Chapter 9

 The next day, revolving everything in his mind, it occurred to the Captain that the Irishman might have gone out of town, hearing of an election at a district, and have been elected to Congress. As that body was then sitting, he thought it could be no great trouble to go to the house, and cast an eye from the gallery, and see if the raggamuffin had got there. There was one that had a little of the brogue of Teague upon his tongue, but nothing of his physiognomy; others had a good deal of his manner, but there was none that came absolutely up to the physic of his person.

However, being here, the Captain thought it not amiss to listen a while to the debates upon the carpet. A certain bill was depending, and made, it seems, the order of the day. Mr. Cogan being on the floor, spoke:--Sir, said he, addressing himself to the chair, the bill in contemplation is, in my opinion, of a dangerous tendency. I will venture to foretel, that, if it goes into a law, the cows will have fewer calves, the sheep less wool; hens will lay fewer eggs, and cocks forget to crow day-light. The horses will be worse shod, and stumble more; our watches go too slow; corns grow upon our toes; young women have the stomach ache; old men the gout; and middle aged persons fainting fits. The larks will fall dead in the field; the frogs croak till they burst their bags; and the leaves of the trees fall before the autumn. Snow will be found in the heat of harvest, and the dog-days in winter. The rivers will revert-- and the shadows fall to the east in the morning. The moon will be eclipsed, and the equinoxes happen at a wrong season of the year. Was it not such a bill as this, that changed the old style, that made the eclipse in the time of Julius Caesar; that produced an earthquake at Jamaica, and sunk Port Royal? All history, both ancient and modern, is full of the mischiefs of such a bill. I shall, therefore, vote against it.

Mr. Bogan was now on the floor, and advocated the good effects of the bill.

Sir, said he, addressing himself to the chair, I appear in support of the bill. I say, it will have a good effect on the physical world especially. The ducks will be fatter, the geese heavier, the swans whiter, the red-birds sing better, and patridges come more easily into traps. It will kill rats, muzzle calves, and cut colts; and multiply the breed of oysters, and pickle cod-fish. It will moderate the sun’s heat, and the winter’s cold; prevent fogs, and cure the ague. It will help the natural brain, brace the nerves, cure sore eyes, and the cholic, and remove rheumatisms. Consult experience, and it will be found that provisions of the nature proposed by this bill, have an astonishing influence in this respect, where they have been tried. I must take the liberty to say, the gentleman’s allegations are totally unfounded; and he has committed himself in the matter of his history: the earthquake in Jamaica not happening in the time of Julius Caesar; and therefore could have nothing to do with the eclipse of the sun. I shall therefore vote in favour of the bill.

Mr. Cogan rose to explain, and said, that he did not say that the earthquake at Jamaica was at the same time with the eclipse of the sun, which happened at the birth of Julius Caesar.

Mr. Bogan rose to correct the gentleman: It was not at the birth of Julius Caesar, but at this death, that the earthquake happened.

Mr. Hogan was on the floor: Said, he thought he could reconcile the gentlemen on that head. It was well known, Julius Caesar lived about the time of the rebellion in Scotland, a little after Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Jews. As to the earthquake, he did not remember what year it happened, and therefore could say nothing about it.

At this period, the question being called, it was put and carried by a majority of twenty-five.

The Captain, satisfied with this sample of congressional debates, retired and came to his lodgings.

It was about three o’clock in the afternoon, that some one, who read the advertisement respecting Teague, came to the Captain, and informed him that a person, answering to the description, had been lately employed to teach Greek in the University. Struck with the idea, that the bog-trotter might have passed himself for a Greek scholar, whereas he understood only Irish, he set out to the University to make enquiry. Knocking at the door of the principal, he was admitted; and, being seated, addressed him as follows: Said he, Sir, a pedeseque of mine, (for, talking to the rector of a college, he did not choose to use the vulgar terms-- waiter, or bog-trotter,) a pedeseque of mine, whom I have found useful, save that he is somewhat troublesome in pretending to places of appointment, for which he is not qualified: a thing, by the bye, too common in this country; where men, without the aid of academic knowledge, thrust themselves into places requiring great learning and ability: [This he said to flatter the man of letters; as if a man could know but little that had not been forged or furbished at his school.] I say, this pedeseque of mine has absconded for some days, and I have been able to collect no account of him until last evening that a person, having read an advertisement of mine in the Gazette, came to me, and informed, that one answering the description I had given, both as to appearance and accomplishments, had been lately employed, as a professor of the Greek language in this University. Now, though I well know this Paddy, as I may call him, to understand no Greek, yet, as he speaks Irish, and has much assurance, and little honesty in matters where his ambition is concerned, I did not know but he might have imposed himself upon you for a Greek scholar, and obtained a professorship.

The principal made answer, that it was true that a person from Ireland had been lately employed in that capacity, and that should he be discovered to be an impostor, it would be using the University very ill. The Captain thought so too, and taking it for granted that it was Teague, expressed his surprise that they had not examined him before he was admitted; or at least had such proof by letters, as would have ascertained his being qualified. The principal observed, that as to examination, they had no one at hand to examine, as there were none of the trustees, or professors of other branches in the University who understood Greek; as for himself he did not, having not studied it in early life, and for a series of years having given himself to politics and mathematics; so that unless they could send out for a Roman Catholic priest, or a Scotch clergyman, there was none to examine. The improbability of any person passing himself, above all things for a master of the Greek language, on the score of understanding Irish, was such that it never came into their heads to suspect it, so as to demand letters.

Had you known, said the Captain, this bog-trotter of mine, (here he forgot the word pedeseque) as well as I do, you would not be surprised at his attempting any thing: and that he should be now in your academy giving Greek lectures, understanding nothing but the vernacular tongue of his own country. Here he gave an account of his setting up for congress, &c. as explained in the preceding part of this narrative.

However, wishing to see the raggamuffin, that he might unkennel him, he was accompanied by the principal to the chamber of the pseudo professor, considering, as he went along; in what manner he should accost him; whether he should break out upon him with a direct invective, or with ironical words; such as, Mr. Professor, you must be a very learned man not only to understand Irish, but Greek: But perhaps the Greek and Irish languages are much the same. It must be so, for I know that a few days ago you did not understand a word of this, and to acquire a dead language in such a short time would be impossible, unless the living tongue was a good deal a-kin to it. But I had never understood that Irish had any more affinity to the language of Athens and Sparta, than the Erse, or the German, or the Welsh: however, we must live and learn, as the saying is; you have shown us what we never knew before.

Conning a speech of this sort in his own mind, with a view to divert the principal, and amuse himself with Teague, he entered the chamber of the professor; who sat in an elbow chair, with Thucidydes before him.--

What was the surprise of the Captain, to find that it was not Teague?

In fact, it was a person not wholly unlike him, especially in a tinge of the brogue which he betrayed in his discourse: for, though the professor was really a man of education, having been early sent to St. Omer’s , where he had studied, being intended for a priest, and understood not only the Greek and Latin, but spoke French: yet in the pronunciation of the English tongue, he had that prolongation of the sound of a word, and articulation of the vowel o, which constitutes what is vulgarly called the brogue, as being the pronunciation of the native Irish, who being a depressed people, are most of them poor-- and wear a kind of mean shoe, which they call a brogue.


After an apology to the professor for mistaking him for a certain Teague O’Regan, whom he had in his employment; at the request of the professors, the principal and the Captain took seats.

The professor said, his name was not O’Regan, being O’Dougherty; but he knew the O’Regans very well in Ireland. There was Paddy O’Regan in the same class with him at St. Omers, when he read Craik. That he was a good scholar, and understood Crake very well; and he would be glad if he was over in this country to teach Craik here; it appeared to be a very scarce language; but he had become a priest, and was now a missionary to Paraguay, in South-America.

The Captain, punning on his pronunciation of the word Greek, and willing to amuse himself a little with the professor, could not help observing, that he was under a mistake as to the scarceness of the Craike language in these States. That there were whole tribes who spoke the Craike language: there was that of the heron, and the ravan, and several other fowls.-- A German professor who was present, apprehending the Captain to be under a mistake, and willing to correct him, observed: It is, said he, the Creek language that the professor means. As to that, said the Captain, it is also spoken plentifully in America There is a whole nation of Indians on the borders of South-Carolina and Georgia, that speak the Creek language, men, women, and children.

The professor, knowing more of the classics than of the geography of these United States; and of the heathen gods more than of the aborigines of this country, expressed astonishment. If what you tell me be a trut, said he, it is a crate discovery:-- perhaps dese may have de fragments o’de books o’ de philosophers and poets dat are lost, and de professors cannot come across in deir own countries: but I have tought dat de Craike language was spoke only in de Morea, and a little in Russia and Constantinople.

The Captain assured him, the principal favouring the mistake by a grave face, and bowing as the Captain spoke, that it was absolutely the varnacular language of these people.

Why den, said the other, do dey not get professors from amongst dese to tache Craike in deir colleges?

Because, said the Captain, we have been heretofore on hostile terms with these Indians, and it is but of late that we have made a peace. But now, it is presumed, we shall have it in our power to procure from them able teachers.

The professor was alarmed at this, as supposing it would supercede the necessity of his services; or, at least, much reduce the price of his tuition. He could have wished he had not come to this quarter of the world: and was almost ready in his own mind, to bind up what he had, and go back to Clogher.

So ended the visit to the University, and the captain withdrew.

 


IT may be thought a preposterous idea, that it could for a moment be supposed possible, that the pedeseque could have had the assurance to pass himself for a Grecian. But I had it from the Marquis de la Luzerne, that a friend of his, who was in some public capacity at Moscow, and was entertained by a principal inhabitant of the city, was asked by him to visit an academy where the French language was taught, and at which his son, a young lad, then was. What was the surprise of the gentleman, to find a Paddy from Cork, who understood not a single word of French or Latin, teaching an unknown gibberish, which most probably was Irish!