Chapter 2

 Rising early next morning, the Captain proceeded, with his man Teague, on his journey, and having breakfasted at an inn, where nothing material happened, we shall pass it over, and come as far down in the day as 11 o’clock; though, by the bye, it might have been more correct to have said up in the day, because the sun rises until twelve o’clock, and then descends: but waving this nicety, we shall go on to relate what actually took place. A man was seen before them, driving, leisurely, a horse with two kegs upon his back. The Captain took him for what is called a pack-horse man, that was carrying salt or sugar to some place of market. A man of philosophic turn of mind never hesitates to enter into conversation with any character; because human nature is the field whence he gathers thoughts and expressions. The Captain therefore accosting this man, said, is it salt or molasses you have in your kegs, countryman? You are going home from some warehouse, I suppose, where you have been dealing; or going to set up a small shop of your own, and vend goods. No, said the man, with a Scotch-Irish pronunciation, there is an election this day a little ways before us, and I am setting up for the legislature, and have these two kegs of whiskey to give a dram to the voters. The Captain was thrown into a reverie of thought, and began to reflect with himself on the nature of a republican government, where canvassing by such means as this, can work so great an evil as to elevate the most unqualified persons to the highest stations. But, in the mean time, roused a little from his thought, he had presence of mind to recollect the danger in which he was about to be involved afresh with his man Teague; whom, now looking round he saw to be about forty yards behind him. It would have been adviseable to have diverted him from the road, and taken a circuitous route, to avoid the election ground. But as the devil, or some worse being, would have it, it was a lane in which they were, with a fence on each side; so that he could not divert without leaping like a fox-hunter, or one of your light-horse men, to which the sober nag on which he rode was not competent. Besides if Teague did not leap after him, he would be left exposed in the lane to the populace, who might solicit him to be their representative. To turn directly back would appear indecorous, and unless he could urge Teague on before him, which was not customary, and to which he might not all at once submit, his station would of course be in the rear, where he might be picked up as a straggler, and sent to some public body

In this quandary of thought, looking up, he saw the breakers just a-head; that is, the people met for the purpose of electing, and that it was now impossible to avoid them. Depending, therefore, on his own address to make the best of circumstances, he suffered himself to be carried along towards them, keeping, in the mean time, an eye upon Teague, who was the cause of his concern.

Meeting accidentally with a Scotch gentleman on the ground, whom he knew, he communicated to him the delicacy of his situation, and the apprehensions he had on the part of Teague. Said the Scotch gentleman, Ye need na gai yoursel any trouble on that head man; for I sal warrant the man wi the twa kegs will carry the election; there is na resisting guid liquor; it has an unco effec on the judgment in the choice of a representative. The man that has a distillery or twa in the country, canna want suffrages. He has his votaries about him like ane o’the Heathen Gods, and because the fluid exhilerates the brain, they might think he maun be a deity that makes it; and they fa’ down, especially when they have drank ower muckle, and worship him, just as at the shrine of Apollo or Bacchus, among the ancients.

The candidate that opposed the man of the two kegs, was a person of gravity and years, and said to be of good sense and experience. The judgment of the people was in his favour, but their appetite leaned against him.

There is a story of one Manlius, a Roman, who had saved the capitol from the Gauls, by putting his breast to the ramparts, and throwing them down as they ascended. When this man afterwards, elated with the honours paid him, forgot the duties of a citizen, wishing to subvert the republic, by usurping power; the people, jealous of liberty, were incensed; and being convicted of the crime, he was dragged to punishment. It was not the way at that time, to hang, as you would a dog; or behead, as you would a wild beast; but to throw from a high rock, which they called the Tarpeian. The capitol was just in view, and while they were dragging him along to the place, he would stretch his hand towards it; as much as to say, There, O Romans, I saved you: The populace at this would stop a while, irresolute whether to desist or drag him on. While they recollected his offence, they marched a step; but when they cast their eye on the capitol, they stood still; and not until some principal men directed the route out of the view of the capitol, could he be brought to justice.

So it was with the multitude convened on this occasion, between the man with the two kegs and the grave-looking person. When they looked on the one, they felt an inclination to promote him. But when again on the other hand, they saw two kegs which they knew to be replenished with a very cheering liquor, they seemed to be inclined in favour of the other.

But appetite prevailed, and they gave their votes in favour of the man with the two kegs.

Teague in the mean time, thinking he had another chance of being a great man, had been busy, but to no purpose: for the people gave their votes to the man of the two kegs. The Captain thought himself fortunate to be thus relieved, and proceeded on his journey.

Containing Observations

 

The perplexity of the Captain, in the late transaction on account of his servant, may serve to put those in mind who travel with a waiter, not to go much about at the election seasons, but avoid them as you would the equinoxes. It might not be amiss if, for this reason the times of electing members for the several bodies were put down in the almanac, that a man might be safe in his excursions, and not have an understrapper picked up when he could not well spare him.

I mean this as no burlesque on the present generation; for mankind in all ages have had the same propensity to magnify what was small, and elevate the low. We do not find that the Egyptians, though there were lions in the kingdom of Libya, not far distant, ever made a god of one of them. They rather chose the cow kind, the stork, and the crocodile, or the musk-rat, or mire-snipe, or other inferior animal, for an object of deification. The Romans, and the Greeks also, often worshipped small matters. Indeed we do not find amongst any nation, that the elephant, or rhinoceros, or elk, or unicorn, have been made tutelar divinities. As,

Cannons shoot the higher pitches,
The lower you put down their breeches.--

The smaller the objects we take up, and make great, the act is the greater; for it requires an equal art in the formation of the glass to magnify as to diminish, and if the object is not of itself small, there is no magnifying. Caligula is celebrated for making his horse a senator. It would have been nothing to have made a Roman Knight one; but to endow a mere quadruped with the qualities of a legislator, bespeaks great strength of parts and judgment.