54-40 or Fight

by Emerson Hough

There is probably no one writing to-day who has so well caught the trick of this particular sort of pseudo-history, in which real personages and real events are so dexterously interwoven with a tissue of purely imaginary happenings, and the causes of great international crises attributed to the audacious intrigues of some charming adventurers invented expressly for the occasion, as Mr. Hough has succeeded in doing. And all the while, he does it with a swing and verve, a frank good will, and such a naive assurance that the reader's enjoyment fully equals his own, that he quite disarms criticism. The date of the story coincides with the presidency of Mr. Tyler, when the country seemed to be on the eve of war not only with Mexico, but with England as well; and when James K. Polk and John Calhoun were also playing their parts in working out the nation's destiny. It matters little whether these historic personages ever really said or did the precise things attributed to them by Mr. Hough or not. The main point is that what he makes them say is thoroughly in keeping with the whole spirit of the sort of romantic fiction he aspires to write.

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