Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

.

FOR THE PORT FOLIO-THE SALAD, NO. IV.

BY CHRISTOPHER CROTCHET.

Nulla foro rabies, aut strictæ jurgia legis,
Morum jura viris solum, et sine fascibus æquum. Statius.

By love of right, and native justice led,
In the straight paths of equity, to tread,
Nor know the bar, nor fear the judge's frown,
Unpractised, in the wranglings of the gown.

Anon.

[ocr errors]

PHILOSOPHERS, of almost every age and country, have delighted to speculate on the science of politics. Yet it is to be lamented, that their writings, however numerous, are generally too subtle and etherial, to answer any purpose of practical utility. The Republic of Plato, the Oceana of Harrington, or the Utopia of sir Thomas More, although they may amuse the meditations of the scholar in his closet, would entirely perplex and embarrass a cabinet of statesmen. Those sublime schemes might perhaps be realized with Rousseau's* society of angels; or in the city which Aristophanest erected amidst the clouds, but mankind have left the golden age too many centuries behind them, ever to hope success from such assistances.

Among the manuscripts composed by my grandfather, and left behind him, I find one purporting to be the plan of a stitution for the best organized commonwealth. It seems indeed, a miscellany of fanciful gossiping and experimental truthThe old gentleman, as I before hinted, used to indulge frequently after this way, and in order to secure his mind from the intrusion of impertinent curiosity or noisy folly, he erected, at a convenient distance from his farm-house, a little pavilion, surrounded by a pleasant academic grove, to which he would resort, as the scene of assignation, appointed by the Muses themselves. Here he could sit whole days together, in sweetest dalliance with the lovely daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne, forgetful of every endearment, save their grateful smiles. But when re

con

* Vide social compact.

† Arist. Nepbelococcigiæ.

Salad, No. II.

leased from the fascination, when his research was finished and some fair fabric arose to the enraptured view; how did the bay and laurel tremble on his brow, as he reflected, that all his workmanship might moulder away, like a palace of porphyry in the desert, without one solitary artist to admire its harmonious order, its graceful columns, and its sparkling turrets. The Sybilline books and Alexandrian library, where are they? Even the same fate appeared to threaten the lucubrations of my grandsire.

Within the precincts of the neighbourhood, where he lived, there was not a character of literary merit to become acquainted with his theories. The parish-minister had read the Bible, with Burkitt's commentary, and peradventure the first part of Pilgrim's Progress. His erudition extended no further. The popular physician could quote mechanically, a long list of Latin names, and promised to cure all sorts of maladies, by an infallible panacea made up of simples. His genius never wandered beyond the circumference of a pill-box and gallipot. As to the country barber, he was confessedly a personage of superior judgment to the rest, for he could talk at ordinaries, learnedly of cockfights and elections--politics and horse-racing. Moreover, in his earlier years, he had enjoyed by virtue of his vocation, a kind of puisné professorship at college, where he found, that the moon is not moulded out of green-cheese, according to the error of the ancient physics.

But as my ancestor never trusted his chin and throat to the skill of any other operator than my grandmother, he always remained profoundly ignorant of this chief of the rustic sages. The idea of formally appearing, before the reverend Divan of Critics and Reviewers, never came into his mind, without bringing on a most perilous ague-fit; so that, a due regard of health made him decline all thoughts of that. Was ever man, woman, or child, so tantalized, so widow-bewitched, and vexed with contradiction? Accordingly the plan of a constitution is indorsed with this following lamentation.

“ Am not I, Cadwallader Crotchet, gent. more unfortunate « than any being that breathes either in the old or new worlds? « Of what avail is it that I expend my days in devising schemes “ for the amelioration of mankind, when they will never reap the “ fruits of my philanthropy? My works might as well be buried « with me, like the sacred volumes of Numa. Oh! saint Antho"ny, saint Anthony, how hard did you think your fate, when the “ heretics, paying no respect to your sublime discourses, compel“ led you to preach before the fishes of the sea-shore. The fishes “ hearkened to your voice and devoutly regarded their apostle. “When you concluded, lo! a marvel, they bowed down their “ heads to the sands, and having received your benediction, de“parted rejoicing. But even the fishes of the sea-shore will not “ be benefitted by my labours.”

Peace be unto thy manes, dearly-beloved relative! Thy labours shall not be lost entirely. What the moths and mice have laudably left, shall be superadded to the stock of sublunary knowedge. Nor will those august censors, once so terrific to thee, shed a single drop of gall against them. They have to much charity to war with the ashes of the dead.

At this distant period it is difficult to determine absolutely, what part my good old progenitor might assume, with the politicians of the present time. I incline however to believe, that he would occupy much the same rank in our republic, that is held by the oyster in the animal and vegetable kingdom. He would prove a sort of analogical link, between jarring partizans. The preface of the manuscript before me, bears ample testimo

that he was neither the advocate of perfect cquality, nor indeed wedded to stars and crosses and eņsigns armorial. For it is considered not more preposterous to imagine that all of us wear NOSES, cut after the same fashion and figure, than to believe that we all possess rights, parcelled out by the same impartial charter. Nature in both cases, has decreed a discrimination, and why should man protest against her authority. “Sagacity," quoth a learned doctor, “is the nose of the mind;" and this feature of

ny,

mental physiognomy, may be either straight or crooked, pug or bulbous, Roman or Grecian.

In regard to the doctrines of the other school, our venerable theorist was by no means a complete disciple. Two little anecdotes, which came immediately under his cognizance kept him always vascillating. A handsome young man, having pilfered half a dozen silver spoons from a jeweller's window, was legally convicted of the crime and sentenced to the pillory. Previous to execution, the department permitted to exercise the dispensing power, liberally tendered a pardon. The prisoner however, blushingly refused it, declaring, that, although his personal beauty would be spoilt, he had preferably submit to his malignant planet at once. His progenitors had been spoon-stealers, from time, whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, and invariably lost their ears in consequence.

It was a family fatality, and since his own souse must sooner or later be put into the same pickle, he wished the business over, without delay, to save the terrors of anticipation. This fact had a squinting towards a patriciate, and hereditary honours. Yet another presently arose to belie it. A certain cobbler, who was transported early after the first settlement of the colony at James town, and perhaps came over with lord Delaware, had two sons. They were promising lads; but it is singular, the eldest could never see an awl without falling into an epilepsy; nor the youngest behold a pair of pincers, without heartily wishing they might be buried at the bottom of the draw-well. They were educated as tailors; and their offspring discovered similar antipathies to the goose and lapboard. Thus no determinate judgment could be drawn.

The form of government, which my grandfather recommends, has something so original about its model, that I cannot forbear to offer an anatomy of it, in this paper. There is reason to believe, it would have been more out of the common order, had he not been aware, that the gray-beard prejudices of the world should be somewhat respected. Peter the Great of Muscow, (you know,) was well nigh frustrating all his laboured

projects of reform, by the order for shaving the faces of his whiskered subjects. Every system should sometimes yield, in order to conciliate; and often flatter, that it may be revered the more, when it commands.

Agreeably to this, our venerable theorist, the first office . of state, should be delegated to that man, whose head and heart best qualified him to support and adorn it. His virtues should be pacific, and a love of philosophy the master passion of his soul. All executive duties should be confided to him, and he might be elected by the sovereign people, every four years. . To demonstrate the general wishes, toward a good understanding with every country, his excellency is compelled to provide a philo-politico national wardrobe, in compliment of foreign potentates, principalities and powers; as red breeches of Paris cut for France, for England a Bond-street coat of London brown, for Spain the silk stockings of Valdemoro, a stone-coloured waistcoat, with scarlet button-holes for Denmark, and for China, a big funnel-bonnet, tipped at its apex with a gorgeous bead or pearl. This suit is to be worn, only on festivals, anniversaries and holy-days.

The supreme magistrate should be aided, during a particular season, by the grand council of sages; who are likewise directed to be attired in tunics and caps, composed of a tight velvet , sconce-piece, with a superficial square placed diagonally upon it, and tasselled; the whole to be made of sables, that greater awe may be inspired in the lobbies and gallery.-There is certainly no doubt of mind and body, being related by the nearest ties of affinity. They have been most appositely typified, by “a jerkin and a jerkin's lining;” whatever puckers the one, must perforce pucker the other, also. This being established, it appeared a necessary consequence, that the council should be placed under a scrupulous regimen of diet. Lycurgus prescribed to the Spartans a black broth, which agreeably to the recipe of Meursius, was nothing more nor less than pork gravy, with a, pleasant dash of vinegar and salt; my grandfather exults in the invention of a certain soup meagre, made by the concoction of cows' heels and turnip-tops, which from its being light, and easy of digestion is fixed, as the only nutriment of our senators. Their only drink

« IndietroContinua »