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.
Doctor Ward sighed, as he shook his head. "I don't pretend to know now all you mean."
Calhoun whirled on him fiercely, with a vigor which his wasted frame did not indicate as possible.
"Listen, then, and I will tell you what John Calhoun means--John Calhoun, who has loved his own state, who has hated those who hated him, who has never prayed for those who despitefully used him, who has fought and will fight, since all insist on that. It is true Tyler has offered me again to-day the portfolio of secretary of state. Shall I take it? If I do, it means that I am employed by this administration to secure the admission of Texas. Can you believe me when I tell you that my ambition is for it all--all, every foot of new land, west to the Pacific, that we can get, slave or free? Can you believe John Calhoun, pro-slavery advocate and orator all his life, when he says that he believes he is an humble instrument destined, with God's aid, and through the use of such inst