“‘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.