MR. PIERCE SENDS SMOOTH DOWN AMONG THE BRITISHERS.
“Mr. Smooth (I write after the style most in fashion), having been associated with Mr. Pierce, whose Minister in general he was, as has been set forth in this history, is come to be regarded as a very dangerous individual. It is astonishing with what facility we gain bad repute from association with a certain class of men and things. Our country is a stalwart oasis, rising in reproachful greatness over the old and dwindling dependencies around it; but our Pierce government is a waste in its centre, contaminating and casting the blight of intrigue upon those connected with it. It builds bulwarks for itself, and breaks them down with the mere fog of its own breakers. It, like a dauntless boy, seizes the helm of State, and steering by scheme instead of compass, runs the ship ashore in unknown seas. As Smooth is a national Christian, he believes the timbers of the old ship tough and strong, or they had been bilged ere this. But, while speaking of contamination in connection with Mr. Pierce, he (Smooth) is forcibly reminded of the similarity between it and an episode in the life of his great-grandfather. This venerable ancestor, when fine society was less tenacious of its associations, entered upon the cultivation of pumpkins as a business, but in after life, as the novelist has it, became a railroad president, and as an inseparable result, a great financier. When in the latter position, being a very sensitive person, he tried to get rid of the odor of the pumpkin business; but all to no purpose. Do what he would, go where he would, contribute to what he would, mix with what society he would, be as generous as he would, people were heard to whisper ‘pumpkins;’ and to construe his motives as prompted by the same spirit which induced him to make a business of cultivating that vegetable. A similar odor, arising from his connection with Pierce, Smooth found clinging to his garments. The world in general viewed him as a dangerous man, for the simple reason that his master was regarded with the same eye of suspicion. Pierce was not ignorant of this, and to obviate Smooth’s difficulties, said he would send him Down East, as before related. Being of an undecided turn, he could not make up his mind about the war business in Europe, nor could he exactly define where he stood with regard to Central America. He would like to give me (Smooth) the job to do the fighting for these United States, for he felt sure I could not fail to make a grand affair of it. As for Caleb being taken into the contract (he, the General, shook his head doubtingly), he had some doubt of the policy; he was fast enough, but there was no knowing which way he would turn at any moment, nor was he at all times to be trusted. For the present, Smooth must be contented with a first-class mission to Down East, where he would settle the fish and other questions