compact, as they were known to
exist among monikins. After a few general observations that properly
belonged to the subject, he came to speak of those portions of the
elementary principles of society that are connected with the rights
of the sovereign. These he divided into the rights of the king's
prerogative, the rights of the king's person, and the rights of the
king's conscience. Here he again generalized a little, and in a very
happy manner; so well, indeed, as to leave all his hearers in doubt
as to what he would next be at; when, by a fierce logical swoop, he
descended suddenly on the last of the king's rights, as the one that was
most connected with the subject.

He triumphantly showed that the branch of the royal immunities that was
chiefly affected by the offence of the prisoner at the bar, was very
clearly connected with the rights of the king's conscience. "The
attributes of royalty," observed the sagacious advocate, "are not to be
estimated in the same manner as the attributes of the subject. In
the sacred person of the king are centred many, if not most, of
the interesting privileges of monikinism. That royal personage, in
apolitical sense, can do no wrong: official infallibility is the
consequence. Such a being has no occasion for the ordinary faculties of
the monikin condition. Of what use, for instance, is a judgment, or a
conscience, to a functionary who can do no wrong? The law, in order to
relieve one on whose shoulders was imposed the burden of the state, had
consequently placed the latter especially in the keeping of another.
His majesty's first-cousin is the keeper of his conscience, as is known
throughout the realm of Leaphigh. A memory is the faculty of the least
account to a personage who has no conscience; and, while it is not
contended that the sovereign is relieved from the possession of his
memory by any positive statute law, or direct constitutional provision,
it follows, by unavoidable implication, and by all legitimate
construction, that, having no occasion to possess such a faculty, it is
the legal presumption he is altogether without it.

"That simplicity, lucidity and distinctness, my lords," continued Mr.
Attorney-General, "which are necessary to every well-ordered mind, would
be impaired, in the case of his majesty, were his intellectual faculties
unnecessarily crowded in this useless manner, and the state would be the
sufferer. My lords, the king reigns, but he does not govern. This is a
fundamental principle of the constitution; nay, it is more - it is the
palladium of our liberties! My lords, it is an easy matter to reign
in Leaphigh. It requires no more than the rights of primogeniture,
sufficient discretion to understand the distinction between reigning and
governing, and a political moderation that is unlikely to derange the
balance of the state. But it is quite a different thing to govern.
His majesty is required to govern nothing, the slight interests just
mentioned excepted; no, not even himself. The case is far otherwise with
his first-cousin. This high functionary is charged with the important
trust of governing. It had been found, in the early ages of the
monarchy, that one conscience, or indeed one set of faculties generally,
scarcely sufficed for him whose duty it was both to reign and to govern.
We all know, my lords, how insufficient for our personal objects are
our own private faculties; how difficult we find it to restrain even
ourselves, assisted merely by our own judgments, consciences, and
memories; and in this fact do we perceive the great importance of
investing him who governs others, with an additional set of these grave
faculties. Under a due impression of the exigency of such a state of
things, the common law - not statute law, my lords, which is apt to be
tainted with the imperfections of monikin reason in its isolated or
individual state, usually bearing the impress of the single cauda from
which it emanated - but the common law, the known receptacle of all the
common sense of the nation - in such a state of things, then, has the
common law long since decreed that his majesty's first-cousin should
be the keeper of his majesty's conscience; and, by necessary legal
implication, endowed with his majesty's judgment, his majesty's reason,
and finally, his majesty's memory.

"My lords, this is the legal presumption. It would, in addition, be
easy for me to show, in a thousand facts, that not only the sovereign of
Leaphigh, but most other sovereigns, are and ever have been, destitute
of the faculty of a memory. It might be said to be incompatible with the
royal condition to be possessed of this obtrusive faculty. Were a prince
endowed with a memory, he might lose sight of his high estate, in the
recollection that he was born, and that he is destined, like another,
to die; he might be troubled with visions of the past; nay, the
consciousness of his very dignity might be unsettled and weakened by
a vivid view of the origin of his royal race. Promises, obligations,
attachments, duties, principles, and even debts, might interfere with
the due discharge of his sacred trusts, were the sovereign invested with
a memory; and it has, therefore, been decided, from time immemorial,
that his majesty is utterly without the properties of reason, judgment,
and memory, as a legitimate inference from his being destitute of a
conscience."

Mr. Attorney-General now directed the attention of the court and jury to
a statute of the 3d of Firstborn 6th, by which it was enacted that any
person attributing to his majesty the possession of any faculty, with
felonious intent, that might endanger the tranquillity of the state,
should suffer decaudization, without benefit of clergy. Here he rested
the case on behalf of the crown.

There was a solemn pause, after the speaker had resumed his seat. His
argument, logic, and above all, his good sense and undeniable law, made
a very sensible impression; and I had occasion to observe that Noah
began to chew tobacco ravenously. After a decent interval, however,
Brigadier Downright - who, it would seem, in spite of his military
appellation, was neither more nor less than a practising attorney
and counsellor in the city of Bivouac, the commercial capital of the
Republic of Leaplow - arose, and claimed a right to be heard in reply.



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperThe Monikins → online text (page 22 of 34)