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Page 436


Dear Gineral Jackson:—(There, what an awful mistake
I've made! I meant Dear Gineral Pierce; but my poor old
brains has been runnin' a good deal to-day on that old and
true friend of mine, Gineral Jackson, and I s'pose that made
the word slip off my pen before I thought of it.)

The truth is, Gineral Pierce, I don't feel satisfied with my
treatment, to be left here alone all summer to bear the whole
brunt of this fillibuster war, sailin' about in these hot climates,
where we light our pipes by the sun without matches, and
explosin' our lives all the time; and two out of our men has
died with the yaller fever, and not a soul sent out to back me
up, and help me take Cuba—not a single war-vessel, nor a
steamer, nor a private fillibuster, nor even so much as Bill
Johnson on a pine-log with a fowlin'-piece.

What did you expect me to do? Was I to pitch into the
Moro Castle alone? The whole English fleet—the greatest
fleet in the world—was afraid to pitch into Cronstadt, up there
in the Baltic. The Two Pollies is brave and sure fire, but I
don't think it's hardly reasonable to match her alone agin the
Moro, though I've sometimes almost swore I would do it, hit
or miss, getting so out of patience waitin' all summer for re-enforcements.
And sometimes I'd have a real time thinkin'
of Gineral Jackson, and saying to myself, if Old Hickory was
only at the helm—I don't mean the helm of the Two Pollies,
but the helm of Government—I guess things wouldn't go on
at this rate. There wouldn't be no backin' and fillin' then; it


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would be plain sailin', straight ahead, and everybody would
know where they was goin' to fetch up. If Old Hickory put
his foot down on fifty-four forty, it would be there, and you
needn't look for it on forty-nine. If the Spanish folks had a
took the Black Warrior steamer under his Administration,
and he had demanded three hundred thousand dollars to pay
the damages and wipe out the insult, the money would have
to be planked right down on the nail, or the hair would fly
somewhere. And if he had fairly made up his mind, as our
Congress did at Ostend and Ax-le-Shapple, that Cuba was as
necessary to our Government as ary one of the States, and
that we couldn't get along without it, and, therefore, “by
every law, human and divine, we had the right to take it if
we possessed the power,” the whole business would a been
done in three weeks, and Cuba marked down on the map of
the United States. But a backin' and fillin' and wrigglin'
policy never will fetch anything about; and I don't raily believe
we are so near having Cuba now as we was six months

If Mr. Buchanan had only been at home, I know he wouldn't
have left the whole business on my hands alone so long without
sending me help; but you have kept his hands tied all
this time in London, so he couldn't do nothin'. And poor
Mr. Mason, he's been sick at Paris, and he couldn't do nothin'.
And Mr. Souley has had so many other fish to fry, he
wouldn't do nothin'. And as for Sanders and Sickles, I
hear they have gone off to Russia, to see about setting
up a new Democratic Republic there, or else annexin'
Russia to the United States. They say there is no reason
in the world why Russia shouldn't belong to us—there
is such a good chance to run a telegraph wire across
Beering's Straits. So there wasn't nobody left to back me
up in this Cuba business but you and the Cabinet. And how


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have you and they done it? Yes, Mr. President, how have
you done it? I must speak plain, for I have had my feelings
a good many times badly worked up. I hope there hasn't
been any treachery in your Cabinet, and no pullin' the rope
over the roof of the house at both ends. But things has
looked very dark and foggy to me sometimes. You haint
sent me no dispatches, and I've had to keep the run of things
by the newspapers that I picked up here and there from
vessels goin' back and forth. And when I see Commodore
McCauley was coming out with a “force” sufficient to blow
every Spanish cruiser to thunder, and knock the Moro into
a cocked hat, we had a jolly time aboard the Two Pollies, I
tell ye. We threw up our hats and hoorah'd about an hour
right out strait.

Wal, arter a week or two, when we got most tired of
waitin', the fleet come along. I bore up under the Commodore's
lea and hailed him, and asked him where the Two
Pollies should hitch on. As soon as he see it was me he was
very polite; but he said the Two Pollies better keep dark, and
lay low a little while, till he went into Havana and reconnoitered
round, and then he should know exactly what to do.
So we waited patiently a week or two longer; and then I
hailed a Penobscot sloop, Captain Gilman, an old acquaintance,
who had been into Havana with a load of lumber, and
was homeward bound with a cargo of molasses and sugar.

Says I, “Gilman, did you see anything of Commodore

“See him? Yes, I see him every day.”

“Wal, what's he about all this time? Has he took the
Moro, and the city, and the war vessels, without giving me a

“No, I don't think he has took anything,” said Gilman,
“but the Captain-Gineral has took him.”

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My dander was right up, I tell ye. Says I, “you don't
mean to say he has took our Commodore and shut him up in
the Moro? If he has I'll go right in with the Two Pollies and
blow the old thunder-jug into the ocean.”

“Oh, no,” said Gilman, with a little puckery laff creeping
round his eyes and mouth; “he's only took the Commodore
into his great fine carriage, and I see them most every day
riding together, cheek by jowl, and having a jolly time of it.”

“Thunder!” says I. “Then somebody's been pulling at the
wrong end of the rope, and I won't lay low any longer.”

So we up stakes and sot sail agin on our own hook, keeping
an eye well to the windward. I felt cross, and told the hands
to crack on all sail. I meant to be out of sight and hearing
when the Commodore's fleet come out again, for I didn't know
but he might take it into his head to enforce the neutrality
laws, and I had no idea of being ketched in that trap. I felt
sure there was a screw loose somewhere in the Cabinet, and
I thought if I could only be in Washington half an hour I
could find out where 'twas. But, as things was, there was no
other way for me but to take the responsibility, and if I
couldn't take Cuba, jest hold on to the slack till something
turned up.

Wal, it wasn't a great while before something did turn up
that carried our hopes right up to the tip-top rung of the
ladder. After scuddin' about a few weeks to keep out of
sight of Commodore McCauley, for I had serious suspicions of
him, I come back again along the northern side of Cuba, to
see if I could pick up any more news. As good luck would
have it, a Kennebec brig soon came along, homeward bound.
I hailed her, and as soon as the Captain came on deck I see
at once it was Captain Drummond, a first rate prying feller,
and I knew in a moment if he had been in Cuba a week he
would know everything that was going on upon the island.


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So I asked him to back his main topsail, and I'd come aboard.
We went into the cabin, and he brought on a bottle of old
Jamaky. We are both Maine-law folks at home, but out here
we sometimes take a drop to keep off the yaller fever.

“Now, Captain Drummond,” says I, “how does things
stand in Cuba? I hear Commodore McCauley has turned
traitor to the cause. Is liberty going to be crushed out there
or not? Or is there any chance yet for them poor fellers
that have been trying so long and so hard to get their

“Any chance, my dear Major?” says he. “Why, the chance
never was better; nor half so good before. The whole thing
is cut and dried, and almost ready to blaze out with a brightness
that will enable us to spear fish at midnight along the
whole coast, from the Kennebec to the Mississippi.”

“Good! Give us your hand, old boy,” says I. “Now prove
that, and I'll be your humble servant forever.”

“Well, it's true as preachin',” says he. “Our Government
has got a first-rate agent on the island, overhauling the whole
business, to see that everything is in the right train, so there
shan't be no mistake and no chance to miss fire again. He
keeps dark, and goes round among the leading patriots, and
consults about the whole campaign. After he showed his
dockyments, proving that he was an agent from our Government,
they didn't keep anything back, but told him the whole
business—how the patriots were all ready to set up a free
Government, and would very soon have everything necessary
for that purpose. They told him they had sent over more than
half a million of dollars to their friends—the exiled patriots
in the United States—to purchase such things as they might
need in setting up their free Government, and a number of
large steamers and other vessels were already chartered and
paid for to bring them over; and more than all that, if they


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 442. The crew of the Two Pollies sit around and hang off of rope ladders on the masts in attitudes of excitement. Most lift glasses to show their celebration. In the background, several other ships are seen sailing nearby. Several fish also stick their heads out of the water near the Two Pollies' deck in order to join in the celebration with the sailors.]
should want any help, there was a great Gineral stood ready,
with a brave little army all enlisted, to come right over and
put his shoulder to the wheel. That's the way the thing
stands now. The patriots are all right, and our Government's
secret agent has been round and seen that they are all
right. And now the Government at Washington is going to


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look t'other way, over the left shoulder, while the business is
doing, so they shan't see anybody violating the neutrality

“That's capital,” says I, “Captain Drummond, that's capital,
if that agent is all right. Who is he?”

“Oh, he's a fine fellow; he's got the Government dockyments
in his pocket. His name, I think, is Davis. I don't
know what Davis, but I believe he's from Mississippi.”

At that I hopt right up, and slapt my hands together so
hard that Captain Drummond jumped half way across the
cabin, for he thought I was going to pitch into him; and says
he, “What in nature, Major Downing, is the matter?”

“Matter enough,” says I. “I verily believe that agent is
my old friend, Jeff. Davis, for he's from that part of the
country, and he's jest the boy for it. He was out in Mexico
with us, and was clear grit. If Jeff. Davis is in Cuba, the
thing is done, and no mistake about it.”

Upon that we took another drop of Jamaky, and Captain
Drummond histed sail, and I went aboard the Two Pollies
and told the boys they might crack on and hoorah as loud as
they'd a mind to, for the business was all right, and the egg
was most ready to be hatched. Finally, I felt so happy, I
told all hands they might have a holiday, and cut on and do
jest what they liked. And they had a jolly time, I tell ye.
I gave them an extra good dinner; and after dinner they
sung songs most of the afternoon, and some of 'em scoured
the deck by cutting down double shuffle. They sung “Captain
Robb,” Cousin Sargent Joel's favorite song, five times,
in the tune of Yankee Doodle; and every one aboard that
could sing Yankee Doodle—soldiers, sailors, marines, and
hoss-marines—all jined in and roared it out well. Cousin
Joel declared afterwards that before they got through he saw
more than fifty dolphins shying round the vessel and listening.


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If you haven't seen that song, Mr. President, it is raily worth
your readin'. So I think I'll send it to you, and here 'tis:


Air—Yankee Doodle.
Says Captain Robb to Farmer Cobb,
“Your farm is very fine, sir;
Please give me up your title-deeds,
I claim it all as mine, sir.”
“Pray, how can it be thine?” says Cobb,
“I'm sure I never sold it;
'Twas left me by my father, sir,
I only aught to hold it.”
“Nay, Cobb, the march of destiny—
'Tis strange you can't perceive it—
Is sure to make it mine some day;
I solemnly believe it.”
“But have you not already got
More land than you can till, sir?
More rocks than ever you can blast,
More weeds than you can kill, sir?”
“Aye, Cobb, but something whispers me—
A sort of inspiration—
That I've a right to every farm
Not under cultivation.
I'm of the `Anglo-Saxon race,'
A people known to fame, sir;
But you, what right have you to land?
Who ever heard your name, sir?
“I deem you, Cobb, a lazy lout,
Poor, trodden down, and blind, sir,
And if I take your useless land
You aught to think it kind, sir!
And, with my scientific skill,
I set it down as true, sir,
That I can gather from the farm
Full twice as much as you, sir.
“To be explicit: 'Tis an age
Of freedom and progression;


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No longer, dog-in-manger like,
Can you retain possession.
The farm long since you forfeited,
Because you failed to till it;
To me it clearly now belongs,
Simply because—I will it.
“My logic if you disapprove,
Or fail of comprehending,
Or do not feel convinced that I
Your welfare am attending,
I've plenty more of arguments
To which I can resort, sir—
Six-shooters, rifles, bowie-knives,
Will indicate the sort, sir.
“So prithee, Cobb, take my advice,
Make over your domains, sir:
Or, sure as I am Captain Robb,
Will I blow out your brains, sir!”
Poor Cobb can only grind his teeth
And grumble protestations,
That might should be the rule of right
Among enlightened nations.

But now, Mr. President, I must come to the bitter end of my
dispatches, and bitter enough it is. This business needs
some explanation between you and me; and the sooner I git
it the better. That glorious day aboard the Two Pollies we
was all swimmin' in happiness mast-head high. But a few
weeks afterward, when we got the next batch of news from
home, we was like bein' all down in the dark hold of the
vessel, wallowing in bilge-water. Thunder and black snakes!
if ever I could swear, it was then. That Davis had turned
out to be a very different chap from my old friend Jeff, and
somehow or other everything had gone wrong-end foremost.
The Cuban patriot cause was all smashed up; their half
million of dollars was all scattered to the winds; Gineral
Quitman had backed out, and Government was seizing


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steamers and vessels all along the coast, and making them
suffer the delay and expense of lawsuits to prove that they
had no notion of going to Cuba. And, more than all this,
some of the best patriots in Cuba, men who had opened their
whole heart to Davis, men worthy enough to be President of
the United States or to command the Two Pollies, had been
arrested in Cuba and executed like dogs. Now, Mr. President,
where has the blood of them patriots left the heaviest marks?
Is it in Havana, New York, or Washington? But how could
all this terrible change come about? Was there any awful
accident the cause of it, like switching a train of cars on to
the wrong track and making a terrible smash-up? I puzzled
upon that pint a good deal, and finally come to the conclusion
that possibly it was all an accident, and nobody to blame.
And the most likely way I could think of that sich a terrible
accident could happen was, that Mr. Davis received his secret
commission from one end of your Cabinet, and, somehow or
other, accidentally made his report to t'other end of it. But I
may be wrong, and shall wait anxiously for your explanation.

Let me hear from you soon, for I don't think I shall hold on
here much longer, as things now is, unless I get new orders.
I see things is thickening up all round you, and with the
troubles in Mexico, and Denmark, and Kansas, and the melting
down and mixing up about fifteen political parties all over the
country and running them into thirty new moulds, you must
have your hands full, and will need all your friends to stick
by you; and I assure you I am not a man to desert an
Administration so long as I hold an office under it.

So I remain your old friend and Minister at Large, and
Captain of the Two Pollies,