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- Mr. Midshipman Easy - 70/78 -
Jack went down to breakfast, and found it all ready, but his father was not in the room: he went to his study, and found him occupied, with the carpenter, who was making a sort of a frame as the model of the platform or dais, to be raised under the wonderful invention. Mr Easy was so busy that he could not come to breakfast, so Jack took his alone. An hour after this, Dr Middleton's carriage drove up to the door. The Doctor heartily greeted our hero.
"My dear sir--for so I suppose I must now call you--I am heartily glad that you have returned. I can assure you that it is not a moment too soon."
"I have found out that already, Doctor," replied Jack; "sit down. Have you breakfasted?"
"No, I have not; for I was so anxious to see you, that I ordered my carriage at once."
"Then sit down, Doctor, and we will talk over matters quietly."
"You of course perceive the state of your father. He has been some time quite unfit to manage his own affairs."
"So I am afraid." "What do you intend to do, then--put them in the hands of trustees?"
"I will be trustee for myself, Dr Middleton. I could not do the other without submitting my poor father to a process, and confinement, which I cannot think of."
"I can assure you, that there are not many in Bedlam worse than he is; but I perfectly agree with you; that is, if he will consent to your taking charge of the property."
"A power of attorney will be all that is requisite," replied Jack; "that is, as soon as I have rid the house of the set of miscreants who are in it; and who are now in open mutiny."
"I think," replied the Doctor, "that you will have some trouble. You know the character of the butler."
"Yes, I have it from my father's own mouth. I really should take it as a great favour, Dr Middleton, if you could stay here a day or two. I know that you have retired from practice."
"I would have made the same offer, my young friend. I will come here with two of my servants; for you must discharge these."
"I have one of my own who is worth his weight in gold--that will be sufficient. I will dismiss every man you think I ought; and as for the women, we can give them warning, and replace them at leisure."
"That is exactly what I should propose," replied the Doctor. "I will now go, if you please; procure the assistance of a couple of constables, and also of your father's former legal adviser, who shall prepare a power of attorney."
"Yes," replied Jack, "and we must then find out the tenants who refuse to pay upon the principles of equality, and he shall serve them with notice immediately."
"I am rejoiced, my dear young friend, to perceive that your father's absurd notions have not taken root."
"They lasted some time, nevertheless, Doctor," replied Jack, laughing.
"Well, then, I will only quit you for an hour or two, and then, as you wish it, will take up my quarters here as long as you find me useful."
In the forenoon, Dr Middleton again made his appearance, accompanied by Mr Hanson, the solicitor, bringing with him his portmanteau and his servants. Mr Easy had come into the parlour, and was at breakfast when they entered. He received them very coolly; but a little judicious praise of the wonderful invention had its due effect; and after Jack had reminded him of his promise that, in future, he was to control the household, he was easily persuaded to sign the order for his so doing--that is, the power of attorney.
Mr Easy also gave up to Jack the key of his escritoire, and Mr Hanson possessed himself of the books, papers, and receipts necessary to ascertain the state of his affairs, and the rents which had not yet been paid up. In the meantime the constables arrived. The servants were all summoned; Mr Hanson showed them the power of attorney, empowering Jack to act for his father, and, in less than half an hour afterwards, all the men-servants, but two grooms, were dismissed; the presence of the constables and Mesty prevented any resistance, but not without various threats on the part of the butler, whose name was O'Rourke. Thus, in twenty-four hours, Jack had made a reformation in the household.
Mr Easy took no notice of anything; he returned to his study and his wonderful invention. Mesty had received the keys of the cellar, and had now complete control over those who remained. Dr Middleton, Mr Hanson, Mr Easy, and Jack, sat down to dinner, and everything wore the appearance of order and comfort. Mr Easy ate very heartily, but said nothing till after dinner, when as was his usual custom, he commenced arguing upon the truth and soundness of his philosophy.
"By-the-bye, my dear son, if I recollect right, you told me last night that you were no longer of my opinion. Now, if you please, we will argue this point."
"I'll argue the point with all my heart, sir," replied Jack, "will you begin?"
"Let's fill our glasses," cried Mr Easy, triumphantly; "let's fill our glasses, and then I will bring Jack back to the proper way of thinking. Now then, my son, I trust you will not deny that we are all born equal."
"I do deny it, sir," replied Jack; "I deny it in toto--deny it from the evidence of our own senses, and from the authority of Scripture. To suppose all men were born equal, is to suppose that they are equally endowed with the same strength, and with the same capacity of mind, which we know is not the case. I deny it from Scripture, from which I could quote many passages; but I will restrict myself to one-- the parable of the Talents: 'To one he gave five talents, to another but one,' holding them responsible for the trust reposed in them. We are all intended to fill various situations in society, and are provided by Heaven accordingly."
"That may be," replied Mr Easy; "but that does not prove that the earth was not intended to be equally distributed among all alike."
"I beg your pardon; the proof that that was not the intention of Providence, is that that equality, allowing it to be put in practice, could never be maintained."
"Not maintained!--no, because the strong oppress the weak, tyrants rise up and conquer--men combine to do wrong."
"Not so, my dear father; I say it could not be maintained without the organisation of each individual had been equalised, and several other points established. For instance, allowing that every man had, ab origins, a certain portion of ground. He who was the strongest or the cleverest would soon cause his to yield more than others would, and thus the equality be destroyed. Again, if one couple had ten children and another had none, then again would equality be broken in upon, as the land that supports two in the one instance, would have to feed twelve in the other. You perceive, therefore, that without rapine or injustice, your equality could not be preserved."
"But, Jack, allowing that there might be some diversity from such causes, that would be a very different thing from the present monstrous state of society, in which we have kings and lords, and people, rolling in wealth, while others are in a state of pauperism, and obliged to steal for their daily bread."
"My dear father, I consider that it is to this inequality that society owes its firmest cementation--that we are enabled to live in peace and happiness, protected by just laws, each doing his duty in that state of life to which he is called, rising above or sinking in the scale of society according as he has been entrusted with the five talents or the one. Equality can and does exist nowhere. We are told that it does not exist in heaven itself--how can it exist upon earth?"
"But that is only asserted, Jack, and it is not proof that it ought not to exist."
"Let us argue the point, father, coolly. Let us examine a little what would be the effect if all was equality. Were all equal in beauty there would be no beauty, for beauty is only by comparison--were all equal in strength, conflicts would be interminable--were all equal in rank, and power, and possessions, the greatest charms of existence would be destroyed--generosity, gratitude, and half the finer virtues would be unknown. The first principle of our religion, charity, could not be practised--pity would never be called forth--benevolence, your great organ, would be useless, and self-denial a blank letter. Were all equal in ability, there would be no instruction, no talent, no genius--nothing to admire, nothing to copy, to respect--nothing to rouse emulation, or stimulate to praiseworthy ambition. Why, my dear father, what an idle, unprofitable, weary world would this be, if it were based on equality!"
"But, allowing all that, Jack," replied Mr Easy, "and I will say you argue well in a bad cause, why should the inequality be carried so far--king and lords, for instance?"
"The most lasting and imperishable form of building is that of the pyramid, which defies ages, and to that may the most perfect form of society be compared. It is based upon the many, and rising by degrees, it becomes less as wealth, talent, and rank increase in the individual, until it ends at the apex or monarch, above all. Yet each several stone from the apex to the base is necessary for the preservation of the structure, and fulfils its duty in its allotted place. Could you prove that those at the summit possess the greatest share of happiness in this world, then, indeed, you have a position to argue on; but it is well known that such is not the case; and provided he is of a contented mind, the peasant is more happy than the king, surrounded as the latter is by cares and anxiety."
"Very well argued, indeed, my dear sir," observed Dr Middleton.
"But, my dear boy, there are other states of society than monarchy; we have republics and despotisms."
"We have, but how long do they last compared to the first? There is a cycle in the changes which never varies. A monarchy may be overthrown by a revolution, and republicanism succeed, but that is shortly
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