Chapter 14

 The Captain had consoled himself with the idea, that Teague was now cured of his folly, and would no more be disposed to entertain notions of ambition, and unreasonable projects. He was disappointed in his hope; for that very evening, the Irishman, washing down his woes with some exhilerating drink, and though not intoxicated, but enlivened only, came to the Captain: --Said he, Dear master, what would your anour think, if a poor sharvant should turn lawyer; and get a half joe when a customer comes to consult him in the morning? Would it not be better than currying a harse, and tratting about like a big dog; with no sense; to live like a man of fartune, and have a big house over his head, and about him, and take half joes from paple that come to him about their quarrels and batings, through de town, and sending dem aff as wise as if dey had never come to him, and de great spectacles, to look like a blind man, dat was blind before he was born, and could see more than two or three other paple for all dat; and was a canjurer, and a wizzard, and could take money for nating: Would it not be better, master, dan tratting like a fool, and disputing wid paple, and having nating to lay up; but be as poor as a church mouse, or a rat, all the days of our life, and paple laugh after us when we are gone.

The Captain was thrown into a reverie of thought, by the speech of the bog-trotter; reflecting that his presumption and folly was incurable; for, notwithstanding all that had been said to him, or suffered by him, his natural propensity remained the same; according to the maxim--Naturam expellas bifurea, usque recurret; you may toss out nature with a pitchfork, she will still come back upon you. Not so much from any further view of reclaiming him, as from indignation and resentment against his presumption, the Captain projected, in his mind a farther means of chastising him. He had heard of a work house in this city, into which refractory servants are committed, and put to hard labours; such as pounding hemp, grinding plaister of paris, and picking old ropes into oakum. He resolved to have the raggamuffin put into this a while. Counterfeiting therefore an approbation of his project of becoming a lawyer, Doubtless, said he, the profession of the law is a profitable business, where money is very easily got by the bare breath of the mouth. Nevertheless it requires time and study to qualify for this profession. Nay, the introduction to the study, by being put under an eminent lawyer in full practise, is itself very expensive. An hundred pistoles is sometimes the fee. This I could not very well afford; but I have an acquaintance in this town, who, I am persuaded, would be willing to oblige me, and will take less. I will call upon him early to-morrow, and settle the contract.

Accordingly, the next day, calling on the keeper of the work-house, he gave him an account of his refractory servant, and with a gratuity of a couple of guineas, obtained his consent to take the bog-trotter under his direction, and give him a few lessons in picking oakum, and grinding plaister of Paris, and pounding hemp, not withholding, in the mean time, a seasonable application of the cow-skin, in the intervals of study of these several branches of the law. For the idea was to be imposed upon Teague that this was an office, or as it were an inn of court, or chamber of the Inner Temple; and that the several flagellations, and grindings and poundings were so many lessons and lectures to qualify him for the practice of law.

It happened, fortunately, that the keeper of the work-house was well qualified for the task; for in early years he had been put an apprentice to an attorney, and had some opportunity of attending courts, and hearing the names of books to which the advocates referred in their pleadings; but having a turn for extravagance, and a dissolute manner of life, he had come to poverty, and through various scenes to jail. There by address he had gained a good will of the jailor’s daughter, whom he married; and by the interest of his new father-in-law, having obtained his liberation, he was from acting as deputy jailor, in a series of time, at length promoted to be the keeper of this work-house. Indeed from his employment, being acquainted with the prisoners, and finding himself sometimes interested in their fate, and being led to attend their trials, he had, even in his last capacity, been a good deal about courts, and heard law phrases and books mentioned.

Accordingly, when Teague was introduced, which was that very afternoon, he had at his command the names of the abridgers, and reporters, and commentators, of the law, and the technical terms in the commencement and process of a suit; so that, when the key was turned, and, after having stript him of the linen doublet that was upon him, he began to give him the first application of the cow-skin, he told him this was reading Wood’s Institutes; and when, after this, he was sentenced to an hour or two’s hard labour, at grinding plaister of Paris, this was called Coke upon Littleton: and when the employment was varied, pounding hemp, or picking oakum, it was called Hawkins’s Pleas of the crown, or Foster, or 4th Blackstone, &c. When the poor bog-trotter, reduced to a skeleton, living on bread and water, complained of the hard usage, and offered himself a servant for life, to curry horses and brush boots, to any Christian creature that would take him out of that place; he was told that, as he had begun the study of the law, he must go through with it; that that was but the commencement of the suit; that in a year’s time he would learn to file a declaration; in another, to put in a plea; in a third, to join issue; and in a fourth, to conduct a trial; that unless a bill of exceptions had been filed, or there was a motion in arrest of judgment, or writ of error brought, he might be admitted the fifth, and begin to practice the sixth year: At all events, provided he would submit himself with due application to fasting, and cowskinning, and grinding plaister of Paris, pounding hemp, and picking oakum, he might be a lawyer the seventh year, and wear spectacles like counsellor Grab, and take half a joe when he thought proper.

I know not by what simile to represent the howl of the Irishman at this prospect of the duration of his woes. It was like that of a wolf at the bottom of a well, or a dog that had lost his master, or a cow her comrade, or some forlorn wanderer that has missed the way, and given up all hopes of being extricated from the wilderness. At the various applications of the cow-skin, he had jumped, and cursed, and swore, and prayed, and beseeched, and promised a thousand services, of currying horses and brushing boots, and trotting wherever he was ordered, provided they would set him at liberty. When employed at the hard labour, before mentioned, he had groaned, and cursed the law, the counsellor and the half joe. Ah, thought he if my dear master, the Captain, knew how hard a ting it was to study law, and to fast widout ating or drinking, and be bate wid a cowskin, he would not have given de hundred pistoles, nor the half of it, to have had me kicked and cuffed in dis manner: I would give body and shoul into the bargain, if I could see him once more at dat iron gate, dere, to spake to him, and besache him to take me out of this purgatory. He was a good master; and when I was a fool, and wanted to be a member of congress, and prache, and be a phalosophar, he told me, Teague, you are a fool; and what they would do wid me dere; how they would bate me, and ate me, and take de skin aff my back, and make a cow or a shape od me; and now I am worse dan a cow or a shape, or a horse in de tame; for I am cut and curried black and blue, till my flesh is raw, and a cholic in my belly, wid fasting; and all to stoody dis law. De devil take counsellor Grab, and de half joe.