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The Monikins

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



This story, a satire on the party politics of the day, in which political and social questions are discussed by monkeys, or manikins, was the subject of much adverse comment in the newspapers of the time, but contains little to interest the reader of the present. In the introduction the author pretends that the manuscript was sent to him at Geneva, Switzerland, together with a diamond ring, by Lord Householder, requesting him to wear the latter as a memorial of Lady Householder, whose life he had saved in the Alps, and to publish the story in America, which, he said, was far enough from his place of residence to save him from ridicule. "All I ask is," wrote his lordship, "that you will have the book fairly printed, and that you will send one copy to my address, House-holder Hall, Dorsetshire, England, and another to Captain Noah Poke, Stoning-ton, Connecticut, in your own country."

MY ancestor in the male line was found, when two years old, crying with cold and hunger, in the parish of St. Giles, Westminster, and in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. An orange-woman had pity on his sufferings, fed him, and then turned him over to the parish officer. But before doing this, she took a hint from the sign of a butcher opposite whose door he was found, and cleverly gave him the name of Thomas Goldencalf. When of the proper age, he was bound apprentice to a trader in fancy articles, or a shopkeeper who dealt in objects usually purchased by those who do not well know what to do with their money. This personage, who came in time to be my maternal grandfather, was one of those wary traders who encourage others in their follies with a view to his own advantage, and his experience of fifty years had rendered him so expert that he seldom failed to find himself rewarded for his enterprise.

My ancestor was thirty years old when his master, who like himself was a bachelor, introduced a new inmate into his frugal abode in the person of an infant female child, thrown upon his care, like Tom himself, through the vigilance of the parish officers. Whatever may have been the real opinion of the reputed father touching his right to the honor of that respected title, he soon became strongly attached to the little girl. When she had reached her third year, the fancy dealer took smallpox from his little pet, and died ten days later.

By his master's will, my ancestor, then in his thirty-fifth year, was left the good will of the shop, the command of all the stock at cost, and the sole executorship of the estate. He was also entrusted with the guardianship of little Betsey, to whom was devised every farthing of the property. My worthy ancestor executed his trust with scrupulous fidelity: Betsey was properly educated, her health was carefully watched over, her morals superintended by a superannuated old maid, her per-son jealously protected against the designs of greedy fortune-hunters, and when she reached her nineteenth year she was legally married to the person whom he believed to be the most unexceptionable man of his acquaintance—to himself in fact.

I was the fifth of the children who were the fruit of this union, and the only survivor. My poor mother died at my birth. Through her my father became possessed of some four hundred thousand pounds, chiefly invested in good bonds and mortgages. My father now changed the tactics of his former master, called in all his outstanding debts, and entrusted his whole fortune to the country, entering the arena of patriotic speculation as a bull. Success crowned his efforts; gold rolled in upon him like water in a flood, and all his former views of life were completely obscured by the sublimer and broader prospect spread before him.

My mother's dying request was that my education should be entrusted to the care of Dr. Etherington, her rector; and in compliance with this I was sent to him at once. Dr. Etherington was both a pious man and a gentleman, so he fulfilled his trust scrupulously. I was baptized, nursed, breeched, schooled, horsed, confirmed, sent to the university, and graduated, much as befalls all gentlemen of the Established Church in the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. In all this time I saw little of my father. He paid my bills, furnished me with pocket-money, and professed an intention to let me travel after I should reach my majority.

Anna Etherington, Dr. Etherington's only daughter, was my constant companion while at the rectory. Three years my junior, between the ages of seven and twelve I dragged her about in a garden chair or pushed her in a swing; from twelve to fourteen I told her stories; and at fourteen I began to pick up her pocket-handkerchief, hunt for her thimble, accompany her in duets and read poetry to her. About the age of seventeen I began to compare Anna with other girls of my acquaintance, and the comparison was generally much in her favor.

The day I became of age my father settled on me an allowance of a thousand a year. To me Anna became daily more beautiful, and I said to her: "Could I find one, Anna, as gentle, as good, as beautiful, and as wise as you are, who would con-sent to be mine, I would not hesitate to marry; but, unhappily, I am not the grandson of a baronet, and your father expects to unite you to one who can at least show that the `bloody hand' has once been borne on his shield; and on the other side, my father talks of nothing but millions. So you see, dear Anna, that our parents hold very different opinions on a very grave question, and between natural affection and acquired veneration I scarcely know how to choose."

As usual, Anna heard me in silence; but the very next day young Sir Harry Griffin offered in form, and was very decidedly refused. A few days later I was summoned to my dying father's and when his will was read I found myself, if not the richest, yet certainly one of the richest subjects in Europe. With-out a solitary claim on either my time or my estate, I was in the enjoyment of an income that materially exceeded the revenues of many reigning princes.

Within a month after my father's death I became the owner of the estate of Householder and of the political consciences of its tenantry; and, as a consequence of my aiding the re-turn to Parliament of Lord Pledge, one of the members, I was soon after raised, through his influence, to the dignity of a baronet. The following day I took leave of Dr. Etherington and his daughter, with the avowed intention of traveling for a year or two. "At my age, Anna," I said in bidding her fare-well, "and with my means, it would be unbecoming to remain at home when human nature is abroad. I go to quicken my sympathies, to open my heart to my kind."

My father had concentrated his investments in the national debt; I intended to follow a different policy. He had fallen into the error of contraction; I resolved to expand—in short, to carry out the principle of the social stake in such a way as should cause me to love all things and to become worthy of being entrusted with the care of all things. To this end I made purchases of estates in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. I extended my system also to the colonies: I had East India shares, a running ship, Canada land, a plantation in Jamaica, sheep at the Cape and at New South Wales, an indigo concern at Bengal, and a shipping house for the general supply to our dependencies of beer, bacon, cheese, and ironmongery. On the Garonne and Xeres I bought vineyards, in Germany salt and coal mines, and in South America invested in mines of the precious metals. In Switzerland I manufactured watches, in Russia dipped into tallow, invested in silkworms in Lombardy, olives and hats in Tuscany, a bath in Lucca, and a macaroni establishment at Naples. I even bought a sugar and a cotton plantation on the Mississippi.

When I thus found my hands full of business, the earth assumed new glories in my eyes. With stakes in half the societies in the world, I now felt emancipated from selfishness, and I determined to quit England on a tour of philanthropical inspection. In May, 1819, I found myself in Paris. While there I wrote a letter to Anna, offering her my hand and heart. In it I said: "Although it has been my most ardent and most pre-dominant wish to open my heart to the whole species, yet, Anna, I fear I have loved thee alone. Absence, so far from expanding, appears to contract my affections, too many of which center in thy sweet form and excellent virtues. I begin to think that matrimony alone can leave me master of sufficient freedom of thought and action to turn the attention I owe to the rest of the human race."

If there was ever a happy fellow on earth, it was myself when this letter was despatched. Let what might happen, I was sure of Anna. A week flew by in delightful anticipations, when I received from Anna a letter declining for the present my offer. "Do not stay thy eagle flight," she wrote, "at the instant thou art soaring so near the sun! Should we both judge it for our mutual happiness, I can become thy wife at a future day. In the mean time I will endeavor to prepare myself to be the companion of a philanthropist by practising on thy theory, and, by expanding my own affections, render myself worthy to be the wife of one who has so large a stake in society, and who loves so many and so truly.

"P.S.—You may perceive that I am in a state of improvement, for I have just refused the hand of Lord M'Dee, because I found I loved all his neighbors quite as well as I loved the young peer himself."

Ten thousand furies took possession of my soul, in the shape of so many demons of jealousy. Anna extending her affections! Anna teaching herself to love more than one, and that one my-self! The torment of such a picture grew intolerable, and I rushed into the open air for relief. How long or whither I wandered I know not, but on the following day I found my-self in a guinguette, or small eating-house, near the base of Montmartre, devouring a roll and drinking sour wine, together with some fifty Frenchmen of all classes. Among them was a large man, with a tanned skin, prominent nose, small fiery gray eyes, and ropy black hair, who gave me a nod of friendly recognition when our eyes met.

"Did mortal man ever listen to such fools, Captain?" "Really, I did not attend to what was said," I replied.

"I don't pretend to understand a word they are saying; but it sounds like nonsense."

Perceiving that my companion was a reflecting being, I proposed a walk where we could talk free from such a disturbance. I soon gathered from him that he was a mariner cast ashore by one of the accidents of his calling, that his name was Noah Poke, and that he was a native of Stonington, or Stonington as he called it, in the State of Connecticut, in New England. He had been captain of the schooner Debby and Dolly, wrecked on the northeast coast of Russia, where he had been trading in furs, and he was now penniless and looking for a job.

I had certain investments in the pearl and whale fisheries, but my relations with the portion of mankind inhabiting the islands of the Pacific being somewhat unsatisfactory, I proposed to him to expand my interests in that direction. After a brief explanation Captain Poke accepted my terms, and we started for my hotel together. As we passed along the Champs Elysees our attention was attracted by a group of six individuals, two of which were animals of the genus homo, and the other four monkeys. The men were Savoyards, unwashed, unkempt, and ragged; the monkeys, two of whom were males and two females, were all habited with more or less of the ordinary attire of modern European civilization, but particular care had been taken with the toilet of the senior of the two males. This one had on a hussar uniform with a Spanish hat decorated with feathers, a white cockade, and a wooden sword. While the Savoyards made their captives perform various saltatory antics as we looked on, I observed that the hussar, while obedient to the whip of his master, preserved an indomitable gravity. His look was rarely averted from my face, and in this way a silent communion was soon established between us.

Captain Poke agreed with me that there was great injustice in the treatment of these poor creatures, and the result was that I opened negotiations with the Savoyards, obtained from them the right of ownership, and led the four to my hotel. Con-signing them to my antechamber, I devoted myself until a late hour to my correspondence, and then "turned in," to use a favorite phrase of Captain Poke. My thoughts were feverish, glowing, and restless. When sleep tardily arrived, it overtook me at the very moment that I had inwardly vowed to for-get my heartless mistress, and to devote the remainder of my life to the promulgation of the doctrine of the expansion-superhuman-generalized-affection-principle, to the utter exclusion of all narrow and selfish views, and in which I resolved to associate myself with Mr. Poke, as with one who had seen a great deal of this earth and its inhabitants. In the early morning I lay in delicious repose, when my reverie was arrested by low murmuring, plaintive voices, at no great distance from my bed. Occasionally a word reached my ear, and I soon became certain that the voices came from the antechamber, the door of which was ajar. Throwing on a dressing-gown I peeped through the aperture and saw that my guests, the four monkeys, were grouped in a corner engaged in a very animated conversation. I did not understand their language, but remembering that French is a medium of thought among all polite people, I had recourse to that tongue.

"Gentlemen and ladies," I said, "I ask a thousand par-dons for this intrusion; but overhearing a few well-grounded complaints touching the false position in which you are placed, I have ventured to approach, with no other desire than the wish that you would make me the repository of all your griefs, in order, if possible, that they may be repaired as soon as circumstances shall allow."

Though naturally startled at my unexpected appearance, the elder of the two gentlemen-monkeys approached me and answered me in as good French as is usually spoken by the traveled Englishman.

"Sir, I should do great injustice to my feelings, and to the monikin character in general, were I to neglect to express the gratitude I feel. Destitute, houseless, insulted wanderers and captives, fortune has at length shed a ray of happiness on our miserable condition. In my own name and in that of this excellent and most prudent matron, and in those of these two noble and youthful lovers, I thank you. Yes! honorable and humane being of the genus homo, species A nglicus, we all return our most tail-felt acknowledgements of your goodness!"

This introduction of the four monikins, who turned out to be Lord Chatterino and Lady Chatterissa, of the island kingdom of Leaphigh, a chaperon, Mistress Vigilance Lynx, and a traveling tutor, Dr. Reasono, of the University of Leaphigh, was followed by many conversations in which were set forth the entire political economy of the Monikins, whose brains were in their tails, and who, in their own estimation, held a position in the animal kingdom superior to that of man. Sir John Golden-calf, though not agreeing altogether with the conclusions of his guests, so far sympathized with them as to fit out a ship to return them to their country at the South Pole. In this, under command of Captain Poke, they visited Leaphigh and the neigh-boring country of Leaplow, where monikins had no tails and the ruling virtue was humility.

At the conclusion of the voyage Sir John detected Captain Poke in cannibalism, that is, in eating roast monkey, and in a struggle to make him disgorge his unholy meal the Baronet got the worst of it and was nearly choked into unconsciousness. A miracle followed. First came a mist, then a vertigo, and Sir John awoke to find himself in his apartment in the Rue Rivoli. The Captain disappeared and Dr. Etherington stood at his bed-side.

"Do you know me, Jack?" he asked.

"Know you, dear sir! Why should I not?"

"And do you forgive me, dear boy, for the unkind—the inconsiderate letter? Though Anna wrote, it was at my dictation."

I passed a hand over my brow, and had dawnings of the truth.

"Anna?"

"Is here—in Paris—and miserable—most miserable—on your account."

"Let me fly to her; dear sir, a moment is an age!" "To-morrow, when both are better prepared, you shall meet."

"Add never to separate, sir, and I will be patient as a lamb."

"Never to separate, Jack. The moment we think you perfectly restored, she shall share your fortunes for the remainder of your common probation."

Before leaving for England, I gave Captain Poke, who had proved a good nurse during my fever, the means of fitting a new Debby and Dolly, and had my monikin guests suitably provided for in an institution. When the time for parting with the old sealer arrived, he grasped my hand and said :

"You are going to marry an angel, Sir John."

"How! do you know anything of Miss Etherington?"

"I should be blind as an old bumboat else. During our late v'y'ge I saw her often."

Shortly after our return home, I had the pleasure to deliver to Anna a packet which came by special messenger, announcing that I was raised to the House of Peers by the title of Viscount Householder.

"I owe you this, Anna," I said, "as some acknowledgment for your faith and disinterestedness in the affair of Lord M'Dee."



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