« ZurückWeiter »
any possibility be brought to bear upon the territories so as to interfere with their internal growth. The principle of absolute State sovereignty will be extended in future to the new territories added upon the southern as well as upon the western boundaries of the Union.
Is it proved that negro slavery is an evil to the whites? Still it is an evil which of necessity extends itself. Much as the South might desire to limit herself, she has been driven from her original intent by the action of the North, which has compelled her to enlarge her boundaries, and increase the number of her sovereignties, to maintain the balance of power.
Mexico, with France and England thundering at her gates for debts which she cannot pay; her northern provinces reduced to utter poverty and weakness by successive revolutions and the ravages of Indian tribes; without an army or a treasury; her provinces conducting their own governments under a system of robber chieftaincy; the majority of her socalled citizens sold for small debts into a horrid kind of servitude called peonage, compared with which the servitude of the negro. is benign liberty and happiness-Mexico has ceased to be a nation, and is fast changing to a desert. Immense riches of gold and silver lie unemployed on the slopes of her interior mountains, which the genius of the Union would soon make the wealth of a second California. Her western coasts present a vast extent of fertile territory, suitable for the cultivation of sugar, rice, and cotton.
Clearly the interests of the American people oblige them to ponder well the condition and fate of Mexico. That she has the requisite internal force to retrieve her own affairs, no one dares to affirm. That she is making regular movements towards final ruin, depopulation, and dismemberment, is the opinion of the entire world. The gravest statesmen of Europe have advised her leaders to establish, if they can, a perpetual dictatorship, with the authority and force, if not the name, of a monarchy. But even this alternative is as yet only a hoped-for possibility, with little prospect of being realized. The President of France spares neither advice nor intimidation to compel the adoption of such a measure, as the one best calculated to favor the interest and aggrandizement of his prospective empire. A French fleet threatens Mexico on the Pacific. A British squadron, with no less serious intentions, cruises in the Gulf. We have suffered the British naval power, contrary to the spirit of the Monroe declaration, to establish itself in Nicaragua. The blame of this unfortunate neglect must fall upon a Whig Administration. A repetition
of the error in the case of Mexico would work immense mischief to the government and people of the United States. Mexico must not fall into the hands of France or of Great Britain. It would be a second step of European encroachment, to be followed by a third. First, Nicaragua. In regard to that state it is perhaps too late to retrieve the errors of the present Administration, which, through an earnest and perhaps a laudable desire to preserve peace, has permitted a European power to fix itself upon the highway of the Republic, midway between New York and San Francisco. Second, Mexico.-The jealousy and ambition of Louis Napoleon were naturally stimulated by the audacity and success of Lord Palmerston, and the fleets of two European empires threaten now to deprive us of our natural and necessary preference. It appears, that all the avenues of commerce between the eastern and western United States are to be guarded and tolled by France and England. If the astonishing supineness and negligence of our people have suffered and will continue to suffer these extraordinary movements, which a single manly threat in the style of Jackson or Washington would terminate at once, what is to be the fate of Cuba? Let the South ponder well the progress of these events. Sooner or later, Mexico must be ours. The balance of power, and the regular growth of the Republic, will demand it. If we find European powers in possession, we shall be compelled to oust them; a necessity deeply to be regretted, for the injury it might entail upon our commerce, but which will arise with an irresistible compulsion, unless we forestall it by a rapid and skilful use of our present power and advantages.
PASSAGES IN THE LIFE OF A GLUTTON.
I HAD the irremediable misfortune to be born with an enormous appetite. Methinks I already hear some gourmand, whom a life of continual indulgence has left in a state of deplorable satiety methinks I hear such a one exclaim, "Lucky dog! what would I not give to be a sharer in thy misfortune!" Softly, softly, good Master Apicius. All things are not the same to all men, and one may have an excellent appetite, and yet be very miserable. Go to that laborer out of work, who stands with
empty pockets and emptier stomach, gazing wistfully into the provoking windows of the cook-shop, and ask him if he is willing to part with his appetite. I am sure that his answer would shock you. But to return. From my childhood upwards this melancholy disease exhibited itself with singular force. Several nurses relinquished the arduous office of supplying my infant wants, the task being entirely beyond their powers, and it was only with the assistance of one or two supernumeraries in the shape of goats, that I ever succeeded in weathering that critical passage of my existence. Once weaned, my physical frame developed itself rapidly, and I regret to say that my appetite kept pace with my stature. As a boy I was the terror of the neighborhood. There was not a hen-roost in the vicinity on which I did not levy black mail, if stealing the fresh-laid eggs could come under so contradictory a title. In the fruit season, gardeners and owners of orchards put my depredations down as an item of loss on which they might infallibly calculate, and if there was a hot-house to be broken into, a preserve to be poached, or a gannet's nest to be robbed, I was always the leader of the foray. In all these youthful exploits, I did not act from the incentives usual to my age. I was never led on by the effervescence of boyish mischief, which generally prompts the lad of fourteen to brave the terrors of constituted authorities. No; I simply obeyed the stern necessity of my nature. I robbed my neighbors solely and entirely that I might eat. I felt no disgust for my own passion at this period. I was somewhat laughed at by my companions, and had a variety of expressive nick-names conferred on me, most which were too forcible to bear repetition here. But on the whole I was happy, and altogether ignorant of the fact that I was nothing less than an undeveloped monster: Most persons, after hearing this confession, will no doubt picture me in my youth, as a great, bloated boy, with puffy cheeks, and dull glazed eyes starting from their sockets from over-feeding. If this should be their idea of me, they are much mistaken. I was a tall, slender, pale-complexioned lad, with deep-blue eyes, and delicately formed hands and feet. One, in short, whom you might have put down as a budding poet, but whom you never could dream was a mere wolf in human form. One incident of those early years has been strongly impressed upon my memory, as it will serve to illustrate the terrible passion which was then almost nascent, but has now arrived at a ferocious vigor. I will relate it briefly.
My father was a landed proprietor, and our small estate lay
along the wildest part of the coast of Brittany. The scenery around was bleak and savage. Steep, rocky cliffs, clad on the tops with the thick elastic tufts of the sea-pink-and which were perfectly inaccessible to all except the gannet, and those daring men who gained a precarious livelihood by gathering samphire. Even on the calmest day the sea roared with a menacing sound at the bases of these cliffs, and broke in great jets of foam over the high pointed rocks which stood a little way out from the iron shore. The coast was lined with caves, some of which, tradition said, ran inland to an almost fabulous distance; and in support of this the peasants pointed out a deep hole two miles inland from the shore, through which on boisterous days clouds of salt spray might be seen ascending. For many leagues the entire coast was remarkable for strangely shaped headlands, volcanic and basaltic formations, natural bridges, puffing holes, and all those natural wonders which render some sea-boards so interesting. I have taken this opportunity of describing the character of the coast for reasons which the reader will readily perceive hereafter. But to return to my little anecdote. We were environed by many neighbors, and as is the case in all poor countries, most of the inhabitants had large families. Thus I was in no want of play-mates or companions, albeit that some of them were tattered and uncultivated enough. As I had at various times, owing to my father's aristocratic position, received many little marks of boyish homage from this rude train, I determined one day to give them a grand banquet-that being the species of compliment which they would be most likely to relish. All was sumptuously planned. My mother's capacious storeroom was ransacked for delicacies wherewith to tempt the appetites of my little peasants. Peaches candied in molasses; cakes made of dried plums grated finely and baked in sugar; delicate rolls made from the finest white flour; cherries stoned and saturated with cream, out of which they peeped like pebbles of coral half-covered by the foam of the ocean; small cheeses made from the milk of our hill goats-all confections, in short, that boys are traditionally devoted to, were arrayed upon the board in the most advantageous and picturesque manner that my fancy could dictate. All day long, after the arrangements had been finally completed, and previous to the arrival of my ragamuffin guests, an irresistible attraction kept me hovering around the little room where the repast was spread. I affected to believe that it was merely anxiety as to the disposition of the viands, and this self-gene
rated fancy gave me the opportunity of handling them over and over again, under pretence of disposing them to more advantage. During each process of this kind a slight diminution in the quantity of eatables took place. A plum or a raisin at a time would not be missed, I thought, and my villanous appetite, aroused by the sight of food, kept tearing at my vitals like some wild animal. Towards the end of the day, and close on the hour when my guests were due, the feast was a perfect wreck of what it had been. The various dishes were little more than empty symbols of a banquet, as I had devoured most of the contents in my repeated visits of superintendence. Still the show was imposing, though as deceptive as most pageants, and with the aid of a little skill the scanty contents of the dishes were so magnified as to dazzle the eyes of my little guests when they came trooping in at the appointed hour. An awful pause succeeded their entrance. After surveying the feast with the glance of connoisseurs, every eye was fixed on me, their host, to give the signal for an attack. I was suffering the tortures of the damned. All day long my infernal appetite had been gaining strength, which the occasional indulgences I had given it, served only to confirm. My tongue and palate ached with the desire to eat, and it seemed as if my stomach was a vast vault where wolves raged unceasingly, until they should be appeased with food. The silence continued. My brain was in a whirl; and at last the boys began to whisper among themselves. One little fellow, whose patience was quite worn out, slyly approached the table and possessed himself of a plum. This infringement of etiquette aroused me. My unfortunate passion burst all barriers. I rushed towards the table with a loud cry, and struck violently at all within my reach. I was strong, and they fled from my path. I precipitated myself on the table, and with the ferocious eagerness of a polar bear, who has been for months without food, I commenced devouring everything that was within my reach. The poor boys, thinking me mad, had gathered in a group outside the door, and watched my proceedings with mingled terror and disgust. But on my turning round once or twice with a sort of bestial growl, they disappeared hastily, and I was left to finish the remainder of my prey in solitude. This story got wind, and for the first time in my life I was taught, by the disgrace it cast upon me, how odious a being a glutton was in the eyes of the world.
As years passed over my head, my reputation as a great eater spread. I had performed some exploits in this line, which,