Chapter13

 Just at this moment a waiter coming in, told him there was a person without, that is, in the bar-room, who wished to speak with him. Going out, he saw Teague.

The fact was, being elated with the success of his performance on the stage, attributing that to art which was nature itself, he had counted more upon his accomplishments than he ought to have done, and had made advances to the mistress of the manager, who was also an actress, and not greatly coveting an amour with the bog-trotter, made a merit of the circumstance, to induce an opinion of fidelity, and informed the manager of the presumption of the Irishman. The manager in the most unbecoming manner, without either citation, examination, trial, conviction, or judgment, but laying aside all forms of law, had instituted an original process of himself, and laying hold of a horse-whip, had applied this implement to the back and shoulders of Teague, and as the Irishman made an effort of resistance at the first onset, the manager had been under the necessity, by turning the butt-end of the whip, to knock him down, which he did by a stroke above the left eye-brow, which not only bereft him of senses for the present, but a discolouration of the eye for some days, and a scar probably his whole life after.

It was this incident had induced him to leave the theatre, and brought him back th the Captain, whom he now accosted in the following manner: --Dear master, for de love of shalvation, forgive a poor sharvant dat has been killed dis marning with a great cudgel, just for nothing at all, but not pleasing a damned whore, that wanted me to stale de manager’s cloathing, and go off wid her. Dis is all dat a poor sharvant gets by being hanest; but by shaint Patrick, and the holy crass, it is what I deserve for laving de sarvice of a good master, as your anour, and taking up with bog-tratters, and stage players, dat would sooner take a cup of wine dan de holy sacrament, and get drunk every night in de wake, and go to the devil head foremost; but if your anour, dear master, will forgive the past, and my running away, and laving you, I will come back again, and sarve you to the day of judgment, or any langer time that your anour plases, and clane your boots and spurs, and rub down the bay harse; de poor old crature, how aften I have tought of him when I was in my rambles and he was aslape, laste they should chate him of his oats, and give him nather hay nor straw to ate; for I always liked to take care of a good harse, and a good master; and aften tought of your anour, when I was among the bog-tratters of the stage, and gave you a good name, and was always talking of you and forgot my part, and put the managers in a passion, who fell upon me, and bate me like a dog.

The Captain saw the inconsistency in the relation one while alledging the tale-bearing of the mistress, as the occasion of it; again, a deficiency in the recital of his part; but expecting no truth from the Irishman, cared very little how it came to pass. The principle thing that occupied his thoughts, was whether to receive the bog-trotter, or dismiss him. He reflected with himself on the trouble he had had with him, on his various pretensions to advancement; his uneasiness of mind and fatigue of body, for several days past, in examining stews, methodistical conventicles, rumaging philosophical societies, attending elections, and listening to the debates of congress, to see if he could any where observe his physiognomy, or distinguish his brogue. He could not think of subjecting himself to such uncertainty in the attendance of any servant, with such preposterous ideas, as being a legislator, philosopher, &c. Again he considered, that probably this last chastisement he had received, might have a good effect, in curing him of the freaks of his ambition; and a mind broken and reduced by disappointment, is in a mellow state, and more capable of receiving the seeds of good advice, than a mind full of vanity or pride, that has never yet received blows. Deliberating on these grounds, his humanity prevailed, and he determined to receive the raggamuffin into favour.

This being settled, and learning from the Irishman in what manner he had been inveigled, and drawn away by the manager to go upon the stage-- and that it was only because Teague had made advances to a woman that was a whore already, that the manager had made such an attack upon his person, he wished to punish him, if it should appear to be within the province of the law to do it. Accordingly, inquiring what principal lawyer there was in that city, was informed of a certain counsellor Grab. Taking Teague with him, he set to consult this gentleman. Counsellor Grab was in his office, amongst large shelves of books, or shelves of large books; not as the Latins say, co-opertus, aut abrutus sed comitatus libris; that is, in the midst of his books. He had on a pair of spectacles, not so much on account of age, as to make the client believe that he laboured under a premature want of sight, from much reading; or, because a pair of lenses, magnifying the organs of vision, gives the appearance of a larger eye, which has a good effect on the person consulting, impressing the idea of a broader view of things that are before it.

Entering, the Captain addressed himself to the counsellor and gave him the outlines of the injury done to Teague; the counsellor, in the mean time, suspending his reading in a large book, which he had before him, printed in Saxon letter, and raising his head, until the glasses of his spectacles were brought to bear upon the physiognomy of the Captain.

The Captain having finished his account, referred him to Teague, the subject of the battery, for a more particular detail of the circumstances. Teague was glad of the opportunity of speaking before a learned lawyer, and was beginning to give a relation of the whole affair; but the Captain stopped him, bidding him wait until the lawyer should request him to begin. The lawyer was silent: after having reconnoitered with his glasses one while the Capain, another while Teague, he dropped his optics, and began to read again. The Captain, thinking he had not been sufficiently understood, re-commenced the narration, and gave an account of what he himself had suffered from the inveigling and detaining his servant, and the visible injury which the servant himself had sustained. They lawyer was still silent; and though he had eyed him while speaking, as a Tuscan astronomer would the moon, yet he applied himself again to reading the black letter that was before him.

The Captain thought it a strange treatment; and was, for some time, at a loss to know what to think of the matter. But recollecting, opportunely, that the circumstance of a fee had been omitted, he took out his purse, and threw down two dollars. The lawyer seemed a little moved, but cast his eye again upon the black letter. Finding the two dollars not sufficient, the Captain threw down two more. The counsellor raised his head from the book, and you might discern some dilatation of the muscles of the face, as bespeaking an approaching opening of the voice: But still there was silence, and might have been to this hour, had not the Captain recollected, at this moment, what he had all along forgot, that half a joe was the fee of a lawyer. Doubling, therefore, the four dollars that were already down, the lawyer came to his voice, the organs of his speech were loosed: and, taking the glasses from his eyes, he gave his counsel as follows:

Said he, you have a double remedy in this case: against the manager who inveigled, and against the servant himself: Against the servant, on the act of assembly, if indented; at common law, on the contract to serve. For even a servant at will, and not engaged for any special time, is not at liberty to desert the service of his master without reasonable notice first given. So that you may have your remedy against the servant, in the first instance, by bringing the matter before the court of quarter sessions; and having time put upon him, as the phrase is, for this dereliction of your service; or, an action on the contract, express or implied, as the case may be, wherein he shall repair in damages, the loss sustained.

The bog-trotter was alarmed at the idea of an action against him; and looking wistfully at his master, exclaimed, Dear master, will you trow de law upon me, dat am as innocent as a child unborn; and would go to death and damnation for you. Dear master, I suffered enough by de cudgel of dat player, for all de running away I have done; and, Cod love your shoul, keep de law in its own place, and not let it come acrass a poor sharvant, that has nathing but as he works and trates about; but let dese grate big books of his anour de lawyer, speak to de manager, for his deceiving a poor sharvant, and putting it into his head to run away, and lave a good master; and his beating him wid a great cudgel into de bargain.

I have no desire, said the Captain, to pursue the bog-trotter; as he has made acknowledgments for his faults; but would want the utmost rigour of the law to be put in force against the player.

You have also in this case a double remedy, said the counsellor, by prosecution on the part of the servant, and on your part. Nay, the servant himself has a double remedy; for he may prosecute by indictment, or bring his action of assault and battery, or both. I would recommend the action only, because, where no indictment is prosecuted, and the civil action only brought, exemplary damages may be given, as well as reparatory. For in the civil action it will affect the minds of a jury, that the party has already suffered all that is in the nature of punishment by a criminal proceeding; and nothing remains with them but to give reparatory damages. On the part of the master, two kinds of action may be brought: either an action of trespass, vi et armis, laying a perquod servitium amisit, or simply an action on the case, for the consequential damage of inveigling the servant.

As to the number of remedies, said the Captain, or the kind of them, I care very little how many there are, or what they are; I want only a good remedy; give me a good swinging one against the rascal, and I care very little what it is called.

I shall then, said the counsellor, advise simply an action on the case, and count generally on the inveigling and detaining, and rendering unfit for service while in his power. In this mode the whole circumstances of the injury may be brought together, and summed up into one point of view, and enhancing the quantum of damages, can expatiate on the value of your servant, and the special occasion you had for his service at this particular juncture; for I make no doubt he is a valuable servant, and that it has been an irreparable injury to you, to have been defrauded of his service at this time.

As to his value, said the Captain, there can be no doubt, not only as a servant, but in other respects. I have been offered, or at least I suppose I could have got, an hundred pounds for him, to be a member of congress, or to preach, or to be an Indian treaty-man, but have refused every proposal made him or me for these purposes; and now to have him kidnapped and taken off, without fee or reward, and employed as an actor, and beat and rendered useless, at least for some time, into the bargain, is too much for any man to put up with. If there is law in the land, let it be put in force, and this man made an example.

The counsellor had no need of spectacles to give himself the appearance of a glaring and broad look on this occasion; for the words of the Captain made him stare sufficiently, without the aid of a magnifying medium to enlarge his optics. He began to take him for a madman; at least in some degree deranged in his brain, to talk of his servant being in request for a member of congress, and the like.

Yes, continued the Captain, he not only inveigled away a servant, that was thought fit to be a member of congress, and a preacher, and an Indian treaty-maker, and a philosopher, and what not, but has kept me these three days, trotting after him, and trying to find him at election places, and in congress boarding-houses, and the hall where they have their debates, and churches, and pulpits, and chambers of philosophical societies, and professorships, and where not, to see if I could find him; while this manager had him, in the meantime, at rehearsals, teaching him the art of mimickry for the stage.

The counsellor, in the meantime, had reflected with himself, that, whether madman or no madman, the Captain had money and might be a good client, let his cause be what it would; and so composing the muscles of his face, seemed to agree with him; and observe that doubtless the quality and capacity of the servant would be taken into view, in estimating the damages: That, if it appeared he was not only fit stuff for a servant, but to be advanced to such eminent offices as these, not only the inveigling the embryo legislator, preacher, and philosopher, but the assaulting and beating him, and by that means disabling him from immediate service, must be viewed in the light of an atrocious injury, and insure a verdict accordingly.

Very well, said the Captain, and I shall wish to have the matter determined as speedily as possible, as I may be but a few days in town; and besides, as the marks are yet apparent on the face, and I suppose back, of the bog-trotter, it will appear to the judges and jury, without the trouble of witnesses, what damages he has sustained.

The process of law, said the counsellor, is tedious, but certain: you cannot expect a trial in this case, until the 3d or 4th term-- that is nine months or a year.

How so? said the Captain. Because, said the counsellor, it is now two months or upwards, before the court to which the writ will be returnable. Even if a declaration is then filed, the defendant may imparl until the succeeding term, which is three months; when, if there is no demurer, general or special, a rule to plead will be taken, which may not be put in until the succeeding term of three months again. At this term, if there is no replication, rejoinder, surrejoinder, rebutter, or surrebutter, to draw up and file, while the defendant may crave a term, issue will be joined, and at the next term trial. But even after a verdict, there may be the delay of a term, on a motion for a new trial depending: so that in the law there is delay, but this delay is the price of justice.

It is a price, said the Captain, that I will not give for it. If you will bring it about in a short time to have this fellow flogged, even with half the stripes he has given my servant, I shall not think the half-joe thrown away; but to be a year or half a year about the business, is putting the matter so far off, that it may as well be omitted altogether. If you could only get him sentenced to take a kick or two from my foot or Teague’s, before we leave the city, I should be satisfied.

The lex talionis, said the counsellor, makes no part of our law. You can punish only in estate, not in person, for a simple assault and battery, such as this is. Do you not hang a man for murder, said the Captain; and why not punish personally for an assault and battery? Because it is our law, said the counsellor; and in a civil action, the object is damages.

A civil action and damages, are strange phrases, said the Captain, how can civility and damages be reconciled?

These are technical terms, said the counsellor, which persons not of the profession are at a loss to understand; but have in themselves a distinct and sensible meaning.

Let the terms mean what they will, said the Captain, it all comes to this at last--there is no getting at the manager under a year, or two years race for it; before which time Teague will have forgot the abuse he has received, and I my trouble in running after a strayed Irishman through this city; and therefore it may be as well to give the matter up, and sit down with the loss.

That as you please, said the counsellor: and putting on his spectacles, cast his eyes again upon the black letter.

The Captain beckoned to Teague to follow him, and withdrew from the chamber.

Having retired, Teague, said the Captain, this thing of law has been well said to be a bottomless pit. The way to it is like that to the shades;

--Facilis descensus averni;
Sed referre gradus, hic labor, hoc opus est.

This pettifogger seemed to have a thousand remedies at his command, and yet none that would serve us; as the redress, if any, is to be postponed to such a distant day. I have heard a great deal of these cattle, and I believe they are best off that have the least to do with them. They have so much jargon of technical terms, that the devil himself cannot understand them. Their whole object is to get money; and, provided they can pick the pocket of half a joe, they care little about the person that consults them. The first loss is the best: you had better put up with the currying you have got, than have my pocket picked, on pretence of redress a year or two hence, which may perhaps, prove a century.

Teague was content to put up with the drubbing, and have no more said about it.