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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Frances Milton Trollope (1780–1863)

Patriotism and Bugs

From “Domestic Manners of the Americans”

WE received much personal kindness; but this by no means interfered with the national feeling of, I believe, unconquerable dislike, which evidently lives at the bottom of every truly American heart against the English. This shows itself in a thousand little ways, even in the midst of the most kind and friendly intercourse, but often in a manner more comic than offensive.

Sometimes it was thus: “Well, now, I think your government must just be fit to hang themselves for that last war they cooked up; it has been the ruin of you I expect, for it has just been the making of us.”

Then: “Well, I do begin to understand your broken English better than I did; but no wonder I could not make it out very well at first, as you come from London. For everybody knows that London slang is the most dreadful in the world. How queer it is now, that all the people that live in London should put the h where it is not, and never will put it where it is.”

I was egotistical enough to ask the lady who said this, if she found that I did so.

“No, you do not,” was the reply. But she added, with a complacent smile, “It is easy enough to see the pains you take about it; I expect you have heard how we Americans laugh at you all for it, and so you are trying to learn our way of pronouncing.”

One lady asked me very gravely, if we had left home in order to get rid of the vermin with which the English of all ranks were afflicted? “I have heard from unquestionable authority,” she added, “that it is quite impossible to walk through the streets of London without having the head filled.”

I laughed a little, but spoke not a word. She coloured highly, and said, “There is nothing so easy as to laugh, but truth is truth, laughed at or not.”

I must preface the following anecdote by observing, that in America nearly the whole of the insect tribe are classed under the general name of bug; the unfortunate cosmopolite known by that name amongst us is almost the only one not included in this term. A lady abruptly addressed me with, “Don’t you hate chintzes, Mrs. Trollope?”

“No, indeed,” I replied, “I think them very pretty.”

“There now! if that is not being English! I reckon you call that loving your country. Well, thank God! we Americans have something better to love our country for than that comes to; we are not obliged to say that we like nasty filthy chintzes to show that we are good patriots.”

“Chintzes! What are chintzes?”

“Possible? Do you pretend you don’t know what chintzes are? Why the nasty little stinking bloodsuckers that all the beds in London are full of.”

I have since been informed that chinche is Spanish for bug; but at the time the word suggested only the material of a curtain.