Chapter 6

The visionary philosopher had not yet abandoned his project of civilizing the brute creation, and teaching them the arts and sciences. He had caught a young panther, and, with a chain about its neck, had put it to study law with a young man of that profession, who wishing to get forward in the business, thought it could do him no harm, though it might not do the panther much good, to undertake the task. But there were those who bore testimony against this, being of opinion that lawyers were bad enough, even when made of the best materials.-- This idea was supported by some sensible men, who could not conceive that this animal of the cat kind could ever be brought to be capable of explaining a matter to a jury, or stating a point of law to the court.


The visionary philosopher taking fire at this opposition to his discovery, invention, or improvement, or what else it might be called, exclaimed abundantly. --What is it said he, whether he may be ever able to explain himself intelligibly at the bar? Cannot he grin, bite--



[There would seem here to be an hiatus in the manuscript, or the sheets misplaced. The editor cannot connect the narrative.]


It had come to the knowledge of the people, or, at least, was projected in the mean time, that after the proclamation for scalps, and the hunt which took place in consequence of it, the governor had been guilty of the most manifest partiality in screening the bog-trotter, who was as much liable as any person, no one having been more noisy in beer-houses, and active at town meetings, to bring about a convention, than he had been with the exception of Thady O'Conner, who had taken the benefit of the insolvent act; and a few others who had been refused tavern licences at the sessions. It was thought to be a ground of impeachment to connive at the secreting any one on such occasion.


The fact was, the governor was as innocent of the charge as any one among themselves, and so he declared to them; that for a considerable time past, he had ceased to have a control over the bog-trotter; that like Noctra Mullin's dog, he had been at his own hand these six weeks; that is, since he got in to be constable.


The affair was like to take a very serious turn, and the people would not be satisfied: when Angus M'Donald, the Scotch gardener, having knocked down the panther that was studying law, and taken off a piece of his hide, came forward with it, saying it was little matter what had been done with Teague on the occasion alluded to, since he had put the law in force against him just now, and scalped him himself, as they might see by the red hair, and the blood. There is nothing sooner softens a passion, or calms a mad multitude than the yielding to it. Hence the fury abated in a moment; and when it occurred to them that their remonstrance to the governor had been the occasion of the tragedy, they began to blame themselves as having been too precipitate in their representations.


The difficulty now occurred, what to do with the bog-trotter. For it would not be safe that he should remain in the government, and that it should be visible that the scalping had been but a substitution, and not the genuine exuvia of the man. Harum Scarum was of opinion that it was best to knock him down in reality, and take his scalp to the people, laying the deception at the door of the Scotchman, as it really ought. The governor was opposed to that, as it was to save him from an impeachment that Angus, with great presence of mind, had bethought himself of the stratagem, to divert the fury of the populace.


But the visionary philosopher, in the mean time, enraged at the murder of his crony panther, and the lawyer with whom he was studying, dissatisfied, or seeming to be so, the circumstance was explained to the people. But they thought enough had been done for once, and that it was not necessary to pursue the matter farther. In fact, some of them were in the secret, and meant only pastime from the beginning.


However, thinking it might not be amiss to be out of the way for a while, the bog-trotter was sent over hill to dig potatoes, at the farm of Niel M'Mullin, a neighbouring gentleman.