Quote of the
... he blasted 'em with his natural speech ... He put it to 'em whether, setting ships aside—the United States was ready or able to face a new big war; she having but so few years back wound up one against England, and being all holds full of her own troubles ... and when he'd done it was like a still in the woods after a storm...
This is from "Brother Square-Toes" in Rewards and Fairies.
Pharaoh Lee is telling how President Washington (a possible model for the poem ‘If—’, though not according to Kipling many years after he wrote the tale) had held out against the French, and those in America who were urging him to declare war against England, because he knew it was not in his country’s interests