“This I was anxious to impress on General Pierce; but he seemed to have a wavering bump on his head, and not seeing his way clear, came to the peculiar conclusion that Mr. Smooth had a very novel head, full of novel notions. But he told me, by way of becoming enlightened on the affairs of other nations, to keep a bright look-out, note down the items, and see where we could turn the go-ahead of our people to account. As most of our small disputes were with Mr. John Bull, who was prone to keep open any quantity of very vexatious questions, Mr. Pierce thought it good policy to make John Littlejohn a fellow voyager with me. It was not a bad idea, seeing that Mr. Pierce had an inward hatred of the Britishers, nor thought a war with them would be the most unpopular thing in the world, inasmuch as it would attach to him the Young American party, which said party might in gratitude render good service to his re-election. Upon this principle Littlejohn’s company was acceptable; and when he joined me at the National we had a social bit of a chat together about the matter. John was not a bad fellow when once you knew how to take him, but he had qualities of character which at times seemed at variance with what he would have us believe were his straightforward principles. It was this trait of character, at times defying analysis, we had to treat with most care, lest unconsciously it embroil us. My friend Palmerston might without prejudice be taken as an excellent representative of this unfortunate trait. ‘Now,’ says John, in a methodical sort of way, ’there are, to be honest, (and acts will prove the truth of a principle), two great pirates in the world. You know that, Smooth, just as well as I do.’
“‘No I don’t,’ says I.
“‘But you do!’ he returns. ’There’s your Uncle Sam: he will steal all territory adjoining his dominions,—in a good-natured sort of way, merely to work out the problem of manifest destiny. As for my old gentleman, Uncle John, why he has a dignified way of doing things, always plays the part of a bold gentleman, and when he joins a kingdom it is with a modesty so quiet and genteel. You needn’t shake your head, Smooth,—such are facts; nevertheless, they are both tenacious of their rights—a national trait of great value,—and will shed a river of human blood to gain a very small point on paper. Like two great gamblers, they are opposed to the principle of give and take, standing steadfastly by the take. Once they were father and son—thus, the inheritance may be pardoned; and when they quarrelled it was not to be expected the son would relinquish the traits so paternally bestowed. Now the parent is obstinate and the son ’cute; but the son has an eccentricity that prompts him to outwit. Not unfrequently the father lets the son—just for peace sake—have his own way; but this letting him have his own way has inclined his heart rather to the ungrateful than otherwise. His demands are at times somewhat funny, and when made known surprise a world. And now that they are so firmly and extensively identified with each other in pursuits of the noblest character, would it not be a sin to quarrel?’ Thus spoke John, very complacently.