New York and Auburn: MILLER, ORTON & MULLIGAN,
New York: 25 Park Row—Auburn: 107 Genesee St. London: W.T. Tweedle, Strand, and David Bryce, 48 Paternoster Row.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by
MILLER, ORTON & MULLIGAN,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of New York.
Edward R. Jenkins, Printer, Nos. 26 Frankfort Street.
Some Particulars respecting Cousin Smooth CHAPTER I. —Mr. Smooth in Washington CHAPTER II. —Mr. Smooth Sups, and goes to Bed CHAPTER III. —In which Mr. Smooth has an Interview with General Cass CHAPTER IV. —Mr. Smooth's Dream CHAPTER V. —A Morning Adventure CHAPTER VI. —Mr. Smooth finds his Path to the White House a difficult one CHAPTER VII. —Mr. Smooth Penetrates the Dark Confines of Mr. Pierce's Kitchen, where he finds things sadly confused CHAPTER VIII. —Mr. Solomon Smooth takes a Fish Breakfast CHAPTER IX. —Mr. Smooth Circumnavigates the Globe CHAPTER X. —Smooth preserves Young America's Rights CHAPTER XI. —Mr. Smooth is Right Side up CHAPTER XII. —Mr. Smooth makes a few Reflections CHAPTER XIII. —Mr. Smooth sees a Country great in Resources blighted by a Narrow Policy CHAPTER XIV. —Done Brown in Downing Street CHAPTER XV. —His little Lordship's Show, and a Peep into Downing Street CHAPTER XVI. —Smooth Dines with Citizen Peabody CHAPTER XVII. —Smooth looks in upon the Mixed Commission CHAPTER XVIII.—Smooth receives the Documents, and calls a Congress at Ostend CHAPTER XIX. —Smooth Discovers Himself CHAPTER XX. —Arrival and Grand Reception at Ostend CHAPTER XXI. —Fashionable Debts and Fashionable Diplomatists CHAPTER XXII. —How Smooth got his Manners CHAPTER XXIII.—Mr. Smooth proposes taking Mr. Pierce's Fighting by the Job CHAPTER XXIV. —Mr. Pierce sends Smooth Down East among Britishers CHAPTER XXV. —The Pious Squire CHAPTER XXVI. —Smooth encounters a Colonial Justice of strange Character CHAPTER XXVII.—Smooth settles all International Difficulties, and proposes maintaining the very best Understanding with John Bull
ADVENTURES OF MY COUSIN SMOOTH.
SOME PARTICULARS RESPECTING COUSIN SMOOTH
No uncommon type of our "Young America" is Mister Solomon Smooth, the individual whose part in these sketches was performed for General Pierce in particular, and "Uncle Sam" in general. Mr. Smooth was born and "growed" on the extreme south point of Cape Cod—a seemingly desolate spot, yet somewhat renowned as the birthplace of Long Tom Coffin. If I would select one of our nation's 'cutest sons; if I were called upon to name the kind of man with that in his natural composition to make the safest, shrewdest, and most calculating merchant; if I were called to pass judgment on the man most qualified to sustain the spirit and characteristics of the American nation abroad—one who would never betray our national energy, nor degrade his profession, nor fail to seek that which might promote the interests of those who reposed trust in him, at the same time never forgetting his own—if I were about forming an expedition, and would provide myself with that character of man upon whom the issue of its success most depends; if, I say, I would seek the man possessing those rigid qualities of a moral nature which are a sure protection against doing aught that may degrade the councils of a nation, I would make this sandy cape my starting point, and draw from the upward growth of that stern energy to be found among those flourishing, energetic, and intelligent communities embraced within that circle which terminates at Cape Ann, and between the circling arms of which two capes heaves Boston Bay. But Smooth, though somewhat primitive in his personal appearance, is none of your common Cape Cod coasters, such as your Captain Doanes, and Cooks, and Ryders, and Clapps. Not he! So slender of person is he, that there can be no particular impropriety in our drawing a comparison between him and that peculiar type of per son commonly called a Virginian bean-pole. Nor, when he gets himself (as is not uncommon with him) "all over" native brown homespun, does his configuration materially change, there yet remaining, and boldly refusing to be disguised, that face so full of penetration, and those features so sharp. The waggishly inclined have identified them with the wizardry of dividing storm currents. Nevertheless, of this lean conformation, which is better within than the world without is in general willing to admit, is Smooth particularly proud. In manner, Smooth is piquant; and being an acknowledged member of the fast school—that is, a disciple of manifest destiny in particular and Model Republics in general—he accepts the mission so kindly proffered him by his unfortunate friend, Mr. General Pierce, and has no objection to giving the world and kingcraft (the latter rudderless, and drifting on those quicksands of common sense which it were well for nations had they proved destructive centuries ago) a few lessons in the go-ahead principle. What Smooth means to convey by the go-ahead principle, is simply that when common sense triumphs universal in a nation, sycophantism dies, and with it that pest of peoples, kingcraft! So, with the most amiable intentions, does Solomon set out for Washington, to have a first talk with General Pierce: this talk he hopes will be a prelude to putting straight the nationalities now drifting on the rock of intrigue, without that safety-valve which a people fully conscious of enjoying their rights can give. And while thus employed, Smooth does not forget that it is a well laid down rule that many small Presidents may talk very large and yet cut very ridiculous figures: hence his first talk with Mr. Pierce, who is well known for general and very respectable characteristics, may be productive of great good to mankind in a mass. In New England educated, (that land where niggers may be white men, and white men too often turn niggers), loving universal rights, peace to consolidate a nation's good, and keep down that martial spirit which is its cankering curse—being tenacious of freedom in its broadest acceptation, and commercial prosperity with a general diffusion of its results, it is Mr. Smooth's candid opinion that ere another century rolls into the page of time America will whip, feed, civilize, and republicanize the great American continent. Could this be done at an earlier period, so much the better for mankind in general. Smooth was borne out in this opinion from the fact that Europe had got into a great fuzzle, the result of which was an equally great fight. Kingdoms and empires had become disordered, their craft was stranded; potentates were turning their people into minions of slaughter. Nicholas (modest god of all the Russias) thought his murdering a few thousands an act most pious: it was all for the sake of Christianity and a very small holy rite! On the other hand, there was Mister John Bull, so dogged at times, and yet so hard to hold once his propensity for fighting somebody was excited, hurling very unchristian lead and steel into. Nicholas's subtle-headed serfs. But the thing most wondrous was, that Uncle John, now foaming with the fever of war, had got Johnny Crappo at his back instead of his belly—a fact that would be recorded on the strangest page of history. Strange fighting companions were they; but as pig and dog do now and then become bed-fellows, who can give too much expression to his surprise at this strange Anglo-French combination? Let the world say what it will with reference to our worthy friend Uncle John fighting the battle of Mohamedanism—let it lay at his door the grave charge of degrading himself by seeking to make firm the rotten props of one of the most debased governments that has stained the history of the world with its crimes, John will humanely acknowledge the charge while forwarding to Turkey a copious edition of his "Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge."
We hope with Mr. Smooth, that Master Bull and Cousin Jonathan may war only in words. Both are sensible gentlemen; both are keenly alive to that inspiration called fighting for one's rights; both are for ever finding a small bone to snarl over; but peace is found the greater bone, which, by preserving, affords the best picking. Indeed, we must all admit, that if polite diplomatists and small politicians had their way, their naughty recriminations would give us plenty of war, with only bows and smiles to pay for the blood and treasure wasted. But Mr. Bull is considerate with his power; while Jonathan shrewdly calculates how much being embroiled in war will disturb his tin business. May our discretion continue to form the best defence against war between the most enlightened governments of christendom.
At home our negro question bids very fair to get political parties into an interminable snarl; which said snarl is made worse by the singular hopes of those having friends who would like to be next President of the United States. The "white house," (that shrine of patriotic worship!) having its avenues strongly bolted and barred with formidable niggers from Virginia and Carolina, has become a mammon of faith before which politicians are making sad niggers of themselves. Mr. Solomon Smooth lamented this; and, in order to ascertain what could be done in the way of finding a remedy, he determined to plainly introduce the matter during his first talk with General Pierce;—in a word, to see what could be done in the way of straightening things ere he tried the quality of his cigars and Bourbouin whiskey, a large stock of which the General was known to keep on hand. The party to which Mr. Smooth belonged, "Young America," enrolled among its numbers many young gentlemen whose spirits were fast, and young ladies whose talents were fast increasing; hence it was that he was a firm believer in the elastic principles of a go-ahead government: such an one, albeit, as would republicanize Russia, knock Austria into a smash, or make her declare herself something—revolutionize Europe in general, and in particular teach kings of the christian faith how very unchristian it is to wage savage wars. In addition to this, he would have the world in general more enlightened, and kings made to know that their highest duty was to mould their conduct after the example of good citizens. Were this not enough, he would go for annexing to these "United States" all the rest of creation; Mexico and Central America in particular, to aid which object he would have the moon perform a specific part on behalf of manifest destiny.
The reader must remember that our hero Smooth is a man most unpolished, though never so bad as he seems. But we will let him speak for himself, and as his letters are addressed to Uncle Sam, of course those may read who will.
Enough from the Editor.
WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE, 1855.
MR. SOLOMON SMOOTH IN WASHINGTON.
"Dear Uncle—Once upon a time you were called Sam; but now that the reign of Pierce is upon us it is difficult to tell what you may not be called. Not long since you were the son of greatness, you are now the shadow of Pierce—the man whose little light posterity will snuff out. I have thought of you frequently, Uncle: I have seen you in sorrow looking back upon the past, and my heart has beat with sympathy as I saw you contrast it with the present. Once patriotism stood on manly feet, now Bunkam reigns. Politics are turned into drum-sticks, parties are lost for want of a policy, principles are buried in the market-place. Mr. Smooth has been long accustomed to hard knocks and crooked places; but anything so crooked as Mr. Pierce staggers his digestion. If the concentrated wisdom of the nation riots here (thought I as I entered the city) who can gainsay my coming? I knew the atmosphere I entered had foul malaria in it; the city I found as straight as the face of parties on the other hand was deformed. But being in the federal city, I became forcibly impressed with the fact, that your smallest man has the largest expectations, though he will not object to become the nation's drone. Having made this wonderful discovery, I took up my line of march for the National Hotel, a gorgeous palace where an uncouth million meet to revel in cheap luxury. So large was the house that a pilot to guide me through its thousand galleries to bed was an indispensable necessity. I was fatigued, and cared not where I hung up. Large as was the establishment, everything looked so costly that I became cautious lest what I sat down upon might become soiled, in which event I might be compelled to pay the shot with a short locker; or, should the case go before Pierce, he might in the profundity of his wisdom exile me to some remote spot on the Mosquito coast. I walked into the establishment like one who feels himself an independent citizen, and then commenced looking at the place and the people, as the people commenced looking at me. Returning looks, and question-asking, seemed the fashion. 'Stranger!' said a well dressed but rather inquisitive individual, 'you must, to be anybody in this place, smother yourself in dignity, and eat dough-nuts of Southern make. Large quantities of this diet are made now at the White House; in fact Pierce has turned the establishment into a factory, where that article is manufactured ad libitum, and all are expected to eat.' I thought the person who thus accosted me had large experience of matters in general, for he gave me a slanting wink and a cunning nudge, which I rendered into an insinuation to stand treat. I affected not to understand him, and edging aside a pace, made a bold effort to gain the long and very expensive mahogany counter that stretched half across the office, and behind which glowed out the figure of a fat citizen, whom I stared right in the face. You cannot get cleverly through this world without brass; if in your face you have enough to establish a foundery, so much the better. It is indispensable in political matters; and, whether right or wrong, the reader can best judge. I have thought the smaller the politician, the larger were his dealings in the article. No one could be more cautious how they scandalized their neighbours than I am; this, Uncle Sam, you well know; but I question the policy of being delicate during the reign of Pierce, whose cabinet recalls to my mind the story of the clacking hen, that forever kept up a noise without laying one egg. To make your way in Washington, you must storm and put to route a whole platform of valiant gentlemen, who have become political images in brass. As they love you, Uncle Sam, so also would they live upon you, die upon you, be buried at your expense, and their friends be very angry were you not a mourner at the funeral. This I, Smooth, declare an honest fact, notwithstanding the high respect I entertain for all those patriotic gentlemen who would take such care of my Uncle's affairs.
"Now, this very phlegmatic and good natured citizen, who stood: behind the mahogany, had a face as broad and placid as a town-clock seen by moonlight. His figure, too, was tightly driven into a suit of extravagant cloth, and altogether presented the appearance of having quite recently escaped from the hands of James, his tailor. It was not in the power of man to analyze his character from what he said, for what he said meant nothing, when judged by the world's wisdom; but you saw that James had succeeded in making him in love with himself. Should he chance to read this imperfect sketch, he will excuse me when I say he seemed a person brought up to himself, and entertaining the hope that at no distant day he would become a very important character—perhaps outshine General Pierce himself. He looked at me, and I looked at him; then he grinned at me, and I grinned at him. At last I said, I reckoned we might draw the game. I then added, that from the look of the establishment I could not be wrong in assuming that they did a large business in the way of feeding hungry politicians and honester people. 'You may stake some on that, old feller,' says he, with a suspicious leer. His nasal was somewhat strong, so I put him down as from Vermont State, perhaps from the more mountainous part of it. As if shy of my patronage he upon the counter, pompous, spread his hands, as if the mahogany was all his. This seeming indifference rather touched my dignity, which was of tender quality, so I cast upon him a look he could not misinterpret, inquiring if he could tie a body up for the night in a spare corner. 'You may bet on that! got a spare pin we can hook ye on somehow, I reckon;' he ejaculates, sprawling his elbows, and making a support of his fleshy hands, from between which his face peered like a soft pumpkin sorely squeezed. In this position he stared, and stared, until his countenance assumed an anxiety, equalled only by that of a stump lecturer about inaugration time—say one, who had hoped for the mission to the court of St. James, but as a matter of patriotism would not decline the Dublin Consulship. At length he condescended to say, with an air of languishing endurance, that 'he could do me up brown, in the way of comfortable quarters.' I thanked him for his great kindness, said I wanted to exercise a judicious economy, and could not do the extensive, like those persons sprawling in easy arm chairs at the left hand corner, to whom I pointed, and who, like Mr. President Pierce's representatives abroad, were making a great noise to no purpose. After looking quizically at the tie-up under my arm, then at my tall white hat, and again at the coarse weave of my homespun, he inquired if that (pointing to the bundle) constituted my baggage. Instantly I told him it was none of his business; that there was no occasion for his feeling so large, though Mr. Pierce was President. He made an upright of himself, and very civilly rejoined that there was no place this side of Cape Horn—and he doubted if there was on the other side—where it was so necessary to see the colateral as this Washington. He was proceeding to say much more, and something about the doubtful character of General Pierce and his friends, when I interrupted by saying, I thought he must have forgotten my name. 'Smooth is my name,' I reiterated, 'of the Young American party, the party that intends doing up the manifest destiny for mankind.'
"'Manifest destiny never pays debts: must see the collateral 'afore we tie ye up! Fact is, stranger, we must have the hold-fast for fear of the shot falling short. The General has got so many tin-less friends, who visit Washington on a small affair of business (here he gave his shoulders a significant shrug), that a body has to keep a sharp eye in the wind.' Suddenly he began to drum on the mahogany, screw his face into a disc of puckers, and look so wise. So glad did he seem, that he whistled Yankee Doodle with the variations, looked every which way, and then laughed right out at what he called Smooth's outfit.
"'Needn't laugh at the fixens—old feller!' says I, 'Uncle Sam and me are going into the tin business, and Sam, being a generous old butt, will stand all the treats and hotel bills. Besides that, I was born in the very sand heap where Tom Coffin was raised.'
"'Who cares for Tom' says he, turning aside, and making a polite bow to a thirsty senator from the far west: the senatorial gent bent his neck over, and approaching with his lips the ear of the important individual, whispered something from out the smallest corner. This something, when translated into decent English, might be rendered thus:—If justice and gin slings are administered at your bar, pray direct me the way to it! The fat man pointed up a narrow, dark, and very long passage; and then suddenly turning to me, he said: 'If Tom Coffin lived now-a-days, when politics went on the fast, he wouldn't be worth shooks, he not having a vote, nor wanting an office under the new administration.' 'Now, stranger,' says I, directing a look as if I was going to strike something at him, 'don't make such a fuss about the needful—look'a here!' I just plumps out Uncle Zack Brewster's letter, and having fascinated his eye, tells him how Cochran and Riggs 'll do the dust. Like an hydraulic current let loose did the fellow prick up his ears: then he said, 'do tell,' with a musical emphasis that seemed so full of credit. Again he drew a long breath, and a seriousness came over his face that could only be likened to that of a South Carolina locomotive when drawing a whole convention of secessionists, who, having failed in devising means to dissolve the 'federal union,' were returning homeward very melancholy.
"'Never doubted Mr. Smooth's word,' says he, with simple dryness,—'but, notwithstanding, painful is the experience that office-holders and seekers, though always kind to Uncle Sam, and tenacious of his dignity and cashbag, seldom maintain the same earnestness for their own when legitimates are left in the key-hole.'
"'You mean that the General's friends don't shine over on the square?'
"'Precisely so!—Mr. General Pierce himself is a sort of mixed stripe; but his friends (and he has regiments of them!), all fighters in the Mexican war when he was brigadier, expect so much something material for themselves that all outsiders are forgotten. Now and then the General is sorry to inform his many friends that he is a little ill; to which a voice here and there is heard to say that he is not inclined to do the clean thing.'
"Well, I saw what the feller wanted; so I pulled out a fist full of shiners, just to show him what Young America could do. The seeing the dimes smoothed him down into the most agreeable amiability. His face loomed out with good natur, his feelings seemed coming right from his inards; and he struck up Yankee Doodle by way of an offset.
"'Pooty full, Mr. Smooth,' he generously remarked, 'but we must try accommodate you somehow! We'll tuck you away in a spare corner, high up!'
"'That's a good soul,' said I,—'know'd ye warn't a bad sort of fellow,—when a body understood how to get the good out!'
"'Apartments for Solomon Smooth, Esq., from Cape Cod,' he said, mutteringly, looking over his book, and drumming with his fingers on the page. Mr. Smooth, in proof of his fast principles, will have no objection to tying up in the seventh story?'
"'Rather stiff that, Major! Young America can do most anything,—hang up on a pin if it be necessary to accommodate, but don't just like the moon for a bedfellow.'
"'Won't trouble you with a bedfellow, Mr. Smooth,' he, grinned out, shaking all over his broad sides.
"It being well understood in Washington that great men were most condescending, while little men, with large expectations, were most aspiring, there was nothing left but to cut a course between the two. As for the latter quality of gentlemen, they never stood at trifles, and when they failed to get the big business, had not the slightest objection to the small,—which was the doing all Mr. President Pierce's thinking. Therefore, be it known that, with a full knowledge of this sad state of affairs, did I write down:—'Mr. Solomon Smooth, from Cape Cod:' which, when down, looked like the footprints of a hen that, having dipped her claws in an inkstand, had waddled across the page. Thus ended my induction at the National.
MR. SMOOTH SUPS, AND GOES TO BED.
"At length, Uncle Sam, I found myself somebody; and while looking about me on the many well-dressed and very good-natured gentlemen who subsisted on the hope of your generosity, could not avoid the contemplation of what a glorious world this of ours must be, possessing as it does so many good hearted souls like yourself, so rich—but as indifferent to their own best interests. 'You will take supper, Mr. Smooth?' inquired the man behind the mahogany. Before I had time to speak, he pulled a bell that jingled like Jehu. And then there came scampering in a school of negroes, so tidy, trim, and intelligent. One bowed—another smiled—a third waited with a salutation my commands. 'Take care of Mister Smooth!' again spoke the man behind the mahogany, as with an effort to be commanding in accent. That they might know more emphatically (as Uncle Tom Benton says) that Mr. Smooth was none of your common citizen, I turned my eyes on the darkies, and stared at them until they turned pale. Then one possessed himself of my bundle: moving off with a scientific motion, and a bow a la cabinet, he bid me follow. Obeying his summons, onward we went, through a long, dark passage, and into a spacious hall up stairs, where he said they eat their people. No sooner was I bowed to a seat than a dozen gentlemen darkies set upon me in good earnest; so fast did they beset me with eatables that I begun to think they had mistaken me for a thanksgiving turkey about to be fatted for the table of the secretary of the treasury. The fixins, as Mr. Samuel Slick would say, made one feel quite at home; not so with the darkies: they recognizing my home spun, soon became sassy; whereupon I turned round and set upon them with the broadest grin I could summon. Nor could I withhold a laugh at seeing them laugh. 'Reckon how mas'r's on big business to Washington wid Mr. General Pierce,' says one, whose face was black, and bright, and full of the quizzical; while another, with a flat crooked nose gave a cunning wink out of his left eye. This being detected by a superior, in the brisk person of a son of the Emerald Isle, who stood well six feet in his boots, a 'soucer' with the broad front of his knuckle bones, between the colored gentleman's two eyes, was the rejoinder—a most striking remonstrance, that laid him measuring the floor. Troth! an' it's myself 'd stop yer botheration. Sure, ye dark spalpeens, is it by the same token ye'd trate the gintleman? (Here the honest son of sweet Erin showed signs of his Doneybrook getting the better of him.) 'Myself 'll take care of Mr. Smooth—doesn't he belong to the self same party, the know-nothings? The divil a such a country, as Hamirike: an' it's the boys from Donegal that 'ud be taking her dignity in care.' Saying this, Mr. Patrick (for such was his name) stretched the whole length of his important self over the table, and says:—I'm yers to the buckle of my shoe, Mr. Smooth! It's a divil a one but yerself I'll vote for at the next helection. Sure, an' didn't mysel jine the native Hamerikan party, with Tom Connolly, afore we'd been two months on the beloved soil an', sure, it's Tom and myself that's goin to put through the nonothin for ye.' Here Mr. Patrick anxiously paused for a reply. To never say a bad thing when I could not think of a good, ever has been my motto; so I returned his good nature with saying:—'Give us yer hand, Mr. Patrick—we will forget the two, and yet be one! and that our faith may be made strong, we will together do brown the patriotism of these United States.
"'Ye better believe that!' returns Mr. Patrick, with an exultation of happiness; and concluding with: 'I'd kill every nager in the land, be the pipers I would! an' it's the boys from old Ireland what does be keeping the bright face on pure Hamirikan principles. Sure an' warn't it the brave boys that halicted Gineral Pierce and his cumrades?' Here Mr. Patrick again paused, and with a wise look, shook his head. 'We put the broad staunch face on the democracy,' again he interjaculated with a mutter. Indeed, Mr. Patrick the reader will easily detect, had the crude idea of right in his head; but, unfortunately, he could only get it out in these simple and sideling insinuations. The negro, whom we have before described as being knocked down, picked himself up and had nothing to say.
"'There may be much in what you say, friend Patrick,' said I: 'The boys from Donegal do with the elective franchise much that native-Homers in their carelessness leave undone. Mr. Patrick acknowledged this, shook his head, and said the fact, though deplorable, was preeminently established.
"'Like every one who visits Washington these times, yer a friend of the Gineral's, and have fit with him in the Mexican war?' again he inquired, seeming to anticipate my answer. Of the Mexicans I know little—of the war less: it were well our country made peace its friend, war its enemy. As to the General and his fighting in Mexico, that was a matter that best affected himself; through it he became a great potentate, but not so great a man; but, I accept the general idea that he is now become troubled of a short memory. During this time I had not forgotten number one—my supper! Having stowed it well away under my lining, I felt very much like a man who had just turned away his back on Secretary Marcy, having through personal friendship received the country's best collectorship. Seeing the point of good-nature to which my feelings had arrived through the strong argument of meats, Mr. Patrick proffered his services to navigate me out of the place where he ate his people—through entries, corridors, passages, halls, and down stairways, along which we were ever encountering persons who, like Mr. Pierce, were groping their way in the dark. In the course of time, and after much feeling and fumbling, I again encountered the light of the mahogany counter, behind which stood the same individual I have before described—his person so formidable, his face so full and fat, his hair so sleek and smooth.
"'Had a good supper, Squire Smooth?' says he, a broad smile spreading over his broader face. On answering in the affirmative, he introduced me to numerous unsatisfied politicians. One of this very numerous gentry, and of whom I had, unfortunately, occasion to know more at a subsequent period, (he was a man of grief from South Carolina), swore, by his knowledge of southern rights and secession, that his State, so neglected, would certainly go out of the Union. She had not a minister abroad—only Consul General at Alexandria, which was said by the knowing ones to be somewhere in Egypt; and where, to prove his strong faith in southern principles, and his independent indifference to the feelings of thin-skin northerners, he had purchased two very handsome Nubian slaves of the feminine gender. This was merely to illustrate the truly American spirit of our institutions: perchance it might arouse from his stupor the Viceroy, who not fully cognizant of the height of civilization to which America had arrived, was making singular, and to me very praiseworthy efforts, to free his people from the curse of enslaving men. To our patriotic Consul General we say—go it!—a few more such examples will give the Egyptian an impression of our liberty and christian love most strange: the brilliant light of our western star will, I fear, have much in it to remind him of those darker days when his forefathers built pyramids.
"'Come to see the Gineral, I s'pose, stranger?' our Carolinian inquired, with a suspicious look, touching a companion beside him on the arm. To his inquiry I returned—nothing shorter! 'Cape Cod,' he followed with a respectful bow, 'did noble work for the true democracy; she is great in sands, shoals, and cod-fish; she will send General Pierce a chowder, as emblematic of his foreign policy—' Here I interrupted by assuring him that Cape Cod could stand anything to the stomach digestible; But whether she could digest the General was a doubtful question. Cape Cod, be it known over the broad acres of this land, I added, has a spirit above living on government: she turned disdainfully from the means that were fast turning the functions of government into a machine for grinding out patronage—she never sacrificed Uncle Sam for the sake of what is in his tin-trunk. At this, which he was pleased to call an expletive, he begun to summon his dignity: at once he stiffened in a manner that proved how much superior to me he considered himself, and how much more of Uncle Sam's shiners were necessary to his conceived maintenance. 'Cape Cod is the place,' says he folding his arms, moving to a more piquant position, giving his person a little more importance, and making a target of the brightly polished stove, against which he permitted a well-directed stream of dark fluid to explode ere he wiped his lips.—'Cape Cod is the place from whence all persons come who profess to be born free and equal; but they are a scrubby set—' Considering it a duty I owed to the nation, I again interrupted him. 'Cape Cod,' replied I, 'has got gumption, principle, and the spirit of a go-ahead in her: she germinated the Young American party. Understand, citizen, (here I found spunk was necessary), a cape-coaster can at any time boast a full fair of fish; if he draw them from Mr. John Bull's waters, so much the better. He is no stranger to Mr. John Bull, whom he esteems rather a dogged fellow, pugnaciously inclined at times, but never so bad as he seems; and though stubbornly behind the age of progress, nor willing to believe in the principles of manifest destiny, often improves upon acquaintance.'
"'Good night, Mr. Smooth,' said he hurriedly; 'when you tie up for the night—remember me—! Hope to see you bright in the morning.' Off, like the handle of a jug, he went. And now it being time to stow myself away, I hailed for a pilot to navigate me safe into the seventh story. My fat friend at the counter, whose eyes were becoming leaden, rung again the bell, and out scampered some dozen darkies from nobody could discern where. I looked at the negroes with an expression of excitement, and then, somewhat alarmed:—'Stranger,' says I, 'these 'ere niggers a'int all going to put me through, be they?' He said he reckoned one would do; and to a question as to what time I would complete the journey to bed, he replied that seeing I was of the Young American stripe, and that the distinguished of that party could do almost anything, provided I started soon I would reach the destination about midnight. 'Now, providing it's any accommodation, Mr. Smooth, we can send you to bed by steam. Say the word and up you'll go!' he rapidly concluded, rapping with his fingers on the big book he had so leisurely laid aside for the night, there being no chance of another customer being caught this side of twelve o'clock. I shook my head and moved off, telling him I did not appreciate being busted up. 'Ain't a mite of danger!' says he: 'why, stranger, we havn't killed more nor two dozen this year or more.' That Young America was a go-ahead I was fully conscious; still, being somewhat anxious to extend a little friendly advice to Gineral Pierce, I begged to be excused from all dangers, Young America must live to proclaim the manifest destiny of a universal republic. You may lay aside your steam fixings until a more expedient time to use them—'Here he interrupted by saying my walking up would only save six cents;—' can put Mr. Smooth into the machine and send him up in a jiffy. Further, we have got some dozen old gents here who go to bed by steam every night!' I shook hands with the fellow, exchanged glances, bid them good night all round, and trotted off, following the darky, who wound his way round corridors, up stairs, and through passages for more than an hour, (at least, I thought it was!), until I fancied we had got lost in an interminable labyrinth of narrow passages. It was just after inauguration, which fact was duly made known through the medium of sundry corks of champagne bottles, which were sounding pop! pop!! pop!!! Again merry voices were heard announcing the misfortunes of those about to pass out: while another whose voice seemed somewhat mellow, said he had in his eye the office he wanted—exactly. A third voice, as if echoed through a subterranean vault, said they must all be forbearing—the General was so undecided in his opinions. Pretty soon, the negro, having wound his way high up in the world, turned a corner, gave a tremendous guffaw, and opened the door of a place that looked very much like a closet in which to stow away lean lawyers. 'Now, Cuff! ye ain't goin to stow this citizen away in that ar place, be ye?' says I.
"'Mas'r,' returns he, ''tis just the snuggest place ye ever did see; why! tain't da length on ye, seem how mas'r can double himself up anyhow,—just as Gineral Pierce do.' The darkey laughed and drew back with a bow, as I began to philosophise that, being now so well up in the world, it was the best policy to coil up and invoke Morpheus,—which I did, bidding good-night to all below, and promising myself a pleasant interview with General Pierce on the following morning.
IN WHICH MR. SMOOTH HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH GENERAL CASS.
"Smooth had just stowed himself away in the shape of a figure 4, when there came a voice as husky as Uncle Zack Peabody's conk, (which said conk had been used to blow his way through the fogs of Newfoundland for nearly half a century), saying:—'It's mighty tight squeezing there, ain't it, stranger?' Where the voice came from seemed a puzzle for all creation. No room was there in the place for another soul—all became as still and watchlike as the tomb. In fear and anxiety I gazed upon the dark wall, and along it to the little window facing the avenue; and there, behold! but tell it not in the Capitol, was the broad, burly face of General Cass, like a wet moon in discontent. Unhappy with himself, he was peering in at the window. Again he muttered:—'I can't get in!—such has always been my fate.' The much-disappointed old gentleman bore such an expression of discomfiture on his countenance, that Smooth was forced to the conclusion that to be sociable would only be doing a good turn—more especially as the General and Uncle Sam never got along well together. 'Then it's you, General?' says I: 'well, don't be in a hurry!' After a short silence, he inquired if I could accommodate a traveller who had been long on the road, and short of shot. I said I was not well to do for room; but as to be obliging was the order of the day, and seeing that he was soon to try another turn by joining the 'Young American' party, I would see what could be done. He had got upon the roof of the institution,—just where he could slip backward with great ease, though it took some effort to go forward. Being somewhat infirm of age, I took him gently by the hand and assisted him in, where I thought he might, if he pleased, stand upon a square platform. The General was very polite, bore strongly in his demeanor the marks of time and honor; I could not suppress the capricious thought—that it was time a sly corner in the patent office were provided for political relics of a past age, and he safely stowed away in it. All things of a by-gone age should have their place; notwithstanding, knowing that Uncle Sam and him had tried to be intimate friends, and that he had many warm and substantial voters in the far West, I felt to be less than condescending would be bad political policy. He took a seat, and began to get up his good-nature, as I inquired what earthly mission he could be prosecuting on so dark and cold a night.
"'Well, now, friend Smooth,' he says: 'I like you, but the question you put so honestly has a point which you cannot see, though I can painfully feel. However, as I have no secrets, I don't mind telling you: it must be private, nevertheless—I am sensitive not to have these matters spread all over the Union. To-night, you see, a conclave of political wranglers met below, in this house. Conscious that they would have a large 'grin' at me, discussing the means by which I have always been the rejected of this great and growing people, I came that my ears might lesson of fools. To this end, I mounted the chimney, and was reconoitering down the black abyss, when my eye turned and caught your light, like a star in tribulation, twinkling from the window. Strange kind of a tribune for a senator, I admit, but I heard many judgments, and from them may draw many more. One reckoned I had stamped with the cold hand of death my political life; always wanting to fight somebody—the English in particular! Another said Virginia and Pennsylvania couldn't approve of my policy—that it was too slow; while New York dare not vote for me, and I was New England's dread. A third said he didn't believe the middle West would back me up, because a doubt existed as to whether other States would. These sentiments I heard from down chimney. My solemn belief is, that I have been sacrificed to a firm and honest belief in the Monroe doctrine; which, singularly enough, had its origin in English minds. My efforts to carry it into effect seemed not to form a tangible objection; though a voice now and then said it might lead to evil consequences, England and France having formed a very unnatural alliance to put down the aggressive spirit of nations, without respect to the side of the Atlantic on which they were domiciled. Then, by way of a suspending clause, they said it was not so much my pugnacious propensities they feared, as that, being an old fogy, full of personal grievances against somebody, I would make the gratifying a venerable spleen paramount to the interests of States (all this I heard from down chimney). That I was not a bad man, nor an inflexible man, they all agreed; but that my time was passed was their verdict, and being passed, I would myself soon pass into political oblivion—nothing being left but executive expectations and ballet-boxes, with which I might build on high a monument! The trouble is, friend Smooth, I am not possessed of the tact of making the nation understand me; had I this all-necessary to political fame, the Chief Magistracy had long since been mine. To me the free press of our country is a sort of infernal machine,—its effect in my case strengthens the idea. Having held me up as dangerous, when in truth I am a peaceably disposed man, they have wronged me while misinforming the public.' Here he paused, as his face assumed its wonted seriousness, and that wart, now historical, looked brighter than ever. I had long been desirous of scraping acquaintance with the old man, whom I esteemed much better inside than out, so I offered him half of my shingle, at the same time intimating that we would have some whiskey. At this he lowered his voice, and continued with a slow shake of the head:—'I'm not so bad as I seem. Peradventure I wanted a small chance at the Britishers. I hate them, but that only signifies a trifle. Mr. Pierce, like a horn lantern for which Uncle Caleb and Jeff furnish the light, is fast getting affairs into a fuzzle; this must be so while the light is thus furnished, and the regulation of its burning be left to Grandpapa Marcy. Fact is, you see, Mr. Smooth, the administration is become like a steam-engine, Mr. Pierce being used as a piston by Caleb, Jeff, and Co., who, in addition, furnish Southern-rights for fuel, use patronage as a condenser, and make a safety valve of Papa Marcy. But Papa has yet to take many lessons in National Engineering before his control over the machine is complete.' I watched the old man's anxious eye as he spoke; and again suggested the taking a little whiskey: I pitied him. 'It will set ye all right!' says I, 'it'll take the fogyism all out, warm up yer inards, and make yer ideas come out with the philosophy of a Mara beau. Mr. Pierce loves to traffic in the language of war, but like all little creatures, makes his noise and stops.'
"'Well, in obedience to my friendship for you, Smooth—and with the knowledge that you are going into business with Uncle Sam—appreciating the 'Young American' party as I do, I don't care if I take. It may revive the hope of 1856. After all, there is something in you New Englanders I like—give us yer hand,' he replied suddenly, as a soft smile spread over his hard face. He commenced wiping his lips, and was so polite. I rang the bell, and up came the negro, his face as full of alarm as a frightened moon in a hail-storm. Alarmed at his appearance, the General sprang to his feet, and was for bolting through the window. 'Don't be scared, General!' says I, trying to suppress a laugh; 'put on the pluck of Young America—niggers then will seem as nothing.' Mr. Pierce pursues this course. General knows it takes somebody to cut a figure in the world; and seeing that these United States constitute a free country, what violation of principle is there in doing with negroes what you please? The steaming punch now awaited us; I filled the General's glass, and he said 'this was a great country, which would soon send Young America out on the world to proclaim manifest destiny.' I said amen, and the punch disappeared into his depot, as he concluded. It was clear his inards warmed, he beginning to brighten up soon after. With a laconic air, he touched me on the elbow, and said, 'Somehow, it seems to touch the right place—I declare it does! I am half inclined to the belief that General Pierce sups formidably of this just before he talks about winding things up in a straight sort of way, all of which he ultimately forgets: the influence of this sort of steam was undoubtedly that which selected Minister Solan Borland the man for Central America. It was not that friend Solan went to settle perplexing questions with that dwarf combination of helpless governments; it was enough that he amused sundry citizens and much annoyed others with the little fracases which, through the power of political steam, he was wont to indulge in.'
"'Now, Uncle Cass!' said I, interrupting him, at the same time adding a good-natured wink, 'you must excuse Smooth's seeming intrusiveness; but, what do you think of annexation in general, and filibustering and taking Cuba in particular?' At this, the General gave a knowing pause, scratched his head as if it was troubled with something, and then replied with much dryness: 'Ah! the one is a subject popular to-day, the other is fast becoming so: when both are equally popular, we may advocate them with safety. Mr. Pierce understands this policy. That which is popular and holds out advantages must go down in our go-ahead country. According to the axiom of our Southern doctrines we must have Cuba: she must be wedded in political bonds to Cape Florida; not for the purpose of consolidating niggerdom, but merely to complete in that direction the point of manifest destiny.'
"'Lord love yer political faith, General!' said I, rising up and taking him firmly by the hand.
"'Ye'll do for the Young America, that ye will! There'll be no more old-fogyism—no more of the slow-coach school! Take another bumper, and you'll be ripe for the new party.' The General, with less dignity than you might have supposed him capable of condescending to, filled his glass, drew his chair back, threw his square figure well over the arms, and roared right out until it became dangerous. At length he began to drink his whiskey, and that stopped his joy for a time. But he soon broke out afresh. 'What on earth is the matter with you, stranger? you ain't going to make a shaking machine of your broad sides, be ye?' says I, giving him a look that would have pierced a stone wall.
"'You must excuse me, Mr. Smooth, but the principles of your party would make anybody laugh; why!—its sprouting members are all growing out of their breeches. Where, in that stretchy imagination the party possesses, can you find a place for the moon, which of necessity must follow in the train of annexation?' he inquires seriously.
"'Put it? Why, Gineral, you have been stowed away so long, keeping dog-watch over fogyism, that you don't comprehend how Uncle Sam has been transformed into a go-ahead chap to suit the times. Consul Saunders 'll bridge the Gulf Stream, and thus unite Cuba and Cape Florida; and, his pockets well lined with letter-writing materials, be first to march over it and proclaim manifest destiny to the natives. As for the moon, George will find a place in the compact for her.'
"'But, Mr. Smooth,' says he, 'what in the name of changes be you going to do with so many little kingdoms? A thousand years will scarcely people our present domain! Now, Smooth, I'll cut out a small job for the Young American party:—let them, just to give a specimen of their principles, step across to Europe and help Louis and Uncle John (I hate John, though) whip Nicholas, and turn vacillating, faithless Austria into a republic, with principle and spirit equal to her position as a nation.' The General looked serious as he concluded—so far as whipping Austria was concerned we would be only too glad did she for once throw off her cowardice and afford us an opportunity. She had long played at thimblerig with doty old Mr. John Bull, before whose eyes she had placed the spectacles of fantasy, the changes of which the poor old gentleman's very refined sense and undeniable diplomacy had not permitted him to comprehend. Austria was like the thief who set himself up as umpire to settle between two knaves of his own cloth, and, while he gave advice to both, was securing to himself the very plunder which gave rise to the dispute. Nicholas, John Bull said, was a ruffian of the go-ahead school; but, of the three ruffians, which shall we choose? history may be the teacher! Ruffians, however, may do good at times, in which sense Nicholas was entitled to more consideration than Mister Bull, in his frenzy, was willing to accord. Thus saying, the General and me took another glass, shook hands, and bowed most politely. Again I stretched myself down for the night, as he (promising to call again and have another talk) disappeared out of the window.
MR. SMOOTH'S DREAM.
"Leaving Cass holding on at the slippery roof. I dreamed that the ghost of Benton, in contemplation bestrode the summit of the Rocky Mountains; that 'Young America,' like a Colossus with monster limbs stretched across a world, was endeavouring to wake from their stupor the nations. With a voice like unto lazy thunder murmuring in the distance was he proclaiming his hatred of kings, into whose dominions he threatened to march great armies, and whom he described as curses sent upon the earth by the evil one: for the Evil One sought to promote self, a means to which he found in those intrigues by which he made strong his court—the same was the trade of kings. Again the voice thundered forth—'Here are the instruments that have destroyed a world of human beings, and for a selfish purpose gloated over the blood they had made run in torrents.' I looked, and behold! appeared there before me a terrible devil, of hideous form having two great horns, on one of the long sharp points of which was poised a king, on the other a fat bishop in his lawn. The two perpetual mischief-makers, and desolators thus poised, he came with a hideous roar, threatening to drown them in the river of unrefined common sense. And then there was written in broad letters of fire across the shoulders of this sturdy devil—'Kingcraft and Churchcraft have cursed the nations of the earth, and turned to blight the blessings of the True God!' Again this significant edict vanished, and in its place there came, as in letters of gold, 'Cheap Government and no Established Church—let the nations be ruled in wisdom and right!' This had reference to good old England, not America, for here bishops are known to be meek and good. All this was a dream: but then there came, soaring giant-like, 'Young America,' and manifest destiny which he spread over the land for the benefit of mankind. Then there came a great darkness, followed by a little light that crept feebly onward as if fearing to spread itself on the broad disc of the horoscope—it was the light of Mr. Pierce, beneath which hovered doubtful devils. How rapacious they seemed! They saw the doubts and fears of his little light, and would fain carry him off into purgatory ere it died out. But his saviours came: they were the ghosts of those great lights that founded the pillars of our Republicanism. Down they sat, in ghostly conclave, and with instruments in hand set about driving away the carrier devils and working the problem of Mr. Pierce's political policy. It was impossible!—not all the trigonometry of which they were masters sufficed to aid them in the task. It seemed like attempting to solve the principle of that which never had one. He stood on a platform of sections, each of which turned at a touch, and seemed giving way for want of strength. Indeed, as beheld in the dream, he could play the game of uncertainty through a dozen focuses. The jury of ghosts became sorely perplexed; then they began to put to him some very honest questions, as to what his intentions really were. And while doing this the spirit of Washington, arrayed in glory, looked down upon its feeble successor, and with an ironical smile shook its head.
"Then there came an unaccented voice from the little light—the light said to be the impersonation of Pierce; indeed, it was of kindred with the shadow in that singular romance by Hawthorn, called the life of Pierce! And the voice said:—'I shall be known by my practice.' Just then the little light became dimmer, and turned away toward a long dark avenue, where the vista seemed studded with the faces of disconsolate 'niggers.' At this the ghost of Webster yawned, and that of Calhoun scowled fiercely and contemptuously; while Clay's rubbed its eyes and wept tears of pity. Again all was darkness. Then there came again the little light of which I have spoken;—it was the light of Mr. Pierce. It flickered and fluttered, and thus we identified it. 'We have to deal with Europe—with that happy alliance my very amiable Lord Clarendon says is for purposes not alone in Europe. My lord's language, however, is so cleverly diplomatic—that is, it can be made to mean anything or nothing,—as to need a translation. My lord means, that when it has served to curb the national ambition of certain nations of Europe it may be turned to the same purpose in another but more congenial hemisphere. Kossuth wants material aid—such as saddles, tin, &c. &c. I would give it him, if he would teach Austria a lesson of honesty! Nevertheless, as to Louis himself I would be extremely cautious, for being more a blower than a moulder, and having a peculiar talent for getting affairs very crooked, the instrument in the man is of questionable ability;—indeed, in a crisis between nations, such an instrument should he examined with great skill and delicacy before being set in motion.' He spoke after this manner, and quick as thought the spectacle vanished—it was but a dream? Not a ghost was seen; no lurid face cast its pale shadow over the dark canvas; the pure spirit of Washington had departed in hopeless despair. I was about to read a prayer, when the dark canvas moved aside, and there, real as life, sat on a slave's grave the immaculate Brigadier;—he, reader, was sipping whiskey toddy, as if it were his wont. Old Bunkum was the slave whose grave he sat upon. It was a strange penance over the mound of one so old; and yet who in the political world that had not paid it? 'Why!—Bunkum, you are barefoot;' a voice spoke.
"'Remember, old man, you must keep on the stiff,—it's as necessary to success as it was to believe the old Constitution frigate could whip anything afloat.' It was the General who spoke to the ghost of Bunkum, who, having risen from the grave, stood before him, moody and despairing. In ecstasy he grasped the hand of the cold figure cried out that his soul's love was with him. But in his exuberance he let the whiskey run over the green grave, into which the ghost soon disappeared and left him alone to his contemplations. Bunkum, like Billy Bowlegs, who has too much sense for the great father, says he has wandered through all weathers, and endured all kinds of political farcery: now that he had become old, and served as long as the god of sacrifice, would they not let him rest in peace? Here the General seemed alone and forlorn: then he wept bitterly, until the ghost of Bunkum in pity again appeared and with him sat upon the grave. The General kindly took him by the hand, and in his ear whispered something, the only part of which became audible was—'When as President of this great country I became, I was bound—' Here the man paused. A kindlier feeling now came over Bunkum, in evidence of which he motioned as if he would take another drop of whiskey with the President, or ask a favor he was delicate about broaching. For a man who had so long looked upon things beneath him his reserve was to be appreciated, especially when viewed in comparison with the expectations of those many numerous friends, all of whom expected foreign missions. Having chatted and sipped together a sufficient length of time, and as Bunkum was about to say good by, he turned with a half significant smile, and touching the General on the elbow, said:—'Ye ain't got a spare hat and pea-jacket to lend a body?'
"'Bless you, Bunkum, you are of the South!—anything you want is at your bidding. New England (she's a trump!) can take care of herself; let the storm threaten as it may, she never trips. We must do for Kentuck and Carolina:—the black pig must have his swill if the rest find an empty trough.' 'Thank you! thank you! General; our States will stand firm to you—Bunkum himself never will forsake you;' spoke thus thankfully the ghost of the old man as it took leave of the old General and disappeared. Here I awoke from my dream to painful reflections.
A MORNING ADVENTURE.
"As Uncle Sam is equally careless of his language and cash, he will excuse a crooked beginning and accept a straight ending. Contemplating my crooked dream I confess I waked up without a straight idea in my head. The fact was, I was waked up with such an incomprehensible jingling, ringing, rumbling, and gonging, that I mistook its purport, and thought the Russians were bombarding the house. I was about looking out of the window to see if the White House was all safe, when a negro with a countenance blacker than vengeance protruded his fizzy head into the door, and without a morsel of knocking commenced grinning. 'Anything wanted for Major Smooth?' inquires he; and without waiting for an answer, catches up the bed, Smooth and all the fixins, and set them somewhat aside. 'Not so fast, Cuff!' said I; 'Smooth is no Major—plain Mister Smooth from the Cape.'
"'Lor, Mas'r' replied the negro, interrupting me; 'when in Washington t'wont do to be a mite less than a Major-General. Every man what come to dis city widout his title better come widout himself. Our clerk what stand at the hogany counter be a General,—Jones, the ostler, be a Colonel; and Wilkes what keep the oyster shop ober yonder be a Major! As for Captains, they are as thick and of as little use as blackbirds. Will you take somethin?' The sagacious negro bowed, and waited for a reply. I told him that being invited to a fish breakfast with the General at the 'White House,' I would forbear to liquor until I had made my bow.
"'S'pose you'll take the customary gin cock-tail, Mr. Smooth?' the negro rejoined, with an anxious air. Evincing my surprise at such a proposition, I assured him I did not know its meaning. 'Don't know what it is!' he exclaimed, with a deep sigh. 'A very fashionable drink,' he continued; 'gemmen what see de General, and study national affairs, all take some on em in da mornin.'
"'Now, Cuff,' I rejoined, 'just tell the truth; you mean that in order to keep the dignity up, it is necessary to take something stiff in the mornin?'
"'Dat him, mas'r,' says he in reply, accompanying it with a broad guffaw. 'When mas'r bin to de White House, and seem serious, as if he ain't got what he want, he put a cock-tail down to make de glorious come up; it be a great anecdote for what mas'r call de blues.' The interpretation of what the negro said was that it made a man feel as if he had the best office in Mr. Pierce's gift safe in his pocket. Having a reasonable appreciation of a negro's statement, I consented on the ground of its good qualities—thus represented—to take a little. The negro left, but soon returned with it in his hand—all bittered and iced. Down it went, plump!—it cut away the cobwebs, made my inards fizzle, and the whole frame feel as lively as a bee-hive. The negro said it was good—and I said I reckoned. And then I 'turned out,' as they call it, broadside on. 'Great kingdom,' exclaimed the negro, giving me a slanting look from head to foot; 'why, mas'r, dey must a growed ye in a guano country.'
"'Cuff! don't be sassy,' I replied. And then he very good-naturedly commenced arranging my homespun. He fussed over me as if I were a mere substance to be transformed into anything Mr. Pierce might require. Then, to my utter astonishment, he apprised me of the fact of General Cass having carried off my boots and breeches—adding that it was a sort of mania with him, and for which he was not morally accountable. Then the negro began quizzing my person. One of my legs, he said, was hard shell, the other a soft shell; however, to reconcile the matter, he further added that the embodiment was exactly suited to Mr. Pierce's principles, inasmuch as he could go between—which he always aimed to do. He then said I must have pantaloons of the right stripe; because in Washington a man must look genteel, and have his understandings straight. It was no excuse that the General himself was an undecided Democrat; if he was round in some things, he was square in others,—that is he was round in policy, and square in periods. The Negro said he did not look so much at the cut of the pantaloons as the quality of the cloth, and its tenacity for stretching—according to the expectations of the 'Young American' party.
"Upon this assurance, I ordered him to repair to the tailor's, which he did, and was not long in returning and bringing with him a pair of fashionables suited to the times. 'Great country,' said he, holding them before me and shaking his black sides with laughter. Into them I slid myself; the bottoms only reached a little below my knees. The negro, with eyes like astonished stars, set upon the straps, and such a tugging and pulling as there allowed! I began to think I was being pulled in two, (after the fashion of Mister Pierce's promises and performances), when Cato, (such was the negro's name), his face almost white with exertion, begged I would not be alarmed—that he would very soon get them all right! In another minute something went—pop! Simultaneously with the report was my head driven clean through the pine-board ceiling into a chamber unfortunately occupied by a lean old maid of some forty-seven summers. 'Good mornin, missus,' I said, trying to make a bow; 'hope I ain't intruding.' The old lady looked mighty streaked, and wouldn't be pacified, until I told her I was merely giving a few feats, just to illustrate the principles of the 'Young American' party. It's only Young America, ma'am, he's cutting the three figures of his sentiments, as made known by his particular stars,—Soule, Saunders, and Sickles. Didn't intend to disturb you, my good woman,' says I. I wanted to seem polite—to put the very best foot forward; but it was to no earthly use. The old critter screamed, jumped out of the bed, and like a ghost shaking his cotton to the storm, ran away in dismay.
"'Good Christopher Columbus!' exclaimed the negro, almost bursting with fright. With this he commenced pulling and jerking at my legs, until, finding his efforts useless, he hastened down stairs and spread the alarm. Major Smooth was in an alarming situation!—'most dying!—would breathe his last!—warn't no help fo'h him!—must die, sartin!! Such a ringing and dinging of bells, such a tampering up stairs, such a puffing and blowing of excited citizens as followed, never was heard or seen before. Although in a tight place, I was neither alarmed nor crest fallen. Indeed, I thought I'd enjoin the old lady on the other side to enter upon the discussion of a political question, just by way of keeping up the characteristic sociability of the nation. Presently about a dozen dangerously excited faces presented themselves in the room. 'He's gone, certain,' says one; 'Major Smooth's a cold chicken,' mutters another; 'Young America's cutting a figure,' rejoins a third; 'he's only at rest while performing some overt act,' interposes a fourth. 'Much you know about it!' says I, cool as Labrador: 'I merely put my head through this ere place for the purpose of being friendly with this lone female lodger—pull me out!' In right good earnest they seized me by the boots, saying:—'Let us bring Young America into a respectable position;' and with the most unmerciful jerks they laid me measuring the floor. In no wise disconcerted, I picked myself up, and inquired if they had another strap to loan me. With the exception of Cato, the negro, they all enjoyed a good laugh; he had no sooner relieved me, than he commenced raising a fuss about my damaging the ceiling—never for once taking Mr. Smooth's head into consideration. Young America, he said, was always too fast—always getting into trouble and calling upon others to help him out.
MR. SMOOTH FINDS HIS PATH TO THE WHITE HOUSE A DIFFICULT ONE.
"'Good morning, Mr. Smooth!' saluted the fat man behind the mahogany, as I entered the office, having escaped from my perilous position in the seventh story. In addition, he took a lunar observation all along down my hull, which he said was a mighty tough sort of craft, and had received no damage for which the house could be held responsible.
"As if to make the picture more complete, a number of anxious-looking individuals (all firm friends of Uncle Sam) crowded about me, each putting some curious question in reference to my expectations and the Executive and his gifts. Many of these important gentry had proboscises largely developed and very red; indeed, the reddest nose was strongest evidence of the best office-seeker; albeit, some waggishly inclined gentleman had said that the most generously red-nosed man always esteemed his deserts to be no less than that of United States Minister at some very fashionable foreign Court, where the good red of a well-developed nose was significant of pure blood. 'Well now, gents,' I returned, 'you needn't be trying to poke your political fun at this citizen! Young America is all right yet. Put me on the track of Mr. Pierce's whereabouts.' Seeing they were facetiously inclined, I summoned that independence so necessary to a citizen of standing. At this moment, one more politely inclined than the rest, stepped forward, and commenced giving me the ins and outs of the way to see the Brigadier, who, lie said, was surrounded by many fairweather courtiers. Stepping politely to the door, he, with grace not unbecoming, raised a well-gloved hand, and half whispered:—Mr. Smooth will walk into the avenue—keep on the West side—join the throng (they are all officials in embryo)—be sure and look as serious as they do; and with them you will arrive at the 'White House' to take your place and chance.' Oh! chance! 'There is no missing the way, Mr. Smooth; get behind some well-dressed citizen—one who looks as if he were in pursuit of something the means of securing which he had made sure. Follow that man!' I thanked him for his civility,—he seemed one of Uncle Sam's bone-breakers, and sallied out under the happy contemplation that a gentleman from Cape Cod was on a par with the same species of mankind from South Carolina. It was true that with what little aristocracy we boasted—and in that little there was truly a great blessing, inasmuch as it illustrated the fact of there being one spot on this earth where common sense had got the better of refined sense—was founded in the possession of 'niggers,' the number giving rank in the scale. In the small but very aristocratic atmosphere of democratic South Carolina it had been proposed to establish an order of the American garter, the means entitling to membership being the possession of a very large number of fat negroes and negresses: and to ingratiate the august order it was proposed to make Colonel Wade Hampton first knight, and Lady Tyler first knightess. The reader, Mr. Smooth feels assured, will pardon this little digression, which he will set down to my love for that darling little State.
"I soon muddled my way along with the crowd, among which there were very long faces, very short faces, and faces from which nothing could be extracted—the comic faces always kept behind! As a matter of policy I got behind the man who had the longest and most quizzical face; for he gave out signs of seeing daylight through political darkness. I made his acquaintance, and found him of the free-and-easy school. 'On your way to see the General, stranger?' I inquired, edging up to him in a polite sort of way—at the same time keeping up the free-and-easy. 'No,' he answered with a laconic air, and a half significant shrug of the shoulder, 'I'm merely strolling this way, leisurely contemplating. I take it you have not been long in the Capital?' he added. 'You are right on that point, citizen,' said I in return.
"'Expecting a good appointment?' he continued to inquire, philosophically. 'Well, it may be: s'pose you're in for a Ministership, if you come out a martyr,' I replied, adding a Western wink which is given with both eyes. He very good-naturedly acknowledged that I had hit the mark, gave me his arm, said we must look in somewhere by the way-side and taste a small drop of Young American whiskey, which would have the effect of making stronger our friendship. This we did, drinking a good time to Mr. Pierce. No sooner was the whiskey down than all his ideas came straight up. He said he was none of yer small fry;—like thunder he had stumped it for General Pierce; like electricity he had down in Georgia and Western Alabama carried everything for true democracy. 'Reckon Mr. Smooth never was down South?' he concluded, in parenthesis. I assured him I never was; but that I had heard it was great of office-holders, and persons who would, with every consideration for the Union in general, hold the federal government very fast. To this he merely bowed in confirmation. To another question, which was rather of a delicate nature, he said the South did not so much value the emoluments of office; but her sons reverenced the noble qualities of their forefathers, with whom dignity was inherent,—and it was they that were best qualified to maintain and spread its influence for the benefit of the nation. It was the dignity of the nation, made manifest in its government, the South sought to maintain. So said my friend, whose name was Pringle Pierpont—well acquainted with Uncle Sam. All of a sudden he laughed outright, saying I was ignorant of the why and how to do, diplomacy of Washington. What it is impossible to get you must always say you never wanted; and what is within your reach, always say was far beyond our expectations. Meantime, be a philosopher, and act with apparent indifference to what is going on around you: never tell a friend you are worth less than one hundred thousand dollars. Upon such an hypothesis you may face the General, talk profound (here and there in parenthesis letting out your knowledge of foreign affairs), but never give him to understand that you can extract crooked and put straight ideas into his head—above all, be sure and feel as independent as a wood-sawyer at two dollars a day. Play well your face, and a spoil of the game just won will be yours. Marcy is father of this principle! Heed not the sympathy between your heart and head,—while the one feels high never let the other play low. Accept anything the General may be pleased to offer, adding that it is in respect to his great talent and your anxiety to keep respectable his foreign affairs; and think how you belie your conscience the while. Now, Smooth, you will see how open-armed the General will be to see me!'
"I told Mr. Pierpont how glad I was to hear it, seeing that it might be the means of putting me through on the same hook. Without hesitation, he said he would do what he could. Had I fought in the Mexican war the case would have been different—had I been true to the South, the case had been very different: the distinctions here enumerated brought down the scale. 'However, the General and me are one, having fought by his side in Mexico, and you shall be put through.' So saying, we proceeded on our way, reaching in a few minutes the White House, the gardens of which we found transplanted with citizens—set here and there as thick as the gardener's tulips. Before the circular carriage-way that sweeps to the great entrance, filed a rampart of moody faces. Mr. Mulligan said they were there for the study of Botany, he believed. Near the great portico stood the tall figure of a man plainly dressed in blackest broadcloth; he sauntered about as if contemplating some hopeless game of party. Another looked as if he had just sprung from a dressing-case to present himself before Grandpapa Marcy, in the hope of his personal appearance making stronger his claims to a very acceptable appointment. A third had a woe-begone smile on his face, and seemed studying the nature of a plant that would soon need a careful hand. When accosted concerning his musings, he said he had done battle right manfully for the democracy; and now Mr. Pierce's only reply was, that his demands were of so hard a nature as to render it impossible for him to knock under. I told him that I would take the small points of Mr. Pierce's ideas, and the strong points of Mr. Marcy's, and from them try to work out the P's and Q's of his case.
"'You don't know if the General is at home, do you?' I inquired of him, with as much good intention as it were possible to put in a question. 'Know nothing about him since he's possessed himself of the White House!—My name is Major Sykes, of the Hard Shells, New York! I know as little of him as the country did before he was elected:—now and then I see him smoking a long nine while laying off at his ease, his dirty boots sticking out of the east window.' Here I interrupted by asking if it were possible such charges could be true. 'True!' (exclaimed he, more gritty than ever), 'true as daylight; the nation may bless itself if he stops there. Be careful, my down-east friend, be careful. He will sell you for a mess of corn for his black pig. Down-east will stand no chance until Down-south gets satisfactorily served: a wondrous change has come over the General since he left the granite hills of his native State, where he did the law trade in a small way. Now—Smooth, I think they call you, says he—if I be not much mistaken the General will create a Babylon of parties, the result of which will render it difficult to define his own position. If the General would but get up a cross between southern secessionists and northern free-soilers, how happily it would illustrate his policy.' Clasping his hand, 'Major Sykes,' said I, 'I pity you.'
"'And so do I you,' he replied quickly. 'And when you come face to face with the General, think of Uncle Sam, but don't forget yourself,—that is the motto!' Saying thus, he started off, much after the fashion of a man who feels somewhat fudgy. Duly esteeming the position of a man who has that in his composition which gives power to manliness, and has higher motives than political for its aims, I made my way to the entrance of the White House, whistling Yankee Doodle as I went. The closer I got to the great doors the more violent became the crowd, until at last it ended in a jam of bodies. 'Not so fast!' exclaimed an anxious individual, whose eyes darted terror from their very sockets. 'Gentlemen!—it's my turn,' re-echoes another half-stifled voice. 'Was not I in the city seven weeks before the inauguration? and didn't I carry everything for the General down in Pennsylvania?' roars a tall individual, whose hat had received what may be called a shocking smash. Then they swayed forward in a serf of bodies. Now it poised, as if for breath; then again it swayed onward, threatening limb and wind. An exceedingly lean gentleman, with a hard brown face, and a patch over his left eye, cried out to the figure that stood bowing at the door, and demanded that his card be first taken to the General, whom he was kind enough to declare a right good fellow and a most intimate friend of his. 'Perhaps you have a claim that way!' retorts a sharp voice, which belonged to a sturdy figure well out at the elbows. He declared he had driven the whigs out of Old North Carolina—had carried strong the, State for Pierce and posterity. Another individual near by, and who seemed inclined to doubt the assertion, suggested whether it were not more probable he carried all the watering establishments of that renowned state, seeing that his nose and eyes had stood the storm of spirits. No one ever heard of his carrying anything else! 'True,' rejoined another: 'he can drink his way through a democratic canvass, tell the most amiable lies, absorb any amount of chaffing, and stands less at swearing than any other man in the country: more than all, he can demolish the King's English at a stroke.' Such pulling, hauling, squeezing and yawning, 'cussin' and swearing—such cross-firing, crooked joking, and slang jibes, never before was seen in such perfect medley. In calmer moments, even the hard-fisted, iron-hearted, unterrified and never-washed democracy would have shed a few blushes over it. Old democracy was nowhere—Young America was triumphant; his sprouts were up and coming.
"'Clear the way there!' I exclaimed, raising my voice to a point. 'Mr. Smooth will walk in, and himself present his card to the General.' The crowd looked amazed,—begun to give way. 'Mr. Smooth, citizens,' continued I, motioning as if it were my intention to speechify, 'is something of a body—don't stand none of your small fritters. Mr. Smooth—like the principles of his party—was intended for cutting a figure in the world; he will unmask aristocracy, whip creation, and demonstrate the truth of manifest destiny.' Then they all shouted a fashionable hee-haw, by which they hoped to drive me off the track; but it was no go. 'Clar the way,' says I, 'or I'll split the crowd like a thousand of bricks!' I accompanied the word with a terrible look, at which they filed right and left as I chased square up to the inner door, where stood a stiff sort of person, whose clothes had grown on him—so tight were they. Surprised at my sudden approach, he first gave many nervous winks and blinks, and then added the silly airs of my Lord Spoonbill's menial, who, with hair buttered and powdered, knew but the servilities of flunkeyism. 'Is the General at home?' I demanded, adding before he had time to answer, that if he had a spare lucifer I'd have no objection to taking a smoke with him. With the consequence of a sleepy congressman, he inquired if my business with the General was special. He seemed to have the keeping of the General, much after the fashion of a keeper who guards the wild animal of a menagerie.
"'You must send up your card: it's a question whether he is out of his morning gown and slippers, however!' Here the man looked doubtingly at the card, then gave his head a significant shake.
"'General ain't got so mighty big since he moved from New Hampshire?' I inquired, as the fellow hesitated and again viewed me from the extreme points. 'Now, Uncle Sam, to you I would say a word, hoping, in the spirit of a very good christian, that it may be received as wholesome advice. You, Sam, are forgetting that fame which should reflect us in future ages; you, Sam, are assisting those who would lay sullied hands on our pure republicanism—who would sink it in the political slough, and build over it the reeking bastard of a pitiable tyranny. Stretch out thy hand, Sam, that we may cease to cut before the world and the rest of mankind so sorry a figure. Sam! you have sent your little villains out upon the world; recall them ere they prove themselves great fools at our expense.'
"Well, to go back:—I began to push my way past the flunkey, when he summoned his brass and said I couldn't come in—that I must slide myself into costume of the eight stripe! This to me was neither diplomatic nor polite. And being deemed impolite, according to the rules of our Young America, I placed the broad front of my knuckle-bones between his observators, (just to bring out his spunk), and demanded to know what they charged in Washington for a few knockings-down. To which he elongated himself, and with cool assurance said it had never before been his fortune to be put through the process—hence he was not prepared to figure up the amount. A place called limbo, he said, was just over at the corner; that I better keep an eye to it. This last saying gave the crowd outside furniture for a good laugh; they, the citizens, set to quizzing me about the hang of my breeches, which they were pleased to call diplomatic. This, I inferred, was in consequence of Grandpapa Marcy having gone to there was no knowing how deep into the breeches business, hoping thereby to prevent plain American citizens making very unplain apes of themselves when abroad. Indeed, neighbor Marcy would demonstrate to the world that cloth and diplomacy were two very different things. And this doctrine my Uncle Buck—all praise to his name—fully endorsed,—that is, he proved himself the only American minister not given to purloined crests and crimson cloth.
"'Smooth is a nine-cornered citizen in the rough: he needs polishing down with a federal holly-stone before he can be admitted into good society:' a voice like the creaking of a door resounded through the passage. Being a rough sort of citizen didn't affect me as long as I had the straight up-and-down principles within. Well, I got up the go-a-head, and walked in steady. 'T'wont do! citizen Smooth!' interposes the flunkey, putting out his right hand as his face reddened into a blaze. 'Young America must keep within bounds; he must conform to the established etiquette before he can see the General.' Not liking to be out of sorts, I turned to him, and with the best kind of good nature told him not to come within grasping distance.
"Lord bless yer soul, Uncle Sam! I told him it was always good policy to keep civil to distinguished individuals, and treating his insolence as Captain Ingraham would an Austrian proclamation, I kept onward (that's the motto!) until the passage-way opened into a gorgeously decorated hall, the motto on the door of which I surveyed until my head begun to ache. The General seems to have got him a snug and well-ordained establishment, thought I. But the fixings were rather more profuse than democracy in its simplicity had led me to suppose its taste appreciated. But there was no concealing the fact, that the democracy—its love of simplicity not excepted—did pay large sums now and then for showy fixtures and grand failures. The short-comings of the New Hampshire law-shop were extinct—elegance everywhere met the eye. While enjoying my meditations one flunkey approached another, telling him to keep a keen eye on that fellow—meaning me. Then a slim figure done up in dignity and tight clothes approached me with a polite bow: 'Please remember this is the President's mansion,' said he, viewing my perpendicular as if he questioned whether my length was all real growth. Seeing that the establishment belonged to Uncle Sam, I assured him he was a little too impertinent.
"'Now, neighbor!' says I to the citizen, don't deceive yourself by supposing the General has got his aristocracy up like this before he has lodged three months in the White House. I'm an independent citizen; come to put some straight policy into the General, who, with the assistance of his grind-stone man, Fourney, unfortunately has got everything into a twist. My name (sometimes they call me Squire) is Solomon Smooth. It don't matter what they call me now, for be it known, ye men of titles, all the fishermen in our district have become judges and generals. This is the result of that necessity that makes negro-drivers of the south captains and majors. 'But the President,' said he, 'has got such a fearful load of business on his hands this morning, it will be impossible he can see Mr. Smooth, nor are the apartments in a state to be seen by visitor—' 'Always in the suds!' I interrupted. 'No! that ain't it,' he continued, half trembling of fear; 'but the President is new, nor yet has got into the straight way of doing crooked business.'
"'Never mind that,' replied I, 'Smooth's an independent citizen, who must not be interfered with while taking a turn round the establishment: he neither stands on ceremony nor political point-making.' The fact was, Mr. Smooth had a very wholesome hatred of the nonsense of ceremony, and always pitied that complacency of Uncle John Bull who, like a well-worn and faithful pack-horse, never flinched under the heavy burden of that precious legacy called royal blood, which, said blood, was fast absorbing the vital blood of the nation. May our Union always be spared the degradation of such blood!
"The fellow, seeing I was not to be outdone, gave it up for a bad job, and contented himself with following me here and there, keeping a fixed eye on my motions, as if he feared I was going to become enamoured of some of Mr. Pierce's chambermaids, which said commodity was acknowledged to be very pretty, and much admired by Jones, who did the fashionable at Willard's. It having been said that the General, like Jackson, would keep himself, I endeavored to persuade the fellow to show me his nook. He only shook his head and said it wouldn't do: so I took a careless stroll through the loose apartments, and ceased only when my sight was gratified. 'Well!' says the flunkey, adding a deep sigh and a despairing shake of the head, 'it's no use trying to control this citizen; he's of the fast school, without bowels.'
"'You may believe it!' returned I, advancing toward a broad circular stairway that wound downward far into the regions below, where I expected to find Fourney and Company holding the General down upon the grindstone, while Uncles Caleb and Jeff turned, and Marcy stood by to say when enough of the rough was got off. 'There! in my soul he's going down into the kitchen!' The fellow bawled out as I passed down, and soon disappeared, saying it was just the winding way I sought; and, though the things to be seen in the vortex to which it led might be dangerously dear to the nation, the proof would at least be convincing. On I went, the way darkening as I advanced.
MR. SMOOTH PENETRATES THE DARK CONFINES OF MR. PIERCE'S KITCHEN, WHERE HE FINDS THINGS SADLY CONFUSED.
"Down, down, down, went, groping my way (significant of the General's policy) through a long dark passage, whence came a rancorous stench, strong enough to kill cats and doubtful democrats. 'Keep the right hand way for the kitchen: General is in there, assisting in the making of a monster stew. Work your course through the smoke—you may be sure Mr. Pierce is in the thickest cloud, though over the smallest stew-pan,' a voice echoed, as if broken on the winds. 'All right!' I muttered, confronting on my way the still stronger odour of the sickening steam. My intention was to have a political discussion with the cook (Fourney by name) and say a thing or two to the General; for I had got a sort of cross-grained notion into my head that he was compounding a grand stew for the black pig with the horns. Meanwhile my stomach said it would have no objection to join the General over a good breakfast. Presently I scented the frying of fish, which betold that I was on the right track. But lo! as I was about to open a great door that led into where the fussing and frying was going on, a voice screamed out—'Visitors are forbidden these premises!' Here was a pretty kettle of political fish. 'Much you know about it!' I replied testily, and turning saw nothing but fog and confusion. Faith and energy being the two great pillars of human progress, I summoned them to my aid, and pressed onward, determined to see for myself who regulated the culinary. This resolution was adopted solely on the ground that the General had repudiated his responsibility to the people, and joined hands with those who eat up all the loaves and little fishes.
"Mr. Smooth, on behalf of Young America, esteemed the having positive proof of how Mr. General Pierce kept his kitchen things a duty he could not forego, and upon the strength of which he presented himself to the august culinary cabinet, which he found enveloped in a dense cloud. As I passed the great door, a fat man from Florida, who filled that office of steady habits, the doorkeeper, said Mr. Smooth, which he read on my card, was decidedly impertinent; the more so because neither of the old grey-back parties had ever troubled themselves about the kitchen fixings; that the present was an innovation he was sure Mr. Pierce would resent by the withholding of appointments. I left him to his opinion, and delved my way through the smoke, until I began to think I had lost myself, and instead of Mr. Pierce on the grindstone found a lower region of unlimited extent—so murky and dismal was the place. They said it didn't use to be so! Such fritter frying; such johnny-cake baking; such chowder making, and flounder frying! Nearly a dozen fine buxom-looking, corn-fed females (helps),—such as Vermont only can grow, were stuffing and stewing, and beating and battering, and themselves seeming on the eve of dissolution. They evinced alarm at my presence, but I told them not to be scared, inasmuch as I was an intimate acquaintance of the General, for whom I carried Cape Cod. On the left side of the kitchen there stood at a great deal table an aged maid whose mien was somewhat fidgety. This visible nervousness was increased with the labour necessary to prepare the ponderous pile of soft dough-nuts she worked upon; which, she said, when ready (though of little substance) were intended to satisfy the Down-easters, who never expected much, and seldom got anything. I pitied the poor old lady, for she seemed well worn. She declared it was pinching times in the kitchen—that is, her part of it. She prepared a deal of little niceties for the peace-loving North: but, the General was so pinching with matters on that side of the house, and had become so enamoured of the black pig! This voracious brute demanded everything, and got what he demanded—even got us into a deal of trouble. Indeed, it had been said that all the swill in the country wouldn't satisfy him—he would seek abroad for more. 'Needn't be afraid, old lady,' said I, edging up to her in a polite sort of way: 'Smooth won't harm nobody. The New Englanders think well of the women—they do!' Here I gave the old lady my hand, and shook her's right heartily. 'Why,' I continued, 'there's three Women's Rights Societies down Massachusetts way, any one of which can start a breeze at pleasure—blow the men all into thunder! I say, old lady, better join one of them—pay fifty cents, and blow the men all into political rags. Musn't take what I say amiss; but you looks as if you could do some blowing: the General standing much in need of that article, why not volunteer? The General is going it pretty fast now, but just get the Women's Rights Societies to blow him a little, and he'll go fast enough for any Young American party out.' After leaving the old woman, who said she was nearly related to General Cass, I went politely to the other girls, bidding them, one after another, a square down good-morning, ending with a social chat and a smile for them all. On the opposite side of the smoky kitchen stood the grim figure of a nigger wench, as big as the north side of a Dutch lighthouse, and as saucy as Benton's goat. The way she was making the wool fly over a sas-pan as big as old Zack Coffin's ile kettle was a caution to nervous folks. 'What on earth have ye got in that, eh?' I inquires, peeping over the side into the half-scalding foam.
"'What business is that to you?' sounds, like thunder rolling away in the distance, from t'other side the cauldron. Looking up almost dumb-founded I espied the hard phiz of the General, in dim outline through the fog and steam, stirring away at a massive ladle.
"'Pierce! Lord love yer soul—is it you?' says I, my feelings rising into a rhapsody of affection for him: 'Give us yer hand.'
"'Yes, it's me; just come round here if you can see your way through,' says he; and I fumbled my way round, and got him by the hand, and had a hearty good shake, just for old acquaintance sake.
"'But what in the name of Columbus are you doing here?' I inquired, touching him on the elbow, significantly.
"'Well!' he answers, rather undecidedly, 'just helping prepare this pot of mixture for the black pig.' He kept on moving his big ladle with one hand and throwing in additional feed with the other, from a bucket that stood close by.
"I inquired of the General where he kept so dangerous an animal, and was told in the most complacent manner that he ran all about, was as ravenous of power as the gentleman of those lower regions we hear so much about is of sinners; that he demanded all the country's swill. Here the General threw into the cauldron another sprinkling of grits, which he said was to complete the pot of homony. It was merely the daily feed of the black pig, which the colored female assisted the General in preparing. The General seemed very good-natured, and commenced a mathematical description of the ingredients of the mixture, when suddenly there came a fierce blow from behind, which well nigh tilted him deep into the foaming liquid. I grabbed the broad expanse of his nether garments, while the wench screamed, and was only quieted when she found him safe under her broad lee. A deep sonorous voice responded:—'Stir quicker in the feed!' I turned to see from whence it came, and who had dealt thus unmercifully with the General, when behold! there stood this hideous animal. With fourteen horns he incessantly used, and two just growing, he hoped in time to use; with a back of thorns he ever and anon threatened all who came near him; with a tail of poison he defiantly lashed, and a wicked eye that sought objects afar off—he was the most pertinacious brute unchained. Moreover he had a snout like a ploughshare, with which he had frequently driven Mr. Pierce to the wall.
"'Add more grits!' again the brute growled out, as if alike unhappy with himself and those around him. The voice had scarcely delivered its command, when Mr. General Pierce, as undecided as wanting in vigor of intellect, turned gently round, patted the hideous monster on the head—said he would do all he could to pacify him, though to appease his discontent seemed impossible. Indeed, it was a fact that notwithstanding much of the swill intended for the whiter portion of the litter was sacrificed to this demanding brute, he illustrated his gratitude by threatening to swallow Mr. Pierce into the bargain. This was most unfortunate, seeing how much had been done to transplant the breed to foreign lands.
"Mr. Smooth felt that for a President to be thus driven to extremes was indeed an unenviable position. I told him I thought Young America would do something, and, with a little advice concerning his principles, passed on through the smoke and foam until I confronted Uncle Jeff and Cousin Guth, both hard at work over a blazing fire, frying a monster fish. Uncle Jeff's apron looked as if he did most of the greasy work, while Guth looked on and directed the turns—now and then whispering a word to the French cook, who with sparkling eye, and oval olive face, and hair so glossy, black, and curly, was dexterously compounding a luscious sauce. 'Going it on the strong!' said I, giving Uncle Jeff a significant wedge under the shorts as he was about to let the grease in the stew-pan fuzzle. Guth, who at the moment commenced dredging in a little more pepper, and a little more butter, and a small sprinkling of salt, said they had been trying to cook this old fish for there was no knowing how many years, all to no purpose; but now that the arts of the very best French cook in the country had been secured he was sure to be done brown. Here he smiled and turned to the cook in question, who bowed with such grace! Such a bow in the presence of ladies would have secured his reputation. Indeed, the said cook was extremely neat of person, though rather below the middle stature, and was well thought of among lawyers and ladies, who declared they liked his graces better than his gravies. 'He's of the right stripe—a fillibuster cook!' said Jeff, exultingly, as Guth gave the coals another stir. 'This is a Cuba flounder,' interposed Guth. 'You see, Mr. Smooth, the General is exceedingly partial to this sort of flounder, but he doesn't understand the quality of dressing requisite to the cooking it—he must be done with native sauce. It is necessary he should be fried in a southern griddle, with plenty of native sauce—an article for which this cook of ours is not celebrated.'