Chapter 11

Inacus founded Argos; Cecrops Athens; Cadmus Thebes in Boeotia; Romulus Rome; and Penn Philadelphia. Now who formed the town of which we are speaking, cannot be said; for it was founded by a congluvies of mortals like the company of David, in the cave of Adullam. “Every one that was in distress; and every on that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him.” Amongst these a broken judge came in, who complained that he was unjustly broken.

A word with you friend, said the Captain. Were you not tried by a competent tribunal?

Yes, said the judge; but the judgment was unjust. Why not appeal? It was the tribunal in the last resort.

What, said the Captain; can there be an error in a dernier decision? What is it, according to yourselves, that makes the law, but decision? Precedent is authority. What has reason to do in the case? Once it gets into the books and becomes a case, let me see what judge can undo it, or question the reason of it. It has become law. We must take the law as we find it. If Holt has once said it the game is up; or Buller; or Kenyon. It is a knock ‘im down argument, that Patterson has ruled it so; or Washington or Marshall. It is the construction of the judge that makes the law. It is the application to facts proved, or admitted, that makes the case; and the application being by the constitutional tribunals, there is no more to be said about it. Positive institutions are arbitrary things, and there is no reason necessary that they are as they are. You a judge, and talk of an unjust judgment, where it has been given by those who alone a right to judge! This shows that you were not fit for your office: so turn in there, we will do the best we can for you; but no mere caterwauling about the injustice of your sentence; you sent many a man from your decisions, I will undertake to say, dissatisfied-but the law had determined it; it had become a case, and there was an end of the disquisition.

The judge hung his lip, and turned into a cabin.

A young doctor had come here. What learning he had before he came, is not of so much consequence, as what practice he had afterwards. One thing he had acquired, the cant of a physician, that had he been called sooner, before the constitution had lost its tone, or nature her diathesis to co-operate with the medicine, a cure might have been effected; and even as it was, by preserving regimen, something might be done. The quack taking care first to find out what the patient liked best; and especially prohibiting that, because, as he knew, the indulgence could not all at once be restrained absolutely, it was morally certain the patient wound transgress a little, and furnish the complaint with a pretence to stick by him in spite of the faculty.

A young woman had been found in the woods, naked, gagged, and had been, as she said, tied to a tree. The account she gave was that she had been taken out of a nunnery in Canada, where she had been educated: was on her way to her father in Kentucky, a rich man; had been robbed of a thousand doubloons by her conductor, stripped of her silks and muslins, and left to perish in the wilderness. Imagination or philanthropy saw truth in her history; and she was fed and cloathed, not as the law directed, but as humanity dictated, and brought into good company.

At the first discovery of her, she was thought to be a mortal; but in a short time she was conceived to be an angel. There were an hundred that would have married her, had it not been for this distrust of being real flesh and blood. But by this time it began to be found out or at least suspected, that the nunnery had been no farther off than a city of these states, and under the care of brothers, rather than sisters; and where the employment was something else than needle-work. In the opinion of most persons she became a mortal, that had put off her duds; and except in odes or dithyrambics, we hear little farther of her as a divinity.

The preacher of the town was a methodist that had been a horse thief; and when he had taken his text and was warning from the like offence, and telling the danger of it, he would put back his wig and say, you see I have lost my ears by it.

Ecce signum, said the Latin schoolmaster;
Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.

At an early period, the ceremony of marriage had been dispensed with in this town, as is the case where there are not magistrates or priests at hand to officiate, and make the legal copula, or knot of marriage. Diana and her nymphs; the three graces and the nine muses, are represented as not marrying at all. It is to be presumed that it is owing to the same cause, the absence of the justice of the peace or the parson. But it is always spoken of as the first step towards civilization, the coupling in marriage.

------------------Sancire leges.
Concubitu prohibere vago.

The Captain being elected governor of the new state, paid attention, in the first instance, to this matter of police, and directed the girdle of Hymen, to be added to the zone of Venus, in all cases where it had been yet wanting. The settlement in a new country is, in some respects, delightful; the country in its virgin state, before the underwood is browzed upon, and the luxury of flowers and shrubs is repressed by the beasts of burden, or the labours of the husbandman. It has seemed to me that the streams run clearer in a new country than the old; they are certainly more abundant. The cultivation of the soil uncovering the vallies, lets in the rays of the sun, which drink up the moisture, and open fissures in the earth, where the streamlets sink and disappear.-Hence it is that we read of brooks and rivulets in the classic and long cultivated countries, which bubble now only in the song of the muses-

“Sunk are their fountains, and their channels dry.”

The natural moss on the margin of the fountains and the rivers in a new country, are greener, and furnish a more romantic seat,

Saxo sedilia vivo,

shaded by the umbrage of the forest, than the clover of the meadow; or the artificial bank and bowers of the garden itself. How delightful the small parties that are made upon the water of the rivers in skiffs or canoes, or in the shades of the forest, and near a spring head, at a fete champetre or barbecue, where the company assemble, nor yet divided by the classifications of wealth or pride! I do not wonder that the young people of the Israelites were apt to be seduced to sacrifice “in high places, on hills, and under every green tree,” even though prohibited, inasmuch as these situations were so delightful, at leas in the summer seasons.

“The flowers of the forest are a’ wed away,”

In the old school ballad is a fine expression: for the flowers of the “forest” are unquestionably of a more lively bloom and finer odour than those of a garden; and that atmosphere of fragrance, which, from a wilderness of verdure, pours upon the senses, overwhelms with delight. There is no ague, or fever here; for the exhalation from the foliage is aromatic to the smell-The gale is not tainted with miasmata. The air is a bed of perfume, and the vapour tastes of nectar and ambrosia.

Such scenes, and such air must be salutary. Whatever the component parts or qualities, hydrogen or oxygen, of which the chymists speak, certain it is that the air breathed from plants and flowers is favourable to health and longevity. Inhaled by the lungs, it is restorative to the tabescent, and as a vapour bath to the whole body is salubrious. A ride from the sea coast to an ultramontane settlement in the spring of the year, is resuscitation to an almost dead constitution.

But it would seem to be owing to other causes than mere bodily vigour and health, that the inhabitants of a new country appear to have more intellectual vigour, and in fact more understanding in the same grade of education, than the inhabitants of an old settlement, and especially of towns and cities. The mind enlarges with the horizon. Place a man on the top of a mountain, or on a large plain, his ideas partake of the situation, and he thinks more nobly than he would under the ceiling of a room or at a small country seat.

It may be that the change of situation gives a spring to the mind, and that the intercourse with that variety of characters which emigrate, increases the stock of knowledge. Whether owing to these, or other causes, it unquestionably appears to me, that the ultramontaneer is, in general, the superiour man, in the same occupation and pursuit in life. This would seem to hold good out of the learned professions which require a propinquity to the libraries of Apollo, as well as the seats of the muses; but we have in view chiefly that natural sagacity, and discernment of spirit, and strength of mind which constitutes mental superiority. Perhaps it may be that the most active spirits are those that emigrate; or that people put to their shifts, which is the case in a new country, acquire a vigour of mind proportioned to the exercise.

There is one thing observable, that, in a new settlement, society is coveted, because it is scarce; and mutual wants produce reciprocal accommodation. The emigrants coming also, from different quarters, and hitherto unknown to each other, do not bring with them latent, or professed enmities; and the mind, ira amicitia vacuus is open wholly for new impressions. Family feuds, of an old standing, or of recent inception, do not exist. The absence of all chagrin is a state of mind more easily coveted than explained, either as to its sensations, or as to its consequences. But it is a main spring of happiness in a settlement, that the improver begins upon a new plan, and upon his own scale; and he has his shades and his avenues at once, without waiting for the trees to grow. There are neither ruins, nor vestiges of decay before his eyes, but a young country receiving young cultivation; just at the will of the possessor, without the necessity of sacrificing taste to what had been begun and half finished. Suffice it to have said these things to the encouragement of young people who may not be well provided for by those before them, and are disposed to seek their fortunes dependent only on themselves.