Chapter 10

The memoir of the bog-trotter had now made its appearance, and was read with avidity by all ranks, and classes of the community. The novelty of the matter made the style agreeable, and it was called up as a model of fine writing. In fact the school-master, who was the real author, Teague furnishing only materials, had some knowledge of the English grammar, and had read the Pilgrims Progress, the Seven Champions of Christendom, Reynard the Fox, the Siege of Troy, and had a diction not unpleasing, and tolerably correct.

The place of a professor of rhetoric in the college, being vacant, it was suggested that the new author might be an acquisition to give lectures on eloquence, and Teague was, as usual, elated with the proposition, and solicited the Captain to countenance the matter, with the Trustees of the seminary, that, if he had failed in the political, he might have a chance of elevation in the literary world. The Captain accordingly lent his aid, and though with some reluctance, undertook to press the matter with the friends of the institution, still doubting in his own mind the capacity of the candidate for a chair in a university. It is true he had heard tell of lectures on taste and criticism by those who had not much taste, and were no great critics themselves. But this was considered as abuse, and not to pass into precedent. However consented and did broach the matter. It was likely to be carried and would have been carried, but for the other professors, who said it would be a burlesque on them, and threatened to resign if the thing was pushed any farther, as in their opinion, however great the fame of this phenomenon might be, he was in fact, but an illiterate person, and fitter for a professor of gymnastics, than of letters in an academy.

A professor of gymnastics, then let him be, said the Captain. It is true he has not read Saltzman on the athletics of schools, or Strutt on the games and past times of England; nevertheless he can play, at prison base, barley butt, blind-mans buff; the hindmost of three, and fool in the corner. He is no slouch at swere-arse, is a pretty good hitch at a wrestle; and can run and leap abundantly well.

So saying, he turned about, and walked away, with his stick in his hand to look for the bog-trotter, and to bring him forward for the professorship, but had not walked far, before he fell in with the remains of the doctor's shop that had been thrown out upon the street; and there was Teague in a stall turned doctor, and selling drugs to the multitude, arsenic for worm-powder, and laudanum for wine-cordial. He had picked up the phials when the apothecary had run off, fearing the multitude, and the people thinking this man his deputy, or substitute, selling off at a low price, were willing to take a bargain while they could get it.

The Captain was irritated on the score of humanity, and for the first time, made a stroke at the bog-trotter. The cudgel lightning on a box of Spanish flies that was going off at twelve and a half cents, dissipated the contents. A dialogue ensued, and much expostulation. But the result was, that the vendue was broken up, and it came to be understood, that Teague was not the real owner of the ware-house, and the purchasers might be called upon to pay for the drugs a second time. This last consideration had an effect, and the bidding ceased.

At this time John Murdoch came up, a shrewd man, though not in any office, and being well acquainted with the Captain, and the history of the bog-trotter, made free to speak upon the occasion, and addressed himself to the Captain; for the bog-trotter had run off, whether fearing the stick, or to spend the money he had gathered.-- Captain, said he, Nemo omnibus horis sapit, no man is wise at all times. You have been a long time seeking to get your man into place, and now that he had got into place without you; for accident often does more for a man than his best friends; you have been unwilling that he should stay in it. Nay you have driven him from it. He had just got into a good way in an honourable and lucrative profession, and you have stopt his career with your batabuy, or shalelah, a weapon which, from his infancy he had been taught to dread. Do you think the greater part of doctors are better read than he was; or even if better read, does their reading turn to much account? Will the people employ them the sooner, because they are learned in their profession? Or, even if learned, is their skill the more to be depended on? One of the faculty has said; Ars nostra conjecturalis est. Hoffman ran down Borehaave; Cullen, Hoffman. Brown, Cullen; and the system now among the physicians, is a hotch potch, or mixture of all. O’Regan might have been a quack; but the faculty tell us that medicine is much indebted to quacks. Mercury was brought into use by them, and is now the panacea, the specific for all diseases, the consumption itself. Could not Teague assume a grave appearance; asober physiognomy, a measured step, with a cane in his hand; a steady look straight before; a nod to those that pass by, as if from a thinking man? Could not he feel a pulse, and speak mysteriously, if he could not speak learnedly, not having given clinical lectures, or attended them? Or could he not hold his tongue a long time, and say nothing; which would answer the purpose just as well; for silence is obscurity, and obscurity is sublimity. When the patient is dead, it was the disease killed him, not the doctor. Dead men tell no tales. Facilis descensus averni. I have hear the old blind lawyer say, discoursing to this effect, that in the profession of the law which is an ostensible profession, and more likely to expose a man's parts, or faculties of mind than almost any other, yet it is not always understood who is the real lawyer; and a man may have made an estate at the bar before it is found out that he is a fool. If he loses the cause by his mismanagement, he lays it on the jury: or if the court decide on a point of law contrary to the advice he had given, what can I help it, says he, if a commission cannot give sense. It is the law of the books, though it is not the law of their heads. The client submits, and is better pleased with his counsel, than with an honest fellow who had told him in the first instance; or would tell him in the last, that his cause was none of the best; and the verdict, or judgment right. If this is the case in a profession, that, in comparison of the other, is visible, and tangible; that you can reach it in its exhibition; what must it be in art which is less in view where the ignorance of the practitioner is capable of more concealment; and the man dies who is most hurt, and carries his complaint before Minos, and Rhadamanthus, who wait until the doctor comes to give him a fair hearing?

It is not that I had any doubt, said the Captain, of his getting into practice, that I had been opposed to his empiricism. My apprehension rather was, that he would get too much practice, and have too many lives to answer for morally and in conscience, if not legally. For what did he know of drugs, or of their effect upon the constitution? If you go to conscience and morality with it, I have done, said Mr. Murdoch. You leave no reasoning for me. I was speaking as a man of the world, and the making a living: of you feel yourself entramelled with that sort of doctrine, you are on the other side the line. I have no concern with you. You belong to the old school.

The doctor, in the mean time had come back, and was examining the depredations.

An inventory was taken under the direction of the Captain, that what remained might be compared with the original stock, and the loss ascertained, that it might be compensated to the poor man by subscription. As to what had been purloined by Teague in the way of sale, he undertook himself to make up that, having been accessary to it by introducing the bog-trotter to the village.