It is full time we return a little, and see what became of the bog-trotter, whom we left in the capacity of judge. This will best appear from a report of a case tried before him, and which has been kindly furnished us by lawyer Tarapin, who was councel in the cause.
Report. Slouch vs. Crouch.
This was an action of assault and battery, with two counts; the first for assault and battery; the second for an assault.-The case as it came out upon the evidence, was as follows.
Upon some ill words given by Crouch, as villain, Grouch made a blow at him with a cudgel. Crouch crouching, as the name imports, let the blow slip over him, which lighting upon Slouch, broke his head. Upon this Slouch had brought his suit against Crouch.
Lawyer Tarapin moved for a nonsuit, on the ground that the action ought to have been against Grouch, whose stick, though intended against Crouch, yet trespassed, and hit upon Slouch.
Lawyer Heberden for the plaintiff, thought the action was properly brought, and that Crouch, who gave the ill words that occasioned the outrage, was responsible for all the consequences; that he had no right to take his head out of the way; but that it ought to have remained at its post, which had it been the case no blow could have fallen on Slouch.
What with the names, with terminations of a like sound, and the intricacy of the case, the judge was puzzled, and getting in a passion, snatched a staff from a constable, and fell upon the suitors. By my showl, said he, I will be after bating de whole od you togeder. A parcel of spalpeens and bog-trotters, to be coming here bodering me wid your quarrels, and your explanations; better fight it out like men of honour wid a shelelah, and not come here to trouble de court about it.
He had broke the heads of several, and was laying about him with the constables staff, the clerks not being able to interfere because they were blind, and the citizens not being willing because they were afraid; saying the culprits were in the hands of the judge, and it did not behove them to take the law into their hands, and resist the execution.
However, the result was that the proceeding broke up the court, and the blind lawyer, fiddler and bog-trotter had to leave the country.
The bog-trotter followed the Captain, and the blind lawyer and fiddler followed him, to the new settlement.
It was just at this time they came in, when the people were in commotion about the courts of justice. It was opportune, and occasioned them all to be provided for by the influence of the Captain. Things were reversed in some measure, from what they were in the country below; for the blind lawyer was made the judge; the fiddler the crier of the court, and the bog-trotter a constable. The piper of whom we have spoken, and who was an emigrant with the Captain, there being no bell or drum in the town, opened the first court at this place with his bagpipes.
There was nothing now wanting but a lawyer, and that was not a want long; for as one rat brings another, so lawyer brings lawyer. The one here already was soon paired, and these two, like stool pigeons, attracted others; so that in a short time the whole settlement was full of them.
There was now a talk of encouraging a printer. Some thought there were typographical errors enough in the world. However, the people were disposed to multiply them, and accordingly a printer was encouraged. He set up a paper which he called the Twilight. For, as there was a dawn in the east, it seemed reasonable there should be a twilight in the west. The Evening Star, and the Western Star have been names of gazettes; but Twilight, for any thing we have heard, would seem to be original. The dawn,
----That sweet hour of prime,
In the language of Milton.-One of his most beautiful paintings is that in which he speaks of it as introducing the sun,
The Dawn is a modest appellation for a paper, bespeaking the beginning of light. The Twilight not less so, meaning that small degree of it which remains after the sun is set. -The device was an owl, a cat, and a bat; the owl an emblem of wisdom, the cat of vigilance, the bat of impartiality, being of equivocal formation, and doubtful whether bird or beast. At the same time these animals are all of the Twilight, and therefore appropriate.
The motto by the Latin schoolmaster,
----Si quid superesset agendum.
Clonmel the ballad singer, furnished a few verses to introduce the publication. The composition was not the best; but it was suited to the occasion.
Harum Scarum was a contributor to the paper, and dealt in fabrications and intelligence, Will Watlin gave dissertations on economics, taming wild geese, and brewing beer out of wasps nests, Tom the tinker hankering after insurrections, struck his hammer on the government. The Latin schoolmaster was now employed as an Indian interpreter, passing his Greek for the Chickasaw; nevertheless found time to furnish a distich or hemistich or Latin epigram occasionally. OFin was a politician and brought down his flail upon Bonaparte, and said, had it not been for his usurpation, there would have been a republic in Ireland. The bag-piper was a merry fellow, and brought his talents into hotch-pot in the way of essays upon drones; shewing their use in a commonwealth. Thus few papers were better supported than the "Twilight". and it had subscribers. The great variety of talents,
Quoniam sic positae, suaves misscetes odores,
Said the Latinist--the great variety of talents could not fail to furnish something to hit the taste of every individual; and it is not so much, excellency, as variety that pleases, The most odoriferous shrub or rose ceases to delight, and we turn to another bush, or take up even a less fragrant flower.
The passions having their vent in a gazette, saves battery and bloodshed. In this view of the subject it is an aid-ducamp to the laws; and if it should be thought eligible to extend the province of the press, and to canvass all matters depending in a court of justice, it will be an accessary to the practice, and a great acquisition in a free government. But this I leave to the discretion of the legislature.
The bog-trotter wrote little, in fact nothing. He was busy serving process in the capacity of constable; and in one of his excursions met with an accident. He set his foot on the spur of a horse-jocky; which, in this new country, from the prick of the roller, he took for a rattle snake. Not waiting to look behind him, after it made the impression, and left a puncture like the tooth of a serpent, he made his tour to the town with great howling and lamentation. A ligament was drawn tight about his ancle, and the leg stroked down and the flesh pressed towards the orifice. Cold water from the mouth of a tea-kettle was poured upon the wound, with a steady current from a considerable height. Finally, certain roots, pointed out by the Indian traders, in a cataplasm was applied to the foot, bandaged up for a fortnight, until all appearance, I need not say, of poison, for there was none, but all apprehension of poison and mortification was removed.
It will not be understood that I record this incident as an evidence of pusillanimity in the bog-trotter. For a man of the firmest mind, might reasonably conceive an alarm at the idea of being bitten by a snake. Such is the horror in the human mind at even the touch, much more the bite of such a reptile.
Milton represents the tempter as seducing Eve under the form of a serpent, and endeavours to render that form amiable by description,
It would seem to me to have been an oversight in Milton to make the tempter assume the snake. For he is not supported by the Scripture. The idea in Genesis is not that the tempter was in the guise of a serpent; but of some creature which was, for that very act, condemned to be a serpent. Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. It is a metanomasia, or post-nomination, The serpent was more subtle; that is, the beast which now we call a serpent, was then the wisest of the field. It is impossible to imagine that creature, which would seem to have been changed; for we can no more imagine a new creature, than create one. When the poets feign a griffin, it is but a winged beast. The Orc of Aristo is made up of parts that are taken from animals in nature.
But, it is to be presumed that the animal assumed by the tempter must have been next to the human, the form the most beautiful in nature. The poet represents the transformation as denounced in the garden,
I would have expected the metamorphose at this time and place.
Since my first reading of the poem, I have been struck with the incongruity of representing the animal which the tempter assumed, as being a serpent in the first instance. Yet there is classical authority for supposing it possible, that a serpentine form could be the subject, even of affection:
And Dryden in his ode on St. Cecilias day;
Strange as it seems to me, the ancients in some countries, appear not to have had this horror of serpents. In the temple of Esculapius, the god himself was said to visit his patients disguised under the form of a great serpent, the caresses of which reanimated them with new hope. Serpents in general were consecrated to this god. He appears to have had a particular predeliction for those found in the neighbourhood of Epidaurus, which are of a colour approaching to a yellow, have no poison, are tame and gentle, and love to live in familiarity with man. That which the priests keep in the temple, will sometimes wind round their bodies, or raise himself on his tail to take the food which they present him on a plate. He is rarely suffered to go out, but when this liberty is permitted him, he walks majestically through the streets, and as his appearance is deemed a happy omen, it excites universal joy.
These familiar serpents are found in the other temples of Esculapius. They are very common at Pella, the capital of Macedonia. The women there keep them for their amusement. In the great heats of summer, they wind them around their neck, like neck-laces. During my stay in Greece it was said that Olympia, queen of Philip king of Macedon, had one of them, which she frequently took to bed to her, and it was even added, that Jupiter had taken the form of that animal, and that Alexander was his son.
Translation of Anacharsis
Nevertheless, I still think that the more natural allegory in Milton, and better supported by the scripture, would have been the idea of some creature the most beautiful, as well as the wisest, tempting Eve, and thence, as a punishment, undergoing transformation. So much for criticism.