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Page 248


Mr. Gales & Seaton

My Dear Old Friends:—I and Mr. Buchanan, and the rest
of us, overtook the President last night at York, where we
found him pretty well tuckered out, having got through with
all his birds-egging in that everlasting great city, and ready
to push on this morning Down East. I was going to write a
line to friend Ritchie, as he's the Government editor, as soon
as I could ketch up with the President, and let him know how
the old gentleman stood the journey. But I happened to look
into your paper, and I see brother Ingersoll, of Philadelphy,
sends his letters to you. This puzzled me a little at first,
because I knew he was on Mr. Ritchie's side. But I looked
along, and I see he called your paper a “powerful journal,”
and then the thought struck me that I had read somewhere
that “there's a power behind the throne greater than the
throne itself.” Well, thinks I, that Ingersoll is a cunning
feller, but he ain't agoin' to get ahead of me. If he writes to
the power behind the throne I will, too. So, if Mr. Ritchie
complains, and says I ought to wrote to him, I wish you
would just smooth it over to him, and tell him the reason of
it, and tell him when the old ship gets on t'other tack, and
his paper gets on behind, I'll write to him.

As I had come right on from Mexico, the shortest cut, and


Page 249


[Description: 688EAF. Page 249. A man is walking up some steps to a house in whihc a large gathered crowd can be seen through the open front doors. Two men stand in greeting at the top of the outside stairs.]
had brought a letter from Ginera Scott to the President, as
soon as we got to York I run right up to the tavern where he
stopped to give him the letter. Folks told me he was at the
Astor House—that great tavern made out of hewed stone.
So I went up and went in, and asked one of the waiters if
Colonel Polk put up there.

“Is it Jemmy Polk ye mane; Young Hickory, the President?”

“Sartin,” says I.

“Yes,” says he; “he's here, up stairs in his room.”

Says I, “Show me his chamber as quick as you can; I
must see him.”

“You can't see him to-night,” says he; “Young Hickory
is tired out, and can't see nobody at all. Why wan't ye on
hand in the Governor's room if ye wanted to see him? All
the boys had a chance there.”

Says I, “That's nothing to the pint; I was on the road
from Washington then, and I'm going to see the President


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to-night if I have to go through the stone walls of this house
for it.”

Then along come Mr. Stutson, and says he, “Patrick,
what's the row here?”

“Here's a feller getting wrathy,” says Patrick, “because I
won't let him go up to the President's room.”

At that Mr. Stutson turned round to me, and as soon as he
see me, he ketched hold of my hand, and says he, “Major
Downing, I am very happy to see you. I'll show you right
up to the President's room myself. I'm sorry you wan't here
before. We've had some very pleasant tea parties since the
President's been here.”

When I got into the President's chamber he was laying
down on the bed to rest, and looking as tired as a rat that
had been drawed through forty knot-holes. But, as soon as
he see me, he jumped up, looking rather wild, and says he,
“Major Downing, how are ye? I didn't think of seeing you
back from Mexico so soon as this. How does things go on
there now?”

Says I, “Colonel, they don't go on hardly at all. They are
waiting for more help. Scott and Taylor both are growing
rather red and angry to think you should chuck 'em away
into the middle of Mexico there, and then not send 'em help to
fight the way out again. And it seems to me, Colonel, you do
hold back in this business a little too much. If you don't
send 'em help pretty soon, them guerillas will eat our little
armies all up. Why Colonel,” says I, “if this war had come
on in the time of the old Gineral, my old friend Hickory, he
would a had them Mexicans half whipped to death by this
time. But here's a letter from Scott, to tell ye what he thinks
about the business. I come on post-haste to bring it. He
says he won't stir from Puebla till you send on more men to
take the place of all them that's coming home.”


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The President took the letter and read a few lines, and
threw it down upon the table; and says he, “It's no use;
Scott may grumble and growl as much as he's a mind to, but
it's no use. This war is a concern of my own getting up—
for my own use; and I shall manage it jest as I please.”
Says he, “Major Downing, there's reason in all things. I
don't want them Mexicans whipped too fast, especially when
them upstart generals get all the glory of it. When I found
that Taylor was swellin' up too large, I meant to a stopped
him at Monterey, and draw off a part of his glory on to Scott.
But that Taylor is a headstrong chap—a dangerous man.
He overstept his duty, and blundered on to that victory at
Buena Vista, that sot everything in a blaze. I shan't overlook
it in him very soon. If the selfish creature had only let
Santa Anna given him a handsome licking there, we might a
had peace in a little while, for I had things all arranged with
Santa Anna to wind the business right up in such a way that
we might each of us have made a handsome plum out of it.
But that unpardonnable Taylor must cut and slash round with
his handful of men, untutored volunteers, that I thought were
as harmless as a flock of sheep, and contrive, by that awful
blunder at Buena Vista, to pour all the fat into the fire.

“Well, then, Scott hasn't behaved much better. He's licked
the Mexicans too fast by a great sight, and is swellin' himself
up in the eyes of the people shamefully. I thought if I
could a sent Colonel Benton on there, he would a squeezed
the glory out of both of 'em in a little while, and settled 'em
down so they wouldn't a been dangerous. But that vagabond
Senate wouldn't let me do it. That was too bad, Major,
when them two generals were attracting all the glory that
belonged to me, that the Senate wouldn't let me do anything
to offset them. But I'll let 'em know that Young Hickory
isn't to be beat any more than Old Hickory was. I've sent


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Mr. Trist on to look after matters, and to see that the armies
don't go too fast; for I'm determined Scott and Taylor shan't
whip the Mexicans any faster than is prudent. All the glory
of this war fairly belongs to me, and I'll have it.”

“But,” says I, “Colonel, you are agoing to send on more
men, an't you? Or what are you going to do? How are
you going to wind the business up?”

Says he, “I'm too tired to talk over my plans to-night.
But there's no need of your going right back to Mexico yet.
Mr. Trist is there, and I can trust him to look after matters,
and you had better jump into the boat with us in the morning
and take a trip Down East, and we can talk on the way.”

About five o'clock in the morning the President rattled
away at my door, and waked me out of a sound sleep; and
when he found I wasn't up, says he, “Major, you must be
spry, or you'll be too late, for we're off at six.”

I was up and dressed about the quickest, and went out, and
fact, there was a quarter of a mile of soldiers all ready to
escort us to the boat. And down we went, through whole
streets full of men and women, and boys and gals, of all sorts
and sizes, some running and crowding, and some hollering
and hurrahing, and in a few minutes we were aboard the
steamboat, and the bell rung, and the steamer puffed, and off
we went on the Sound toward Connecticut.

The President had a little room all to himself, and he made
me go right into it with him, and he sat down in an easy
chair, and put his feet upon another, and says he, “Major,
I'm glad to get out of the crowd again; we'll take a few
hours of rest and comfort on this voyage. This being President,
Major, is mighty hard work; but, after all, I like it.
I've had a glorious time of it in New York. Everybody was
running after me, and it seems as though I had seen everything.
I feel as though I had lived through a whole year in


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these three days; and I don't believe anybody ever received
more honors in so short a space of time in this country.”

“Well,” says I, “Colonel, it seems to me a pity you told
the folks at Baltimore, the other day, that you should retire
when this term was up. You might go two terms, as Old
Hickory did, jest as well as not, you are so popular.”

At that he gave me a tuck in the ribs and a sly wink, and
says he, “Major, don't you understand that? Telling of 'em
I shouldn't stand another term is jest the way to make 'em
the more fierce to have me. Don't you know Anthony said
Cæsar refused the crown three times, jest so as to be more
sure of having it placed on his head. And just see how
Santa Anna is working it now in Mexico. When he gets
pretty near run down, and shivering in the wind, and nothing
to stand upon, he sends in his resignation, with a long patriotic
speech about shedding the last drop of blood for his
country, and all that, and the people refuse to receive his
resignation, and cry out, `Long live Santa Anna!' and
away he goes again, and drums up another army of soldiers.

“But, to tell the truth, Major,” says he, “when I made that
remark at Baltimore, I had some little notion of retiring. Our
party was so cut up, things looked rather dark ahead, and
I find this Mexican war something of a bother after all. Taylor
and Scott commit so many blunders, I had really then some
notion of retiring when this term is up. But, since I got
along to New York, things seem to look brighter. I'm popular,
Major, I know I am. I shouldn't be surprised if the
Whigs made a demonstration in my favor yet. They seemed
very fond of me in New York; and so did everybody—everybody
you could mention; even the market-women took me by
the hand and called me Young Hickory, and gave me lots of
fruit. There, do you see that pineapple on the table, there?”
says he. “That was given to me at the Fulton Market, as


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we were going over to Brooklyn on Saturday.[1] Cut away,
Major, and help yourself to it; it's a nice one. And here's a
paper of most excellent tobacco,“ says he, “that was presented
to me at the same time. You go into the pineapple and
I'll go into the tobacco, and then we'll have a little more talk
about the war.”

Jest as we got cleverly under way, they sung out aboard
the boat for the passengers to get ready for landing. So I
must cut my yarn off here for the present; but likely as not
you'll hear from me again.

Your old friend,


Editorial Note.—This is no embellishment of the Major's, but a literal
fact. When the procession was moving down Fulton street, to go to Brooklyn,
a market-woman presented the President a pineapple, and another person
a paper of choice tobacco.