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country; by which means you will be sure to get an impartial agent, or
one who can state things in your own way, who is already half paid for
his services, and who will not be likely to make blunders by meddling
with distinctive thought. When a person of this character is found,
let him drop a line now and then in favor of your own sagacity and
patriotism; and if he should say a pleasant thing occasionally about me,
it will do no harm, but may help the little wheel to turn more readily.
In order to conceal his origin, let your paragraph-agent use the
word OUR freely; the use of this word, as you know, being the only
qualification of citizenship in Leaplow. Let him begin to spell the word
O-U-R, and then proceed to pronounce it, and be careful that he does not
spell it H-O-U-R, which might betray his origin. Above all things, you
will be patriotic and republican, avoiding the least vindication of your
country and its institutions, and satisfying yourself with saying that
the latter are, at least, well suited to the former, if you should say
this in a way to leave the impression on your hearers, that you think
the former fitted for nothing else, it will be particularly agreeable
and thoroughly republican, and most eminently modest and praiseworthy.
You will find the diplomatic agents of all other states sensitive on the
point of their peculiar political usages, and prompt to defend them;
but this is a weakness you will rigidly abstain from imitating, for our
polity being exclusively based on reason, you are to show a dignified
confidence in the potency of that fundamental principle, nor in any way
lessen the high character that reason already enjoys, by giving any
one cause to suspect you think reason is not fully able to take care of
itself. With these leading hints, and your own natural tendencies,
which I am glad to see are eminently fitted for the great objects of
diplomacy - being ductile, imitative, yielding, calculating, and, above
all, of a foreign disposition - I think you will be able to get on very
cleverly. Cultivate, above all things, your foreign dispositions, for
you are now on foreign duty, and your country reposes on your shoulders
and eminent talents the whole burden of its foreign interests in this
part of the world."

Here the judge closed his address, which was oral, apparently well
satisfied with himself and with his raw-hand in diplomacy. He then
said -

"That he would now go to court to present his substitute, and to take
leave himself; after which he would return as fast as possible, and
detain us no longer than was necessary to put his cauda in pepper, to
protect it against the moths; for heaven knew what prize he might draw
in the next turn of the little wheel!"

We promised to meet him at the port, where a messenger just then
informed us Captain Poke had landed, and was anxiously waiting our
appearance. With this understanding we separated; the judge undertaking
to redeem all our promises paid in at the tavern, by giving his own in
their stead.

The brigadier and myself found Noah and the cook bargaining for some
private adventures with a Leaphigh broker or two, who, finding that the
ship was about to sail in ballast, were recommending their wares to the
notice of these two worthies.

"It would be a ra'al sin, Sir John," commenced the captain, "to neglect
an occasion like this to turn a penny. The ship could carry ten thousand
immigrants, and they say there are millions of them going over to
Leaplow; or it might stow half the goods in Aggregation. I'm resolved,
at any rate, to use my cabin privilege; and I would advise you, as
owner, to look out for suthin' to pay port-charges with, to say the
least."

"The idea is not a bad one, friend Poke; but, as we are ignorant of the
state of the market on the other side, it might be well to consult some
inhabitant of the country about the choice of articles. Here is the
Brigadier Downright, whom I have found to be a monikin of experience and
judgment, and if you please, we will first hear what he has to say about
it."

"I dabble very little in merchandise," returned the brigadier; "but,
as a general principle, I should say that no article of Leaphigh
manufacture would command so certain a market in Leaplow as opinions."

"Have you any of these opinions for sale?" I inquired of the broker.

"Plenty of them, sir, and of all qualities - from the very lowest to the
very 'ighest prices - those that may be had for next to nothing, to those
that we think a great deal of ourselves. We always keeps them ready
packed for exportation, and send wast invoices of them, hannually, to
Leaplow in particular. Opinions are harticles that help to sell each
other; and a ship of the tonnage of yours might stow enough, provided
they were properly assorted, to carry all before them for the season."

Expressing a wish to see the packages, we were immediately led into an
adjoining warehouse, where, sure enough, there were goodly lots of
the manufactures in question. I passed along the shelves, reading the
inscriptions of the different packages. Pointing to several bundles
that had "Opinions on Free Trade" written on their labels, I asked the
brigadier what he thought of that article.

"Why, they would have done better, a year or two since, when we were
settling a new tariff; but I should think there would be less demand for
them now."

"You are quite right, sir," added the broker; "we did send large
invoices of them to Leaplow formerly, and they were all eagerly bought
up, the moment they arrived. A great many were dyed over again, and
sold as of 'ome manufacture. Most of these harticles are now shipped for
Leapup, with whom we have negotiations that give them a certain value."

"'Opinions on Democracy, and on the Policy of Governments in General': I
should think these would be of no use in Leaplow?"

"Why, sir, they goes pretty much hover the whole world. We sell powers
on 'em on hour own continent, near by, and a great many do go even to
Leaplow; though what they does with 'em there, I never could say, seeing
they are all government monikins in that queer country."

An inquiring look extorted a clearer answer from the brigadier: -

"To admit the fact, we have a class among us who buy up these articles
with some eagerness. I can only account for it, by supposing they think
differing in their tastes from the mass, makes them more enlightened and
peculiar."

"I'll take them all. An article that catches these propensities is sure
of sale. 'Opinions on Events': what can possibly be done with these?"

"That depends a little on their classification," returned the brigadier.
"If they relate to Leaplow events, while they have a certain value, they
cannot be termed of current value; but if they refer to the events of
all the rest of the earth, take them for heaven's sake! for we trust
altogether to this market for our supplies."

On this hint I ordered the whole lot, trusting to dispose of the least
fashionable by aid of those that were more in vogue.

"'Opinions on Domestic Literature.'"

"You may buy all he has; we use no other."

"'Opinions on Continental Literature.'"

"Why, we know little about the goods themselves - but I think a selection
might answer."

I ordered the bale cut in two, and took one half, at a venture.

"'Opinions of Leaplow Literature, From No. 1 up to No. 100.'"

"Ah! it is proper I should explain," put in the broker, "that we has two
varieties of them 'ere harticles. One is the true harticle, as is got
up by our great wits and philosophers, they says, on the most approved
models; but the other is nothing but a sham harticle that is really
manufactured in Leaplow, and is sent out here to get hour stamp. That's
all - I never deceives a customer - both sell well, I hear, on the other
side, 'owever."

I looked again at the brigadier, who quietly nodding assent, I took the
whole hundred bales.

"'Opinions of the Institutions of Leaphigh.'"

"Why, them 'ere is assorted, being of all sizes, forms, and colors. They
came coastwise, and are chiefly for domestic consumption; though I have
known 'em sent to Leaplow, with success."

"The consumers of this article among us," observed the brigadier, "are
very select, and rarely take any but of the very best quality. But then
they are usually so well stocked, that I question if a new importation
would pay freight. Indeed, our consumers cling very generally to the
old fashions in this article, not even admitting the changes produced by
time. There was an old manufacturer called Whiterock, who has a sort
of Barlow-knife reputation among us, and it is not easy to get another
article to compete with his. Unless they are very antiquated, I would
have nothing to do with them."

"Yes, this is all true, sir. We still sends to Leaplow quantities of
that 'ere manufacture; and the more hantiquated the harticle, the better
it sells; but then the new fashions has a most wonderful run at 'ome."

"I'll stick to the real Barlow, through thick or thin. Hunt me up a
bale of his notions; let them be as old as the flood. What have we
here? - 'opinions on the Institutions of Leaplow.'"

"Take them," said the brigadier, promptly.

"This 'ere gentleman has an hidear of the state of his own market,"
added the broker, giggling. "Wast lots of these things go across
yearly - and I don't find that any on 'em ever comes back."

"'Opinions on the State of Manners and Society in Leaplow.'"

"I believe I'll take an interest in that article myself, Sir John,
if you can give me a ton or two between decks. Have you many of this
manufacture?"

"Lots on 'em, sir - and they DO sell so! That 'ere are a good harticle
both at 'ome and abroad. My eye! how they does go off in Leaplow!"

"This appears to be also your expectation, brigadier, by your readiness
to take an interest!"

"To speak the truth, nothing sells better in our beloved country."

"Permit me to remark that I find your readiness to purchase this and
the last article, a little singular. If I have rightly comprehended our
previous conversations, you Leaplowers profess to have improved not
only on the ancient principles of polity, but on the social condition
generally."

"We will talk of this during the passage homewards, Sir John Goldencalf;
but, by your leave, I will take a share in the investment in 'Opinions
on the State of Society and Manners in Leaplow,' especially if they
treat at large on the deformities of the government, while they allow
us to be genteel. This is the true notch - some of these goods have been
condemned because the manufacturers hadn't sufficient skill in dyeing."

"You shall have a share, brigadier. Harkee, Mr. Broker; I take it these
said opinions come from some very well-known and approved manufactory?"

"All sorts, sir. Some good, and some good for nothing - everything
sells, 'owever. I never was in Leaplow, but we says over 'ere, that
the Leaplowers eat, and drink, and sleep on our opinions. Lord, sir, it
would really do your heart good to see the stuff, in these harticles,
that they does take from us without higgling!"

"I presume, brigadier, that you use them as an amusement - as a means to
pass a pleasant hour, of an evening - a sort of moral segar?"

"No, sir," put in the broker, "they doesn't smoke 'em, my word on't, or
they wouldn't buy 'em in such lots!"

I now thought enough had been laid in on my own account, and I turned
to see what the captain was about. He was higgling for a bale marked
"Opinions on the Lost Condition of the Monikin Soul." A little curious
to know why he had made this selection, I led him aside, and frankly put
the question.

"Why, to own the truth, Sir John," he said, "religion is an article that
sells in every market, in some shape or other. Now, we are all in the
dark about the Leaplow tastes and usages, for I always suspect a native
of the country to which I am bound, on such a p'int; and if the things
shouldn't sell there, they'll at least do at Stunnin'tun. Miss Poke
alone would use up what there is in that there bale, in a twelvemonth.
To give the woman her due, she's a desperate consumer of snuff and
religion."

We had now pretty effectually cleared the shelves, and the cook, who
had come ashore to dispose of his slush, had not yet been able to get
anything.

"Here is a small bale as come FROM Leaplow, and a pinched little thing
it is," said the broker, laughing; "it don't take at all, here, and it
might do to go 'ome again - at any rate, you will get the drawback. It is
filled with 'Distinctive Opinions of the Republic of Leaplow.'" The cook
looked at the brigadier, who appeared to think the speculation doubtful.
Still it was Hobson's choice; and, after a good deal of grumbling,
the doctor, as Noah always called his cook, consented to take the
"harticle," at half the prime cost.

Judge People's Friend now came trotting down to the port, thoroughly en
republican, when we immediately embarked, and in half an hour, Bob was
kicked to Noah's heart's content, and the Walrus was fairly under way
for Leaplow.




CHAPTER XXIII. POLITICAL BOUNDARIES - POLITICAL RIGHTS - POLITICAL
SELECTIONS, AND POLITICAL DISQUISITIONS; WITH POLITICAL RESULTS.


The aquatic mile-stones of the monikin seas have been already mentioned;
but I believe I omitted to say, that there was a line of demarcation
drawn in the water, by means of a similar invention, to point out
the limits of the jurisdiction of each state. Thus, all within these
water-marks was under the laws of Leaphigh; all between them and those
of some other country, was the high seas; and all within those of
the other country, Leaplow for instance, was under the exclusive
jurisdiction of that other country.

With a favorable wind, the Walrus could run to the watermarks in about
half a day; from thence to the water-marks of Leaplow was two days'
sail, and another half day was necessary to reach our haven. As we
drew near the legal frontiers of Leaphigh, several small fast-sailing
schooners were seen hovering just without the jurisdiction of the king,
quite evidently waiting our approach. One boarded us, just as the outer
edge of the spanker-boom got clear of the Leaphigh sovereignty. Judge
People's Friend rushed to the side of the ship, and before the crew of
the boat could get on deck, he had ascertained that the usual number of
prizes had been put into the little wheel.

A monikin in a bob of a most pronounced character, or which appeared to
have been subjected to the second amputation, being what is called in
Leaplow a bob-upon-bob, now approached, and inquired if there were
any emigrants on board. He was made acquainted with our characters and
objects. When he understood that our stay would most likely be short, he
was evidently a little disappointed.

"Perhaps, gentlemen," he added, "you may still remain long enough to
make naturalization desirable?"

"It is always agreeable to be at home in foreign countries - but are
there no legal objections?"

"I see none, sir - you have no tails, I believe?"

"None but what are in our trunks. I did not know, however, but the
circumstance of our being of a different species might throw some
obstacles in the way."

"None in the world, sir. We act on principles much too liberal for so
narrow an objection. You are but little acquainted with the institutions
and policy of our beloved and most happy country, I see, sir. This is
not Leaphigh, nor Leapup, nor Leapdown, nor Leapover, nor Leapthrough,
nor Leapunder; but good old, hearty, liberal, free and independent, most
beloved, happy, and prosperous beyond example, Leaplow. Species is of
no account under our system. We would as soon naturalize one animal as
another, provided it be a republican animal. I see no deficiency about
any of you. All we ask is certain general principles. You go on two
legs - "

"So do turkeys, sir."

"Very true - but you have no feathers."

"Neither has a donkey."

"All very right, gentlemen - you do not bray, however."

"I will not answer for that," put in the captain, sending his leg
forwards in a straight line, in a way to raise an outcry in Bob, that
almost upset the Leaplower's proposition.

"At all events, gentlemen," he observed, "there is a test that will put
the matter at rest, at once."

He then desired us, in turn, to pronounce the word "our" - "OUR
liberties" - "OUR country" - "OUR firesides" - "OUR altars," Whoever
expressed a wish to be naturalized, and could use this word in the
proper manner, and in the proper place, was entitled to be a citizen. We
all did very well but the second mate, who, being a Herefordshire man,
could not, for the life of him, get any nearer to the Doric, in the
latter shibboleth, than "our halters." Now, it would seem that, in
carrying out a great philanthropic principle in Leaplow, halters had
been proscribed; for, whenever a rogue did anything amiss, it had been
discovered that, instead of punishing him for the offence, the true
way to remedy the evil was to punish the society against which he had
offended. By this ingenious turn, society was naturally made to look out
sharp how it permitted any one to offend it. This excellent idea is
like that of certain Dutchmen, who, when they cut themselves with an ax,
always apply salve and lint to the cruel steel, and leave the wound to
heal as fast as possible.

To return to our examination: we all passed but the second mate, who
hung in his halter, and was pronounced to be incorrigible. Certificates
of naturalization were delivered on the spot, the fees were paid, and
the schooner left us.

That night it blew a gale, and we had no more visitors until the
following morning. As the sun rose, however, we fell in with three
schooners, under the Leaplow flag, all of which seemed bound on errands
of life or death. The first that reached us sent a boat on board, and a
committee of six bob-upon-bobs hurried up our sides, and lost no time in
introducing themselves. I shall give their own account of their business
and characters.

It would seem that they were what is called a "nominating committee"
of the Horizontals, for the City of Bivouac, the port to which we were
bound, where an election was about to take place for members of the
great National Council. Bivouac was entitled to send seven members;
and having nominated themselves, the committee were now in quest of
a seventh candidate to fill the vacancy. In order to secure the
naturalized interests, it had been determined to select as new a comer
as possible. This would also be maintaining the principle of liberality,
in the abstract. For this reason they had been cruising for a week, as
near as the law would allow to the Leaphigh boundaries, and they were
now ready to take any one who would serve.

To this proposition I again objected the difference of species. Here
they all fairly laughed in my face, Brigadier Downright included, giving
me very distinctly to understand that they thought I had very contracted
notions on matters and things, to suppose so trifling an obstacle could
disturb the harmony and unity of a Horizontal vote. They went for a
principle, and the devil himself could not make them swerve from the
pursuit of so sacred an object.

I then candidly admitted that nature had not fitted me, as admirably as
it had fitted my friend the judge, for the throwing of summersets; and I
feared that when the order was given "to go to the right about," I might
be found no better than a bungler. This staggered them a little; and I
perceived that they looked at each other in doubt.

"But you can, at least, turn round suddenly, at need?" one of them
asked, after a pause.

"Certainly, sir," I answered, giving ocular evidence that I was no idle
boaster, making a complete gyration on my heels, in very good time.

"Very well! - admirably well!" they all cried in a breath. "The great
political essential is to be able to perform the evolutions in their
essence - the facility with which they are performed being no more than a
personal merit."

"But, gentlemen, I know little more of your constitution and laws, than
I have learned in a few broken discussions with my fellow-travellers."

"This is a matter of no moment, sir. Our constitution, unlike that of
Leaphigh, is written down, and he who runs can read; and then we have
a political fugleman in the house, who saves an immense deal of
unnecessary study and reflection to the members. All you will have to
do, will be to watch his movements; and, my life on it, you will go as
well through the manual exercise as the oldest member there."

"How, sir, do all the members take the manoeuvres from this fugleman?"

"All the Horizontals, sir - the Perpendiculars having a fugleman of their
own."

"Well, gentlemen, I conceive this to be an affair in which I am no
judge, and I put myself entirely in the hands of my friends."

This answer met with much commendation, and manifested, as they all
protested, great political capabilities; the statesman who submitted
all to his friends never failing to rise to eminence in Leaplow. The
committee took my name in writing and hastened back to their schooner,
in order to get into port to promulgate the nomination. These persons
were hardly off the deck, before another party came up the opposite side
of the ship. They announced themselves to be a nominating committee of
the Perpendiculars, on exactly the same errand as their opponents. They,
too, wished to propitiate the foreign interests, and were in search of
a proper candidate. Captain Poke had been an attentive listener to all
that occurred during the circumstances that preceded my nomination; and
he now stepped promptly forward, and declared his readiness to serve. As
there was quite as little squeamishness on one side as on the other, and
the Perpendicular committee, as it owned itself, was greatly pressed for
time, the Horizontals having the start of them, the affair was arranged
in five minutes, and the strangers departed with the name of NOAH
POKE, THE TRIED PATRIOT, THE PROFOUND JURIST, AND THE HONEST MONIKIN,
handsomely placarded on a large board - all but the name having been
carefully prepared in advance.

When the committee were fairly out of the ship, Noah look me aside,
and made his apologies for opposing me in this important election. His
reasons were numerous and ingenious, and, as usual, a little discursive.
They might be summed up as follows: He never had sat in a parliament,
and he was curious to know how it would feel; it would increase the
respect of the ship's company, to find their commander of so much
account in a strange port; he had had some experience at Stunnin'tun by
reading the newspapers, and he didn't doubt of his abilities at all,
a circumstance that rarely failed of making a good legislator; the
congressman in his part of the country was some such man as himself, and
what was good for the goose was good for the gander; he knew Miss Poke
would be pleased to hear he had been chosen; he wondered if he should
be called the Honorable Noah Poke, and whether he should receive eight
dollars a day, and mileage from the spot where the ship then was; the
Perpendiculars might count on him, for his word was as good as his bond;
as for the constitution, he had got on under the constitution at
home, and he believed a man who could do that might get on under any
constitution; he didn't intend to say a great deal in parliament, but
what he did say he hoped might be recorded for the use of his children;
together with a great deal more of the same sort of argumentation and
apology.

The third schooner now brought us to. This vessel sent another
committee, who announced themselves to be the representatives of a party
that was termed the Tangents. They were not numerous, but sufficiently
so to hold the balance whenever the Horizontals and the Perpendiculars
crossed each other directly at right angles, as was the case at present;
and they had now determined to run a single candidate of their own.
They, too, wished to fortify themselves by the foreign interest, as was
natural, and had come out in quest of a proper person. I suggested the
first mate; but against this Noah protested, declaring that come what
would, the ship must on no account be deserted. Time pressed; and, while
the captain and the subordinate were hotly disputing the propriety of
permitting the latter to serve, Bob, who had already tasted the sweets
of political importance, in his assumed character of prince-royal,
stepped slyly up to the committee, and gave in his name. Noah was too
much occupied to discover this well-managed movement; and by the time he



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperThe Monikins → online text (page 25 of 34)