XIII. THE ROMANCE OF THE FIRST RADICAL.
A PREHISTORIC APOLOGUE.
premier qui supprime un abus, comme
on dit, est toujours
victime du service
Un Homme du Peuple.
C’est de sa faute!
Pourquoi se mêle t’il de
qui ne lé regarde
pas.” Le Pretre de Nemi.
The Devil, according to Dr. Johnson
and other authorities, was the first Whig. History
tells us less about the first Radical the
first man who rebelled against the despotism of unintelligible
customs, who asserted the rights of the individual
against the claims of the tribal conscience, and who
was eager to see society organized, off-hand, on what
he thought a rational method. In the absence
of history, we must fall back on that branch of hypothetics
which is known as prehistoric science. We must
reconstruct the Romance of the First Radical from the
hints supplied by geology, and by the study of Radicals
at large, and of contemporary savages among whom no
Radical reformer has yet appeared. In the following
little apologue no trait of manners is invented.
The characters of our romance lived
shortly after the close of the last glacial epoch
in Europe, when the ice had partly withdrawn from the
face of the world, and when land and sea had almost
assumed their modern proportions. At this period
Europe was inhabited by scattered bands of human creatures,
who roamed about its surface much as the black fellows
used to roam over the Australian continent. The
various groups derived their names from various animals
and other natural objects, such as the sun, the cabbage,
serpents, sardines, crabs, leopards, bears, and hyaenas.
It is important for our purpose to remember that all
the children took their family name from the mother’s
side. If she were of the Hyaena clan, the children
were Hyaenas. If the mother were tattooed with
the badge of the Serpent, the children were Serpents,
and so on. No two persons of the same family
name and crest might marry, on pain of death.
The man of the Bear family who dwelt by the Mediterranean
might not ally himself with a woman of the Bear clan
whose home was on the shores of the Baltic, and who
was in no way related to him by consanguinity.
These details are dry, but absolutely necessary to
the comprehension of the First Radical’s
stormy and melancholy career. We must also remember
that, among the tribes, there was no fixed or monarchical
government. The little democratic groups were
much influenced by the medicine-men or wizards, who
combined the functions of the modern clergy and of
the medical profession. The old men, too, had
some power; the braves, or warriors, constituted a
turbulent oligarchy; the noisy outcries of the old
women corresponded to the utterances of an intelligent
daily press. But the real ruler was a body of
strange and despotic customs, the nature of which
will become apparent as we follow the fortunes of the