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Another argument may be derived from the following consideration : It has always been an embarrassing question, how far man is responsible for acts committed in a state of mental derangement, and under what degree of derangement that accountability would entirely cease.
The soul, being a distinct entity, can never be affected by a derangement of the mind : being the source of all intellectual, moral, and religious faculties, its moral responsibilities will remain undiminished through every vicissitude to which the human mind may be subjected. The mind is the only part that suffers derangement; and being distinct from the soul, can never affect its moral condition, but is always liable to participate in the sufferings of the body, and to be influenced by its morbid changes.
It is a maxim in philosophy, that whatever most satisfactorily explains all the phenomena of any natural event, may safely be assumed as a principle of truth. I am perfectly willing to have this system tried, to stand or fall, by this single test, without any reference to the arguments that have already been adduced in its support.
I shall therefore, in another and concluding number, proceed to apply this text, and to demonstrate the practical effect of this theory, by attempting to unfold the various operations by which ideas are produced on this principle. And I trust that a suitable application of this principle will elucidate this branch of the subject, and divest it of that obscurity and ambiguity to which it has hitherto been subjed ed, by the diversity of opinions and hypotheses which characterize the systems now before the public.
Till thy famed star arose, the schoolmen wrought
Philosophy, in vague conjectures tossed,
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE SERIES ENTITLED MY FISHING-GROUND:'
A village is the world in miniature. Human life and individual eccentricity are developed in its narrow precincts, in every variety of form. Odd geniuses are born, live, and die, and their deeds go down with them to the grave, ‘ unhonored and unsung.'
Ephraim Pipkin was a great man in his day. Alas! the grass has been green over his grave for many a year. The old village sexton, bending with the weight of time, points out to the strolling urchins the spot of Ephraim's burial, and repeats for the hundredth time the jokes connected with him while living. Ephraim was a man of all work. He was village property.
He was a public personage. On Mondays, he helped the women wash. There was no deviation from this rule. The day was sacredly set apart for this undivided purpose. He was, on such occasions, emphatically female stock. On other days, he was at large; up to the highest bidder; 'just the man for a job.' He was a great wag, and was continually playing off tricks upon his employers. He was a short man, plump and oily, with enormous head and feet, and a fiery face. His clothes were short and pinching; one suit; comprising all styles, being gathered from every family in the community.
One smoky day in September, Ephraim was ploughing for Deacon Tuttle. Mrs. Tuttle particularly requested him to come to dinner immediately, when she blew the horn. She was a punctual woman, and had a system' about her work. Ephraim, who always recollected such requests, ploughed on steadily and soberly, as the hours
wore away, casting his eyes up to the sun, as he turned each furrow. He was humming to himself, keeping time with the monotonous music of the crickets, when a blast from the horn burst suddenly upon his ear. Quick as a flash, he made his appearance before Mrs. Tuttle, according to order.
• Well, Ephraim,' said the good woman,' what now ?' • Come to dinner,' responded the ploughman. • Law ! massy me!' said Mrs. Tuttle, lifting both hands in astonishment; 'it is only ten o'clock !
• The horn blew, any how,' was Ephraim's reply.
Ephraim yoked up,' and returned to his labor. in about an hour, he heard another blast from the dinner-horn. Away he went to the house.
• There is no mistake this time, Mrs. Tuttle, I guess !' said Ephraim, grinning from ear to ear.
"Why what ails you ? are you possessed ? vociferated the astonished Mrs. Tuttle ; dinner wont be ready this hour!'
• What the devil did you blow the horn for, then ?' exclaimed Ephraim, with great apparent rage. *I
did n't - no such thing !' retorted Mrs. Tuttle. • There it goes ag'in !' said Ephraim.
• Why that's our jack; 't aint the dinner-horn !' exclaimed Mrs. Tuttle.
• A jack, eh? Well, d-n me if I ever heard a jack afore !'
It has never been satisfactorily decided whether Ephraim was playing a hoax or not. He kept the secret in his own bosom.
Ephraim engaged himself for six weeks with Deacon Browning. Mrs. Browning always had pudding-and-milk for supper. It so happened, that owing to a press of household duties, the good lady ventured upon pudding-and-milk for dinner - a thing of rare occurrence. Ephraim sat down to the table, as usual, and ate heartily, apparently well satisfied. He rose from bis seat, yawned and stretched three or four times, and then went to bed! The old lady at length called to him, asked him what he was doing up-stairs.'
Gone to-bed!' said Ephraim ; ‘we always go to bed, after eating pudding-and-milk!'
Ephraim Pipkin was a native of New England, as our readers must have discovered. Parson Dutton once had the honor of his services for a week. Now, the parson was a poor man. His parish was composed of poor men. He had ten acres of land, the base of which covered about one acre; the remainder, like Mahomet's coffin, hung between the heavens and the earth. The parson was in the possession of one horse and a yoke of cattle. Ephraim was requested to turn the whole stock out to pasture; but the hill was so steep, he thought if the animals ever reached the summit, they must inevitably dash out their brains in attempting a descent. He had a tender heart for man and beast; and to obviate any accident, he very prudently put breetching' on them, that they might hold back,' and let themselves down gently, and thus avert their otherwise certain destruction.
Now when the parishioners passed by, they could not but blush at the spectacle before them. That Parson Dutton should be compelled to hazard the life of his horse and cattle on the little spot given to him, was unchristian-like and ungrateful. There was a stir among the people; a subscription paper, a new land purchase, and more prosperous times. Ephraim had contrived it all, and to him alone was the credit due.
Ephraim Pipkin was an inquisitive man. While under the roof of the parson, it so happened that Miss Lucretia Dutton, his eldest daughter, received the devoted and undivided attention of the head clerk in the village store. Miss Dutton and Mr. Bruce were the very cream of society, and they had assimilated together from the natural force of circumstances. Mr. Bruce was as punctual a man in love as in business. He came early, and remained lale. It was September, an inspiring season of the year, when our story has its date. Night after night the happy couple were to be seen at an open window, listening to the melancholy murmur of the crickets, and talking solemn things, spiced with love. Ephraim determined to be a participator in the conversation.
One night about twelve, when church-yards yawn, Ephraim, who slept in a distant part of the house, rose, and without any apparel, save his robe of wbite, sans coat, vest, and pantaloons, moved down the stairs, and putting a ladder to the roof, ascended the house-top. Mounting a chimney, he very carefully commenced his descent. The chit-chat of Mr. Bruce and Miss Dutton waxed more and more distinct, as Ephraim moved downward. The fireboard had been removed, to make room for a couple of flower-pots, and there was no obstruction to a free transmission of sounds. The experiment was a most desperate one. Ephraim was as black a night, when he reached his tarrying place. Through his sooty mask might be detected a few streaks of his natural color, rendering him still more hideous. His hair stood up like quills upon the fretful porcupine. Braced up firmly, he established himself at the throat of the chimney, and lent his whole attention to the wooing below.
The lovers were in the depth of a most chilling ghost-story. They had been talking of death-warnings,' and second-sights,' until they shook with terror. Ephraim, finding the amusement dull, and being weary with over-exertion, began to wax drowsy ; and losing himself in a short nap, his muscles relaxed, his feet gave way, and down be rushed into the room, carrying a cloud of soot with him, the very image of his Satanic Majesty himself
. Mr. Bruce and Miss Dutton plunged out of the window, the former leaning' for home, and the latter fainting, fell on the grass senseless. Ephraim darted out at a side door, washed himself at a brook near by, returned to his room, réapparalled himself, and flung himself upon his bed. Miss Dutton revived, and went her way.' It was current, for years, that the devil appeared to the lovers, and the parson was so superstitious, that he finally forbade the match.
No man was more feared than Ephraim Pipkin. His wit and waggery were an omnipotent weapon. Dr. FORBEs, a gentleman celebrated for his meanness and dishonesty, fleeced Ephraim out of a few dollars, by taking dishonorable advantage of him. Now it so
happened that one rainy, tempestuous night, in the spring of the year, when the roads were deep mire, that a gentleman rapped at the door of Doctor Forbes, requesting bis immediate attendance on a friend of the doctor's, who was lying in a fit, five miles distant, declaring that the family would receive no other physician. • Let the physician make all haste, or the patient dies before his arrival!' were the concluding words, as the messenger closed the door.
The physician arose, hurried on his clothes, mounted his horse, and dashed out amid the awful storm, urging his steed along at a most rapid rate. On arriving, he rapped at the door. · All was silent within. He rapped again. No answer. What could be the reason ? A third time he shook the door with tremendous fury.
• Who's there !' was the surly inquiry. · Doctor Forbes.'
• What are you after, this terrible night ? asked the master of the house, as he opened the door full upon him.
*I am sent for. How's this! Why, word was left at my house, an hour
that you were lying in a fit!' Never was better in my life !' replied the farmer. * Well, then, d-n that Ephraim Pipkin! He is the scoundrel who has deceived me!' The doctor mounted his horse like a madman, resolving vengeance and brimstone, on his fearful way home. As there was no proof that Ephraim was the man,' although no doubt existed that such was the fact, the whole thing passed off, and finally became one of the best traditionary stories of the village.
Not many months after the above affair, the doctor lost a favorite horse, after a short illness, for which his master had prescribed. He drew him off some distance from the village, and resigned him to the birds of the air. On the following morning the doctor arose, and throwing up his window, beheld his deceased steed, clad in harness, and standing before the door, attached to the gig which he had whirled along for so many years. “Good God!' exclaimed the doctor, wild with astonishment; 'the dead is risen!' Away he flew to the street. It was the same - but alas ! without life. •Ephraim Pipkin!' was his only exclamation. The public understood it all. There was no evidence; but the joke was laughed at for weeks.
Reader, did you ever hear of the Universal Band ? In the village of Ephraim's nativity and residence, such a band flourished, and our hero was captain thereof. It was termed the Universal Band,' because it was open to all, without reference to musical or any other qualifications. This band numbered about an hundred. Their instruments were tin-pans, pot-lids, dinner-horns, cracked bells, drums, and 6fes, and a thousand unique vehicles of noise; in brief, ' musical instruments, and that of all sorts.' Yes, Ephraim was captain. At midnight, beneath the bright moon, when all was still and solemn, the band marched through the streets, and serenaded the people. Windows flew up, and night-capped heads were thrust forth, to listen to the divine melody. Ephraim marched at the head, with a firm step, full of stateliness and dignity, striking two cymbalic pot-lids together, in perfect harmony, leading the union of sounds in his rear. Impassive and stoical, he suffered nothing to divert his attention. 'His march was onward.' Dogs, roused from their dreams, might bark; cats VOL. XV.