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Paris, I wish my cinders placed else- land just as much as ever, — as I where at the earliest possible moment. know it better I love it more, — but I With their love of red tape, the French do not belong there; and so far as an would be reluctant to permit them to Englishman would consent to express be interred anywhere until my mother- his opinion, I am not wanted there; in-law's marriage certificate and lots of few Americans are. other little certificates of this character A moment's reflection will show why were produced; this being difficult or this is. For almost three centuries the impossible, a horde of governmental English have been the richest and most officials would have to be seen and powerful people on earth. Their laws placated: the thought is paralyzing permitted, indeed they encouraged, Love of bookkeeping is a national the concentration of wealth and power trait. I have no doubt that the age in the hands of a few great families and sex of every oyster I have con- who came to believe that wealth and sumed at Prunier's is on file with the power was their natural prerogative. Chief of Police.
By one means or another they acquired Is it because I love London so that great estates in the country on which I am always ill at ease in Paris? Is it they built magnificent castles, and on the language? which, although I speak the whole they used their wealth and it fluently, no one understands. Is it power wisely. Then came the industhe life of Paris with which I am out of trial era, and the wealth of the world sympathy? It is the most beautiful began to pour into England. More city in the world: the French have for- palaces were built, and the continent gotten more about town-planning than was ransacked for works of art for we shall ever know. Its buildings are their decoration. Pictures, statuary, magnificent, and so perfectly placed and books were acquired; Italy became that one superb vista opens after an- the happy hunting-ground of every other. But it is too perfect, too arti- Englishman of means. Then a Germanficial; nothing fine ever happens by English King forced Washington to bechance. And its atmosphere of gray- come the Father of his Country, and pink and violet, which so delights the after that country had successfully artist, is indeed lovely, but I prefer the fought a Civil War it dawned upon the dull and frequently sunless streets of Englishman that the United States London, and occasionally even, give had come to stay. He did not like me London in a fog.
the idea, but even then it hardly
seemed possible that we could become II
a serious rival.
When was the turning point in Forty years ago I had but one am- England's greatness? No one knows bition: to make enough money to re- exactly. It may have been when our tire from business and spend my de- iron production overtopped hers, for, clining years in England; preferably as Gibbon has said, the control of iron up the Thames in any one of the many soon gives a nation the control of gold; beautiful houses which border either or it may have been shortly after side of that historic river. To-day, that dramatic moment when Disraeli nothing would induce me to accept as a hailed his Queen as Empress of India. gift any cottage or mansion either on Be that as it may, the United States the Thames or elsewhere, if I had to became enormously rich, not only polive in it: not that I do not love Eng-' tentially but actually, and our wealth
was not concentrated in a few hands, as in England, but was better distributed. Then Americans began to play in England the rôle that Englishmen had played a century or two before in Italy. They searched the country for
rôle that two before for Ameting men
buy and how to enjoy it. It is not an extreme statement to say that we do not. Americans are the best husbands in the world, but the most uninteresting men; hence it is that so many rich American girls go to England and,
in love with the well-ordered life of the breed over here, cast themselves and people, began to take up their residence their fortunes at their feet — and usuthere, at least for a part of every year. ally live to regret it. In time they came to occupy some of I am wandering. Slowly but surely the finest mansions in town and some America was forging ahead when the of the most historic castles in the coun war came, and the drift of things was try. Then they became disliked. Some greatly accelerated. We became enorof these Americans were loud, vulgar, mously rich and the English ghastly and ignorant, as well as rich: more and poor. They envy us our wealth and our more they came, and more and more aloofness from the troubles of Europe, they flaunted their wealth, which and envy is not a good foundation on was their chief distinction, in the face which to build friendship. Of our social
oblige is very real in England: the Eng- and care less: they have their own. lish understand and, I believe, respect What we call ‘prohibition' amuses the foreigner who settles there and goes them as much as it distresses us, and to work, John Julius Angerstein, for they are mildly curious about the size example, the founder of a great British and rapidity with which Henry Ford institution. 'Lloyds, whose pictures has amassed his fortune; here their formed the nucleus of the National interest stops. Everyone has read or is Gallery, which is celebrating its cen- reading the Letters of Walter H. Page — tennial this year, was a Russian, who as well they may, for they are a tribute became, as foreigners are apt to do, to the greatness of England; of the more English than the English them- Education of Henry Adams they have selves. What they do not want is to never heard; but they wish us to read have Americans come over and sit their books and pay them handsome down on them, taking up their town royalties, as we are now doing, but for and country houses, and trying to get many years did not; and above all into their clubs, which are more diffi- things they regard us as a people that cult to enter than the Kingdom of should be lectured to. Heaven.
Some time ago I saw a picture in When we ceased to be “the Colonies' Punch which illustrates this prettily: we ceased to be interesting to the Eng- a callow youth rushes into his mother's lish. A century ago we had to work drawing-room and cries exultingly: hard to subdue a continent; now that 'Oh, Mother, my novel has been acthe continent is subdued, we keep on cepted at last.' 'Splendid!' exclaims working from force of habit. This has the mother. Now you will be able to given us the reputation of caring for go to New York and lecture.' nothing but money, whereas, actually, As sportsmen, they — well, 'despise? the Englishman cares far more for us would hardly be too strong a word. money than we do, because he knows They say we play to win, not for the the value of the leisure that money will sake of the sport. How far they are correct in this I do not know; I am urbane and charming essayist traveled no sportsman, but I suspect that in a America from one ocean to another, measure they are right. A year ago I practically incognito, without opening was going up in a lift to my little flat his mouth except to put food into it — in Albemarle Street with two English- with an occasional drink. Has anymen: one worked the tiny lift, the other one who heard Margot when she was was a lodger like myself. Said the with us forgotten the experience? She lodger to the liftman, ‘Well, the Ameri- was too dreadful! In an effort to pack cans have won again. I forget what the house, boxes were offered to those the sport was, but the reply, which was likely to occupy them in evening dress, made for my benefit, was, 'Yes sir, by and one of our newspapers described that low cunning which is so character- her ‘lecture' by saying that she istic. I said nothing, but on my next pelted us with soiled feathers.' We visit to London I did not return to Al- have sent 'bounders' to London, but bemarle Street.
hardly one so raw as this wife of a It requires only a moment's reflec- former Prime Minister. tion to discover why this is. Tempera- But the passion to lecture is a Euromentally we are very unlike the Eng pean rather than an exclusively English; we are extravagant in our talk and lish weakness. Maeterlinck came to us are always blowing our own trumpet. Speaking no English, yet after a few Have you read Babbitt? Well, there is weeks'intensive study, he essayed to admuch of Babbitt in many of us and dress us in such a language as was never some of Babbitt in all of us. In the heard before by mortal man. Not a Englishman's modesty there is more ar- soul understood whereof he was speakrogance than in our bluster. We are ing, and he finally fled the platform always trying to improve ourselves — and the country. And while I was in especially our women; hence their pas- London I cut the following from a sion for attending lectures. The Eng- newspaper: 'A protest has been lodged lishman doubts whether he could be with Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, the improved.
President of the Columbian (sic) UniThis lecture craze is one which will versity, against the proposed course of wear itself out in time, but I shall not lectures at the University by Giovanni live to see it. It is asking too much of Papini, author of The Life of Christ. the average English lecturer to forgo The protest is based on Papini's definithe easy money that awaits him in tion, in his writings, of America as America. I once wrote to my friend, "the home of millionaires and the birthE. V. Lucas, and asked him why he did place of the nauseating Longfellow, not come and lecture. I told him that the intolerable Washington, and the we were so mad about lecturing Eng- degenerate Whitman." And even as I lishmen that if he would come and write, Dr. Bridges, the Poet Laureate, lecture to us on ‘A Wanderer in London a gentleman in his eightieth year, arin the Time of Dr. Johnson,' 'A Wan- rives a few months tardily, and draws derer in London in the Time of Charles down a substantial sum for merely Dickens,' and 'A Wanderer in London looking benignly at the students of a To-day,' he would bag a small fortune. western university. Absurdity can go I even offered to write his lectures for no further. But my quarrel is not him, but he replied that he would be with the lecturers: it is with those who come panic-stricken before an audience. hire them. And when finally he came, this most Our national likeness to the English
is superficial. We talk about our com- Those of us who love England do so mon inheritance, our speaking the because it is well ordered and comfortsame language, our joint ownership of able to a degree that we at home know Shakespeare, and all that; but au fond nothing of. Things fall naturally into we are totally different, and the dif- their proper place; all is — perhaps it ference is this: America accepts as would be more exact to say all was — fundamental the doctrine of 'the great- ordered for the best in the best of all est good for the greatest number.' possible worlds. By best, one means, of This is the best that can be said for course, for the upper classes. One day 'democracy,' and if Dr. Johnson was in church during an appallingly stupid right when he said, “The state of the sermon, such a sermon as one can people is the state of the nation, it is hear only in England, when all around much. With us mediocrity is the rule; me were asleep, I looked for and found on the other hand, England does not in the Hymnal two silly verses which interest herself in mediocrity in the express the idea not only of the rich least. She is not interested in the toward the poor, but also the idea of 'greatest number’; she takes the best the English toward the rest of the possible care of the individual. Such world:has been her habit for centuries.
The rich man in his castle Does anyone suppose that when
The poor man at the gate, Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler goes to
God made them high or lowly, England and tells the Master of New
And ordered their estate. College, Oxford (founded in 1979, mark you), of the difficulties he has
God has given each his station; confronted or overcome, incidentally
Some have riches and high place;
Some have lowly homes and labour; remarking that Columbia has enrolled
All may have His precious grace. over thirty thousand students this year — does anyone suppose that the The idea, of course, comes from the ‘Master of New' is in the least degree Church of England catechism. interested? He is thinking of the great men who call Oxford ‘Mother, and if
III this thought does not enthrall him, he wonders in what manner Dr. Butler's I don't think I ever admired England students will use their education when more than when she was undergoing they get it — if they get it.
what was called the ‘throes of a general There is another great difference: election. In October last, Mr. BaldEngland is, or until recently was, a win, as Prime Minister, had a majority man's country. “An Englishman's in Parliament of about one hundred house is his castle,' and 'A man is and fifty. Suddenly he decided upon a master in his own house.' England is general election and the issue which he the most comfortable country in the presented to the country for its conworld for men; they have spent cen- sideration was Protection. Instantly turies in making it so. I recently bought every politician in the country, with a copy of John Stuart Mill's Subjection the exception of Lord Curzon, who was of Women, first edition 1869. I want to at the Foreign Office, which has many read it again. The subject does not problems these days, was dashing exist in America; with us, it is the men madly about the country making who are ‘subjected,' and I don't see speeches. The issue was one which an what we are going to do about it. American could understand. Business VOL. 134 — NO.S
in Britain was and still is very bad. other things are made to pay a heavy There are, it is said, almost a million duty — all might have been well; inand a half of people out of work, and stead of which he asked for a mandate many of those who are working are from the people to put into effect such insufficiently paid — are earning just tariffs as would in the judgment of a barely enough to keep body and soul board of experts afford protection to together. Taxes are very high. "The certain trades and better employ labor. Dukes,' as Mr. Lloyd George called the For the great question in England totremendously rich landowning class, day is the question of unemployment. have been practically extinguished. But to expect an Englishman, and Two or three deaths in a certain suc- above all things an English yokel, sudcession almost wipe out an estate. I denly, in less than a month, to reverse am not sure that this is not good busi- the policy of a century, was expecting ness. Why should one man have half too much. a dozen palaces, each surrounded by a Personally, I have no doubt that magnificent park, in a tiny, overpopu- Mr. Lloyd George who was on the sea lated country like England, in which when Mr. Baldwin threw his bombthere is not enough of anything to go shell, having seen the magnificent ’round? But the Dukes' cake is dough, prosperity of America under a protecand I must say they take what is com- tive tariff, was going home with a ing to them uncomplainingly.
full determination to do another sudNot so, however, the manufacturers den ‘about face' for which he is so of the country: they see themselves de famous, and himself come out for prived of foreign markets that they Protection. If so, when he found Mr. have for a long time been enjoying, and Baldwin had beaten him to it, he said they see their own domestic markets not a word — or rather, it would be being taken away from them by Ger- true to say that he said a great many. many, France, Belgium, and the United Of course he had been advised of the States. Something has to be done trend of affairs by wireless, but neverquickly, they say.
theless upon the arrival of the steamer Such were conditions when Mr. he expressed amazement at the news Lloyd George left home to make his and was in fighting trim in an instant. whirlwind tour through Canada and “And so,' he said, “they are going to the United States, during which, ac- feed starving Labor with the mouldy cording to a cartoon in a French paper, straw of the last century, are they? he was seen standing reverently before Well, nothing that Mr. Baldwin does the tomb of P. T. Barnum — the pic- surprises me. He does n't know his own ture bearing the legend: ‘Barnum, I mind from one hour to another' — am here!' While he was on the high thus firmly establishing himself on seas the Prime Minister came out for horses going in opposite directions. Protection. Mr. Baldwin is an iron- It was a whirlwind campaign: in less master on a large scale, swept into poli- than a month it was over and Labor tics by the war. His rise has been a was in power. I followed the speeches rapid one; an honest and educated as they were reported in the Times; gentleman, he is not adroit enough to important addresses on both sides were be a successful politician. Had he been reported, almost all at full length, content to extend little by little the and Free Trade was all but demolished power that he had — by which motor every day in a long and carefully cars and talking machines and certain reasoned editorial. Certainly, if an