previous next
[239] green as to attend the Trial in person in such an issue—no man is obliged to make out his adversary's case—but would leave it all to Richard, and the help the Judge might properly give him. So the case is on, and Fenimore undertakes the Justification, which of course admits and aggravates the libel; so our side is all made out. But let us see how he gets along: of course, he will not think of offering witnesses to swear point-blank that we are homely—that, if he did not know it, the Judge would soon tell him would be a simple opinion, which would not do to go to a Jury; he must present facts.

Fenimore.— “Well, then, your Honor, I offer to prove by this witness that the plaintiff is tow-headed, and half bald at that; he is long-legged, gaunt, and most cadaverous of visage—ergo, homely.”

Judge.— “How does that follow? Light hair and fair face bespeak a purely Saxon ancestry, and were honorable in the good old days: I rule that they are comely. Thin locks bring out the phrenological developments, you see, and give dignity and massiveness to the aspect; and as to slenderness, what do our dandies lace for if that is not graceful They ought to know what is attractive, I reckon. No, sir, your proof is irrelevant, and I rule it out.”

Fenimore (the sweat starting).— “Well, your Honor, I have evidence to prove the said plaintiff slouching in dress; goes bent like a hoop, and so rocking in gait that he walks down both sides of a street at once.”

Judge.— “That to prove homeliness? I hope you don't expect a man of ideas to spend his precious time before a looking-glass? It would be robbing the public. ‘Bent,’ do you say? Is n't the curve the true line of beauty, I'd like to know? Where were you brought up? As to walking, you don't expect ‘a man of mark,’ as you called him at Ballston, to be quite as dapper and pert as a footman, whose walk is his hourly study and his nightly dream —its perfection the sum of his ambition! Great ideas of beauty you must have! That evidence won't answer.”

Now, Fenimore, brother in adversity! wouldn't you begin to have a realizing sense of your awful situation? Would n't you begin to wish yourself somewhere else, and a great deal further, before you came into Court to justify legally an opinion? Wouldn't you begin to perceive that the application of the Law of Libel in its strictness to a mere expression of opinion is absurd, mistaken, and tyrannical?

Of course, we shan't take advantage of your exposed and perilous condition, for we are meek and forgiving, with a hearty disrelish for the machinery of the law. But if we had a mind to take hold of you, with Richard to help us, and the Supreme Court's ruling in actions of libel at our back, would n't you catch it? We should get the whole Fund back again, and give a dinner to the numerous Editorial contributors. That dinner would be worth attending, Fenimore; and we'll warrant the jokes to average a good deal better than those you cracked in your speech at Ballston.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Ballston (New York, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Saxon (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: