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The Chainbearer; Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts By James Fenimore Cooper Characters: 36134

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

"There shall be, in England, seven half penny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer; all the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass."-Jack Cade.

* * *

"I do not see, sir," I remarked, as we moved on from the last of these pauses, "why the governors and the legislators, and writers on this subject of anti-rentism, talk so much of feudality, and chickens, and days' works, and durable leases, when we have none of these, while we have all the disaffection they are said to produce."

"You will understand that better as you come to know more of men. No party alludes to its weak points. It is just as you say; but the proceedings of your tenants, for instance, give the lie to the theories of the philanthropists, and must be kept in the background. It is true that the disaffection has not yet extended to one-half, or to one-fourth of the leased estates in the country, perhaps not to one-tenth, if you take the number of the landlords as the standard, instead of the extent of their possessions, but it certainly will, should the authorities tamper with the rebels much longer."

"If they tax the incomes of the landlords under the durable rent system, why would not the parties aggrieved have the same right to take up arms to resist such an act of oppression as our fathers had in 1776?"

"Their cause would be better; for that was only a constructive right, and one dependent on general principles, whereas this is an attempt at a most mean evasion of a written law, the meanness of the attempt being quite as culpable as its fraud. Every human being knows that such a tax, so far as it has any object beyond that of an election-sop, is to choke off the landlords from the maintenance of their covenants, which is a thing that no State can do directly, without running the risk of having its law pronounced unconstitutional by the courts of the United States, if, indeed, not by its own courts."

"The Court of Errors, think you?"

"The Court of Errors is doomed, by its own abuses. Catiline never abused the patience of Rome more than that mongrel assembly has abused the patience of every sound lawyer in the State. 'Fiat justitia, ruat c?lum,' is interpreted, now, into 'Let justice be done, and the court fall.' No one wishes to see it continued, and the approaching convention will send it to the Capulets, if it do nothing else to be commended. It was a pitiful imitation of the House of Lords system, with this striking difference; the English lords are men of education, and men with a vast deal at stake, and their knowledge and interests teach them to leave the settlement of appeals to the legal men of their body, of whom there are always a respectable number, in addition to those in possession of the woolsack and the bench; whereas our Senate is a court composed of small lawyers, country doctors, merchants, farmers, with occasionally a man of really liberal attainments. Under the direction of an acute and honest judge, as most of our true judges actually are, the Court of Errors would hardly form such a jury as would allow a creditable person to be tried by his peers, in a case affecting character, for instance, and here we have it set up as a court of the last resort, to settle points of law!"

"I see it has just made a decision in a libel suit, at which the profession sneers."

"It has, indeed. Now look at that very decision, for instance, as the measure of its knowledge. An editor of a newspaper holds up a literary man to the world as one anxious to obtain a small sum of money, in order to put it into Wall Street, for 'shaving purposes.' Now, the only material question raised was the true signification of the word 'shaving.' If to say a man is a 'shaver,' in the sense in which it is applied to the use of money, be bringing him into discredit, then was the plaintiff's declaration sufficient; if not, it was insufficient, being wanting in what is called an 'innuendo.' The dictionaries, and men in general, understand by 'shaving,' 'extortion,' and nothing else. To call a man a 'shaver' is to say he is an 'extortioner,' without going into details. But, in Wall Street, and among money-dealers, certain transactions that, in their eyes, and by the courts, are not deemed discreditable, have of late been brought within the category of 'shaving.' Thus it is technically, or by convention among bankers, termed 'shaving' if a man buy a note at less than its face, which is a legal transaction. On the strength of this last circumstance, as is set forth in the published opinions, the highest Court of Appeals in New York has decided that it does not bring a man into discredit to say he is a 'shaver!'-thus making a conventional signification of the brokers of Wall Street higher authority for the use of the English tongue than the standard lexicographers, and all the rest of those who use the language! On the same principle, if a set of pickpockets at the Five Points, should choose to mystify their trade a little by including in the term 'to filch' the literal borrowing of a pocket-handkerchief, it would not be a libel to accuse a citizen of 'filching his neighbor's handkerchief!'"

"But the libel was uttered to the world, and not to the brokers of Wall Street only, who might possibly understand their own terms."

"Very true; and was uttered in a newspaper that carried the falsehood to Europe; for the writer of the charge, when brought up for it, publicly admitted that he had no ground for suspecting the literary man of any such practices. He called it a 'joke.' Every line of the context, however, showed it was a malicious charge. The decision is very much as if a man who is sued for accusing another of 'stealing' should set up a defence that he meant 'stealing' hearts, for the word is sometimes used in that sense. When men use epithets that convey discredit in their general meaning, it is their business to give them a special signification in their own contexts, if such be their real intention. But I much question if there be a respectable money-dealer, even in Wall Street, who would not swear, if called on in a court of justice so to do, that he thought the general charge of 'shaving' discreditable to any man."

"And you think the landlords whose rents were taxed, sir, would have a moral right to resist?"

"Beyond all question; as it would be an income-tax on them only of all in the country. What is more, I am fully persuaded that two thousand men embodied to resist such tyranny would look down the whole available authority of the State; inasmuch as I do not believe citizens could be found to take up arms to enforce a law so flagrantly unjust. Men will look on passively and see wrongs inflicted, that would never come out to support them by their own acts. But we are approaching the farm, and there are Tom Miller and his hired men waiting our arrival."

It is unnecessary to repeat, in detail, all that passed in this our second visit to the farm-house. Miller received us in a friendly manner, and offered us a bed, if we would pass the night with him. This business of a bed had given us more difficulty than anything else in the course of our peregrinations. New York has long got over the "two-man" and "three-man bed" system, as regards its best inns. At no respectable New York inn is a gentleman now asked to share even his room, without an apology and a special necessity, with another, much less his bed; but the rule does not hold good as respects pedlers and music-grinders. We had ascertained that we were not only expected to share the same bed, but to occupy that bed in a room filled with other beds. There are certain things that get to be second nature, and that no masquerading will cause to go down; and, among others, one gets to dislike sharing his room and his tooth-brush. This little difficulty gave us more trouble that night at Tom Miller's than anything we had yet encountered. At the taverns, bribes had answered our purpose; but this would not do so well at a farm residence. At length the matter was got along with by putting me in the garret, where I was favored with a straw bed under my own roof, the decent Mrs. Miller making many apologies for not having a feather-smootherer, into which to "squash" me. I did not tell the good woman that I never used feathers, summer or winter; for, had I done so, she would have set me down as a poor creature from "oppressed" Germany, where the "folks" did not know how to live. Nor would she have been so much out of the way quoad the beds, for in all my journeyings I never met with such uncomfortable sleeping as one finds in Germany, off the Rhine and out of the large towns.[23]

While the negotiation was in progress I observed that Josh Brigham, as the anti-rent disposed hireling of Miller's was called, kept a watchful eye and an open ear on what was done and said. Of all men on earth, the American of that class is the most "distrustful," as he calls it himself, and has his suspicions the soonest awakened. The Indian on the war-path-the sentinel who is posted in a fog, near his enemy, an hour before the dawn of day-the husband that is jealous, or the priest that has become a partisan, is not a whit more apt to fancy, conjecture, or assert, than the American of that class who has become "distrustful." This fellow, Brigham, was the very beau ideal of the suspicious school, being envious and malignant, as well as shrewd, observant, and covetous. The very fact that he was connected with the "Injins," as turned out to be the case, added to his natural propensities the consciousness of guilt, and rendered him doubly dangerous. The whole time my uncle and myself were crossing over and figuring in, in order to procure for each a room, though it were only a closet, his watchful, distrustful looks denoted how much he saw in our movements to awaken curiosity, if not downright suspicion. When all was over, he followed me to the little lawn in front of the house, whither I had gone to look at the familiar scene by the light of the setting sun, and began to betray the nature of his own suspicions by his language.

"The old man" (meaning my uncle Ro) "must have plenty of gold watches about him," he said, "to be so plaguy partic'lar consarnin' his bed. Peddlin' sich matters is a ticklish trade, I guess, in some parts?"

"Ja; it ist dangerous somevhere, but it might not be so in dis goot coontry."

"Why did the old fellow, then, try so hard to get that little room all to himself, and shove you off into the garret? We hired men don't like the garret, which is a hot place in summer."

"In Charmany one man hast ever one bed," I answered, anxious to get rid of the subject.

I bounced a little, as "one has one-half of a bed" would be nearer to the truth, though the other half might be in another room.

"Oh! that's it, is't? Wa-a-l, every country has its ways, I s'pose. Jarmany is a desp'ate aristocratic land, I take it."

"Ja; dere ist moch of de old feudal law, and feudal coostum still remaining in Charmany."

"Landlords a plenty, I guess, if the truth was known. Leases as long as my arm, I calkerlate?"

"Vell, dey do dink, in Charmany, dat de longer might be de lease, de better it might be for de denant."

As that was purely a German sentiment, or at least not an American sentiment, according to the notions broached by statesmen among ourselves, I made it as Dutch as possible by garnishing it well with d's.

"That's a droll idee! Now, we think, here, that a lease is a bad thing; and the less you have of a bad thing, the better."

"Vell, dat ist queer, so queer as I don't know! Vhat vill dey do as might help it?"

"Oh! the legislature will set it all right. They mean to pass a law to prevent any more leases at all."

"Und vill de beople stand dat? Dis ist a free country, efferybody dells me, and vilt der beoples agree not to hire lands if dey vants to?"

"Oh! you see we wish to choke the landlords off from their present leases; and, by and by, when that is done, the law can let up again."

"But ist dat right? Der law should be joost, und not hold down und let oop, as you calls it."

"You don't understand us yet, I see. Why that's the prettiest and the neatest legislation on airth! That's just what the bankrupt law did."

"Vhat did her bankroopt law do, bray? Vhat might you mean now?-I don't know."

"Do! why, it did wonders for some on us, I can tell you! It paid our debts, and let us up when we was down; and that's no trifle, I can tell you. I took 'the benefit,' as it is called, myself."

"You!-you might take der benefit of a bankrupt law! You, lifing here ast a hiret man, on dis farm!"

"Sartain; why not? All a man wanted under that law was about $60 to carry him through the mill; and if he could rake and scrape that much together, he might wipe off as long a score as he pleased. I had been dealin' in speckylation, and that's a make or break business, I can tell you. Well, I got to be about $423.22 wuss than nothin'; but, having about $90 in hand, I went through the mill without getting cogged the smallest morsel! A man doos a good business, to my notion, when he can make twenty cents pay a whull dollar of debt."

"Und you did dat goot business?"

"You may say that; and now I means to make anti-rentism get me a farm cheap-what I call cheap; and that an't none of your $30 or $40 an acre, I can tell you!"

It was quite clear that Mr. Joshua Brigham regarded these transactions as so many Pragmatic Sanctions, that were to clear the moral and legal atmospheres of any atoms of difficulty that might exist in the forms of old opinions, to his getting easily out of debt, in the one case, and suddenly rich in the other. I dare say I looked bewildered, but I certainly felt so, at thus finding myself face to face with a low knave, who had a deliberate intention, as I now found, to rob me of a farm. It is certain that Joshua so imagined, for, inviting me to walk down the road with him a short distance, he endeavored to clear up any moral difficulties that might beset me, by pursuing the subject.

"You see," resumed Joshua, "I will tell you how it is. These Littlepages have had this land long enough, and it's time to give poor folks a chance. The young spark that pretends to own all the farms you see, far and near, never did anything for 'em in his life; only to be his father's son. Now, to my notion, a man should do suthin' for his land, and not be obligated for it to mere natur'. This is a free country, and what right has one man to land more than another?"

"Or do his shirt, or do his dobacco, or do his coat, or do anyding else."

"Well, I don't go as far as that. A man has a right to his clothes, and maybe to a horse, or a cow, but he has no right to all the land in creation. The law gives a right to a cow as ag'in' execution."

"Und doesn't der law gif a right to der landt, too? You must not depend on der law, if you might succeed."

"We like to get as much law as we can on our side. Americans like law: now, you'll read in all the books-our books, I mean, them that's printed here-that the Americans be the most lawful people on airth, and that they'll do more for the law than any other folks known!"

"Vell, dat isn't vhat dey says of der Americans in Europe; nein, nein, dey might not say dat."

"Why, don't you think it is so? Don't you think this the greatest country on airth, and the most lawful?"

"Vell, I don'ts know. Das coontry ist das coontry, und it ist vhat it ist, you might see."

"Yes; I thought you would be of my way of thinking, when we got to understand each other." Nothing is easier than to mislead an American on the estimate foreigners place on them: in this respect they are the most deluded people living, though, in other matters, certainly among the shrewdest. "That's the way with acquaintances, at first; they don't always understand one another: and then you talk a little thick, like. But now, friend, I'll come to the p'int-but first swear you'll not betray me."

"Ja, ja-I oonderstandst; I most schwear I won't bedray you: das ist goot."

"But, hold up your hand. Stop; of what religion be you?"

"Gristian, to be sure. I might not be a Chew. Nein, nein; I am a ferry vat Gristian."

"We are all bad enough, for that matter; but I lay no stress on that. A little of the devil in a man helps him along, in this business of ourn. But you must be suthin' more than a Christian, I s'pose, as we don't call that bein' of any religion at all, in this country. Of what supportin' religion be you?"

"Soobortin'; vell, I might not oonderstands dat. Vhat is soobortin' religion? Coomes dat vrom Melanchton und Luther?-or coomes it vrom der Pope? Vhat ist dat soobortin' religion?"

"Why, what religion do you patronize? Do you patronize the standin' order, or the kneelin' order?-or do you patronize neither? Some folks thinks its best to lie down at prayer, as the least likely to divart the thoughts."

"I might not oonderstand. But nefer mindt der religion, und coome to der p'int dat you mentioned."

"Well, that p'int is this. You're a Jarman, and can't like aristocrats, and so I'll trust you; though, if you do betray me, you'll never play on another bit of music in this country, or any other! If you want to be an Injin, as good an opportunity will offer to-morrow as ever fell in a man's way?"

"An Injin! Vhat goot vill it do to be an Injin? I dought it might be better to be a vhite man, in America?"

"Oh! I mean only an anti-rent Injin. We've got matters so nicely fixed now, that a chap can be an Injin without any paint at all, or any washin' or scrubbin', but can convart himself into himself ag'in, at any time, in two minutes. The wages is good and the work light; then we have rare chances in the stores, and round about among the farms. The law is, that an Injin must have what he wants, and no grumblin', and we take care to want e

nough. If you'll be at the meetin', I'll tell you how you'll know me."

"Ja, ja-dat ist goot; I vill be at der meetin', sartainly. Vhere might it be?"

"Down at the village. The word came up this a'ternoon, and we shall all be on the ground by ten o'clock."

"Vilt der be a fight, dat you meet so bunctually, and wid so moch spirit?"

"Fight! Lord, no; who is there to fight, I should like to know? We are pretty much all ag'in the Littlepages, and there's none of them on the ground but two or three women. I'll tell you how it's all settled. The meetin' is called on the deliberative and liberty-supportin' plan. I s'pose you know we've all sorts of meetin's in this country?"

"Nein; I dought dere might be meetin's for bolitics, vhen der beople might coome, but I don't know vhat else."

"Is't possible! What, have you no 'indignation meetin's' in Jarmany? We count a great deal on our indignation meetin's, and both sides have 'em in abundance, when things get to be warm. Our meetin' to-morrow is for deliberation and liberty-principles generally. We may pass some indignation resolutions about aristocrats, for nobody can bear them critturs in this part of the country, I can tell you."

Lest this manuscript should get into the hands of some of those who do not understand the real condition of New York society, it may be well to explain that "aristocrat" means, in the parlance of the country, no other than a man of gentleman-like tastes, habits, opinions, and associations. There are gradations among the aristocracy of the State, as well as among other men. Thus he who is an aristocrat in a hamlet, would be very democratic in a village; and he of the village might be no aristocrat in the town, at all; though, in the towns generally, indeed always, when their population has the least of a town character, the distinction ceases altogether, men quietly dropping into the traces of civilized society, and talking or thinking very little about it. To see the crying evils of American aristocracy, then, one must go into the country. There, indeed, a plenty of cases exist. Thus, if there happen to be a man whose property is assessed at twenty-five per cent. above that of all his neighbors-who must have right on his side bright as a cloudless sun to get a verdict, if obliged to appeal to the laws-who pays fifty per cent. more for everything he buys, and receives fifty per cent. less for everything he sells, than any other person near him-who is surrounded by rancorous enemies, in the midst of a seeming state of peace-who has everything he says and does perverted, and added to, and lied about-who is traduced because his dinner-hour is later than that of "other folks"-who don't stoop, but is straight in the back-who presumes to doubt that this country in general, and his own township in particular, is the focus of civilization-who hesitates about signing his name to any flagrant instance of ignorance, bad taste, or worse morals, that his neighbors may get up in the shape of a petition, remonstrance, or resolution-depend on it that man is a prodigious aristocrat, and one who, for his many offences and manner of lording it over mankind, deserves to be banished. I ask the reader's pardon for so abruptly breaking in upon Joshua's speech, but such very different notions exist about aristocrats, in different parts of the world, that some such explanation was necessary in order to prevent mistakes. I have forgotten one mark of the tribe that is, perhaps, more material than all the rest, which must not be omitted, and is this:-if he happen to be a man who prefers his own pursuits to public life, and is regardless of "popularity," he is just guilty of the unpardonable sin. The "people" will forgive anything sooner than this; though there are "folks" who fancy it as infallible a sign of an aristocrat not to chew tobacco. But, unless I return to Joshua, the reader will complain that I cause him to stand still.

"No, no," continued Mr. Brigham; anything but an aristocrat for me. I hate the very name of the sarpents, and wish there warn't one in the land. To-morrow we are to have a great anti-rent lecturer out--"

"A vhat?"

"A lecturer; one that lectur's, you understand, on anti-rentism, temperance, aristocracy, government, or any other grievance that may happen to be uppermost. Have you no lecturers in Jarmany?"

"Ja, ja; dere ist lecturers in das universities-blenty of dem."

"Well, we have 'em universal and partic'lar, as we happen to want 'em. To-morrow we're to have one, they tell me, the smartest man that has appeared in the cause. He goes it strong, and the Injins mean to back him up with all sorts of shrieks and whoopin's. Your hurdy-gurdy, there, makes no sort of music to what our tribe can make when we fairly open our throats."

"Vell, dis ist queer! I vast told dat der Americans vast all philosophers, und dat all dey didt vast didt in a t'oughtful and sober manner; und now you dells me dey screams deir arguments like Injins!"

"That we do! I wish you'd been here in the hard-cider and log-cabin times, and you'd a seen reason and philosophy, as you call it! I was a whig that summer, though I went democrat last season. There's about five hundred on us in this country that makes the most of things, I can tell you. What's the use of a vote, if a body gets nothin' by it? But to-morrow you'll see the business done up, and matters detarmined for this part of the world, in fine style. We know what we're about, and we mean to carry things through quite to the end."

"Und vhat do you means to do?"

"Well, seein' that you seem to be of the right sort, and be so likely to put on the Injin shirt, I'll tell you all about it. We mean to get good and old farms at favorable rates. That's what we mean to do. The people's up and in 'arnest, and what the people want they'll have! This time they want farms, and farms they must have. What's the use of havin' a government of the people, if the people's obliged to want farms? We've begun ag'in' the Rensselaers, and the durables, and the quarter-sales, and the chickens; but we don't, by no manner of means, think of eending there. What should we get by that? A man wants to get suthin' when he puts his foot into a matter of this natur'. We know who's our fri'nds and who's our inimies! Could we have some men I could name for governors, all would go clear enough the first winter. We would tax the landlords out, and law 'em about in one way and another, so as to make 'em right down glad to sell the last rod of their lands, and that cheap, too!"

"Und who might own these farms, all oop and down der coontry, dat I see?"

"As the law now stands, Littlepage owns 'em; but if we alter the law enough, he wun't. If we can only work the legislature up to the stickin' p'int, we shall get all we want. Would you believe it, the man wun't sell a single farm, they say; but wishes to keep every one on 'em for himself! Is that to be borne in a free country? They'd hardly stand that in Jarmany, I'm thinkin'. A man that is such an aristocrat as to refuse to sell anything, I despise."

"Vell, dey stand to der laws in Charmany, and broperty is respected in most coontries. You vouldn't do away wid der rights of broperty, if you mights, I hopes?"

"Not I. If a man owns a watch, or a horse, or a cow, I'm for having the law such that a poor man can keep 'em, even ag'in execution. We're getting the laws pretty straight on them p'ints, in old York, I can tell you; a poor man, let him be ever so much in debt, can hold on to a mighty smart lot of things, nowadays, and laugh at the law right in its face! I've known chaps that owed as much as $200, hold on to as good as $300; though most of their debts was for the very things they held on to!"

What a picture is this, yet is it not true? A state of society in which a man can contract a debt for a cow, or his household goods, and laugh at his creditor when he seeks his pay, on the one hand; and on the other, legislators and executives lending themselves to the chicanery of another set, that are striving to deprive a particular class of its rights of property, directly in the face of written contracts! This is straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel, with a vengeance; and all for votes! Does any one really expect a community can long exist, favored by a wise and justice-dispensing Providence, in which such things are coolly attempted-ay, and coolly done? It is time that the American began to see things as they are, and not as they are said to be, in the speeches of governors, Fourth-of-July orations, and electioneering addresses. I write warmly, I know, but I feel warmly; and I write like a man who sees that a most flagitious attempt to rob him is tampered with by some in power, instead of being met, as the boasted morals and intelligence of the country would require, by the stern opposition of all in authority. Curses-deep, deep curses-ere long, will fall on all who shrink from their duty in such a crisis. Even the very men who succeed, if succeed they should, will, in the end, curse the instruments of their own success.[24]

"A first-rate lecturer on feudal tenors" (Joshua was not in the least particular in his language, but, in the substance, he knew what he was talking about as well as some who are in high places), "chickens and days' works. We expect a great deal from this man, who is paid well for coming."

"Und who might bay him?-der State?"

"No-we haven't got to that yet; though some think the State will have to do it, in the long run. At present the tenants are taxed so much on the dollar, accordin' to rent, or so much an acre, and that way the needful money is raised. But one of our lecturers told us, a time back, that it was money put out at use, and every man ought to keep an account of what he give, for the time was not far off when he would get it back, with double interest. 'It is paid now for a reform,' he said, 'and when the reform is obtained, no doubt the State would feel itself so much indebted to us all, that it would tax the late landlords until we got all our money back again, and more too.'"

"Dat vould pe a bretty speculation; ja, dat might be most bootiful!"

"Why, yes, it wouldn't be a bad operation, living on the inimy, as a body might say. But you'll not catch our folks livin' on themselves, I can tell you. That they might do without societies. No, we've an object; and when folks has an object, they commonly look sharp a'ter it. We don't let on all we want and mean openly; and you'll find folks among us that'll stoutly deny that anti-renters has anything to do with the Injin system; but folks an't obliged to believe the moon is all cheese, unless they've a mind to. Some among us maintain that no man ought to hold more than a thousand acres of land, while others think natur' has laid down the law on that p'int, and that a man shouldn't hold more than he has need on."

"Und vich side dost you favor?-vich of dese obinions might not be yours?"

"I'm not partic'lar, so I get a good farm. I should like one with comfortable buildin's on't, and one that hasn't been worked to death. For them two principles I think I'd stand out; but, whether there be four hundred acres, or four hundred and fifty, or even five hundred, I'm no way onaccommodatin'. I expect there'll be trouble in the eend, when we come to the division, but I'm not the man to make it. I s'pose I shall get my turn at the town offices, and other chances, and, givin' me my rights to them, I'll take up with almost any farm young Littlepage has, though I should rather have one in the main valley here, than one more out of the way; still, I don't set myself down as at all partic'lar."

"Und vhat do you expect to bay Mr. Littlepage for der farm, ast you might choose?"

"That depends on circumstances. The Injins mainly expect to come in cheap. Some folks think it's best to pay suthin', as it might stand ag'in law better, should it come to that; while other some see no great use in paying anything. Them that's willing to pay, mainly hold out for paying the principal of the first rents."

"I doesn't oonderstandt vhat you means by der brincipal of der first rents."

"It's plain enough, when you get the lay on't. You see, these lands were let pretty low, when they were first taken up from the forest, in order to get folks to live here. That's the way we're obliged to do in America, or people won't come. Many tenants paid no rent at all for six, eight, or ten years; and a'ter that, until their three lives run out, as it is called, they paid only sixpence an acre, or six dollars and a quarter on the hundred acres. That was done, you see, to buy men to come here at all; and you can see by the price that was paid, how hard a time they must have had on't. Now, some of our folks hold that the whull time ought to be counted-that which was rent free, and that which was not-in a way that I'll explain to you; for I'd have you to know I haven't entered into this business without looking to the right and the wrong on't."

"Exblain, exblain; I might hear you exblain, and you most exblain."

"Why, you're in a hurry, friend Griezenbach, or whatever your name be. But I'll explain, if you wish it. S'pose, now, a lease run thirty years-ten on nothin', and twenty on sixpences. Well, a hundred sixpences makes fifty shillings, and twenty times fifty makes a thousand, as all the rent paid in thirty years. If you divide a thousand by thirty, it leaves thirty-three shillings and a fraction"-Joshua calculated like an American of his class, accurately and with rapidity-"for the average rent of the thirty years. Calling thirty-three shillings four dollars, and it's plaguey little more, we have that for the interest, which, at seven per cent., will make a principal of rather more than fifty dollars, though not as much as sixty. As sich matters ought to be done on liberal principles, they say Littlepage ought to take fifty dollars, and give a deed for the hundred acres."

"Und vhat might be der rent of a hoondred acres now:-he might get more dan sixpence to-day?"

"That he does. Most all of the farms are running out on second, and some on third leases. Four shilling an acre is about the average of the rents, accordin' to circumstances."

"Den you dinks der landlort ought to accept one year's rent for der farms?"

"I don't look on it in that light. He ought to take fifty dollars for a hundred acres. You forget the tenants have paid for their farms, over and over again, in rent. They feel as if they have paid enough, and that it was time to stop."

Extraordinary as this reasoning may seem in most men's minds, I have since found it is a very favorite sentiment among anti-renters. "Are we to go on, and pay rent forever?" they ask, with logical and virtuous indignation!

"Und vhat may be der aferage value of a hoondred acre farm, in dis part of de coontry?" I inquired.

"From two thousand five hundred to three thousand dollars. It would be more, but tenants won't put good buildings on farms, you know, seein' that they don't own them. I heard one of our leaders lamentin' that he didn't foresee what times were comin' to, when he repaired his old house, or he would have built a new one. But a man can't foretell everything. I dare say many has the same feelin's, now."

"Den you dinks Herr Littlebage ought to accept $50 for vhat is worth $2,500? Das seems fery little."

"You forget the back rent that has been paid, and the work the tenant has done. What would the farm be good for without the work that has been done on it?"

"Ja, ja-I oonderstandst; und vhat vould der work be goot for vidout der landt on which it vast done?"

This was rather an incautious question to put to a man as distrustful and roguish as Joshua Brigham. The fellow cast a lowering and distrustful look at me; but ere there was time to answer, Miller, of whom he stood in healthful awe, called him away to look after the cows.

Here, then, I had enjoyed an opportunity of hearing the opinions of one of my own hirelings on the interesting subject of my right to my own estate. I have since ascertained that, while these sentiments are sedulously kept out of view in the proceedings of the government, which deals with the whole matter as if the tenants were nothing but martyrs to hard bargains, and the landlords their taskmasters, of greater or less lenity, they are extensively circulated in the "infected districts," and are held to be very sound doctrines by a large number of the "bone and sinew of the land." Of course the reasoning is varied a little, to suit circumstances, and to make it meet the facts. But of this school is a great deal, and a very great deal, of the reasoning that circulates on the leased property; and, from what I have seen and heard already, I make no doubt that there are quasi legislators among us, who, instead of holding the manly and only safe doctrine which ought to be held on such a subject, and saying that these deluded men should be taught better, are ready to cite the very fact that such notions do exist as a reason for the necessity of making concessions, in order to keep the peace at the cheaper rate. That profound principle of legislation, which concedes the right in order to maintain quiet, is admirably adapted to forming sinners; and, if carried out in favor of all who may happen to covet their neighbors' goods, would, in a short time, render this community the very paradise of knaves.

As for Joshua Brigham, I saw no more of him that night; for he quitted the farm on leave, just as it got to be dark. Where he went I do not know; but the errand on which he left us could no longer be a secret to me. As the family retired early, and we ourselves were a good deal fatigued, everybody was in bed by nine o'clock, and, judging from myself, soon asleep. Previously to saying "good-night," however, Miller told us of the meeting of the next day, and of his intention to attend it.

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