A Feature of Yankee Excellence.
Henry Ward Beecher
some time since, in one of his speeches, took notice of a scheme that had been mooted for the restoration of the Union minus
the New England
He ridiculed the proposition as preposterous, as utterly impossible.
There was not such thing as keeping them "cut in the cold"--they could not be kept out. The Yankees
, he said, were too inquisitive, too prying, too permeating, to be kept out from any place they wanted to go. They were the pick locks
among the nations, and no fastening was proof against them or could keep them out!
This picture, drawn by a Yankee of his own people, is not only true, but one of which they are rather proud.
From early times the most interesting traditions of Yankee households — the pleasant conversations "to hum"--are the reminiscences of Yankee pedlars among the people of the South
, showing how the poor, simple Southerners were robbed and swindled before their very eyes, and defrauded out of their money by the most patent cheats and fraudulent notions.
They were delightful stories for the Yankee
change at the meeting house on the Sabbath, and elevated their narrators in the estimation of the elect and selectmen as very smart and promising young men, who would "get along in the world."
There is hardly anybody in this world — and impossible that there is any one in any other either above or beneath it — who will deny the truth of Beecher
's portrait of his own people.
It brings to mind a celebrated trial of skill at the World
's Fair in London
a few years since.
, the Yankee
lock manufacturer, went to the fair and challenged the world on locks.
A famous London
mechanic unwittingly took him up. We forget his name.
It may have been Brown
, or Johnson
, or Smith
— he was certainly a locksmith.
He presented his lock in comparison with Hobbs
's. How was the question of relative merit between the locks to be settled?
said "easy enough."--"I'll undertake to pick your lock and you undertake to pick mine.
If I pick yours, and you can't pick mine, of course mine is the best, and vice versa.
" The Englishman
was green enough to accept the terms — he was not posted on Yankee cuteness and skill!
The result was inevitable.
's lock was picked, the Yankee
's was not. But the Englishman could not escape the consequence Hobbs
's lock triumphed, and the Yankees
Now, the truth was, no doubt, this: The Englishman
's lock was the best; but the Yankee
was the best picker of locks!
The trial was a striking illustration of the fidelity of Beecher
's portrait of his own race!