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Title: The Voyage of Captain Popanilla
Author: Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE VOYAGE OF CAPTAIN POPANILLA

By Benjamin Disraeli


This narrative of an imaginary voyage was first published in 1827.



CHAPTER 1


There is an island in the Indian Ocean, so unfortunate as not yet to
have been visited either by Discovery Ships or Missionary Societies. It
is a place where all those things are constantly found which men most
desire to see, and with the sight of which they are seldom favoured. It
abounds in flowers, and fruit, and sunshine. Lofty mountains, covered
with green and mighty forests, except where the red rocks catch the
fierce beams of the blazing sun, bowery valleys, broad lakes, gigantic
trees, and gushing rivers bursting from rocky gorges, are crowned with
a purple and ever cloudless sky. Summer, in its most unctuous state and
most mellow majesty, is here perpetual. So intense and overpowering, in
the daytime, is the rich union of heat and perfume, that living animal
or creature is never visible; and were you and I to pluck, before
sunset, the huge fruit from yonder teeming tree, we might fancy
ourselves for the moment the future sinners of another Eden. Yet a
solitude it is not.

The island is surrounded by a calm and blue lagoon, formed by a ridge of
coral rocks, which break the swell of the ocean, and prevent the noxious
spray from banishing the rich shrubs which grow even to the water’s
edge. It is a few minutes before sunset, that the first intimation of
animal existence in this seeming solitude is given, by the appearance of
mermaids; who, floating on the rosy sea, congregate about these rocks.
They sound a loud but melodious chorus from their sea-shells, and a
faint and distant chorus soon answers from the island. The mermaidens
immediately repeat their salutations, and are greeted with a nearer
and a louder answer. As the red and rayless sun drops into the glowing
waters, the choruses simultaneously join; and rushing from the woods,
and down the mountain steeps to the nearest shore, crowds of human
beings, at the same moment, appear and collect.

The inhabitants of this island, in form and face, do not misbecome the
clime and the country. With the vivacity of a Faun, the men combine the
strength of a Hercules and the beauty of an Adonis; and, as their more
interesting companions flash upon his presence, the least classical of
poets might be excused for imagining that, like their blessed Goddess,
the women had magically sprung from the brilliant foam of that ocean
which is gradually subsiding before them.

But sunset in this land is not the signal merely for the evidence of
human existence. At the moment that the Islanders, crowned with flowers,
and waving goblets and garlands, burst from their retreats, upon each
mountain peak a lion starts forward, stretches his proud tail, and,
bellowing to the sun, scours back exulting to his forest; immense
bodies, which before would have been mistaken for the trunks of trees,
now move into life, and serpents, untwining their green and glittering
folds, and slowly bending their crested heads around, seem proudly
conscious of a voluptuous existence; troops of monkeys leap from tree
to tree; panthers start forward, and alarmed, not alarming, instantly
vanish; a herd of milk-white elephants tramples over the back-ground of
the scene; and instead of gloomy owls and noxious beetles, to hail the
long-enduring twilight, from the bell of every opening flower beautiful
birds, radiant with every rainbow tint, rush with a long and living
melody into the cool air.

The twilight in this island is not that transient moment of unearthly
bliss, which, in our less favoured regions, always leaves us so
thoughtful and so sad; on the contrary, it lasts many hours, and
consequently the Islanders are neither moody nor sorrowful. As they
sleep during the day, four or five hours of ‘tipsy dance and revelry’
are exercise and not fatigue. At length, even in this delightful region,
the rosy tint fades into purple, and the purple into blue; the white
moon gleams, and at length glitters; and the invisible stars first creep
into light, and then blaze into radiancy. But no hateful dews discolour
their loveliness! and so clear is the air, that instead of the false
appearance of a studded vault, the celestial bodies may be seen floating
in aether, at various distances and of various tints. Ere the showery
fire-flies have ceased to shine, and the blue lights to play about the
tremulous horizon, amid the voices of a thousand birds, the dancers
solace themselves with the rarest fruits, the most delicate fish, and
the most delicious wines; but flesh they love not. They are an innocent
and a happy, though a voluptuous and ignorant race. They have no
manufactures, no commerce, no agriculture, and no printing-presses; but
for their slight clothing they wear the bright skins of serpents; for
corn, Nature gives them the bread-fruit; and for intellectual amusement,
they have a pregnant fancy and a ready wit; tell inexhaustible stories,
and always laugh at each other’s jokes. A natural instinct gave them the
art of making wine; and it was the same benevolent Nature that blessed
them also with the knowledge of the art of making love. But time flies
even here. The lovely companions have danced, and sung, and banqueted,
and laughed; what further bliss remains for man? They rise, and in pairs
wander about the island, and then to their bowers; their life ends with
the Night they love so well; and ere Day, the everlasting conqueror,
wave his flaming standard in the luminous East, solitude and silence
will again reign in the ISLE OF FANTAISIE.



CHAPTER 2


The last and loudest chorus had died away, and the Islanders were
pouring forth their libation to their great enemy the Sun, when suddenly
a vast obscurity spread over the glowing West. They looked at each
other, and turned pale, and the wine from their trembling goblets fell
useless on the shore. The women were too frightened to scream, and, for
the first time in the Isle of Fantaisie, silence existed after sunset.
They were encouraged when they observed that the darkness ceased at that
point in the heavens which overlooked their coral rocks; and perceiving
that their hitherto unsullied sky was pure, even at this moment of
otherwise universal gloom, the men regained their colour, touched the
goblets with their lips, further to reanimate themselves, and the women,
now less discomposed, uttered loud shrieks.

Suddenly the wind roared with unaccustomed rage, the sea rose into large
billows, and a ship was seen tossing in the offing. The Islanders, whose
experience of navigation extended only to a slight paddling in their
lagoon, in the half of a hollow trunk of a tree, for the purpose of
fishing, mistook the tight little frigate for a great fish; and being
now aware of the cause of this disturbance, and at the same time feeling
confident that the monster could never make way through the shallow
waters to the island, they recovered their courage, and gazed upon the
labouring leviathan with the same interested nonchalance with which
students at a modern lecture observe an expounding philosopher.

‘What a shadow he casts over the sky!’ said the King, a young man,
whose divine right was never questioned by his female subjects. ‘What a
commotion in the waters, and what a wind he snorts forth! It certainly
must be the largest fish that exists. I remember my father telling me
that a monstrous fish once got entangled among our rocks, and this part
of the island really smelt for a month; I cannot help fancying that
there is a rather odd smell now; pah!’

A favourite Queen flew to the suffering monarch, and pressing her
aromatic lips upon his offended nostrils, his Majesty recovered.

The unhappy crew of the frigate, who, with the aid of their telescopes,
had detected the crowds upon the shore, now fired their signal guns of
distress, which came sullenly booming through the wind.

‘Oh! the great fish is speaking!’ was the universal exclamation.

‘I begin to get frightened,’ said the favourite Queen. ‘I am sure the
monster is coming here!’ So saying, her Majesty grasped up a handful of
pearls from the shore, to defend herself.

As screaming was now the fashion, all the women of course screamed; and
animated by the example of their sovereign, and armed with the marine
gems, the Amazons assumed an imposing attitude.

Just at the moment that they had worked up their enthusiasm to the
highest pitch, and were actually desirous of dying for their country,
the ship sunk.



CHAPTER 3


It is the flush of noon; and, strange to say, a human figure is seen
wandering on the shore of the Isle of Fantaisie.

‘One of the crew of the wrecked frigate, of course? What an escape!
Fortunate creature! interesting man! Probably the indefatigable Captain
Parry; possibly the undaunted Captain Franklin; perhaps the adventurous
Captain Lyon!’

No! sweet blue-eyed girl! my plots are not of that extremely guessable
nature so admired by your adorable sex. Indeed, this book is so
constructed that if you were even, according to custom, to commence
its perusal by reading the last page, you would not gain the slightest
assistance in finding out ‘how the story ends.’

The wanderer belongs to no frigate-building nation. He is a true
Fantaisian; who having, in his fright, during yesterday’s storm, lost
the lock of hair which, in a moment of glorious favour, he had ravished
from his fair mistress’s brow, is now, after a sleepless night, tracing
every remembered haunt of yesterday, with the fond hope of regaining
his most precious treasure. Ye Gentlemen of England, who live at home at
ease, know full well the anxiety and exertion, the days of management,
and the nights of meditation which the rape of a lock requires, and you
can consequently sympathize with the agitated feelings of the handsome
and the hapless Popanilla.

The favourite of all the women, the envy of all the men, Popanilla
passed a pleasant life. No one was a better judge of wine, no one had a
better taste for fruit, no one danced with more elegant vivacity, and no
one whispered compliments in a more meaning tone. His stories ever had
a point, his repartees were never ill-natured. What a pity that such an
amiable fellow should have got into such a scrape!

In spite of his grief, however, Popanilla soon found that the ardency of
his passion evaporated under a smoking sun; and, exhausted, he was
about to return home from his fruitless search, when his attention
was attracted by a singular appearance. He observed before him, on
the shore, a square and hitherto unseen form. He watched it for some
minutes, but it was motionless. He drew nearer, and observed it with
intense attention; but, if it were a being, it certainly was fast
asleep. He approached close to its side, but it neither moved nor
breathed. He applied his nose to the mysterious body, and the elegant
Fantaisian drew back immediately from a most villanous smell of pitch.
Not to excite too much, in this calm age, the reader’s curiosity, let
him know at once that this strange substance was a sea-chest. Upon it
was marked, in large black letters, S. D. K. No. 1.

For the first time in his life Popanilla experienced a feeling of
overwhelming curiosity. His fatigue, his loss, the scorching hour, and
the possible danger were all forgotten in an indefinite feeling that the
body possessed contents more interesting than its unpromising exterior,
and in a resolute determination that the development of the mystery
should be reserved only for himself.

Although he felt assured that he must be unseen, he could not refrain
from throwing a rapid glance of anxiety around him. It was a moment of
perfect stillness: the island slept in sunshine, and even the waves had
ceased to break over the opposing rocks. A thousand strange and singular
thoughts rushed into his mind, but his first purpose was ever uppermost;
and at length, unfolding his girdle of skin, he tied the tough cincture
round the chest, and, exerting all his powers, dragged his mysterious
waif into the nearest wood.

But during this operation the top fell off, and revealed the neatest
collection of little packages that ever pleased the eye of the admirer
of spruce arrangement. Popanilla took up packets upon all possible
subjects; smelt them, but they were not savory; he was sorely puzzled.
At last, he lighted on a slender volume bound in brown calf, which,
with the confined but sensual notions of a savage, he mistook for
gingerbread, at least. It was ‘The Universal Linguist, by Mr. Hamilton;
or, the Art of Dreaming in Languages.’

No sooner had Popanilla passed that well-formed nose, which had been so
often admired by the lady whose lock of hair he had unfortunately lost,
a few times over a few pages of the Hamiltonian System than he sank
upon his bed of flowers, and, in spite of his curiosity, was instantly
overcome by a profound slumber. But his slumber, though deep, was not
peaceful, and he was the actor in an agitating drama.

He found himself alone in a gay and glorious garden. In the centre of it
grew a pomegranate tree of prodigious size; its top was lost in the sky,
and its innumerable branches sprang out in all directions, covered with
large fruit of a rich golden hue. Beautiful birds were perched upon all
parts of the tree, and chanted with perpetual melody the beauties of
their bower. Tempted by the delicious sight, Popanilla stretched forward
his ready hand to pluck; but no sooner had he grasped the fruit than the
music immediately ceased, the birds rushed away, the sky darkened,
the tree fell under the wind, the garden vanished, and Popanilla found
himself in the midst of a raging sea, buffeting the waves.

He would certainly have been drowned had he not been immediately
swallowed up by the huge monster which had not only been the occasion
of the storm of yesterday, but, ah! most unhappy business! been the
occasion also of his losing that lock of hair.

Ere he could congratulate himself on his escape he found fresh cause for
anxiety, for he perceived that he was no longer alone. No friends were
near him; but, on, the contrary, he was surrounded by strangers of a far
different aspect. They were men certainly; that is to say, they had legs
and arms, and heads, and bodies as himself; but instead of that bloom
of youth, that regularity of feature, that amiable joyousness of
countenance, which he had ever been accustomed to meet and to love
in his former companions, he recoiled in horror from the swarthy
complexions, the sad visages, and the haggard features of his present
ones. They spoke to him in a harsh and guttural accent. He would have
fled from their advances; but then he was in the belly of a whale! When
he had become a little used to their tones he was gratified by finding
that their attentions were far from hostile; and, after having received
from them a few compliments, he began to think that they were not quite
so ugly. He discovered that the object of their inquires was the fatal
pomegranate which still remained in his hand. They admired its beauty,
and told him that they greatly esteemed an individual who possessed
such a mass of precious ore. Popanilla begged to undeceive them, and
courteously presented the fruit. No sooner, however, had he parted with
this apple of discord, than the countenances of his companions changed.
Immediately discovering its real nature, they loudly accused Popanilla
of having deceived them; he remonstrated, and they recriminated; and the
great fish, irritated by their clamour, lashed its huge tail, and with
one efficacious vomit spouted the innocent Popanilla high in the air. He
fell with such a dash into the waves that he was awakened by the sound
of his own fall.

The dreamer awoke amidst real chattering, and scuffling, and clamour. A
troop of green monkeys had been aroused by his unusual occupation, and
had taken the opportunity of his slumber to become acquainted with some
of the first principles of science. What progress they had made it
is difficult to ascertain; because, each one throwing a tract at
Popanilla’s head, they immediately disappeared. It is said, however,
that some monkeys have been since seen skipping about the island,
with their tails cut off; and that they have even succeeded in passing
themselves off for human beings among those people who do not read
novels, and are consequently unacquainted with mankind.

The morning’s adventure immediately rushed into Popanilla’s mind, and
he proceeded forthwith to examine the contents of his chest; but with
advantages which had not been yet enjoyed by those who had previously
peeped into it. The monkeys had not been composed to sleep by the
‘Universal Linguist’ of Mr. Hamilton. As for Popanilla, he took up a
treatise on hydrostatics, and read it straight through on the spot. For
the rest of the day he was hydrostatically mad; nor could the commonest
incident connected with the action or conveyance of water take place
without his speculating on its cause and consequence.

So enraptured was Popanilla with his new accomplishments and
acquirements that by degrees he avoided attendance on the usual evening
assemblages, and devoted himself solely to the acquirement of useful
knowledge. After a short time his absence was remarked; but the greatest
and the most gifted has only to leave his coterie, called the world, for
a few days, to be fully convinced of what slight importance he really
is. And so Popanilla, the delight of society and the especial favourite
of the women, was in a very short time not even inquired after. At
first, of course, they supposed that he was in love, or that he had
a slight cold, or that he was writing his memoirs; and as these
suppositions, in due course, take their place in the annals of society
as circumstantial histories, in about a week one knew the lady, another
had beard him sneeze, and a third had seen the manuscript. At the end of
another week Popanilla was forgotten.



CHAPTER 4


Six months had elapsed since the first chest of the cargo of Useful
Knowledge destined for the fortunate Maldives had been digested by the
recluse Popanilla; for a recluse he had now become. Great students are
rather dull companions. Our Fantaisian friend, during his first studies,
was as moody, absent, and querulous as are most men of genius during
that mystical period of life. He was consequently avoided by the men and
quizzed by the women, and consoled himself for the neglect of the first
and the taunts of the second by the indefinite sensation that he should,
some day or other, turn out that little being called a great man. As for
his mistress, she considered herself insulted by being addressed by
a man who had lost her lock of hair. When the chest was exhausted
Popanilla was seized with a profound melancholy. Nothing depresses a
man’s spirits more completely than a self-conviction of self-conceit;
and Popanilla, who had been accustomed to consider himself and his
companions as the most elegant portion of the visible creation, now
discovered, with dismay, that he and his fellow-islanders were nothing
more than a horde of useless savages.

This mortification, however, was soon succeeded by a proud consciousness
that he, at any rate, was now civilised; and that proud consciousness by
a fond hope that in a short time he might become a civiliser. Like all
projectors, he was not of a sanguine temperament; but he did trust that
in the course of another season the Isle of Fantaisie might take its
station among the nations. He was determined, however, not to be too
rapid. It cannot be expected that ancient prejudices can in a moment
be eradicated, and new modes of conduct instantaneously substituted and
established. Popanilla, like a wise man, determined to conciliate. His
views were to be as liberal, as his principles were enlightened.
Men should be forced to do nothing. Bigotry, and intolerance, and
persecution were the objects of his decided disapprobation; resembling,
in this particular, all the great and good men who have ever existed,
who have invariably maintained this opinion so long as they have been in
the minority.

Popanilla appeared once more in the world.

‘Dear me! is that you, Pop?’ exclaimed the ladies. ‘What have you been
doing with yourself all this time? Travelling, I suppose. Every one
travels now. Really you travelled men get quite bores. And where did you
get that coat, if it be a coat?’

Such was the style in which the Fantaisian females saluted the long
absent Popanilla; and really, when a man shuts himself up from the world
for a considerable time, and fancies that in condescending to re-enter
it he has surely the right to expect the homage due to a superior being,
these salutations are awkward. The ladies of England peculiarly excel in
this species of annihilation; and while they continue to drown puppies,
as they daily do, in a sea of sarcasm, I think no true Englishman will
hesitate one moment in giving them the preference for tact and manner
over all the vivacious French, all the self-possessing Italian, and all
the tolerant German women. This is a claptrap, and I have no doubt will
sell the book.

Popanilla, however, had not re-entered society with the intention of
subsiding into a nonentity; and he therefore took the opportunity, a
few minutes after sunset, just as his companions were falling into the
dance, to beg the favour of being allowed to address his sovereign only
for one single moment.

‘Sire!’ said he, in that mild tone of subdued superciliousness with
which we should always address kings, and which, while it vindicates our
dignity, satisfactorily proves that we are above the vulgar passion of
envy, ‘Sire!’ but let us not encourage that fatal faculty of oratory so
dangerous to free states, and therefore let us give only the ‘substance
of Popanilla’s speech.’ * He commenced his address in a manner somewhat
resembling the initial observations of those pleasing pamphlets which
are the fashion of the present hour; and which, being intended to
diffuse information among those who have not enjoyed the opportunity
and advantages of study, and are consequently of a gay and cheerful
disposition, treat of light subjects in a light and polished style.
Popanilla, therefore, spoke of man in a savage state, the origin of
society, and the elements of the social compact, in sentences which
would not have disgraced the mellifluous pen of Bentham. From these he
naturally digressed into an agreeable disquisition on the Anglo-Saxons;
and, after a little badinage on the Bill of Rights, flew off to an airy
aper u of the French Revolution. When he had arrived at the Isle
of Fantaisie he begged to inform his Majesty that man was born for
something else besides enjoying himself. It was, doubtless, extremely
pleasant to dance and sing, to crown themselves with chaplets, and to
drink wine; but he was ‘free to confess’ that he did not imagine that
the most barefaced hireling of corruption could for a moment presume
to maintain that there was any utility in pleasure. If there were no
utility in pleasure, it was quite clear that pleasure could profit no
one. If, therefore, it were unprofitable, it was injurious; because
that which does not produce a profit is equivalent to a loss; therefore
pleasure is a losing business; consequently pleasure is not pleasant.

     * Substance of a speech, in Parliamentary language, means a printed
       edition of an harangue which contains all that was uttered in the
       House, and about as much again.

He also showed that man was not born for himself, but for society; that
the interests of the body are alone to be considered, and not those of
the individual; and that a nation might be extremely happy, extremely
powerful, and extremely rich, although every individual member of
it might at the same time be miserable, dependent, and in debt. He
regretted to observe that no one in the island seemed in the slightest
decree conscious of the object of his being. Man is created for a
purpose; the object of his existence is to perfect himself. Man is
imperfect by nature, because if nature had made him perfect he would
have had no wants; and it is only by supplying his wants that utility
can be developed. The development of utility is therefore the object
of our being, and the attainment of this great end the cause of our
existence. This principle clears all doubts, and rationally accounts for
a state of existence which has puzzled many pseudo-philosophers.

Popanilla then went on to show that the hitherto received definitions
of man were all erroneous; that man is neither a walking animal, nor
a talking animal, nor a cooking animal, nor a lounging animal, nor a
debt-incurring, animal, nor a tax-paying animal, nor a printing animal,
nor a puffing animal, but a developing animal. Development is the
discovery of utility. By developing the water we get fish; by developing
the earth we get corn, and cash, and cotton; by developing the air we
get breath; by developing the fire we get heat. Thus, the use of the
elements is demonstrated to the meanest capacity. But it was not merely
a material development to which he alluded; a moral development was
equally indispensable. He showed that it was impossible for a nation
either to think too much or to do too much. The life of man was
therefore to be passed in a moral and material development until he had
consummated his perfection. It was the opinion of Popanilla that this
great result was by no means so near at hand as some philosophers
flattered themselves; and that it might possibly require another
half-century before even the most civilised nation could be said to have
completed the destiny of the human race. At the same time, he intimated
that there were various extraordinary means by which this rather
desirable result might be facilitated; and there was no saying what the
building of a new University might do, of which, when built, he had no
objection to be appointed Principal.

In answer to those who affect to admire that deficient system
of existence which they style simplicity of manners, and who are
perpetually committing the blunder of supposing that every advance
towards perfection only withdraws man further from his primitive and
proper condition, Popanilla triumphantly demonstrated that no such order
as that which they associated with the phrase ‘state of nature’ ever
existed. ‘Man,’ said he, ‘is called the masterpiece of nature; and man
is also, as we all know, the most curious of machines; now, a machine
is a work of art, consequently, the masterpiece of nature is the
masterpiece of art. The object of all mechanism is the attainment of
utility; the object of man, who is the most perfect machine, is utility
in the highest degree. Can we believe, therefore, that this machine
was ever intended for a state which never could have called forth its
powers, a state in which no utility could ever have been attained,
a state in which there are no wants; consequently, no demand;
consequently, no supply; consequently, no competition; consequently, no
invention; consequently, no profits; only one great pernicious monopoly
of comfort and ease? Society without wants is like a world without
winds. It is quite clear, therefore, that there is no such thing as
Nature; Nature is Art, or Art is Nature; that which is most useful
is most natural, because utility is the test of nature; therefore a
steam-engine is in fact a much more natural production than a mountain.*

     * The age seems as anti-mountainous as it is anti-monarchical.
       A late writer insinuates that if the English had spent their
       millions in levelling the Andes, instead of excavating the
       table-lands, society might have been benefited.  These
       monstrosities are decidedly useless, and therefore can neither
       be sublime nor beautiful, as has been unanswerably demonstrated
       by another recent writer on political aesthetics--See also a
       personal attack on Mont Blanc, in the second number of the
       Foreign Quarterly Review, 1828.

‘You are convinced, therefore,’ he continued, ‘by these observations,
that it is impossible for an individual or a nation to be too artificial
in their manners, their ideas, their laws, or their general policy;
because, in fact, the more artificial you become the nearer you approach
that state of nature of which you are so perpetually talking.’ Here
observing that some of his audience appeared to be a little sceptical,
perhaps only surprised, he told them that what he said must be true,
because it entirely consisted of first principles. *

     * First principles are the ingredients of positive truth.  They
       are immutable, as may be seen by comparing the first principles
       of the eighteenth century with the first principles of the
       nineteenth.

After having thus preliminarily descanted for about two hours, Popanilla
informed his Majesty that he was unused to public speaking, and then
proceeded to show that the grand characteristic of the social action
* of the Isle of Fantaisie was a total want of development. This he
observed with equal sorrow and surprise; he respected the wisdom of
their ancestors; at the same time, no one could deny that they were both
barbarous and ignorant; he highly esteemed also the constitution,
but regretted that it was not in the slightest degree adapted to the
existing want of society: he was not for destroying any establishments,
but, on the contrary, was for courteously affording them the opportunity
of self-dissolution. He finished by re-urging, in strong terms, the
immediate development of the island. In the first place, a great
metropolis must be instantly built, because a great metropolis always
produces a great demand; and, moreover, Popanilla had some legal doubts
whether a country without a capital could in fact be considered a State.
Apologising for having so long trespassed upon the attention of the
assembly, he begged distinctly to state ** that he had no wish to see
his Majesty and his fellow-subjects adopt these new principles without
examination and without experience. They might commence on a small
scale; let them cut down their forests, and by turning them into ships
and houses discover the utility of timber; let the whole island be dug
up; let canals be cut, docks be built, and all the elephants be
killed directly, that their teeth might yield an immediate article
for exportation. A short time would afford a sufficient trial. In the
meanwhile, they would not be pledged to further measures, and these
might be considered only as an experiment. *** Taking for granted that
these principles would be acted on, and taking into consideration the
site of the island in the map of the world, the nature and extent of its
resources, its magnificent race of human beings, its varieties of the
animal creation, its wonderfully fine timber, its undeveloped mineral
treasures, the spaciousness of its harbours, and its various facilities
for extended international communication, Popanilla had no hesitation in
saying that a short time could not elapse ere, instead of passing their
lives in a state of unprofitable ease and useless enjoyment, they might
reasonably expect to be the terror and astonishment of the universe, and
to be able to annoy every nation of any consequence.

     * This simple and definite phrase we derive from the nation to
       whom we were indebted during the last century for some other
       phrases about as definite, but rather more dangerous.

    ** Another phrase of Parliament, which, I need not observe, is
       always made use of in oratory when the orator can see his
       meaning about as distinctly as Sancho perceived the charms
       of Dulcinea.

   *** A very famous and convenient phrase this--but in politics
       experiments mean revolutions.  1828.

Here, observing a smile upon his Majesty’s countenance, Popanilla told
the King that he was only a chief magistrate, and he had no more right
to laugh at him than a parish constable. He concluded by observing that
although what he at present urged might appear strange, nevertheless,
if the listeners had been acquainted with the characters and cases
of Galileo and Turgot, they would then have seen, as a necessary
consequence, that his system was perfectly correct, and he himself a man
of extraordinary merit.

Here the chief magistrate, no longer daring to smile, burst into a fit
of laughter; and turning to his courtiers said, ‘I have not an idea what
this man is talking about, but I know that he makes my head ache: give
me a cup of wine, and let us have a dance.’

All applauded the royal proposition; and pushing Popanilla from one to
another, until he was fairly hustled to the brink of the lagoon, they
soon forgot the existence of this bore: in one word, he was cut. When
Popanilla found himself standing alone, and looking grave while all
the rest were gay, he began to suspect that he was not so influential
a personage as he previously imagined. Rather crest-fallen, he sneaked
home; and consoled himself for having nobody to speak to by reading some
amusing ‘Conversations on Political Economy.’



CHAPTER 5


Popanilla was discomposed, but he was not discomfited. He consoled
himself for the Royal neglect by the recollection of the many
illustrious men who had been despised, banished, imprisoned, and burnt
for the maintenance of opinions which, centuries afterwards, had
been discovered to be truth. He did not forget that in still further
centuries the lately recognised truth had been re-discovered to be
falsehood; but then these men were not less illustrious; and what wonder
that their opinions were really erroneous, since they were not his
present ones? The reasoning was equally conclusive and consolatory.
Popanilla, therefore, was not discouraged; and although he deemed it
more prudent not to go out of his way to seek another audience of his
sovereign, or to be too anxious again to address a public meeting,
he nevertheless determined to proceed cautiously, but constantly,
propagating his doctrines and proselytizing in private.

Unfortunately for Popanilla, he did not enjoy one advantage which all
founders of sects have duly appreciated, and by which they have been
materially assisted. It is a great and an unanswerable argument in
favour of a Providence that we constantly perceive that the most
beneficial results are brought about by the least worthy and most
insignificant agents. The purest religions would never have been
established had they not been supported by sinners who felt the burthen
of the old faith; and the most free and enlightened governments
are often generated by the discontented, the disappointed, and the
dissolute. Now, in the Isle of Fantaisie, unfortunately for our
revolutionizer, there was not a single grumbler.

Unable, therefore, to make the bad passions of his fellow creatures the
unconscious instruments of his good purposes, Popanilla must have been
contented to have monopolised all the wisdom of the moderns, had he not,
with the unbaffled wit of an inventor, hit upon a new expedient. Like
Socrates, our philosopher began to cultivate with sedulousness the
society of youth.

In a short time the ladies of Fantaisie were forced to observe that the
fair sex most unfashionably predominated in their evening assemblages;
for the young gentlemen of the island had suddenly ceased to pay their
graceful homage at the altar of Terpsichore. In an Indian isle not to
dance was as bad as heresy. The ladies rallied the recreants, but their
playful sarcasms failed of their wonted effect. In the natural course
of things they had recourse to remonstrances, but their appeals were
equally fruitless. The delicate creatures tried reproaches, but the
boyish cynics received them with a scowl and answered them with a sneer.

The women fled in indignation to their friendly monarch; but the
voluptuary of nature only shrugged his shoulders and smiled. He kissed
away their tears, and their frowns vanished as he crowned their long
hair with roses.

‘If the lads really show such bad taste,’ said his Majesty, ‘why I and
my lords must do double duty, and dance with a couple of you at once.’
Consoled and complimented, and crowned by a King, who could look sad?
The women forgot their anger in their increasing loyalty.

But the pupils of Popanilla had no sooner mastered the first principles
of science than they began to throw off their retired habits and
uncommunicative manners. Being not utterly ignorant of some of the
rudiments of knowledge, and consequently having completed their
education, it was now their duty, as members of society, to instruct
and not to study. They therefore courted, instead of shunned, their
fellow-creatures; and on all occasions seized all opportunities
of assisting the spread of knowledge. The voices of lecturing boys
resounded in every part of the island. Their tones were so shrill,
their manners so presuming, their knowledge so crude, and their general
demeanour so completely unamiable, that it was impossible to hear them
without delight, advantage, and admiration.

The women were not now the only sufferers and the only complainants.
Dinned to death, the men looked gloomy; and even the King, for the first
time in his life, looked grave. Could this Babel, he thought, be that
empire of bliss, that delightful Fantaisie, where to be ruler only
proved that you were the most skilful in making others happy! His
brow ached under his light flowery crown, as if it were bound by the
barbarous circle of a tyrant, heavy with gems and gold. In his despair
he had some thoughts of leaving his kingdom and betaking himself to the
mermaids.

The determination of the most precious portion of his subjects saved his
empire. As the disciples of the new school were daily demanding, ‘What
is the use of dancing? what is the use of drinking wine? what is the use
of smelling flowers?’ the women, like prescient politicians, began
to entertain a nervous suspicion that in time these sages might even
presume to question the utility of that homage which, in spite of the
Grecian Philosophers and the British Essayists, we have been in the
habit of conceding to them ever since Eden; and they rushed again to
the King like frightened deer. Something now was to be done; and the
monarch, with an expression of countenance which almost amounted to
energy, whispered consolation.

The King sent for Popanilla; the message produced a great sensation; the
enlightened introducer of the new principles had not been at Court
since he was cut. No doubt his Majesty was at last impregnated with the
liberal spirit of the age; and Popanilla was assuredly to be Premier.
In fact, it must be so; he was ‘sent for;’ there was no precedent in
Fantaisie, though there might be in other islands, for a person being
‘sent for’ and not being Premier. His disciples were in high spirits;
the world was now to be regulated upon right principles, and they were
to be installed into their right places.

‘Illustrious Popanilla!’ said the King, ‘you once did me the honour of
making me a speech which, unfortunately for myself, I candidly confess,
I was then incapable of understanding; no wonder, as it was the first
I ever beard. I shall not, however, easily forget the effect which it
produced upon me. I have since considered it my duty, as a monarch, to
pay particular attention to your suggestions. I now understand them with
sufficient clearness to be fully convinced of their excellence, and in
future I intend to act upon them, without any exception or deviation.
To prove my sincerity, I have determined to commence the new system at
once; and as I think that, without some extension of our international
relations, the commercial interest of this island will be incapable
of furnishing the taxes which I intend to levy, I have determined,
therefore, to fit out an expedition for the purpose of discovering new
islands and forming relations with new islanders. It is but due to your
merit that you should be appointed to the command of it; and further
to testify my infinite esteem for your character, and my complete
confidence in your abilities, I make you post-captain on the spot. As
the axiom of your school seems to be that everything can be made perfect
at once, without time, without experience, without practice, and without
preparation, I have no doubt, with the aid of a treatise or two, You
will make a consummate naval commander, although you have never been at
sea in the whole course of your life. Farewell, Captain Popanilla!’

No sooner was this adieu uttered than four brawny lords of the
bed-chamber seized the Turgot of Fantaisie by the shoulders, and carried
him with inconceivable rapidity to the shore. His pupils, who would
have fled to his rescue, were stifled with the embraces of their former
partners, and their utilitarianism dissolved in the arms of those they
once so rudely rejected. As for their tutor, he was thrust into one of
the canoes, with some fresh water, bread-fruit, dried fish, and a basket
of alligator-pears. A band of mermaids carried the canoe with exquisite
management through the shallows and over the breakers, and poor
Popanilla in a few minutes found himself out at sea. Tremendously
frightened, he offered to recant all his opinions, and denounce as
traitors any individuals whom the Court might select. But his former
companions did not exactly detect the utility of his return. His offers,
his supplications, were equally fruitless; and the only answer which
floated to him on the wind was, ‘Farewell, Captain Popanilla!’



CHAPTER 6


Night fell upon the waters, dark and drear, and thick and misty. How
unlike those brilliant hours that once summoned him to revelry and love!
Unhappy Popanilla! Thy delicious Fantaisie has vanished! Ah, pitiable
youth! What could possibly have induced you to be so very rash? And all
from that unlucky lock of hair!

After a few natural paroxysms of rage, terror, anguish, and remorse,
the Captain as naturally subsided into despair, and awaited with sullen
apathy that fate which could not be far distant. The only thing which
puzzled the philosophical navigator was his inability to detect what
useful end could be attained by his death. At length, remembering that
fish must be fed, his theory and his desperation were at the same time
confirmed.

A clear, dry morning succeeded the wet, gloomy night, and Popanilla had
not yet gone down. This extraordinary suspension of his fate roused him
from his stupor, and between the consequent excitement and the morning
air he acquired an appetite. Philosophical physicians appear to
have agreed that sorrow, to a certain extent, is not unfavourable to
digestion; and as Popanilla began to entertain some indefinite and
unreasonable hopes, the alligator-pears quickly disappeared. In
the meantime the little canoe cut her way, as if she were chasing a
smuggler; and had it not been for a shark or two who, in anticipation
of their services being required, never left her side for a second,
Popanilla really might have made some ingenious observations on the
nature of tides. He was rather surprised, certainly, as he watched his
frail bark cresting the waves; but he soon supposed that this was all in
the natural course of things; and he now ascribed his previous fright,
not to the peril of his situation, but to his inexperience of it.

Although his apprehension of being drowned was now removed, yet when he
gazed on the boundless vacancy before him, and also observed that his
provisions rapidly decreased, he began to fear that he was destined for
a still more horrible fate, and that, after having eaten his own
slices, he must submit to be starved. In this state of despondency, with
infinite delight and exultation Le clearly observed, on the second
clay, at twenty-seven minutes past three P.M., though at a considerable
distance, a mountain and an island. His joy and his pride were equal,
and excessive: he called the first Alligator Mountain, in gratitude to
the pears; and christened the second after his mistress, that unlucky
mistress! The swift canoe soon reached the discoveries, and the happy
discoverer further found, to his mortification, that the mountain was
a mist and the island a sea-weed. Popanilla now grew sulky, and threw
himself down in the bottom of his boat.

On the third morning he was awakened by a tremendous roar; on looking
around him he perceived that he was in a valley formed by two waves,
each several hundred feet high. This seemed the crisis of his fate; he
shut his eyes, as people do when they are touched by a dentist, and in
a few minutes was still bounding on the ocean in the eternal canoe, safe
but senseless. Some tremendous peals of thunder, a roaring wind, and a
scathing lightning confirmed his indisposition; and had not the tempest
subsided, Popanilla would probably have been an idiot for life. The dead
and soothing calm which succeeded this tornado called him back again
gradually to existence. He opened his eyes, and, scarcely daring to try
a sense, immediately shut them; then hearing a deep sigh, he shrugged
his shoulders, and looked as pitiable as a prime minister with a
rebellious cabinet. At length he ventured to lift up his head; there was
not a wrinkle on the face of ocean; a halcyon fluttered over him, and
then scudded before his canoe, and gamesome porpoises were tumbling at
his side. The sky was cloudless, except in the direction to which he was
driving; but even as Popanilla observed, with some misgivings, the mass
of vapours which had there congregated, the great square and solid black
clouds drew off like curtains, and revealed to his entranced vision a
magnificent city rising out of the sea.

Tower, and dome, and arch, column, and spire, and obelisk, and lofty
terraces, and many-windowed palaces, rose in all directions from a mass
of building which appeared to him each instant to grow more huge, till
at length it seemed to occupy the whole horizon. The sun lent additional
lustre to the dazzling quays of white marble which apparently surrounded
this mighty city, and which rose immediately from the dark blue waters.
As the navigator drew nearer, he observed that in most parts the quays
were crowded with beings who, he trusted, were human, and already the
hum of multitudes broke upon his inexperienced ear: to him a sound far
more mysterious and far more exciting than the most poetical of winds
to the most wind of poets. On the right of this vast city rose what
was mistaken by Popanilla for an immense but leafless forest; but more
practical men than the Fantaisian Captain have been equally confounded
by the first sight of a million of masts.

The canoe cut its way with increased rapidity, and ere Popanilla had
recovered himself sufficiently to make even an ejaculation, he found
himself at the side of a quay. Some amphibious creatures, whom he
supposed to be mermen, immediately came to his assistance, rather stared
at his serpent-skin coat, and then helped him up the steps. Popanilla
was instantly surrounded.

‘Who are you?’ said one.

‘What are you?’ asked another.

‘Who is it?’ exclaimed a third.

‘What is it?’ screamed a fourth.

‘My friends, I am a man!’

‘A man!’ said the women; ‘are you sure you are a real man?’

‘He must be a sea-god!’ said the females.

‘She must be a sea-goddess!’ said the males.

‘A Triton!’ maintained the women.

‘A Nereid!’ argued the men.

‘It is a great fish!’ said the boys.

Thanks to the Universal Linguist, Captain Popanilla, under these
peculiar circumstances, was more loquacious than could have been Captain
Parry.

‘Good people! you see before you the most injured of human beings.’

This announcement inspired general enthusiasm. The women wept, the men
shook hands with him, and all the boys huzzaed. Popanilla proceeded:--

‘Actuated by the most pure, the most patriotic, the most noble, the most
enlightened, and the most useful sentiments, I aspired to ameliorate the
condition of my fellowmen. To this grand object I have sacrificed all
that makes life delightful: I have lost my station in society, my taste
for dancing, my popularity with the men, my favour with the women;
and last, but, oh! not least (excuse this emotion), I have lost a very
particular lock of hair. In one word, my friends, you see before you,
banished, ruined, and unhappy, the victim of a despotic sovereign, a
corrupt aristocracy, and a misguided people.’

No sooner had he ceased speaking than Popanilla really imagined that he
had only escaped the dangers of sedition and the sea to expire by less
hostile, though not less effective, means. To be strangled was not
much better than to be starved: and certainly, with half-a-dozen highly
respectable females clinging round his neck, he was not reminded for
the first time in his life what a domestic bowstring is an affectionate
woman. In an agony of suffocation he thought very little of his arms,
although the admiration of the men had already, in his imagination,
separated these useful members from his miserable body and had it not
been for some justifiable kicking and plunging, the veneration of the
ingenuous and surrounding youth, which manifested itself by their active
exertions to divide his singular garment into relics of a martyr of
liberty, would soon have effectually prevented the ill-starred Popanilla
from being again mistaken for a Nereid. Order was at length restored,
and a committee of eight appointed to regulate the visits of the
increasing mob.

The arrangements were judicious; the whole populace was marshalled into
ranks; classes of twelve persons were allowed consecutively to walk past
the victim of tyranny, corruption, and ignorance; and each person had
the honour to touch his finger. During this proceeding, which lasted a
few hours, an influential personage generously offered to receive
the eager subscriptions of the assembled thousands. Even the boys
subscribed, and ere six hours had passed since his arrival as a coatless
vagabond in this liberal city, Captain Popanilla found himself a person
of considerable means.

The receiver of the subscriptions, while he crammed Popanilla’s
serpent-skin pockets fall of gold pieces, at the same time kindly
offered the stranger to introduce him to an hotel. Popanilla, who
was quite beside himself, could only bow his assent, and mechanically
accompanied his conductor. When he had regained his faculty of speech,
he endeavoured, in wandering sentences of grateful incoherency, to
express his deep sense of this unparalleled liberality. ‘It was an
excess of generosity in which mankind could never have before indulged!’

‘By no means!’ said his companion, with great coolness; ‘far from this
being an unparalleled affair, I assure you it is a matter of hourly
occurrence; make your mind quite easy. You are probably not aware that
you are now living in the richest and the most charitable country in the
world?’

‘Wonderful!’ said Popanilla; ‘and what is the name, may I ask, of this
charitable city?’

‘Is it possible,’ said his companion, with a faint smile, ‘that you are
ignorant of the great city of Hubbabub; the largest city not only
that exists, but that ever did exist, and the capital of the island of
Vraibleusia, the most famous island not only that is known, but that
ever was known?’

While he was speaking they were accosted by a man upon crutches, who,
telling them in a broken voice that he had a wife and twelve infant
children dependent on his support, supplicated a little charity.
Popanilla was about to empty part of his pocketfuls into the mendicant’s
cap, but his companion repressed his unphilosophical facility. ‘By no
means!’ said his friend, who, turning round to the beggar, advised him,
in a mild voice, to work; calmly adding, that if he presumed to ask
charity again he should certainly have him bastinadoed. Then they walked
on.

Popanilla’s attention was so distracted by the variety, the number, the
novelty, and the noise of the objects which were incessantly hurried
upon his observation, that he found no time to speak; and as his
companion, though exceedingly polite, was a man of few words,
conversation rather flagged.

At last, overwhelmed by the magnificence of the streets, the splendour
of the shops, the number of human beings, the rattling of the vehicles,
the dashing of the horses, and a thousand other sounds and objects,
Popanilla gave loose to a loud and fervent wish that his hotel might
have the good fortune of being situated in this interesting quarter.

‘By no means!’ said his companion; ‘we have yet much further to go. Far
from this being a desirable situation for you, my friend, no civilised
person is ever seen here; and had not the cause of civil and religious
liberty fortunately called me to the water-side to-day, I should have
lost the opportunity of showing how greatly I esteem a gentleman who has
suffered so severely in the cause of national amelioration.’

‘Sir!’ said Popanilla, ‘your approbation is the only reward which I ever
shall desire for my exertions. You will excuse me for not quite keeping
up with you; but the fact is, my pockets are so stuffed with cash that
the action of my legs is greatly impeded.’

‘Credit me, my friend, that you are suffering from an inconvenience
which you will not long experience in Hubbabub. Nevertheless, to remedy
it at present, I think the best thing we can do is to buy a purse.’

They accordingly entered a shop where such an article might be found,
and taking up a small sack, for Popanilla was very rich, his companion
inquired its price, which he was informed was four crowns. No sooner had
the desired information been given than the proprietor of the opposite
shop rushed in, and offered him the same article for three crowns. The
original merchant, not at all surprised at the intrusion, and not the
least apologising for his former extortion, then demanded two. His
rival, being more than his match, he courteously dropped upon his knee,
and requested his customer to accept the article gratis, for his sake.
The generous dealer would infallibly have carried the day, had not his
rival humbly supplicated the purchaser not only to receive his article
as a gift, but also the compliment of a crown inside.

‘What a terrible cheat the first merchant must have been!’ said the
puzzled Popanilla, as they proceeded on their way.

‘By no means!’ said his calm companion; ‘the purse was sufficiently,
cheap even at four crowns. This is not Cheatery; this is Competition!’

‘What a wonderful nation, then, this must be, where you not only get
purses gratis but even well loaded! What use, then, is all this heavy
gold? It is a tremendous trouble to carry; I will empty the bag into
this kennel, for money surely can be of no use in a city where, when in
want of cash, you have only to go into a shop and buy a purse!’

‘Your pardon!’ said his companion; ‘far from this being the case,
Vraibleusia is, without doubt, the dearest country in the world.’

‘If, then,’ said the inquisitive Popanilla, with great animation, ‘if,
then, this country be the dearest in the world; if, how--’

‘My good friend!’ said his companion, ‘I really am the last person in
the world to answer questions. All that I know is, that this country
is extremely dear, and that the only way to get things cheap is to
encourage Competition.’

Here the progress of his companion was impeded for some time by a great
crowd, which had assembled to catch a glimpse of a man who was to fly
off a steeple, but who had not yet arrived. A chimney-sweeper observed
to a scientific friend that probably the density of the atmosphere might
prevent the intended volitation; and Popanilla, who, having read almost
as many pamphlets as the observer, now felt quite at home, exceedingly
admired the observation.

‘He must be a very superior man, this gentleman in black!’ said
Popanilla to his companion.

‘By no means! he is of the lowest class in society. But you are probably
not aware that you are in the most educated country in the world.’

‘Delightful!’ said Popanilla.

The Captain was exceedingly desirous of witnessing the flight of the
Vraibleusian Daedalus, but his friend advised their progress. This,
however, was not easy; and Popanilla, animated for the moment by his
natural aristocratic disposition, and emboldened by his superior size
and strength, began to clear his way in a manner which was more cogent
than logical. The chimney-sweeper and his comrades were soon in arms,
and Popanilla would certainly have been killed or ducked by this
superior man and his friends, had it not been for the mild remonstrance
of his conductor and the singular appearance of his costume.

‘What could have induced you to be so imprudent?’ said his rescuer, when
they had escaped from the crowd.

‘Truly,’ said Popanilla, ‘I thought that in a country where you may
bastinado the wretch who presumes to ask you for alms, there could
surely be no objection to my knocking down the scoundrel who dared to
stand in my way.’

‘By no means!’ said his friend, slightly elevating his eye-brows. ‘Here
all men are equal. You are probably not aware that you are at present in
the freest country in the world.’

‘I do not exactly understand you; what is this freedom?’

‘My good friend, I really am the last person in the world to answer
questions. Freedom is, in one word, Liberty: a kind of thing which you
foreigners never can understand, and which mere theory can make no man
understand. When you have been in the island a few weeks all will be
quite clear to you. In the meantime, do as others do, and never knock
men down!’



CHAPTER 7


‘Although we are yet some way from our hotel,’ remarked Popanilla’s
conductor, ‘we have now arrived at a part of the city where I can ease
you, without difficulty, from your troublesome burthen; let us enter
here!’

As he spoke, they stopped before a splendid palace, and proceeding
through various halls full of individuals apparently intently busied,
the companions were at last ushered into an apartment of smaller size,
but of more elegant character. A personage of prepossessing appearance
was lolling on a couch of an appearance equally prepossessing. Before
him, on a table, were some papers, exquisite fruits, and some liqueurs.
Popanilla was presented, and received with fascinating complaisance. His
friend stated the object of their visit, and handed the sackful of gold
to the gentleman on the sofa. The gentleman on the sofa ordered a couple
of attendants to ascertain its contents. While this computation was
going on he amused his guests by his lively conversation, and charmed
Popanilla by his polished manners and easy civility. He offered him,
during his stay in Vraibleusia, the use of a couple of equipages,
a villa, and an opera-box; insisted upon sending to his hotel some
pine-apples and some rare wine, and gave him a perpetual ticket to his
picture-gallery. When his attendants had concluded their calculation,
he ordered them to place Popanilla’s precious metal in his treasury;
and then, presenting the Captain with a small packet of pink shells, he
kindly inquired whether he could be of any further use to him. Popanilla
was loth to retire without his gold, of the utility of which, in spite
of the convenience of competition, he seemed to possess an instinctive
conception; but as his friend rose and withdrew, he could do nothing
less than accompany him; for, having now known him nearly half a day,
his confidence in his honour and integrity was naturally unbounded.

‘That was the King, of course?’ said Popanilla, when they were fairly
out of the palace.

‘The King!’ said the unknown, nearly surprised into an exclamation; ‘by
no means!’

‘And what then?’

‘My good friend! is it possible that you have no bankers in your
country?’

‘Yes, it is very possible; but we have mermaids, who also give us shells
which are pretty. What then are your bankers?’

‘Really, my good friend, that is a question which I never remember
having been asked before; but a banker is a man who keeps our money for
us.’

‘Ah! and he is bound, I suppose, to return your money, when you choose?’

‘Most assuredly!’

‘He is, then, in fact, your servant: you must pay him handsomely, for
him to live so well?’

‘By no means! we pay him nothing.’

‘That is droll; he must be very rich then?’

‘Really, my dear friend, I cannot say. Why, yes! I--I suppose he may be
very rich!’

‘Tis singular that a rich man should take so much trouble for others!’

‘My good friend! of course he lives by his trouble.’

‘Ah! How, then,’ continued the inquisitive Fantaisian, ‘if you do not
pay him for his services, and he yet lives by them; how, I pray, does he
acquire these immense riches?’

‘Really, my good sir, I am, in truth, the very last man in the world to
answer questions: he is a banker; bankers are always rich; but why they
are, or how they are, I really never had time to inquire. But I suppose,
if the truth were known, they must have very great opportunities.’

‘Ah! I begin to see,’ said Popanilla. ‘It was really very kind of
him,’ continued the Captain, ‘to make me a present of these little pink
shells: what would I not give to turn them into a necklace, and send it
to a certain person at Fantaisie!’

‘It would be a very expensive necklace,’ observed his companion, almost
surprised. ‘I had no idea, I confess, from your appearance, that in your
country they indulged in such expensive tastes in costume.’

‘Expensive!’ said Popanilla. ‘We certainly have no such shells as these
in Fantaisie; but we have much more beautiful ones. I should think, from
their look, they must be rather common.’

His conductor for the first time nearly laughed. ‘I forgot,’ said
he, ‘that you could not be aware that these pink shells are the most
precious coin of the land, compared with which those bits of gold with
which you have recently parted are nothing; your whole fortune is now
in that little packet. The fact is,’ continued the unknown, making an
effort to communicate, ‘although we possess in this country more of the
precious metals than all the rest of the world together, the quantity is
nevertheless utterly disproportioned to the magnitude of our wealth and
our wants. We have been, therefore, under the necessity of resorting
to other means of representing the first and supplying the second; and,
taking advantage of our insular situation, we have introduced these
small pink shells, which abound all round the coast. Being much more
convenient to carry, they are in general circulation, and no genteel
person has ever anything else in his pocket.’

‘Wonderful! But surely, then, it is no very difficult thing in this
country to accumulate a fortune, since all that is necessary to give you
every luxury of life is a stroll one morning of your existence along the
beach?’

‘By no means, my friend! you are really too rapid. The fact is, that
no one has the power of originally circulating these shells but our
Government; and if any one, by any chance, choose to violate this
arrangement, we make up for depriving him of his solitary walks on the
shore by instant submersion in the sea.’

‘Then the whole circulation of the country is at the mercy of your
Government?’ remarked Popanilla, summoning to his recollection the
contents of one of those shipwrecked brochures which had exercised so
strange an influence on his destiny. ‘Suppose they do not choose to
issue?’

‘That is always guarded against. The mere quarterly payments of interest
upon our national debt will secure an ample supply.’

‘Debt! I thought you were the richest nation in the world?’

‘Tis true; nevertheless, if there were a golden pyramid with a base as
big as the whole earth and an apex touching the heavens, it would not
supply us with sufficient metal to satisfy our creditors.’

‘But, my dear sir,’ exclaimed the perplexed Popanilla, ‘if this really
be true, how then can you be said to be the richest nation in the
world?’

‘It is very simple. The annual interest upon our debt exceeds the whole
wealth of the rest of the world; therefore we must be the richest nation
in the world.’

‘Tis true,’ said Popanilla; ‘I see I have yet much to learn. But with
regard to these pink shells, how can you possibly create for them a
certain standard of value? It is merely agreement among yourselves that
fixes any value to them.’

‘By no means! you are so rapid! Each shell is immediately convertible
into gold; of which metal, let me again remind you, we possess more than
any other nation; but which, indeed, we only keep as a sort of dress
coin, chiefly to indulge the prejudices of foreigners.’

‘But,’ said the perpetual Popanilla, ‘suppose every man who held a shell
on the same day were to--’

‘My good friend! I really am the last person in the world to give
explanations. In Vraibleusia, we have so much to do that we have no time
to think; a habit which only becomes nations who are not employed. You
are now fast approaching the Great Shell Question; a question which, I
confess, affects the interests of every man in this island more than any
other; but of which, I must candidly own, every man in this island is
more ignorant than of any other. No one, however, can deny that the
system works well; and if anything at any time go wrong, why really
Mr. Secretary Periwinkle is a wonderful man, and our most eminent
conchologist. He, no doubt, will set it right; and if, by any chance,
things are past even his management, why then, I suppose, to use our
national motto, something will turn up.’

Here they arrived at the hotel. Having made every arrangement for
the comfort and convenience of the Fantaisian stranger, Popanilla’s
conductor took his leave, previously informing him that his name was
Skindeep; that he was a member of one of the largest families in the
island; that, had he not been engaged to attend a lecture, he would have
stayed and dined with him; but that he would certainly call upon him on
the morrow.

Compared with his hotel the palace of his banker was a dungeon; even the
sunset voluptuousness of Fantaisie was now remembered without regret
in the blaze of artificial light and in the artificial gratification
of desires which art had alone created. After a magnificent repast, his
host politely inquired of Popanilla whether he would like to go to the
Opera, the comedy, or a concert; but the Fantaisian philosopher was not
yet quite corrupted; and, still inspired with a desire to acquire useful
knowledge, he begged his landlord to procure him immediately a pamphlet
on the Shell Question.

While his host was engaged in procuring this luxury a man entered the
room and told Popanilla that he had walked that day two thousand five
hundred paces, and that the tax due to the Excise upon this promenade
was fifty crowns. The Captain stared, and remarked to the excise-officer
that he thought a man’s paces were a strange article to tax. The
excise-officer, with great civility, answered that no doubt at first
sight it might appear rather strange, but that it was the only article
left untaxed in Vraibleusia; that there was a slight deficiency in
the last quarter’s revenue, and that therefore the Government had no
alternative; that it was a tax which did not press heavily upon the
individual, because the Vraibleusians were of a sedentary habit; that,
besides, it was an opinion every day more received among the best judges
that the more a man was taxed the richer he ultimately would prove; and
he concluded by saying that Popanilla need not make himself uneasy about
these demands, because, if he were ruined to-morrow, being a foreigner,
he was entitled by the law of the land to five thousand a-year; whereas
he, the excise-man, being a native-born Vraibleusian, had no claims
whatever upon the Government; therefore he hoped his honour would give
him something to drink.

His host now entered with the ‘Novum Organon’ of the great Periwinkle.
While Popanilla devoured the lively pages of this treatise, he
discovered that the system which had been so subtilely introduced by the
Government, and which had so surprised him in the morning, had soon been
adopted in private life; and although it was a drowning matter to pick
up pink shells, still there was nothing to prevent the whole commerce
of the country from being carried on by means of a system equally
conchological. He found that the social action in every part of the
island was regulated and assisted by this process. Oyster-shells were
first introduced; muscle-shells speedily followed; and, as commerce
became more complicate, they had even been obliged to have recourse to
snail-shells. Popanilla retired to rest with admiration of the people
who thus converted to the most useful purposes things apparently so
useless. There was no saying now what might not be done even with a
nutshell. It was evident that the nation who contrived to be the richest
people in the world while they were over head and ears in debt must be
fast approaching to a state of perfection. Finally, sinking to sleep in
a bed of eiderdown, Popanilla was confirmed in his prejudices against a
state of nature.



CHAPTER 8


Skindeep called upon Popanilla on the following morning in an elegant
equipage, and with great politeness proposed to attend him in a drive
about the city.

The island of Vraibleusia is one hundred and fifty miles in
circumference, two-thirds of which are covered by the city of Hubbabub.
It contains no other city, town, or village. The rest of the island
consists of rivers, canals, and railroads. Popanilla was surprised when
he was informed that Hubbabub did not contain more than five millions
of inhabitants; but his surprise was decreased when their journey
occasionally lay through tracts of streets, consisting often of
capacious mansions entirely tenantless. On seeking an explanation
of this seeming desolation, he was told that the Hubbabubians
were possessed by a frenzy of always moving on, westward; and that
consequently great quarters of the city are perpetually deserted. Even
as Skindeep was speaking their passage was stopped by a large caravan
of carriages and wagons heavily laden with human creatures and their
children and chattels. On Skindeep inquiring the cause of this great
movement, he was informed by one on horseback, who seemed to be the
leader of the horde, that they were the late dwellers in sundry squares
and streets situated far to the east; that their houses having been
ridiculed by an itinerant balladeer, the female part of the tribe had
insisted upon immediately quitting their unfashionable fatherland; and
that now, after three days’ journey, they had succeeded in reaching the
late settlement of a horde who had migrated to the extreme west.

Quitting regions so subject to revolutions and vicissitudes, the
travellers once more emerged into quarters of a less transitory
reputation; and in the magnificent parks, the broad streets, the
ample squares, the palaces, the triumphal arches, and the theatres of
occidental Hubbabub, Popanilla lost those sad and mournful feelings
which are ever engendered by contemplating the gloomy relics of departed
greatness. It was impossible to admire too much the architecture of this
part of the city. The elevations were indeed imposing. In general, the
massy Egyptian appropriately graced the attic-stories; while the finer
and more elaborate architecture of Corinth was placed on a level with
the eye, so that its beauties might be more easily discovered. Spacious
colonnades were flanked by porticoes, surmounted by domes; nor was the
number of columns at all limited, for you occasionally met with porticos
of two tiers, the lower one of which consisted of three, the higher one
of thirty columns. Pedestals of the purest Ionic Gothic were ingeniously
intermixed with Palladian pediments; and the surging spire exquisitely
harmonised with the horizontal architecture of the ancients. But
perhaps, after all, the most charming effect was produced by the
pyramids, surmounted by weather-cocks.

Popanilla was particularly pleased by some chimneys of Caryatides, and
did not for a moment hesitate in assenting to the assertion of Skindeep
that the Vraibleusians were the most architectural nation in the world.
True it was, they had begun late; their attention as a people having
been, for a considerable time, attracted to much more important affairs;
but they had compensated for their tardy attention by their speedy
excellence. *

     * See a work which will be shortly published, entitled, ‘The
       difference detected between Architecture and Parchitecture,’
       by Sansovino the Second.

Before they returned home Skindeep led Popanilla to the top of a tower,
from whence they had a complete view of the whole island. Skindeep
particularly directed the Captain’s attention to one spot, where
flourished, as he said, the only corn-fields in the country, which
supplied the whole nation, and were the property of one individual. So
unrivalled was his agricultural science that the vulgar only accounted
for his admirable produce by a miraculous fecundity! The proprietor of
these hundred golden acres was a rather mysterious sort of personage. He
was an aboriginal inhabitant, and, though the only one of the aborigines
in existence, had lived many centuries, and, to the consternation of
some of the Vraibleusians and the exultation of others, exhibited no
signs of decay. This awful being was without a name. When spoken of by
his admirers he was generally described by such panegyrical periphrases
as ‘soul of the country,’ ‘foundation of the State,’ ‘the only real,
and true, and substantial being;’ while, on the other hand, those who
presumed to differ from those sentiments were in the habit of styling
him ‘the dead weight,’ ‘the vampire,’ ‘the night-mare,’ and other titles
equally complimentary. They also maintained that, instead of being
either real or substantial, he was, in fact, the most flimsy and
fictitious personage in the whole island; and then, lashing themselves
up into metaphor, they would call him a meteor, or a vapour, or a great
windy bubble, that would some day burst.

The Aboriginal insisted that it was the common law of the land that the
islanders should purchase their corn only of him. They grumbled, but
he growled; he swore that it was the constitution of the country; that
there was an uninterrupted line of precedents to confirm the claim; and
that, if they did not approve of the arrangement, they and their fathers
should not have elected to have settled, or presumed to have been
spawned, upon his island. Then, as if he were not desirous of resting
his claim on its mere legal merits, he would remind them of the
superiority of his grain, and the impossibility of a scarcity, in the
event of which calamity an insular people could always find a plentiful
though temporary resource in sea-weed. He then clearly proved to them
that, if ever they had the imprudence to change any of their old laws,
they would necessarily never have more than one meal a day as long as
they lived. Finally, he recalled to their recollection that he had made
the island what it was, that he was their mainstay, and that his counsel
and exertions had rendered them the wonder of the world. Thus, between
force, and fear, and flattery, the Vraibleusians paid for their corn
nearly its weight in gold; but what did that signify to a nation with so
many pink shells!



CHAPTER 9


The third day after his drive with his friend Skindeep, Popanilla was
waited upon by the most eminent bookseller in Hubbabub, who begged to
have the honour of introducing to the public a Narrative of Captain
Popanilla’s Voyage. This gentleman assured Popanilla that the
Vraibleusian public were nervously alive to anything connected with
discovery; that so ardent was their attachment to science and natural
philosophy that voyages and travels were sure to be read with eagerness,
particularly if they had coloured plates. Popanilla was charmed with the
proposition, but blushingly informed the mercantile Maecenas that he did
not know how to write. The publisher told him that this circumstance was
not of the slightest importance; that he had never for a moment supposed
that so sublime a savage could possess such a vulgar accomplishment;
and that it was by no means difficult for a man to publish his travels
without writing a line of them.

Popanilla having consented to become an author upon these terms,
the publisher asked him to dine with him, and introduced him to an
intelligent individual. This intelligent individual listened attentively
to all Popanilla’s adventures. The Captain concealed nothing. He began
with the eternal lock of hair, and showed how wonderfully this world was
constituted, that even the loss of a thing was not useless; from which
it was clear that Utility was Providence. After drinking some capital
wine, the intelligent individual told Popanilla that he was wrong in
supposing Fantaisie to be an island; that, on the contrary, it was a
great continent; that this was proved by the probable action of the
tides in the part of the island which had not yet been visited; that the
consequence of these tides would be that, in the course of a season
or two, Fantaisie would become a great receptacle for icebergs, and be
turned into the North Pole; that, therefore, the seasons throughout the
world would be changed; that this year, in Vraibleusia, the usual winter
would be omitted, and that when the present summer was finished the
dog-days would again commence. Popanilla took his leave highly delighted
with this intelligent individual and with the bookseller’s wine.

Owing to the competition which existed between the publishers, the
printers, and the engravers of the city of Hubbabub, and the great
exertions of the intelligent individual, the Narrative of Captain
Popanilla’s Voyage was brought out in less than a week, and was
immediately in everybody’s hand. The work contained a detailed account
of everything which took place daring the whole of the three days, and
formed a quarto volume. The plates were numerous and highly interesting,
There was a line engraving of Alligator Mountain and a mezzotint of
Seaweed Island; a view of the canoe N.E.; a view of the canoe N.W.;
a view of the canoe S.E.; a view of the canoe S.W. There were
highly-finished coloured drawings of the dried fish and the breadfruit,
and an exquisitely tinted representation of the latter in a mouldy
state. But the chef-d’oeuvre was the portrait of the Author himself. He
was represented trampling on the body of a boa constrictor of the first
quality, in the skin of which he was dressed; at his back were his bow
and arrows; his right hand rested on an uprooted pine-tree; he stood in
a desert between two volcanoes; at his feet was a lake of magnitude;
the distance lowered with an approaching tornado; but a lucky flash of
lightning revealed the range of the Andes and both oceans. Altogether he
looked the most dandified of savages, and the most savage of dandies. It
was a sublime lithograph, and produced scarcely less important effects
upon Popanilla’s fortune than that lucky ‘lock of hair;’ for no sooner
was the portrait published than Popanilla received a ticket for the
receptions of a lady of quality. On showing it to Skindeep, he was told
that the honour was immense, and therefore he must go by all means.
Skindeep regretted that he could not accompany him, but he was engaged
to a lecture on shoemaking; and a lecture was a thing he made it a point
never to miss, because, as he very properly observed, ‘By lectures you
may become extremely well informed without any of the inconveniences of
study. No fixity of attention, no continuity of meditation, no habits
of reflection, no aptitude of combination, are the least requisite; all
which things only give you a nervous headache; and yet you gain all the
results of all these processes. True it is that that which is so easily
acquired is not always so easily remembered; but what of that? Suppose
you forget any subject, why then you go to another lecture.’ ‘Very
true!’ said Popanilla.

Popanilla failed not to remember his invitation from Lady Spirituelle;
and at the proper hour his announcement produced a sensation throughout
her crowded saloons.

Spirituelle was a most enchanting lady; she asked Popanilla how tall he
really was, and whether the women in Fantaisie were as handsome as the
men. Then she said that the Vraibleusians were the most intellectual
and the most scientific nation in the world, and that the society at her
house was the most intellectual and the most scientific in Vraibleusia.
She told him also that she had hoped by this season the world would have
been completely regulated by mind; but that the subversion of matter was
a more substantial business than she and the Committee of Management
had imagined: she had no doubt, however, that in a short time mind must
carry the day, because matter was mortal and mind eternal; therefore
mind had the best chance. Finally, she also told him that the passions
were the occasion of all the misery which had ever existed; and that
it was impossible for mankind either to be happy or great until, like
herself and her friends, they were ‘all soul.’

Popanilla was charmed with his company. What a difference between the
calm, smiling, easy, uninteresting, stupid, sunset countenances
of Fantaisie and those around him. All looked so interested and so
intelligent; their eyes were so anxious, their gestures so animated,
their manners so earnest. They must be very clever! He drew nearer.
If before he were charmed, now he was enchanted. What an universal
acquisition of useful knowledge! Three or four dukes were earnestly
imbibing a new theory of gas from a brilliant little gentleman in black,
who looked like a Will-o’-the-wisp. The Prime Minister was anxious
about pin-making; a Bishop equally interested in a dissertation on
the escapements of watches; a Field-Marshal not less intent on a new
specific from the concentrated essence of hellebore. But what most
delighted Popanilla was hearing a lecture from the most eminent lawyer
and statesman in Vraibleusia on his first and favourite study of
hydrostatics. His associations quite overcame him: all Fantaisie rushed
upon his memory, and he was obliged to retire to a less frequented part
of the room to relieve his too excited feelings.

He was in a few minutes addressed by the identical little gentleman who
had recently been speculating with the three dukes.

The little gentleman told him that he had heard with great pleasure that
in Fantaisie they had no historians, poets, or novelists. He proved to
Popanilla that no such thing as experience existed; that, as the world
was now to be regulated on quite different principles from those by
which it had hitherto been conducted, similar events to those which had
occurred could never again take place; and therefore it was absolutely
useless to know anything about the past. With regard to literary
fiction, he explained that, as it was absolutely necessary, from his
nature, that man should experience a certain quantity of excitement, the
false interest which these productions created prevented their readers
from obtaining this excitement by methods which, by the discovery of the
useful, might greatly benefit society.

‘You are of opinion, then,’ exclaimed the delighted Popanilla, ‘that
nothing is good which is not useful?’

‘Is it possible that an individual exists in this world who doubts this
great first principle?’ said the little man, with great animation.

‘Ah, my dear friend!’ said Popanilla, ‘if you only knew what an avowal
of this great first principle has cost me; what I have suffered; what I
have lost!’

‘What have you lost?’ asked the little gentleman.

‘In the first place, a lock of hair--’

‘Poh, nonsense!’

‘Ah! you may say Poh! but it was a particular lock of hair.’

‘My friend, that word is odious. Nothing is particular, everything is
general. Rules are general, feelings are general, and property should be
general; and, sir, I tell you what, in a very short time it must be
so. Why should Lady Spirituelle, for instance, receive me at her house,
rather than I receive her at mine?’

‘Why don’t you, then?’ asked the simple Popanilla.

‘Because I have not got one, sir!’ roared the little gentleman.

He would certainly have broken away had not Popanilla begged him to
answer one question. The Captain, reiterating in the most solemn manner
his firm belief in the dogma that nothing was good which was not useful,
and again detailing the persecutions which this conviction had brought
upon him, was delighted that an opportunity was now afforded to gain
from the lips of a distinguished philosopher a definition of what
utility really was. The distinguished philosopher could not refuse so
trifling a favour.

‘Utility,’ said he, ‘is--’

At this critical moment there was a universal buzz throughout the rooms,
and everybody looked so interested that the philosopher quite forgot
to finish his answer. On inquiring the cause of this great sensation,
Popanilla was informed that a rumour was about that a new element
had been discovered that afternoon. The party speedily broke up, the
principal philosophers immediately rushing to their clubs to ascertain
the truth of this report. Popanilla was unfashionable enough to make
his acknowledgments to his hostess before he left her house. As he
gazed upon her ladyship’s brilliant eyes and radiant complexion, he
felt convinced of the truth of her theory of the passions; he could not
refrain from pressing her hand in a manner which violated etiquette, and
which a nativity in the Indian Ocean could alone excuse; the pressure
was graciously returned. As Popanilla descended the staircase, he
discovered a little note of pink satin paper entangled in his ruffle.
He opened it with curiosity. It was ‘All soul.’ He did not return to his
hotel quite so soon as he expected.



CHAPTER 10


Popanilla breakfasted rather late the next morning, and on looking over
the evening papers, which were just published, his eyes lighted on the
following paragraph:--

‘Arrived yesterday at the Hotel Diplomatique, His Excellency Prince
Popanilla, Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from
the newly-recognised State of Fantaisie.’

Before his Excellency could either recover from his astonishment or make
any inquiries which might throw any illustration upon its cause, a
loud shout in the street made him naturally look out of the window. He
observed three or four magnificent equipages drawing up at the door of
the hotel, and followed by a large crowd. Each carriage was drawn by
four horses, and attended by footmen so radiant with gold and scarlet
that, had Popanilla been the late ingenious Mr. Keates, he would have
mistaken them for the natural children of Phoebus and Aurora. The
Ambassador forgot the irregularity of the paragraph in the splendour
of the liveries. He felt triumphantly conscious that the most beautiful
rose in the world must look extremely pale by the side of scarlet cloth;
and this new example of the superiority of art over nature reminding
him of the inferiority of bread-fruit to grilled muffin, he resolved to
return to breakfast.

But it was his fate to be reminded of the inutility of the best
resolutions, for ere the cup of coffee had touched his parched lips the
door of his room flow open, and the Marquess of Moustache was announced.

His Lordship was a young gentleman with an expressive countenance; that
is to say, his face was so covered with hair, and the back of his
head cropped so bald, that you generally addressed him in the rear by
mistake. He did not speak, but continued bowing for a considerable
time, in that diplomatic manner which means so much. By the time he
had finished bowing his suite had gained the apartment, and his
Private Secretary, one of those uncommonly able men who only want an
opportunity, seized the present one of addressing Popanilla.

Bowing to the late Captain with studied respect, he informed him that
the Marquess Moustache was the nobleman appointed by the Government of
Vraibleusia to attend upon his Excellency during the first few weeks of
his mission, with the view of affording him all information upon those
objects which might naturally be expected to engage the interest or
attract the attention of so distinguished a personage. The ‘ancien
marin’ and present Ambassador had been so used to miracles since the
loss of that lock of hair, that he did not think it supernatural,
having during the last few days been in turn a Fantaisian nobleman, a
post-captain, a fish, a goddess, and, above all, an author, he should
now be transformed into a plenipotentiary. Drinking, therefore, his
cup of coffee, he assumed an air as if he really were used to have
a Marquess for an attendant, and said that he was at his Lordship’s
service.

The Marquess bowed low, and the Private Secretary remarked that the
first thing to be done by his Excellency was to be presented to
the Government. After that he was to visit all the manufactories in
Vraibleusia, subscribe to all the charities, and dine with all the
Corporations, attend a dejeuner a la fourchette at a palace they were at
present building under the sea, give a gold plate to be run for on the
fashionable racecourse, be present at morning prayers at the Government
Chapel, hunt once or twice, give a dinner or two himself, make one
pun, and go to the Play, by which various means, he said, the good
understanding between the two countries would be materially increased
and, in a manner, established.

As the Fantaisian Ambassador and his suite entered their carriages, the
sky, if it had not been for the smoke, would certainly have been rent
by the acclamations of the mob. ‘Popanilla for ever!’ sounded from
all quarters, except where the shout was varied by ‘Vraibleusia and
Fantaisie against the world!’ which perhaps was even the most popular
sentiment of the two. The Ambassador was quite agitated, and asked the
Marquess what he was to do. The Private Secretary told his Excellency
to bow. Popanilla bowed with such grace that in five minutes the horses
were taken out of his carriage, and that carriage dragged in triumph
by the enthusiastic populace. He continued bowing, and their enthusiasm
continued increasing. In the meantime his Excellency’s portrait was
sketched by an artist who hung upon his wheel, and in less than half an
hour a lithographic likeness of the popular idol was worshipped in every
print-shop in Hubbabub.

As they drew nearer the Hall of Audience the crowd kept increasing, till
at length the whole city seemed poured forth to meet him. Although
now feeling conscious that he was the greatest man in the island,
and therefore only thinking of himself, Popanilla’s attention was
nevertheless at this moment attracted by, a singular figure. He was
apparently a man: in stature a Patagonian, and robust as a well-fed
ogre. His countenance was jolly, but consequential; and his costume a
curious mixture of a hunting-dress and a court suit. He was on foot,
and in spite of the crowd, with the aid of a good whip and his left
fist made his way with great ease. On inquiring who this extraordinary
personage might be, Popanilla was informed that it was THE ABORIGINAL
INHABITANT. As the giant passed the Ambassador’s carriages, the whole
suite, even Lord Moustache, rose and bent low; and the Secretary told
Popanilla that there was no person in the island for whom the Government
of Vraibleusia entertained so profound a respect.

The crowd was now so immense that even the progress of the Aboriginal
Inhabitant was for a moment impeded. The great man got surrounded by a
large body of little mechanics. The contrast between the pale perspiring
visages and lean forms of these emaciated and half-generated creatures,
and the jolly form and ruddy countenance, gigantic limbs and ample
frame, of the Aboriginal, was most striking; nor could any one view
the group for an instant without feeling convinced that the latter was
really a superior existence. The mechanics, who were worn by labour, not
reduced by famine, far from being miserable, were impudent. They began
rating the mighty one for the dearness of his corn. He received their
attacks with mildness. He reminded them that the regulation by which
they procured their bread was the aboriginal law of the island, under
which they had all so greatly flourished. He explained to them that it
was owing to this protecting principle that he and his ancestors, having
nothing to do but to hunt and shoot, had so preserved their health that,
unlike the rest of the human race, they had not degenerated from the
original form and nature of man. He showed that it was owing to
the vigour of mind and body consequent upon this fine health that
Vraibleusia had become the wonder of the world, and that they themselves
were so actively employed; and he inferred that they surely could not
grudge him the income which he derived, since that income was, in fact,
the foundation of their own profits. He then satisfactorily demonstrated
to them that if by any circumstances he were to cease to exist,
the whole island would immediately sink under the sea. Having thus
condescended to hold a little parley with his fellow-subjects, though
not follow-creatures, he gave them all a good sound flogging, and
departed amidst the enthusiastic cheering of those whom he had so
briskly lashed.

By this time Popanilla had arrived at the Hall of Audience.

‘It was a vast and venerable pile.’

His Excellency and suite quitted their carriages amidst the renewed
acclamations of the mob. Proceeding through a number of courts and
quadrangles, crowded with guards and officials, they stopped before a
bronze gate of great height. Over it was written, in vast characters of
living flame, this inscription:

                 TO
       THE WISEST AND THE BEST,
    THE RICHEST AND THE MIGHTIEST,
     THE GLORY AND THE ADMIRATION,
  THE DEFENCE AND THE CONSTERNATION.

On reading this mysterious inscription his Excellency experienced a
sudden and awful shudder. Lord Moustache, however, who was more used to
mysteries, taking up a silver trumpet, which was fixed to the portal by
a crimson cord, gave a loud blast. The gates flew open with the sound
of a whirlwind, and Popanilla found himself in what at first appeared an
illimitable hall. It was crowded, but perfect order was preserved.
The Ambassador was conducted with great pomp to the upper end of the
apartment, where, after an hour’s walk, his Excellency arrived. At
the extremity of the hall was a colossal and metallic Statue of
extraordinary appearance. It represented an armed monarch. The head and
bust were of gold, and the curling hair was crowned with an imperial
diadem; the body and arms were of silver, worked in the semblance of a
complete suit of enamelled armour of the feudal ages; and the thighs and
legs were of iron, which the artist had clothed in the bandaged hose of
the old Saxons. The figure bore the appearance of great antiquity,
but had evidently been often repaired and renovated since its first
formation. The workmanship was clearly of different eras, and the
reparations, either from ignorance or intention, had often been effected
with little deference to the original design. Part of the shoulders had
been supplied by the other, though less precious, metal, and the Roman
and Imperial ornaments had unaccountably been succeeded by the less
classic, though more picturesque, decorations of Gothic armour. On the
other hand, a great portion of the chivalric and precious material
of the body had been removed, and replaced by a style and substance
resembling those of the lower limbs. In its right hand the Statue
brandished a naked sword, and with its left leant upon a huge, though
extremely rich and elaborately carved, crosier. It trampled upon a
shivered lance and a broken chain.

‘Your Excellency perceives,’ said the Secretary, pointing to the Statue,
‘that ours is a mixed Government.’

Popanilla was informed that this extraordinary Statue enjoyed all the
faculties of an intellectual being, with the additional advantage of
some faculties which intellectual beings do not enjoy. It possessed not
only the faculty of speech, but of speaking truth; not only the power of
judgment, but of judging rightly; not only the habit of listening, but
of listening attentively. Its antiquity was so remote that the most
profound and acute antiquarians had failed in tracing back its origin.
The Aboriginal Inhabitant, however, asserted that it was the work of one
of his ancestors; and as his assertion was confirmed by all traditions,
the allegation was received. Whatever might have been its origin,
certain it was that it was now immortal, for it could never die; and
to whomsoever it might have been originally indebted for its power, not
less sure was it that it was now omnipotent, for it could do all things.
Thus alleged and thus believed the Vraibleusians, marvellous and
sublime people! who, with all the impotence of mortality, have created a
Government which is both immortal and omnipotent!

Generally speaking, the Statue was held in great reverence and viewed
with great admiration by the whole Vraibleusian people. There were a few
persons, indeed, who asserted that the creation of such a Statue was by
no means so mighty a business as it had been the fashion to suppose; and
that it was more than probable that, with the advantages afforded by the
scientific discoveries of modern times, they would succeed in making a
more useful one. This, indeed, they offered to accomplish, provided
the present Statue were preliminarily destroyed; but as they were
well assured that this offer would never be accepted, it was generally
treated by those who refused it as a braggadocio. There were many also
who, though they in general greatly admired and respected the present
Statue, affected to believe that, though the execution was wonderful,
and the interior machinery indeed far beyond the powers of the present
age, nevertheless the design was in many parts somewhat rude, and the
figure altogether far from being well-proportioned. Some thought the
head too big, some too small; some that the body was disproportionately
little; others, on the contrary, that it was so much too large that it
had the appearance of being dropsical; others maintained that the legs
were too weak for the support of the whole, and that they should be
rendered more important and prominent members of the figure; while,
on the contrary, there were yet others who cried out that really these
members were already so extravagantly huge, so coarse, and so ungenteel,
that they quite marred the general effect of a beautiful piece of
sculpture.

The same differences existed about the comparative excellence of the
three metals and the portions of the body which they respectively
formed. Some admired the gold, and maintained that if it were not for
the head the Statue would be utterly useless; others preferred the
silver, and would assert that the body, which contained all the
machinery, must clearly be the most precious portion; while a third
party triumphantly argued that the iron legs which supported both body
and head must surely be the most valuable part, since without them the
Statue must fall. The first party advised that in all future reparations
gold only should be introduced; and the other parties, of course,
recommended with equal zeal their own favourite metals. It is
observable, however, that if, under these circumstances, the iron race
chanced to fail in carrying their point, they invariably voted for gold
in preference to silver. But the most contradictory opinions, perhaps,
were those which were occasioned by the instruments with which the
Statue was armed and supported. Some affected to be so frightened by the
mere sight of the brandished sword, although it never moved, that they
pretended it was dangerous to live even under the same sky with
it; while others, treating very lightly the terrors of this warlike
instrument, would observe that much more was really to be apprehended
from the remarkable strength and thickness of the calm and
peace-inspiring crosier; and that as long as the Government was
supported by this huge pastoral staff nothing could prevail against it;
that it could dare all things, and even stand without the help of its
legs. All these various opinions at least proved that, although the
present might not be the most miraculous Statue that could possibly be
created, it was nevertheless quite impossible ever to form one which
would please all parties.

The care of this wonderful Statue was entrusted to twelve ‘Managers,’
whose duty it was to wind-up and regulate its complicated machinery,
and who answered for its good management by their heads. It was their
business to consult the oracle upon all occasions, and by its decisions
to administer and regulate all the affairs of the State. They alone were
permitted to hear its voice; for the Statue never spoke in public save
on rare occasions, and its sentences were then really so extremely
commonplace that, had it not been for the deep wisdom of its general
conduct, the Vraibleusians would have been almost tempted to believe
that they really might exist without the services of the capital member.
The twelve Managers surrounded the Statue at a respectful distance;
their posts were the most distinguished in the State; and indeed
the duties attached to them were so numerous, so difficult, and so
responsible, that it required no ordinary abilities to fulfil, and
demanded no ordinary courage to aspire to, them.

The Fantaisian Ambassador, having been presented, took his place on the
right hand of the Statue, next to the Aboriginal Inhabitant, and public
business then commenced.

There came forward a messenger, who, knocking his nose three times with
great reverence on the floor, a knock for each metal of the figure, thus
spoke:

‘O thou wisest and best! thou richest and mightiest! thou glory and
admiration! then defence and consternation! Lo! the King of the North is
cutting all his subjects’ heads off!’

This announcement produced a great sensation. The Marquess Moustache
took snuff; the Private Secretary said he had long suspected that this
would be the case; and the Aboriginal Inhabitant remarked to Popanilla
that the corn in the North was of an exceedingly coarse grain. While
they were making these observations the twelve Managers had assembled
in deep consultation around the Statue, and in a very few minutes the
Oracle was prepared. The answer was very simple, but the exordium was
sublime. It professed that the Vraibleusian nation was the saviour and
champion of the world; that it was the first principle of its policy to
maintain the cause of any people struggling for their rights as men; and
it avowed itself to be the grand patron of civil and religious liberty
in all quarters of the globe. Forty-seven battalions of infantry and
eighteen regiments of cavalry, twenty-four sail of the line, seventy
transports, and fifteen bombketches, were then ordered to leave
Vraibleusia for the North in less than sixty minutes!

‘What energy!’ said Popanilla; ‘what decision! what rapidity of
execution!’

‘Ay!’ said the Aboriginal, smacking his thigh; ‘let them say what
they like about their proportions, and mixtures, and metals--abstract
nonsense! No one can deny that our Government works well. But see! here
comes another messenger!’

‘O thou wisest and best! thou richest and mightiest! thou glory and
admiration! thou defence and consternation! Lo! the people of the South
have cut their king’s head off!’

‘Well! I suppose that is exactly what you all want,’ said the innocent
Popanilla.

The Private Secretary looked mysterious, and said that he was not
prepared to answer; that his department never having been connected
with this species of business he was unable at the moment to give his
Excellency the requisite information. At the same time, he begged to
state that, provided anything he said should not commit him, he had
no objection to answer the question hypothetically. The Aboriginal
Inhabitant said that he would have no hypotheses or Jacobins; that he
did not approve of cutting off kings’ heads; and that the Vraibleusians
were the most monarchical people in the world. So saying, he walked
up, without any ceremony, to the chief Manager, and taking him by the
button, conversed with him some time in an earnest manner, which made
the stocks fall two per cent.

The Statue ordered three divisions of the grand army and a
battering-train of the first grade off to the South without the loss
of a second. A palace and establishment were immediately directed to
be prepared for the family of the murdered monarch, and the
commander-in-chief was instructed to make every exertion to bring home
the body of his Majesty embalmed. Such an immense issue of pink shells
was occasioned by this last expedition that stocks not only recovered
themselves, but rose considerably.

The excitement occasioned by this last announcement evaporated at the
sight of a third messenger. He informed the Statue that the Emperor of
the East was unfortunately unable to pay the interest upon his national
debt; that his treasury was quite empty and his resources utterly
exhausted. He requested the assistance of the most wealthy and the most
generous of nations; and he offered them as security for their advances
his gold and silver mines, which, for the breadth of their veins and
the richness of their ores, he said, were unequalled. He added, that
the only reason they were unworked was the exquisite flavour of the
water-melons in his empire, which was so delicious that his subjects of
all classes, passing their whole day in devouring them, could be induced
neither by force nor persuasion to do anything else. The cause was so
reasonable, and the security so satisfactory, that the Vraibleusian
Government felt themselves authorised in shipping off immediately all
the gold in the island. Pink shells abounded, and stocks were still
higher.

‘You have no mines in Vraibleusia, I believe?’ said Popanilla to the
Aboriginal.

‘No! but we have taxes.’

‘Very true!’ said Popanilla.

‘I understand that a messenger has just arrived from the West,’ said the
Secretary to the Fantaisian Plenipotentiary. ‘He must bring interesting
intelligence from such interesting countries. Next to ourselves, they
are evidently the most happy, the most wealthy, the most enlightened,
and the most powerful Governments in the world. Although founded only
last week, they already rank in the first class of nations. I will send
you a little pamphlet to-morrow, which I have just published upon
this subject, in which you will see that I have combated, I trust not
unsuccessfully, the ridiculous opinions of those cautious statesmen
who insinuate that the stability of these Governments is even yet
questionable.’

The messenger from the Republics of the West now prostrated himself
before the Statue. He informed it that two parties had, unfortunately,
broken out in these countries, and threatened their speedy dissolution;
that one party maintained that all human government originated in the
wants of man; while the other party asserted that it originated in
the desires of man. That these factions had become so violent and so
universal that public business was altogether stopped, trade quite
extinct, and the instalments due to Vraibleusia not forthcoming.
Finally, he entreated the wisest and the best of nations to send
to these distracted lands some discreet and trusty personages, well
instructed in the first principles of government, in order that they
might draw up constitutions for the ignorant and irritated multitude.

The Private Secretary told Popanilla that this was no more than he had
long expected; that all this would subside, and that he should publish a
postscript to his pamphlet in a few days, which he begged to dedicate to
him.

A whole corps diplomatique and another shipful of abstract philosophers,
principally Scotchmen, were immediately ordered off to the West; and
shortly after, to render their first principles still more effective and
their administrative arrangements still more influential, some brigades
of infantry and a detachment of the guards followed. Free constitutions
are apt to be misunderstood until half of the nation are bayoneted and
the rest imprisoned.

As this mighty Vraibleusian nation had, within the last half-hour,
received intelligence from all quarters of the globe, and interfered
in all possible affairs, civil and military, abstract, administrative,
diplomatic, and financial, Popanilla supposed that the assembly would
now break up. Some petty business, however, remained. War was
declared against the King of Sneezeland, for presuming to buy
pocket-handkerchiefs of another nation; and the Emperor of Pastilles was
threatened with a bombardment for daring to sell his peppers to another
people. There were also some dozen commercial treaties to be signed, or
canvassed, or cancelled; and a report having got about that there was
a rumour that some disturbance had broken out in some parts unknown, a
flying expedition was despatched, with sealed orders, to circumnavigate
the globe and arrange affairs. By this time Popanilla thoroughly
understood the meaning of the mysterious inscription.

Just as the assembly was about to be dissolved another messenger, who,
in his agitation, even forgot the accustomed etiquette of salutation,
rushed into the presence.

‘O most mighty! Sir Bombastes Furioso, who commanded our last
expedition, having sailed, in the hurry, with wrong orders, has attacked
our ancient ally by mistake, and utterly destroyed him!’

Here was a pretty business for the Best and Wisest! At first the
Managers behaved in a manner the most undiplomatic, and quite lost their
temper; they raved, they stormed, they contradicted each other, they
contradicted themselves, and swore that Sir Bombastes’ head should
answer for it. Then they subsided into sulkiness, and at length,
beginning to suspect that the fault might ultimately attach only to
themselves, they got frightened, and held frequent consultations with
pale visages and quivering lips. After some time they thought they could
do nothing wiser than put a good face upon the affair; whatever might be
the result, it was, at any rate, a victory, and a victory would please
the vainest of nations: and so these blundering and blustering gentlemen
determined to adopt the conqueror, whom they were at first weak enough
to disclaim, then vile enough to bully, and finally forced to reward.
The Statue accordingly whispered a most elaborate panegyric on Furioso,
which was of course duly delivered. The Admiral, who was neither
a coward nor a fool, was made ridiculous by being described as the
greatest commander that ever existed; one whom Nature, in a gracious
freak, had made to shame us little men; a happy compound of the piety
of Noah, the patriotism of Themistocles, the skill of Columbus, and
the courage of Nelson; and his exploit styled the most glorious and
unrivalled victory that was ever achieved, even by the Vraibleusians!
Honours were decreed in profusion, a general illumination ordered for
the next twenty nights, and an expedition immediately despatched to
attack the right man.

All this time the conquerors were in waiting in an anteroom, in great
trepidation, and fully prepared to be cashiered or cut in quarters. They
were rather surprised when, bowing to the ground, they were saluted by
some half-dozen lords-in-waiting as the heroes of the age, congratulated
upon their famous achievements, and humbly requested to appear in the
Presence.

The warriors accordingly walked up in procession to the Statue, who,
opening its mighty mouth, vomited forth a flood of ribbons, stars, and
crosses, which were divided among the valiant band. This oral discharge
the Vraibleusians called the ‘fountain of honour.’

Scarcely had the mighty Furioso and his crew disappeared than a body
of individuals arrived at the top of the hall, and, placing themselves
opposite the Managers, began rating them for their inefficient
administration of the island, and expatiated on the inconsistency of
their late conduct to the conquering Bombastes. The Managers defended
themselves in a manner perfectly in character with their recent
behaviour; but their opponents were not easily satisfied with their
confused explanations and their explained confusions, and the speeches
on both sides grew warmer. At length the opposition proceeded to expel
the administration from their places by force, and an eager scuffle
between the two parties now commenced. The general body of spectators
continued only to observe, and did not participate in the fray. At
first, this melee only excited amusement; but as it lengthened some
wisely observed that public business greatly suffered by these private
squabbles; and some even ventured to imagine that the safety of the
Statue might be implicated by their continuance. But this last fear was
futile.

Popanilla asked the Private Secretary which party he thought would
ultimately succeed. The Private Secretary said that, if the present
Managers retained their places, he thought that they would not go out;
but if, on the other hand, they were expelled by the present opposition,
it was probable that the present opposition would become Managers. The
Aboriginal thought both parties equally incompetent; and told Popanilla
some long stories about a person who was chief Manager in his youth,
about five hundred years ago, to whom he said he was indebted for all
his political principles, which did not surprise Popanilla.

At this moment a noise was heard throughout the hall which made his
Excellency believe that something untoward had again happened, and that
another conqueror by mistake had again arrived. A most wonderful being
galloped up to the top of the apartment. It was half man and half horse.
The Secretary told Popanilla that this was the famous Centaur Chiron;
that his Horseship, having wearied of his ardent locality in the
constellations, had descended some years back to the island of
Vraibleusia; that he had commanded the armies of the nation in all
the great wars, and had gained every battle in which he had ever been
engaged. Chiron was no less skilful, he said, in civil than in
military affairs; but the Vraibleusians, being very jealous of allowing
themselves to be governed by their warriors, the Centaur had lately
been out of employ. While the Secretary was giving him this information
Popanilla perceived that the great Chiron was attacking the combatants
on both sides. The tutor of Achilles, Hercules, and Aeneas, of course,
soon succeeded in kicking them all out, and constituted himself chief
and sole Manager of the Statue. Some grumbled at this autocratic conduct
‘upon principle,’ but they were chiefly connections of the expelled.
The great majority, wearied with public squabbles occasioned by private
ends, rejoiced to see the public interest entrusted to an individual who
had a reputation to lose. Intelligence of the appointment of the Centaur
was speedily diffused throughout the island, and produced great and
general satisfaction. There were a few, indeed, impartial personages,
who had no great taste for Centaurs in civil capacities, from an
apprehension that, if he could not succeed in persuading them by his
eloquence, his Grace might chance to use his heels.



CHAPTER 11


On the evening of his presentation day his Excellency the Fantaisian
Ambassador and suite honoured the national theatre with their presence.
Such a house was never known! The pit was miraculously over-flown before
the doors were opened, although the proprietor did not permit a single
private entrance. The enthusiasm was universal, and only twelve persons
were killed. The Private Secretary told Popanilla, with an air of great
complacency, that the Vraibleusian theatres were the largest in the
world. Popanilla had little doubt of the truth of this information, as
a long time elapsed before he could even discover the stage. He observed
that every person in the theatre carried a long black glass, which he
kept perpetually fixed to his eye. To sit in a huge room hotter than a
glass-house, in a posture emulating the most sanctified Faquir, with
a throbbing head-ache, a breaking back, and twisted legs, with a heavy
tube held over one eye, and the other covered with the unemployed hand,
is in Vraibleusia called a public amusement.

The play was by the most famous dramatist that Vraibleusia ever
produced; and certainly, when his Excellency witnessed the first scenes,
it was easier to imagine that he was once more in his own sunset Isle of
Fantaisie than in the railroad state of Vraibleusia: but, unfortunately,
this evening the principal characters and scenes were omitted, to make
room for a moving panorama, which lasted some hours, of the chief and
most recent Vraibleusian victories. The audience fought their battles
o’er again with great fervour. During the play one of the inferior
actors was supposed to have saluted a female chorus-singer with an
ardour which was more than theatrical, and every lady in the house
immediately fainted; because, as the eternal Secretary told Popanilla,
the Vraibleusians are the most modest and most moral nation in the
world. The male part of the audience insisted, in indignant terms,
that the offending performer should immediately be dismissed. In a few
minutes he appeared upon the stage to make a most humble apology for
an offence which he was not conscious of having committed; but the most
moral and the most modest of nations was implacable, and the wretch was
expelled. Having a large family dependent upon his exertions, the actor,
according to a custom prevalent in Vraibleusia, went immediately and
drowned himself in the nearest river. Then the ballet commenced.

It was soon discovered that the chief dancer, a celebrated foreigner,
who had been announced for this evening, was absent. The uproar was
tremendous, and it was whispered that the house would be pulled down;
because, as Popanilla was informed, the Vraibleusians are the most
particular and the freest people in the world, and never will permit
themselves to be treated with disrespect. The principal chandelier
having been destroyed, the manager appeared, and regretted that Signor
Zephyrino, being engaged to dine with a Grandee of the first class,
was unable to fulfil his engagement. The house became frantic, and the
terrified manager sent immediately for the Signor. The artist, after
a proper time had elapsed, appeared with a napkin round his neck and a
fork in his hand, with which he stood some moments, until the uproar had
subsided, picking his teeth. At length, when silence was obtained,
he told them that he was surprised that the most polished and liberal
nation in the world should behave themselves in such a brutal and
narrow-minded manner. He threatened them that he would throw up his
engagement immediately, and announce to all foreign parts that they were
a horde of barbarians; then, abusing them for a few seconds in round
terms, be retired, amidst the cheerings of the whole house, to finish
his wine.

When the performances were finished the audience rose and joined in
chorus. On Popanilla inquiring the name and nature of this effusion, he
was told that it was the national air of the Isle of Fantaisie, sung in
compliment to himself. His Excellency shrugged his shoulders and bowed
low.

The next morning, attended by his suite, Popanilla visited the most
considerable public offices and manufactories in Hubbabub. He was
received in all places with the greatest distinction. He was invariably
welcomed either by the chiefs of the department or the proprietors
themselves, and a sumptuous collation was prepared for him in every
place. His Excellency evinced the liveliest interest in everything
that was pointed out to him, and instantaneously perceived that the
Vraibleusians exceeded the rest of the world in manufactures and public
works as much as they did in arms, morals, modesty, philosophy, and
politics. The Private Secretary being absent upon his postscript,
Popanilla received the most satisfactory information upon all subjects
from the Marquess himself. Whenever he addressed any question to his
Lordship, his noble attendant, with the greatest politeness, begged him
to take some refreshment. Popanilla returned to his hotel with a great
admiration of the manner in which refined philosophy in Vraibleusia
was applied to the common purposes of life; and found that he had that
morning acquired a general knowledge of the chief arts and sciences,
eaten some hundred sandwiches, and tasted as many bottles of sherry.



CHAPTER 12


The most commercial nation in the world was now busily preparing to
diffuse the blessings of civilisation and competition throughout the
native country of their newly-acquired friend. The greatest exporters
that ever existed had never been acquainted with such a subject for
exportation as the Isle of Fantaisie. There everything was wanted. It
was not a partial demand which was to be satisfied, nor a particular
deficiency which was to be supplied; but a vast population was
thoroughly to be furnished with every article which a vast population
must require. From the manufacturer of steam-engines to the manufacturer
of stockings, all were alike employed. There was no branch of trade
in Vraibleusia which did not equally rejoice at this new opening for
commercial enterprise, and which was not equally interested in this new
theatre for Vraibleusian industry, Vraibleusian invention, Vraibleusian
activity, and, above all, Vraibleusian competition.

Day and night the whole island was employed in preparing for the great
fleet and in huzzaing Popanilla. When at borne, every ten minutes he was
obliged to appear in the balcony, and then, with hand on heart and hat
in hand, ah! that bow! that perpetual motion of popularity! If a man
love ease, let him be most unpopular. The Managers did the impossible to
assist and advance the intercourse between the two nations. They behaved
in a liberal and enlightened manner, and a deputation of liberal and
enlightened merchants consequently waited upon them with a vote of
thanks. They issued so many pink shells that the price of the public
funds was doubled, and affairs arranged so skilfully that money was
universally declared to be worth nothing, so that every one in the
island, from the Premier down to the Mendicant whom the lecture-loving
Skindeep threatened with the bastinado, was enabled to participate, in
some degree, in the approaching venture, if we should use so dubious a
term in speaking of profits so certain.

Compared with the Fantaisian connection, the whole commerce of the world
appeared to the Vraibleusians a retail business. All other customers
were neglected or discarded, and each individual seemed to concentrate
his resources to supply the wants of a country where they dance by
moonlight, live on fruit, and sleep on flowers. At length the
first fleet of five hundred sail, laden with wonderful specimens
of Vraibleusian mechanism, and innumerable bales of Vraibleusian
manufactures; articles raw and refined, goods dry and damp, wholesale
and retail; silks and woollen cloths; cottons, cutlery, and camlets;
flannels and ladies’ albums; under waistcoats, kid gloves, engravings,
coats, cloaks, and ottomans; lamps and looking-glasses; sofas,
round tables, equipages, and scent-bottles; fans and tissue-flowers;
porcelain, poetry, novels, newspapers, and cookery books; bear’s-grease,
blue pills, and bijouterie; arms, beards, poodles, pages, mustachios,
court-guides, and bon-bons; music, pictures, ladies’ maids, scrapbooks,
buckles, boxing-gloves, guitars, and snuff-boxes; together with a
company of opera-singers, a band of comedians, a popular preacher,
some quacks, lecturers, artists, and literary gentlemen, principally
sketch-book men, quitted, one day, with a favourable wind, and amid the
exultation of the inhabitants, the port of Hubbabub!

When his Excellency Prince Popanilla heard of the contents of this
stupendous cargo, notwithstanding his implicit confidence in the
superior genius and useful knowledge of the Vraibleusians, he could
not refrain from expressing a doubt whether, in the present undeveloped
state of his native land, any returns could be made proportionate to
so curious and elaborate an importation; but whenever he ventured to
intimate his opinion to any of the most commercial nation in the world
he was only listened to with an incredulous smile which seemed to pity
his inexperience, or told, with an air of profound self-complacency,
that in Fantaisie ‘there must be great resources.’

In the meantime, public companies were formed for working the mines,
colonizing the waste lands, and cutting the coral rocks of the Indian
Isle, of all which associations Popanilla was chosen Director by
acclamation. These, however, it must be confessed, were speculations of
a somewhat doubtful nature; but the Branch Bank Society of the Isle of
Fantaisie really held out flattering prospects.

When the fleet had sailed they gave Popanilla a public dinner. It was
attended by all the principal men in the island, and he made a speech,
which was received in a rather different manner than was his sunset
oration by the monarch whom he now represented. Faintaisie and its
accomplished Envoy were at the same time the highest and the universal
fashion. The ladies sang la Syrene, dressed their hair la Mermede,
and themselves la Fantastique; which, by-the-bye, was not new; and the
gentlemen wore boa-constrictor cravats and waltzed la mer Indienne--a
title probably suggested by a remembrance of the dangers of the sea.

It was soon discovered that, without taking into consideration the
average annual advantages which would necessarily spring from their new
connection, the profits which must accrue upon the present expedition
alone had already doubled the capital of the island. Everybody in
Vraibleusia had either made a fortune, or laid the foundation of one.
The penniless had become prosperous, and the principal merchants and
manufacturers, having realised large capitals, retired from business.
But the colossal fortunes were made by the gentlemen who had assisted
the administration in raising the price of the public funds and in
managing the issues of the pink shells. The effect of this immense
increase of the national wealth and of this creation of new and powerful
classes of society was speedily felt. Great moves to the westward
were perpetual, and a variety of sumptuous squares and streets were
immediately run up in that chosen land. Butlers were at a premium;
coach-makers never slept; card-engravers, having exhausted copper, had
recourse to steel; and the demand for arms at the Heralds’ College was
so great that even the mystical genius of Garter was exhausted, and
hostile meetings were commenced between the junior members of
some ancient families, to whom the same crest had been unwittingly
apportioned; but, the seconds interfering, they discovered themselves
to be relations. All the eldest sons were immediately to get into
Parliament, and all the younger ones as quickly into the Guards; and
the simple Fantaisian Envoy, who had the peculiar felicity of taking
everything au pied du lettre, made a calculation that, if these
arrangements were duly effected, in a short time the Vraibleusian
representatives would exceed the Vraibleusian represented; and that
there would be at least three officers in the Vraibleusian guards
to every private. Judging from the beards and mustachios which now
abounded, this great result was near at hand. With the snub nose which
is the characteristic of the millionaires, these appendages produce a
pleasing effect.

When the excitement had a little subsided; when their mighty mansions
were magnificently furnished; when their bright equipages were fairly
launched, and the due complement of their liveried retainers perfected;
when, in short, they had imitated the aristocracy in every point in
which wealth could rival blood: then the new people discovered with
dismay that one thing was yet wanting, which treasure could not
purchase, and which the wit of others could not supply--Manner. In
homely phrase, the millionaires did not know how to behave themselves.
Accustomed to the counting-house, the factory, or the exchange, they
looked queer in saloons, and said ‘Sir!’ when they addressed you; and
seemed stiff, and hard, and hot. Then the solecisms they committed in
more formal society, oh! they were outrageous; and a leading article
in an eminent journal was actually written upon the subject. I dare not
write the deeds they did; but it was whispered that when they drank wine
they filled their glasses to the very brim. All this delighted the
old class, who were as envious of their riches as the new people were
emulous of their style.

In any other country except Vraibleusia persons so situated would have
consoled themselves for their disagreeable position by a consciousness
that their posterity would not be annoyed by the same deficiencies;
but the wonderful Vraibleusian people resembled no other, even in their
failings. They determined to acquire in a day that which had hitherto
been deemed the gradual consequence of tedious education.

A ‘Society for the Diffusion of Fashionable Knowledge’ was announced;
the Millionaires looked triumphantly mysterious, the aristocrats
quizzed. The object of the society is intimated by its title; and the
method by which its institutors proposed to attain this object was the
periodical publication of pamphlets, under the superintendence of
a competent committee. The first treatise appeared: its subject was
NONCHALANCE. It instructed its students ever to appear inattentive in
the society of men, and heartless when they conversed with women. It
taught them not to understand a man if he were witty; to misunderstand
him if he were eloquent; to yawn or stare if he chanced to elevate
his voice, or presumed to ruffle the placidity of the social calm by
addressing his fellow-creatures with teeth unparted. Excellence was
never to be recognised, but only disparaged with a look: an opinion or
a sentiment, and the nonchalant was lost for ever. For these, he was
to substitute a smile like a damp sunbeam, a moderate curl of the upper
lip, and the all-speaking and perpetual shrug of the shoulders. By a
skilful management of these qualities it was shown to be easy to ruin
another’s reputation and ensure your own without ever opening your
mouth. To woman, this exquisite treatise said much in few words:
‘Listlessness, listlessness, listlessness,’ was the edict by which the
most beautiful works of nature were to be regulated, who are only truly
charming when they make us feel and feel themselves. ‘Listlessness,
listlessness, listlessness;’ for when you choose not to be listless, the
contrast is so striking that the triumph must be complete.

The treatise said much more, which I shall omit. It forgot, however, to
remark that this vaunted nonchalance may be the offspring of the most
contemptible and the most odious of passions: and that while it may be
exceedingly refined to appear uninterested when others are interested,
to witness excellence without emotion, and to listen to genius without
animation, the heart of the Insensible may as often be inflamed by Envy
as inspired by Fashion.

Dissertations ‘On leaving cards,’ ‘On cutting intimate friends,’ ‘On
cravats,’ ‘On dinner courses,’ ‘On poor relations.’ ‘On bores,’ ‘On
lions,’ were announced as speedily to appear. In the meantime, the Essay
on Nonchalance produced the best effects. A ci-devant stockbroker cut
a Duke dead at his club the day after its publication; and his daughter
yawned while his Grace’s eldest son, the Marquess, made her an offer
as she was singing ‘Di tanti palpiti.’ The aristocrats got a little
frightened, and when an eminent hop-merchant and his lady had asked a
dozen Countesses to dinner, and forgot to be at home to receive them,
the old class left off quizzing.

The pamphlets, however, continued issuing forth, and the new people
advanced at a rate which was awful. They actually began to originate
some ideas of their own, and there was a whisper among the leaders of
voting the aristocrats old-fashioned. The Diffusion Society now caused
these exalted personages great anxiety and uneasiness. They argued that
Fashion was a relative quality; that it was quite impossible, and not to
be expected, that all people were to aspire to be fashionable; that it
was not in the nature of things, and that, if it were, society could
not exist; that the more their imitators advanced the more they should
baffle their imitations; that a first and fashion able class was a
necessary consequence of the organisation of man; and that a line
of demarcation would for ever be drawn between them and the other
islanders. The warmth and eagerness with which they maintained and
promulgated their opinions might have tempted, however, an impartial
person to suspect that they secretly entertained some doubts of their
truth and soundness.

On the other hand, the other party maintained that Fashion was a
positive quality; that the moment a person obtained a certain degree of
refinement he or she became, in fact and essentially, fashionable;
that the views of the old class were unphilosophical and illiberal, and
unworthy of an enlightened age; that men were equal, and that everything
is open to everybody; and that when we take into consideration the
nature of man, the origin of society, and a few other things, and duly
consider the constant inclination and progression towards perfection
which mankind evince, there was no reason why, in the course of time,
the whole nation should not go to Almack’s on the same night.

At this moment of doubt and dispute the Government of Vraibleusia, with
that spirit of conciliation and liberality and that perfect wisdom for
which it had been long celebrated, caring very little for the old class,
whose interest, it well knew, was to support it, and being exceedingly
desirous of engaging the affections of the new race, declared in their
favour; and acting upon that sublime scale of measures for which this
great nation has always been so famous, the Statue issued an edict that
a new literature should be invented, in order at once to complete the
education of the Millionaires and the triumph of the Romantic over the
Classic School of Manners.

The most eminent writers were, as usual, in the pay of the Government,
and BURLINGTON, A TALE OF FASHIONABLE LIFE in three volumes post octavo,
was sent forth. Two or three similar works, bearing titles equally
euphonious and aristocratic, were published daily; and so exquisite was
the style of these productions, so naturally artificial the construction
of their plots, and so admirably inventive the conception of their
characters, that many who had been repulsed by the somewhat abstract
matter and arid style of the treatises, seduced by the interest of a
story, and by the dazzling delicacies of a charming style, really now
picked up a considerable quantity of very useful knowledge; so that when
the delighted students had eaten some fifty or sixty imaginary dinners
in my lord’s dining-room, and whirled some fifty or sixty imaginary
waltzes in my lady’s dancing-room, there was scarcely a brute left among
the whole Millionaires. But what produced the most beneficial effects on
the new people, and excited the greatest indignation and despair among
the old class, were some volumes which the Government, with shocking
Machiavelism, bribed some needy scions of nobility to scribble, and
which revealed certain secrets vainly believed to be quite sacred and
inviolable.



CHAPTER 13


Shortly after the sailing of the great fleet the Private Secretary
engaged in a speculation which was rather more successful than any
one contained in his pamphlet on ‘The Present State of the Western
Republics.’

One morning, as he and Popanilla were walking on a quay, and
deliberating on the clauses of the projected commercial treaty between
Vraibleusia and Fantaisie, the Secretary suddenly stopped, as if he had
seen his father’s ghost or lost the thread of his argument, and asked
Popanilla, with an air of suppressed agitation, whether he observed
anything in the distance. Popanilla, who, like all savages, was
long-sighted, applying to his eye the glass which, in conformity to the
custom of the country, he always wore round his neck, confessed that he
saw nothing. The Secretary, who had never unfixed his glass nor moved
a step since he asked the question, at length, by pointing with his
finger, attracted Popanilla’s attention to what his Excellency conceived
to be a porpoise bobbing up and down in the waves. The Secretary,
however, was not of the same opinion as the Ambassador. He was not very
communicative, indeed, as to his own opinion upon this grave subject,
but he talked of making farther observations when the tide went down;
and was so listless, abstracted, and absent, during the rest of their
conversation, that it soon ceased, and they speedily parted.


The next day, when Popanilla read the morning papers, a feat which he
regularly performed, for spelling the newspaper was quite delicious to
one who had so recently learned to read, he found that they spoke of
nothing but of the discovery of a new island, information of which had
been received by the Government only the preceding night. The Fantaisian
Ambassador turned quite pale, and for the first time in his life
experienced the passion of jealousy, the green-eyed monster, so called
from only being experienced by green-horns. Already the prominent state
he represented seemed to retire to the background. He did not doubt
that the Vraibleusians were the most capricious as well as the most
commercial nation in the world. His reign was evidently over. The new
island would send forth a Prince still more popular. His allowance
of pink shells would be gradually reduced, and finally withdrawn. His
doubts, also, as to the success of the recent expedition to Fantaisie
began to revive. His rising reminiscences of his native land, which,
with the joint assistance of popularity and philosophy, he had hitherto
succeeded in stifling, were indeed awkward. He could not conceive his
mistress with a page and a poodle. He feared much that the cargo was not
well assorted. Popanilla determined to inquire after his canoe.

His courage, however, was greatly reassured when, on reading the second
edition, he learned that the new island was not of considerable size,
though most eligibly situate; and, moreover, that it was perfectly void
of inhabitants. When the third edition was published he found, to
his surprise, that the Private Secretary was the discoverer of this
opposition island. This puzzled the Plenipotentiary greatly. He read
on; he found that this acquisition, upon which all Vraibleusia was
congratulated in such glowing terms by all its journals, actually
produced nothing. His Excellency began to breathe; another paragraph,
and he found that the rival island was, a rock! He remembered the
porpoise of yesterday. The island certainly could not be very large,
even at low water. Popanilla once more felt like a Prince: he defied all
the discoverers that could ever exist. He thought of the great resources
of the great country he represented with proud satisfaction. He waited
with easy, confidence the return of the fleet which had carried out the
most judicious assortment with which he had ever been acquainted to
the readiest market of which he had any knowledge. He had no doubt his
mistress would look most charmingly in a barege. Popanilla determined to
present his canoe to the National Museum.

Although his Excellency had been in the highest state of astonishment
daring his whole mission to Vraibleusia, it must be confessed, now that
he understood his companion’s question of yesterday, he particularly
stared. His wonder was not decreased in the evening, when the
‘Government Gazette’ appeared. It contained an order for the immediate
fortification of the new island by the most skilful engineers, without
estimates. A strong garrison was instantly embarked. A Governor, and a
Deputy-Governor, and Storekeepers, more plentiful than stores, were to
accompany them. The Private Secretary went out as President of Council.
A Bishop was promised; and a complete Court of Judicature, Chancery,
King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, were to be off the next
week. It is only due to the characters of courtiers, who are so often
reproached with ingratitude to their patrons, to record that the Private
Secretary, in the most delicate manner, placed at the disposal of his
former employer, the Marquess Moustache, the important office of Agent
for the Indemnity Claims of the original Inhabitants of the Island;
the post being a sinecure, the income being considerable, and local
attendance being unnecessary, the noble Lord, in a manner equally
delicate, appointed himself.

‘Upon what system,’ one day inquired that unwearied political student,
the Fantaisian Ambassador, of his old friend Skindeep, ‘does your
Government surround a small rock in the middle of the sea with
fortifications, and cram it full of clerks, soldiers, lawyers, and
priests?’

‘Why, really, your Excellency, I am the last man in the world to answer
questions; but I believe we call it THE COLONIAL SYSTEM!’

Before the President, and Governor, and Deputy-Governor, and
Storekeepers had embarked, the Vraibleusian journals, who thought
that the public had been satiated with congratulations on the Colonial
System, detected that the present colony was a job. Their reasoning was
so convincing, and their denunciations so impressive, that the Managers
got frightened, and cut off one of the Deputy-Storekeepers. The
President of Council now got more frightened than the Managers. He was
one of those men who think that the world can be saved by writing a
pamphlet. A pamphlet accordingly appeared upon the subject of the new
colony. The writer showed that the debateable land was the most valuable
acquisition ever attained by a nation famous for their acquisitions;
that there was a spring of water in the middle of the rock of a
remarkable freshness, and which was never dry except during the summer
and the earlier winter months; that all our outward-bound ships would
experience infinite benefit from this fresh water; that the scurvy would
therefore disappear from the service; and that the naval victories
which the Vraibleusians would gain in future wars would consequently be
occasioned by the present colony. No one could mistake the felicitous
reasoning of the author of ‘The Present State of the Western Republics!’

About this time Popanilla fell ill. He lost his appetite and his
spirits, and his digestion was sadly disordered. His friends endeavoured
to console him by telling him that dyspepsia was the national disease
of Vraibleusia; that its connection with civil and religious liberty
was indissoluble; that every man, woman, and child above fifteen in the
island was a martyr to it; that it was occasioned by their rapid mode of
despatching their meals, which again was occasioned by the little time
which the most active nation in the world could afford to bestow upon
such a losing business as eating.

All this was no consolation to a man who had lost his appetite; and so
Popanilla sent for a gentleman who, he was told, was the most eminent
physician in the island. The most eminent physician, when he arrived,
would not listen to a single syllable that his patient wished to address
to him. He told Popanilla that his disorder was ‘decidedly liver;’ that
it was occasioned by his eating his meat before his bread instead of
after it, and drinking at the end of the first course instead of the
beginning of the second; that he had only to correct these ruinous
habits, and that he would then regain his tone.

Popanilla observed the instructions of the eminent physician to the very
letter. He invariably eat his bread before his meat, and watched the
placing of the first dish of the second course upon the table ere he
ventured to refresh himself with any liquid. At the end of a week he was
infinitely worse.

He now called in a gentleman who was recommended to him as the most
celebrated practitioner in all Vraibleusia. The most celebrated
practitioner listened with great attention to every particular that
his patient had to state, but never condescended to open his own mouth.
Popanilla was delighted, and revenged himself for the irritability
of the eminent physician. After two more visits, the most celebrated
practitioner told Popanilla that his disorder was ‘unquestionably
nervous;’ that he had over-excited himself by talking too much; that in
future he must count five between each word he uttered, never ask any
questions, and avoid society; that is, never stay at an evening party on
any consideration later than twenty-two minutes past two, and never be
induced by any persuasion to dine out more than once on the same day.
The most celebrated practitioner added that he had only to observe these
regulations, and that he would speedily recover his energy.

Popanilla never asked a question for a whole week, and Skindeep never
knew him more delightful. He not only counted five, but ten, between
every word he uttered; and determining that his cure should not be
delayed, whenever he had nobody to speak to he continued counting. In a
few days this solitary computation brought on a slow fever.

He now determined to have a consultation between the most eminent
physician and the most celebrated practitioner. It was delightful to
witness the meeting of these great men. Not a shade of jealousy dimmed
the sunshine of their countenances. After a consultation, they agreed
that Popanilla’s disorder was neither ‘liver,’ nor ‘nervous,’ but
‘mind:’ that he had done too much; that he had overworked his brain;
that he must take more exercise; that he must breathe more air; that he
must have relaxation; that he must have a change of scene.

‘Where shall I go?’ was the first question which Popanilla had sent
forth for a fortnight, and it was addressed to Skindeep.

‘Really, your Excellency, I am the last man in the world to answer
questions; but the place which is generally frequented by us when we are
suffering from your complaint is Blunderland.’

‘Well, then, to Blunderland let us go!’

Shortly before Popanilla’s illness he had been elected a member of the
Vraibleusian Horticultural Society, and one evening he had endeavoured
to amuse himself by reading the following CHAPTER ON FRUIT.



CHAPTER 14


That a taste for fruit is inherent in man is an opinion which is
sanctioned by the conduct of man in all ages and in all countries. While
some nations have considered it profanation or pollution to nourish
themselves with flesh or solace themselves with fish, while almost every
member of the animal creation has in turn been considered either sacred
or unclean, mankind, in all climes and in all countries, the Hindoo and
the Hebrew, the Egyptian and the Greek, the Roman and the Frank, have,
in some degree, made good their boastful claim to reason, by universally
feeding upon those delightful productions of Nature which are nourished
with the dews of heaven, and which live for ever in its breath.

And, indeed, when we consider how exceedingly refreshing at all times is
the flavour of fruit; how very natural, and, in a manner, born in him,
is man’s inclination for it; how little it is calculated to pall upon
his senses; and how conducive, when not eaten to excess, it is to his
health, as well as to his pleasure; we must not be surprised that a
conviction of its excellence should have been one of those few subjects
on which men have never disagreed.

That some countries are more favoured in their fruit than others is
a fact so notorious that its notice is unnecessary; but we are not
therefore to suppose that their appetite for it is more keen than
the appetite of other nations for their fruit who live in less genial
climes. Indeed, if we were not led to believe that all nations are
inspired by an equal love for this production, it might occasionally
be suspected that some of those nations who are least skilful as
horticulturists evince a greater passion for their inferior growths
than more fortunate people for their choicer produce. The effects of
bad fruit, however, upon the constitution, and consequently upon the
national character, are so injurious that every liberal man must regret
that any people, either from ignorance or obligation, should be forced
to have recourse to anything so fatal, and must feel that it is the
duty of everyone who professes to be a philanthropist to propagate and
encourage a taste for good fruit throughout all countries of the globe.

A vast number of centuries before Popanilla had the fortune to lose his
mistress’s lock of hair, and consequently to become an ambassador
to Vraibleusia, the inhabitants of that island, then scarcely more
civilised than their new allies of Fantaisie were at present, suffered
very considerably from the trash which they devoured, from that innate
taste for fruit already noticed. In fact, although there are antiquaries
who pretend that the Vraibleusians possessed some of the species of wild
plums and apples even at that early period, the majority of inquirers
are disposed to believe that their desserts were solely confined to the
wildest berries, horse-chestnuts, and acorns.

A tradition runs, that while they were committing these abominations
a ship, one of the first ships that had ever touched at the island,
arrived at the present port of Hubbabub, then a spacious and shipless
bay. The master of the vessel, on being brought before the King (for
the story I am recording happened long before the construction of the
miraculous Statue), presented, with his right hand, to his Majesty, a
small pyramidal substance of a golden hue, which seemed to spring out
of green and purple leaves. His Majesty did not exactly understand
the intention of this ceremony; but of course, like a true legitimate,
construed it into a symbol of homage. No sooner had the King brought the
unknown substance near to his eyes, with the intention of scrutinising
its nature, than the fragrance was so delightful that by mistake he
applied it to his mouth. The King, only took one mouthful, and then,
with a cry of rapture, instantly handed the delicacy to his favourite,
who, to the great mortification of the Secretary of State, finished it.
The stranger, however, immediately supplied the surrounding courtiers
from a basket which was slung on his left arm; and no sooner had they
all tasted his gift than they fell upon their knees to worship him,
vowing that the distributor of such delight must be more than man. If
this avowal be considered absurd and extraordinary in this present age
of philosophy, we must not forget to make due allowance for the
palates of individuals who, having been so long accustomed merely to
horse-chestnuts and acorns, suddenly, for the first time in their lives,
tasted Pine-apple.

The stranger, with an air of great humility, disclaimed their proffered
adoration, and told them that, far from being superior to common
mortals, he was, on the contrary, one of the lowliest of the human race;
in fact, he did not wish to conceal it; in spite of his vessel and
his attendants, he was merely a market-gardener on a great scale. This
beautiful fruit he had recently discovered in the East, to which quarter
of the world he annually travelled in order to obtain a sufficient
quantity to supply the great Western hemisphere, of which he himself
was a native. Accident had driven him, with one of his ships, into the
Island of Vraibleusia; and, as the islanders appeared to be pleased with
his cargo, he said that he should have great pleasure in supplying them
at present and receiving their orders for the future.

The proposition was greeted with enthusiasm, The King immediately
entered into a contract with the market-gardener on his own terms.
The sale, or cultivation, or even the eating of all other fruits was
declared high-treason, and pine-apple, for weighty reasons duly recited
in the royal proclamation, announced as the established fruit of the
realm. The cargo, under the superintendence of some of the most trusty
of the crew, was unshipped for the immediate supply of the island; and
the merchant and his customers parted, mutually delighted and mutually
profited.

Time flew on. The civilisation of Vraibleusia was progressive, as
civilisation always is; and the taste for pine-apples ever on the
increase, as the taste for pine-apples ever should be. The supply was
regular and excellent, the prices reasonable, and the tradesmen civil.
They, of course, had not failed to advance in fair proportion with the
national prosperity. Their numbers had much increased as well as their
customers. Fresh agents arrived with every fresh cargo. They had long
quitted the stalls with which they had been contented on their first
settlement in the island, and now were the dapper owners of neat depots
in all parts of the kingdom where depots could find customers.

A few more centuries, and affairs began to change. All that I
have related as matter of fact, and which certainly is not better
authenticated than many other things that happened two or three thousand
years ago, which, however, the most sceptical will not presume to
maintain did not take place, was treated as the most idle and ridiculous
fable by the dealers in pine-apples themselves. They said that they knew
nothing about a market-gardener; that they were, and had always been,
the subjects of the greatest Prince in the world, compared with whom all
other crowned heads ranked merely as subjects did with their immediate
sovereigns. This Prince, they said, lived in the most delicious region
in the world, and the fruit which they imported could only be procured
from his private gardens, where it sprang from one of the trees that
had bloomed in the gardens of the Hesperides. The Vraibleusians were at
first a little surprised at this information, but the old tradition of
the market-gardener was certainly an improbable one; and the excellence
of the fruit and the importance assumed by those who supplied it were
deemed exceedingly good evidence of the truth of the present story. When
the dealers had repeated their new tale for a certain number of years,
there was not an individual in the island who in the slightest degree
suspected its veracity. One more century, and no person had ever heard
that any suspicions had ever existed.

The immediate agents of the Prince of the World could, of course, be no
common personages; and the servants of the gardener, who some centuries
before had meekly disclaimed the proffered reverence of his delighted
customers, now insisted upon constant adoration from every eater of
pine-apples in the island. In spite, however, of the arrogance of the
dealers, of their refusal to be responsible to the laws of the country
in which they lived, and of the universal precedence which, on all
occasions, was claimed even by the shop-boys, so decided was the taste
which the Vraibleusians had acquired for pine-apples that there
is little doubt that, had the dealers in this delicious fruit been
contented with the respect and influence and profit which were the
consequences of their vocation, the Vraibleusians would never have
presumed to have grumbled at their arrogance or to have questioned their
privileges. But the agents, wearied of the limited sphere to which their
exertions were confined, and encouraged by the success which every new
claim and pretence on their part invariably experienced, began to evince
an inclination to interfere in other affairs besides those of fruit, and
even expressed their willingness to undertake no less an office than the
management of the Statue.

A century or two were solely occupied by conflicts occasioned by the
unreasonable ambition of these dealers in pine-apples. Such great
political effects could be produced by men apparently so unconnected
with politics as market-gardeners! Ever supported by the lower ranks,
whom they supplied with fruit of the most exquisite flavour without
charge, they were, for a long time, often the successful opponents,
always the formidable adversaries, of the Vraibleusian aristocracy, who
were the objects of their envy and the victims of their rapaciousness.
The Government at last, by a vigorous effort, triumphed. In spite of the
wishes of the majority of the nation, the whole of the dealers were one
day expelled the island, and the Managers of the Statue immediately took
possession of their establishments.

By distributing the stock of fruit which was on hand liberally, the
Government, for a short time, reconciled the people to the chance; but
as their warehouses became daily less furnished they were daily reminded
that, unless some system were soon adopted, the Islanders must be
deprived of a luxury to which they had been so long accustomed that its
indulgence had, in fact, become a second nature. No one of the managers
had the hardihood to propose a recurrence to horse-chestnuts. Pride and
fear alike forbade a return to their old purveyor. Other fruits there
were which, in spite of the contract with the market-gardener, had at
various times been secretly introduced into the island; but they had
never greatly flourished, and the Statue was loth to recommend to the
notice of his subjects productions an indulgence in which, through the
instigation of the recently-expelled agents, it had so often denounced
as detrimental to the health, and had so often discouraged by the
severest punishments.

At this difficult and delicate crisis, when even expedients seemed
exhausted and statesmen were at fault, the genius of an individual
offered a substitute. An inventive mind discovered the power of
propagating suckers. The expelled dealers had either been ignorant of
this power, or had concealed their knowledge of it. They ever maintained
that it was impossible for pine-apples to grow except in one spot, and
that the whole earth must be supplied from the gardens of the palace of
the Prince of the World. Now, the Vraibleusians were flattered with the
patriotic fancy of eating pine-apples of a home-growth; and the blessed
fortune of that nation, which did not depend for their supply of fruit
upon a foreign country, was eagerly expatiated on. Secure from extortion
and independent of caprice, the Vraibleusians were no longer to be
insulted by the presence of foreigners; who, while they violated
their laws with impunity, referred the Vraibleusians, when injured and
complaining, to a foreign master.

No doubt this appeal to the patriotism, and the common sense, and the
vanity of the nation would have been successful had not the produce of
the suckers been both inferior in size and deficient in flavour. The
Vraibleusians tasted and shook their heads. The supply, too, was as
imperfect as the article; for the Government gardeners were but sorry
horticulturists, and were ever making experiments and alterations in
their modes of culture. The article was scarce, though the law had
decreed it universal; and the Vraibleusians were obliged to feed upon
fruit which they considered at the same time both poor and expensive.
They protested as strongly against the present system as its
promulgators had protested against the former one, and they revenged
themselves for their grievances by breaking the shop-windows.

As any result was preferable, in the view of the Statue, to the
re-introduction of foreign fruit and foreign agents, and as the Managers
considered it highly important that an indissoluble connection should in
future exist between the Government and so influential and profitable a
branch of trade, they determined to adopt the most vigorous measures to
infuse a taste for suckers in the discontented populace. But the eating
of fruit being clearly a matter of taste, it is evidently a habit which
should rather be encouraged by a plentiful supply of exquisite
produce than enforced by the introduction of burning and bayonets. The
consequences of the strong measures of the Government were universal
discontent and partial rebellion. The Islanders, foolishly ascribing the
miseries which they endured, not so much to the folly of the Government
as to the particular fruit through which the dissensions had originated,
began to entertain a disgust for pine-apples altogether, and to sicken
at the very mention of that production which had once occasioned them
so much pleasure, and which had once commanded such decided admiration.
They universally agreed that there were many other fruits in the world
besides Pine-apple which had been too long neglected. One dilated on the
rich flavour of Melon; another panegyrised Pumpkin, and offered to make
up by quantity for any slight deficiency in gout; Cherries were not
without their advocates; Strawberries were not forgotten. One maintained
that the Fig had been pointed out for the established fruit of all
countries; while another asked, with a reeling eye, whether they need
go far to seek when a God had condescended to preside over the Grape!
In short, there was not a fruit which flourishes that did not find
its votaries. Strange to say, another foreign product, imported from a
neighbouring country famous for its barrenness, counted the most; and
the fruit faction which chiefly frightened the Vraibleusian Government
was an acid set, who crammed themselves with Crab-apples.

It was this party which first seriously and practically conceived the
idea of utterly abolishing the ancient custom of eating pine-apples.
While they themselves professed to devour no other fruit save crabs,
they at the same time preached the doctrine of an universal fruit
toleration, which they showed would be the necessary and natural
consequence of the destruction of the old monopoly. Influenced by
these representations, the great body of the people openly joined the
Crab-apple men in their open attacks. The minority, who still retained
a taste for pines, did not yield without an arduous though ineffectual
struggle. During the riots occasioned by this rebellion the Hall of
Audience was broken open, and the miraculous Statue, which was reputed
to have a great passion for pine-apples, dashed to the ground. The
Managers were either slain or disappeared. The whole affairs of the
kingdom were conducted by a body called ‘the Fruit Committee;’ and thus
a total revolution of the Government of Vraibleusia was occasioned by
the prohibition of foreign pine-apples. What an argument in favour of
free-trade!

Every fruit, except that one which had so recently been supported by
the influence of authority and the terrors of law, might now be seen
and devoured in the streets of Hubbabub. In one corner men were sucking
oranges, as if they had lived their whole lives on salt: in another,
stuffing pumpkin, like cannibals at their first child. Here one took in
at a mouthful a bunch of grapes, from which might have been pressed
a good quart. Another was lying on the ground from a surfeit of
mulberries. The effect of this irrational excess will be conceived by
the judicious reader. Calcutta itself never suffered from a cholera
morbus half so fearful. Thousands were dying. Were I Thucydides or
Boccaccio, I would write pages on this plague. The commonwealth itself
must soon have yielded its ghost, for all order had ceased throughout
the island ever since they had deserted pine-apples. There was no
Government: anarchy alone was perfect. Of the Fruit Committee, many of
the members were dead or dying, and the rest were robbing orchards.

At this moment of disorganisation and dismay a stout soldier, one of the
crab-apple faction, who had possessed sufficient command over himself,
in spite of the seeming voracity of his appetite, not to indulge to
a dangerous excess, made his way one morning into the old Hall of
Audience, and there, groping about, succeeded in finding the golden
head of the Statue; which placing on the hilt of his sword, the point of
which he had stuck in the pedestal, he announced to the city that he
had discovered the secret of conversing with this wonderful piece of
mechanism, and that in future he would take care of the health and
fortune of the State.

There were some who thought it rather strange that the head-piece should
possess the power of resuming its old functions, although deprived
of the aid of the body which contained the greater portion of the
machinery. As it was evidently well supported by the sword, they were
not surprised that it should stand without the use of its legs. But the
stout soldier was the only one in the island who enjoyed the blessing of
health. He was fresh, vigorous, and vigilant; they, exhausted, weak,
and careless of everything except cure. He soon took measures for the
prevention of future mischief and for the cure of the present; and when
his fellow-islanders had recovered, some were grateful, others fearful,
and all obedient.

So long as the stout soldier lived, no dissensions on the subject of
fruit ever broke out. Although he himself never interfered in the sale
of the article, and never attempted to create another monopoly, still,
by his influence and authority, he prevented any excess being occasioned
by the Fruit toleration which was enjoyed. Indeed, the Vraibleusians
themselves had suffered so severely from their late indiscretions that
such excesses were not likely again to occur. People began to discover
that it was not quite so easy a thing as they had imagined for every
man to be his own Fruiterer; and that gardening was a craft which,
like others, required great study, long practice, and early experience.
Unable to supply themselves, the majority became the victims of quack
traders. They sickened of spongy apricots, and foxy pears, and withered
plums, and blighted apples, and tasteless berries. They at length
suspected that a nation might fare better if its race of fruiterers were
overseen and supported by the State, if their skill and their market
were alike secured. Although, no longer being tempted to suffer from a
surfeit, the health of the Islanders had consequently recovered, this
was, after all, but a negative blessing, and they sadly missed a luxury
once so reasonable and so refreshing. They sighed for an established
fruit and a protected race of cultivators. But the stout soldier was so
sworn an enemy to any Government Fruit, and so decided an admirer of the
least delightful, that the people, having no desire of being forced to
cat crab-apples, only longed for more delicious food in silence.

At length the stout soldier died, and on the night of his death the
sword which had so long supported the pretended Government snapped in
twain. No arrangement existed for carrying on the administration of
affairs. The master-mind was gone, without having imported the secret of
conversing with the golden head to any successor. The people assembled
in agitated crowds. Each knew his neighbour’s thoughts without their
being declared. All smacked their lips, and a cry for pine-apples rent
the skies.

At this moment the Aboriginal Inhabitant appeared, and announced that
in examining the old Hall of Audience, which had been long locked up,
he had discovered in a corner, where they had been flung by the stout
soldier when he stole away the head, the remaining portions of the
Statue; that they were quite uninjured, and that on fixing the head once
more upon them, and winding up the works, he was delighted to find that
this great work of his ancestor, under whose superintendence the nation
had so flourished, resumed all its ancient functions. The people were
in a state of mind for a miracle, and they hailed the joyful wonder with
shouts of triumph. The State was placed under the provisional care of
the Aboriginal. All arrangements for its superintendence were left
to his discretion, and its advice was instantly to be taken upon that
subject which at present was nearest the people’s hearts.

But that subject was encompassed with difficulties. Pine-apples could
only be again procured by an application to the Prince of the World,
whose connection they had rejected, and by an introduction into
the island of those foreign agents, who, now convinced that the
Vraibleusians could not exist without their presence, would be more
arrogant and ambitious and turbulent than ever. Indeed, the Aboriginal
feared that the management of the Statue would be the sine qua non of
negotiation with the Prince. If this were granted, it was clear that
Vraibleusia must in future only rank as a dependent state of a foreign
power, since the direction of the whole island would actually be at
the will of the supplier of pine-apples. Ah! this mysterious taste for
fruit! In politics it has often occasioned infinite embarrassment.

At this critical moment the Aboriginal received information that,
although the eating of pine-apples had been utterly abolished, and
although it was generally supposed that a specimen of this fruit had
long ceased to exist in the country, nevertheless a body of persons,
chiefly consisting of the descendants of the Government gardeners who
had succeeded the foreign agents, and who had never lost their taste for
this pre-eminent fruit, had long been in the habit of secretly raising,
for their private eating, pine-apples from the produce of those suckers
which had originally excited such odium and occasioned such misfortunes.
Long practice, they said, and infinite study, had so perfected them in
this art that they now succeeded in producing pine-apples which, both
for size and flavour, were not inferior to the boasted produce of a
foreign clime. Their specimens verified their assertion, and the whole
nation were invited to an instant trial. The long interval which had
elapsed since any man had enjoyed a treat so agreeable lent, perhaps, an
additional flavour to that which was really excellent; and so enraptured
and enthusiastic were the great majority of the people that the
propagators of suckers would have had no difficulty, had they pushed
the point, in procuring as favourable and exclusive a contract as the
market-gardener of ancient days.

But the Aboriginal and his advisers were wisely mindful that the
passions of a people are not arguments for legislation; and they felt
conscious that when the first enthusiasm had subsided and when their
appetites were somewhat satisfied, the discontented voices of many who
had been long used to other fruits would be recognised even amidst the
shouts of the majority. They therefore greatly qualified the contract
between the nation and the present fruiterers. An universal Toleration
of Fruit was allowed; but no man was to take office under Government, or
enter the services, or in any way become connected with the Court, who
was not supplied from the Government depots.

Since this happy restoration Pine-apple has remained the established
fruit of the Island of Vraibleusia; and, it must be confessed, has
been found wonderfully conducive to the health and happiness of the
Islanders. Some sectarians still remain obstinate, or tasteless enough
to prefer pumpkin, or gorge the most acid apples, or chew the commonest
pears; but they form a slight minority, which will gradually
altogether disappear. The votaries of Pine-apple pretend to observe the
characteristic effect which such food produces upon the feeders. They
denounce them as stupid, sour, and vulgar.

But while, notwithstanding an universal toleration, such an unanimity
of taste apparently prevails throughout the island, as if Fruit were
a subject of such peculiar nicety that difference of opinion must
necessarily rise among men, great Fruit factions even now prevail in
Vraibleusia; and, what is more extraordinary, prevail even among the
admirers of pine-apples themselves. Of these, the most important is a
sect which professes to discover a natural deficiency not only in all
other fruits, but even in the finest pine-apples. Fruit, they maintain,
should never be eaten in the state in which Nature yields it to man;
and they consequently are indefatigable in prevailing upon the less
discriminating part of mankind to heighten the flavour of their
pine-apples with ginger, or even with pepper. Although they profess to
adopt these stimulants from the great admiration which they entertain
for a high flavour, there are, nevertheless, some less ardent people
who suspect that they rather have recourse to them from the weakness of
their digestion.



CHAPTER 15


As his Excellency Prince Popanilla really could not think of being
annoyed by the attentions of the mob during his visit to Blunderland,
he travelled quite in a quiet way, under the name of the Chevalier de
Fantaisie, and was accompanied only by Skindeep and two attendants. As
Blunderland was one of the islands of the Vraibleusian Archipelago, they
arrived there after the sail of a few hours.

The country was so beautiful that the Chevalier was almost reminded of
Fantaisie. Green meadows and flourishing trees made him remember the
railroads and canals of Vraibleusia without regret, or with disgust,
which is much the same. The women were angelic, which is the
highest praise; and the men the most light-hearted, merry, obliging,
entertaining fellows that he had met with in the whole course of his
life. Oh! it was delicious.

After an hour’s dashing drive, he arrived at a city which, had he not
seen Hubbabub, he should have imagined was one of the most considerable
in the world; but compared with the Vraibleusian capital it was a
street.

Shortly after his arrival, according to the custom of the place,
Popanilla joined the public table of his hotel at dinner. He was
rather surprised that, instead of knives and forks being laid for
the convenience of the guests, the plates were flanked by daggers and
pistols. As Popanilla now made a point of never asking a question of
Skindeep, he addressed himself for information to his other neighbour,
one of the civilest, most hospitable, and joyous rogues that ever set a
table in a roar. On Popanilla inquiring the reason of their using these
singular instruments, his neighbour, with an air of great astonishment,
confessed his ignorance of any people ever using any other; and in
his turn asked how they could possibly eat their dinner without. The
Chevalier was puzzled, but he was now too well bred ever to pursue an
inquiry.

Popanilla, being thirsty, helped himself to a goblet of water, which was
at hand. It was the most delightful water that he ever tasted. In a few
minutes he found that he was a little dizzy, and, supposing this megrim
to be occasioned by the heat of the room, he took another draught of
water to recover himself.

As his neighbour was telling him an excellent joke a man entered the
room and shot the joker through the head. The opposite guest immediately
charged his pistol with effect, and revenged the loss. A party of men,
well armed, now rushed in, and a brisk conflict immediately ensued.
Popanilla, who was very dizzy, was fortunately pushed under the table.
When the firing and slashing had ceased, he ventured to crawl out. He
found that the assailants had been beaten off, though unfortunately with
the total loss of all the guests, who lay lifeless about the room. Even
the prudent Skindeep, who had sought refuge in a closet, had lost his
nose, which was a pity; because, although this gentleman had never been
in Blunderland before, he had passed his whole life in maintaining
that the accounts of the disturbances in that country were greatly
exaggerated. Popanilla rang the bell, and the waiters, who were
remarkably attentive, swept away the dead bodies, and brought him a
roasted potato for supper.

The Chevalier soon retired to rest. He found at the side of his bed a
blunderbuss, a cutlass, and a pike; and he was directed to secure the
door of his chamber with a great chain and a massy iron bar. Feeling
great confidence in his securities, although he was quite ignorant of
the cause of alarm, and very much exhausted with the bustle of the day,
he enjoyed sounder sleep than had refreshed him for many weeks. He was
awakened in the middle of the night by a loud knocking at his door. He
immediately seized his blunderbuss, but, recognising the voice of his
own valet, he only took his pike. His valet told him to unbar without
loss of time, for the house had been set on fire. Popanilla immediately
made his escape, but found himself surrounded by the incendiaries. He
gave himself up for lost, when a sudden charge of cavalry brought him
off in triumph. He was convinced of the utility of light-horse.

The military had arrived with such despatch that the fire was the least
effective that had wakened the house for the whole week. It was soon
extinguished, and Popanilla again retired to his bedroom, not forgetting
his bar and his chain.

In the morning Popanilla was roused by his landlord, who told him that a
large party was about to partake of the pleasures of the chase, and
most politely inquired whether he would like to join them. Popanilla
assented, and after having eaten an excellent breakfast, and received a
favourable bulletin of Skindeep’s wound, he mounted his horse. The party
was numerous and well armed. Popanilla inquired of a huntsman what sport
they generally followed in Blunderland. According to the custom of this
country, where they never give a direct answer, the huntsman said
that he did not know that there was any other sport but one. Popanilla
thought him a brute, and dug his spurs into his horse.

They went off at a fine rate, and the exercise was most exhilarating.
In a short time, as they were cantering along a defile, they received a
sharp fire from each side, which rather reduced their numbers; but they
revenged themselves for this loss when they regained the plain, where
they burnt two villages, slew two or three hundred head of women, and
bagged children without number. On their return home to dinner they
chased a small body of men over a heath for nearly two hours, which
afforded good sport; but they did not succeed in running them down, as
they themselves were in turn chased by another party. Altogether, the
day was not deficient in interest, and Popanilla found in the evening
his powers of digestion improved.

After passing his days in this manner for about a fortnight, Popanilla
perfectly recovered from his dyspepsia; and Skindeep’s wound having
now healed, he retired with regret from this healthy climate. He took
advantage of the leisure moment which was afforded during the sail to
inquire the reason of the disturbed state of this interesting
country. He was told that it was in consequence of the majority of the
inhabitants persisting in importing their own pine-apples.



CHAPTER 16


On his return to Hubbabub, the Chevalier de Fantaisie found the city in
the greatest confusion. The military were marshalled in all directions;
the streets were lined with field-pieces; no one was abroad; all the
shops were shut. Although not a single vehicle was visible, Popanilla’s
progress was slow, from the quantity of shells of all kinds which choked
up the public way. When he arrived at his hotel he found that all the
windows were broken. He entered, and his landlord immediately presented
him with his bill. As the landlord was pressing, and as Popanilla wished
for an opportunity of showing his confidence in Skindeep’s friendship,
he requested him to pay the amount. Skindeep sent a messenger
immediately to his banker, deeming an ambassador almost as good security
as a nation, which we all know to be the very best.

This little arrangement being concluded, the landlord resumed his usual
civility. He informed the travellers that the whole island was in
a state of the greatest commotion, and that martial law universally
prevailed. He said that this disturbance was occasioned by the return of
the expedition destined to the Isle of Fantaisie. It appeared, from his
account, that after sailing about from New Guinea to New Holland,
the expedition had been utterly unable not only to reach their new
customers, but even to obtain the slightest intelligence of their
locality. No such place as Fantaisie was known at Ceylon. Sumatra
gave information equally unsatisfactory. Java shook its head. Celebes
conceived the inquirers were jesting. The Philippine Isles offered to
accommodate them with spices, but could assist them in no other way. Had
it not been too hot at Borneo, they would have fairly laughed outright.
The Maldives and the Moluccas, the Luccadives and the Andamans,
were nearly as impertinent. The five hundred ships and the
judiciously-assorted cargo were therefore under the necessity of
returning home.

No sooner, however, had they reached Vraibleusia than the markets were
immediately glutted with the unsold goods. All the manufacturers, who
had been working day and night in preparing for the next expedition,
were instantly thrown out of employ. A run commenced on the Government
Bank. That institution perceived too late that the issues of pink shells
had been too unrestricted. As the Emperor of the East had all the gold,
the Government Bank only protected itself from failure by bayoneting its
creditors. The manufacturers, who were starving, consoled themselves for
the absence of food by breaking all the windows in the country with
the discarded shells. Every tradesman failed. The shipping interest
advertised two or three fleets for firewood. Riots were universal. The
Aboriginal was attacked on all sides, and made so stout a resistance,
and broke so many cudgels on the backs of his assailants, that it was
supposed he would be finally exhausted by his own exertions. The public
funds sunk ten per cent. daily. All the Millionaires crashed. In a word,
dismay, disorganisation, despair, pervaded in all directions the wisest,
the greatest, and the richest nation in the world. The master of the
hotel added, with an air of becoming embarrassment, that, had not his
Excellency been fortunately absent, he probably would not have had the
pleasure of detailing to him this little narrative; that he had often
been inquired for by the populace at his old balcony; and that a crowd
had perpetually surrounded the house till within the last day, when
a report had got about that his Excellency had turned into steam and
disappeared. He added that caricatures of his Highness might be procured
in any shop, and his account of his voyage obtained at less than
half-price.

‘Ah!’ said Popanilla, in a tone of great anguish, ‘and all this from
losing a lock of hair!’

At this moment the messenger whom Skindeep had despatched returned, and
informed him with great regret that his banker, to whom he had entrusted
his whole fortune, had been so unlucky as to stop payment during
his absence. It was expected, however, that when his stud was sold
a respectable dividend might be realised. This was the personage of
prepossessing appearance who had presented Popanilla with a perpetual
ticket to his picture gallery. On examining the banker’s accounts, it
was discovered that his chief loss had been incurred by supporting that
competition establishment where purses were bought full of crowns.

In spite of his own misfortunes, Popanilla hastened to console his
friend. He explained to him that things were not quite so bad as they
appeared; that society consisted of two classes, those who laboured,
and those who paid the labourers; that each class was equally useful,
because, if there were none to pay, the labourers would not be
remunerated, and if there were none to labour, the payers would not be
accommodated; that Skindeep might still rank in one of these classes;
that he might therefore still be a useful member of society; that, if
he were useful, he must therefore be good; and that, if he were good,
he must therefore be happy; because happiness is the consequence of
assisting the beneficial development of the ameliorating principles of
the social action.

As he was speaking, two gentlemen in blue, with red waistcoats, entered
the chamber and seized Popanilla by the collar. The Vraibleusian
Government, which is so famous for its interpretation of National Law,
had arrested the Ambassador for high treason.



CHAPTER 17


A prison conveyed the most lugubrious ideas to the mind of the unhappy
Plenipotentiary; and shut up in a hackney-coach, with a man on each side
of him with a most gloomy conceptions of overwhelming fetters, black
bread, and green water. He arrived at the principal gaol in Hubbabub.
He was ushered into an elegantly furnished apartment, with French sash
windows and a piano. Its lofty walls were entirely hung with a fanciful
paper, which represented a Tuscan vineyard; the ceiling was covered with
sky and clouds; roses were in abundance; and the windows, though well
secured, excited no jarring associations in the mind of the individual
they illumined, protected, as they were, by polished bars of cut steel.
This retreat had been fitted up by a poetical politician, who had
recently been confined for declaring that the Statue was an old idol
originally imported from the Sandwich Isles. Taking up a brilliantly
bound volume which reposed upon a rosewood table, Popanilla recited
aloud a sonnet to Liberty; but the account given of the goddess by
the bard was so confused, and he seemed so little acquainted with his
subject, that the reader began to suspect it was an effusion of the
gaoler.

Next to being a Plenipotentiary, Popanilla preferred being a prisoner.
His daily meals consisted of every delicacy in season: a marble bath was
ever at his service; a billiard-room and dumb-bells always ready; and
his old friends, the most eminent physician and the most celebrated
practitioner in Hubbabub, called upon him daily to feel his pulse and
look at his tongue. These attentions authorised a hope that he might yet
again be an Ambassador, that his native land might still be discovered,
and its resources still be developed: but when his gaoler told him that
the rest of the prisoners were treated in a manner equally indulgent,
because the Vraibleusians are the most humane people in the world,
Popanilla’s spirits became somewhat depressed.

He was greatly consoled, however, by a daily visit from a body of the
most beautiful, the most accomplished, and the most virtuous females
in Hubbabub, who tasted his food to see that his cook did his duty,
recommended him a plentiful use of pine-apple well peppered, and made
him a present of a very handsome shirt, with worked frills and ruffles,
to be hanged in. This enchanting committee generally confined their
attentions to murderers and other victims of the passions, who were
deserted in their hour of need by the rest of the society they
had outraged; but Popanilla, being a foreigner, a Prince, and a
Plenipotentiary, and not ill-looking, naturally attracted a great deal
of notice from those who desire the amelioration of their species.

Popanilla was so pleased with his mode of life, and had acquired such
a taste for poetry, pin-apples, and pepper since he had ceased to be an
active member of society, that he applied to have his trial postponed,
on the ground of the prejudice which had been excited against him by
the public press. As his trial was at present inconvenient to the
Government, the postponement was allowed on these grounds.

In the meantime, the public agitation was subsiding. The nation
reconciled itself to the revolution in its fortunes. The ci-devant
millionaires were busied with retrenchment; the Government engaged in
sweeping in as many pink shells as were lying about the country;
the mechanics contrived to live upon chalk and sea-weed; and as the
Aboriginal would not give his corn away gratis, the Vraibleusians
determined to give up bread. The intellectual part of the nation were
intently interested in discovering the cause of the National Distress.
One of the philosophers said that it might all be traced to the effects
of a war in which the Vraibleusians had engaged about a century
before. Another showed that it was altogether clearly ascribable to the
pernicious custom of issuing pink shells; but if, instead of this mode
of representing wealth, they had had recourse to blue shells, the nation
would now have advanced to a state of prosperity which it had never yet
reached. A third demonstrated to the satisfaction of himself and his
immediate circle that it was all owing to the Statue having recently
been repaired with silver instead of iron. The public were unable to
decide between these conflicting opinions; but they were still more
desirous of finding out a remedy for the evil than the cause of it.

An eloquent and philosophical writer, who entertains consolatory
opinions of human nature, has recently told us that ‘it is in the nature
of things that the intellectual wants of society should be supplied.
Whenever the man is required invariably the man will appear.’ So it
happened in the present instance. A public instructor jumped up in
the person of Mr. Flummery Flam, the least insinuating and the least
plausible personage that ever performed the easy task of gulling a
nation. His manners were vulgar, his voice was sharp, and his language
almost unintelligible. Flummery Flam was a provisional optimist. He
maintained that everything would be for the best, if the nation would
only follow his advice. He told the Vraibleusians that the present
universal and overwhelming distress was all and entirely and merely to
be ascribed to ‘a slight over-trading,’ and that all that was required
to set everything right again was ‘a little time.’ He showed that
this over-trading and every other injudicious act that had ever been
committed were entirely to be ascribed to the nation being imbued with
erroneous and imperfect ideas of the nature of Demand and Supply. He
proved to them that if a tradesman cannot find customers his goods will
generally stay upon his own hands. He explained to the Aboriginal
the meaning of rent; to the mechanics the nature of wages; to the
manufacturers the signification of profits. He recommended that a large
edition of his own work should be printed at the public expense and
sold for his private profit. Finally, he explained how immediate, though
temporary, relief would be afforded to the State by the encouragement of
EMIGRATION.

The Vraibleusians began to recover their spirits. The Government had
the highest confidence in Flummery Flam, because Flummery Flam served to
divert the public thoughts. By his direction lectures were instituted at
the corner of every street, to instil the right principles of politics
into the mind of the great body of the people. Every person, from the
Managers of the Statue down to the chalk-chewing mechanics, attended
lectures on Flummery-Flammism. The Vraibleusians suddenly discovered
that it was the great object of a nation not to be the most powerful,
or the richest, or the best, or the wisest, but to be the most
Flummery-Flammistical.



CHAPTER 18


The day fixed for Popanilla’s trial was at hand. The Prince was not
unprepared for the meeting. For some weeks before the appointed day
he had been deeply studying the published speeches of the greatest
rhetorician that flourished at the Vraibleusian bar. He was so inflated
with their style that he nearly blew down the gaoler every morning when
he rehearsed a passage before him. Indeed, Popanilla looked forward to
his trial with feelings of anticipated triumph. He determined boldly
and fearlessly to state the principles upon which his public conduct
had been founded, the sentiments he professed on most of the important
subjects which interest mankind, and the views he entertained of
the progress of society. He would then describe, in the most glowing
language, the domestic happiness which he enjoyed in his native isle.
He would paint, in harrowing sentences, the eternal misery and disgrace
which his ignominious execution would entail upon the grey-headed
father, who looked up to him as a prop for his old age; the affectionate
mother, who perceived in him her husband again a youth; the devoted
wife, who could never survive his loss; and the sixteen children,
chiefly girls, whom his death would infallibly send upon the parish.
This, with an eulogistic peroration on the moral qualities of the
Vraibleusians and the political importance of Vraibleusia, would, he had
no doubt, not only save his neck, but even gain him a moderate pension.

The day arrived, the Court was crowded, and Popanilla had the
satisfaction of observing in the newspapers that tickets for the best
gallery to witness his execution were selling at a premium.

The indictment was read. He listened to it with intense attention.
To his surprise, he found himself accused of stealing two hundred and
nineteen Camelopards. All was now explained. He perceived that he had
been mistaken the whole of this time for another person. He could not
contain himself. He burst into an exclamation. He told the judge, in a
voice of mingled delight, humility, and triumph, that it was possible
he might be guilty of high treason, because he was ignorant of what
the crime consisted; but as for stealing two hundred and nineteen
Camelopards, he declared that such a larceny was a moral impossibility,
because he had never seen one such animal in the whole course of his
life.

The judge was kind and considerate. He told the prisoner that the charge
of stealing Camelopards was a fiction of law; that he had no doubt
he had never seen one in the whole course of his life, nor in all
probability had any one in the whole Court. He explained to Popanilla,
that originally this animal greatly abounded in Vraibleusia; that the
present Court, the highest and most ancient in the kingdom, had then
been instituted for the punishment of all those who molested or injured
that splendid animal. The species, his lordship continued, had been long
extinct; but the Vraibleusians, duly reverencing the institutions of
their ancestors, had never presumed to abrogate the authority of the
Camelopard Court, or invest any other with equal privileges. Therefore,
his lordship added, in order to try you in this Court for a modern
offence of high treason, you must first be introduced by fiction of law
as a stealer of Camelopards, and then being in praesenti regio, in
a manner, we proceed to business by a special power for the absolute
offence. Popanilla was so confounded by the kindness of the judge and
the clearness of his lordship’s statement that he quite lost the thread
of his peroration.

The trial proceeded. Everybody with whom Popanilla had conversed during
his visit to Vraibleusia was subpoenaed against him, and the evidence
was conclusive. Skindeep, who was brought up by a warrant from the
King’s Bench, proved the fact of Popanilla’s landing; and that he
had given himself out as a political exile, the victim of a tyrant, a
corrupt aristocracy, and a misguided people. But, either from a secret
feeling towards his former friend or from his aversion to answer
questions, this evidence was on the whole not very satisfactory.

The bookseller proved the publication of that fatal volume whose
deceptive and glowing statements were alone sufficient to ensure
Popanilla’s fate. It was in vain that the author avowed that he had
never written a line of his own book. This only made his imposture
more evident. The little philosopher with whom he had conversed at
Lady Spirituelle’s, and who, being a friend of Flummery Flam, had
now obtained a place under Government, invented the most condemning
evidence. The Marquess of Moustache sent in a state paper, desiring to
be excused from giving evidence, on account of the delicate situation
in which he had been placed with regard to the prisoner; but he referred
them to his former Private Secretary, who, he had no doubt, would afford
every information. Accordingly, the President of Fort Jobation, who had
been brought over specially, finished the business.

The Judge, although his family had suffered considerably by the late
madness for speculation, summed up in the most impartial manner. He told
the jury that, although the case was quite clear against the prisoner,
they were bound to give him the advantage of every reasonable doubt. The
foreman was about to deliver the verdict, when a trumpet sounded, and a
Government messenger ran breathless into Court. Presenting a scroll to
the presiding genius, he informed him that a remarkably able young man,
recently appointed one of the Managers of the Statue, in consequence
of the inconvenience which the public sustained from the innumerable
quantity of edicts of the Statue at present in force, had last night
consolidated them all into this single act, which, to render its
operation still more simple, was gifted with a retrospective power for
the last half century.

His lordship, looking over the scroll, passed a high eulogium upon the
young consolidator, compared to whom, he said, Justinian was a country
attorney. Observing, however, that the crime of high treason had been
accidentally omitted in the consolidated legislation of Vraibleusia, he
directed the jury to find the prisoner ‘not guilty.’ As in Vraibleusia
the law believes every man’s character to be perfectly pure until a jury
of twelve persons finds the reverse, Popanilla was kicked out of court,
amid the hootings of the mob, without a stain upon his reputation.

It was late in the evening when he left the court. Exhausted both
in mind and body, the mischief being now done, and being totally
unemployed, according to custom, he began to moralise. ‘I begin to
perceive,’ said he, ‘that it is possible for a nation to exist in too
artificial a state; that a people may both think too much and do too
much. All here exists in a state of exaggeration. The nation itself
professes to be in a situation in which it is impossible for any nation
ever to be naturally placed. To maintain themselves in this false
position, they necessarily have recourse to much destructive conduct
and to many fictitious principles. And as the character of a people is
modelled on that of their Government, in private life this system of
exaggeration equally prevails, and equally produces a due quantity of
ruinous actions and false sentiment! In the meantime, I am starving, and
dare not show my face in the light of day!’

As he said this the house opposite was suddenly lit up, and the words
‘EMIGRATION COMMITTEE’ were distinctly visible on a transparent blind.
A sudden resolution entered Popanilla’s mind to make an application to
this body. He entered the Committee-room, and took his place at the end
of a row of individuals, who were severally examined. When it was his
turn to come forward he began to tell his story from the beginning,
and would certainly have got to the lock of hair had not the
President enjoined silence. Popanilla was informed that the last
Emigration-squadron was about to sail in a few minutes; and that,
although the number was completed, his broad shoulders and powerful
frame had gained him a place. He was presented with a spade, a blanket,
and a hard biscuit, and in a quarter of an hour was quitting the port of
Hubbabub.

Once more upon the waters, yet once more!

As the Emigration-squadron quitted the harbour two large fleets hove in
sight. The first was the expedition which had been despatched against
the decapitating King of the North, and which now returned heavily laden
with his rescued subjects. The other was the force which had flown to
the preservation of the body of the decapitated King of the South, and
which now brought back his Majesty embalmed, some Princes of the blood,
and an emigrant Aristocracy.

What became of the late Fantaisian Ambassador; whether he were destined
for Van Diemen’s Land or for Canada; what rare adventures he experienced
in Sydney, or Port Jackson, or Guelph City, or Goodrich Town; and
whether he discovered that man might exist in too natural a state, as
well as in too artificial a one, will probably be discovered, if ever we
obtain Captain Popanilla’s Second Voyage.





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