Chapter 6

The circumstance of having been at the levee, and having made a speech in the beer-house, which had been much approved, and above all, it being announced that he was a candidate for state employment, had made the bog-trotter a pretty general theme of conversation. --Sundry persons who were expectants upon government, had procured themselves to be introduced to him, as supposing that when in office, by and bye, he might have it in his power to do them service. Even by those that were in government, in the legislative, executive, or diplomatic line he was not neglected. Several members of congress had left cards. Assistants, and deputy assistants in office, foreign consuls, two or three directors and cashiers of banks, had waited upon him and paid him their compliments.

His name became known in the gay world, and by a gradual introduction, he had become acquainted in some of the best families of the city. The ladies in general, were much taken with him. They thought him a plain, frank, blunt spoken Irish gentleman; not harrassing them with deep observations, drawn from books, or an ostentation of learning; but always saying something gallant, and complimentary of their persons, or accomplishments; such as, God love your shoul, my dear cratur, but you are de beauty of de world. Sleeping or waking, I could take you to my heart and ate you, wid de very love od’ my shoul dat I have for you. De look od’ dur face, like de sun or de moon, run trough me, and burn up like a coul od’ de fire; dat I am shick and fainting to take du to my arms, my dear cratur.

Declarations of this nature, made without any ambiguity, and warm and violent in their nature, had rendered him, as I have said, pretty generally a favourite of the ladies: far, indeed, beyond any thing which the Captain, simple and ignorant of the world, had ever imagined: his astonishment, therefore, was not small, a day or two after this, when walking the street, he saw a carriage pass by, with a gentleman and lady; and, on asking whose carriage that was, and who the gentleman that was in it; for he was struck with some resemblance of the bog-trotter; it was answered, that it was the carriage of Mr. Haberdasher, a merchant of the city, whose lady was taking an airing it would seem with Major O’Regan, a member of Congress, or Ambassador, or something that was just come to town. --Thought the Captain, is it possible! I see that I have been a fool all my life; and through just going out of the world, am but beginning to get experience to live in it. I had been led by his own confidence, and by the opinion of others, though with great doubts, on my part, to suppose it possible that he might have come to be of some respect in government, the discharge of an office, requiring rather solid, than brilliant parts; but that in so short a time, or indeed after any period, he should become a favorite of females of taste and fashion, never entered into my head at all: and forsooth they have given him the appellation of major, though he is about as much a Major as my horse.

Such were the ideas which the circumstance of Teague in a carriage with a fine lady, naturally produced in his mind. Nor indeed should we think them unreasonable, were it not that we know there was nothing extraordinary in the case. For though abstractedly considered, it would seem improbable that the female mind of great delicacy, and refinement, should be captivated by a rough and gross object; yet we know that the fact is in nature, and we must leave it to the philosophers to account for it. Nor will this be any difficult task, when we consider the power of imagination. Here was a new object, unknown, as to its origin, and high, as to its pretensions; and what is novel and not fully comprehended, and lofty in its nature, has a supereminent dominion over the human mind. Hence the proverb, “far fetched, and dear bought, is good for ladies.” But on the present occasion, a particular principle operated in favour of the bog-trotter: viz. the taste and fashion of the day. For as in the age of chivalry, a knight was the only object in request, and at the beginning of the revolution in America, a Baron or a Count from France or Germany was the ton, so now, since the adoption of the federal constitution, the appurtenant officers of government are the only characters in vogue. And as in the first instance, mere squires had been taken for knights, and passed very well, and in the second case, taylors and barbers had slurred themselves for gentry or nobility, what could hinder the bog-trotter from availing himself of the whim of the day, and be taken for a person qualified to fill any place in government for the bare pretending to it? And being once taken for such, what prodigy was there in his being in request with the females and all the first families of the city, who might be ambitious and vie with each other in having him married to a niece or a daughter, that so being raised above plebians by the connection they might be considered as of a patrician degree? Let the principle be what it would, whether taste or ambition, the fact was that the bog-trotter was courted and caressed by all the first people: there could be no card party without Major O’Regan. A young lady sitting by a gentleman in any house, and seeing him pass by, would start up, and run to the window and say, Oh, there is Major O’Regan. When he was in company, and would laugh, and put out his tongue, as if he was about to sing, Lillibullero the young ladies would laugh too; not that there was any jest in what he or they said, but just because the Major had laughed. When he would put out his paw to touch the hand of any of them, O la! Major, one would say; O now! Major, another; don’t now Major, a third would exclaim, rather to attract his attention, than to repress his advances.

The fact was, there seemed to be a kind of Teagu'omania amongst the females, so that all idea of excellence, personal or mental, was centered in him, and all common lovers were neglected or repulsed on his account. A melancholy instance of this kind occurred to the Captain the following day, when walking by the margin of the river on which the city stood, and towards a grove of wood, which skirted it on the south, he observed a man sitting on a tuft of the bank, with his head reclining, in a melancholy position, and looking down upon the wave beneath him, in the manner in which Achilles is described by the poet Homer, as looking on the purple ocean, and complaining to the goddess Thetis of the injury done to him, when the maid Briseis had been taken from his arms by the order of Agamemnon. Sensibly touched with the appearance of woe in any case, the Captain could not avoid advancing, and accosting him: Sir, said he,--but what need I take up the time of the reader with stating particularly the words of the address: it is sufficient to say that, with all necessary delicacy, the Captain gave him to understand that he took part in his misfortune, if there was any upon his mind, and would think himself extremely fortunate, if by language or acts, he could alleviate his griefs.

Sir, said the other, it is impossible. I am an unhappy man, who have been for some months in love with a young lady of this city, and whose affections I had conceived myself to have engaged by the most unremitting attention. I had counted upon her, as my wife, and in all my industry in business, which is that of a merchant, I had my thoughts directed to the provision, I hoped, to have it in my power, to make, in order to support her with dignity and affluence. Yet within these few days, her attention is engaged, and her affections alienated by a certain Major O’Regan that is, or, is about to be engaged in some public employment.

Major O’Regan, said the Captain, laughing; is it possible!

Do you know him, said the gentleman?

Know him, said the Captain; he is my bog trotter; he has been my valet de chambre this three years; and of late my hostler and boot cleaner, in my travels to this city. I believe I could prevail with him for a pair of breeches, or so, to resign his pretensions to the lady.

At this, the eye of the inamorato began to resume its lustre, and the paleness of his countenance to give way to some freshness of complexion. Give me your name, and the name of the lady, said the Captain, and call upon me to-morrow, about nine o’clock, and I will endeavour to make such terms on your behalf with this same Major O’Regan, that he will give you no farther trouble, on the score of the lady.

The inamorato expressed his thankfulness with great animation and fervour; and accepted the invitation to wait upon him at the time proposed, informing him, at the same time, that his name was Williams, and that of the lady, was M’Cracken, a daughter of an alderman of the city of that name.

The Captain coming home, addressed the bog-trotter as follows: Major O’Regan, said he, for that, I find is the title which they have given you, there is a young lady of this town of the name of M’Cracken, whom you have by some means engaged to think favourably of you, to the neglect of a former admirer, a Mr. Williams, a merchant, of this city. This gentleman had a claim upon her from a prior attention, and though there is no municipal law that constitutes it a wrong in you to interfere; yet humanity will dictate that it is a wrong. Because it is a small thing to a man whose affections are not engaged, and who has yet wasted no time upon an object, to decline attention to it, or relinquish it. But to him who has set his mind upon this or that lady, it is death to be repulsed, and a man of honor and delicacy of feeling, who sees the advances of another which are well received, will not interfere, even though the object might be agreeable to him. Much less will he amuse himself at the expense of another, by paying attention when it is his own vanity alone that he consults, in showing in what point of view he could stand if he should think proper to persist. I hope better things of you Teague, and that you will conduct yourself on the principles of honour and humanity; you will resign this flirt, for such I deem her, who--he was going to say, who could be tickled with you; but having a point to carry with Teague, he chose to use soft words; who, continued he, could so readily change one lover for another. What security have you for the affections of one of so servile a mind? Mr. Williams is a merchant, and has cloth in his store: he will give you the pattern of a pair of breeches to decline your pretensions, and resign the jade to him who had first cast his eye upon her.

Teague, much more from this last part of the argument, than from the sentiments of delicacy, &c. which were laid down in the first of it, consented to relinquish the dulcinea; and so when Mr. Williams called at the hour proposed, an order for the making of a pair of breeches was given, and the bog-trotter pledged his word, that he neither would laugh, talk, walk, or ogle with her any more.

Shortly after this, while reading a newspaper, the Captain heard two men conversing at the opposite end of the saloon in which they sat, one of them expressing his concern that having a cause to be tried before the court then sitting, his lawyer Mr. Hardicknute could not attend, being indisposed, and as it was alledged, from a disappointment in love, by a Miss Thimbleton, who was of late, as it appeared, taken with a certain Major O’Regan, an Irish gentleman of some note, who had taken notice of her.

Enquiring the residence of the gentleman, and being informed, the Captain ever prompt to do offices of humanity, immediately calling for Teague, who was in the bar-room with the waiter getting him to write a love letter for him, set out on a visit to lawyer Hardicknute, and being admitted to his chamber, where he lay languishing in bed, accosted him, and gave him to understand that he knew the cause of his complaint, not by feeling his pulse as did the physician of Demetrius, who was in love with Stratonice: nor by any power of conjuration; but simply by hearing it from a client who was interested in his recovery; and that in consequence of this information he had come to relieve him, and had brought the identical Major O’Regan along with him, who for half a johannes was ready to resign all pretensions to the lady. This the Captain presumed, from his influence with the Irishman and from his succeeding on the former occasion.

The sick lawyer at this sat up; and having put on his gown and slippers, expressed great thanks to the Captain and the Major, and very readily handed a half johannes from his bureau, and called for pen, ink and paper, for he was not sufficiently restored to go to his office, he signified that it would be proper the Major should give him some instrument of writing as evidence of the contract. It was agreed on the part of the Captain and the bog-trotter; and the lawyer wrote as follows:

“Know all men by these presents, that I Teague O’Regan, Major, am held and firmly bound unto John Hardicknute, in the sum of one hundred pounds, money of the United States, well and truly to be paid to him the said John, his heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns. Given under my hand and seal this second day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one.

The condition of the above obligation is such, That if I the said Teague O’Regan, shall withdraw all attention, courtship, or wooing on my behalf from a certain Martha Thimbleton, lady, then the said obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.

his

Teague O’Regan,

mark.

This matter being fully settled, the Captain and the bog-trotter took their leave and departed. On their way home, a man was seen to run across the street, dressed in black, but without hat, coat, or breeches on. The Captain conceived it must be some mad sans culotte, or unbreeched person that had come over from Paris, and was running through the streets here in order to bring about a revolution; but on enquiry, he was informed, that it was the Revd. Mr. M’Whorter, a young clergyman, who had been deranged in his understanding on account of a preference given by Miss Fiddle to a certain Major O’Regan, who had seemed to have engaged her affections; that it was first discovered on the preceding Sunday, when in his prayer, instead of saying “give us this day our daily bread,” he repeated, give us this day our daily Miss Fiddle, and instead of saying, “deliver us from evil,” as he ought to have done, he said, deliver us from Major O’Regan; that ever since he had been getting worse, and now had thrown off a part of his garments, and exposing himself in public, appeared to be mad altogether.

The Captain thinking on the subject, was about to parody that line of the poet and to say;

Ye Gods what havock does O’Regan make
Amongst your works.---

But repressing all poetical flights, he wished to lose no time, but as speedily as possible to wait upon the unfortunate ecclesiastic, and by easing his mind, remove his derangement. Accordingly pursuing the clergyman, and having had him seized and conveyed to a chamber; he endeavoured to make him sensible that Major O’Regan, the cause of his misfortune, who was there present, was ready to quit claim to Miss Fiddle, and give him no cause of uneasiness any farther. For this, on their way, the bog-trotter, in consideration of an interest in the clergyman’s prayers, had promised to do. But poor Mr. M’Whorter was too far gone. He could talk of nothing, but some incoherent jargon consisting of a mixture of scripture and profane language, one while about Miss Fiddle and Major O’Regan; another while of Daniel in the Lion’s den, and Jonas in the whale’s belly, and the Devil running into swine. He would imagine sometimes that the devil was in himself, and would squeal like a pig.

The matter being thus hopeless, they set off to come home. On their way they fell in with a man who called himself a doctor, and had a blistering plaister in his hand, and a gallipot, and a clyster pipe tyed with a string about his neck, and hanging down his back, and had alarmed two or three ladies just before, offering his services in the way of his profession. On enquiry, it was found, that it was the celebrated doctor Cataplasm that had lost his senses, within three days past, on account of a Major O’Regan, that was likely to carry off Miss Blasm, to whom the doctor had been a suitor for several years, and with whom he had just been on the point of marriage. --Despairing from the late experiment of doing any thing with mad people, the Captain waved any trouble with the doctor, and looking sternly at Teague; this will never do, said he: I cannot reconcile it to myself to be in the most distant way accessary to so much mischief; and as, from a deference to the judgment of others, and to your importunity, I have suffered myself to be the means of introducing you to this sphere, I must take care to repair the injury as far as may be in my power, or at least prevent any increase of it as much as possible. If there is some talismanic charm, I know not what it is, in your person or appearance, that makes you thus formidable to the peace and happiness of others in giving this success amongst the females, and if you have not generosity, or moral sense of duty, to use your advantage consistent with humanity, it is full time you should be checked and drawn from this sphere altogether, and sent to your former bog-trotting, or put into the state if you can get there, that honest men may marry their wenches, whose affections they had previously engaged.

The bog-trotter was somewhat obstreperous; or as the vulgar say, obstrapalous, on the occasion; and seemed to signify that he would not desist; but would pay attention to whom he thought proper.

The Captain saw that it was a difficult matter to lay the devil he had raised, and his hopes rested in this, that he was but the bubble of a day, and that though light-headed young women in the unfortunate cases mentioned, had given him a visible preference, yet it was rather to torture their former lovers, with a view to try the strength of their passion, than with any intention seriously to make choice of him, and finally accept him for a husband. For he could not think it possible that a woman of fashion and education, would ultimately be willing to give her hand to such a raggamuffin. If indeed, he would come to be a judge or a governor, such a thing might take place: but as it was, it seemed to outrage all credibility.

In this he was mistaken; for, but the very next day, he was waited on by Mr. Muchkin, a merchant of the city, who was in the wholesale and retail way as a grocer, and who had an only daughter, Miss Muchkin to whom the Irishman had made his most serious proposals. It was to her, by the assistance of the waiter, that he had been writing love letters: Mr. Mtchkin, a cautious man, before he would give his consent to the match, thought proper to call upon the Captain, whom he understood to be the uncle, or guardian of the young gentleman, with a view of enquiring into his expectations.

Expectations! said the Captain, why just this; that if he should chance to get into office, it is well, and if not, he must return to his bog-trotting. Bog-trotting! said the merchant. --Aye, bog-trotting, said the Captain; what else would he do? It is but ten days, or thereabouts, since he quitted it; and since, by taking him to levees, and beer-houses, and rubbing and scrubbing him, and teaching him to dance, and giving him lessons of manners, he has been made fit to appear in the gay world. He has but that pair of breeches that you see to his posteriors, and a pattern not made up yet, that merchant Williams gave him; and for my part I have done all for him that I can do: There is just the truth Mr. Muchkin; and If you choose to take him for your son-in-law, you are welcome; but as, thank heaven! I have preserved a principle of candour and honesty all my life, I will not deceive on this occasion; and if the match should prove unfortunate, you will not have me to blame.

Mr. Muchkin expressed, by the staring of his eyes, his astonishment; and as soon as he could speak, thanked the Captain for his candour: and declared his resolution that if Major O’Regan, as he had the assurance to call himself, should again come to his house, he would turn him out of doors; and that, if his daughter should give him the least countenance for the future, he would disown her entirely. He had taken the greatest pains with her in her education; she had been taught all the polite accomplishments that could become a lady: dancing, music, painting, reading French, the Belles lettres, geography, &c. and if, after all this, she would throw herself away on a raggamuffin, to the discredit of the family, he would no longer take notice of her.

Fair and softly, said the Captain; I have a word of advice to give on the subject. It is true, I have not travelled much through the world: so as to visit France, Italy, Spain, or Portugal: nevertheless, I have some general knowledge of the principles of human nature: not only from books, but from my own observation, of the small circumstances that have fallen in my way, and reflection upon them: and have found, that in the intellectual province, as well as in material works, art accomplishes more than force; nay, as in mechanism, the arch is strengthened by the very weight you put upon it: so, where the imagination is concerned, the attachment is fixed by an opposition to it. Hence it is, that the dissuasion of parents, guardians or friends, is often so ineffectual, with their daughters or wards, in matters of love. It will behoove you on this occasion, in order to accomplish your object, to conceal your knowledge of the circumstances communicated; to allow the bog-trotter free ingress and egress as usual, and to effect to speak of him with respect. Leave it to me to say such things to the young lady, as under pretence of recommending her lover, will be effectual to disgust her, and remove her attachment.

Mr. Muchkin impressed with the sincerity and good sense of the Captain, consented to be guided by him in this business, and accordingly going home was silent to the mother and daughter with respect to the conversation he had with the old gentleman, who was considered the uncle of Teague; and the following day the Captain waited upon the family, and was introduced by Mr. Muchkin, who, retiring under pretence of business, left him alone with the daughter and mother to make use of the means he had proposed. For Mr. Muchkin well knew that O’Regan was a great favorite with the mother; and that it would be as difficult to convince her as the daughter, of the imposition in his character. Nay, as she had promoted the match, her pride, unless she herself was the first to detect the imposture, would hinder her from seeing it, or at least acknowledging at all.

Being seated, conversation ensued, and Mrs. Muchkin paid the Captain many compliments on the fine figure and address of his nephew. Miss Mtchkin hung down her head, and blushed, as being in the presence of the uncle of her lover, and hearing the name of Major O’Regan mentioned. Why Madam, said the Captain, I understand that the bog-trotter has been well received in your family. It is true I am not his uncle, nor is he a major; nevertheless, many uncles have had worse nephews, and there are majors that did not perhaps ever see so much service: for I have understood from himself that he was enlisted once when he was drunk, and was a while in the barracks in Dublin, but got off when the matter came to be examined, and it was found that advantage had been taken of him. For the lord lieutenant had given strict orders that, in the enlistments, the utmost fairness should be used; nor, indeed, was it necessary in time of peace to take advantage; because there were men enough to be got voluntarily, and deliberately to enter the service. Nor indeed had Teague himself any objections to be a soldier, but that his constitution had not given him that courage which is necessary to enable a man to face an enemy with fire-arms; he could cudgel at a fair, with a batabuy, where he was supported by others that would take the weight of the battle off his hands; but, except to wrestle at cornish-hug, as he calls it, with an hostler now and then, I never knew him fond of any contention whatsoever. I understand that he has been fortunate enough to render himself agreeable to the young lady your daughter, and I congratulate myself on the prospect of having so accomplished a young woman to be the wife of my domestic. I have had him now these three years. I bought him out of a ship of Irish servants. He has been always faithful to me in the offices in which I employed him, such as brushing boots, and rubbing down my horse. It is true, his manners were a little rude at first; but I have taken a good deal of pains to teach him some of the outlines of a decent behaviour, such as to blow his nose with a handkerchief, and keep from breaking wind in company, a practice to which he was a good deal addicted at his first setting out; and though he takes long strides, as you may see, from wearing brogues and bog-trotting; yet, in the course of time, this and other habits may be broke by being in good company. He has made considerable improvement in the short time I have taken pains with him. Though but ten days since he was heaved down, and curried and brushed up for a gentleman, he has learned to chew food without greasing his chin and cheeks. If he should fall into the hands of a lady of taste, as he is like to do, she may improve him still more. It will be of particular advantage to him to get a woman that can write and read; as I understand Miss Muchkin can do very well: for as he can neither read nor write himself, it is necessary that there should be one of a family that can. He has been fortunate at the taverns where we lodged, to get the waiters to write and read billets to ladies; but such cannot be always at hand for these things; but a wife may. It is true his hopes in government are uncertain, as to being an ambassador or consul, but he may get to be a valet-de-chambre to one of these; and though the ambition of Miss Muchkin may not be so much flattered as to be the lady of a minister, yet true happiness is to be found in contentment; and the love she has for his person, may make amends for the want of rank and honour; much more for the want of fortune; for riches are but dross, and the maid of a kitchen may be as happy as the mistress in the parlour. His fortune indeed is not much. He has nothing of his own, but what dress he wears, and a pattern of a pair of breeches not yet made up. My estate is but small, consisting in a farm, and implements of husbandry, with a couple of horses, one of which I have rode from home, while he bog-trotted by my side. Nevertheless, if he marries Miss Muchkin, I will endeavour to do something for him, and for two or three years to come will engage to find him in breeches and waistcoats.

The young lady was confounded, and withdrew. The mother was silent, and with all her heart wished the Captain gone, that she might digest her mortification in private. The Captain saw all this; but, without seeming to see it, preserved a grave countenance, and with some apology of having an engagement, so that he could not have the honour of a longer conversation, he took his leave.

The dialogue that took place after this between the mother and the daughter, may be more easily imagined than expressed. It was concluded that when O’Regan came next to the house, the porter should be ready with a cowskin to give him a suitable reception.

Mr. Muchkin coming in was made acquainted with the discovery of Major O’Regan’s history. Affecting to be as much astonished as themselves, he observed, that it would be however proper to dismiss him with civility, as he had been received in the capacity of a suitor. Here Miss Muchkin again blushed, not as at first, with an affected blush of modesty when Major O’Regan was ever mentioned, but with the blush of confusion and shame. The mother discovering in her countenance all the emotions of wounded pride, and ungovernable resentment, avowed her determination to have him received with a cowskin by the porter. Mr. Muchkin affecting to acquiesce, as these were matters in which he did not wish to concern, did but confirm the resolution.

Accordingly, that evening, when the bog-trotter, being on the point of marriage, as he thought, came to take tea with Miss Muchkin, ringing the bell, and being admitted, a short fellow, an Englishman, who served in the capacity of porter, being prepared with a very heavy cow-skin, made an attack upon him. The Irishman exclaimed, and called out for Miss Muchkin: O! Love your dear ladyship, Miss Muchkin; by shaint Patrick, by de holy apostles, I shall be kilt and murdered into de bargain! O! I shall be kilt and murdered. God love your shoul stop wid your cow-skin, till I says my prayers; and spare my life; O! I shall be kilt and murdered. O! dis night in de house here. Miss Mutchkin, where is your dear ladyship, to look upon me wid your eyes, and save me from dis bating. O! I am kilt and murdered.

Saying these words, the porter had kicked him out of the house, and shutting the door, left him to his exclamations in the street.

Coming home to the Captain, he made a woeful complaint to the Captain of what had befallen him; which the Captain took care not to alleviate, but increase, alleging, that it must have been some former lover of the lady, who was exasperated at the preference given, and took this method of revenge; that he now saw how dangerous it was to interfere with men of spirit in their courtships, and he ought to be more careful for the future.