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" You are not to suffer your intellects to be con
fused, gentlemonikins, by the argument of the pri
soner's counsel," concluded the Chief Justice. " He
has done his duty, and it remains for you to be
equally conscientious. You are, in this case, the
judges of the law and the fact ; but it is a part
of my functions to inform you what they both are.
By the law, the King is supposed to have no facul
ties. The inference drawn by counsel, that not
being capable of erring, the King must have the
highest possible moral attributes, and consequently
a memory, is unsound. The constitution says his
Majesty can do no wrong. This inability may pro
ceed from a variety of causes. If he can do nothing,


for instance, he can do no wrong. The constitution
does not say that the Sovereign will do no wrong
but, that he can do no wrong. Now, gentlemoni-
kins, when a thing cannot be done, it becomes im
possible ; and it is, of course, beyond the reach of
argument. It is of no moment whether a person
has a memory, if he cannot use it, and, in such a
case, the legal presumption is, that he is without a
memory ; for, otherwise, Nature, who is ever wise
and beneficent, would be throwing away her gifts.

" Gentlemonikins, I have already said you are
the judges, in this case, of both the law and the
fact. The fate of the prisoner is in your hands.
God forbid that it should be, in any manner, influ
enced by me ; but this is an offence against the
King's dignity, and the security of the realm ; the
law is against the prisoner, the facts are all
against the prisoner, and I do not doubt that your
verdict will be the spontaneous decision of your
own excellent judgments, and of such a nature as
will prevent the necessity of our ordering a new

The jurors put their tails together, and in less
than a minute, their foremonikin rendered a ver
dict of guilty. Noah sighed, and took a fresh sup
ply of tobacco.

The case of the Queen was immediately opened
by her Majesty's Attorney-General ; the prisoner
having been previously arraigned, and a plea en
tered of not guilty.

The Queen's advocate made a bitter attack on
the animus of the unfortunate prisoner. He de
scribed her Majesty as a paragon of excellencies ;
as the depository of all the monikina virtues, and
the model of her sex. " If she, who was so justly
celebrated for the gifts of charity, meekness, reli
gion, justice, and submission to feminine duties, had


no memory, he asked leave to demand, in the name
of God, who had ? Without a memory, in what
manner was this illustrious personage to recall her
duties to her royal consort, her duties to her royal
offspring, her duties to her royal self? Memory
was peculiarly a royal attribute; and without its pos
session no one could properly be deemed of high and
ancient lineage. Memory referred to the past, and the
consideration due to royalty was scarcely ever a
present consideration, but a consideration connected
with the past. We venerated the past. Time was
divided into the past, present and future. The past
was invariably a monarchical interest the present
was claimed by republicans the future belonged
to fate. If it were decided that the Queen had no
memory, we should strike a blow at royalty. It
was by memory, as connected with the public ar
chives, that the King derived his title to his throne;
it was to memory, which recalled the deeds of his
ancestors, that he became entitled to our most pro
found respect."

In this manner did the Queen's Attorney-General
speak for about an hour, when he gave way to the
counsel for the prisoner. But, to my great surprise,
for I knew that this accusation was much the
gravest of the two, since the head of Noah would
be the price of conviction, my brother Downright,
instead of making a very ingenious reply, as I had
fully anticipated, merely said a few words, in which
he expressed so firm a confidence in the acquittal
of his client, as to appear to think a further defence
altogether unnecessary. He had no sooner seated
himself, than I expressed a strong dissatisfaction
with this course, and avowed an intention to make
an effort in behalf of my poor friend, myself.

" Keep silence, Sir John," whispered my brother
Downright; "the advocate who makes many un


successful applications gets to be disrespected. 1
charge myself with the care of the Lord High Ad
miral's interests ; at the proper time, they shall be
duly attended to."

Having the profoundest respect for the Briga
dier's legal attainments, and no great confidence
in my own, I was fain to submit. In the mean time,
the business of the court proceeded ; and the jury,
having received a short charge from the bench,
which was quite as impartial as a positive injunc
tion to convict could very well be, again rendered
the verdict of " Guilty."

In Leaphigh, although it is deemed indecent to
wear clothes, it is also esteemed exceedingly deco
rous for certain high functionaries to adorn their
persons with suitable badges of their official rank.
We have already had an account of the hierarchy
of tails, and a general description of the mantle
composed of tenth-hairs ; but I had forgotten to say
that both my Lord Chief-Justice and Baron Long-
beard had tail-cases made of the skins of deceased
monikins, which gave the appearance of greater
development to their intellectual organs, and most
probably had some influence in the way of coddling
their brains, which required great care and atten
tion on account of incessant use. They now drew
over these tail-cases a sort of box-coat of a very
bloodthirsty color, which, we were given to under
stand, was a sign that they were in earnest, and
about to pronounce sentence ; justice in Leaphigh
being of singularly bloodthirsty habits.

" Prisoner at the bar," the Chief-Justice began,
in a voice of reproof, "you have heard the decision
of your peers. You have been arraigned and tried
on the heinous charge of having accused the sove
reign of this realm of being in possession of the
faculty called " a memory." thereby endangering


the peace of society, unsettling the social relations,
and setting a dangerous example of insubordination
and of contempt of the laws. Of this crime, after
a singularly patient and impartial hearing, you
have been found guilty. The law allows the court
no discretion in the case. It is my duty to pass
sentence forthwith ; and I now solemnly ask you,
if you have anything to say why sentence of decau-
disation should not be pronounced against you"
Here the Chief-Justice took just time enough to
gape, and then proceeded "You are right in
throwing yourself altogether on the mercy of the
court, which better knows what is fittest for you,
than you can possibly know for yourself. You will be
taken, Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color, forth
with, to the centre of the public square, between the
hours of sunrise and sunset of this day, where your
cauda will be cut off; and after it has been divided
into four parts, a part will be exposed towards each
of the cardinal points of the compass ; and the brush
thereof being consumed by fire, the ashes will be
thrown into your face, and this without benefit of
clergy. And may the Lord have mercy on your
soul !"

"Noah Poke, or No. 1, sea-water-color," put in
Baron Longbeard, without giving the culprit breath
ing-time, " you have been indicted, tried, and found
guilty of the enormous crime of charging the
Queen-consort of this realm of being wanting in
the ordinary, important, and every-day faculty of a
memory. Have you anything to say why sentence
should not be forthwith passed against you? No
I am sure you are very right in throwing yourself
altogether on the mercy of the court, which is
quite disposed to show you all that is in its power,
which happens, in this case, to be none at all. I need
not dwell on the gravity of your offence. If the


law should allow that the Queen has no memory,
other females might put in claims to the same pri
vilege, and society would become a chaos. Mar
riage vows, duties, affections, and all our nearest
and dearest interests would be unhinged, and this
pleasant state of being would degenerate into a
moral, or rather an immoral, pandemonium. Keep
ing in view these all-important considerations, and
more especially the imperativeness of the law,
which does not admit of discretion, the court sen
tences you to be carried hence, without delay, to
the centre of the great square, where your head
will be severed from your body by the public exe
cutioner, without benefit of clergy; after which,
your remains are to be consigned to the public hos
pitals for the purposes of dissection."

The words were scarcely out of Baron Long-
beard's mouth, before both the Attorneys-General
started up, to move the court in behalf of the sepa
rate dignities of their respective principals. Mr.
Attorney-General of the crown prayed the court so
far to amend its sentence, as to give precedency to
the punishment on account of the offence against
the King; and Mr. Attorney-General for the Queen,
to pray the court it would not be so far forgetful
of her Majesty's rights and dignity, as to establish
a precedent so destructive of both. I caught a
glimpse of hope glancing about the eyes of my bro
ther Downright, who, waiting just long enough to
let the two advocates warm themselves over these
points of law, arose and moved the court for a stay
of execution, on the plea that neither sentence was
legal; that delivered by my Lord Chief-Justice
containing a contradiction, inasmuch as it ordered
the decaudisation to take place between the hours
of sunrise and sunset, and also forthwith : and that
delivered by Baron Longbeard, on account of its


ordering the body to be given up to dissection, cor
trary to the law, which merely made that provision
in the case of condemned monikins, the prisoner at
the bar being entirely of another species.

The court deemed all these objections serious,
but decided on its own incompetency to take cog
nizance of them. It was a question for the twelve
Judges, who were now on the point of assembling,
and to whom they referred the whole affair on
appeal. In the mean time, justice could not be
stayed. The prisoner must be carried out into the
square, and matters must proceed ; but, should either
of the points be finally determined in his favor, he
could have the benefit of it, so far as circumstances
would then allow. Hereupon, the court rose, and
the judges, counsel and clerks, repaired in a bodv
to the hall of the twelve Judges.


Better and better More law and more justice Tails ana
heads; the importance of keeping each in its proper

NOAH was incontinently transferred to the place
of execution, where I promised to meet him in time
to receive his parting sigh, curiosity inducing me
first to learn the issue on the appeal. The Briga
dier told me in confidence, as we went to the other
hall, that the affair was now getting to be one of
great interest ; that hitherto it had been mere boys'
play, but it would in future require counsel of greai
reading and research to handle the arguments, and
that he flattered himself there was a good occasion


likely to present itself, for him to show what
monikin reason really was.

The whole of the twelve wore tail-cases, and
altogether they presented a formidable array of
intellectual development. As the cause of Noah
was admitted to be one of more than common ur
gency, after hearing only three or four other short
applications on behalf of the crown, whose rights
always have precedence on such occasions, the
Attorney-General of the King was desired to open
his case.

The learned counsel spoke, in anticipation, to the
objections of both his adversaries, beginning with
those of my brother Downright. Forthwith, he con
tended, might be at any period of the twenty-four
hours, according to the actual time of using the
term. Thus, forthwith of a morning, would mean
in the morning ; forthwith at noon, would mean at
noon ; and so on to the close of the legal day. More
over, in a legal signification, forthwith must mean
between sunrise and sunset, the statute commanding
that all executions shall take place by the light of
the sun, and consequently the two terms ratified
and confirmed each other, instead of conveying a
contradiction, or of neutralizing each other, as would
most probably be contended by the opposite counsel.

To all this my brother Downright, as is usual on
such occasions, objected pretty much the converse.
He maintained that all light proceeded from the
sun; and that the statute, therefore, could only
mean that there should be no executions during
eclipses, a period when the whole monikin race
ought to be occupied in adoration. Forthwith, more
over, did not necessarily mean forthwith, for forth
with meant immediately; and "between sunrise
and sunset" meant between sunrise and sunset;
which might be immediately, or might not.

On this point the twelve Judges decided, firstly,


that forthwith did not mean fortfiwtih ; secondly
that forthwith did mean forthwith ; thirdly, that forth
with had two legal meanings ; fourthly, that it was
illegal to apply one of these legal meanings to a
wrong legal purpose ; and, fifthly, that the objection
was of no avail, as respected the case of No. 1, sea-
water-color. Ordered, therefore, that the criminal
lose his isi\\ forUtwith.

The objection to the other sentence met with
no better fate. Men and monikins did not differ
more than some men differed from other men, o*
some monikins differed from other monikins. Oi-
dered, that the sentence be confirmed with costs
I thought this decision the soundest of the two ; foi
I had often had occasion to observe, that there
vere very startling points of resemblance between
monkeys and our own species.

The contest now commenced between the two
Attorneys-General in earnest ; and, as the point at
issue was a question of mere rank, it excited a
lively I may say an engrossing interest in all the
hearers. It was settled, however, after a vigorous
discussion, in favor of the King, whose royal dig
nity the twelve Judges were unanimously of opinion
was entitled to precedency over that of the Queen.
To my great surprise, my brother Downright volun
teered an argument on this intricate point, making
an exceedingly clever speech in favor of the King's
dignity, as was admitted by every one who heard
it. It rested chiefly on the point that the ashes of
the tail were, by the sentence, to be thrown into
the culprit's face. It is true this might be done
physically after decapitation, but it could not be
done morally. This part of the punishment was
designed for a moral effect; and to produce that ef
feet, consciousness and shame were both necessary*
Therefore, the moral act of throwing the ashes into


the face of the criminal could only be done while
he was living, and capable of being ashamed.

Meditation, Chief-Justice, delivered the opinion
of the bench. It contained the usual amount of
legal ingenuity and logic, was esteemed as very
eloquent in that part which touched on the sacred
and inviolable character of the royal prerogatives,
(prerogatives, as he termed them,) and was so
lucid in pointing out the general inferiority of the
Queen-consort, that I felt happy her Majesty was
not present to hear herself and sex undervalued.
As might have been expected, it allowed great
weight to the distinction taken by the Brigadier.
The decision was in the following words, viz.
" Rex et Regina versus No. 1, sea-w r ater-color : Or
dered, that the officers of justice shall proceed forth
with to decaudisate the defendant before they de
capitate him ; provided he has not been forthwith
decapitated before he can be decaudisated."

The moment this mandamus was put into the
hands of the proper officer, Brigadier Downright
caught me by the knee, and led me out of the hall
of justice, as if both our lives depended on our ex
pedition. I was about to reproach him for having
volunteered to aid the King's Attorney-General,
when, seizing me by the root of the tail, for the
want of a button-hole, he said, with evident satis

** Affairs go on swimmingly, my dear Sir John !
I do not remember to have been employed, for some
years, in a more interesting litigation. Now this
cause, which, no doubt, you think is drawing to a
close, has just reached its pivot, or turning point ;
and I see every prospect of extricating our client
with great credit to myself."

" How ! my brother Downright !" I interrupted ;
" the accused is finally sentenced, if not actually
executed !"



" Not so fast, my good Sir John not so fast, by
any means. Nothing is final in law, while there is
a farthing to meet the costs, or the criminal can
yet gasp. I hold our case to be in an excellent
way; much better than I have deemed it at any
time since the accused was arraigned."

Surprise left me no other power than that which
was necessary to demand an explanation.

" All depends on the single fact, dear sir," conti
nued my brother Downright, " whether the head is
still on the body of the accused or not. Do you
proceed, as fast as possible, to the place of execu
tion; and, should our client still have a head, keep
up his spirits by a proper religious discourse, always
preparing him for the worst, for this is no more
than wisdom ; but, the instant his tail is separated
from his body, run hither as fast as you can, to ap
prize me of the fact. I ask but two things of you
speed in coming with the news, and perfect cer
tainty that the tail is not yet attached to the rest of
the frame, by even a hair. A hair often turns the
scales of justice !"

" The case seems desperate would it not be as
well for me to run down to the palace, at once ;
demand an audience of their Majesties, throw my
self on my knees before the royal pair, and implore
a pardon ?"

" Your project is impracticable, for three sufficient
reasons: firstly, there is not time; secondly, you
would not be admitted without a special appoint
ment ; thirdly, there is neither a King nor a Queen."

" No King in Leaphigh !"

" I have said it."

" Explain yourself, brother Downright, or I shall
be obliged to refute what you say, by the evidence
of my own senses."

"Your senses will prove to be false witnesses
.hen. Formerly there was a King in Leaphigh*


and one who governed, as well as reigned. But
the nobles and grandees of the country, deeming
it indecent to trouble His Majesty with affairs of
state any longer, took upon themselves all the trou
ble of governing, leaving to the sovereign the sole
duty of reigning. This was done in a way to save
his feelings, under the pretence of setting up a bar
rier to the physical force and abuses of the mass.
After a time, it was found inconvenient and expen
sive to feed and otherwise support the royal family,
and all its members were privately shipped to a
distant region, which had not yet got to be so far
advanced in civilization, as to know how to keep
up a monarchy without a monarch.'*

"And does Leaphigh succeed in effecting this
prodigy ?"

" Wonderfully well. By means of decapitations
and decaudisations enough, even greater exploits
may be performed."

" But am I to understand literally, brother Down
right, there is no such thing as a monarch in this
country T"


* And the presentations ?"

* Are like these trials, to maintain the monarchy."
' And the crimson curtains ? "

' Conceal empty seats."

' Why not, then, dispense with so much costly
representation ?"

" In what way could the grandees cry out that
the throne is in danger, if there were no throne?
It is one thing to have no monarch, and another to
have no throne. But all this time our client is in
great jeopardy. Hasten, therefore, and be particu
lar to act as I have just instructed you."

I stopped to hear no more, but in a minute was
flying towards the centre of the square. It was easy
enough to perceive the tail of my friend waving


over the crowd ; but grief and apprehension had
already rendered his countenance so rueful, that, at
the first glance, I did not recognize his head. He
was, however, still in the hody; for, luckily for
himself, and more especially for the success of his
principal counsel, the gravity of his crimes had
rendered unusual preparations necessary for the
execution. As the mandate of the court had not
yet arrived justice being as prompt in Leaphigh
as her ministers are dilatory two blocks were
prepared, and the culprit was about to get down on
his hands and knees between them, just as I forced
my way through the crowd to his side.

" Ah ! Sir John, this is an awful predicament !"
exclaimed the rebuked Noah ; " a ra'ally awful
situation for a human Christian to have his ene
mies lying athwart both bows and starn !"

"While there is life there is hope; but it is always
best to be prepared for the worst he who is thus
prepared never can meet with a disagreeable sur
prise. Messrs. Executioners," for there were two,
that of the King and that of the Queen, or one at
each end of the unhappy criminal " Messrs. Exe
cutioners, I pray you to give the culprit a moment
to arrange his thoughts, and to communicate his last
requests in behalf of his distant family and friends !"

To this reasonable petition neither of the high
functionaries of the law made any objection, al
though both insisted if they did not forthwith bring
the culprit to the last stages of preparation, they
might lose their places. They did not see, however,
but a man might pause for a moment on the brink
of the grave. It would seem that there had been
a little misunderstanding between the executioners
themselves on the point of precedency, which had
been one c#use of the delay, and which had been
disposed of by an arrangement that both should


operate at the same instant. Noah was now brought
down to his hands and knees, " moored head and
starn," as that unfeeling blackguard Bob, who was
in the crowd, expressed it, between the two blocks,
his neck lying on one and his tail on the other
While in this edifying attitude, I was permitted to
address him.

" It may be well to bethink you of your soul, my
dear Captain," I said ; " for, to speak truth, these
axes have a very prompt and sanguinary appear

" I know it, Sir John, I know it; and, not to mis
lead you, I will own that I have been repenting
with all my might, ever since that first vardict.
That affair of the Lord High Admiral, in particu
lar, has given me a good deal of consarn ; and I
now humbly ask your pardon for being led awaj
by such a miserable deception, which is all owing
to that riptyle Dr. Reasono, who I hope will yet
meet with his desarts. I forgive everybody, and
hope everybody will forgive me. As for Miss
Poke, it will be a hard case ; for she is altogether
past expecting another consort, and she must be
satisfied to be a relic the rest of her days."

"Repentance, repentance, my dear Noah re
pentance is the one thing needful, for a man in yom

" I do I do, Sir John, body and soul I repent,
from the bottom of my heart, ever having come on
this v'y'ge, nay, I do n't know but I repent ever
having come outside of Montauk Point. I might,
at this moment, have been a schoolmaster or a
tavern-keeper in Stunin'tun; and they are both
good wholesome births, particularly the last. Lord
love you ! Sir John, if repentance would do any
good, I should be pardoned on the spot."

Here Noah caught a glimpse of Bob grinning in
the crowd, and he asked of the executioners, as a


last favor, that they would have the boy brougn*
near, that he might take an affectionate leave of
him. This reasonable request was complied with,
in despite of poor Bob's struggles ; and the young
ster had quite as good reasons for hearty repent
ance as the culprit himself. Just at this trying
moment, the mandate for the order of the punish
ments arrived, and the officials seriously declared
that the condemned must prepare to meet his fate.

The unflinching manner in which Captain Poke
submitted to the mortal process of decaudisation,
extracted plaudits from, and awakened sympathy
in, every monikin present Having satisfied myself
that the tail was actually separated from the body,
I ran, as fast as legs could carry me, towards the

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 17) → online text (page 24 of 35)