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thrown out in the other; and whenever they do get a law passed, the need for it has gone by ; or if it hasn't, why it's such a piece of mystification that it's rather more than a Philadelphia lawyer can do to understand it. Now we go right straight ahead. If the people want anything, it's bound to be done. We go on the high-pressure principle -bound to go, or burst.”
“You mistake," said Selborne, drawing breath after this catalogue of the errors of his country ; “ you mistake the character of our system. We have two houses of representatives,-so have you ; but we, being an older country, have more than one class to legislate for, and we conceive the delay of which you speak to be a safer error than precipitancy would be. It is our object to obstruct the progress of law-making, as our statute-books are already too cumbrous. For my part, I think safety is better than speed. Our system is more complicated than yours ; and we must not be always trying experiments, or we shall get it out of order. It's all very well for a country in the first bloom of its youth, with immense territories and boundless resources, to spring up in fits and starts, for it can hardly move wrong; but for a grown-up nation, with a crowd of people in a small space, with great contrasts of social position, great poverty, and overgrown wealth to reconcile, we should produce a convulsion in a single season unless we legislated with great deliberation."
Selborne stopped here, a little astonished at himself, for he was not usually prosy.
“Well, perhaps,” said his new friend ; “ but I calculate you'll admit have greater resources than
1 ?” “No," answered Selborne. We have colonies. The sun never sets on the British empire.”
“It will do some day soon,” replied the other ; “ and if it don't, our resources are all at hand, our people are here, our energy is on the spot, we're at home, and have nothing to do but wood up and go ahead, and we're bound to whip creation."
“ You are now in the first flush of prosperity and independence," said Selborne ; “your enthusiasm is pardonable. Scarcely two generations have passed over since you started on your own account; but by the time that England is stripped of her possessions, the population of America will have increased, so that a republic will be no longer a safe form of government. It will not do then to depend on individual discretion for the maintenance of law and order ; you must be in a position to enforce both, or your boasted constitution will vanish before a flood of popular discontent in the hands of unprincipled agitators.”
« That's just it,” replied the stranger. Every man here respects the law, and sees it kept. Every man is his own constable. His soul is in the constitution. He feels himself a part of the nation. He has a voice, and can make it heard. We're a great engine, with all the valves in working order, and all the wheels well greased. We don't keep a part of the machine out of sight, and condemn it as unfit for use. We put all the spokes in; and if they don't act, we find it out mighty quick.'
“ Pardon me,” said Selborne ; "the proper duty of a government is to protect her citizens; and when it becomes necessary for the citizen to protect himself, the government shows its inefficiency to do what it is paid for, besides being a very dangerous precedent, which would give brute force the ascendancy."
“ There," said the stranger, changing the subject; “ you see that bend in the river; that's called English Turn. It was there that Jackson knocked the Britishers into a cocked-hat."
“ I never heard of the occurrence,” said Selborne.
“ No!" replied his new friend; " that was the great battle of New Orleans, where the British lost 2000 of their best troops. But I see we are now at the levee: let's travel. Now, I reckon you're a stranger, come to try your hand here. Just mind this. You let our institutions alone, and stick to your business, and you'll get along slick. You'll rile up some of our citizens, if you say as much as you've said to me to-day. Recollect this: the beauty of a republic is, that every man goes on his own hook, and that's a fact.
and have a drink." “May I ask your name ?" said Selborne. "I
have an opportunity of meeting you again."
“ Well, you may," said he; “my name's Aaron Snag, raised in these diggins. Give me a call some time.”
“ I shall be glad to do so," replied Selborne. « 'Guess
you put up at the St. Charles ?” “ Yes, for a week or so, I suppose.”
Well, we'll call in at Hewlett's on the way up.” At the door of the place in question a crowd of some eight or ten people were standing, conversing in a loud tone of voice; one of whom, on perceiving Mr. Snag, called out
"Well, General, you're just in time to stand for the crowd."
After a round potation at the bar, which was conducted with great speed, the whole party individually touching glasses together solemnly, they stood together conversing, during which time Selborne was introduced to the more prominent of the set. One of the number proposed another drink; to which motion Selborne was going to object, when his friend touched him, and said in an under tone“ Hush! you know the Kentucky rule ?”
No,” replied our traveller. “ Either liquor or fight,” said his friend.
“ Oh !” said Selborne. “ What do you call this? Is it an institution?”
“ No," answered Mr. Snag; “ this is the high-pressure principle." “ I perceive," answered Selborne.
Having to make arrangements for the night, he hastily tore himself away from the pleasant party, pondering as he went on the new application of the high-pressure principle, and Mr. Snag's theory, which defined the essence of a Republican government to be,
every man going on his own hook."
INITIATIV E. If you know neither the road you are going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the first thing I have to inform you'is, that you have lost your way.
She Stoops to Conquer. GODFREY made his way down to the wharf as fast as he possibly could, for the sun was sinking rapidly, and it promised to be night be
fore he reached the ship. He found no difficulty in gaining the levee, as it lay in a straight line from the place he had left; and, once gained, he moved forward at a rapid pace. Meantime, the short twilight that prevails in these latitudes rapidly disappeared.
The wide and spacious wharf that fronts the river, which in the day had presented a scene of life and bustle not perhaps equalled elsewhere in the world, was now beginning to wear a more quiet appearance. Hundreds of drays in a continuous line were making their way
homewards. The day's work over, the drivers were urging their cattle along at a fast trot; and the clouds of dust disturbed by so great a multitude of wheels was almost unbearable.
Godfrey with some difficulty effected a passage through this train of waggons, not one of which reined up to allow him to pass; and, having gained the steam-boat wharf, pursued his way with more comfort. A few gangs of labourers were working to the last moment to facilitate the departure of the steamers which were to sail that evening; and, much to his surprise, amongst the number he saw a gang of white men labouring under command of a negro, who was called the bos' steredore. Not withstanding his old-country notions about liberty of the subject, he could not help a feeling of shame at seeing his countrymen (they were all Irish) obedient to the commands, and submissive under the oaths, of a coloured man; for the latter person wielded his authority with rather more assumption and arrogance than was usual with his brethren of a fairer complexion.
Without, however, pausing to philosophise, he passed on, and soon left them, steam-boats and all, far behind. Having made his way to the lower wharf, where, to the best of his recollection, his ship had moored, he paused to look around for her. Much to his annoyance, the sun was now set, and the few persons lingering about the wharf were unable to inform him as to the position of his vessel
. He roamed on to the very extremity of the line of ships, but without success. Disappointed, he began to retrace his steps, not altogether despairing of obtaining some clue to her locality ; but as night closed in, he began to find that he had an almost hopeless task before him. Not without many ineffectual attempts to read the names of the vessels on the tiers which he passed, did he abandon his task in despair, and set about returning to the city. We need not say that this was almost as difficult a matter as his first object had been, as he now threaded the dark and dirty streets surrounding.
The darkness of the evening was enlivened at intervals by flaring barrooms, thronged by sailors and loafers, while groups within were playing cards at tables. In some of these places loud altercations were going on, and apparently some of the parties were on the eve of proceeding to extremities. At the door of one of these establishments three men were standing as Selborne hurried past. They wore, as far as he could distinguish, long dark beards, and had the appearance of Spaniards or Portugese. Before he could well get past the door, one of them stepped out in such a manner as to obstruct the passage of Selborne, who, in making way for him, had to pass close by the other two. This movement was evidently intentional, for the man pressed forward and looked inquisitively into Selborne's face. The latter could notice that the glance was neither a civil nor respectful one ; but however disposed under other circumstances he might have been to stand upon his dignity, the fact of his being a
complete stranger, and ignorant of the usages of the place, convinced him that in this case discretion was the better policy. He accordingly took advantage of the next street to turn down, and make his way into the higher parts of the city. He had nearly reached the extreme end of this turning, when he faced round to try to discover his locality ; and, to his surprise, fancied he could see in the distance three dark figures following him, resembling the persons whom he had seen a few moments before.
Under the impression that their object was none of the best, he was glad to find that the next corner was the commencement of a well-lighted street, down which he quietly took his way.
It will not be necessary to detail to the reader the various turnings and windings by which Godfrey advanced on his journey, until he became completely lost. The few questions which he had the opportuity of asking, were either answered in French, of which his knowledge was limited, in Spanish or Dutch, of which he knew nothing, or in broken Englishso broken, that the information he received was equally unsatisfactory.
He looked in vain for a hackney-coach, but no such commodity was to be seen ; and the glimmering light from lamps suspended across the street was insufficient to enable a complete stranger to read the names of the streets. Fairly brought to a stand, he began to feel uneasy. The few persons he met evidently noticed his bewildered movements, and it was just within the range of possibility that they might be willing to take advantage of his difficulty. Around him were scattered groups storied dwellings, imperfectly lighted as described ; and beyond him was a place where the lights seemed to cease altogether, wearing the aspect of a forest, as well as he could judge.
How long he might have stood in this state of uncertainty and suspense, it would be difficult to say, when he was put on the right path by à very sudden and startling incident. A deep-toned bell, apparently in his immediate neighbourhood, struck up a loud and rapid alarm, which continued without cessation. It had not been ringing for many seconds before another bell at some distance commenced in the same manner, shortly afterwards followed by another and another, until the din with which the whole city resounded became almost deafening.
Before he had time to speculate on the character of this demonstration, he was surprised to see the hitherto silent streets suddenly become instinct with life and motion; and from one dark door and another men and boys would emerge and rush down the street, yelling with all their might. In the open windows and on the door-steps women would cluster, huddling their infants in their arms, and gazing after their fugitive relatives with countenances of concern. What with the ringing of bells, the jingling of lumbering vehicles which the alarm had suddenly started into motion, and the frantic cries of youths and men who tore furiously down the street, Selborne was wellnigh bewildered; when it just occurred to him that by following the stream of people he might be led through a portion of the city with which he was acquainted; which conjecture ultimately proved true. When he had joined the main stream of people, he could comprehend the nature of the alarm, for every one appeared to feel a responsibility upon himself to run at the top of his speed, and yell at the top of his voice, as he ran, the word “ Fire! fire !" But the mystery scarcely needed this explanation, as a broad bright light suddenly burst out at some little distance ahead, illumining every object around. By
this light he could see plainly the towering dome of the St. Charles, and other landmarks, by which he became perfectly aware of his position; but being anxious to see the end of this visitation, he followed with the crowd to the scene of action, and there found a dwelling-house almost enveloped in a sheet of fame. The excitement here, though great, was of a more silent and useful character than the preliminary demonstration had been, and only in cases of personal activity and daring displayed by the firemen would vent itself in a shout of approbation from the mob.
One man was in a room in the upper story, busy flinging out everything he could seize ; while the crowd below were as zealously placing these articles beyond the reach of the fire. The flames were already within the room where the fireman was, and it seemed to the spectators that his danger was imminent in remaining an instant longer.
Time after time, as the gallant fellow retired from the window, and the smoke and flames hid him from sight, the crowd seemed to think he had been lost altogether, and waited in hless suspense for his reappearance, which was as repeatedly hailed with a shout of joy; until at last a portion of the roof fell in, and the flames, no longer pent up within walls, shot out in a straight line of fire, before which everything seemed to crumble away. Thenthe figure of the fireman quickly appeared at the window; and scrambling to the ladder placed immediately under it, he safely descended.
Just at that moment a loud shriek was heard, and the crowd was seen to make way for a woman who rushed towards the building. “ My child! Oh God, my child !” she exclaimed.
child !" A breathless silence ensued. “ Is there no man here who will try to save my child ?" she
appealed from one to another with terrible energy, but without success ; one by one, each man shook his head.
“ It's too late now, madam; it can't be done," said one.
“ Too late!" said she, with a stern pathos ; " then it is not too late for me;" and, rushing forward, immersed herself and garments in the overflowing channel at the side of the street, then made for the door of the burning house.
Maternal instinct is a beautiful thing. With an energy almost superhuman, she repulsed the efforts of those who sought to detain her, and soon disappeared in the smoke of the conflagration. The time seemed to hang now.
Many men, almost ashamed to be outdone in personal courage by a woman, forced their way in, but were speedily compelled to return from the violence of the fire. Besides, they wanted the strong impulse of nature which guided the distracted mother to her slumbering babe.
Selborne was amongst the number who rushed forward in this endeavour, and was just about to enter, when the woman made her appearance with the child in her arms, securely covered up under her soaking garments.
To disclose its pretty face to the pure air, to imprint one frantic kiss on its forehead, and place it in the arms of the nearest bystander, was the work of an instant, before she sank insensible to the ground.
This bystander was no other than our hero, who was thus thrust into an adventure without any choice of his own. But his duties were not of long continuance, for the efforts of the spectators to recover the fainting female were soon successful; and he had only time to discover that the