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America To-day, Observations and Reflections by William Archer

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bespeak a longer ancestry than many an English peer can claim. I find
among the signatures to a petition against the reinstatement of an
elevated railroad in Boston, such names as Adams, Morse, Lowell,
Emerson, Bowditch, Lothrop, Storey, Dabney, Whipple, Ticknor, and Hale.
Of the fifty signatures, only three (or, at the outside five, if we
include two doubtful cases) are of other than English origin. In
contrast to this I may mention another list of names which came under my
notice at the same time--a list of the purchasers at a sale by auction
of seats for a New York first-night. Here twenty-six names out of forty
are obviously of non-English origin, while several of the remaining
fourteen have a distinctly Hebraic ring.

Though very much smaller than New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia,
Boston is essentially a great city, with a very animated street life,
and nothing in the least provincial about it. But it is not in these
great capitals, not even in this marvellous Chicago where I am now
writing, that one most clearly realises the bewildering potentialities
of the United States. It is precisely in the minor, the provincial
cities, which to us in Europe are no more than names--perhaps not so
much. For instance, what does the average Englishman know of Detroit?[H]

What State is it in? Is it in the North or the South, the East or the
West? For my part I knew in a general way, having been there before,
that Detroit was situated somewhere between Chicago and Niagara Falls,
but until a few days ago I should have been puzzled to describe its
situation more precisely. Well, I arrive in this obscure, insignificant
place, and find it a city of considerably more than a quarter of a
million inhabitants, beautifully laid out, magnificently paved and
lighted, its broad and noble avenues lined with handsome commercial
houses and roomy if not always beautiful villas, trees shading its
sidewalks, electric cars swimming in an endless stream along its
bustling thoroughfares, its imposing public library swarming with
readers, its theatres crowded, its parks alive with bicyclists, an eager
activity, whether in business, culture, or recreation, manifesting
itself on every hand. Or take, again, Buffalo, somewhat larger than
Detroit, but still by no means a city of the first rank. Everything that
I have said of Detroit applies to it, with the addition that some of
its commercial buildings are not only palatial in their dimensions, but
original and impressive in their architecture. An afternoon stroll along
Woodward-avenue, Detroit, or Main-street, Buffalo, reassures one as to
the future--the physical, at any rate--of the American people. The
prevailing type is, if not definitely Anglo-Saxon, at any rate Teutonic,
and the average of physical development is very high, especially among
the women. It may have some bearing upon what I have been saying above
to note that, in point of stature and beauty, the Bostonian woman, as a
rule, seemed to me to fall far short of her sisters in the other cities
I have visited. I have before my mind's eye many distinguished and
delightful exceptions to this rule; but, postponing gallantry to
sociological candour, I state my general impression for what it is

Here, in Chicago, gallantry and candour go hand in hand. A legend of the
envious East represents that a Chicago young man travelling in Louisiana
wrote to his sweetheart: "DEAR MAMIE,--I have shot an alligator. When I
have shot another, I will send you a pair of slippers." The implication
is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, a base and baseless
calumny. New York itself does not present a higher average of female
beauty than Chicago, and that is saying a great deal. But I must not
enlarge on this fascinating topic. A Judgment of Paris is always a
delicate business, and I am in nowise called upon to make the invidious
award. Were I compelled to undertake it, I could only distribute the
apple, and my homage, in equal shares to the goddesses of the East, the
South, and the Middle West.

When I was in Chicago in '77, it was the metropolis of the West, without
qualification. Now it is merely the frontier city of the Middle West.
From the standpoint of Omaha and Denver, it seems to fill the Eastern
horizon, and shut out the further view. Many stories are told to show
how absolutely and instinctively your true Westerner ignores the Eastern
States and cities. Here is one of the most characteristic. A little girl
came into the smoking car of a train somewhere in Kansas or Nebraska,
and stood beside her father, who was in conversation with another man.
The father put his arm round her and said to his companion, "She's been
a great traveller, this little girl of mine. She's only ten years old,
and she's been all over the United States."

"You don't say!" replied the other; "all over the United States?"

"Yes, sir; all over the United States," said the proud father; and then
added, as though the detail was scarcely worth mentioning, "except east
of Chicago."

Chicago, unfortunately, marks the limit of my wanderings; so I shall
return to England without having seen anything of the United States,
except for a sort of Pisgah-glimpse from the tower of the Auditorium.


[Footnote H: My own visit to Detroit illustrated this vagueness of the
average Englishman. I was anxious to see Mr. James A. Herne's famous
play, _Shore Acres_, and learned from Mr. Herne that it would be played
by a travelling company at Buffalo on a certain date. I carefully noted
the place and day, but contrived to mix up Buffalo and Detroit in my
mind, and arrived on the appointed day in Detroit--nearly two hundred
and fifty miles from the appointed place! It was as though, having
arranged to be in Brighton at a certain time, one should go instead to


Chicago--Its Splendour and Squalor--Mammoth Buildings--Wind, Dust, and
Smoke--Culture--Chicago's Self-Criticism--Postscript: Social Service in


When I was in America twenty-two years ago, Chicago was the city that
interested me least. Coming straight from San Francisco--which, in the
eyes of a youthful student of Bret Harte, seemed the fitting metropolis
of one of the great realms of romance--I saw in Chicago the negation of
all that had charmed me on the Pacific slope. It was a flat and grimy
abode of mere commerce, a rectilinear Glasgow; and to an Edinburgh man,
or rather boy, no comparison could appear more damaging. How different
is the impression produced by the Chicago of to-day! In 1877 the city
was extensive enough, indeed, and handsome to boot, in a commonplace,
cast-iron fashion. It was a chequer-board of Queen-Victoria-streets.
To-day its area is appalling, its architecture grandiose. It is the
young giant among the cities of the earth, and it stands but on the
threshold of its destiny. It embraces in its unimaginable amplitude
every extreme of splendour and squalor. Walking in Dearborn-street or
Adams-street of a cloudy afternoon, you think yourself in a frowning and
fuliginous city of Dis, piled up by superhuman and apparently sinister
powers. Cycling round the boulevards of a sunny morning, you rejoice in
the airy and spacious greenery of the Garden City. Driving along the
Lake Shore to Lincoln Park in the flush of sunset, you wonder that the
dwellers in this street of palaces should trouble their heads about
Naples or Venice, when they have before their very windows the
innumerable laughter, the ever-shifting opalescence, of their
fascinating inland sea. Plunging in the electric cars through the river
subway, and emerging in the West Side, you realise that the slums of
Chicago, if not quite so tightly packed as those of New York or London,
are no whit behind them in the other essentials of civilised barbarism.
Chicago, more than any other city of my acquaintance, suggests that
antique conception of the underworld which placed Elysium and Tartarus
not only on the same plane, but, so to speak, round the corner from each

As the elephant (or rather the megatherium) to the giraffe, so is the
colossal business block of Chicago to the sky-scraper of New York. There
is a proportion and dignity in the mammoth buildings of Chicago which is
lacking in most of those which form the jagged sky-line of Manhattan
Island. For one reason or another--no doubt some difference in the
system of land tenure is at the root of the matter--the Chicago
architect has usually a larger plot of ground to operate on than his New
York colleague, and can consequently give his building breadth and depth
as well as height. Before the lanky giants of the Eastern metropolis,
one has generally to hold one's aesthetic judgment in abeyance. They are
not precisely ugly, but still less, as a rule, can they be called
beautiful. They are simply astounding manifestations of human energy and
heaven-storming audacity. They stand outside the pale of aesthetics, like
the Eiffel Tower or the Forth Bridge. But in Chicago proportion goes
along with mere height, and many of the business houses are, if not
beautiful, at least aesthetically impressive--for instance, the grim
fortalice of Marshall Field & Company, the Masonic Temple, the Women's
Temperance Temple (a structure with a touch of real beauty), and such
vast cities within the city as the Great Northern Building and the
Monadnock Block. The last-named edifice alone is said to have a daily
population of 6000. A city ordinance now limits the height of buildings
to ten stories; but even that is a respectable allowance. Moreover, it
is found that where giant constructions cluster too close together, they
(literally) stand in each other's light, and the middle stories do not
let. Thus the heaven-storming era is probably over; but there is all the
more reason to feel assured that the business centre of Chicago will ere
long be not only grandiose but architecturally dignified and
satisfactory. A growing thirst for beauty has come upon the city, and
architects are earnestly studying how to assuage it. In magnificence of
internal decoration, Chicago can already challenge the world: for
instance, in the white marble vestibule and corridors of The Rookery,
and the noble hall of the Illinois Trust Bank.

At the same time, no account of the city scenery of Chicago is complete
without the admission that the gorges and canyons of its central
district are exceedingly draughty, smoky, and dusty. Even in these
radiant spring days, it fully acts up to its reputation as the Windy
City. This peculiarity renders it probably the most convenient place in
the world for the establishment of a Suicide Club on the Stevensonian
model. With your eyes peppered with dust, with your ears full of the
clatter of the Elevated Road, and with the prairie breezes playfully
buffeting you and waltzing with you by turns, as they eddy through the
ravines of Madison, Monroe, or Adams-street, you take your life in your
hand when you attempt the crossing of State-street, with its endless
stream of rattling waggons and clanging trolley-cars. New York does not
for a moment compare with Chicago in the roar and bustle and
bewilderment, of its street life. This remark will probably be resented
in New York, but it expresses the settled conviction of an impartial
pedestrian, who has spent a considerable portion of his life during the
past few weeks in "negotiating" the crossings of both cities.

On the other hand, I observe no eagerness on the part of New York to
contest the supremacy of Chicago in the matter of smoke. In this
respect, the eastern metropolis is to the western as Mont Blanc to
Vesuvius. The smoke of Chicago has a peculiar and aggressive
individuality, due, I imagine, to the natural clearness of the
atmosphere. It does not seem, like London smoke, to permeate and blend
with the air. It does not overhang the streets in a uniform canopy, but
sweeps across and about them in gusts and swirls, now dropping and now
lifting again its grimy curtain. You will often see the vista of a
gorge-like street so choked with a seeming thundercloud that you feel
sure a storm is just about to burst upon the city, until you look up at
the zenith and find it smiling and serene. Again and again a sudden
swirl of smoke across the street (like that which swept across
Fifth-avenue when the Windsor Hotel burst into flames) has led me to
prick up my ears for a cry of "Fire!" But Chicago is not so easily
alarmed. It is accustomed to having its airs from heaven blurred by
these blasts from hell. I know few spectacles more curious than that
which awaits you when you have shot up in the express elevator to the
top of the Auditorium tower--on the one hand, the blue and laughing
lake, on the other, the city belching volumes of smoke from its thousand
throats, as though a vaster Sheffield or Wolverhampton had been
transported by magic to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. What a
wonderful city Chicago will be when the commandment is honestly
enforced which declares, "Thou shalt consume thine own smoke!"

What a wonderful city Chicago will be! That is the ever-recurring burden
of one's cogitations. For Chicago is awake, and intelligently awake, to
her destinies; so much one perceives even in the reiterated complaints
that she is asleep. Discontent is the condition of progress, and Chicago
is not in the slightest danger of relapsing into a condition of inert
self-complacency. Her sons love her, but they chasten her. They are
never tired of urging her on, sometimes (it must be owned) with most
unfilial objurgations; and she, a quite unwearied Titan, is bracing up
her sinews for the great task of the coming century. I have given myself
a rendezvous in Chicago for 1925, when air-ships will no doubt make the
transit easy for my septuagenarian frame. Nowhere in the world, I am
sure, does the "to be continued in our next" interest take hold on one
with such a compulsive grip.

Culture is pouring into Chicago as rapidly as pork or grain, and Chicago
is insatiate in asking for more. In going over the Public Library (a not
quite satisfactory building, though with some beautiful details) I was
most of all impressed by the army of iron-bound boxes which are
perpetually speeding to and fro between the library itself and no fewer
than fifty-seven distributing stations scattered throughout the city. "I
thought the number was forty-eight," said a friend who accompanied me.
"So it was last year," said the librarian. "We have set up nine more
stations during the interval." The Chicago Library boasts (no doubt
justly) that it circulates more books than any similar institution in
the world. Take, again, the University of Chicago: seven years ago (or,
say, at the outside ten) it had no existence, and its site was a dismal
swamp; to-day it is a handsome and populous centre of literary and
scientific culture. Observe, too, that it is by no means an oasis in the
desert, but is thoroughly in touch with the civic life around it. For
instance, it actively participates in the admirable work done by the
Hull House Settlement in South Halsted-street, and in the vigorous and
wide-spreading University Extension movement.

At the present moment, Chicago is not a little resentful of the sharp
admonitions addressed to her by two of her aforesaid loving but exacting
children. One, Professor Charles Zueblin, has been telling her that "in
the arrogance of youth she has failed to realise that instead of being
one of the progressive cities of the world, she has been one of the
reckless, improvident, and shiftless cities." Professor Zueblin is not
content (for example) with her magnificent girdle of parks and
boulevards, but calls for smaller parks and breathing spaces in the
heart of her most crowded districts. He further maintains that her great
new sewage canal is a gigantically costly blunder; and indeed one cannot
but sympathise with the citizens of St. Louis in inquiring by what right
Chicago converts the Mississippi into her main sewer. But if Professor
Zueblin chastises Chicago with whips, Mr. Henry B. Fuller, it would
seem, lashes her with scorpions. Mr. Fuller is one of the leading
novelists of the city--for Chicago, be it known, had a nourishing and
characteristic literature of her own long before Mr. Dooley sprang into
fame. The author of _The Cliff-Dwellers_ is alleged to have said that
the Anglo-Saxon race was incapable of art, and that in this respect
Chicago was pre-eminently Anglo-Saxon. "Alleged," I say, for reports of
lectures in the American papers are always to be taken with caution, and
are very often as fanciful as Dr. Johnson's reports of the debates in
Parliament. The reporter is not generally a shorthand writer. He jots
down as much as he conveniently can of the lecturer's remarks, and
pieces them out from imagination. Thus, I am not at all sure what Mr.
Fuller really said; but there is no doubt whatever of the indignation
kindled by his diatribe. Deny her artistic capacities and sensibilities,
and you touch Chicago in her tenderest point. Moreover, Mr. Fuller's
onslaught encouraged several other like-minded critics to back him up,
so that the city has been writhing under the scourges of her
epigrammatists. I have before me a letter to one of the evening papers,
written in a tone of academic sarcasm which proves that even the
supercilious and "donnish" element is not lacking in Chicago culture. "I
know a number of artists," says the writer, "who came to Chicago, and
after staying here for a while, went away and achieved much success in
New York, London, and Paris. The appreciation they received here gave
them the impetus to go elsewhere, and thus brought them fame and
fortune." Whatever foundation there may be for these jibes, they are in
themselves a sufficient evidence that Chicago is alive to her
opportunities and responsibilities. She is, in her own vernacular,
"making, culture hum." Mr. Fuller, I understand, reproached her with her
stockyards--an injustice which even Mr. Bernard Shaw would scarcely
have committed. Is it the fault of Chicago that the world is
carnivorous? Was not "Nature red in tooth and claw" several aeons before
Chicago was thought of? I do not understand that any unnecessary cruelty
is practised in the stockyards; and apart from that, I fail to see that
systematic slaughter of animals for food is any more disgusting than
sporadic butchery. But of the stockyards I can speak only from hearsay.
I shall not go to see them. If I have any spare time, I shall rather
spend it in a second visit to St. Gaudens' magnificent and magnificently
placed statue of Abraham Lincoln, surely one of the great works of art
of the century, and of the few entirely worthy monuments ever erected to
a national hero.

POSTSCRIPT.--The above-mentioned Hull House Settlement in South
Halsted-street, under the direction of Miss Jane Addams, is probably the
most famous institution of its kind in America; but it is only one of
many. There is no more encouraging feature in American life than the
zeal, energy, and high and liberal intelligence with which social
service of this sort is being carried on in all the great cities. This
is a line of activity on which England and America are advancing hand
in hand, and however much one may deplore the necessity for such work,
one cannot but see in the common impulse which prompts and directs it a
symptom of the deep-seated unity of the two peoples. Nothing I saw in
America impressed me more than the thorough practicality as well as the
untiring devotion which was apparent in the work carried on by Miss
Addams in Chicago and Miss Lillian D. Wald in Henry-street, New York.
And in both Settlements I recognised the same atmosphere of culture, the
same spirit of plain living, hard working, and high thinking, that
characterises the best of our kindred institutions in England. A lady
connected with the University of Chicago, who is also a worker at the
Hull House Settlement, told me a touching little story which illustrates
at once the need for such work in Chicago, and the unexpected response
with which it sometimes meets. She had been talking about the beauties
of nature to a group of women from the slums, and at the end of her
address one of her hearers said, "I ain't never been outside of Chicago,
but I know it's true what the lady says. There's two vacant lots near
our place, an' when the spring comes, the colours of them--they fair
makes you hold your breath. An' then there's the trees on the Avenoo.
An' then there's all the sky." On another occasion the same lady met
with an "unexpected response" of a different order. She was showing a
boy from the slums some photographs of Italian pictures, when they came
upon a Virgin and Child. "Ah," said the boy at once, "that's Jesus an'
his Mother: I allus knows _them_ when I sees 'em." "Yes," said Miss
R----, "there is a purity and grandeur of expression about them, isn't
there--" "Tain't that," interrupted the boy, "it's the rims round their
heads as gives 'em away!"

Apart from the Settlements, there are many energetically-conducted
Societies in America for the social and political enlightenment of the
masses. I have before me, for instance, a little bundle of most
excellent leaflets issued by the League for Social Service of New York.
They deal with such subjects as _The Duties of American Citizenship, The
Value of a Vote, The Duty of Public Spirit, The Co-operative City_, &c.
They include an admirable abstract in twenty-four pages, of _Laws
Concerning the Welfare of Every Citizen of New York_, and the same
Society issues similar abstracts of the laws of other States. They have
a large and well-equipped lecture organisation, and they issue
excellent practical _Suggestions for Conferences and Courses of Study_.
The problem to be grappled with by this Society and others working on
similar lines is no doubt one of immense difficulty. It is nothing less
than the education in citizenship of the most heterogeneous, polyglot,
and in some respects ignorant and degraded population ever assembled in
a single city, since the days of Imperial Rome. The spread of political
enlightenment in New York and other cities cannot possibly be very
rapid; but no effort is being spared to accelerate it. I sometimes
wonder whether the obvious necessity for political education in America
may not, in the long run, prove a marked advantage to her, as compared,
for instance, with England. Dissatisfaction, as I have said above, is
the condition of progress. We are apt to assume that every Briton is
born a good citizen; and in the lethargy begotten of that assumption, it
may very well happen that we let the Americans outstrip us in the march
of enlightenment.


New York in Spring--Central Park--New York not an Ill-governed City--The
United States Post Office--The Express System--Valedictory.


It is with a curious sensation of home-coming that I find myself once
more in New York. Spring has arrived before me. The blue dome of sky has
lost its crystalline sparkle, and the trees in Madison-square have put
on a filmy veil of green. Going to a luncheon party in the Riverside
region, I determine, for the sheer pleasure and exhilaration of the
thing, to walk the whole way, up Fifth-avenue and diagonally across
Central Park. What a magnificent pleasure ground, vast, various, and
seductive! A peerless emerald on the finger of Manhattan! If I were not
bound by solemn oaths to present myself at West-End-avenue at half-past
one, I could loaf all the afternoon by the superb expanse of the Croton
Reservoir, looking out over the giant city of sunshine, with the white
dome of Columbia College and the pyramid of Grant's Monument on the
northern horizon, and far to the eastward the low hills of Long Island.

Passing the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I am reminded, not only that I
have never been inside it, but that in all the cities I have visited I
have not gone to a single show-place, museum, or picture-gallery, save
one remarkable private collection in Baltimore. Of course I must also
except (a large exception!) the public libraries of Washington, Boston,
and Chicago, which are, in a very eminent sense, "show-places." Still,
it seems somewhat remarkable (does it not?) that in a country which is
understood in Europe to be monotonous and unattractive to travellers, I
should have spent two months not only of intellectual interest but of
aesthetic enjoyment, without once, except in a chance moment of idleness,
feeling the least inclination to fall back upon, the treasures of
European art which it undoubtedly contains. I have even ignored the
marvels of nature. I passed within twenty miles of Niagara; I saw the
serried icefloes sweeping down from Lake Erie to the cataract; and I did
not go to see them plunge over. In the first place, I had been there
before; in the second place, I should have had to sacrifice six hours
of Chicago, where I wanted, not six hours less, but six weeks more.

Before saying farewell--a fond farewell!--to New York, let me supplement
my first impressions with my last. The most maligned of cities, I called
it; and truly I said well. Here is even the judicious Mr. J.F. Muirhead
of "Baedeker," betrayed by his passion for antithesis into describing
New York as "a lady in ball costume, with diamonds in her ears and her
toes out at her boots." This was written, to be sure, in 1890, and may
have been true in its day; for it takes an American city much less than
a decade to belie a derogatory epigram. Now, at any rate, New York has
had her shoes mended to some purpose. She is not the best paved city in
the world, or even in America, but neither is she by any means the
worst; and her splendid system of electric and elevated railroads
renders her more independent of paving than any European city.
Fifth-avenue is paved to perfection; Broadway and Sixth-avenue are not;
but at any rate the streets are not for ever being hauled up and laid
down again, like some of our leading London thoroughfares. Holborn, for
example, may be ideally paved on paper, but its roadway is subject to
such incessant eruptions of one sort or another that it is in practice
a much more uncomfortable thoroughfare than any of the New York avenues.
For the rest, New York has a copious and excellent water supply, which
London has not; it has a splendidly efficient fire-brigade; it has an
admirable telephone system, with underground wires; and even its
electric trolleys get their motive-power from underneath, whereas in
Philadelphia the overhead wires are, I regret to say, killing the trees
which lend the streets their greatest charm. Altogether, Tammany or no
Tammany, New York cannot possibly be described as an ill-governed city.
Its government may be wasteful and worse; inefficient it is not. Even
the policemen seem to be maligned. I never found them rude or needlessly

In one of the essential conveniences of modern life, New York is far
behind London; but the blame lies, not with the city, but with the
United States. Its postal arrangements are at best erratic, at worst
miserable. Letters which would be delivered in London in three or four
hours take in New York anywhere from six to sixteen hours. It was a long
time before I realised and learned to allow for the slowness of the
postal service. At first I used mentally to accuse my correspondents of
great dilatoriness in attending to notes that called for an immediate
reply. On one occasion I posted in Madison Square at 3 P.M. a letter
addressed to the Lyceum Theatre, not a quarter of a mile away,
suggesting an appointment for the same evening after the play. The
appointment was not kept, for the letter was not delivered till the
following morning! To ensure its delivery the same evening, I ought to
have put a special-delivery stamp on it--price fivepence--in addition to
the ordinary two-cent stamp. No doubt it is the universal employment of
the telephone in American cities that leads people to put up with such
defective postal arrangements.

But it is not only within city limits that the United States Post Office
functions with a dignified deliberation. The ordinary time that it takes
to write (say) from New York to Chicago, and receive an answer, might be
considerably reduced without any acceleration of the train service. It
sounds incredible, but it is, I believe, the case, that the simple and
eminently time-saving device of a letter-box in the domestic front-door
is practically unknown in America. I did observe one, in Boston, so
small that a fair sized business letter would certainly have stuck in
its throat. One evening I was sitting at dinner in a fashionable street
in New York, close to Central Park, when I was startled by a distinctly
burglarious noise at the window. My host smiled at my look of
bewilderment, and explained that it was only the letter-carrier; and,
sure enough, when the servant came into the room she picked up three or
four letters from the floor. The postman was somehow able to reach the
front window from the "stoop," open it, and throw in the evening's
mail--a primitive arrangement, more suggestive of the English than of
the American Gotham. Even the gum on the United States postage-stamps
is apt to be ineffectual. When you are stamping letters in hot haste
to catch the European mail, you are as likely as not to find that
the head of President Grant has curled up and refuses--most
uncharacteristically--to stick to its post.

The conveniences of the express system, again, are, in my judgment,
greatly overrated. It is often slow and always expensive. It seems to
have been devised by the makers of Saratoga trunks, for it puts a
premium upon huge packages and a tax upon those of moderate size. I
speak feelingly, for I have just paid, eight shillings for the
conveyance of five packages from my room to the wharf, a distance of
about a mile and a half. A London growler would have taken them and
myself to boot for eighteenpence, three of the packages going outside,
and two, with their owner, inside. It is true that had I packed all my
belongings in one huge box the same company would have conveyed them to
the steamer for one and eightpence, which is the regular charge per
package. But I could not have taken this box into my state-room; I must
in any case have had a cabin trunk; and for an ocean voyage, a bundle of
rugs is, to say the least of it, advisable. Thus I could not have
escaped paying four and tenpence for the conveyance of my baggage
alone--rather more than three times as much as it would have cost to
convey my baggage and myself the same distance in London. It must not be
forgotten, of course, that the New York Express Company would, if
necessary, have carried the goods much further for the same charge of
forty cents a package. The limit of distance I do not know: it is
probably something like twenty miles. But a potential ell does not
reconcile me to paying an exorbitant price for the actual inch which is
all I have any use for. This method of simplification--fixing the
minimum payment on the basis of the maximum bulk, weight, and
distance--seems to me essentially irrational. In some cases, indeed, it
cuts against the Express Company. When I first had occasion to move from
one abode to another in New York--a distance of about a quarter of a
mile--I thought with glee "Now the famous express system will save me
all trouble." But I found that it would cost two dollars to express my
belongings, whereas even the notoriously extortionate New York cabman
would convey me and all my goods and chattels for half that sum. So the
Express Company's loss was cabby's gain.

"The ship is cheered, the harbour cleared," and none too merrily are we
dropping down by the Statue of Liberty to Sandy Hook and the Atlantic.
(There is a point, by the way, a little below the Battery, from which
New York looks mountainous indeed. Its irregularly serrated profile is
lost, and the sky-scrapers fall into position one behind the other, like
an artistically grouped cohort of giants. "Hills peep o'er hills, and
Alps on Alps arise," while in the background the glorious curve of the
Brooklyn Bridge seems to span half the horizon. I could not but think of
Valhalla and the Bridge of the Gods in the _Rheingold_. Elevator
architecture necessarily sends one to Scandinavian mythology in quest of
similitudes.) It is with acute regret that I turn my back upon New York,
or, rather, turn my face to see it receding over the steamer's wake. Not
often in this imperfect world are high anticipations overtopped, as the
real American has overtopped my half-reminiscent dream of it. "The real
America?" That, of course, is an absurd expression. I have had only a
superficial glimpse of one corner of the United States. It is as though
one were to glance at a mere dog-ear on a folio page, and then profess
to have mastered its whole import. But I intend no such ridiculous
profession. I have seen something of the outward aspect of five or six
great cities; I have looked into one small facet of American social
life; and I have faithfully reported what I have seen--nothing more. At
the same time my observations, and more especially my conversations with
the scores of "bright" and amiable men it has been my privilege to meet,
have suggested to me certain thoughts, certain hopes and apprehensions,
respecting the future of America and the English-speaking world, which I
shall try to formulate elsewhere. For the present, let me only sum up
my personal experiences in saying that all the pleasant expectations I
brought with me to America have been realised, all the forebodings
disappointed. Even the interviewer is far less terrible than I had been
led to imagine. He always treated me with courtesy, sometimes with
comprehension. One gentleman alone (not an American, by the way) set
forth to be mildly humorous at my expense; and even he apologised in
advance, as it were, by prefixing his own portrait to the interview, as
who should say, "Look at me--how can I help it?" Again, I had been led
rather to fear American hospitality as being apt to become importunate
and exacting. I found it no less considerate than cordial. Probably I
was too small game to bring the lion-hunters upon my trail. The alleged
habit of speech-making and speech-demanding on every possible occasion I
found to be merely mythical. Three times only was I called upon to "say
something," and on the first two occasions, being taken unawares, I said
everything I didn't want to say. The third time, having foreseen the
demand, I had noted down in advance the heads of an eloquent harangue;
but when the time came I felt the atmosphere unpropitious, and
suppressed my rhetoric. The proceedings opened with an iced beverage,
called, I believe, a "Mississippi toddy," probably as being the longest
toddy on record, the father of (fire) waters; and on its down-lapsing
current my eloquence was swept into the gulf of oblivion. The meeting,
fortunately, did not know what it had lost, and its serenity remained
unclouded. But it is not to the Mississippi toddies and other creature
comforts of America that I look back with gratitude and affection. It is
to the spontaneous and unaffected human kindness that met me on every
hand; the will to please and to be pleased in daily intercourse; and, in
the spiritual sphere, the thirst for knowledge, for justice, for beauty,
for the larger and the purer light.





In Washington, on the 6th of April last, business was suspended from
mid-day onwards, while President McKinley and all the high officers of
State attended the public funeral at Arlington Cemetery of several
hundred soldiers, brought home from the battlefields of Cuba. The burial
ground on the heights of Arlington--the old Virginian home, by the way,
of the Lee family--had hitherto been known as the resting-place of
numbers of Northern soldiers, killed in the Civil War. But among the
bodies committed to earth that afternoon were those of many Southerners,
who had stood and fallen side by side with their Northern comrades at El
Caney and San Juan. The significance of the event was widely felt and
commented upon. "Henceforth," said one paper, "the graves at Arlington
will constitute a truly national cemetery;" and the same note was struck
in a thousand other quarters. Poets burst into song at the thought of

"Resting together side by side,
Comrades in blue and grey!

"Healed in the tender peace of time,
The wounds that once were red
With hatred and with hostile rage,
While sanguined brothers bled.

"They leaped together at the call
Of country--one in one,
The soldiers of the Northern hills,
And of the Southern sun!

"'Yankee' and 'Rebel,' side by side,
Beneath one starry fold--
To-day, amid our common tears,
Their funeral bells are tolled."

The artlessness of these verses renders them none the less significant.
They express a popular sentiment in popular language. But, as here
expressed, it is clearly the sentiment of the North: how far is it
shared and acknowledged by the South? Happening to be on the spot, I
could not but try to obtain some sort of answer to this question.

Again, as I stood on the terrace of the Capitol that April afternoon,
and looked out across the Potomac to the old Lee mansion at Arlington,
while all the flags of Washington drooped at half-mast, a very
different piece of verse somehow floated into my memory:

"Walk wide o' the Widow at Windsor,
For 'alf o' Creation she owns:
We 'ave bought 'er the same with the sword and the flame,
And salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars!--it's blue with our bones!)"

The association was obvious: how the price of lead would go up if
England brought home all her dead "heroes" in hermetically-sealed
caskets! My thought (so an anti-Imperialist might say) was like the
smile of the hardened freebooter at the amiable sentimentalism of a
comrade who was "yet but young in deed." But why should Mr. Kipling's
rugged lines have cropped up in my memory rather than the smoother
verses of other poets, equally familiar to me, and equally well fitted
to point the contrast?--for instance, Mr. Housman's:--

"It dawns in Asia, tombstones show,
And Shropshire names are read;
And the Nile spills his overflow
Beside the Severn's dead."

Or Mr. Newbolt's:

"_Qui procul hinc_--the legend's writ,
The frontier grave is far away;
_Qui ante diem periit,
Sed miles, sed fro patria_."

The reason simply was that during the month I had spent in America the
air had been filled with Kipling. His name was the first I had heard
uttered on landing--by the conductor of a horse-car. Men of light and
leading, and honourable women not a few, had vied with each other in
quoting his refrains; and I had seen the crowded audience at a low
music-hall stirred to enthusiasm by the delivery of a screed of maudlin
verses on his illness. He, the rhapsodist of the red coat, was out and
away the most popular poet in the country of the blue, and that at a
time when the blue coat in itself was inimitably popular. Nor could
there be any doubt that his _Barrack-room Ballads_ were the most popular
of his works. Not a century had passed since the Tommy Atkins of that
day had burnt the Capitol on whose steps I was standing (a shameful
exploit, to which I allude only to point the contrast); and here was the
poet of Tommy Atkins so idolised by the grandsons of the men of 1812 and
1776, that I, a Briton and a staunch admirer of Kipling, had almost come
to resent as an obsession the ubiquity of his name!

It seemed then, that the rancour of the blue coat against the red must
have dwindled no less significantly than the rancour of the grey coat
against the blue. Into the reality of this phenomenon, too, I made it
my business to inquire.


There can be no doubt that the Spanish War has done a great deal to
bring the North and the South together. It has not in any sense created
in the South a feeling of loyalty to the Union, but it has given the
younger generation in the South an opportunity of manifesting that
loyalty to the Union which has been steadily growing for twenty years.
Down to 1880, or thereabouts, the wound left by the Civil War was still
raw, its inflammation envenomed rather than allayed by the measures of
the "reconstruction" period. Since 1880, since the administration of
President Hayes, the wound has been steadily healing, until it has come
to seem no longer a burning sore, but an honourable cicatrice.

Every one admits that the heaviest blow ever dealt to the South was that
which laid Abraham Lincoln in the dust. He, if any one, could have
averted the mistakes which delayed by fifteen years the very beginning
of the process of reconciliation. His wise and kindly influence
removed, the North committed what is now recognised as the fatal blunder
of forcing unrestricted negro suffrage on the South. This measure was
dictated partly, no doubt, by honest idealism, partly by much lower
motives. Then the horde of "carpet-baggers" descended upon the
"reconstructed" States, and there ensued a period of humiliation to the
South which made men look back with longing even to the sharper agonies
of the war. Coloured voters were brought in droves, by their Northern
fuglemen, to polling-places which were guarded by United States troops.
Utterly illiterate negroes crowded the benches of State legislatures. A
Northerner and staunch Union man has assured me that in the Capitol of
one of the reconstructed States he has seen a coloured representative
gravely studying a newspaper which he held upside down. The story goes
that in the legislature of Mississippi a negro majority, which had
opposed a certain bill, was suddenly brought round to it in a body by a
chance allusion to its "provisions," which they understood to mean
something to eat! This anecdote perhaps lacks evidence; but there can be
no doubt that the freedmen of 1865 were, as a body, entirely unfitted to
exercise the suffrage thrust upon them. A degrading and exasperating
struggle was the inevitable result--the whites of the South striving by
intimidation and chicanery to nullify the negro vote, the professional
politicians from the North battling, with the aid of the United States
troops, to render it effectual. Such a state of things was demoralising
to both parties, and in process of time the common sense of the North
revolted against it. United States troops no longer stood round the
ballot-boxes, and the South was suffered, in one way and another, to
throw off the "Dominion of Darkness." Different States modified their
constitutions in different ways. Many offices which had been elective
were made appointive. The general plan adopted of late years has been to
restrict the suffrage by means of a very simple test of intelligence,
the would-be voter being required to read a paragraph of the State
constitution and explain its meaning. The examiner, if one may put it
so, is the election judge, and he can admit or exclude a man at his
discretion. Thus illiterate whites are not necessarily deprived of the
suffrage. They may be quite intelligent men and responsible citizens,
who happened to grow to manhood precisely in the years when the war and
its sequels upset the whole system of public education in the South. At
any rate (it is argued), the illiterate white is a totally different man
from the illiterate negro. How far such modifications of the State
constitutions are consistent with the Constitution of the United States,
is a nice question upon which I shall not attempt to enter. The
arguments used to reconcile this test of intelligence with Amendments
XIV. and XV. of the United States Constitution seem to me more ingenious
than convincing. But, constitutional or not, the compromise is
reasonable; and though people in the South still feel, as one of them
put it to me, that the Republican party "may yet wield the flail of the
negro over them," the flail has been laid aside long enough to permit
the South, in the main, to recover its peace of mind and its
self-respect. The negro problem is still difficult enough, as many
tragic evidences prove; but there is no reason to despair of its
ultimate solution.

Meanwhile material prosperity has been returning to the South;
agriculture has revived, and manufactures have increased. Social
intercourse and intermarriage have done much to promote mutual
comprehension between North and South, and to wipe out rankling
animosities. Each party has made a sincere effort to understand the
other's "case," and the war has come to seem a thing fated and
inevitable, or at any rate not to have been averted save by superhuman
wisdom and moderation on both sides. With mutual comprehension, mutual
admiration has gone hand in hand. The gallantry and tenacity of the
South are warmly appreciated in the North, and it is felt on both sides
that the very qualities which made the tussle so long and terrible are
the qualities which ensure the greatness of the reunited nation. But
changes of sentiment are naturally slow and, from moment to moment,
imperceptible. It needs some outside stimulus or shock to bring them
clearly home to the minds of men. Such a stimulus was provided by the
conflict with Spain. It did not create a new sense of solidarity between
the North and the South, but rather brought prominently to the surface
of the national consciousness a sense of solidarity that had for years
been growing and strengthening, more or less obscurely and
inarticulately, on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line. It consummated
a process of consolidation which had been going on for something like
twenty years.

Furthermore, the Spanish War deposed the Civil War from its position as
the last event of great external picturesqueness in the national
history. However sincere may be our love of peace, war remains
irresistibly fascinating to the imagination; and the imagination of
young America has now a foreign war instead of a civil war to look back
upon. The smoke of battle, in which the South stood shoulder to shoulder
with the North, has done more than many years of peace could do to
soften in retrospect the harsh outlines of the fratricidal struggle.

At the same time, there is another side to the case which ought not to
be overlooked. The South is proud, very proud; and the older generation,
the generation which fought and agonised through the terrible years from
'61 to '65, is more than a little inclined to resent what it regards as
the condescending advances of the North. This feeling is not confined to
those out-of-the-way corners where, as the saying goes, they have not
yet heard that the war--the Civil War--is over. It is not confined to
the old families, ruined by the war, whom the tide of returning
prosperity has not reached, and never will reach. It is strong among
even the most active and progressive of the veterans of '65. They smile
a grim smile in their grizzled beards at the fuss which has been made
over this "picayune war," as they call it. They, who came crushed,
impoverished, heartbroken, out of the duel of the Titans--they, who know
what it really means to sacrifice everything, everything, to a patriotic
ideal--they, to whom their cause seems none the less sacred because they
know it irrevocably lost--how can they be expected to toss up their caps
and help the party which first vanquished, and then, for many bitter
years, oppressed them, to make political capital out of what appears, in
their eyes, a more or less creditable military picnic? It is especially
the small scale of the conflict that excites their derision. "Did you
ever hear of the battle of Dinwiddie Court-House?" one of them said to
me. I confessed that I had not. "No," he said, "nor has any one else
heard of the battle of Dinwiddie Court-House. It was one of the most
insignificant fights in the war. But there were more men killed in half
an hour in that almost forgotten battle, than in all this mighty war we
hear so much about. Ah!" he continued, "they think we are vastly
gratified when they 'fraternise' with us on our battlefields and
decorate the graves of our dead. I don't know but I prefer the 'waving
of the bloody shirt' to this flaunting of the olive-branch. They have
their victory; let them leave us our graves."

An intense loyalty, not only to the political theories of the South, but
to the memory of the men who died for them--"qui bene pro patria cum
patriaque jacent"--still animates the survivors of the war. With a
confessed but none the less pathetic illogicality, they feel as though
Death had not gone to work impartially, but had selected for his prey
the noblest and the best. One of these survivors, in a paper now before
me, quotes from _Das Siegesfest_ the line--

"Ja, der Krieg verschlingt die Besten!"

and then remarks: "Still, when Schiller says:--

'Denn Patroklus liegt begraben,
Und Thersites kommt zurueck,'

his illustration is only half right. The Greek Thersites did not return
to claim a pension."

The dash of bitterness in this remark must not be taken too seriously.
The fact remains, however, that among the veterans of the South there
prevails a certain feeling of aloofness from the national jubilation
over the Spanish War. They "don't take much stock in it." The feeling is
widespread, I believe, but not loud-voiced. If I represented it as
surly or undignified, I should misrepresent it grossly. It is simply the
outcome of an ancient and deep-seated sorrow, not to be salved by
phrases or ceremonies--the most tragic emotion, I think, with which I
ever came face to face. But it prevails almost exclusively among the
older generation in the South, the men who "when they saw the issue of
the war, gave up their faith in God, but not their faith in the cause."
To the young, or even the middle-aged, it has little meaning. I met a
scholar-soldier in the South who had given expression to the sentiment
of his race and generation in an essay--one might almost say an
elegy--so chivalrous in spirit and so fine in literary form that it
moved me well-nigh to tears. Reading it at a public library, I found
myself so visibly affected by it that my neighbour at the desk glanced
at me in surprise, and I had to pull myself sharply together. Yet the
writer of this essay told me that when he gave it to his son to read,
the young man handed it back to him, saying, "All this is a sealed book
to me. I can not feel these things as you do."

More important, perhaps than the sentiment of the veterans is the
feeling, which has been pretty generally expressed, that the South was
slighted in the actual conduct of the late war--that Southern regiments
and Southern soldiers (notably General Fitzhugh Lee) were unduly kept in
the background. Still, there is every reason to believe that the general
effect of the war has been one of conciliation and consolidation. From
the ultra-Southern point of view, the North seems merely to have seized
the opportunity of making honourable amends for the "horrors of
reconstruction;" but even those who take this view admit that the North
_has_ seized the opportunity, and that gladly. As a matter of fact the
good-will of the North, and its desire to let bygones be bygones, are
probably very little influenced by any such recondite motive. It is in
most cases quite simple and instinctive. "There are no rebels now," said
the commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard when he gave orders to delete
the fourth word of the inscription "Taken from the rebel ram
_Mississippi_" over a trophy of the Civil War displayed outside of his
quarters. Admiral Philips had probably no thought of "reconstruction" or
of "making amends;" he simply obeyed a spontaneous and general
sentiment. The Southern heroes of the Civil War, moreover, are freely
admitted, and enthusiastically welcomed, into the national Pantheon.

When the thirty-fourth anniversary of "Appomattox Day," which brought
the war to an end, was celebrated in Chicago on April 10 last (Governor
Roosevelt being the guest of honour), the memory of Lee was eulogised
along with that of Grant, and the oration in his honour was received
with equal applause. Finally, it is admitted even by those who are most
inclined to make light of the sentiment elicited by the late war, that
all the States of the Atlantic seaboard are instinctively drawing
together to counterpoise the growing predominance of the West. This
substitution of a new line of cleavage for the old one may seem a
questionable matter for rejoicing. But in any great community, conflicts
of interest must always arise. The recognition of the problems which
await the Republic in the near future does not imply any doubt of her
ability to arrive at a wise and just solution of them.


The most loyal of the Southern veterans, I have said, recognise that the
cause of the South is irrevocably lost. By the cause of the South I do
not, of course, mean slavery. There is probably no one in the South who
would advocate the reinstatement of that "peculiar institution," even if
it could be effected by the lifting of a finger. "The cause we fought
for and our brothers died for," says Professor Gildersleeve of
Baltimore, "was the cause of civil liberty, not the cause of human
slavery.... If the secrets of all hearts could have been revealed, our
enemies would have been astounded to see how many thousands and tens of
thousands in the Southern States felt the crushing burden and the awful
responsibility of the institution which we were supposed to be defending
with the melodramatic fury of pirate kings."

What was it, then, that the South fought for? In what sense was its
cause the cause of "civil liberty?" A brief inquiry into this question
may be found to have more than a merely historic interest--to have a
direct bearing, indeed, upon the problems of the future, not only for
America, but for the English-speaking world.

Let me state at once the true inwardness of the matter, as I have been
led to see it. The cause of the South was the cause of small against
large political aggregations; and the world regards the defeat of the
South as righteous and inevitable, because instinct tells it that the
welfare of humanity is to be sought in large political aggregations, and
not in small. Providence, in a word, is on the side of the big (social)

From the point of view of pure logic, of academic argument, the case of
the South was enormously strong. Consequently, the latter-day apologists
of the Confederacy devote themselves with pathetic fervour, and often
with great ingenuity, to what the impartial outsider cannot but feel to
be barren discussions of constitutional law. They point out that the
States--that is, the thirteen original States--preceded the Federal
Union, and voluntarily entered into it under clearly-defined conditions;
that the Federal Government actually derived its powers from the
consent of the States, and could have none which they did not confer
upon it; that the maintenance of slavery in the Southern States, and the
right to claim the extradition of fugitive slaves, were formally
safeguarded in the Constitution; that it was in reliance upon these
provisions that the Southern States consented to enter the Union; that
the right of secession had been openly and repeatedly asserted by
leading politicians and influential parties in several Northern States,
and was therefore no novel and treasonable invention of the South; and,
finally, that the right to enter into a compact implied the right to
recede from it when its provisions were broken, or obviously on the
point of being broken, by the other party or parties to the agreement.
All this is logically and historically indisputable. The Southerners
were the conservative party, and had the letter of the Constitution on
their side; the Northerners were the reformers, the innovators.
Entrenched in the theory of State Sovereignty, the South denied the
right of the North, acting through the Central Government, to interfere
with its "peculiar institution;" and even those who deplored the
existence of slavery felt themselves none the less bound to assert and
defend the right of their respective States to manage their own
affairs.[I] It was a conflict as old as the Revolution--and even, in its
germs, of still older date--between centripetal and centrifugal forces,
between national and local patriotism. The makers of the Constitution
had tried to hold the scales justly, but in their natural jealousy of a
strong central power, they had allowed the balance to deflect unduly on
the side of local independence. The North, the national majority, felt,
obscurely and reluctantly, that a revision of the Constitution in the
matter of slavery was essential to the national welfare.[J] The South
maintained that the States were antecedent and superior to the Nation,
and said, "If your Nation, in virtue of its mere majority vote, insists
on encroaching on State rights which we formally reserved as a condition
of entering the Nation, why then, we prefer to withdraw from this Nation
and set up a nation of our own, in which the true principles of the
Constitution shall be preserved." Thereupon the North retorted, "We
deny your right to withdraw," and the battle was joined.

The North said, "You have no right to withdraw," but it meant, I think,
something rather different. It threw overboard the question of abstract,
formal, technical right, and fought primarily, no doubt, for a
humanitarian ideal, but fundamentally to enforce its instinct of the
highest political expediency. The right interpretation of a state-paper,
however venerable, would not have been a question worthy of such
terrible arbitrament. Even the emancipation of the negro, had that been
the sole object of the contest, would have been too dearly paid for in
blood and tears. The question at issue was really this: What is the
ideal political unit? The largest possible? or the smallest convenient?
What mattered abstract argument as to the _right_ to secede? Once grant
the _power_ to secede, once suffer the precedent to be established, and
the greatest democracy the world had ever seen was bound to break up,
not only into two, but ultimately into many petty republics, wrangling
and jangling like those of Spanish America. To this negation of a great
ideal the North refused its consent. National patriotism had outgrown
local patriotism. It had become to all intents and purposes a fiction
that the Federal Government derived its powers from the States; Thirteen
of them, indeed, had sanctioned the Federal Government, but the Federal
Government had sanctioned and admitted to the Union twenty-one more. In
these the sentiment of priority to the Union could not exist, while
State Sovereignty was a doctrine limited by considerations of
expediency, rather than a patriotic dogma. Immigration, and westward
migration from the north-eastern States, had produced a race of men and
women whose patriotism was divorced, so to speak, from any given patch
of soil, but was wedded to the all-embracing idea of the United States,
with the emphasis on the epithet. They thought of themselves first of
all as American citizens, and only in the second place as citizens of
this State or of that. This habit or instinct is still incomprehensible,
and almost contemptible, to the Southerner of the older generation; but
the Time-Spirit was clearly on its side.

Thus, then, I interpret the fundamental feeling which impelled the North
to take up arms: "Better one stout tussle for the idea of Unity, than a
facile acquiescence in the idea, of Multiplicity, with all its sequels
of instability, distrust, rivalry, and rancour. Better for our
children, if not for us, one great expenditure of blood and gold, than
never-ending threats and rumours of war, commercial conflicts, political
complications, frontiers to be safeguarded, bureaucracies to be
financed." Of course I do not put this forward as a new interpretation
of the question at issue. It is old and it is obvious. But though the
national significance of the struggle has long been recognised, I am not
sure that its international, its world-historic significance, has been
sufficiently dwelt upon. We Europeans have been apt to think that,
because the theatre of conflict was so distant, we had only a
spectacular, or at most an abstract-humanitarian, interest in it. There
could not be a greater mistake. The whole world, I believe, will one day
come to hold Vicksburg and Gettysburg names of larger historic import
than Waterloo or Sedan.


[Footnote I: "Submission to any encroachment," says Professor
Gildersleeve, "the least as well as the greatest, on the rights of a
State, means slavery;" this remark occurring early in an article of
twenty-five columns, in which _negro_ slavery is not so much as
mentioned until the twenty-first column.]

[Footnote J: See _Postscript_ to this article.]


The iconoclast of to-day is full of scorn for patriotism, which he holds
the most retrograde of emotions. He may as usefully declaim against
friendship, comradeship, the love of man for woman or of mother for
child. The lowest savage regards himself, and cannot but regard himself,
as a member of some sort of political aggregation. This feeling is one
of the primal instincts of humanity, and as such one of the permanent
data of the problem of the future. It is folly to denounce or seek to
eradicate it. The wise course is to give it large and noble instead of
petty and parochial concepts to which to attach itself. Rightly esteemed
and rightly directed, patriotism is not a retrograde emotion, but one of
the indispensable conditions of progress.

"Nothing is," says Hamlet, "but thinking makes it so." It is not oceans,
straits, rivers, or mountain-barriers, that constitute a Nation, but the
idea in the minds of the people composing it. Now, the largest
political idea that ever entered the mind--not of a man--not of a
governing class--but of a people, is the idea of the United States of
America. The "Pax Romana" was a great idea in its day, but it was
imposed from without, and by military methods, upon a number of subject
peoples, who did not realise and intelligently co-operate in it, but
merely submitted to it. It has its modern analogue in the "Pax
Britannica" of India. The idea of the United States, on the other hand,
gives what may be called psychological unity to one of the largest
political aggregates, both in territory and population, ever known to
history. In the modern world, there are only two political aggregates in
any wise comparable to it: the British Empire, whereof the idea is not
as yet quite clearly formulated; and the Russian Empire, whereof the
idea, in so far as it belongs to the people at all, is a blind and
slavish superstition. Holy Russia is a formidable idea, Greater Britain
is a picturesque and pregnant idea; but the United States is a
self-conscious, clearly defined and heroically vindicated idea, in whose
further vindication the whole world is concerned. It is only an
experiment, say some--an experiment which, thirty years ago, trembled
on the brink of disastrous failure, and which may yet have even greater
perils to encounter. This is true in a sense, but not the essential
truth. Let us substitute for "experiment" another word which means the
same thing--with a difference. The United States of America, let us say,
is a rehearsal for the United States of Europe, nay, of the world. It is
the very difficulties over which the croakers shake their heads that
make the experiment interesting, momentous. The United States is a
veritable microcosm: it presents in little all the elements which go to
make up a world, and which have hitherto kept the world, almost
unintermittently, in a state of battle and bloodshed. There are wide
differences of climate and of geographical conditions in the United
States, with the resulting conflict of material interest between
different regions of the country. There are differences of race and even
of language to be overcome, extremes of wealth and poverty to be dealt
with. As though to make sure that no factor in the problem of
civilisation should be omitted, the men of last century were at pains to
saddle their descendants with the burden of the negro--a race incapable
of assimilation and yet tenacious of life. In brief, a thousand
difficulties and temptations to dissension beset the giant Republic: in
so far as it overcomes them, and carries on its development by peaceful
methods, it presents a unique and invaluable object-lesson to the world.
The idea of unity, annealed in the furnace of the Civil War, has as yet
been stronger than all the forces of disintegration; and there is no
reason to doubt that it will continue to be so. When France falls out
with Germany, or Russia with Turkey, there is nothing save a purely
material counting of the cost to hinder them from flying at each other's
throats. The abstract humanitarianism of a few individuals is as a
feather on the torrent. Such sentiment as comes into play is all on the
side of bloodshed. It takes very little to make a Frenchman and a German
feel that they are in a state of war by nature, and that peace between
them is an artificial and necessarily unstable condition. But in
America, should two States or two groups of States fall out, there is a
strong, and we may hope unconquerable, sentiment of unity to be overcome
before the dissentients even reach the point of counting the material
cost of war. Men feel that they are in a state of peace by nature, and
that war between them, instead of being a hereditary and almost
consecrated habit, would be a monstrous and almost unthinkable crime.
The National Government, as established by the Constitution, is in fact
a permanent court of arbitration between the States; and the
common-sense of all may be trusted to "hold a fractious State in awe."
"Did not people say and think the same thing in 1859," it may be asked,
"on the eve of the greatest Civil War in history?" Possibly; but that
war was precisely what was needed to ratify the Union, and lift it out
of the experimental stage. "Blut ist ein ganz besondrer Saft," and it is
sometimes necessary that other pacts than those of hell should be
written in blood, before the world recognises their full validity.
Heaven forbid that the Deed of Union of the United States should require
a second time to be retraced in red!

But it is an illusion, though a salutary one, that civil war is any more
barbarous than international war. What the world wants is the
realisation that every war is a civil war, a war between brothers,
justifiable only for the repression of some cruelty more cruel than war
itself, some barbarism more barbarous. Towards this realisation the
United States is leading the way, by showing that, under the conditions
of modern life, an effective sense of brotherhood, a resolute loyalty
to a unifying idea, may be maintained throughout a practically unlimited
extent of territory.

But, while enumerating the difficulties which the Republic has to
overcome, I have said nothing of the one great advantage it enjoys--a
common, or at any rate a dominant, language. The diversity of tongues
which prevails in Europe is doubtless one of the chief hindrances to
that "Federation of the World" of which the poet dreamed. But if the
many tongues of Europe retard its fusion into what I have called a
political aggregate, there exists in the world a political aggregate
larger in extent than either Europe or the United States, which
possesses, like the United States, the advantage of one dominant
language. I mean, of course, the British Empire; and surely it is,
on the face of it, a fact of good augury for the world that the
dominant language of these two vast aggregations of democracies should
happen to be one and the same. The hopes--and perhaps, too, some
apprehensions--arising from this unity of speech will form the subject
of another article.

POSTSCRIPT.--My representation of the South as the conservative and the
North as the innovating party is the only point in this article to
which (so far as I know) serious objection has been made. A very able
and courteous critic--Mr. Norman Hapgood--writes to me as follows: "I
think the history of the Kansas-Nebraska trouble, in which the
preliminary conflict centred, the speeches of the time, North and South,
the party platforms, all proved that the North said, 'Slavery shall keep
its rights and have no further extension,' while the South said, 'It
shall go into any newly-acquired territory it chooses.' In 1860 the
slave interest was more protected and extended by law than ever before
in the history of the country. It had simply made a new claim which the
North could not allow. The abolitionists were few; the Northerners who
said that slavery should not be _extended_ were many.... I don't believe
there is an American historian of standing who does not say that the
propositions of the South, on which the North took issue in 1861, were
these: (1) Slavery shall go into all territory hereafter acquired; (2)
We will secede if this is not allowed."

It was inevitable that this protest should be raised, since, in the
limited space at my command, I had imperfectly expressed my meaning. My
reply to Mr. Hapgood puts it, I hope, more clearly. It ran as
follows:".... What I was trying to do was not so much to summarise
conscious motives as to present my own interpretation (right or wrong)
of the sub-conscious, the unconscious forces that were at work. I go
behind the declarations of Northern statesmen, and what, I have no
doubt, was the sincere sentiment of the majority in the North, against
interference with slavery in the existing slave States. I have tried to
allow to this sentiment what weight it deserves, in saying that the
North '_obscurely and reluctantly_ felt a revision of the Constitution
essential to the national welfare.' But my view is that whatever they
said, and whatever, on the surface of their minds, they thought, the
people of the North knew, even if they denied it to themselves, that
chattel slavery was impossible in the modern world; and furthermore that
the people of the South were justified in that instinct which told them
that the institution, fatally menaced, was to be saved only by
secession. The kernel of the matter, to my thinking, lay in the fugitive
slave question. The provision of the Constitution for the return of
fugitive slaves, though it may seem a matter of detail, was, I think, in
reality the keystone of the arch. Make it inoperative, and the
institution was doomed. Now many of the Northern States, by 'personal
liberty laws' and the like, had long been picking at that keystone.
Whatever were the professions of politicians and people as to
non-interference, they shrank from the logical corollary, which would
have been the sincere, whole-hearted and cheerful carrying out of
Article IV., Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution. They were even,
I think, logically bound to accept loyally the Dred Scott decision,
which was absolutely constitutional. To protest against it, to seek to
evade it, was to insist on a revision of the Constitution. But it was
inconceivable that a civilised community, not blinded by local Southern
prejudice, could loyally accept the Dred Scott decision, or could
cheerfully assist the Southern slaveholder to capture and carry off from
their own hearthstones, as it were, his runaway chattel. Therefore, the
position and the protestations of the North were mutually contradictory.
It was a case of trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds;
and the North was bound to the hare by fundamental considerations of
humanity and self-interest, to the hounds, only by a compact accepted at
a time when its consequences could not possibly be foreseen. I do not
doubt that the North, on the surface of its will, sincerely desired to
keep this compact; but the South, with an instinct which was really that
of self-preservation, looked, as I am trying to look, beneath the
conscious surface to the unconscious sweep of current. It is not with
reference to the struggle for Western expansion that I call the South
the conservative and constitutional party. There, as it seems to me, the
question was entirely an open one, the power of Congress over
territories being undefined in the Constitution; and no doubt the South,
in the course of the struggle, often took up violent and extravagant
positions. My argument is that the attitude of the North, whatever its
protestations, virtually threatened the institution of slavery in the
old slave States, and that therefore the South had virtual, if not
formal, justification for holding the constitutional compact broken."



Though one of the main objects which I proposed to myself in visiting
America was to take note of American feeling towards England as affected
by the Spanish War, I soon found that, so far as the gathering of
information by way of question and answer was concerned, I might almost
as well have stayed at home. A curious diffidence beset me from the
first. I shrank from recognising that there was any question as to the
good feeling between the two countries, and still more from seeming to
appeal to a non-existent or a grudging sense of kinship. It seemed to me
tactless and absurd for an Englishman to lay any stress on the war as
affecting the relations between the two peoples. What had England done?
Nothing that had cost her a cent or a drop of blood. The British people
had sympathised with the United States in a war which it felt to be, in
the last analysis, a part of the necessary police-work of the world; it
had applauded in American soldiers and sailors the qualities it was
accustomed to admire in its own fighting men; and the British
Government, giving ready effect to the instinct of the people, had, at a
critical moment, secured a fair field for the United States, and broken
up what might have been an embarrassing, though scarcely a very
formidable, anti-American intrigue on the part of the Continental
Powers. What was there in all this to make any merit of? Nothing
whatever. It was the simplest matter in the world--we had merely felt
and done what came natural to us. The really significant fact was that
any one in America should have been surprised at our attitude, or should
have regarded it as more friendly than they had every right and reason
to expect. In short, I felt an irrational but I hope not unnatural
disinclination to recognise as matter for question and remark a state of
feeling which, as it seemed to me, ought to "go without saying."

Above all was I careful to avoid the word "Anglo-Saxon." I heard it and
read it with satisfaction, I uttered it, never. It is for the American
to claim his Anglo-Saxon birthright, if he feels so disposed; it is not
for the Briton to thrust it upon him. To cheapen it, to send it
a-begging, were to do it a grievous wrong. Besides, the term
"Anglo-Saxon" is inaccurate, and, so to speak, provisional. Rightly
understood, it covers a great idea; but if one chooses to take it in a
strict ethnological sense, it lends itself to caricature. The truth is,
it has no strict ethnological sense--it may rather be called an
ethnological countersense, no less in England than in America. It
represents an historical and political, not an ethnological, concept.
The Anglo-Saxon was already an infinitely composite personage--Saxon,
Scandinavian, Gaul, and Kelt--before he set foot in America; and America
merely proves her deep-rooted Anglo-Saxonism in accepting and absorbing
all sorts of alien and semi-alien race-elements. But when we have to go
so far behind the face-value of a word to bring it into consonance with
obvious facts, it is safest to use that word sparingly.

In brief, I did not wear my Anglo-Saxon heart on my sleeve, or go about
inviting expressions of gratitude to England for having, like Mr.
Gilbert's House of Lords,

Done nothing in particular,
And done it very well.

Yet evidences of a new tone of feeling towards England met me on every
hand, both in the newspapers and in conversation. The subject which I
shrank from introducing was frequently introduced by my American
acquaintances. It was evident that the change of feeling, though far
from universal, was real and wide-spread. Americans who had recently
returned to their native land, after passing some years abroad, assured
me that they were keenly conscious of it. Many of my acquaintances were
opposed to the policy which brought about the Spanish War, and declared
the better mutual understanding between England and America to be its
one good result. Others adopted the view to which Mr. Kipling had given
such far-echoing expression, and frankly rejoiced in the sympathy with
which England regarded America's determination to "take up the white
man's burden." In the Kipling craze as a whole, after making all
deductions, I could not but see a symptom of real significance. It was
partly a mere literary fashion, partly a result of personal and
accidental circumstances; but it also arose in no small degree from a
novel sense of kinship with the men, and participation in the ideals,
celebrated by the poet of British Imperialism.

The change, moreover, extended beyond the book-reading class, wide as
that is in America. It was to be noted even in the untravelled and
unlettered American, the man whose spiritual horizon is bounded by his
Sunday newspaper, the man in the street and on the farm. The events of
the past year had taught him--and he rubbed his eyes at the
realisation--that England was not an "effete monarchy," evilly-disposed
towards a Republic as such,[K] and dully resentful of bygone
humiliations by land and sea, but a brotherly-minded people, remembering
little (perhaps _too_ little) of those "old, unhappy, far-off things,"
willing to be as helpful as the rules of neutrality permitted, and eager
to applaud the achievements of American arms.

Millions of people who had hitherto felt no touch of racial sympathy,
and had been conscious only of a vague historic antipathy, learned with
surprise that England was in no sense their natural enemy, but rather,
among all the nations of Europe, their natural friend. Anglophobes, no
doubt, were still to be found in plenty; but they could no longer reckon
on the instant popular response which, a few years ago, would almost
certainly have attended any movement of hostility towards England. An
American publicist, who has perhaps unequalled opportunities for keeping
his finger on the pulse of national feeling, said to me, "It is only
three or four years since I heard a Federal judge express an earnest
desire for war with England, as a means of consolidating the North and
South in a great common enthusiasm. Of course this was pernicious talk
at any time," he added; "but it would then have found an echo which it
certainly would not find to-day."

This puts the international situation in a nutshell, so far as to-day is
concerned. But what about to-morrow?


[Footnote K: See _Postscript_ to this article.]


When people spoke to me of the sudden veering of popular sympathy from
France and Russia, and towards England, I could not help asking, now and
again, "When is the reaction coming?" "There is no reaction coming," I
was told with some confidence. For my part, I hope and believe that a
permanent advance has been made, and that any reaction that may set in
will be trifling and temporary. But to ensure this result there is still
the most urgent need for the exercise of wisdom and moderation on both
sides. The misunderstandings of more than a century are not to be wiped
out in two or three months of popular excitement. What we have arrived
at is not a complete mutual understanding, but merely the attitude of
mind which may, in course of time, render such an understanding
possible. That, to be sure, is half the battle; but the longer and more
tedious half is before us.

The Englishman who visits America for pleasure, and enjoys the
inexhaustible hospitality of New York, Boston, and Washington, must be
careful not to imagine that he gets really in touch with the sentiment
of the American nation. His circle of acquaintance is almost certain to
be composed mainly of people whom he, or friends of his, have met in
Europe, people of more or less clearly remembered British descent, who
know England well, have many English friends and possibly relatives, and
are conscious of a distant sentimental attachment to "the Old Country."
They are almost without exception people of culture, as well read as he
himself in the English classics, ancient and modern. They show their
Americanism not in that they love English literature less, but that very
probably they love French literature more, than he does. Further, they
are an exceedingly polite people, and, sensitive themselves on points of
national honour, they instinctively keep in the background all topics on
which a too free interchange of opinions might be apt to wound the
susceptibilities of their guest. Thus he loses entirely his sense of
being in a foreign country, because he moves among people most of whom
have an affection for England almost as deep as his own, while all are
courteous enough to respect his prejudices. This class is large in
actual numbers, no doubt, but in proportion to the whole American
people it is infinitesimal, and would be a mere featherweight in the
scale at any moment of crisis. Its voice is clearly audible in
literature and even in journalism, but at the polls it would be as a
whisper to the thunder of Niagara. The traveller who has "had a good
time" in literary, artistic, university circles in the Eastern cities,
has not felt the pulse of America, but has merely touched the fringe of
the fringe of her garment.

We deceive ourselves if we imagine that there is, or at any rate that
there was until recently, the slightest sentimental attachment to
England in the heart of the American people at large. Among the
"hyphenated Americans," as they are called--Irish-Americans,
German-Americans, and so forth--it would be folly to look for any such
feeling.[L] The conciliation of America will never be complete until we
have achieved the conciliation of Ireland. It is evident, indeed, from
many symptoms, that Irish-American hostility to England is declining, if
not in rancour, at any rate in influence. Still, a popular New York
paper, on St. Patrick's Day, thinks it worth while to propitiate "The
Powerful Race of Ireland" by a leader under that heading, and to this

"The Irish race is famous as producing the best fighters and poets
among men, and the most beautiful and most virtuous of women.

"Such a reputation should suffice for any nation.

"And note that Ireland still is and always will be a NATION. There
is no Anglomania in that fair land, no yearning for reciprocity for
the sake of a few dollars, no drinking of the Queen's health

"Noble patriots like John Dillon and William O'Brien fight for them
in the House of Commons, and they are good fighters everywhere,
from the glass-covered room in Westminster Abbey (!) to the
prize-ring, where a Sullivan, of pure Irish blood, forbids any man
to stand three rounds before him.

"The English whipped the Irish at the battle of the Boyne--true.
But the English on that occasion had the good luck to be led by a
Dutchman, and the Irish--sorra the day--had an English King for a
leader. The English King was running fast while the Irish were
still fighting the Dutchman.

"Wellington, of Irish blood, beat Napoleon; Sheridan, of Irish
blood, fought here most delightfully.

"Here's to the Irish!"

This spirited performance no doubt represents fairly enough the
political philosophy of the thousands composing the league-long
procession which filed stolidly up Fifth Avenue on the day of its

But even among unhyphenated Americans--Americans pure and simple--the
tendency to regard England as a hereditary foe, though sensibly weakened
by recent events, remains very strong. A good example of this frame of
mind and habit of speech is afforded by the following passage from an
address delivered by Judge Van Wyck at the Democratic Club's Jefferson
Dinner in New York on April 13 last. Referring to England, the speaker

"Let us be influenced by the natural as well as the fixed policy of
that nation toward us for a century and a half, rather than by
their profuse expressions of friendship during the Spanish War.
England's policy has been one of sharp rivalry and competition
with America; it impelled the Revolution of 1776, fought for
business as well as political independence; brought on the war of
1812, waged against the insolent claim of England for the right to
search our ships of commerce while riding the highways of the
ocean; caused her to contest every inch of our northern boundary
line from ocean to ocean; made her encourage our family troubles
from 1860 to 1865, for which she was compelled to pay us millions
and admit her wrong; and actuated her, in violation of the Monroe
doctrine, to attempt an unwarrantable encroachment on the territory
of Venezuela, until ordered by the American Government to halt."

Apart from the obvious begging of the question with reference to
Venezuela, there is nothing in this invective that has not some
historical foundation. It is the studiously hostile turn of the
phraseology that renders the speech significant. Everything--even the
honourable amends made for the _Alabama_ blunder--is twisted to
England's reproach. She is "compelled" to do this, and "ordered" to do
that. There is here no hint of good feeling, no trace of international
amenity, but sheer undisguised hatred and desire to make the worst of
things. And this address, be it noted, was the speech of the evening at
a huge and representative gathering of the dominant party in New York
municipal politics.

I need scarcely adduce further evidence of the fact that Anglophobia is
still a power in the land, if not the power it once was. But active and
aggressive Anglophobia is, I think, a less important factor in the
situation than the sheer indifference to England, with a latent bias
towards hostility, which is so widespread in America. To the English
observer, this indifference is far more disconcerting than hatred. The
average Briton, one may say with confidence, is not indifferent towards
America. He may be very ignorant about it, very much prejudiced against
certain American habits and institutions, very thoughtless and tactless
in expressing his prejudices; but the United States is not, to him, a
foreign country like any other, on the same plane with France, Germany,
or Russia. But that is precisely what England is to millions of
Americans--a foreign country like any other. We see this even in many
travelling Americans; much more is it to be noted in multitudes who stay
at home. Many Americans seem curiously indifferent even to the comfort
of being able to speak their own language in England; probably because
they have less false shame than the average Englishman in adventuring
among the pitfalls of a foreign tongue. They--this particular class of
travellers, I mean--land in England without emotion, visit its shrines
without sentiment, and pass on to France and Italy with no other feeling
than one of relief in escaping from the London fog. These travellers,
however, are but single spies sent forth by vast battalions who never
cross the ocean. To them England is a mere name, and the name, moreover,
of their fathers' one enemy in war, their own chief rival in trade. They
have no points of contact with England, such as almost every Englishman
has with America. We make use every day of American inventions and
American "notions": English inventions and "notions," if they make their
way to America at all, are not recognised as English. There are few
Britishers, high or low, that have not friends or relatives settled in
America, or have not formed pleasant acquaintanceships with Americans on
this side. But there are innumerable families in America who, even if
they be of British descent, have lost all vital recollection of the
fact; who (as the tide of emigration has not yet turned eastwards) have
no friends or relatives settled in England; and who, in their American
homes, are far more apt to come in contact with men of almost every
other nationality than with Englishmen. "But surely English
literature," it may be said, "brings England home even to people of this
class, and differentiates her from France or Germany." In a measure,
doubtless; but I think it will be found that the lower strata of the
reading public (not in America alone, of course) are strangely
insensitive to local colour. To people of culture, the bond of
literature is a very strong one; but the class of which I am speaking is
not composed of people of culture. They read, it is true, and often
greedily; but generally, I think, without knowing or greatly caring
whether a book is English or American, and at all events with no such
clear perception of the distinctive qualities of English work as could
beget in them any imaginative realisation of, or affection for, England.
Let us make no mistake--in the broad mass of the American people no such
affection exists. They are simply indifferent to England, with, as I
have said, a latent bias towards hostility.

Thus the scale of American feeling towards England, while its gradations
are of course infinite, may be divided into three main sections. At one
end of the scale we have the cultured and travelled classes, especially
in the Eastern States, conscious for the most part of British descent,
alive to the historical relationship between the two countries, valuing
highly their birthright in the treasures of English literature, knowing,
and (not uncritically) understanding England and her people, and
clinging to a kinship of which, taking one thing with another, they have
no reason to be ashamed. This class is intellectually influential, but
its direct weight in politics is small. It is, with shining exceptions,
a "mugwump" class. At the other end of the scale we have the hyphenated
Americans, who have imported or inherited European rancours against
England, and those unhyphenated Americans whose hatred of England is
partly a mere plank in a political platform, designed to accommodate her
hyphenated foe-men, partly a result of instinctive and traditional
chauvinism, reinforced by a (in every sense) partial view of
Anglo-American history. Finally, between these two extremes, we have the
great mass of the American people, who neither love nor hate England,
any more than they love or hate (say) Italy or Japan, but whose
indifference would, until recently, have been much more easily deflected
on the side of hatred than of love. The effect of the Spanish War has
been in some measure to alter this bias, and to differentiate England,
to her advantage, from the other nations of Europe.


[Footnote L: A very distinguished American authority writes to me as
follows with regard to this passage: "I hardly think you lay enough
weight upon the fact that in two or three generations the great bulk of
the descendants of the immigrants of non-English origin become
absolutely indistinguishable from other Americans, and share their
feelings. This is markedly so with the Scandinavians, and most of the
Germans of the second, and all the Germans of the third, generation, who
practically all, during 1898, felt toward Germany and England just
exactly as other Americans did.... Twice recently I have addressed huge
meetings of eight or ten thousand people, each drawn, as regards the
enormous majority, from exactly that class which you pointed out as
standing between the two extremes. In each case the men who introduced
me dwelt upon the increased good feeling between the English-speaking
peoples, and every complimentary allusion to England was received with
great applause." At the same time my correspondent adds: "Your division
of the American sentiment into three classes is exactly right; also your
sense of the relative importance of these three classes."]


It is commonly alleged that the anti-English virulence of the ordinary
school history of the United States is mainly responsible for this bias
towards hostility in the mind of the average American. Mr. Goldwin
Smith, a high authority, has contested this theory; and I must admit
that, after a good deal of inquiry, I have been unable to find the
American school historians guilty of any very serious injustices to
England. Some quite modern histories which I have looked into (yet
written before the Spanish War) seem to me excellently and most
impartially done. The older histories are not well written: they are apt
to be sensational and chauvinistic in tone, and to encourage a somewhat
cheap and blusterous order of patriotism; but that they commonly malign
character or misrepresent events I cannot discover. They are perhaps a
little too much inclined to make "insolent" the inseparable epithet of
the British soldier; but there is no reason to doubt that in many cases
it was amply merited. I have not come across the history in which Mr.
G.W. Steevens discovered the following passages:

"The eyes of the soldiers glared upon the people like hungry
bloodhounds. The captain waved his sword. The red-coats pointed
their guns at the crowd. In a moment the flash of their muskets
lighted up the street, and eleven New England men fell bleeding
upon the snow.... Blood was streaming upon the snow; and though
that purple stain melted away in the next day's sun, it was never
forgotten nor forgiven by the people.... A battle took place
between a large force of Tories and Indians and a hastily organised
force of patriotic Americans. The Americans were defeated with
horrible slaughter, and many of those who were made prisoners were
put to death by fiendish torture.... More than six thousand
American sailors had been seized by British warships and pressed
into the hated service of a hated nation."

These passages are certainly not judicial or even judicious in tone; but
I fancy that the book or books from which Mr. Steevens culled them must
be quite antiquated. In books at present on the educational market I
find nothing so lurid. What I do find in some is a failure to
distinguish between the king's share and the British people's share in
the policy which brought about and carried on the Revolutionary War.
For instance, in Barnes's _Primary History of the United States_
(undated, but brought down to the end of the Spanish War) we read:

"_The English people_ after a time became jealous of the prosperity
of the colonists, and began to devise plans by which to grasp for
themselves a share of the wealth that was thus rolling in....
Indeed, _the English people_ acted from the first as if the
colonies existed only for the purpose of helping them to make

George III. and his Ministers are not so much as mentioned, and the
impression conveyed to the ingenuous student is that the whole English
nation was consciously and deliberately banded together for purposes of
sheer brigandage. The same history is delightfully chauvinistic in its
account of the Colonial Wars. The British officers are all bunglers and
poltroons; if disasters are averted or victories won, it is entirely by
the courage and conduct of the colonists:

"When Johnson reached the head of Lake George he met the French,
and a fierce battle was fought. Success seemed at first to be
altogether with the French; but after a while Johnson was slightly
wounded, when General Lyman, a brave colonial officer, took
command, and beat the French terribly.... Abercrombie's defeat was
the last of the English disasters. The colonists now had arms
enough, and were allowed to fight in their own way, and a series of
brilliant victories followed.... By the energy, courage, and
patriotism of her colonies, England had now acquired a splendid
empire in the New World. And while she reaped all the glory of the
war and its fruits, it was the hardy colonists who had throughout,
borne the brunt of the conflict."

The child who learns his history from Mr. Barnes may not hate England,
but will certainly despise her.

Text-books of this type, however, are already obsolescent. A committee
of the New England History Teachers' Association published in the
_Educational Review_ for December 1898 a careful survey of no fewer than
nineteen school histories of the United States, and summed up the
results as follows:

"In discussing the causes of the Revolution, text-book writers have
sounded pretty much the whole scale of motives. England has been
pictured, on the one hand, as an arbitrary oppressor, and, on the
other, as the helpless victim of political environment. Under the
influence of deeper study and a keener sense of justice, however,
the element of bitterness, which so often entered into the
discussion of this subject, has largely disappeared; and while the
treatment of the Revolution in the text-books still leaves much to
be desired, it is now seldom dogmatic and unsympathetic."

The fact remains, however, that we have still to live down our wars
with the United States, in which there was much that was galling to the
just pride of the American people, and much, too, that was perhaps
over-stimulating to their self-esteem. There is no doubt, on the one
hand, that we were inclined to adopt a supercilious and contemptuous
attitude towards the "rebel colonists" of 1775, the new-made nation of
1815; no doubt, on the other hand, that they made a splendid fight
against us, and taught our superciliousness a salutary lesson. They feel
to this day the humiliation of having been despised, and the exultation
of having put their despisers to shame. These wars, which were, until
1861, almost the whole military history of the United States, were but
episodes in our history, and one of them a trifling episode. Therefore,
while the average Englishman has not studied them sufficiently to
realise how much he ought to deplore them, the average American has been
taught to dwell upon them as the glorious struggles in which his nation
won its spurs. To the juvenile imagination, battles are always the oases
in the desert of history, and the schoolboy never fails to take sides
fiercely and uncompromisingly, exaggerating, with the histrionic
instinct of youth, his enthusiasm and his hatreds. Thus the insolent
Britisher became the Turk's-head or Guy Fawkes, so to speak, of the
American boy, the butt of his bellicose humours; and a habit of mind
contracted in boyhood is not always to be eradicated by the sober
reflection of manhood, even in minds capable of sober reflection. The
Civil War, be it noted, did not depose the insolent Britisher from his
bad eminence in the schoolboy imagination. The Confederates were, after
all, Americans, though misguided Americans; and the fostering, the
brooding upon, intestine rancours was felt by teachers and pupils alike
to be impossible. But there is in the juvenile mind at any given moment
a certain amount of abstract combativeness, let us call it, which must
find an outlet somewhere. Hatred is a natural function of the human
mind, just as much as love; and the healthy boy instinctively exercises
it under the guise of patriotism, without clearly distinguishing the
element of sheer play and pose in his transports. England's attitude
during the Civil War certainly did nothing to endear her either to the
writers or the readers of school histories; and she remained after that
struggle, as she had been before, the one great historical adversary on
whom the abstract combativeness of young America could expend itself.
How strong this tendency is, or has been, in the American school, may be
judged from the following anecdote. A boy of unmixed English parentage,
whose father and mother had settled in America, was educated at the
public school of his district. On the day when Mr. Cleveland's Venezuela
message was given to the world, he came home from school radiant, and
shouted to his parents: "Hurrah! We're going to war with England! We've
whipped you twice before, and we're going to do it again." It is clear
that at this academy Anglomania formed no part of the curriculum; and
who can doubt that in myriads of cases these schoolboy animosities
subsist throughout life, either active, or dormant and easily awakened?

Let us admit without shrinking that the history of the United States
cannot be truthfully written in such a way as to ingratiate Great
Britain with the youth of America. There have been painful episodes
between the two nations, in which England has, on the whole, acted
stupidly, or arrogantly, or both. Nor can we shift the whole blame upon
George III. or his Ministers. They were responsible for the actual
Revolution; but after the Revolution, down even to the time of the
Civil War inclusive, the English people, though guiltless in the main of
active hostility to America, cannot be acquitted of ignorance and
indifference. It is not in the least to be desired that American history
should be written with a pro-English bias, and, as I have said, I do not
find the anti-English bias, even in inferior text-books, so excessive as
it is sometimes represented to be. The anti-English sentiment of
American schools is, as it seems to me, an inevitable phenomenon of
juvenile psychology, under the given conditions; and it is the
alteration in the actual conditions wrought by recent events, rather
than any marked change in the tone of the text-books, that may, I think,
be trusted to soothe the schoolboy's savage breast. England has now done
what she had never done before: shown herself conspicuously friendly to
the United States; and another European country has given occasion for
spirit-stirring manifestations of American prowess. Thus England is
deposed for the time, and we may trust for ever, from her position as
the one traditional arch-enemy.

But though the errors of commission in American history-books have been
exaggerated, I cannot but think that a common error of omission is
worthy of remark and correction. They begin American history too
late--with the discovery of America--and they do not awaken, as they
might, the just pride of race in the "unhyphenated" American boy. Long
before Columbus set sail from Palos, American history was a-making in
the shire-moots of Saxon England, at Hastings, and Runnymead, and
Bannockburn. In all the mediaeval achievements of England, in peace and
war--in her cathedrals, her castles, her universities, in Cressy,
Poictiers, and Agincourt--Americans may without paradox claim their
ancestral part. Why should the sons of the English who emigrated leave
to the sons of those who stayed at home the undivided credit of having
sent to the right-about the Invincible Armada? Nay, it is only the very
oldest American families that can disclaim all complicity in having, as
Lord Auchinleck put it, "garred kings ken that they had a lith in their
necks." Of course I do not mean that the American schoolboy should be
taken in detail through British history down to the seventeenth century
before, so to speak, he crosses the Atlantic. But I do suggest that he
would be none the worse American for being encouraged to set a due value
on his rightful share in the achievements of earlier ancestors than
those who fought at Trenton or sailed with Decatur. Let him realise his
birthright in the glories of Britain, and he will perhaps come to take a
more magnanimous view of her errors and disasters.


Britain has been too forgetful of the past, America, perhaps, too
mindful; and in the everyday relations of life Britain has often been
tactless and unsympathetic, America suspicious and supersensitive. There
is every prospect, I think, that such errors will become, in the future,
rarer and ever rarer; and it behoves us, on our side, to be careful in
guarding against them. We have not hitherto sufficiently respected
America,--that is the whole story. We have taken no pains to know and
understand her. We have too often regarded her with a careless and
supercilious good feeling, which she has not unnaturally mistaken for
ill feeling, and repaid in kind. The events of the past year seem to
have brought the two countries almost physically closer to each other,
and to have made them more real, more clearly visible, each to each.
America has won the respectful consideration of even the most
thoughtless and insular among us. She has come home to us, so to speak,
as a vast and vital factor in the problem of the future.
Superciliousness towards her is a mere anachronism.

Many Englishmen, however, are still guilty of a thoughtless captiousness
towards America, which is none the less galling because it manifests
itself in the most trifling matters. A friend of my own returned a few
years ago from a short tour in the United States, declaring that he
heartily disliked the country, and would never go back again. Inquiry as
to the grounds of his dissatisfaction elicited no more definite or
damning charge than that "they" (a collective pronoun presumed to cover
the whole American people) hung up his trousers instead of folding
them--or _vice versa_, for I am heathen enough not to remember which is
the orthodox process. Doubtless he had other, and possibly weightier,
causes of complaint; but this was the head and front of America's
offending. Another Englishman of education and position, being asked why
he had never crossed the Atlantic, gravely replied that he could not
endure to travel in a country where you had to black your own boots!
Such instances of ignorance and pettiness may seem absurdly trivial, but
they are quite sufficient to act as grits in the machinery of social
intercourse. Americans are very fond of citing as an example of English
manners the legend of a great lady who, at an American breakfast, saw
her husband declining a dish which was offered to him, and called across
the table, "Take some, my dear--it isn't half as nasty as it looks."
Three different people have vouched to me for the truth of this
anecdote, each naming the heroine, and each giving her a different name.
True or false, it is held in America to be typical; and it would
scarcely be so popular as it is unless people had suffered a good deal
from the tactlessness which it exemplifies. The same vice, in a more
insidious form, appears in a remark made to me the other day by an
Englishman of very high intelligence, who had just returned from a long
tour in America, and was, in the main, far from unsympathetic. "What I
felt," he said, "was the suburbanism of everything. It was all Clapham
or Camberwell on a gigantic scale." Some justice of observation may
possibly have lain behind this remark, though I certainly failed to
recognise it. But in the form of its expression it exemplified that
illusion of metropolitanism which is to my mind the veriest cockneyism
in disguise, and which cannot but strike Americans as either ridiculous
or offensive.

Englishmen who, as individuals, wish to promote and not impede an
international understanding, will do well to take some little thought to
avoid wounding, even in trifles, the just and inevitable
susceptibilities of their American acquaintances. Our own national
self-esteem is cased in oak and triple brass,[M] and we are apt to
regard American sensitiveness as a ridiculous foible. It is nothing of
the sort: it is a psychological necessity, deep-rooted in history and
social conditions.

Again, there are certain misunderstandings which Englishmen, not as
individual human beings but as citizens of the British Empire, ought
carefully to guard against. Let us beware of speaking or thinking as
though friendship for England involved on the part of America any
acceptance of English political ideas or imitation of English methods.
In especial, let us carefully guard against the idea that an
Anglo-American understanding, however cordial, implies the adoption of
an "expansionist" policy by the United States, or must necessarily
strengthen the hands of the "expansionist" party. If America chooses to
"take up the white man's burden" in the Kiplingesque sense, it would ill
become England to object; but her doing so is by no means a condition of
England's sympathy. It might seem, indeed, that she had plenty of "white
man's burden" to shoulder within her own continental boundaries; but
that is a matter which she is entirely competent to determine for

Most of all must we beware of anything that can encourage an impression,
already too prevalent in America, that we find the "white man's burden"
too heavy for us, and are anxious to share it with the United States.
This suspicion is very generally felt and very openly expressed. Take,
for instance, this paragraph from an editorial in one of the leading
Chicago papers:

"It would be a strange thing to see Continental Europe take up arms
against Great Britain alone.... That it is a very reasonable
possibility, however, is generally recognised in Europe, and it
was doubtless a knowledge of this fact that induced Great Britain
to make such unusual exertions to ally itself with the United

Here, again, is another journalistic straw floating on the stream:

"Referring to the fact that English and American officers had
fallen side by side in Samoa while promoting commercial interests,
Lord [Charles] Beresford expressed the hope that the two nations
would 'always be found working and fighting in unison.' This might
keep us pretty busy, your lordship."

In a rather low-class farce which I saw in a Chicago theatre, two men
wandered through the action, with the charming irrelevance
characteristic of American popular drama, attired, one as John Bull, the
other as Brother Jonathan. There came a point in the action where some
one had to be kicked out of the house. "You do it, Jonathan," said John
Bull; whereupon Jonathan retorted: "I know your game; you want me to do
your fighting for you, but _I don't do it_! See?" These are ridiculous
trifles, no doubt, but they might be indefinitely multiplied; and they
show the set of a certain current in American feeling. Let us beware of
lending added strength to this current by any appearance of
self-interested eagerness in our advances towards America.

One thing we cannot too clearly realise, and that is that the true
American clings above everything to his Americanism. The status of an
American citizen is to him the proudest on earth, and that although he
may clearly enough recognise the abuses of American political life, and
the dangers which the Republic has to encounter. The feeling (which is
not to be confounded with an ignorant chauvinism, though in some cases
it may take that form) is the fundamental feeling of the whole nation;
and no emotion which threatened to encroach upon it, or compete with it
in any way, would have the least chance of taking a permanent place in
the American mind. The feeling which, as one may reasonably hope, is now
growing up between the two nations must be based on the mutual admission
of absolute independence and equality. The relation is new to history,
and must beget a new emotion. Strong as is the bond of mutual interest,
it must have a large idealism to reinforce it--a sentiment (shall we
say?) of mutual admiration--if the English-speaking peoples are to play
the great part in the drama of the future which Destiny seems to be
urging upon them. In order to stand together in perfect freedom and
dignity, it is essential that each of the brother-nations should be
incontestably able to stand alone. If we want to cement the
Anglo-American understanding, the first thing we have to do is to cement
the British Empire.

There is no more typical and probably no more widely respected American
at the present moment than Governor Roosevelt, of New York. Even those
who dissent from his "strenuous" ideal and his expansionist opinions,
admit him to be a model of political integrity and public spirit. In an
article on "The Monroe Doctrine," published in 1896, Mr. Roosevelt wrote
as follows:

"No English colony now stands on a footing of genuine equality with
the parent State. As long as the Canadian remains a colonist, he
remains in a position which is distinctly inferior to that of his
cousins, both in England and in the United States. The Englishman
at bottom looks down on the Canadian, as he does on any one who
admits his inferiority, and quite properly too. The American, on
the other hand, with equal propriety, regards the Canadian with the
good-natured condescension always felt by the freeman for the man
who is not free. A funny instance of the English attitude towards
Canada was shown after Lord Dunraven's inglorious fiasco last
September, when the Canadian yachtsman Rose challenged for the
America Cup. The English journals repudiated him on the express
ground that a Canadian was not an Englishman, and not entitled to
the privileges of an Englishman. In their comments, many of them
showed a dislike for Americans which almost rose to hatred. The
feeling they displayed for Canadians was not one of dislike. It was
one of contempt."

There are several contestable points in this statement, and I quote it,
though it is but three years old, as a historical rather than a
contemporary utterance. At the same time it expresses an almost
universal American point of view, and indicates errors to be corrected,
dangers to be avoided. It is absurd, of course, that the American should
look down upon the Canadian as a "man who is not free"; but every shadow
of an excuse for such an attitude ought to be removed, and the citizen
of the British Empire ought to have as clearly defined a status as the
citizen of the American Republic.

Even if such unpleasant incidents should recur as those to which Mr.
Roosevelt alludes, we may trust with tolerable confidence that he would
now find no "hatred" for America, or "contempt" for Canada, in the tone
of the British Press. The years which have passed since 1896 have not
only created a new feeling between England and America, but have drawn
the Empire together. In this respect--in every respect--much remains to
be done.

But at least we can say with assurance that a good beginning has been
made towards that consolidation of the English-speaking countries on
which the well-being of the world so largely depends.

POSTSCRIPT.--The notion of inevitable hostility between a constitutional
Monarchy and a Republic has been fostered by American writers in whom
one would have expected greater clearness of perception. We find Lowell,
for instance, writing in his well-known essay _On a Certain
Condescension in Foreigners_: "I never blamed her (England) for not
wishing well to democracy--how should she?" The more obvious question
is, How should not one democracy wish another well? There may have been
at the time when Lowell wrote, and there may even be to-day, a handful
of royalty-worshippers in England who regard a Republic as a vulgar,
unpicturesque form of government; but this is not a political opinion,
or even prejudice, but mere stolid snobbery. Whatever were England's
misdemeanours towards America at the time of the Civil War, they were
not prompted by any hatred of democracy.

I find the same misconception insisted on in a document much later than
Lowell's essay: a leaflet by the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, contributed
to a _Good Citizenship Series_ especially designed for the enlightenment
of the more ignorant class of American voters. The tract is called _The
Ruler of America_, and sets forth that the Ruler of America is "The
People with a very large P." Now, according to Dr. Hale, we benighted
Europeans are absolutely incapable of grasping this truth. He says:
"This is at bottom the trouble with the diplomatists of Europe, with
prime ministers, and with leaders of ''Er Majesty's Hopposition.'...
Even men of intelligence.... can make nothing of the central truth of
our system.... In my house, once, an English gentleman of great
intelligence told me that he had visited the White House, and was most
glad to pay his respects to 'the Ruler of our Great Nation.' Poor man!
he thought he would please me! But he saw his mistake soon enough. I
stormed out, 'Ruler of America? Who told you he was the ruler of
America? He never told you so. He is the First Servant of America.' And
I hope the poor traveller learned his lesson."

It is true that the poor traveller used a pompous and rather absurd
expression, but if he had had his wits about him he might have reminded
Dr. Hale that the President is much more effectively the Ruler of
America than the Queen is the Ruler of England. He rules by the direct
mandate of the People, but he rules none the less. It would greatly
conduce to a just understanding between America and England if the
political instructors of the American people would correct instead of
confirming the prevalent impression that they have a monopoly of


Great Britain and the United States are sister Commonwealths, enjoying
the advantages and exposed to the dangers of sisterhood. The dangers are
as real, though we trust not as great, as the advantages. Family
quarrels are apt to be bitterest; a chance word will seem unkind and
unbearable from a near kinsman, which, coming from a stranger, would
carry no sting at all. As Lowell very truly said, "The common blood, and
still more the common language, are fatal instruments of
misapprehension." But behind this statement there lies a far deeper
though still obvious truth. We misunderstand because we understand; and
it would be an extravagance of pessimism to doubt that, in the long run,
understanding will carry the day. Light may dazzle here and bewilder
there; but, after all, it is light and not darkness. We English and
Americans hold a talisman that makes us at home over half, and more than
half, the world; and we are not going to rob it of its virtue by
renouncing our ties, and wantonly declaring ourselves aliens to each

Our unity of speech is such a commonplace that we scarcely notice it.
But, rightly regarded, it is a thing to be rejoiced in with a great joy,
and not without a certain sense of danger happily escaped. He would have
been a bold man who should confidently have prophesied at the Revolution
that American and English would remain the same tongue, and that at the
end of the nineteenth century there would not be the slightest
perceptible cleavage, or threat of ultimate divergence. No doubt there
were forces obviously tending to preserve the linguistic unity of the
two nations. There was the English Bible for one thing, and there was
the whole body of English literature. The Americans, it might have been
said, could scarcely be so foolish as deliberately to renounce their

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