Modern Chivalry Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

Captain John Farrago, a Pennsylvanian in his fifties, decided to get on his horse and, accompanied by his servant Teague O’Regan, to travel about the country. He wanted to see how things were getting on and to observe human nature.

His first adventure was at a horse race. After the race, the crowd became embroiled in arguments. When the Captain tried to calm them, in the name of reason, he had his head broken for his pains. Starting out again the next morning, Captain Farrago came to a village where the election of a legislator was taking place. The candidate, a weaver, was not, in the Captain’s opinion, worthy of the office, and so he spoke out against the backwoods politician. Much to his dismay, the villagers wanted to send Teague, Captain Farrago’s servant, as their elected representative. The Captain finally convinced his Irish servant, who had far more brawn than brains, that he was better off as a servant of one man than as the servant of many.

A short time later, the Captain found the carcass of a very large owl. Upon taking it to a town, he met a philosopher who offered to have him made a member of the philosophical society on the basis of his discovery. When Captain Farrago refused, the philosopher asked if the servant Teague might be made a member. Once again, the Captain had to convince simple Teague that he was better off as a private servant than he would be chasing over the country after dangerous animals.

That same night, Teague got into a scrape at an inn, where he tried to get into bed with a girl who raised a great hue and cry. Teague, a cunning chap, shifted the blame to a young clergyman by claiming that the clergyman had attempted to molest the girl and that he, Teague, had been her rescuer. The tale got out, and Captain Farrago finally had to bribe Teague with half a crown to tell the truth to the presbytery in order to clear the innocent preacher’s good name. Teague, by means of blarney and flattery, convinced the presbytery that he wished to be a candidate for the ministry; only the Captain’s intercession with an explanation that Teague would have to give up his vices and enter into a war with the devil himself prevented the gullible clergymen from taking Teague, ignorant as he was, into the ministry.

Sometime later, Captain Farrago met a Miss Fog. In his efforts to court the young lady, who had a considerable fortune, Captain Farrago only managed to insult her. Miss Fog’s other suitor, Jacko, then challenged the Captain to a duel. Captain Farrago, after warning the man who delivered the challenge that such conduct was against the law, kicked him out of his quarters. Calling in Teague, the Captain offered to let him fight the duel if he wished; Teague, a coward, refused to do so, whereupon Captain Farrago sent a letter telling Jacko that he would not duel because one of them might be hurt or killed for no reason at all. That was the end of the matter.

Not long afterward, a man approached Captain Farrago and asked to hire Teague from the Captain. The man, a maker of treaties with the Indians, wanted...

(The entire section is 1263 words.)