Read Chapter II. of The Red Rover, free online book, by James Fenimore Cooper, on ReadCentral.com.

  Sir Toby.  “Excellent!  I smell a device.”

  Twelfth Night.

The strangers were three in number; for strangers the good-man Homespun, who knew not only the names but most of the private history of every man and woman within ten miles of his own residence immediately proclaimed them to be, in a whisper to his companion; and strangers, too, of a mysterious and threatening aspect.  In order that others may have an opportunity of judging of the probability of the latter conjecture, it becomes necessary that a more minute account should be given of the respective appearances of these individuals, who, unhappily for their reputations, had the misfortune to be unknown to the gossipping tailor of Newport.

The one, by far the most imposing in his general mien, was a youth who had apparently seen some six or seven-and-twenty seasons.  That those seasons had not been entirely made of sunny days, and nights of repose, was betrayed by the tinges of brown which had been laid on his features, layer after layer in such constant succession, as to have changed, to a deep olive, a complexion which had once been fair, and through which the rich blood was still mantling with the finest glow of vigorous health.  His features were rather noble and manly, than distingiushed for their exactness and symmetry; his nose being far more bold and prominent than regular in its form, with his brows projecting, and sufficiently marked to give to the whole of the superior parts of his face that decided intellectual expression which is already becoming so common to American physiognomy.  The mouth was firm and manly; and, while he muttered to himself, with a meaning smile, as the curious tailor drew slowly nigher, it discovered a set of glittering teeth, that shone the brighter from being cased in so dark a setting.  The hair was a jet black, in thick and confused ringlets; the eyes were very little larger than common, gray, and, though evidently of a changing expression, rather leaning to mildness than severity.  The form of this young man was of that happy size which so singularly unites activity with strength.  It seemed to be well knit, while it was justly proportioned, and strikingly graceful.  Though these several personal qualifications were exhibited under the disadvantages of the perfectly simple, though neat and rather tastefully disposed, attire of a common mariner, they were sufficiently imposing to cause the suspicious dealer in buckram to hesitate before he would venture to address the stranger, whose eye appeared riveted, by a species of fascination, on the reputed slaver in the outer harbour.  A curl of the upper lip, and another strange smile, in which scorn was mingled with his mutterings, decided the vacillating mind of the good-man.  Without venturing to disturb a reverie that seemed so profound, he left the youth leaning against the head of the pile where he had long been standing, perfectly unconscious of the presence of any intruder, and turned a little hastily to examine the rest of the party.

One of the remaining two was a white man, and the other a negro.  Both had passed the middle age, and both in their appearances, furnished the strongest proofs of long exposure to the severity of climate, and to numberless tempests.  They were dressed in the plain, weather-soiled, and tarred habiliments of common seamen, and bore about their several persons all the other unerring evidences of their peculiar profession.  The former was of a short, thick-set powerful frame, in which, by a happy ordering of nature, a little confirmed perhaps by long habit, the strength was principally seated about the broad and brawny shoulders, and strong sinewy arms, as if, in the construction of the man, the inferior members had been considered of little other use than to transfer the superior to the different situations in which the former were to display their energies.  His head was in proportion to the more immediate members; the forehead low, and nearly covered with hair; the eyes small, obstinate, sometimes fierce, and often dull; the nose snub, coarse, and vulgar; the mouth large and voracious; the teeth short, clean, and perfectly sound; and the chin broad, manly, and even expressive.  This singularly constructed personage had taken his seat on an empty barrel, and, with folded arms, he sat examining the often-mentioned slaver, occasionally favouring his companion, the black, with such remarks as were suggested by his observation and great experience.

The negro occupied a more humble post; one better suited to his subdued habits and inclinations.  In stature, and the peculiar division of animal force, there was a great resemblance between the two, with the exception that the latter enjoyed the advantage in height, and even in proportions.  While nature had stamped on his linéaments those distinguishing marks which characterize the race from which he sprung, she had not done it to that revolting degree to which her displeasure against that stricken people is often carried.  His features were more elevated than common; his eye was mild, easily excited to joy, and, like that of his companion, sometimes humorous.  His head was beginning to be sprinkled with gray, his skin had lost the shining jet colour which had distinguished it in his youth, and all his limbs and movements bespoke a man whose frame had been equally indurated and stiffened by unremitted toil.  He sat on a low stone, and seemed intently employed in tossing pebbles into the air, and shewing his dexterity by catching them in the hand from which they had just been cast; an amusement which betrayed alike the natural tendency of his mind to seek pleasure in trifles, and the absence of those more elevating feelings which are the fruits of education.  The process, however, furnished a striking exhibition of the physical force of the negro.  In order to conduct this trivial pursuit without incumbrance, he had rolled the sleeve of his light canvas jacket to the elbow, and laid bare an arm that might have served as a model for the limb of Hercules.

There was certainly nothing sufficiently imposing about the persons of either of these individuals to repel the investigations of one as much influenced by curiosity as our tailor.  Instead, however, of yielding directly to the strong impulse, the honest shaper of cloth chose to conduct his advance in a manner that should afford to the bumpkin a striking proof of his boasted sagacity.  After making a sign of caution and intelligence to the latter, he approached slowly from behind, with a light step, that might give him an opportunity of overhearing any secret that should unwittingly fall from either of the seamen.  His forethought was followed by no very important results, though it served to supply his suspicions with all the additional testimony of the treachery of their characters that could be furnished by evidence so simple as the mere sound of their voices.  As to the words themselves, though the good-man they might well contain treason, he was compelled to acknowledge to himself that it was so artfully concealed as to escape even his acute capacity We leave the reader himself to judge of the correctness of both opinions.

“This is a pretty bight of a basin, Guinea,” observed the white, rolling his tobacco in his mouth and turning his eyes, for the first time in many minutes, from the vessel; “and a spot is it that a man, who lay on a lee-shore without sticks, might be glad to see his craft in.  Now do I call myself something of a seaman, and yet I cannot weather upon the philosophy of that fellow, in keeping his ship in the outer harbour, when he might warp her into this mill-pond in half an hour.  It gives his boats hard duty, dusky S’ip; and that I call making foul weather of fair!”

The negro had been christened Scipio Africanus, by a species of witticism which was much more common to the Provinces than it is to the States of America, and which filled so many of the meaner employments of the country, in name at least, with the counterparts of the philosophers, heroes, poets, and princes of Rome.  To him it was a matter of small moment, whether the vessel lay in the offing or in the port; and, without discontinuing his childish amusement, he manifested the same, by replying, with great indifference of manner, ­

“I s’pose he t’ink all the water inside lie on a top.”

“I tell you, Guinea,” returned the other, in a harsh, positive tone, “the fellow is a know-nothing!  Would any man, who understands the behaviour of a ship, keep his craft in a roadstead, when he might tie her, head and stern, in a basin like this?”

“What he call roadstead?” interrupted the negro, seizing at once, with the avidity of ignorance, on the little oversight of his adversary, in confounding the outer harbour of Newport with the wilder anchorage below, and with the usual indifference of all similar people to the more material matter of whether the objection was at all germain to the point in controversy; “I never hear ’em call anchoring ground, with land around it, roadstead afore!”

“Hark ye, mister Gold-coast,” muttered the white, bending his head aside in a threatening manner, though he still disdained to turn his eyes on his humble adversary, “if you’ve no wish to wear your shins parcelled for the next month, gather in the slack of your wit, and have an eye to the manner in which you let it run again.  Just tell me this; isn’t a port a port? and isn’t an offing an offing?”

As these were two propositions to which even the ingenuity of Scipio could raise no objection, he wisely declined touching on either, contenting himself with shaking his head in great self-complacency, and laughing as heartily, at his imaginary triumph over his companion, as though he had never known care, nor been the subject of wrong and humiliation, so long and so patiently endured.

“Ay, ay,” grumbled the white, re-adjusting his person in its former composed attitude, and again crossing the arms, which had been a little separated, to give force to the menace against the tender member of the black, “now you are piping the wind out of your throat like a flock of long-shore crows, you think you’ve got the best of the matter.  The Lord made a nigger an unrational animal; and an experienced seaman, who has doubled both Capes, and made all the head-lands atween Fundy and Horn, has no right to waste his breath in teaching any of the breed!  I tell you, Scipio, since Scipio is your name on the ship’s books, though I’ll wager a month’s pay against a wooden boat-hook that your father was known at home as Quashee, and your mother as Quasheeba ­therefore do I tell you, Scipio Africa ­which is a name for all your colour, I believe ­that yonder chap, in the outer harbour of this here sea-port is no judge of an anchorage, or he would drop a kedge mayhap hereaway, in a line with the southern end of that there small matter of an island, and hauling his ship up to it, fasten her to the spot with good hempen cables and iron mud-hooks.  Now, look you here, S’ip, at the reason of the matter,” he continued, in a manner which shewed that the little skirmish that had just passed was like one of those sudden squalls of which they had both seen so many, and which were usually so soon succeeded by corresponding seasons of calm; “look you at the whole rationality of what I say.  He has come into this anchorage either for something or for nothing.  I suppose you are ready to admit that.  If for nothing, he might have found that much outside, and I’ll say no more about it; but if for something, he could get it off easier, provided the ship lay hereaway, just where I told you, boy, not a fathom ahead or astern, than where she is now riding, though the article was no heavier than a fresh handful of feathers for the captain’s pillow.  Now, if you have any thing to gainsay the reason of this, why, I’m ready to hear it as a reasonable man, and one who has not forgotten his manners in learning his philosophy.”

“S’pose a wind come out fresh here, at nor-west,” answered the other, stretching his brawny arm towards the point of the compass he named, “and a vessel want to get to sea in a hurry, how you t’ink he get her far enough up to lay through the weather reach?  Ha! you answer me dat; you great scholar, misser Dick, but you never see ship go in wind’s teeth, or hear a monkey talk.”

“The black is right!” exclaimed the youth, who, it would seem, had overheard the dispute, while he appeared otherwise engaged; “the slaver has left his vessel in the outer harbour, knowing that the wind holds so much to the westward at this season of the year; and then you see he keeps his light spars aloft, although it is plain enough, by the manner in which his sails are furled, that he is strong-handed Can you make out, boys, whether he has an anchor under foot, or is he merely riding by a single cable?”

“The man must be a driveller, to lie in such a tides-way, without dropping his stream, or at least a kedge, to steady the ship,” returned the white, with out appearing to think any thing more than the received practice of seamen necessary to decide the point.  “That he is no great judge of an anchorage, I am ready to allow; but no man, who can keep things so snug aloft, would think of fastening his ship, for any length of time, by a single cable, to sheer starboard and port, like that kicking colt, tied to the tree by a long halter, that we fell in with, in our passage over land from Boston.”

“’Em got a stream down, and all a rest of he anchors stowed,” said the black, whose dark eye was glancing understandingly at the vessel, while he still continued to east his pebbles into the air:  “S’pose he jam a helm hard a-port, misser Harry, and take a tide on he larboard bow, what you t’ink make him kick and gallop about!  Golly!  I like to see Dick, without a foot-rope, ride a colt tied to tree!”

Again the negro enjoyed his humour, by shaking his head, as if his whole soul was amused by the whimsical image his rude fancy had conjured, and indulged in a hearty laugh; and again his white companion muttered certain exceedingly heavy and sententious denunciations.  The young man, who seemed to enter very little into the quarrels and witticisms of his singular associates, still kept his gaze intently fastened on the vessel, which to him appeared for the moment, to be the subject of some extraordinary interest.  Shaking his own head, though in a far graver manner, as if his doubts were drawing to a close, he added, as the boisterous merriment or the negro ceased, ­

“Yes, Scipio, you are right:  he rides altogether by his stream, and he keeps every thing in readiness for a sudden move.  In ten minutes he would carry his ship beyond the fire of the battery, provided he had but a capful of wind.”

“You appear to be a judge in these matters,” said an unknown voice behind him.

The youth turned suddenly on his heel, and then for the first time, was he apprised of the presence of any intruders.  The surprise, however, was not confined to himself; for, as there was another newcomer to be added to the company, the gossipping tailor was quite as much, or even more, the subject of astonishment, than any of that party, whom he had been so intently watching as to have prevented him from observing the approach of still another utter stranger.

The third individual was a man between thirty and forty, and of a mien and attire not a little adapted to quicken the already active curiosity of the good-man Homespun.  His person was slight, but afforded the promise of exceeding agility, and even of vigour, especially when contrasted with his stature which was scarcely equal to the medium height of man.  His skin had been dazzling as that of woman though a deep red, which had taken possession of the lower linéaments of his face, and which was particularly conspicuous on the outline of a fine aquiline nose, served to destroy all appearance of effeminacy.  His hair was like his complexion, fair and fell about his temples in rich, glossy, and exuberant curls; His mouth and chin were beautiful in their formation; but the former was a little scornful and the two together bore a decided character of voluptuousness.  The eye was blue, full without being prominent, and, though in common placid and even soft, there were moments when it seemed a little unsettled and wild.  He wore a high conical hat, placed a little on one side, so as to give a slightly rakish expression to his physiognomy, a riding frock of light green, breeches of buck-skin, high boots, and spurs.  In one of his hands he carried a small whip, with which, when first seen, he was cutting the air with an appearance of the utmost indifference to the surprise occasioned by his sudden interruption.

“I say, sir, you seem to be a judge in these matters,” he repeated, when he had endured the frowning examination of the young seaman quite as long as comported with his own patience; “you speak like a man who feels he has a right to give an opinion!”

“Do you find it remarkable that one should not be ignorant of a profession that he has diligently pursued for a whole life?”

“Hum!  I find it a little remarkable, that one, whose business is that of a handicraft, should dignify his trade with such a sounding name as profession, We of the learned science of the law, and who enjoy the particular smiles of the learned universities, can say no more!”

“Then call it trade; for nothing in common with gentlemen of your craft is acceptable to a seaman,” retorted the young mariner, turning away from the intruder with a disgust that he did not affect to conceal.

“A lad of some metal!” muttered the other, with a rapid utterance and a meaning smile.  “Let not such a trifle as a word part us, friend.  I confess my ignorance of all maritime matters, and would gladly learn a little from one as skilful as yourself in the noble ­profession.  I think you said something concerning the manner in which yonder ship has an chored, and of the condition in which they keep things alow and aloft?”

Alow and aloft!” exclaimed the young sailor, facing his interrogator with a stare that was quite as expressive as his recent disgust.

“Alow and aloft!” calmly repeated the other.

“I spoke of her neatness aloft, but do not affect to judge of things below at this distance.”

“Then it was my error; but you will have pity on the ignorance of one who is so new to the profession.  As I have intimated, I am no more than an unworthy barrister, in the service of his Majesty, expressly sent from home on a particular errand.  It it were not a pitiful pun, I might add, I am not yet ­judge.”

“No doubt you will soon arrive at that distinction,” returned the other, “if his Majesty’s ministers have any just conceptions of modest merit; unless, indeed you should happen to be prematurely” ­

The youth bit his lip, made a haughty inclination of the head, and walked leisurely up the wharf, followed with the same appearance of deliberation, by the two seamen who had accompanied him in his visit to the place.  The stranger in green watched the whole movement with a calm and apparently an amused eye, tapping his boot with his whip, and seeming to reflect like one who would willingly find means to continue the discourse.

“Hanged!” he at length uttered, as if to complete the sentence the other had left unfinished.  “It is droll enough that such a fellow should dare to foretel so elevated a fate for me!”

He was evidently preparing to follow the retiring party, when he felt a hand laid a little unceremoniously on his arm, and his step was arrested.

“One word in your ear, sir,” said the attentive tailor, making a significant sign that he had matters of importance to communicate:  “A single word, sir, since you are in the particular service of his Majesty.  Neighbour Pardon,” he continued, with a dignified and patronising air, “the sun is getting low, and you will make it late home, I fear.  The girl will give you the garment, and ­God speed you!  Say nothing of what you have heard and seen, until you have word from me to that effect; for it is seemly that two men, who have had so much experience in a war like this, should not lack in discretion.  Fare ye well, lad! ­pass the good word to the worthy farmer, your father, not forgetting a refreshing hint of friendship to the thrifty housewife, your mother.  Fare ye well, honest youth; fare ye well!”

Homespun, having thus disposed of his admiring companion, waited, with much elevation of mien, until the gaping bumpkin had left the wharf, before he again turned his look on the stranger in green.  The latter had continued standing in his tracks, with an air of undisturbed composure, until he was once more addressed by the tailor, whose character and dimensions he seemed to have taken in, at a single glance of his rapid eye.

“You say, sir, you are a servant of his Majesty?” demanded the latter, determined to solve all doubts as to the other’s claims on his confidence, before he committed himself by any precipitate disclosure.

“I may say more; ­his familiar confident!”

“It is an honour to converse with such a man, that I feel in every bone in my body,” returned the cripple, smoothing his scanty hairs, and bowing nearly to the earth; “a high and loyal honour do I feel this gracious privilege to be.”

“Such as it is, my friend, I take on myself in his Majesty’s name, to bid you welcome.”

“Such munificent condescension would open my whole heart, though treason, and all other unrighteousness was locked up in it.  I am happy, honoured and I doubt not, honourable sir, to have this opportunity of proving my zeal to the King, before one who will not fail to report my humble efforts to his royal ears.”

“Speak freely,” interrupted the stranger in green, with an air of princely condescension; though one, less simple and less occupied with his own budding honours than the tailor, might have easily discovered that he began to grow weary of the other’s prolix loyalty:  “Speak without reserve, friend; it is what we always do at court.”  Then, switching his boot with his riding whip, he muttered to himself, as he swung his light frame on his heel, with an indolent, indifferent air, “If the fellow swallows that, he is as stupid as his own goose!”

“I shall, sir, I shall; and a great proof of charity is it in one like your noble self to listen.  You see yonder tall ship, sir, in the outer harbour of this loyal sea-port?”

“I do; she seems to be an object of general attention among the worthy lièges of the place.”

“Therein I conceive, sir, you have over-rated the sagacity of my townsmen.  She has been lying where you now see her for many days, and not a syllable have I heard whispered against her character from mortal man, except myself.”

“Indeed!” muttered the stranger, biting the handle of his whip, and fastening his glittering eyes intently on the features of the good-man, which were literally swelling with the importance of his discovery; “and what may be the nature of your suspicions?”

“Why, sir, I maybe wrong ­and God forgive me if I am ­but this is no more nor less than what has arisen in my mind on the subject.  Yonder ship, and her crew, bear the reputation of being innocent and harmless slavers, among the good people of Newport and as such are they received and welcomed in the place, the one to a safe and easy anchorage, and the others among the taverners and shop-dealers.  I would not have you imagine that a single garment has ever gone from my fingers for one of all her crew; no, let it be for ever remembered that the whole of their dealings have been with the young tradesman named Tape, who entices customers to barter, by backbiting and otherwise defiling the fair names of his betters in the business:  not a garment has been made by my hands for even the smallest boy.”

“You are lucky,” returned the stranger in green, “in being so well quit of the knaves! and yet have you forgotten to name the particular offence with which I am to charge them before the face of the King.”

“I am coming as fast as possible to the weighty matter.  You must know, worthy and commendable sir, that I am a man that has seen much, and suffered much, in his Majesty’s service.  Five bloody and cruel wars have I gone through, besides other adventures and experiences, such as becomes a humble subject to suffer meekly and in silence.”

“All of which shall be directly communicated to the royal ear.  And now, worthy friend, relieve your mind, by a frank communication of your suspicions.”

“Thanks, honourable sir; your goodness in my behalf cannot be forgotten, though it shall never be said that any impatience to seek the relief you mention hurried me into a light and improper manner of unburthening my mind.  You must know, honoured gentleman, that yesterday, as I sat alone, at this very hour, on my board, reflecting in my thoughts ­for the plain reason that my envious neighbour had enticed all the newly arrived customers to his own shop ­well, sir, the head will be busy when the hands are idle; there I sat, as I have briefly told you, reflecting in my thoughts, like any other accountable being, on the calamities of life, and on the great experiences that I have had in the wars.  For you must know, valiant gentleman, besides the affair in the land of the Mèdes and Persians, and the Porteous mob in Edinbro’, five cruel and bloody” ­

“There is that in your air which sufficiently proclaims the soldier,” interrupted his listener, who evidently struggled to keep down his rising impatience; “but, as my time is so precious, I would now more especially hear what you have to say concerning yonder ship.”

“Yes, sir, one gets a military look after seeing numberless wars; and so, happily for the need of both, I have now come to the part of my secret which touches more particularly on the character of that vessel.  There sat I, reflecting on the manner in which the strange seamen had been deluded by my tonguey neighbour ­for, as you should know, sir, a desperate talker is that Tape, and a younker who has seen but one war at the utmost ­therefore, was I thinking of the manner in which he had enticed my lawful customers from my shop, when, as one thought is the father of another, the following concluding reasoning, as our pious priest has it weekly in his reviving and searching discourses, came uppermost in my mind:  If these mariners were honest and conscientious slavers, would they overlook a labouring man with a large family, to pour their well-earned gold into the lap of a common babbler?  I proclaimed to myself at once, sir, that they would not.  I was bold to say the same in my own mind, and, thereupon, I openly put the question to all in hearing, If they are not slavers, what are they?  A question which the King himself would, in his royal wisdom, allow to be a question easier asked than answered; upon which I replied, If the vessel be no fair-trading slaver, nor a common cruiser of his Majesty, it is as tangible as the best man’s reasoning, that she may be neither more nor less than the ship of that nefarious pirate the Red Rover.”

“The Red Rover!” exclaimed the stranger in green, with a start so natural as to evidence that his dying interest in the tailor’s narrative was suddenly and powerfully revived.  “That indeed would be a secret worth having! ­but why do you suppose the same?”

“For sundry reasons, which I am now about to name, in their respective order.  In the first place, she is an armed ship, sir.  In the second, she is no lawful cruiser, or the same would be publicly known, and by no one sooner than myself, inasmuch as it is seldom that I do not finger a penny from the King’s ships.  In the third place, the burglarious and unfeeling conduct of the few seamen who have landed from her go to prove it; and, lastly, what is well proved may be considered as substantially established These are what, sir, I should call the opening premises of my inferences, all of which I hope you will properly lay before the royal mind of his Majesty.”

The barrister in green listened to the somewhat wire-drawn deductions of Homespun with great attention notwithstanding the confused and obscure manner in which they were delivered by the aspiring tradesman.  His keen eye rolled quickly, and often, from the vessel to the countenance of his companion; but several moments elapsed before he saw fit to make any reply.  The reckless gayety with which he had introduced himself, and which he had hitherto maintained in the discourse, was entirely superseded by a musing and abstracted air, which sufficiently proved, that, whatever levity he might betray in common, he was far from being a stranger to deep and absorbing thought.  Suddenly throwing off his air of gravity, however, he assumed one in which irony and sincerity were singularly blended and, laying his hand familiarly on the shoulder of the expecting tailor, he replied ­

“You have communicated such matter as becometh a faithful and loyal servant of the King.  It is well known that a heavy price is set on the head of the meanest follower of the Rover, and that a rich, ay, a splendid reward will be the fortune of him who is the instrument of delivering the whole knot of miscreants into the hands of the executioner.  Indeed I know not but some marked evidence of the royal pleasure might follow such a service.  There was Phipps, a man of humble origin, who received knighthood ­”

“Knighthood!” echoed the tailor, in awful admiration.

“Knighthood,” coolly repeated the stranger; “honourable and chivalric knighthood.  What may have been the appellation you received from your sponsors in baptism?”

“My given name, gracious and grateful sir, is Hector.”

“And the house itself? ­the distinctive appellation of the family?”

“We have always been called Homespun.”

“Sir Hector Homespun will sound as well as another!  But to secure these rewards, my friend, it is necessary to be discreet.  I admire your ingenuity, and am a convert to your logic.  You have so entirely demonstrated the truth of your suspicions, that I have no more doubt of yonder vessel being the pirate, than I have of your wearing spurs, and being called sir Hector.  The two things are equally established in my mind:  but it is needful that we proceed in the matter with caution.  I understand you to say, that no one else has been enlightened by your erudition in this affair?”

“Not a soul.  Tape himself is ready to swear that the crew are conscientious slavers.”

“So best.  We must first render conclusions certain; then to our reward.  Meet me at the hour of eleven this night, at yonder low point, where the land juts into the outer harbour.  From that stand will we make our observations; and, having removed every doubt, let the morning produce a discovery that shall ring from the Colony of the Bay to the settlements of Oglethorpe.  Until then we part; for it is not wise that we be longer seen in conference.  Remember silence, punctuality, and the favour of the King.  These are our watch-words.”

“Adieu, honourable gentlemen,” said his companion making a reverence nearly to the earth, as the other slightly touched his hat in passing.

“Adieu, sir Hector,” returned the stranger in green, with an affable smile and a gracious wave of the hand.  He then walked slowly up the wharf, and disappeared behind the mansion of the Homespuns; leaving the head of that ancient family, like many a predecessor and many a successor, so rapt in the admiration of his own good fortune, and so blinded by his folly, that, while physically he saw to the right and to the left as well as ever, his mental vision was completely obscured in the clouds of ambition.