Chapter IV

This was the day of the fair held twice a year in the village. The people had come in and erected booths. The Captain took a walk to see the fair, and on the first stall he saw boxes. What are these, said the Captain? Cases for lawyers, said the Chapman. What will the lawyers do with these, said the Captain? Put them on their posteriors, said the Chapman. That will make them look like soldiers, with cartouch boxes, said the Captain. No matter for that, said the Chapman. A lawyer can no more move without cases, than a snail without a shell. They must have authorities.

They have too many sometimes, said the Captain, as I have heard the blind lawyer say; but your cases, or cartouch boxes, I presume are meant as a burlesque. Not altogether, so, said the Chapman; but a little bordering on it. These boxes might answer the purposes, of carrying cases, to the court; but an honest man might put them to a better use: so I say no more but sell my wares to the customer.

At the next stall was Tom the Tinker, with old kettles mended, and new ones for sale. Ay, Tom, said the Captain, this is better than resisting laws;* even the excise law.

I have found out a better way than resisting laws, now, said the Tinker.

What is that, said the Captain?

Abolish the courts, and demolish the judges, and the laws will go of themselves.

Ah! Tom, said the Captain, leave the public functionaries, to the public bodies; you have nothing to do with them.

But I should have something to do with them, said the Tinker, if I had a voice in a public body.

But you have not a voice, said the Captain.

But I may have, said the Tinker.

I would rather hear your voice in your shop, said the Captain; and the sound of your hammer, on a coffee pot, or a tea kettle. You can patch a brass candle-stick, better than the state, yet, I take it, Tom.

Or solder spoons either, said Tom; but every thing must have a beginning.

At the next stall was a hard-ware man; In the next, a Potter with his jugs. Anacharsis, according to Diogenes Laertes, invented the anchor, and the Potters wheel; he was a more useful man than him that invented fire-arms; though it is a question with some, whether gunpowder has not rendered war less sanguinary.

A toyman had his stall next. As the Captain was looking at his baubles, an accident happened on the other side of the way. At a short turn, a cart had overset. It was light, and loaded with empty kegs. Nevertheless the driver wanted help to lift it up.

The Chapman, the Toyman, the Potter, the Hardware man, and Tom the Tinker were endeavouring to assist. The Tinker and the Hard-ware man, had set their shoulders, to the cart.--They hove it up; but, by too violent a push threw it to the other side. The Chapman, and Toyman, thought to set the matter right, and in the adverse direction, applyed their force, being on the other side the cart; and to do them justice, gave a good hoist; but over-did the matter, as much as was done before; for the cart came back and lay prostrate in the same direction, as at first.

The driver, in the mean time, was dissatisfied. Gentlemen, said he, do you mean to assist, or to ruin me? It may be sport to you; but it is a loss to me, to have my cart broke, and my kegs staved. It is all wrong, said the Captain. Why not let the thing stand upon the horizontal? None of your tricks upon travellers. Let the poor man’s cart have fair play, and stand upon its own bottom.

Aye, aye, said a misanthrope; this comes of bad doings.--You must be going to the woods and disturbing innocent forests; cutting down young trees; making staves, and hooping kegs. This is just the way they make laws; to hoop people as you would a barrel. It is right to overturn the cart, on account of the manufacture it carries.

Ah! it is in this manner, said a moral-drawing man; that people overturn the state. If the vehicle goes to the one side, it is the act of a patriot to set it right. But unskilful persons, pass the line of gravity; so that as much mischief arises, from too much force as too little. Passing the line of gravitation, in erecting a body, is like wounding a principle of the Constitution. All errors of expediency may be amended; but the violations of principle are vital, and terminate in death.

Put that fellow in the pulpit, and he could preach, said a by-stander; do you hear what a sermon, he makes upon a cart? He could take a text; Nebuchadnezzar, or Zerubabel; and lengthen out a discourse for a fortnight.

In the mean time, the Captain, was almost carried off his feet, by a crowd of people going to see the learned pig. Has he the tongues, said Angus Sutherland, a Scotchman? He has two, said a wag. The Hebrew, and the Erse, I trow, said the Scotchman. No; the squeel and the gruntle, I ween, said the drolling person. That is his vernacular, said the Scotchman; but I mean his acquired languages. I do not know that he has acquired any, said the drolling man; but he is considerably perfected in those that he had before.

Weel, that is something, said Angus; but he has got a smack o’ the mathematics, I suppose. A little of algebra, said the wag; the plus, and minus, he understands pretty well.

The conversation, was interrupted by the vociferation of a man, in soliloquy at a distance. He appeared to be in great agitation: clinching his fists, and striking them against each other. An abominable, slander, said he; I a scholar! I a learned man! it is a falsehood. See me reading! He never saw me read. I do not know a B from a bull’s foot. But this is the way to injure a man in his election. They report of me that I am a scholar! It is a malicious fabrication. I can prove it false. It is a groundless insinuation. What a wicked world is this in which we live. I a scholar! I am a son of a whore, if I ever opened a book in my life. O! The calumny; the malice of the report. All to destroy my election.

Were you not seen carrying books, said a neighbour?

Aye, said the distressed man; two books that a student had borrowed from a clergyman. But did I look into them? Did any man see me open the books? I will be sworn upon the evangelists: I will take my Bible oath, I never looked into them.-I am innocent of letters as the child unborn. I am an illiterate man, God, be praised, and free from the sin of learning, or any wicked art, as I hope to be saved; but here a report is raised up, that I have dealings in books, that I can read. O! The wickedness of this world! Is there no protection from slander, and bad report? God help me! Here I am, an honest republican; a good citizen, and yet it is reported of me, that I read books. O! The tongues of men! Who can stop reproach? I am ruined; I shall loose my election; and the good will of all my neighbours, and the confidence of posterity. It is a dreadful thing that all the discretion of a man, cannot save him from evil speaking, and defamation.

It is a strange contrast, thought the Captain, that we admire learning in a pig, and undervalue it in a man. The time was, when learning would save a man’s neck; but now it endangers it. The neck verse, is reversed. That is, the effect of it. For the man that can read goes to the wall; not him that is ignorant. But such are the revolutions of opinion.

Of all things in the world, said a speculative philosopher, I would the least expect science in a pig; though the swinish multitude are not without good moral qualities; or the semblance of these, by propensitive instinct. The herd of deer avoid, or beat off the chased, or wounded companion; but attack a hog in a gang, and the bristles of all are up, to make battle. There is an esprit de corps; or a principle of self-preservation. They do not wait until they are taken off one by one; but make a common cause in the first instance. When the twenty-one deputies in the national assembly of France, were denounced, there were, no doubt, a great number that saw the injustice; but not the consequence. They were willing that the bolt should pass by themselves, and were silent. But those that followed, soon felt the case to be their own, though they did not make it so at first. The hogs have more sense or nature is more faithful than reason. A sailor on board a ship may not like his comrades; but if they are charged with mutiny wrongfully, he is interested and will see it if he is wise. It concerns him that they be dealt with fairly, for injustice to them leads to injustice to himself. A third mate may dislike the first, or second, or the captain himself, and have no objection to change them; but the mistake, or injustice of owners towards these, affects himself. If one goes at this turn, another may go at the next; until all fall to unjust accusation. If the independence, and safety of command is affected, all officers suffer, and the service is injured. The picking off one at a time is politic in those that assail, but fatal to those that are assailed. Polyphemus devoured but one of the soldiers of Ulysses in a day. So that it does not follow, that hog likes hog, more than sheep likes sheep; or that bristle champion for bristle; when he comes to take his part; but that, the law of self-preservation, is better understood; or felt by this animal. But as to teaching a pig any thing like human knowledge, though not a new thing, would seem to be of little use. Crows were taught to speak in the time of Augustus Caesar; as we find from the story of the cobler, and his crow. The Poet Virgil talks of cattle speaking:

-----Pecudesque locutae.

But this was a prodigy. Learning must go somewhere, as a river that sinks in one place rises in another. If erudition is lost with men, it is well to find it with pigs. The extraordinaries are always pleasing. The intermediate grades of eloquence, from a Curran to a Parrot, are not worth marking.

A little learning is a dangerous thing,
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
If a man cannot be a Polyglotist, he may as well be a goose.

It was at a time things took this turn that Balaam’s ass spoke. There was darkness all over Europe, for six or ten centuries; and little knowledge of the scientific kind to be found with man, fish, fowl or beast. A glare of light sprung up, and has prevailed awhile. Men of science have been in repute in monarchies; and in some republics; or at least science itself has had some quarter. But it is now scouted, and run down. The mild shade of the evening, the crepusculum approaches. A twilight, that the weakest eye can sustain. The bats will be out now. The owl can see as well as the cat. If there is less light, there is more equality of vision; which may be for the best.

That fellow could preach, too, said a by-stander; and give him a text. What a speech he has make upon a shoat!

But looking up, they saw a man actually preaching; or something like it, in a tavern door, with a news-paper in his hand. It was upon the subject of economies. For now all is economy. Not making; but saving. This discourse was a lecture on the subtraction of aliment, and the making water go farther by boiling it. Saving the scales of fish; and the stem beaten out of flax; curtailing wages, and doing less work; all things by the minimum: he would have all Microscopes; no Telescopes. Minutiae, Minutiae, Minutiae; nothing great, comprehensive, or magnificent in his projects. Themistocles know how to make a great state, out of a small commonwealth. But was it by saving, or by gaining that he did it? Was the sweep of his mind contracted; or extensive? Had the Czar of Muscovy a great heart? Did he reduce mountains by particles; or employ his mind upon hen-coops? These were questions, the economist answered in the affirmative. But some doubted the orthodoxy of the doctrine; and left the congregation.

In a public house, was heard the music of a fiddle, and a bag-pipe. It was Duncan the quondam waiter of the Captain, who had make a match of the bag-pipe against the violin. Play up, said Duncan to the piper; not “the Coming o’ the Camrons;” now the Reels o’ Bogie. Play up; I could dance amaist involuntarily; as I were bit by the tarantula.

The Latin master was of the company; and encouraged the contest, by the application of classic phrases; such as,

Et vitula tu dignus, et hic----
-----Boni quoniam convenimus ambo.
Tale tuum carmen, divine poeta.-----

But more noise; though, perhaps, less music, was heard out of doors, coming down the street. A crowd of people; boys and grown persons, were following O’Dell the revolutionist. For Ca Ira, or the Marseilles hymn he bawl’d out the following----

Down with the sessions, and down with the laws;
They put me in mind of the school-master’s taws.
There’s nothing in nature that gives such disgust,
As force and compulsion to make a man just.
Hillelu; Billelu, set me down aisy.
Hillelu; Billelu, &c.
A lawyer’s a liar; old sooty his father;
He talks all day long a mere jack-a-blather.
His books, and his papers, may all go to hell,
And make speeches there, sings Lary O’Dell
Hillelu, &c.
The state is a vessel, and hoop’d like a tub;
And the adze of the cooper it goes dub a dub.
But hooping and coopering, is fitting for fools;
Away wid all learning, and shut up the schools.
Hillelu, &c.
A horse eats the less when you cut of his tail;
And chickens hatch faster the thinner the shell.
A clerk in an office might do two things in one,
Hatch eggs while he sits, and writes all alone.
Hillelu, &c.

The song may be good, as to music, said the Captain; but I do not like the sentiments: especially the concluding couplet. It seems to me, that economy has become parsimony; the opposite extreme of prodigality; or extravagance. The one is odious; the other contemptible. All tax; or no tax. There is no medium. But no tax, and economy will as certainly destroy an administration, as all tax, and extravagance. The meanness of starving officers; establishments; improvements, will attach disreputation to the agents; and operate a removal from the body politic; or the debilitation of the body politic itself. But in all things there is a tendency to extremes. The popular mind does not easily arrest itself when descending upon an inclined plain of opinion. Popular ballads are an index of the public mind. Hence we see that an antipathy to laws, lawyers, and judges, is the ton at present; and also that economy is the ruling passion of the time. Yet in all these things, there may be an excess. For the people are not always right. Unless in the sense of the English law, that “The King can do no wrong.” Doubtless whatever the people do is legally right; but yet not always politically right. For do we not find from the voice of history, that those men are thought to have deserved best of their country, who have occasionally withstood the intemperance of opinion. Self-seekers only “are all things to all men.” Three things are necessary to constitute a great man. Judgment, fortitude, and self-denial. It is a great thing to judge wisely. Perhaps this may be said to comprehend the whole. For judging wisely upon a large scale, will embrace fortitude, and self-denial. Hence, in the Scripture phrase, bad men are called fools. It is but cutting down the fruit tree, to hark in with a popular cry for the moment. All is gained for the present; but there is nothing for the next year. Such a man may get into a public body, but will not long retain his seat; or, if he does, he loses all, in the esteem of the virtuous, and the wise. But I doubt whether the people are so mad for economy. It originates with those who are conscious to themselves that they cannot please them by great actions: and therefore attempt it by small. The extreme has been that of unnecessary expenditure; and it is popular to call out economy; which the people-pleaser gets into his mouth and make it the shibboleth of just politics. But the people-pleaser is not always the friend of the people. Do we find him in war the best general who consults the ardour of his troops, wholly, and fights when they cry out for battle? Pompey yielded to such an outcry, and lost the field of Pharsalia. A journal was published in France, by Marat, under the direction, or, with the assistance of Robespierre, entitled “L’ami du peuple.” There could not be a more seducing title; and yet this very journal was the foe of the people. I have no doubt but that Marat meant well to the people; but he had not an understanding above the public, and judgment to correct the errors of occasional opinion. He was of the multitude himself, and did not overtop them by having higher ground from whence to observe. He had not been a sage before he became a journalist. Hence he denounced the Girondists, the philosophers of the public; Condorcet, and others who had laid the foundation of the revolution. He denounced them because they suggested a confederate republic, such as Montesquieu projected, and America has realized. Marat took up with the simple, the one and indivisible; the populace understood this, but not the complication, and it prevailed; but the republic went down.