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Humor of Soldier-Life


November-December 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 5, 1862.

Humor of Soldier-Life.

A private soldier, by the name of Richard Lee, was taken before the magistrates of Glasgow for playing cards during divine service. The account of it is thus given in the English journal:

“Sergeant commanded the soldiers at the church, and when the parson had read the prayers he took the text. Those who had a bible took it out, but this soldier had neither bible nor common prayer book; but pulling out a pack of cards, he spread them out before him. He first looked at one card and then another. The sergeant of the company saw him and said:

“‘Richard, put up the cards; this is no place for them.’

“‘Never mind that,’ said Richard.

“‘When the service was over, the constable took Richard a prisoner, and brought him before the Mayor.

“‘Well,’ says the Mayor, ‘what have you brought the soldier here for?’

“‘For playing cards in church.’

“‘Well, soldier, what have you to say for yourself?’

“‘Much, sir, I hope.’

“‘Very good; if not, I will punish you more than ever man was punished.’

“‘I have been,’ said the soldier, ‘about six weeks on the march. I have neither bible nor common prayer book. I have nothing but a pack of cards, and I hope to satisfy your worship of the purity of my intentions.’

“‘Then spending the cards before the Mayor, he began with the ace:

“‘When I see the ace it reminds me that there is but one God.

“‘When I see the deuce it reminds me of Father and Son.

“‘When I see the tray, it reminds me of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

“‘When I see the four, it reminds me of the four Evangelists that preached—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

“‘When I see the five, it reminds me of the five wise virgins that trimmed their lamps. There were ten, but five were wise and five were foolish, and were shut out.

“‘When I see the six, it reminds me that in six days the Lord made Heaven and earth.

“‘When I see the seven, it reminds me that on the seventh day God rested from the great work he had made, and hallowed it.

“‘When I see the eight, it reminds me of the eight righteous persons that were saved when God destroyed the world, viz: Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives.

“‘When I see the nine, it reminds me of the nine lepers that were cleansed by our Savior. There were nine out of ten who never returned thanks.

“‘When I see the ten, it reminds me of the Ten Commandments which God handed down to Moses on the tables of stone.

“‘When I see the king, it reminds me of the Great King of Heaven, which is God Almighty.

“‘When I see the queen, it reminds me of the Queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon, for she was as wise a woman as she was a man. She brought with her fifty boys and fifty girls, all dressed in boys’ apparel, for King Solomon to tell which were boys and which were girls. King Solomon sent for water for them to wash. The girls washed to the elbows, and the boys to the wrists, so King Solomon told by that.’

“‘Well, said the Mayor, ‘you have given a description of all the cards in the pack except one.’

“‘What is that?’

“‘The knave,’ said the Mayor.

“‘I will give your honor a description of that, too, if you will not be angry.’

“‘I will not, said the Mayor, ‘if you do not term me to be the knave.’

“‘Well, said the soldier, ‘the greatest knave that I know of is the constable that brought me here.’

“‘I do not know,’ said the Mayor, ‘if he is the greatest knave, but I know he is the greatest fool.’

“‘When I count how many spots in a pack of cards, I find three hundred and sixty-five, as many days as there are in a year.

“‘When I count the number of cards in a pack, I find there are fifty-two—the number of weeks in a year; and I find four suits—the number of weeks in a month.

“‘I find there are twelve picture cards in a pack, representing the number of months in a year; and on counting the tricks, I find thirteen—the number of weeks in a quarter.

“‘So you see, sir, a pack of cards serves for a Bible, almanac, and Common Prayer Book.”