General Gordon, the Confederate commander, used to tell the following story: He was sitting by the roadside one blazing hot day when a dilapidated soldier, his clothing in rags, a shoe lacking, his head bandaged, and his arm in a sling, passed him. He was soliloquizing in this manner:
"I love my country. I'd fight for my country. I'd starve and go thirsty for my country. I'd die for my country. But if ever this damn war is over I'll never love another country!"
A snobbish young Englishman visiting Washington's home at Mount Vernon was so patronizing as to arouse the wrath of guards and caretakers; but it remained for "Shep" Wright, an aged gardener and one of the first scouts of the Confederate army, to settle the gentleman. Approaching "Shep," the Englishman said:
"Ah—er—my man, the hedge! Yes, I see, George got this hedge from dear old England."
"Reckon he did," replied "Shep". "He got this whole blooming country from England."
Speaking of the policy of the Government of the United States with respect to its troublesome neighbors in Central and South America, "Uncle Joe" Cannon told of a Missouri congressman who is decidedly opposed to any interference in this regard by our country. It seems that this spring the Missourian met an Englishman at Washington with whom he conversed touching affairs in the localities mentioned. The westerner asserted his usual views with considerable forcefulness, winding up with this observation:
"The whole trouble is that we Americans need a —— good licking!"
"You do, indeed!" promptly asserted the Britisher, as if pleased by the admission. But his exultation was of brief duration, for the Missouri man immediately concluded with:
"But there ain't nobody can do it!"
A number of Confederate prisoners, during the Civil War, were detained at one of the western military posts under conditions much less unpleasant than those to be found in the ordinary military prison. Most of them appreciated their comparatively good fortune. One young fellow, though, could not be reconciled to association with Yankees under any circumstances, and took advantage of every opportunity to express his feelings. He was continually rubbing it in about the battle of Chickamauga, which had just been fought with such disastrous results for the Union forces.
"Maybe we didn't eat you up at Chickamauga!" was the way he generally greeted a bluecoat.
The Union men, when they could stand it no longer, reported the matter to General Grant. Grant summoned the prisoner.
"See here," said Grant, "I understand that you are continually insulting the men here with reference to the battle of Chickamauga. They have borne with you long enough, and I'm going to give you your choice of two things. You will either take the oath of allegiance to the United States, or be sent to a Northern prison. Choose."
The prisoner was silent for some time. "Well," he said at last, in a resigned tone, "I reckon, General, I'll take the oath."
The oath was duly administered. Turning to Grant, the fellow then asked, very penitently, if he might speak.
"Yes," said the general indifferently. "What is it?"
"Why, I was just thinkin', General," he drawled, "they certainly did give us hell at Chickamauga."
Historical controversies are creeping into the schools. In a New York public institution attended by many races, during an examination in history the teacher asked a little chap who discovered America.
He was evidently thrown into a panic and hesitated, much to the teacher's surprise, to make any reply.
"Oh, please, ma'am," he finally stammered, "ask me somethin' else."
"Something else, Jimmy? Why should I do that?"
"The fellers was talkin' 'bout it yesterday," replied Jimmy, "Pat McGee said it was discovered by an Irish saint. Olaf, he said it was a sailor from Norway, and Giovanni said it was Columbus, an' if you'd a-seen what happened you wouldn't ask a little feller like me."
Our country! When right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right!—Carl Schurz.
Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.—Stephen Decatur.
There are no points of the compass on the chart of true patriotism.—Robert C. Winthrop.
Patriotic exercises and flag worship will avail nothing unless the states give to their people of the kind of government that arouses patriotism.—Franklin Pierce II.
The Scotchman returned to his native town, Peebles, after a first visit to London. He told the neighbors enthusiastically of his many wonderful experiences in the metropolis. There was, however, no weakening in his local loyalty, for at the end he cried out proudly:
"But, for real pleasure, gi'e me Peebles!"
There is no doubting the strong patriotism of the schoolboy who is the hero of this tale, although he may have been weak on history. During an examination in general history, he was asked:
"Who was the first man?"
He answered proudly, even enthusiastically, without any hesitation:
"George Washington, first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts——"
But the teacher interrupted ruthlessly: "Wrong! Adam was the first man."
The boy sniffed disgustedly.
"Oh!" he retorted. "I didn't know you were talking about foreigners."
The troops had been marching through a sea of mud for hours, when at last they were lined up for inspection before a general. In the evolution, a young cavalryman who had enlisted was thrown from his horse into the muck, from which he emerged in a dreadful state, though uninjured except in his feelings. The general himself, who had witnessed the incident, rode up, and preserving his gravity with some effort inquired of the trooper if he had suffered any hurt from the fall.
"Naw," was the disgusted reply. "But if I ever love a country agin, you can kick me!"