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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/50

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

his stud of slaves. The sale of men was a simple matter. In our own time we have had fighting to maintain this right. Remember that it is less than a century ago that the Elector of Hesse sold his subjects to the King of England, who required men to be killed in America. Kings went to the Elector of Hesse as we go to the butcher to buy meat. The Elector had food for powder in stock, and hung up his subjects in his shop: "Come, buy! they are for sale!" In England, under Jefferies, after the tragical episode of Monmouth, there were many lords and gentlemen beheaded and quartered. Those who were executed left wives and daughters, widows and orphans, whom James II. gave to the queen, his wife; the queen sold these ladies to William Penn. Very likely the king had so much per cent on the transaction. The extraordinary thing is, not that James II. should have sold the women, but that William Penn should have bought them. Penn's purchase is excused, or explained, by the fact that having a wilderness to sow with men, he needed women as farming implements. Her Gracious Majesty made a handsome sum out of these ladies. The young sold dear. We can imagine, with the uneasy feeling which a complicated scandal arouses, that probably some old duchesses were thrown in cheap.

The Comprachicos were also called the Cheylas,—a Hindoo word, which conveys the idea of harrying a nest. For a long time the Comprachicos made only a pretence of concealing themselves. There is sometimes a favouring shadow thrown over iniquitous trades, in which they thrive. In our own day we have seen an association of this kind in Spain, under the direction of the ruffian Ramon Selles, continue from 1834 to 1866, and keep three provinces in terror for thirty years,—Valencia, Alicante, and Murcia. Under the Stuarts, the Com-