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Seven English Cities by W. D. Howells

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expansion. Nothing could have been friendlier and livelier than
the spectacle of the spectators spread over the grassy slope, or
sublimer than the rise of the hills around, or more enchanting
than the summer sea, with the large and little shipping on it,
and the passenger-steamers going and coming from Liverpool and
all the points in the region round. The two headlands which mark
the limits of the beautiful beach, Great Orme's Head, and Little
Orme's Head, are both of a nobleness tempered to kindliness by
the soft and manageable beauty of their forms. I never got quite
so far as Little Orme's Head, for it was full two miles from our
lodging, and a fortnight was not long enough for the journey, but
with Great Orme's Head I was on terms of very tolerable intimacy.
A road of the excellence peculiar to England passes round on the
chin, so to speak, and though I never went the length of it, I
went far enough to know the majesty of the seaward prospect. From
the crown of the Head there is a view of perhaps all the
mountains in Wales, which from this point appears entirely
composed of mountains, blue, blue and enchantingly fair. On the
townward side you may descend into the Happy Valley, as we did,
and find always a joyous crowd listening to the Niggers. If,
after some doubt of your way, you have the favor of a nice boy
and an intelligent collie dog, whom the boy is helping herd home
the evening cows of a pleasant farm, you will have a charming
glimpse of the local civilization; and perhaps you will notice
that the cows do not pay much attention to the boy, but obey the
dog implicitly; it is their Old World convention.


From another side we had ascended the mountain by the tram line
which climbs it to the top, and at every twist and turn lavishes
some fresh loveliness of landscape upon your vision. Near by, we
noticed many depressions and sinkages in the ground, and a
conversable man in well-oiled overalls who joined us at a power-
house, said it was from the giving way of the timbers in the
disused copper-mines. Were they very old, we asked, and he said
they had not been worked for forty years; but this, when you come
to think of the abandoned Roman mines yet deeper in the hill, was
a thing of yesterday. The man in the oily overalls had evidently
not come to think of it, but he was otherwise a very intelligent
mechanic, and of a hospitable mind, like all the rest of our
chance acquaintance in Great Britain. I do not know that I like
to think of those Roman mines myself, where it is said the sea
now surges back and forth: they must have been worked by British
slaves, who may be fancied climbing purblindly out when the
legions left Britain, and not joining very loudly in the general
lamentation at their withdrawal, but probably tempering the
popular grief with the reflection that the heathen Saxons could
not be much worse.

The hill-top was covered with the trippers who seem perpetually
holidaying on their island, and who were always kind to their
children when they had them, and to each other when they had not.
They were commonly in couples, very affectionate and
inoffensively young. They wandered about, and from time to time
went and had tea at one of the tea-houses which are always at
hand over there. Except the view there was not much to see; the
ways were rough; now and then you came to a pink cottage or a
white one where the peasantry, again, sold tea. At one place in
our walk over the occiput of Great Orme's Head into the Happy
Valley in its bosom, we fell a prey to a conspiracy of boys
selling mignonette: it appeared to be a mignonette trust, or
syndicate, confining its commerce to that flower.

I have no other statistics to offer concerning business on Great
Orme's Head, or indeed in all Llandudno. One of the chief
industries seemed to be coaching, for a score of delightful
places are to be easily reached by the stages always departing
from the hotels on the Parade. There was no particularly
noticeable traffic in leek, though I suppose that as I did not
see the national emblem in any Welshman's hat--to be sure, it was
not St. David's Day--it must have been boiling in every
Welshman's pot. I am rather ashamed to be joining, even at this
remove, in the poor English joking which goes on about the Welsh,
quite as much as about the Scotch, the Irish having become too
grave a matter for joking. There are little burlesque manuals
making merry with the language and its agglutinative prolixity,
which I shall certainly not quote; and there are postal-cards
representing Welsh dames drinking tea in tall witch-hats, with
one of them saying: "I wass enjoying myself shocking, look you."
There was, of course, nothing serious in this joking; the Welsh,
who have all the small commerce in their hands, gladly sold the
manuals and postals, and I did not see one Englishman laughing
over them.

The Saeseneg visitors rather amused themselves with the sea and
the resources of the beach and the bathing. As contrasted with
the visitors at Aberystwyth, so distinctly in the earlier and
later stages of love-making, I should say those at Llandudno were
domestic: fathers and mothers who used the long phalanx of
bathing-machines appointed to their different sexes, and their
children who played in the sand. I thought the children charming,
and I contributed tuppence to aid in the repair of the sand
castle of two nice little boys which had fallen down; it now
seems strange that I should have been asked for a subscription,
but in England subscriptions spare nobody; though I wonder if two
such nice little boys would have come to me for money in America.
Besides the entertainment of lying all afternoon on the beach, or
sitting beside it in canopied penny chairs, there was more active
diversion for all ages and sexes in the circus prevailing
somewhere in the background, and advertising itself every
afternoon by a procession of six young elephants neatly carrying
each in his trunk the tail of the elephant before him. There were
also the delightful shows of the amusement pier where one could
go and see Pierrots to one's heart's content, if one can ever get
enough of Pierrots; I never can.


Besides all these daytime things there were two very good
theatres, at one of which I saw Mr. Barrie's _Little Mary_
given better than in New York (that was easy), and at the other a
comic opera, with a bit of comedy or tragedy in a stage-box, not
announced in the bills. The audience was otherwise decorous
enough to be composed of Welsh Baptist elders and their visiting
friends, but in this box there were two young men in evening
dress, scuffling with a young woman in dinner d�collet�e, and
what appeared to be diamonds in her ears. They were trying, after
what seems the convention of English seaside flirtation, to get
something out of her hand, and allowing her successfully to
resist them; and their playful contest went on through a whole
act to the distraction of the spectators, who did not seem
greatly scandalized. It suggested the misgiving that perhaps bad
people came to Llandudno for their summer outing as well as good;
but there was no interference by the police or the management
with this robust side-show. Were the actors in the scene, all or
any of them, too high in rank to be lightly molested in their
lively event; or were they too low? Perhaps they were merely
tipsy, but all the same their interlude was a contribution to the
evening's entertainment which would not have been so placidly
accepted in, say, Atlantic City, or Coney Island, or even
Newport, where people are said to be more accustomed to the
caprices of society persons, and more indulgent of their whims.


A more improving, and on the whole more pleasing, phase of the
indigenous life, and also more like a phase of our own, showed
itself the day of our visit to Conway, a little way from
Llandudno. There, on our offering to see the ruins of the
wonderful and beautiful old castle, we were met at the entrance
with a demand for an exceptional shilling gate money, because of
the fair for the local Wesleyan Chapel which was holding in the
interior. What seemed at first a hardship turned out a chance
which we would not have missed on any account. There was a large
tent set up in the old castle court, and a table spread with
home-made dainties of many sorts, and waited upon by gentle maids
and matrons who served one with tea or whatever else one liked,
all for that generously inclusive shilling. They were Welsh, they
told us, and they were speaking their language to right and left
of us, while they were so courteous to us in English. It was
quite like a church fair in some American village, where,
however, it could not have had the advantage of a ruined Norman
castle for its scene, and where it would not have provided a
range for target practice with air-guns, or grounds for running
and jumping.

The place was filled with people young and old who were quietly
amusing themselves and were more taken up with the fair than with
the castle. I must myself comparatively slight the castle in the
present study of people rather than places, though I may note
that if there is any more interesting ruin in the world, I am
satisfied with this which it surpasses. Besides its beauty, what
strikes one most is its perfect adaptation to the original
purpose of palace and fortress for which the Normans planned
their strongholds in Wales. The architect built not only with a
constant instinct of beauty, but with unsurpassable science and
skill. The skill and the science have gone the way of the need of
them, but the beauty remains indelible and as eternal as the
hunger for it in the human soul. Conway castle is not all a ruin,
even as a fortress, however. Great part of it still challenges
decay, and is so entire in its outward shape that it has inspired
the railway running under its shoulder to attempt a conformity of
style in the bridge approaching it, but without enabling it to an
equal effect of grandeur. One would as soon the bridge had not

All Conway is worthy, within its ancient walls, of as much
devotion as one can render it in the rain, which begins as soon
as you leave the castle. The walls climb from the waters to the
hills, and the streets wander up and down and seem to the
stranger mainly to seek that beautiful old Tudor house, Plas
Mawr, which like the castle is without rival in its kind. It was
full of reeking and streaming sight-seers, among whom one could
easily find one's self incommoded without feeling one's self a
part of the incommodation, but in spite of them there was the
assurance of comfort as well as splendor in the noble old
mansion, such as the Elizabethan houses so successfully studied.
In the dining-room a corner of the mantel has its sandstone
deeply worn away, and a much-elbowed architect, who was taking
measurements of the chimney, agreed that this carf was the effect
of the host or the butler flying to the place and sharpening his
knife for whatever haunch of venison or round of beef was toward.
It was a fine memento of the domestic past, and there was a
secret chamber where the refugees of this cause or that in other
times were lodged in great discomfort. Besides, there was a ghost
which was fairly crowded out of its accustomed quarters, where so
far from being able to walk, it would have had much ado to stand
upright by flattening itself against the wall.


In fact, there was not much more room that day in the Plas Mawr,
than in the Smallest House in the World, which is the next
chiefest attraction of Conway. This, too, was crammed with damp
enthusiasts, passionately eager to sign their names in the guest-
book. They scarcely left space in the sitting-room of ten by
twelve feet for the merry old hostess selling photographs and
ironically inviting her visitors' guests to a glimpse of the
chamber overhead, or so much of it as the bed allowed to be seen.
She seemed not to believe in her abode as a practicable tenement,
and could not be got to say that she actually lived in it; as to
why it was built so small she was equally vague. But there it
was, to like or to leave, and there, not far off, was the "briny
beach" where the Walrus and the Carpenter walked together,--

"And wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand."

For it was in Conway, as history or tradition is, that _Through
the Looking-Glass_ was written.

There are very few places in those storied British Isles which
are not hallowed by some association with literature; but I
suppose that Llandudno is as exempt as any can be, and I will not
try to invoke any dear and honored shade from its doubtful
obscurity. We once varied the even tenor of our days there by
driving to Penmaenmawr, and wreaking our love of literary
associations so far as we might by connecting the place with the
memory of Gladstone, who was literary as well as political. We
thought with him that Penmaenmawr was "the most charming
watering-place in Wales," and as you drive into the place, the
eye of faith will detect the house, on the right, in which he
spent many happy summers. We contented ourselves with driving
direct to the principal hotel, where I know not what kept us from
placing ourselves for life. We had tea and jam en the pretty
lawn, and the society of a large company of wasps of the yellow-
jacket variety, which must have been true Welsh wasps, as
peaceful as they were musical, and no interloping Scotch or
Irish, for they did not offer to attack us, but confined
themselves altogether to our jam: to be sure, we thought best to
leave it to them.

[Illustration: CONWAY CASTLE]

It is said that the purple year is not purpler at any point on
the southernmost shores of England than it is at Llandudno. In
proof of the mildness of its winter climate, the presence of many
sorts of tender evergreens is alleged, and the persistence of
flowers in blooming from Christmas to Easter. But those who have
known the deceitful habits of flowers on the Riviera, where they
bloom in any but an arctic degree of cold, will not perhaps hurry
to Llandudno much later than November. All the way to Penmaenmawr
the flowers showed us what they could do in summer, whether in
field or garden, and there was one beautiful hill on which
immense sweeps and slopes of yellow gorse and purple heather
boldly stretched separately, or mingled their dyes in the
fearlessness of nature when she spurns the canons of art. I
suppose there is no upholsterer or paperhanger who would advise
mixing or matching yellow and purple in the decoration of a room,
but here the outdoor effect rapt the eye in a transport of
delight. It was indeed a day when almost any arrangement of
colors would have pleased.


It is not easy in that much summer-resorted region to get at the
country in other than its wilder moods; it is either town or
mountain; but now and then one found one's self among harvest-
fields, where the yield of wheat and oats was far heavier than
with us, either because the soil was richer or the tilth
thorougher. The farms indeed looked very fertile, and the
farmhouses very alluringly clean and neat, at least on the
outside. They were not gray, as in the West of England, or brick
as in the Southeast, but were of stone whitewashed, and the roofs
were of slate, and not thatch or tile. As I have noted, they were
not so much gathered into villages as in England, and again, as I
have noted, it is out of such houses that the farmers' boys and
girls go to the co-educational colleges of the Welsh University.
It is still the preference of the farmers that their sons should
be educated for the ministry, which in that country of multiplied
dissents has pulpits for every color of contrary-mindedness, as
well as livings of the not yet disestablished English Church. It
is not indeed the English Church in speech. The Welsh will have
their service and their sermon in their own tongue, and when an
Oxford or Cambridge man is given a Welsh living, he must do what
he can to conform to the popular demand. It is said that in one
case, where the incumbent long held out against the parish, he
compromised by reading the service in Welsh with the English
pronunciation. But the Welsh churches are now supplied with
Welsh-speaking clergy, though whether it is well for the Welsh to
cling so strongly to their ancient speech is doubted by many
Welshmen. These hold that it cramps and dwarfs the national
genius; but in the mean time in Ireland the national genius, long
enlarged to our universal English, offers the strange spectacle
of an endeavor to climb back into its Gaelic shell.

[Illustration: PLAS MAWR]

I do not know whether an incident of my experience in coming from
Chester to Llandudno is to be offered as an illustration of Welsh
manners or of English manners. A woman of the middle rank,
certainly below gentlewoman, but very personable and well
dressed, got into our carriage where there was no seat for her.
She was no longer young, but she was not so old as the American
who offered her his seat. She refused it, but consented to sit on
the hand-bag and rug which he arranged for her, and so remained
till she left the train, while a half-grown boy and several young
men kept their countenances and their places, not apparently
dreaming of offering her a seat, or if they thought of her at
all, thought she was well punished for letting the guard crowd
her in upon us. By her stature and complexion she was undoubtedly
Welsh, and these youth from theirs were as undoubtedly English.
Perhaps, then, the incident had better be offered as an
illustration of Welsh and English manners combined.

* * * * *


Nothing is so individual in any man as the peculiar blend of
characteristics which he has inherited from his racial
ancestries. The Englishman, who leaves the stamp of the most
distinct personality upon others, is the most mixed, the most
various, the most relative of all men. He is not English except
as he is Welsh, Dutch, and Norman, with "a little Latin and less
Greek" from his earliest visitors and invaders. This conception
of him will indefinitely simplify the study of his nature if it
is made in the spirit of the frank superficiality which I propose
to myself. After the most careful scrutiny which I shall be able
to give him, he will remain, for every future American, the
contradiction, the anomaly, the mystery which I expect to leave


No error of the Englishman's latest invader is commoner than the
notion, which perhaps soonest suggests itself, that he is a sort
of American, tardily arriving at our kind of consciousness, with
the disadvantages of an alien environment, after apparently
hopeless arrest in unfriendly conditions. The reverse may much
more easily be true; we may be a sort of Englishmen, and the
Englishman, if he comes to us and abides with us, may become a
sort of American. But that is the affair of a possible future,
and the actual Englishman is certainly not yet any sort of
American, unless, indeed, for good and for bad, he is a better
sort of Bostonian. He does not even speak the American language,
whatever outlandish accent he uses in speaking his own. It may be
said, rather too largely, too loosely, that the more cultivated
he is, the more he will speak like a cultivated American, until
you come to the King, or the Royal Family, with whom a strong
German accent is reported to prevail. The Englishman may write
American, if he is a very good writer, but in no case does he
spell American. He prefers, as far as he remembers it, the Norman
spelling, and, the Conqueror having said "_ge�le_," the
Conquered print "gaol," which the American invader must pronounce
"jail," not "gayol."

The mere mention of the Royal Family advances us to the most
marked of all the superficial English characteristics; or,
perhaps, loyalty is not superficial, but is truly of the blood
and bone, and not reasoned principle, but a passion induced by
the general volition. Whatever it is, it is one of the most
explicitly as well as the most tacitly pervasive of the English
idiosyncrasies. A few years ago--say, fifteen or twenty--it was
scarcely known in its present form. It was not known at all with
many in the time of the latest and worst of the Georges, or the
time of the happy-go-lucky sailor William; in the earlier time of
Victoria, it was a chivalrous devotion among the classes, and
with the masses an affection which almost no other sovereign has
inspired. I should not be going farther than some Englishmen if I
said that her personal character saved the monarchy; when she
died there was not a vestige of the republican dream which had
remained from a sentiment for "the free peoples of antiquity"
rather than from the Commonwealth. Democracy had indeed effected
itself in a wide-spread socialism, but the kingship was safe in
the hearts of the Queen's subjects when the Prince of Wales, who
was the first of them, went about praising loyalty as prime among
the civic virtues and duties. The notion took the general fancy,
and met with an acceptance in which the old superstition of kings
by divine right was resuscitated with the vulgar. One of the
vulgar lately said to an American woman who owned that we did not
yield an equal personal fealty to all our Presidents, "Oh yes,
but you know that it is only your _people_ that choose the
President, but _God_ gave us the King." Nothing could be
opposed to a belief so simple, as in the churches of the eldest
faith the humble worshipper could not well be told that the
picture or the statue of his adoration was not itself sacred. In
fact, it is not going too far, at least for a very adventurous
spirit, to say that loyalty with the English is a sort of
religious principle. What is with us more or less a joke,
sometimes bad, sometimes good, namely, our allegiance to the
powers that be in the person of the Chief Magistrate, is with
them a most serious thing, at which no man may smile without

I was so far from wishing myself to smile at it, that I darkled
most respectfully about it, without the courage to inquire
directly into the mystery. If it was often on my tongue to ask,
"What is loyalty? How did you come by it? Why are you loyal?"--I
felt that it would be embarrassing when it would not be
offensive, and I should vainly plead in excuse that this property
of theirs mystified me the more because it seemed absolutely left
out of the American nature. I perceived that in the English it
was not less really present because it was mixed, or used to be
mixed, with scandal that the alien can do no more than hint at.
That sort of abuse has long ceased, and if one were now to
censure the King, or any of the Royal Family, it would be felt to
be rather ill bred, and quite unfair, since royalty is in no
position to reply to criticism. Even the Socialists would think
it ill-mannered, though in their hearts, if not in their sleeves,
they must all the while be smiling at the notion of anything
sacred in the Sovereign.



Loyalty, like so many other things in England, is a convention to
which the alien will tacitly conform in the measure of his good
taste or his good sense. It is not his affair, and in the mean
time it is a most curious and interesting spectacle; but it is
not more remarkable, perhaps, than the perfect acquiescence in
the aristocratic forms of society which hedge the King with their
divinity. We think that family counts for much with ourselves, in
New England or in Virginia; but it counts for nothing at all in
comparison with the face value at which it is current in England.
We think we are subject to our plutocracy, when we are very much
out of humor or out of heart, in some such measure as the
commoners of England are subject to the aristocracy; but that is
nonsense. A very rich man with us is all the more ridiculous for
his more millions; he becomes a byword if not a hissing; he is
the meat of the paragrapher, the awful example of the preacher;
his money is found to smell of his methods. But in England, the
greater a nobleman is, the greater his honor. The American mother
who imagines marrying her daughter to an English duke, cannot
even imagine an English duke--say, like him of Devonshire, or him
of Northumberland, or him of Norfolk--with the social power and
state which wait upon him in his duchy and in the whole realm;
and so is it in degree down to the latest and lowest of the
baronets, and of those yet humbler men who have been knighted for
their merits and services in medicine, in literature, in art. The
greater and greatest nobles are established in a fear which is
very like what the fear of God used to be when the common people
feared Him; and, though they are potent political magnates, they
mainly rule as the King himself does, through the secular
reverence of those beneath them for their titles and the visible
images of their state. They are wealthy men, of course, with so
much substance that, when one now and then attempts to waste it,
he can hardly do so; but their wealth alone would not establish
them in the popular regard. His wealth does no such effect for
Mr. Astor in England; and mere money, though it is much desired
by all, is no more venerated in the person of its possessor than
it is with us. It is ancestry, it is the uncontested primacy of
families first in their place, time out of mind, that lays its
resistless hold upon the fancy and bows the spirit before it. By
means of this comes the sovereign effect in the political as well
as the social state; for, though the people vote into or out of
power those who vote other people into or out of the
administration, it is always--or so nearly always that the
exception proves the rule--family that rules, from the King down
to the least attach� of the most unimportant embassy. No doubt
many of the English are restive under the fact; and, if one had
asked their mind about it, one might have found them frank
enough; but, never asking it, it was with amusement that I heard
said once, as if such a thing had never occurred to anybody
before, "Yes, isn't it strange that those few families should
keep it all among themselves!" It was a slender female voice,
lifted by a young girl with an air of pensive surprise, as at a
curious usage of some realm of faery.


England is in fact, to the American, always a realm of faery, in
its political and social constitution. It must be owned,
concerning the government by family, that it certainly seems to
work well. That justifies it, so far as the exclusion of the
immense majority from the administration of their own affairs can
be justified by anything; though I hold that the worst form of
graft in office is hardly less justifiable: that is, at least,
one of the people picking their pockets. But it is the universal
make-believe behind all the practical virtue of the state that
constitutes the English monarchy a realm of faery. The whole
population, both the great and the small, by a common effort of
the will, agree that there is a man or a woman of a certain line
who can rightfully inherit the primacy amongst them, and can be
dedicated through this right to live the life of a god, to be so
worshipped and flattered, so cockered about with every form of
moral and material flummery, that he or she may well be more than
human not to be made a fool of. Then, by a like prodigious stroke
of volition, the inhabitants of the enchanted island universally
agree that there is a class of them which can be called out of
their names in some sort of title, bestowed by some ancestral or
actual prince, and can forthwith be something different from the
rest, who shall thenceforth do them reverence, them and their
heirs and assigns, forever. By this amusing process, the realm of
faery is constituted, a thing which could not have any existence
in nature, yet by its existence in fancy becomes the most
absolute of human facts.

It is not surprising that, in the conditions which ensue,
snobbishness should abound; the surprising thing would be if it
did not abound. Even with ourselves, who by a seven years'
struggle burst the faery dream a century ago, that least erected
spirit rears its loathly head from the dust at times, and in our
polite press we can read much if we otherwise see nothing of its
subtle influence. But no evil is without its compensating good,
and the good of English snobbishness is that it has reduced
loyalty, whether to the prince or to the patrician, from a
political to a social significance. That is, it does so with the
upper classes; with the lower, loyalty finds expression in an
unparalleled patriotism. An Englishman of the humble or the
humbler life may know very well that he is not much in himself;
but he believes that England stands for him, and that royalty and
nobility stand for England. Both of these, there, are surrounded
by an atmosphere of reverence wholly inconceivable to the natives
of a country where there are only millionaires to revere.


The most curious thing is that the persons in the faery dream
seem to believe it as devoutly as the simplest and humblest of
the dreamers. The persons in the dream apparently take themselves
as seriously as if there were or could be in reality kings and
lords. They could not, of course, do so if they were recently
dreamed, as they were, say, in the France of the Third Empire.
There, one fancies, these figments must have always been smiling
in each other's faces when they were by themselves. But the faery
dream holds solidly in England because it is such a very old
dream. Besides, the dream does not interfere with the realities;
it even honors them. If a man does any great thing in England,
the chief figure of the faery dream recognizes his deed, stoops
to him, lifts him up among the other figures, and makes him part
of the dream forever. After that he has standing, such as no man
may have with us for more than that psychological moment, when
all the papers cry him up, and then everybody tries to forget
him. But, better than this, the dream has the effect, if it has
not the fact, of securing every man in his place, so long as he
keeps to it. Nowhere else in the world is there so much personal
independence, without aggression, as in England. There is
apparently nothing of it in Germany; in Italy, every one is so
courteous and kind that there is no question of it; in the French
Republic and in our own, it exists in an excess that is molestive
and invasive; in England alone does it strike the observer as
being of exactly the just measure.

Very likely the observer is mistaken, and in the present case he
will not insist. After all, even the surface indications in such
matters are slight and few. But what I noted was that, though the
simple and humble have to go to the wall, and for the most part
go to it unkicking, in England they were, on their level,
respectfully and patiently entreated. At a railroad junction one
evening, when there was a great hurrying up stairs and down, and
a mad seeking of wrong trains by right people, the company's
servants who were taking tickets, and directing passengers this
way and that, were patiently kind with futile old men and women,
who came up, in the midst of their torment, and pestered them
with questions as to the time when trains that had not arrived
would leave after they did arrive. I shuddered to think what
would have at least verbally happened to such inquirers with us;
but, there, not only their lives but their feelings were safe,
and they could go away with such self-respect as they had quite


In no country less good-hearted than England could anything so
wrong-headed as the English baggage system be suffered. But,
there, passengers of all kinds help the porters to sort their
trunks from other people's trunks, on arrival at their stations,
and apparently think it no hardship. The porters, who do not seem
especially inspired persons, have a sort of guiding instinct in
the matter, and wonderfully seldom fail to get the things
together for the cab, or to get them off the cab, and, duly
labelled, into the luggage-van. Once, at a great junction, my
porter seemed to have missed my train, and after vain but not
unconsidered appeals to the guard, I had to start without it. At
the next station, the company telegraphed back at its own cost
the voluminous message of my anxiety and indignation, and I was
assured that the next train would bring my valise from Crewe to
Edinburgh. When I arrived at Edinburgh, I casually mentioned my
trouble to a guard whom I had not seen before. He asked how the
bags were marked, and then he said they had come with us. My
porter had run with them to my train, but in despair of getting
to my car with his burden, had put them into the last luggage-
van, and all I had to do was now to identify them at my journey's

Why one does not, guiltily or guiltlessly, claim other people's
baggage, I do not know; but apparently it is not the custom.
Perhaps in this, the deference for any one within his rights,
peculiar to the faery dream, operates the security of the
respective owners of baggage that could otherwise easily be the
general prey. While I saw constant regard paid for personal
rights, I saw only one case in which they were offensively
asserted. This was in starting from York for London, when we
attempted to take possession of a compartment we had paid for
from the nearest junction, in order to make certain of it. We
found it in the keeping of a gentleman who had turned it from a
non-smoking into a smoking compartment, and bestrewn it with his
cigar ashes. When told by the porters that we had engaged the
compartment, he refused to stir, and said that he had paid for
his seat, and he should not leave it till he was provided with
another. In vain they besought him to consider our hard case, in
being kept out of our own, and promised him another place as good
as the one he held. He said that he would not believe it till he
saw it, and as he would not go to see it, and it could not be
brought to him, there appeared little chance of our getting rid
of him. I thought it best to let him and the porters fight it out
among themselves. When a force of guards appeared, they were
equally ineffective against the intruder, who could not, or did
not, say that he did not know the compartment was engaged.
Suddenly, for no reason, except that he had sufficiently stood,
or sat, upon his rights, he rose, and the others precipitated
themselves upon his hand-baggage, mainly composed of fishing-
tackle, such as a gentleman carries who has been asked to
somebody's fishing, and bore it away to another part of the
train. They left one piece behind, and the porter who came back
for it was radiantly smiling, as if the struggle had been an
agreeable exercise, and he spoke of his antagonist without the
least exasperation; evidently, he regarded him as one who had
justly defended himself from corporate aggression; his sympathies
were with him rather than with us, perhaps because we had not so
vigorously asserted ourselves.


A case in which a personal wrong rather than a personal right was
offensively asserted, was that of a lady, young and too fair to
be so unfair, in a crowded train coming from the Doncaster Races
to York. She had kept a whole first-class compartment to herself,
putting her maid into the second-class adjoining, and heaping the
vacant seats with her hand-baggage, which had also overflowed
into the corridor. At the time the train started she was
comforting herself in her luxurious solitude with a cup of tea,
and she stood up, as if to keep other people out. But, after
waiting, seven of us, in the corridor, until she should offer to
admit us, we all swarmed in upon her, and made ourselves
indignantly at home. When it came to that she offered no protest,
but gathered up her belongings, and barricaded herself with them.
Among the rest there was a typewriting-machine, but what manner
of young lady she was, or whether of the journalistic or the
theatrical tribe, has never revealed itself to this day. We could
not believe that she was very high-born, not nearly so high, for
instance, as the old lady who helped dispossess her, and who,
when we ventured the hope that it would not rain on the morrow,
which was to be St. Leger Day, almost lost the kindness for us
inspired by some small service, because we had the bad taste to
suggest such a possibility for so sacred a day.

I never saw people standing in a train, except that once which I
have already noted, when in a very crowded car in Wales, two
women, decent elderly persons, got in and were suffered to remain
on foot by the young men who had comfortable places; no one
dreamed, apparently, of offering to give up his seat. But, on the
other hand, a superior civilization is shown in what I may call
the manual forbearance of the trolley and railway folk, who are
so apt to nudge and punch you at home here, when they wish your
attention. The like happened to me only once in England, and that
was at Liverpool, where the tram conductor, who laid hands on me
instead of speaking, had perhaps been corrupted by the unseen
American influences of a port at which we arrive so abundantly
and indiscriminately. I did not resent the touch, though it is
what every one is expected to do, if aggrieved, and every one
else does it in England. Within his rights, every one is safe;
though there may be some who have no rights. If there were, I did
not see them, and I suppose that, as an alien, I might have
refused to stand up and uncover when the band began playing
_God Save the King_, as it did at the end of every musical
occasion; I might have urged that, being no subject of the King,
I did not feel bound to join in the general prayer. But that
would have been churlish, and, where every one had been so civil
to me, I did not see why I should not be civil to the King, in a
small matter. In the aggregate indeed, it is not a small matter,
and I suppose that the stranger always finds the patriotism of a
country molestive. Patriotism is, at any rate, very disagreeable,
with the sole exception of our own, which we are constantly
wishing to share with other people, especially with English
people. We spare them none of it, even in their own country, and
yet many of us object to theirs; I feel that I am myself being
rather offensive about it, now, at this distance from them. Upon
the whole, not caring very actively for us, one way or the other,
they take it amiably; they try to get our point of view, and, as
if it were a thorn, self-sacrificially press their bosoms against
it, in the present or recent _entente cordiale_. None of
their idiosyncrasies is more notable than their patience, their
kindness with our divergence from them; but I am not sure that,
having borne with us when we are by, they do not take it out of
us when we are away.

We are the poetry of a few, who, we like to think, have studied
the most deeply into the causes of our being, or its excuses. But
you cannot always be enjoying poetry, and I could well imagine
that our lovers must sometimes prefer to shut the page. The
common gentleness comes from the common indifference, and from
something else that I will not directly touch upon. What is
certain is that, with all manner of strangers, the English seem
very gentle, when they meet in chance encounter. The average
level of good manners is high. My experience was not the widest,
and I am always owning it was not deep; but, such as it was, it
brought me to the distasteful conviction that in England I did
not see the mannerless uncouthness which I often see in America,
not so often from high to low, or from old to young, but the
reverse. There may be much more than we infer, at the moment,
from the modulated voices, which sweetens casual intercourse, but
there are certain terms of respect, almost unknown to us, which
more obviously do that effect. It is a pity that democracy, being
the fine thing it essentially is, should behave so rudely. Must
we come to family government, in order to be filial or fraternal
in our bearing with one another? Why should we be so blunt, so
sharp, so ironical, so brutal in our kindness?


The single-mindedness of the English is beautiful. It may not
help to the instant understanding of our jokes; but then, even we
are not always joking, and it does help to put us at rest and to
make us feel safe. The Englishman may not always tell the truth,
but he makes us feel that we are not so sincere as he; perhaps
there are many sorts of sincerity. But there is something almost
caressing in the kindly pause that precedes his perception of
your meaning, and this is very pleasing after the sense of always
having your hearer instantly onto you. When, by a chance
indefinitely rarer than it is with us at home, one meets an
Irishman in England, or better still an Irishwoman, there is an
instant lift of the spirit; and, when one passes the Scotch
border, there is so much lift that, on returning, one sinks back
into the embrace of the English temperament, with a sigh for the
comfort of its soft unhurried expectation that there is really
something in what you say which, will be clear by-and-by.

Having said so much as this in compliance with the frequent
American pretence that the English are without humor, I wish to
hedge in the interest of truth. They certainly are not so
constantly joking as we; it does not apparently seem to them that
fate can be propitiated by a habit of pleasantry, or that this is
so merry a world that one need go about grinning in it. Perhaps
the conditions with most of them are harder than the conditions
with most of us. But, thinking of certain Englishmen I have
known, I should be ashamed to join in the cry of those story-
telling Americans whose jokes have sometimes fallen effectless.
It is true that, wherever the Celt has leavened the doughier
Anglo-Saxon lump, the expectation of a humorous sympathy is
greater; but there are subtile spirits of Teutonic origin whose
fineness we cannot deny, whose delicate gayety is of a sort which
may well leave ours impeaching itself of a heavier and grosser

No doubt you must sometimes, and possibly oftenest, go more than
half-way for the response to your humorous intention. Those
subtile spirits are shy, and may not offer it an effusive
welcome. They are also of such an exquisite honesty that, if they
do not think your wit is funny, they will not smile at it, and
this may grieve some of our jokers. But, if you have something
fine and good in you, you need not be afraid they will fail of
it, and they will not be so long about finding it out as some
travellers say. When it comes to the grace of the imaginative in
your pleasantry, they will be even beforehand with you. But in
their extreme of impersonality they will leave the initiative to
you in the matter of humor as in others. They will no more seek
out your peculiar humor than they will name you in speaking with


Nothing in England seeks you out, except the damp. Your
impressions, you have to fight for them. What you see or hear
seems of accident. The sort of people you have read of your whole
life, and are most intimate with in fiction, you must surprise.
They no more court observance than the birds in whose seasonable
slaughter society from the King down delights. In fact, it is
probable that, if you looked for both, you would find the gunner
shyer than the gunned. The pheasant and the fox are bred to give
pleasure by their chase; they are tenderly cared for and watched
over and kept from harm at the hands of all who do not wish to
kill them for the joy of killing, and they are not so elusive but
they can be seen by easy chance. The pheasant especially has at
times all but the boldness of the barnyard in his fearless port.
Once from my passing train, I saw him standing in the middle of a
ploughed field, erect, distinct, like a statue of himself,
commemorative of the long ages in which his heroic death and
martyr sufferance have formed the pride of princes and the peril
of poachers. But I never once saw him shot, though almost as many
gunners pursue him as there are pheasants in the land. This alone
shows how shy the gunners are; and when once I saw the trail of a
fox-hunt from the same coign of vantage without seeing the fox, I
felt that I had almost indecently come upon the horse and hounds,
and that the pink coats and the flowery spread of the dappled
dogs over the field were mine by a kind of sneak as base as
killing a fox to save my hens.


Equally with the foxes and the pheasants, the royalties and
nobilities abound in English novels, which really form the chief
means of our acquaintance with English life; but the chances that
reveal them to the average unintroduced, unpresented American are
rarer. By these chances, I heard, out of the whole peerage, but
one lord so addressed in public, and that was on a railroad
platform where a porter was reassuring him about his luggage.
Similarly, I once saw a lady of quality, a tall and girlish she,
who stood beside her husband, absently rubbing with her glove the
window of her motor, and whom but for the kind interest of our
cabman we might never have known for a duchess. It is by their
personal uninsistence largely, no doubt, that the monarchy and
the aristocracy exist; the figures of the faery dream remain
blent with the background, and appear from it only when required
to lay cornerstones, or preside at races, or teas or bazars, or
to represent the masses at home and abroad, and invisibly hold
the viewless reins of government.

Yet it must not be supposed that the commoner sort of dreamers
are never jealous of these figments of their fancy. They are
often so, and rouse themselves to self-assertion as frequently as
our Better Element flings off the yoke of Tammany. At a fair,
open to any who would pay, for some forgotten good object, such
as is always engaging the energies of society, I saw moving among
the paying guests the tall form of a nobleman who had somehow
made himself so distasteful to his neighbors that they were not
his friends, and regularly voted down his men, whether they stood
for Parliament or County Council, and whether they were better
than the popular choice or not. As a matter of fact, it was said
that they were really better, but the people would not have them
because they were his; and one of the theories of English
manliness is that the constant pressure from above has toughened
the spirit and enabled Englishmen to stand up stouter and
straighter each in his place, just as it is contended elsewhere
that the aesthetic qualities of the human race have been
heightened by its stresses and deprivations in the struggle of

For my own part, I believe neither the one theory nor the other.
People are the worse for having people above them, and are the
ruder and coarser for having to fight their way. If the triumph
of social inequality is such that there are not four men in
London who are not snobs, it cannot boast itself greater than the
success of economic inequality with ourselves, among whom the
fight for money has not produced of late a first-class poet,
painter, or sculptor. The English, if they are now the manliest
people under the sun, have to thank not their masters but
themselves, and a nature originally so generous that no abuse
could lastingly wrong it, no political absurdity spoil it. But if
this nature had been left free from the beginning, we might see
now a nation of Englishmen who, instead of being bound so hard
and fast in the bonds of an imperial patriotism, would be the
first in a world-wide altruism. Yet their patriotism is so devout
that it may well pass itself off upon them for a religious
emotion, instead of the superstition which seems to the stranger
the implication of an England in the next world as well as in


We fancy that, because we have here an Episcopal Church, with its
hierarchy, we have something equivalent to the English Church.
But that is a mistake. The English Church is a part of the whole
of English life, as the army or navy is; in English crowds, the
national priest is not so frequent as the national soldier, but
he is of as marked a quality, and as distinct from the civil
world, in uniform, bearing, and aspect; in the cathedral towns,
he and his like form a sort of spiritual garrison. At home here
you may be ignorant of the feasts of the Episcopal Church without
shame or inconvenience; but in England you had better be versed
in the incidence of all the holy days if you would stand well
with other men, and would know accurately when the changes in the
railroad time-tables will take place. It will not do to have
ascertained the limits of Lent; you must be up in the
Michaelmases and Whitmondays, and the minor saints' days. When
once you have mastered this difficult science, you will realize
what a colossal transaction the disestablishment of the English
Church in England would be, and how it would affect the whole
social fabric.

But, even when you have learned your lesson, it will not be to
you as that knowledge which has been lived, and which has no more
need ever to question itself than the habitual pronunciation of
words. If one has moved in good English society, one has no need
ever to ask how a word is pronounced, far less to go to the
dictionary; one pronounces it as one has always heard it
pronounced. The sense of this gives the American a sort of
despair, like that of a German or French speaking foreigner, who
perceives that he never will be able to speak English. The
American is rather worse off, for he has to subdue an inward
rebellion, and to form even the wish to pronounce some English
words as the English do. He has, for example, always said
"financier," with the accent on the last syllable; and if he has
consulted his Webster he has found that there was no choice for
him. Then, when he hears it pronounced at Oxford by the head of a
college with the accent on the second syllable, and learns on
asking that it is never otherwise accented in England, his head
whirls a little, and he has a sick moment, in which he thinks he
had better let the verb "to be" govern the accusative as the
English do, and be done with it, or else telegraph for his
passage home at once. Or stop! He must not "telegraph," he must


As for that breathing in the wrong place which is known as
dropping one's aitches, I found that in the long time between the
first and last of my English sojourns, there had arisen the
theory that it was a vice purely cockney in origin, and that it
had grown upon the nation through the National Schools. It is
grossly believed, or boldly pretended, that till the National
School teachers had conformed to the London standard in their
pronunciation the wrong breathing was almost unknown in England,
but that now it was heard everywhere south of the Scottish
border. Worse yet, the teachers in the National Schools had
scattered far and wide that peculiar intonation, that droll slip
or twist of the vowel sounds by which the cockney alone formerly
proclaimed his low breeding, and the infection is now spread as
far as popular learning. Like the wrong breathing, it is social
death "to any he that utters it," not indeed that swift
extinction which follows having your name crossed by royalty from
the list of guests at a house where royalty is about to visit,
but a slow, insidious malady, which preys upon its victim, and
finally destroys him after his life-long struggle to shake it
off. It is even worse than the wrong breathing, and is destined
to sweep the whole island, where you can nowhere, even now, be
quite safe from hearing a woman call herself "a lydy." It may
indeed be the contagion of the National School teacher, but I
feel quite sure, from long observation of the wrong breathing,
that the wrong breathing did not spread from London through the
schools, but was everywhere as surely characteristic of the
unbred in England as nasality is with us. Both infirmities are of
national origin and extent, and both are individual or personal
in their manifestation. That is, some Americans in every part of
the Union talk through their noses; some Englishmen in every part
of the kingdom drop their aitches.

The English-speaking Welsh often drop their aitches, as the
English-speaking French do, though the Scotch and Irish never
drop them, any more than the Americans, or the English of the
second generation among us; but the extremely interesting and
great little people of Wales are otherwise as unlike the English
as their mother-language is. They seem capable of doing anything
but standing six feet in their stockings, which is such a very
common achievement with the English, but that is the fault of
nature which gave them dark complexions and the English fair.
Where the work of the spirit comes in, it effects such a
difference between the two peoples as lies between an Eisteddfod
and a horse-race. While all the singers of Wales met in artistic
emulation at their national musical festival at Rhyl, all the
gamblers of England met in the national pastime of playing the
horses at Doncaster. More money probably changed hands on the
events at Doncaster than at Rhyl, and it was characteristic of
the prevalent influence in the common civilization (if there is a
civilization common to both races) that the King was at Doncaster
and not at Rhyl. But I do not say this to his disadvantage, for I
was myself at Doncaster and not at Rhyl. You cannot, unless you
have a very practised ear, say which is the finer singer at an
Eisteddfod, but almost any one can see which horse comes in first
at a race.


What is most striking in the mixture of strains in England is
that it apparently has not ultimately mixed them; and perhaps
after a thousand years the racial traits will be found marking
Americans as persistently. We now absorb, and suppose ourselves
to be assimilating, the different voluntary and involuntary
immigrations; but doubtless after two thousand years the African,
the Celt, the Scandinavian, the Teuton, the Gaul, the Hun, the
Latin, the Slav will be found atavistically asserting his origin
in certain of their common posterity. The Pennsylvania Germans
have as stolidly maintained their identity for two centuries as
the Welsh in Great Britain for twenty, or, so far as history
knows, from the beginning of time. The prejudices of one British
stock concerning another are as lively as ever, apparently,
however the enmities may have worn themselves away. One need not
record any of these English prejudices concerning the Scotch or
Irish; they are too well known; but I may set down the opinion of
a lively companion in a railroad journey that the Welsh are "the
prize liars of the universe." He was an expert accountant by
profession, and his affairs took him everywhere in the three
Kingdoms, and this was his settled error; for the Welsh
themselves know that, if they sometimes seem the prey of a lively
imagination, it is the philologically noted fault of their
language, which refuses to lend itself to the accurate expression
of fact, but which would probably afford them terms for
pronouncing the statement of my accountant inexact. He was
perhaps a man of convictions rather than conclusions, for, though
he was a bright intelligence, of unusually varied interests,
there were things that had never appealed to him. We praised
together the lovely September landscape through which we were
running, and I ventured some remark upon the large holdings of
the land: a thing that always saddened me in the face of nature
with the reflection that those who tilled the soil owned none of
it; though I ought to have remembered the times when the soil
owned them, and taken heart. My notion seemed to strike him for
the first time, but he dismissed the fact as a necessary part of
the English system; it had never occurred to him that there could
be question of that system. There must be many Englishmen to whom
it does occur, but if you do not happen to meet them you cannot
blame the others.

I fancied that one of the Englishmen to whom it might have
occurred was he whom I met in Wales at Aberystwyth, where we
spoke together a moment in the shadow of the co-educational
University there, and who seemed at least of a different mind
concerning the Welsh. "These Welsh farmers," he said, "send their
sons and daughters to college as if it were quite the natural
thing to do. But just imagine a Dorsetshire peasant sending his
boy to a University!"

We suppose that the large holdings of land are the effect of
wrongs and abuses now wholly in the past, and that the causes for
their increase are no longer operative, but are something like
those geological laws by which the strata under them formed
themselves. Once, however, in driving through the most beautiful
part of England, which I will not specify because every part of
England is the most beautiful, I came upon an illustration of the
reverse, as signal as the spectacle of a landslide. It was the
accumulation, not merely within men's memories, but within the
actual generation, of vast bodies of land in the hold of a great
nobleman who had contrived a title in them by the simple device
of enclosing the people's commons. It was a wrong, but there was
no one of the wronged who was brave enough or rich enough to
dispute it through the broken law, and no witness public-spirited
enough to come to their aid. Such things make us think patiently,
almost proudly, of our national foible of graft, which may really
be of feudal origin. Doubtless the aggression was attacked in the
press, but we all know what the attacks of the press amount to
against the steadfast will of a powerful corporation, and a great
nobleman in England is a powerful corporation. In this instance
he had not apparently taken the people's land without some wish
to make them a return for it. He had built a handsome road
through their property, which he maintained in splendid
condition, and he allowed them to drive over his road, and to
walk freely in certain portions of their woods. He had also built
a magnificent hospital for them, and it seemed rather hard, then,
to hear that one of the humblest of them had been known to speak
of him in whispered confidence as a "Upas tree."


Probably he was not personally a Upas tree, probably the rancor
toward him left from being bawled after by one of his gatemen at
a turning we had taken in his enclosure, "That's a private path!"
was unjust. There was no sign, such as everywhere in England
renders a place secure from intrusion. The word "Private" painted
up anywhere does the effect of bolts and bars and of all obsolete
man-traps beyond it, and is not for a moment that challenge to
the wayfaring foot which it seems so often with us; but the
warnings to the public which we make so mandatory, the English
language with unfailing gentleness. You are not told to keep your
foot or your wheel to a certain pathway; you are "requested," and
sometimes even "kindly requested"; I do not know but once I was
"respectfully requested." Perhaps that nobleman's possession of
these lands was so new that his retainers had to practise
something of unwonted rudeness in keeping it wholly his where he
chose. At any rate, the rule of civility is so universal that the
politeness from class to class is, for what the stranger sees,
all but unfailing. I dare say he does not see everything, even
the Argus-eyed American, but apparently the manners of the lower
class, where they have been touched by the upper, have been
softened and polished to the same consistence and complexion.
When it comes to the proffers, and refusals, and insistences, and
acceptances between people of condition, such as I witnessed once
in a crowded first-class carriage from London on an Oxford
holiday, nothing could be more gently urgent, more beautifully
forbearing. If the writers of our romantic novels could get just
those manners into their fiction, I should not mind their dealing
so much with the English nobility and gentry; for those who
intend being our nobility and gentry, by-and-by, could not do
better than study such high-breeding.

If we approach the morals of either superiors or inferiors, we
are in a region where it behooves us to tread carefully. To be
honest, I know nothing about them, and I will not assume to know
anything. I heard from authority which I could not suspect of
posing for omniscience that the English rustics were apt to be
very depraved, but they may on the other hand be saints for all
that I can prove against them. They are superstitious, it is
said, and there are few villages or old houses that have not
their tutelary spectres. The belief in ghosts is almost universal
among the people; as I may allow without superiority, for I do
not know but I believe in them myself, and there are some million
of American spiritualists who make an open profession of faith in
them. It is said also that the poor in England are much spoiled
by the constant aid given them in charity. This is supposed to
corrupt them, and to make them dependent upon the favors of
fortune, rather than the sweat of their brows. On the other hand,
they often cannot get work, as I infer from the armies of the
unemployed, and, in these cases, I cannot hold them greatly to
blame if they bless their givers by their readiness to receive.
If one may infer from the incessant beneficences, and the
constant demands for more and more charities, one heaped upon
another, there are more good objects in England than anywhere
else under the sun, for one only gives to good objects, of
course. The oppression of the subscriptions is tempered by the
smallness of the sum which may satisfy them. "Five shillings is a
subscription," said a friend who was accused of really always
giving five pounds.


The English rich do not give so spectacularly as our rich do--
that is, by handfuls of millions, but then the whole community
gives more, I think, than our community does, and when it does
not give, the necessary succor is taxed out of its incomes and
legacies. I do not mean that there is no destitution, but only
that the better off seem to have the worse off more universally
and perpetually in mind than with us. All this is believed to be
very demoralizing to the poor, and doubtless the certainty of
soup and flannel is bad for the soul of an old woman whose body
is doubled up with rheumatism. The Church seems to blame for much
of the evil that ensues from giving something to people who have
nothing; but I dare say the Dissenters are also guilty.

Just how much is wanted to stay the stomach of a healthy pauper,
it would be hard to say; but now and then the wayfarer gets some
hint of the frequency if not the amount of feeding among the poor
who are able to feed themselves. One day, in the outskirts--they
were very tattered and draggled--of Liverpool, we stopped at a
pastry-shop, where the kind woman "thought she could accommodate"
us with a cup of tea, though she was terribly pressed with custom
from all sorts of minute maids and small boys coming in for
"penn'orths" of that frightful variety of tart and cake which
dismays the beholder from innumerable shop windows in England.
When we were brought our safer refection, we noted her activities
to the hostess, and she said, "Yes, they all want a bit of cake
with their tea, even the poorest"; and when we ventured our
supposition that they made their afternoon tea the last meal of
the day, she laughed at the notion. "Last meal! They have a good
supper before they go to bed. Indeed, they all want their four
meals a day."

Another time, thriftily running in a third-class carriage from
Crewe to Chester, I was joined by a friendly man who addressed me
with the frank cordiality of the lower classes in recognizing one
of their sort. "They don't know how to charge!" he said, with an
irony that referred to the fourpence he had been obliged to pay
for a cup of station tea; and when I tried to allege some
mitigating facts in behalf of the company, he readily became
autobiographical. The transition from tea to eating generally was
easy, and he told me that he was a plumber, going to do a job of
work at Llandudno, where he had to pay fourteen bob, which I knew
to be shillings and mentally translated into $3.50, a week for
his board. His wages were $1.50 a day, which the reader who
multiplies fourpence by twenty, to make up the difference in
money values, will find to be the wages of a good mechanic in the
first Edward's time, five hundred years ago. On this he professed
to live very well. He rose every morning at half-past four, and
at six he had a breakfast of bread, butter, and coffee; at nine
he had porridge and coffee; at one, he had soup, meat, and eggs,
and perhaps beer; at night, after he got home from work, he had a
stew and a bit of meat, and perhaps beer, with Mother. He thought
that English people ate too much, generally, and especially on
Sunday, when they had nothing else to do. Most men never came
home without asking, "Well, Mother, what have you got for me to
eat now?" When I remembered how sparely our farm people and
mechanics fared, I thought that he was right, or they were wrong;
for the puzzling fact remained that they looked gaunt and
dyspeptic, and he hale and fresh, though the difference may have
had as much to do with the air as the food. I liked him, and I
cannot leave him without noting that he was of the lean-faced,
slightly aquiline British type, with a light mustache; he was
well dressed and well set up, and he spoke strongly, as North
Britons do, with nothing of our people's husky whine. I found him
on further acquaintance of anti-Chamberlain politics, pro-Boer as
to the late war, and rather socialistic. He blamed the labor men
for not choosing labor men to office instead of the gentry who
offered themselves. He belonged to a plumbers' union, and he had
nothing to complain of, but he inferred that the working-man was
better off in America, from the fact that none of his friends who
had gone to the States ever came home to stay, though they nearly
all came home for a holiday, sooner or later. He differed from my
other friend, the accountant, in being very fond of the Welsh; it
must be owned their race seemed to have acquired merit with him
through the tip of two sovereigns which his last employer in
Llandudno had given him. On the other hand, he had no love for
the Italians who were coming in, especially at Glasgow. In
Glasgow, he said, there were more drunken women than anywhere
else in the world, though there was no public-house drinking with
them as in London. This, so far as I got at it, formed his
outlook on life, but I dare say there was more of it.


I was always regretting that I got at the people so little, and
that only chance hints of what they were thinking and feeling
reached me. Now and then, a native observer said something about
them which seemed luminous. "We are frightfully feudal," such an
observer said, "especially the poor." He did not think it a
fault, I believe, and only used his adverb intensifyingly, for he
was of a Tory mind. He meant the poor among the country people,
who have at last mastered that principle of the feudal system
which early enabled the great nobles to pay nothing for the
benefits they enjoyed from it. But my other friend, the plumber,
was not the least feudal, or not so feudal as many a lowly ward-
heeler in New York, who helps to make up the muster of some
captain of politics, under the lead of a common boss. The texture
of society, in the smarter sense, the narrower sense, is what I
could not venture to speak of more confidently. Once I asked a
friend, a very dear and valued friend, whether a man's origin or
occupation would make any difference in his social acceptance, if
he were otherwise interesting and important. He seemed not to
know what I would be at, and, when he understood, he responded
with almost a shout of amazement, "Oh, not the least in the
world!" But I have my doubts still; and I should say that it
might be as difficult for a very cultivated and agreeable man
servant to get on in London society, as for an artist or poet to
feel at home in the first circles of New York. Possibly, however,
London society, because of its almost immeasurable vastness, can
take in more of more sorts of people, without the consciousness
of differences which keeps our own first circles so elect. I
venture, somewhat wildly, somewhat unwarrantably, the belief that
English society is less sensitive to moral differences than ours,
and that people with their little _taches_ would find less
anxiety in London than in New York lest they should come off on
the people they rubbed against. Some Americans, who, even with
our increasing prevalence of divorces, are not well seen at home,
are cheerfully welcomed in England.

Perhaps, there, all Americans, good and bad, high and low, coarse
and fine, are the same to senses not accustomed to our varying
textures and shades of color; that is a matter I should be glad
to remand to the psychologist, who will have work enough to do if
he comes to inquire into such mysteries. One can never be certain
just how the English take us, or how much, or whether they take
us at all. Oftenest I was inclined to think that we were
imperceptible to them, or that, when we were perceptible, they
were aware of us as Swedenborg says the most celestial angels are
aware of evil spirits, merely as something angular. Americans
were distressful to their consciousness, they did not know why;
and then they tried to ignore us. But perhaps this is putting it
a little fantastically. What I know is that one comes
increasingly to reserve the fact of one's nationality, when it is
not essential to the occasion, and to become as much as possible
an unknown quality, rather than a quality aggressive or positive.
Sometimes, when I could feel certain of my ground, I ventured my
conviction that Englishmen were not so much interested in
Americans as those Americans who stayed at home were apt to
think; but when I once expressed this belief to a Unitarian
minister, whom I met in the West of England, he received it with
surprise and refusal. He said that in his own immediate circle,
at least, his friends were interested and increasingly interested
in America, what she was and what she meant to be, and still
looked toward her for the lead in certain high things which
Englishmen have ceased to expect of themselves. My impression is
that most of the most forward of the English Sociologists regard
America as a back number in those political economics which imply
equality as well as liberty in the future. They do not see any
difference between our conditions and theirs, as regards the man
who works for his living with his hands, except that wages are
higher with us, and that physically there is more elbow-room,
though mentally and morally there is not. Save a little in my
Unitarian minister, and this only conjecturally, I did not
encounter that fine spirit which in Old England used to imagine
the New World we have not quite turned out to be; but once I met
an Englishman who had lived in Canada, and who, gentleman-bred as
he was, looked back with fond homesickness to the woods where he
had taken up land, and built himself a personable house, chiefly
with his own hands. He had lived himself out of touch with his
old English life in that new country, and had drawn breath in an
opener and livelier air which filled his lungs as the home
atmosphere never could again.


Yet he was standing stiffly up for himself, and strewing his
convictions and opinions broadcast as the English all do when
pressed by circumstance, while we, with none of their shyness,
mostly think our thoughts to ourselves. I suppose we do it
because we like better than they to seem of one effect with the
rest of our kind. In England one sees a variety of dress in men
which one rarely sees at home. They dress there not only in
keeping with their work and their play, but in the indulgence of
any freak of personal fancy, so that in the street of a
provincial town, like Bath, for instance, you will encounter in a
short walk a greater range of trousers, leggings, caps, hats,
coats, jackets, collars, scarfs, boots and shoes, of tan and
black, than you would meet at home in a month of Sundays. The
differences do not go to the length of fashions, such as reduce
our differences to uniformity, and clothe, say, our legs in
knickerbockers till it is found everybody is wearing them, when
immediately nobody wears them. Only ladies, of fashions beyond
men's, gratify caprices like ours, and even these perhaps not
voluntarily. In the obedience they show to the rule that they
must never wear the same dinner or ball gown twice, it was said
(but who can ever find out the truth of such things?) that they
sometimes had sent home from the dressmaker's a number of dresses
on liking, and wore them in succession, only to return them, all
but one at least, as not liked, the dressmaker having found her
account in her work being shown in society.


I do not know just what is to be inferred from a social fact or
statement like this, but I may say that the devotion to an ideal
of social position is far deeper with the English than with us.
Whether we spend more or not, I believe that the English live
much nearer their incomes than Americans do. I think that we save
more out of our earnings than they out of theirs, and that in
this we are more like the Continental peoples, the French or the
Italians. They spend vastly more on state than we do, because,
for one thing, they have more state to spend on. A man may
continue to make money in America, and not change his manner of
living till he chooses, and he may never change it. Such a thing
could not happen to an Englishwoman as happened to the elderly
American housewife who walked through the magnificent house which
her husband had bought to surprise her, and sighed out at last,
"Well, now I suppose I shall have to keep a girl!" The girl would
have been kept from the beginning of her husband's prosperity,
and multiplied, till the house was full of servants. If you have
the means of a gentleman in England, you must live like a
gentleman, apparently; you cannot live plainly, and put by, and
largely you must trust to your life-insurance as the fortune you
will leave your heirs. It cannot be denied that the more generous
expenditure of the English adds to the grace of life, and that
they are more hospitable according to their means than we are; or
than those Continental peoples who are not hospitable at all.

A thing that one feels more and more irritatingly in England is
that, while with other foreigners we stand on common ground,
where we may be as unlike them as we choose, with the English we
always stand on English ground, where we can differ only at our
peril, and to our disadvantage. A person speaking English and
bearing an English name, had better be English, for if he cannot
it shows, it proves, that there is something wrong in him. Our
misfortune is that our tradition, and perhaps our inclination,
obliges us to be un-English, whereas we do not trouble ourselves
to be un-French, or un-Italian, for we are so by nature. The
effort involved in distinguishing ourselves breeds a sort of
annoyance, or call it no more than uneasiness, which is almost as
bad as a bad conscience; and in our sense of hopeless perdition
we turn vindictively upon our judge. But that is not fair and it
is not wise; he does not mean to be our judge, except when he
comes to us for the purpose; in his own house, he is civilly
unaware of putting us to any test whatever. If you ask him
whether he likes this thing or that of ours, he will tell you
frankly; he never can see why he should not be frank; he has a
kind of helplessness in always speaking the truth; and he does
not try to make it palatable.


An English Radical, who would say of his King no more than that
he was a good little man, and most useful in promoting friendship
with France, was inclined to blame us because we did not stay by
at the time of our Revolution, and help them fight out as
Englishmen the fight for English freedom. He had none of the
loyalty of sentiment which so mystifies the American, but plenty
of the loyalty of reason, and expected a Utopia which should not
be of political but of economical cast. But one was always coming
upon illustrations of the loyalty of sentiment with which of
course one could have no quarrel, for their patriotism seldom
concerned us, except rather handsomely to include us. The French
have ceased to be the hereditary enemy, and the Russians have now
taken their place in the popular patriotism. I always talked with
the lower classes when I could, perhaps because I felt myself
near them in my unworthy way, and one evening in a grassy lane I
made the acquaintance of a friendly man letting his horse browse
the wayside turf. He was in the livery-stable line, but he had
been a soldier many years. Upon this episode he became freely
autobiographical, especially concerning his service in India. He
volunteered the declaration that he had had enough of war, but he
added, thoughtfully, "I should like to go out for a couple of
years if there was any trouble with Russia."

The love of England comes out charmingly in the swarming of
English tourists in every part of their country. Americans may
sometimes outnumber them at the Continental shrines, but we are
in a pitiful minority at the memorable places in England; in
fact, we are nowhere beside the natives. I liked their fondness
for their own so much that I never could feel the fine scorn for
"trippers" which I believe all persons of condition ought to
assume. Even when the trippers did not seem very intelligently
interested in what they saw, they were harmlessly employed, for a
scene of beauty, or of historic appeal, could not be desecrated
by the courtships which are constantly going on all over England,
especially at the holiday seasons.

The English are, indeed, great holiday-makers, even when past the
age of putting their arms around one another's waists. The many
and many seaside resorts form the place of their favorite
outings, where they try to spend such days and weeks of the late
summer as their savings will pay for. It is said that families in
very humble station save the year round for these vacations, and,
having put by twelve or fifteen pounds, repair to some such
waterside as Blackpool, or its analogue in their neighborhood,
and lavish them upon the brief joy of the time. They take the
cheaper lodgings, and bring with them the less perishable
provisions, and lead a life of resolute gayety on the sands and
in the sea, and at the pier-ends where the negro minstrels and
the Pierrots, who equally abound, make the afternoons and
evenings a delight which no one would suspect from their faces to
be the wild thing it is. If they go home at the end "high
sorrowful and cloyed," there is no forecast of it in their
demeanor, which is as little troubled as it is animated. The
young people are even openly gay, and the robustness of their
flirtations adds sensibly to the interest of the spectator. Our
own public lovers seem of a humbler sort, and they mostly content
themselves with the passive embraces of which every seat in our
parks affords an example; but in England such lovers add playful
struggles. A favorite pastime seemed to be for one of them to
hold something in the hand, and for the other to try prying it
open. When it was the young man who kept his hand shut, the
struggle could go on almost indefinitely. I suppose it led to
many engagements and marriages.

When the young people were not walking up and down, or playfully
scuffling, they were reading novels; in fact, I do not imagine
that anywhere else in the world is there a half, or a tenth part,
so much fiction consumed as in the English summer resorts. It is
probably of the innutritious lightness of pop-corn; I had never
the courage to look at the volumes which I could so easily have
overlooked; but I am sure it was all out of the circulating
library. As there were often several young women to one man, most
of the girls had to content themselves with the flirtations in
the books, where, I dare say, the heroines were always prying the
heroes' hands open. On every seat one found them poring upon the
glowing page, and met them in every walk with a volume under the
arm, and another clasped to the heart. At places where the hand
played, and they were ostensibly listening to the music, they
were bowed upon their books, and the flutter of the turning
leaves almost silenced the blare of the horns. By what
inspiration they knew when _God Save the King_ was coming,
and rose with a long sigh heaved in common, I should not be able
to say. Perhaps they always reached the end of a story at the
time the band came to that closing number, or perhaps they felt
its imminence in their nerves. The fiction was not confined to
the young girls, however. Both sexes and all ages partook of it;
I saw as many old girls as young girls reading novels, and
mothers of families were apparently as much addicted to the
indulgence. I suppose they put by their books when they took tea,
which is the other most noticeable dissipation in England. But I
cannot enter upon that chapter; it is too large a theme; I will
say, merely, that as the saloons are on Sixth Avenue, so the tea-
rooms are in every part of the island.



It had seemed to me in former visits to England that the
Christian Sabbath was a more depressing day there than here, but
from the last I have a more cheerful memory of it. I still felt
it dispiriting in London, where as many fled from it as could,
and where the empty streets symbolized a world abandoned to
destruction; but this was mainly in the forenoon. Even then, the
markets and fairs in the avenues given up to them were the scenes
of an activity which was not without gayety, and certainly not
without noise; and when the afternoon came, the lower classes,
such as had remained in town, thronged to the public houses, and
the upper classes to the evening parade in the Park. As to the
relative amount of church-going, I will not even assume to be
sure; but I have a fancy that it is a rite much less rigorous
than it used to be. Still, in provincial places, I found the
churches full on a Sunday morning, and all who could afford it
hallowed the day by putting on a frock-coat and a top-hat, which
are not worn outside of London on week-days. The women, of
course, were always in their best on Sunday. Perhaps in the very
country the upper classes go to church as much as formerly, but I
have my doubts whether they feel so much obliged to it in
conformity to usage, or for the sake of example to their
inferiors. Where there are abbeys and minsters and cathedrals, as
there are pretty well everywhere in England, religion is an
attractive spectacle, and one could imagine people resorting to
its functions for aesthetic reasons.

But, in these guesses, one must remember that the English who
remained at home were never Puritanized, never in such measure
personally conscienced, as those who came to America in the times
of the successive Protestant fervors; and that is a thing which
we are apt to forget. The home-keeping English continued, with
changes of ritual, much like the peoples who still acknowledged
as their head "the Bishop of Rome." Their greater morality, if it
was greater, was temperamental rather than spiritual, and,
leaving the church to look after religion much more than our
Puritans did, they kept a simplicity of nature impossible to the
sectaries always taking stock of their souls. In fact, the
Calvinists of New England were almost essentially different from
the Calvinists of Holland, of France, even of Scotland. If our
ancestors were the children of light, as they trusted, they were
darkened by the forest, into which they plunged, to certain
reasons which the children of darkness, as the Puritans believed
the non-Puritans to be, saw by the uncertain glimmers from the
world about them. There is no denying that with certain great
gains, the American Puritans became, in a worldly sense,
provincialized, and that if they lived in the spirit, they lived
in it narrowly, while the others, who lived in the body, lived in
it liberally, or at any rate handsomely. From our narrowness we
flattered ourselves that we were able to imagine a life more
broadly based than theirs, or at least a life from which theirs
must look insufficient and unfinal, so long as man feels within
himself the prompting to be something better or higher than he
is. Yet the English life is wonderfully perfected. With a faery
dream of a king supported in his preeminence by a nobility, a
nobility supported in turn by a commonalty, a commonalty
supported again by a proletariat resting upon immeasurable ether;
with a system of government kept, by assent so general that the
dissent does not matter, in the hands of a few families reared,
if not trained, to power; with a society so intimately and
thoroughly self-acquainted that one touch of gossip makes its
whole world kin, and responsive to a single emotion; with a
charity so wisely studied, and so carefully applied, that restive
misery never quite grows rebellious; with a patriotism so inborn
and ingrained that all things English seem righteous because
English; with a willingness to share the general well-being quite
to the verge, but never beyond the verge, of public control of
the administration--with all this, the thing must strike the
unbelieving observer as desperately perfect. "They have got it
down cold," he must say to himself, and confirm himself in his
unfaith by reflecting that it is very cold.


The best observer of England that ever was, he whose book about
the English makes all other comment seem idle and superfluous
palaver, that Ralph Waldo Emerson whom we always find ahead of us
when we look back for him, was once, as he relates in a closing
chapter of English Traits, brought to bay by certain great
English friends of his, who challenged him to say whether there
really were any Americans with an American idea, and a theory of
our future. "Thus challenged, I bethought myself neither of
Congress, neither of President nor of Cabinet Ministers, nor of
such as would make of America another Europe.... I opened the
dogma of no-government and non-resistance, and anticipated the
objections and the fun, and procured a kind of hearing for it. I
said, It is true that I have never yet seen in any country a man
of sufficient valor to stand for this truth, and yet ... 'tis
certain, as God liveth, the gun that does not need another gun,
the law of love and justice alone, can effect a clean
revolution.... I insisted ... that the manifest absurdity of the
view to English feasibility could make no difference to a
gentleman; that as to our secure tenure of our mutton-chop and
spinach in London or in Boston, the soul might quote Talleyrand,
'_Messieurs, je n'en vois pas la n�cessit�_.'" In other
words, Emerson laid before his great English friends a programme,
as nearly as might then be, of philosophical anarchism, and
naturally it met with no more acceptance than it would if now
presented to the most respectable of his American readers. Yet it
is never to be forgotten that it was the English who, with all
their weight of feudal tradition, and amidst the nightmares to
which their faery dream seemed so long subject, invented the only
form of Democratic Christianity the world has yet known, unless
indeed the German Mennonites are the same as the earlier English
Quakers were in creed and life. In the pseudo-republic of the
Cromwellian commonwealth the English had a state as wholly
without liberty, equality, and fraternity as in the king-capped
oligarchy they had before and have had ever since. We may be sure
that they will never have such another commonwealth, or any
resembling ours, which can no longer offer itself as an eminent

The sort of Englishmen, of whose respect Americans can make
surest are those English thick-and-thin patriots who admire force
and strength, and believe that it is the Anglo-Saxon mission to
possess the earth, and to profit by its weaker peoples, not
cruelly, not unkindly, yet unquestionably. The Englishmen of
whose disrespect we can make surest are those who expect to
achieve liberty, equality, and fraternity in the economic way,
the political way having failed; who do not care whether the head
of the state is born or elected, is called "King" or called
"President," since he will presently not be at all; who abhor
war, and believe that the meek shall inherit the earth, and these
only if they work for a living. They have already had their will
with the existing English state, until now that state is far more
the servant of the people in fetching and carrying, in guarding
them from hard masters and succoring them in their need, than the
republic which professes to derive its just powers from the
consent of the governed. When one encounters this sort of
Englishman, one thinks silently of the child labor in the South,
of the monopolies in the North, of the companies which govern
while they serve us, and one hopes that the Englishman is not
silently thinking of them too. He is probably of the lower
classes, and one consoles one's self as one can by holding one's
head higher in better company, where, without secret self-
contempt, one can be more openly proud of our increasing fortunes
and our increasing territory, and our warlike adequacy to a first
position among the nations of the world. There is no fear that in
such company one's national susceptibilities will be wounded, or
that one will not be almost as much admired for one's money as at
home. I do not say quite, because there are still things in
England even more admired than money. Certainly a very rich
American would be considered in such English society, but
certainly he would not be so much considered as an equally rich
Englishman who was also a duke.

I cannot name a nobleman of less rank, because I will not
belittle my rich countryman, but perhaps the English would think
differently, and would look upon him as lower than the latest
peer or the newest knight of the King's creation. The King, who
has no power, can do almost anything in England; and his touch,
which is no longer sovereign for scrofula, can add dignity and
give absolute standing to a man whose achievements merit it, but
who with us would fail of anything like it. The English system is
more logical than ours, but not so reasonable. The English have
seen from the beginning inequality and the rule of the few. We
can hardly prove that we see, in the future, equality and the
rule of the many. Yet our vision is doubtless prophetic, whatever
obliquities our frequent astigmatism may impart to it. Meantime,
in its ampler range there is room for the play of any misgiving
short of denial; but the English cannot doubt the justice of what
they have seen without forming an eccentric relation to the
actual fact. The Englishman who refuses the formal recognition of
his distinction by his prince is the anomaly, not the Englishman
who accepts it. Gladstone who declines a peerage is anomalous,
not Tennyson who takes it. As part of the English system, as a
true believer in the oligarchically administered monarchy,
Gladstone was illogical, and Tennyson was logical.


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