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 “better than any European soldiers.” And the reason assigned for this boast is in the American vein too: “Because they not only worked like a machine, but the machine thought. European armies know very little what they are fighting for, and care less.” Is the German army a machine which does not think? Did the French revolutionary armies know very little what they were fighting for, and care less? Sainte-Beuve says charmingly that he “cannot bear to have it said that he is the first in anything; it is not a thing that can be admitted, and these ways of classing people give offence.” German military men read Grant's boast, and are provoked into replying that the campaigns and battles of the American Civil War were mere struggles of militia; English military men say that Americans have been steady enough behind breastworks and entrenchments against regulars, but never in the open field. Why cannot the Americans, in speaking of their nation, take Sainte-Beuve's happy and wise caution? The point is worth insisting on, because to be always seeking to institute comparisons, and comparisons to the advantage of their own country, is with so many Americans a tic, a mania, which every one notices in them, and which
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