The wealthy merchants live well, keep handsome establishments, and good wines. The Sardanapalian motto, “Laugh, sing, dance, and be merry,” seems to be universally adopted in this “City of the Plague.” The planters’ and merchants’ villas immediately in the vicinity are extremely tasteful, and are surrounded by large parterres filled with plantain, banana, palm, orange, and rose trees. On the whole, were it not for its unhealthiness, Orleans would be a most desirable residence, and the largest city in the United States, as it is most decidedly the best circumstanced in a commercial point of view.
The question of the purchase of Texas from the Mexican government has been widely mooted throughout the country, and in the slave districts it has many violent partizans. The acquisition of this immense tract of fertile country would give an undue preponderance to the slave states, and this circumstance alone has prevented its purchase from being universally approved of; for the grasping policy of the American system seems to animate both congress and legislatures in all their acts. The Americans commenced their operations in true Yankee style. The first settlement made was by a person named Austin, under a large grant from the Mexican government. Then “pioneers,” under the denomination of “explorers,” began gradually to take possession of the country, and carry on commercial negotiations without the assent of the government. This was followed by the public prints taking up the question, and setting forth the immense value of the country, and the consequent advantages that would arise to the United States from its acquisition. The settlers excited movements, and caused discontent and dissatisfaction among the legitimate owners; and at their instigation, insurrections of the Indians took place, which greatly embarrassed the government. At this stage of the affair, Mr. Poinsett, the American minister, commenced his diplomatic manoeuvres in the city of Mexico—fomenting disaffection, encouraging parties, and otherwise interfering in the internal concerns of the country. He appears, however, to have carried his intrigues beyond the bounds of discretion, as they were discovered; and he consequently became so obnoxious to the government and people of Mexico, that Jackson found it necessary to recall him, and send a Colonel Butler in his stead, commissioned to offer 5,000,000 dollars for the province of Texas.
Mr. Poinsett’s object in acting as he did, was that he might embarrass the government, and take advantage of some favourable crisis to drive a profitable bargain; or that, during some convulsion that would be likely to lead to a change, the expiring executive would be glad to grasp at his offer, and thereby a claim would be established on the country, which the United States would not readily relinquish. The policy of the British government suffering the Mexican republic to be bullied out of this province would be very questionable indeed, as the North Americans command at present quite enough of the Gulf of Mexico, and their overweening inclination to acquire extent of territory would render their proximity to the West Indian Islands rather dangerous; however, it would be much more advantageous to have the Mexicans as neighbours than the people of the United States.