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THE CUSTOM-HOUSE

neighbours–to grow cruel, merely because they possessed the
power of inflicting harm. If the guillotine, as applied to office-
holders, were a literal fact, instead of one of the most apt of
metaphors, it is my sincere belief, that the active members of
the victorious party were sufficiently excited to have
chopped off all our heads, and have thanked Heaven for the opportu-
nity! It appears to me–who have been a calm and curious
observer, as well in victory as defeat–that this fierce and bit-
ter spirit of malice and revenge has never distinguished the
many triumphs of my own party as it now did that of the
Whigs. The Democrats take the offices, as a general rule,
because they need them, and because the practice of many
years has made it the law of political warfare, which, unless a
different system be proclaimed, it were weakness and coward-
ice to murmur at. But the long habit of victory has made them
generous. They know how to spare, when they see occasion;
and when they strike, the axe may be sharp, indeed, but its
edge is seldom poisoned with ill- will; nor is it their custom
ignominiously to kick the head which they have just struck off.

In short, unpleasant as was my predicament, at best, I saw
much reason to congratulate myself that I was on the losing
side, rather than the triumphant one. If, heretofore, I had
been none of the warmest of partisans, I began now, at this
season of peril and adversity, to be pretty acutely sensible
with which party my predilections lay; nor was it without
something like regret and shame, that, according to a rea-
sonable calculation of chances, I saw my own prospect of re-
taining office to be better than those of my Democratic
brethren. But who can see an inch into futurity, beyond his
nose? My own head was the first that fell!

The moment when a man's head drops off is seldom or
never, I am inclined to think, precisely the most agreeable of
his life. Nevertheless, like the greater part of our misfortunes,
even so serious a contingency brings its remedy and consola-
tion with it, if the sufferer will but make the best, rather than

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