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James Fenimore Cooper:
The Monikins. CHAPTER XXIV.


Bebrillter Monikin


The city of Bivouac presented a singular aspect as I first put foot within its hallowed streets. The houses were all covered with large placards, which, at first, I took to be lists of the wares to be vended, for the place is notoriously commercial; but which, on examination, I soon discovered were merely electioneering handbills. The reader will figure to himself my pleasure and surprise, on reading the first that offered. It ran as follows:


Horizontal-Systematic-Indoctrinated-Republicans: Attention!

Your sacred rights are in danger; your dearest liberties are menaced; your wives and children are on the point of dissolution; the infamous and unconstitutional position that the sun gives light by day, and the moon by night, is openly and impudently propagated, and now is the only occasion that will probably ever offer to arrest an error so pregnant with deception and domestic evils. We present to your notice a suitable defender of all those near and dear interests, in the person of


the known patriot, the approved legislator, the profound philosopher, the incorruptible statesman. To our adopted fellow-citizens we need not recommend Mr. Goldencalf, for he is truly one of themselves; to the native citizens we will only say, ‘Try him, and you will be more than satisfied.’

I found this placard of great use, for it gave me the first information I had yet had of the duty I was expected to perform in the coming session of the great council; which was merely to demonstrate that the moon gave light by day, and that the sun gave light by night. Of course, I immediately set about, in my own mind, hunting up the proper arguments by which this grave political hypothesis was to be properly maintained. The next placard was in favor


the experienced navigator, who will conduct the ship of state into the haven of prosperity--the practical astronomer who knows by frequent observations, that lunars are not to be got in the dark.
Perpendiculars, be plumb, and lay your enemies on their backs!

After this I fell in with—


is confidently recommended to all their fellow-citizens by the nominating committee of the Anti-Approved-Sublimated-Politico- Tangents, as the real gentleman, a ripe scholar*), an enlightened politician, and a sound Democrat.

But I should fill the manuscript with nothing else, were I to record a tithe of the commendations and abuse that were heaped on us all, by a community to whom, as yet, we were absolutely strangers. A single sample of the latter will suffice.


Personally appeared before me, John Equity, justice of the peace, Peter Veracious, etc., etc., who, being duly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, doth depose and say, viz.: That he was intimately acquainted with one John Goldencalf in his native country, and that he is personally knowing to the fact that he, the said John Goldencalf, has three wives, seven illegitimate children, is moreover a bankrupt without character, and that he was obliged to emigrate in consequence of having stolen a sheep.

Sworn, etc.


I naturally felt a little indignant at this impudent statement, and was about to call upon the first passer-by for the address of Mr. Veracious, when the skirts of my skin were seized by one of the Horizontal nominating committee, and I was covered with congratulations on my being happily elected. Success is an admirable plaster for all wounds, and I really forgot to have the affair of the sheep and of the illegitimate children inquired into; although I still protest, that had fortune been less propitious, the rascal who promulgated this calumny would have been made to smart for his temerity. In less than five minutes it was the turn of Captain Poke. He, too, was congratulated in due form; for, as it appeared, the “immigrunt interest,” as Noah termed it, had actually carried a candidate on each of the two great opposing tickets. Thus far, all was well; for, after sharing his mess so long, I had not the smallest objection to sit in the Leaplow parliament with the worthy sealer; but our mutual surprise, and I believe I might add, indignation, were a good deal excited, by shortly encountering a walking notice, which contained a programme of the proceedings to be observed at the “Reception of the Honorable Robert Smut.”

It would seem that the Horizontals and the Perpendiculars had made so many spurious and mystified ballots, in order to propitiate the Tangents, and to cheat each other, that this young blackguard actually stood at the head of the poll!--a political phenomenon, as I subsequently discovered, however, by no means of rare occurrence in the Leaplow history of the periodical selection of the wisest and best.

There was certainly an accumulation of interest on arriving in a strange land, to find one’s self both extolled and vituperated on most of the corners in its capital, and to be elected to its parliament, all in the same day. Still, I did not permit myself to be either so much elated or so much depressed, as not to have all my eyes about me, in order to get as correctly as possible, and as quickly as possible, some insight into the characters, tastes, habits, wishes, and wants of my constituents.

*) [Narrator’s footnote:] I afterwards found this was a common phrase in Leaplow, being uniformly applied to every monikin who wore spectacles.

James Fenimore Cooper:
Die Monikins. Eine Mär
Übersetzt von Robert Wohlleben
Herausgegeben und per Nachwort kommentiert
von Christian Huck

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