Book 3

Chapter 1

It will be recollected, that, wearied with the preposterous ambition of the bog-trotter; the Captain, by the advice of a gentleman, had consented to let him try his luck of getting into some employment under government.

However; after reflecting with himself, a long time on the subject, he could not help expressing to the gentleman, with whom he was still in conversation, his doubt of the success of such pretensions. Said he, after all, I do not see how it can be reasonable to suppose that he can come to any great height, in state affairs: he is totally illiterate and uncultivated.

As to that, said the gentleman it is no reason at all. Do we not read in history, of persons of the lowest education who have risen to the greatest heights both in the civil, and military line? Butcher’s sons, keepers of pigs, feeders of sheep, trafficers in small wares, have come to be Cardinals, Popes, and Ministers of state. That impulse of mind which prompts him, to be something, indicates a capacity to be something. We seldom find in men, a strong desire of obtaining any thing which depends on human power, who have not been able to obtain it. Hence it has been said that let a man determine to be lord mayor of London, and he may arrive at that dignity.

The Captain yielding to the reasons, began to think, in what manner, it might be proper, to give him an introduction, and bring him forward; whether to endeavour to cultivate an acquaintance with some members of Congress, or the heads of departments, such as the Secretary of the Treasury, of State, of War, &c. or to begin with some of the subordinate clerks, and rise gradually to the knowledge of the principals.

This, said the gentleman, would be beginning at the wrong end. These people must naturally be jealous, especially of such as appear to have talents; not knowing but that in time they may come to supercede them. The most adviseable way is to attack the head at once: present him at the levee of the President, and make him known to the Chief Magistrate. This is going to the fountain, and not depending on the streams, that divide among themselves; and sometimes sink in the earth and disappear. Having been once seen at court, he will acquire friends; and the President himself, can with more propriety take notice of him.

But would it not be necessary, said the Captain, before we undertake to present him at the levee of the president, that I should have him rubbed down, and cloathed a little better than he is at presen?.

Not at all, said the gentleman. It will be best to present himpuribus naturalibus, just as he is, without brogues; in his overalls, with that long coat and slouched hat, which you have given him to wear. The president, seeing him as he is, will anticipate what he may be, when he comes to be dressed off in a suitable manner; and imagination always out-goes the reality. Besides, unless he had been accustomed for some time to good clothing, he will appear awkward in it, and move with pain to himself and to others. Take a country girl that is neat enough in her short gown and petticoat, and put her in a fine silk with stays, and she will appear to much less advantage. A clown in his jacket and trowsers is respectable; but in a broad-cloth coat, with suitable habiliments he would move ridicule.

Governed by these observations, the Captain proposed to take Teague to the levee next evening.

 


The gentleman who thus advised the Captain, though a grave man, I do not think was serious. He has been what we call a wag, and wished to amuse himself with the extravagance of introducing Teague as a candidate for public offices and taking him to the levee. For the Irishman was certainly in no very decent apparel to appear at the court even of a republic. The jacket and trowsers, or overalls as some call them, that he had upon him, though of rough materials, being a coarse tow linen, that had not had but one boiling before it was made up, were not even whole-- what is more, not clean, not that he had voluntarily on some great occasion, for a public or private calamity, as was the manner of the Jews, rent his garments and put on sackcloth, and strewed ashes on his head; but what came to the same thing, by lying by the fireside at night, and wrestling in the day with the hostler and servants at the tavern, he was reduced to the same raggedness and ash-powdered state.

Nevertheless, though there might not have been time to have washed his duds; yet a patch or two might have been put upon his vestments; a considerable impression having been made upon his flank by a sharp point; and his rear being uncovered, a hands-breadth or more, unless indeed his breeches had been taken off altogether, and he had come forward a real sans culotte, without any thing on his backside at all.