Chapter 13

The governor, wearied out by this folly of the people of his government, and being somewhat in a passion, at a meeting of the legislature, instead of sending a message, came in, and with a speech made the welkin ring. For it was out of doors that they were convened, not having yet built a state-house; and being a man of very powerful lungs, like some of your warriors of antiquity, or Shelby of Kentucky, in modern times, and mounting a stump, on a rising ground, the heavens his canopy, he raised his stentorian voice.

"Good people, said he, I care no more about my popularity with you; or whether I am again to be chosen governor or not, than I care whether you are fools or knaves; it all comes to much the same thing; for in both cases, you mistake your own interest. If this fool fellow, Teague O'Regan, that has been one day popular with you, so as to be fit for any office, and at another day not fit to be your hangman, has found a stone, which this politician, the visionary philosopher, gives out as having the virtue of transmuting metals, and changing wood or shells into gold and silver; if this ragamuffin, I say, has found such a stone, which I no more believe than that my horse's hoof has the virtue of changing the earth that he treads upon, into gold; what good would it do you, when the very thing that makes such metal precious, scarcity, would take away all use, or benefit of it? If you would make gold and silver as plenty as bank notes, would it be of more value? Do you take me for one that, for the sake of keeping my place, would consult a temporary popularity? I tell you that I will have no more teaching beasts to speak, sing, or whistle: no more coining money, by philosophers stones; or discoveries of perpetual motions, or any such stuff. Your philosopher may teach you to catch crabs in a new way or to open oysters; I look to what will establish the government and render it vigorous; taxation, and no borrowing from Jew brokers, like minors that have their estates in expectancy. Does the heart borrow from without; or does it not take back the blood from the extremities, which it has circulated to them? It is a cheat and deception of the people not to tell them truth--


"Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur,"


Said the Latin schoolmaster.

No, said the governor, they shall not be deceived by me. I disregard their caucusing, and talking of taking up another candidate for governor. They may have my bog-trotter, or the visionary philosopher, when they please; and they may impeach me when out of office, or let it alone. I am at their defiance, having acted to the best of my judgment, for their true happiness. Do they take me for a coward in politics, that am afraid to touch their pockets, and apply to a philosopher's stone, even if it had the virtue of making gold, when the making gold or silver, would do more harm than good?


"You may have my bog-trotter, and welcome, for a governor; I am pretty well tired of bothering myself with him, to make use of a phrase of his own; I have had as much trouble on my hands with him as Don Quixotte had with Sancho Panza; and I cannot but acknowledge, as some say, that I have resembled Don Quixotte myself, at least in having such a bog-trotter after me; save that Sancho rode upon an ass, and this O'Regan trots on foot. But I hope I shall not be considered as resembling that Spaniard in taking a wind-mill for a giant; a common stone for a magnet that can attract, or transmute metals. It is you that are the Don Quixottes in this respect, madcaps, and some of you from the madcap settlement, Thady O'Connor and several others, tossing up your caps at every turn, for a new constitution; not considering that when a thing gets in the way of changing, it will never stop until it gets to the end of liberty, and reaches despotism, which is the bourne from whence no traveller returns. Do you take me for Jefferson? You are mistaken if you think I have so good an opinion of you. I would ill deserve your confidence if I made your whims my guide; or regarded popularity obtained in such a way. It never came into my head that because I had got the chair of government, there was a millenium about to come, when all men would do justice, and there would be no occasion for judges and lawyers; nations could be coerced by proclamations; and no war would ensue. Your philosopher's stone will stand you in little stead if an army is to be raised and a fleet supported; and without an army and a navy, are you safe within or without? Not while you live in a country where there is a water on one side and savages on the other. John Bull will come by the water, and Tecumseh by the wilderness. A navy is the safe defence of a republic where it must, or at least, will have commerce. It always rallies round the government, and not faction. I want money to support a navy and an army, and this I will have, not by a philosopher's stone, but by drawing on yourselves; and when you cannot pay, then borrow; but lay yourselves to the wheels, and see what you can do first.


"The mischief is, you have too much money, and hence it is we hear of banks in every quarter, depreciating the medium until a paper dollar comes to be an oak-leaf; and if you were to make silver as plenty, it would be the same thing. I will have none of your philosophers stones, I will put my veto on it.


"The priesthood have young John Bull, I mean New England, under complete subjection; because they alarm them with the idea that but for them, the clergy, the witches would be let loose, and carry them to the red sea. Now, I neither wish such subordination, or by such means; but I tell you the truth, that I will resign the government, and go about my business, bog-trotting as I used to do, with some new waiter, if I should leave Teague upon your hands. I neither know nor care, but I should not be surprized, if some of you should have your necks in the guillotine, before a fortnight; (and here he gave a description of the guillotine.) This happened in the French revolution, and it will happen with you, if you give way to your reveries. I will abdicate this moment. I am off, and I would not wonder if some of you had a guillotine about your necks before the morning."


At this, descending from the stump, and making as if about to go off, a great dismay fell upon the legislative body, and the multitude without. They had a confused idea of the matter threatened, but could not well conceive what it was. Some thought it was at least a hanging matter that was come upon them; but all apprehended some bad consequence, there having been a rumour of philosophers in France having brought the nation to much suffering, by guillotines; the royal family having fallen victims to this mammoth kind of execution. They began therefore to intreat him to retain his place as governor; and even hinted at a resolution to guillotine the bog-trotter. The visionary philosopher afraid that in this turn of the public mind, he might also be guillotined, fell in with the current of the popular opinion, and said he was for the guillotine; that he had a model of one in his pocket. It was the fact, he had a model, not in the least expecting such a result of things: or that there would be any occasion for a guillotine; but merely as the model of a machine that had been in use, at a distance, but not introduced here. I have, said he, the model of a guillotine, pulling it out, and I take it, with the help of a carpenter or two, I could have one constructed of a proper size for the bog-trotter in the course of this evening.

Dear master, said Teague ensconcing himself behind the governor, spake to de paple and tell dem not to be after taking de head off a christian like a baste before he has time to spake. Dis is worse dan de savages wid deir tomahawks and deir scoolping knives. Let dese paple keep deir toasts and deir offices to demselves. I'll have none of dem. Better to be travelling after your honour in de woods and de bogs, and slaping in a good bed, dan to be kilt here like a shape. I'll be no governor, let dem keep it to demselves.

The governor finding that matters were likely to go too far and not liking to lose the services of the bog-trotter, though he did not much care for the visionary p[hilosopher thought it best to moderate the passions of the people or at least divert them to some other object.


I would just observe, said the governor, that the guillotine has fallen into disrepute in France. Deportation is the modern manner of disposing of the criminal. And without much time lost, it may be perfectly convenient to carry a deportation into effect. Here is a tin cart of one of these young John Bulls; I mean one of those carts that carry tin-ware, watering-cans, and cullenders. You can make use of one of these for deportation from the country, not that I can spare my bog-trotter from digging potatoes, but here is Thady O'Connor, a loose fish, that can be put into it.

No sooner said than done; Thady O'Connor was taken up, put into the cart and obliged to leave the settlement..