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ting four terms into a syllogism, which, as all the world knows, ought to run on three; a tripod it ought to be, by all rules known to man, and, behold, I forced it to become a quadruped. Upon my uncle's military haste, and tumultuous energy in pressing his opinions, all such delicate refinements were absolutely thrown away. With disgust I saw, with disgust he saw, that too apparently the advantage lay with me in the result; and, whilst I worked like a dragon to place myself in the wrong, some fiend apparently so counterworked me, that eternally I was reminded of the Manx half-pennies, which lately I had continually seen current in North Wales, bearing for their heraldic distinction three human legs in armor, but so placed in relation to each other that always one leg is vertical and mounting guard on behalf of the other two, which, therefore, are enabled to sprawl aloft in the air-in fact, to be as absurdly negligent as they choose, relying upon their vigilant brother below, and upon the written legend or motto, STABIT QUOCUNQUE JECERIS (Stand it will upright, though you should fling it in any conceivable direction). What gave another feature of distraction and incoherency to my position was, that I still occupied the position of a reputed boy, nay, a child, in the estimate of my audience, and of a child in disgrace. Time enough had not passed since my elopement from school to win for me, in minds so fresh from that remembrance, a station of purification and assoilment. Oxford might avail to assoil me, and to throw into a distant retrospect my boyish trespasses; but as yet Oxford had not arrived. I committed, besides, a great fault in taking often a
tone of mock seriousness, when the detection of the playful extravagance was left to the discernment or quick sympathy of the hearer; and I was blind to the fact, that neither my mother nor my uncle was distinguished by any natural liveliness of vision for the comic, or any toleration for the extravagant. My mother, for example, had an awful sense of conscientious fidelity in the payment of taxes. Many a respectable family I have known that would privately have encouraged a smuggler, and, in consequence, were beset continually by mock smugglers, offering, with airs of affected mystery, home commodities liable to no custom-house objections whatsoever, only at a hyperbolical price. I remember even the case of a duke, who bought in Piccadilly, under laughable circumstances of complex disguise, some silk handkerchiefs, falsely pretending to be foreign, and was so incensed at finding himself to have been committing no breach of law whatever, but simply to have been paying double the ordinary shop price, that he pulled up the soi-disant smuggler to Bowstreet, even at the certain price of exposure to himself. The charge he alleged against the man was the untenable one of not being a smuggler. My mother, on the contrary, pronounced all such attempts at cheating the king, or, as I less harshly termed it, cheating the tax-gatherer, as being equal in guilt to a fraud upon one's neighbor, or to direct appropriation of another man's purse. I, on my part, held, that government, having often defrauded me through its agent and creature the post-office, by monstrous over-charges on letters, had thus created in my behalf a right of retaliation. And dreadfully it an
noyed my mother, that I, stating this right in a very plausible rule-of-three form-namely, As is the income of the said fraudulent government to my poor patrimonial income of one hundred and fifty pounds per annum, so is any one special fraud (as, for instance, that of yesterday morning, amounting to thirteen pence upon a single letter) to that equitable penalty which I am entitled to recover upon the goods and chattels (wherever found) of the illadvised Britannic government. During the war with Napoleon, the income of this government ran, to all amounts, between fifty and seventy millions pounds sterling. Awful, therefore, seemed the inheritance of retaliation, inexhaustible the fund of reprisals, into which I stepped. Since, even a single case of robbery, such as I could plead by dozens, in the course of a few years, though no more than thirteen pence, yet multiplied into seventy million times two hundred and forty pence, minus one hundred and fifty pounds, made a very comfortable property. The right was clear; and the sole difficulty lay in asserting it; in fact, that same difficulty which beset the philosopher of old, in arguing with the Emperor Hadrian; namely, the want of thirty legions for the purpose of clearly pointing out to Cæsar where it was that the truth lay; the secret truth; that rarest of all "nuggets."
This counter-challenge of government, as the first mover in a system of frauds, annoyed, but also perplexed my mother exceedingly. For an argument that shaped itself into a rule-of-three illustration seemed really to wear too candid an aspect for summary and absolute rejection.
Such discussions wore to me a comic shape. But altogether serious were the disputes upon INDIA topic on separate grounds equally interesting to us all, as the mightiest of English colonies, and the superbest monument of demoniac English energy, revealing itself in such men as Clive, Hastings, and soon after in the two Wellesleys. To my mother, as the grave of one brother, as the home of another, and as a new centre from which Christianity (she hoped) would mount like an eagle; for just about that time the Bible Society was preparing its initial movements; whilst to my uncle India appeared as the arena upon which his activities were yet to find their adequate career. With respect to the Christianization of India, my uncle assumed a hope which he did not really feel; and in another point, more trying to himself personally, he had soon an opportunity for showing the sincerity of this deference to his spiritual-minded sister. For, very soon after his return to India, he received a civil appointment (Superintendent of Military Buildings in Bengal), highly lucrative, and the more so as it could be held conjointly with his military rank; but a good deal of its pecuniary advantages was said to lie in fees, or perquisites, privately offered, but perfectly regular and official, which my mother (misunderstanding the Indian system) chose to call "bribes." A very ugly word was that; but I argued that even at home, even in the courts at Westminster, in the very fountains of justice, private fees constituted one part of the salaries a fair and official part, so long as Parliament had not made such fees illegal by commuting them for known and fixed equivalents.
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It was mere ignorance of India, as I dutifully insisted against "Mamma," that could confound these regular oriental "nuzzers" with the clandestine wages of corruption. The pot-de-vin of French tradition, the pair of gloves (though at one time very costly gloves) to an English judge of assize on certain occasions, never was offered nor received in the light of a bribe. And (until regularly abolished by the legislature) I insisted-but vainly insisted that these and similar honoraria ought to be accepted, because else you were lowering the prescriptive rights and value of the office, which you locum tenens for some coming successorright to do upon a solitary scruple or crotchet, arising probably from dyspepsia. Better men, no doubt, than ever stood in your stockings, had pocketed thankfully the gifts of ancient, time-honored custom. My uncle, however, though not with the carnal recusancy which besieged the spiritual efforts of poor Cuthbert Headrigg, that incorrigible worldling, yet still with intermitting doubts, followed my mother's earnest entreaties, and the more meritoriously (I conceive), as he yielded, in a point deeply affecting his interest, to a system of arguments very imperfectly convincing to his understanding. He held the office in question for as much (I believe) as eighteen or nineteen years; and, by knowing old bilious Indians, who laughed immoderately at my uncle and my mother, as the proper growth of a priory or some such monastic establishment, I have been assured that nothing short of two hundred thousand pounds ought, under the long tenure of office, to have been remitted to England. But, then, said one of these