Chapter 8

They now began to approach the new settlement. This bordering on the Indian country, the inhabitants were presumed to be half savages. It was thought proper, therefore, to approach them with a talk. Accordingly Harum Scarum was appointed for that purpose; and taking a saddle girth for a belt of wampum he set out for the frontier.

Passing through a wood, he heard the scream of a panther, and advancing, saw it on a tree. Taking this for a back-woods man, or half Indian, he accosted him in the vernacular idiom of a savage, which he had learned, from the Indian treaties in the newspapers. “Brother,” said he, “do you want whiskey? We have a little in our keg at the camp. We have come here to bury the hatchet. It is two moons since we have been travelling. Our squaws are all at home, or we have none. Have you got a little killicaneeque, that we may smoke the calumet of peace; brighten up the chain of friendship, and sit round our council fires? Our young men are behind with their tomahawks. But the great spirit has taken the cocks of their guns and they come to shake hands, and set their traps on these waters.”

At that instant a settler on the other side of the wood, shot the panther, which Harum Scarum observing, ran in to help off with the hide, and became acquainted with the marksman. This was an introduction, and no farther was necessary. He took the skinning to be scalping; and that it was one savage that had shot another, and, as is the way of the world, he determined to take part with the conqueror. Assisting to flay the panther, that was lately his brother, he learned the news of the county town, of the new settlement, and gave account of the Captain, and his new-comers, and brought the huntsman among, to taste their whiskey, and conduct them to the village.

It may seem strange that we hear nothing of the Latin school-master all this time; but the fact is, that coming through the lack-learning settlement, they had gaged him, to keep him from speaking Greek; and his mouth was sore for a long time after, so that he could not even speak Latin; but as soon as he got into the village, he began to ejaculate.

In nova fert animus, mutatas dicere formas--
Italiam, fato profugus, Lavinaque venit--
Nos patriam fugimus: tu Tityre lentus in umbra--

There were several Indian traders in the town, who understood Delaware, Shawnee, Munsy, and Mingo, but they took this for Chippewaw, or as they pronounce it, Jibway, and did not understand it. They gave him, however, some boiled corn with bears oil in it, and threw him a skin to he down upon.- Closing his mouth with

“Odi profanum vulgus, et arceo.”

He fell asleep.

The first thing a settler does, when he goes to the new country, is to look out for a spring. Hard by he builds a cabin, of the stocks of trees, laid at right angles, and forming a square, or parallelogram. A stone serves for a back wall, and an aperture over it to give vent to the smoke.

The settler brings with him few implements of husbandry, because he is poor, and has them not to bring; or the carriage is not in his power, from the want of draught cattle. An axe, a mattock, a corn-hoe without a handle, perhaps plough-irons, an augre, and a saw.

His household furniture is a pot, a frying-pan, a kettle, and sometimes a gridiron. A few blankets, and a bed-tick to fill with oak leaves, is a luxury.

A cow to give milk, is almost indispensable; and the rifle, with a little ammunition sparingly used, supplies flesh for the family. He must occasionally take a turn to the settlement to get a bag of flour, and a quart or two of salt.

His horses, if he has any, range in the woods; and a good deal of time is spent in looking them up, when wanted for service.

A breeding sow is an admirable acquisition, big with pigs. If he can bring one with him, which is most generally accomplished, he has soon a herd of them, living on the pea vine, that supercedes the casual supply of hunting, and covers the sides of the chimney with hams, just at hand to cut off and broil.

It is of great advantage to the settler to be able to handle a tool, and to lay a stone. It would be advisable, therefore, in a father who means to send out his son, when grown up, to the new country, to put him some time to a carpenter, and to a stone mason. His own smithery he cannot well do, as an anvil, a pair of bellows, &c. are heavy to be carried; but the greatest drawback is, that he cannot resist the solicitations of his neighbours to assist them occasionally, and this takes him from the main branch of his improvement and cultivation.

The settlement is usually begun in this manner, and carried on by poor, honest, and industrious people. The town on the other hand, at the commencement, is usually a nest of adventurers, that have more wit than money, and more experience than industry.

A tavern-keeper or publican, that passes for a republican, to get custom; a horse jockey, a store-keeper, and a young lawyer, are the first that you find domiciliated in this metropolis.

The young lawyer, that had got to this place, was half starved, either because there was no other to help him to breed suits; or rather, which is most probable, because the state of society had not yet so improved, as to draw with it the inevitable consequent of valuable, and individual property, litigation, and law suits. The small controversies that had yet arisen, were determined by arbitration. These related chiefly to occupancy, and the rights of settlement; or contracts, as simple as the subjects of them, and involving no intricacy. But the inhabitants, either from the love of novelty, or finding the system of arbitration inadequate to the administration of justice, began to wish to have fixed principles and permanent tribunals, to govern and guard life, reputation, and property.

Not many months after the Captain had fixed himself in this place, and began to have weight among the people, there was a townmeeting on this subject, and it was proposed to have a code of laws, a court, and advocates, as in other settlements.

Is it possible? said the Captain, being in the habit of speaking his mind freely. In the mid-land settlements, they are going to burn the lawyers, as they did the wiches in New-England; and as to judges, it is as much as a man’s life is worth to resemble one; either in the brogue of his tongue, or the cut of his jib, I mean his hat! or coat that he wears; such is the odium, under which that profession or corps of men labour. Arbitration is in every body’s mouth, and down with the courts. A lawyer indeed! Raising the devil was in vogue in the middle ages of the church; but has been laid aside in christendom, since black cats became scarce, as without them there is a difficulty in laying him; but what can lay a lawyer, when he is once up? The hurricane which carries away the haystack, is nothing to the breath of his mouth, that bears away people’s property, by the fees which he axacts.

It was thus the Captain laboured to dissuade them from the proposition, with as much earnestness, and similar success, as Samuel dissuading the people of jewry, not from a jury trial, but from monarchy, in the days, when they wished the kings to succeed judges. And the fact is, that tyranny gets her best foothold on the backs of courts of law, and judges. But those judges had ceased to let the people “every man do what was right in his own eyes,” and therefore they wished for monarchs and dsepots. For if they were not to have perfect liberty, it was as well to be hanged for an old sheep as a lamb, and were unwilling “to halt between two opinions.”

But the people of the settlement before us, had an idea that courts of justice were the best preservatives of a republic; and bariers against monarchy, and despotism. They had got a maxim in their hands, pronounced by the latin schoolmaster when he rose out of his sleep.

Misera est servitus, ubi Jus vagum, et incognitum.

It is the worst of slavery where the law is unknown, or uncertain. And they had found arbitration to decide like the oscillation of a pendulum, and all began to call out for something more stable.