Immensity and vastness are the especial objects of Yankee idolatry.
They are satisfied with anything if only it is big. They can even admire a virtuous action if it is done on a stupendous scale, and not after the fashion of the widow's two mites.
They like any thing that is big, from a big piece of pie to a big contract.
The most superficial observer of Yankee character might have predicted that this would be a big war. The monstrous in crime was always the Yankee
's favorite newspaper reading.
A big milder in his morning's journal was essential to his peace of mind for that day. Hence the gigantic scale of murder that the war has assumed.
Everything about it is so big, except its victories; nothing little about it except its success.
Even a big explosion, like that at City Point
, fills him with transport.
He would have liked it better if it had been a Confederate magazine, but, any way, it was big, and that fills him with delegated wonder.
One secret of his devotion to the glorious Union is that it was so big. It had the biggest territory, the biggest mountains, the biggest rivers, the biggest forests, the biggest prairies, of any country in the Universe.
It would have in a century more, according to his calculation, the biggest population on the face of the earth.
Two hundred millions of American freemen!
The American eagle was the
biggest of all the animal creation.
With one wing on the Atlantic
and the other on the Pacific
, he could take up the whole continent in his talons and soar away with it to the seventh heaven of liberty.
Was Yankee going to give up a big country like that?
I guess not.
Then, above all, the big cotton crops, with a big nigger in the bale, the big commissions and the big commerce proceeding therefrom.
Wonderful that all this love of bigness has never produced anything big but big fortunes and big luxury.
It has never brought forth a big spies like Homer
, or a big Coliseum like that where eighty thousand Romans
witnessed the combats of the gladiators; or a big church like St. Peters; a big philosopher like Bacon
; a big poet like Shakespeare
; a big orator like Chatham
; a big soldier like the "little Corsican." --But that is not the kind of bigness adapted to Yankee capacities.
A mammoth ox or an overgrown prize-fighter, like the Goliath who went across the ocean to take the starch out of John Bull
's collar, and came back in a very rumpled and placid condition, is the bean ideal of Yankee bigness.
It may seem strange that a people themselves so little should have such a passion for all that is big. But that is in accordance with the law of contraries in the human mind.
People generally admire their opposites.
None are as great idolaters of courage as cowards, or of physical strength as the weak.--Men are often more ambitious of reputation for qualities which they do not possess than for those in which their superiority is admitted.
Hence the Yankees
, whose livers are always out of order, their gastric juices in a state of chronic insurrection, and their bodies consequently dried up and cadaverous, like nothing so much as the huge and oleaginous.
Many of them, with souls so little that some of their philosophers deny that there is a soul, are only happy when they are acting pilot-fish to a shark or jackal to a lion.
Any sort of affinity to anything that is big makes them forget their own diminutiveness, and exult in the imagination that a pigmy becomes a giant when he is "perch'd on Alps
It will be a dreadful blow to these manikins where they have to give up all hope of the big Union, and exchange the big profits proceeding therefrom for the pewter plates and pints pots of their primitive pillaring and cod fishery.
Little New England
, left to herself by both the South and West; can have no other recourse than to be tied like a tin pan to the tail of the British
Even then, she could gratify her taste for the big by admiring the dimensions of the rump which honors her with its companionship.
And even if denied that luxury, she can console herself with the big ruin which her fanaticism has brought upon the old government and upon her own fortunes, and cheer herself up every morning by seeing in her looking-glass
a big fool.